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|109 reviews in total|
After laboring in Hollywood for nearly four years, playing one nothing role after the other in one forgettabe film after the other, Davis won the role of a lifetime. That of slatternly waitress Mildred Rogers, the 'bitch' heroine of Somerset Maugham's classic story. Davis in BONDAGE is an example of an actress's triumph. Lester Cohen's script, making for a picture that runs in length 83 minutes, is breezy and admittedly fails to capture all of the qualities that made Maugham's book such a compulsive read. But Bette Davis' performance in BONDAGE makes the film every bit as good as the book itself. She is absolutely fascinating. Her role of Mildred is as spiteful and bitchy as they come. Yet Bette plays the part so well that you can't help but root for her. That's not to say that she doesn't overdo it at times. But she is clearly into the role and rightfully so. Having played so many thankless background parts(secretaries, gun molls, etc.), this was her chance to break loose and show critics and audiences alike her full capabilities as an actress, and did she ever! Even keeping in mind all of the memorable Davis movie moments that followed, Mildred Rogers still remains her most stunning achievement. The great British actor Leslie Howard, playing the club-footed medical student who becomes infatuated with Mildred, seems over-powered, and possibly intimidated by his co-star. Oh yes, Davis was not yet a full-fledged star and was supposed to be playing second fiddle to the already distinguished Howard, but with BONDAGE, that situation quickly reversed. Shockingly, Davis didn't receive so much as an Oscar nomination for her brilliant performance, and when she won a year later for the tired melodrama DANGEROUS, everyone(including Bette herself) assumed it was out of sympathy for not receiving her full due for this film.
This engaging dark comedy stars the incomparable Bette Davis in one of her best latter-day screen roles as a merciless one-eyed mother who uses wedding anniversary(although her husband has been dead for quite some time) as an excuse to lure her spineless sons into her lair and demonstrate her strange hold over them. This year is a particular feast for the mother when the youngest, a somewhat promiscuous chap, announces that he's going to settle down and get married. And better yet, the eldest and most spineless of the brood discloses that he will be moving out of the country so mumsy will leave him alone once and for all. Will things turn out as planned? You"ll just have to find out yourself when you watch this stylish, darkly witty, and perversely entertaining tale that could have been written especially for its star.
This retelling of Somerset Maugham's classic is very handsomely "got up", and features a wonderful performance by the gifted Eleanor Parker as the heartless heartbreaker Mildred Rogers. But Eleanor's go at the role didn't produce quite the same results as it did for Bette Davis twelve years before. However, if it weren't for Davis' triumphant performance, the 1934 version would be just as forgettable as the others that followed. The 1964 take with Kim Novak/Laurence Harvey is certainly the weakest.
There are so many problems with this dull, listless filmization of the James M. Cain classic, where does one begin? Well, let's start from the beginning. It tries to compete with the great 1946 version. How do you top a film as brilliant as that? The answer is, you don't! Even if this new version does follow the original novel more closely, who cares? As the tragic, plotting lovers, Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson have absolutely no chemistry whatsoever, so they generate very little heat in their allegedly steamy sex scenes. It's as if the filmmakers were so aware of the miscasting that they tried to disguise this by making the sex scenes between the duo more erotic, meaning more explicit. BIG MISTAKE! This just makes the lack of chemistry even more painfully obvious, and the sex scenes rather silly. Despite having virtually nothing in common, Nicholson and Lange can't keep their hands off of each other and do a lot of huffing and puffing. They go at it like two wild animals in heat, but this does little to make the film any more watchable or entertaining. Yes, Lange is even more breathtakingly beautiful than usual, and she brings more intensity and depth to the role than the script really required. But, whether she knows it or not, Nicholson is a constant thorn in her side. Sure, Jack is a great actor too, but, even though his character is a plotting murderer, there was a romantic edge to the role when John Garfield played it in 1946, and Nicholson does not have one bit of that romanticism. I still kringe when I think of him as the love interest in TERMS OF ENDEARMENT. How did he ever get to be cast in parts like that? Stay as clear from this as possible and settle only for the untoppable original.
Based on James M. Cain's best-selling novel, this film-noir classic features Lana Turner in one of her best roles as a beautiful and sexy little tart who convinces her lover(John Garfield) to help off her dull old husband(Cecil Kellaway) so they can be together. There are several wildly unexpected twists in this ultra-steamy drama. The sex scenes were, of course, more explicit in Cain's original novel, and given the times and strict-censorship, they were toned down considerably for the movies. But that hardly matters. Turner and Garfield are so perfectly matched that you can feel the chemistry between them. You can't easily say the same for Jessica Lange and Jack Nicholson in that ridiculous remake. Stick with the original, even if you have to see it in its colorized form.
Based on Christina Crawford's best-selling memoir of her mother, '40s movie queen Joan Crawford, this film has become a classic for all the wrong reasons - a camp classic so to speak. Oh yes, the film lapses into some rather odd and unintentionally funny moments(the wire hanger scene comes to mind), but as the indomitable Joan Crawford, Faye Dunaway isn't laughing. She plays it so straight that pretty soon you start to believe you really are watching Joan Crawford, not in her private life, of course, but acting in one of her movies. When Dunaway grandly descends down the staircase in her lavish Hollywood home, one has flashbacks of Crawford as the ruthless Southern matriarch making her grand entrance down the staircase in her flashy evening wear in QUEEN BEE. And when Dunaway is hacking at the tree in the garden in one of her midnight tirades, one immediately recalls Crawford as the axe-wielding mother in STRAIGHT-JACKET. We can only guess that these moments we're not really intended to conjure up memories of Crawford in her movies, but one sequence was, and that's the scene where Dunaway is rehearsing for MILDRED PIERCE, Crawford's 1945 starring vehicle which won her the Academy Award for Best Actress. Dunaway's reading of the famous line:"I'm sorry I did that. I would have rather cut off my hand" is, in some ways, actually better than Crawford's, and Dunaway should have won an Oscar herself for this film. If the film is amusing, and as I said before, sometimes it is, it isn't because of Dunaway. She is sensational. She is on-screen for most of the film's two hours and she is totally believable every minute of it. Several other major actresses, including Anne Bancroft, were approached for the role, but after seeing Dunaway's triumphant performance, it's tough to imagine anybody else playing the part and giving the movie as much intensity and stature as she did. This is truly one of her best performances. Because of it's camp-cult status, the movie is often referred to as THE MOMMIE HORROR PICTURE SHOW.
This is MGM's glossy, scene-for-scene remake of the earlier, shorter, and rather better 1931 film starring Fredric March and Miriam Hopkins. Tracy does well in the dual title role, the kindly, but quite mad doctor and his beastly other half. Ingrid Bergman is the sexy barmaid who becomes the wretched Mr. Hyde's prisoner, and Lana Turner is Jekyll's pretty fiancee. Despite some serious miscasting(Bergman should have played the Turner role and Turner should have played the Bergman role), this is an agreeable retelling of the Robert Louis Stevenson story, but it isn't the classic the 1931 film is.
Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins, the stars of the classic 1939 film THE OLD MAID, reunite for this tale which spans twenty years in the love/hate relationship of two female friends who become competitive not only professionally, but in their personal lives as well. This one is a real dandy. Davis is her inimitably intense self, and she's matched all the way by the great Miriam Hopkins who was at her peak on-screen in the '30's. While this is often referred to as Davis' picture, Miriam holds her own. These ladies are truly two of the finest actresses to ever grace the Hollywood screen and deliver Oscar-caliber performances. The confrontation scene where Davis shakes the living daylights out of Hopkins is a high example of art imitating life because Davis and Hopkins weren't exactly the best of friends in real-life either. For some reason, this gem has never been released to video, but naturally the dreadful remake with Candice Bergen and Jacqueline Bissett(RICH AND FAMOUS) has.
Also shown under the titles THE GRAVEYARD and THE TERROR OF SHEBA, this Gothic British horror movie stars Lana Turner as a maniacal mother who delights in making life miserable for her spineless son(Ralph Bates) who is slowly, but surly, tiring of his deranged mama and her wicked, wicked ways. With her beautiful face, every hair in place, her fashionable costumes, and her exquisite jewelry, Lana Turner, at age 53, is still the very essence of Hollywood glamour. But this is 1974 we're talking about, and her name didn't have the same sparkling effect on the box-office that it had in say 1947, so the film went mostly unnoticed by the movie-going public. The picture itself is a dreary and rather ghoulish retread of familiar BABY JANE-ish high jinks. But Turner has fun with her looneytunes character, and makes this otherwise derivative little film quite watchable. Lana personally regarded this as her worst performance, but she isn't bad at all. Actually she's quite good. I'm convinced she did more with the role than anybody else could have. In fact, she won the Best Actress Award at Spain's Festival of Horror Movies. I strongly recommend this film to her fans who should find it quite interesting to see Turner playing the kind of merciless, blood-curdling psychobitch that Bette Davis and Joan Crawford played in their Scream Queen days.
Based on a D.H. Lawrence novella, this daring drama about a pair of lesbians(Sandy Dennis and Anne Heywood) and what transpires when a male stranger(Keir Dullea) enters their lives is one of Hollywood's finest attempts to bring a literary genius and one of his finest creations to the screen. It's a magnificent achievement. The original story(written in 1918) has been modernized, which, of course, means that the sexual themes have been made more explicit. Surprisingly, this doesn't hurt the dramatic impact of the story one bit(let's face it, so many great literary works have been botched up when adapted for the movie screen), and, in some ways, the updating even adds to it. A fine scripting job by Lewis John Carlino and Howard Koch. The performances by the two femmes are striking, with top honors going to the great Sandy Dennis who, although ladylike, is the more dominant party of the relationship. Lalo Schifrin's haunting score received a much deserved Oscar nomination. Released just before they started issuing MPAA ratings, this film nevertheless features some steamy scenes. The film would probably qualify for an "R" rating, even by today's standards. Not for all tastes, but required viewing for those who are game. ****!
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