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A Different View of the Old South
"Louisiana" remains one of my favorite movies about the Old South, and I believe it is as good as "Gone With the Wind," though a bit different. So many films about the Civil War depict the war as the only disappointment or tragedy to befall the characters and ruin their previously "idyllic" lives. Indeed, my own family, who experienced the Civil War in Virginia, handed down from one generation to another a chronic complaint: "The Union army ruined our lives." Actually, of course, my family's unwise choices and lack of judgment and values did the real damage, long after the Civil War was "history." I appreciate the film "Louisiana" because it shows many disappointments and tragedies, besides the war, that adversely impacted the characters and essentially destroyed their dreams and their families. It has been a while since I have seen the film, but I thoroughly enjoyed the performances of Margot Kidder, Lloyd Bochner, and the late Ian Charleson. I also was very much impressed with the costumes, scenery, and soundtrack of the film, and I look forward to finding this mini- series on DVD.
Father Takes a Wife (1941)
A Favorite Comedy
This is a favorite comedy of mine, and I hope it will become available on DVD very soon. In my first viewing, the title and plot of the film reminded me of the children's song, "The Farmer in the Dell." As everyone knows, "the farmer takes a wife" in the first verse, and in this film, "father takes a wife" with this act being the catalyst for the conflict and rising action in the plot. According to the children's song and the natural order of things, "the wife takes a child," meaning she wants or needs a child. In the film, the actress wants to mother some being who will compensate for the theatrical career she sacrificed for the marriage. However "father" and his actress wife, both well into middle age, are too old to have their own biological child. Adding to the disappointment, the father's biological children from his previous marriage are cold fish who do not accept his new wife and do not fulfill the wife's maternal needs.
When father and the wife find a stowaway singer, portrayed by Desi Arnaz, on their yacht, the singer becomes their child. Father and wife fulfill their desire for parenthood by becoming pseudo- parents in giving the young man a home and promoting his singing career. Like all idealistic newlyweds, they fail to see the downside of this "parenthood" until the singer keeps practicing the same concert song over and over and over. Like any annoying child who keeps repeating something, the singer drives them crazy.
I will have to see the film again to check for the disappointing elements mentioned by other posters, but this old classic still is one of my favorites.
Poetic Justice Served
I agree with other viewers that the Louise character is neurotic at best. However, one must consider the era in which the film is set. World War II has ended, and older single women like Louise would like to find Mr. Right and settle down. Enter David, portrayed by Van Heflin, whose ambition is hidden by an exterior that alternates between (1) warm and romantic and (2) cool and aloof. He obviously has strung Louise along for some purpose, and he dumps her when she presses him for a commitment. Like most women of the era, Louise probably has been reared to be emotionally and financially dependent on men, whom she and her contemporaries see as "strong, secure, brilliant and perfect." Whenever a relationship in that era did not work out, society would blame the woman for the failure, never recognizing that men can have flaws, bad motives, and other shortcomings. Hence, there is the neurotic or psychotic condition to which Louise succumbs.
It seems obvious to me that David already had staked out a certain business owned by Dean Graham, portrayed by Raymond Massey, and that David was using Louise (Mrs. Graham's nurse) to worm his way into the business and lives of the Graham family and cash in on the goods. Dean, being a kind and well-meaning individual, was blind to David's true ambition to marry Dean's naive and gullible daughter Carol and eventually get control of the business and family fortune. (Of course, once the mission was accomplished, David would use and abandon Carol just as he had used and abandoned Louise). David even brags about his objective to marry Carol and spend the family fortune just before Louise shoots and kills him. However, Louise has her own motives, having internalized the reason for David's abandoning her, and she cannot see the whole picture of David's plot. Inadvertently Louise delivers poetic justice by ending David's ambition and saving the Graham family and fortune.
I loved this film for the beautiful story of the interwoven lives of a family and friends in a community, with a bit of mystery running through it. As the film opens, everyone is looking forward to September when the end of summer will usher in fall and the ensuing winter. In the film the change of seasons symbolizes change in the lives of the characters while the coming dormancy of winter symbolizes death. The family matriarch and a granddaughter will be celebrating birthdays the same week in September, the enigmatic Pandora will return to the favorite place of her youth, and eight-year-old Henry and his parents contemplate the boy's bittersweet departure for boarding school.
The reason for Pandora's suicide is given in the letter she leaves for Archie, portrayed by Edward Fox. The lady has incurable cancer and would rather die painlessly in the place she has loved throughout her life rather than in a cold, sterile hospital. Throughout the story are hints about the child she miscarried and what the child might have been. She tries to compensate for the loss when she takes young Henry on an outing in the village.
The "sad American," the former boyfriend of Virginia, has been touched by the death of his wife, and he also relates to the change in seasons. However, the coming wedding of Alexa and her boyfriend (presumably to take place the next spring, the time of rebirth) gives a note of optimism to the film, and the anticipated event shows the continuity of life and the future of the family.
In only one viewing this has become one of my favorite films, and I recommend it very highly.
The song "Rio de Janeiro"
I wonder if the award-winning song really was called "Rio de Janeiro." According to my resource book on the Academy Awards, the song "Brazil" from this movie was the Academy Award winner for "Best Song" category in 1944.
I checked with sheetmusicplus.com and could not find a song called "Rio de Janeiro." If there is such a song in print, I would like to know about it as I love Latin music.
I agree this film should have been in color. Maybe Ted Turner can colorize it for us. Also, I should like to see it available on DVD soon.
As for Edward Everett Horton being in the film, I believe he appeared in other films set in South America in this era. No doubt the interest in Latin America expressed through movies in the 1940s and television in the 1950s was because of South American oil the United States and Canada bought for military use during World War II and during the industrial expansion and prosperity that followed the war. If you think about it, you can see the political undertones in the films of this era.
This Time for Keeps (1947)
A Must-See-Again Film
I saw this film many years ago and had forgotten the title until I was looking up "Johnny Johnston" on the website. I remember Johnston from the years he was a panelist on "Password," then hosted by Allen Ludden. When Johnston was introduced on "Password," it was mentioned he once was married to Kathryn Grayson of "Showboat" fame. I remember Johnston as a very attractive blond man with a terrific smile and sparkling personality when he served as a panelist. Yet, I did not realize Johnston had portrayed the love interest of Esther Williams in "This Time For Keeps." At any rate, I will track down DVDs of this movie and others in which Johnston appeared and the CD remakes of his vocal recordings (hit singles and movie soundtracks)during the 1930s and 1940s. It is unfortunate his talent was not more appreciated during his lifetime, as he passed away January 6, 1996.
Stubby Pringle's Christmas (1978)
A Christmas Classic
I first read the short story version of "Stubby Pringle's Christmas" in a discontinued school anthology in study hall in the 1960s. I soon forgot the title and author's name, but I never forgot the story. Then, in 1978, I was staying home from church one Sunday morning because my one-year-old daughter was ill. While looking for something inspirational on television, I found "Stubby Pringle's Christmas" being televised that morning, and immediately I recognized it as the short story I had read in high school. In time I forgot the exact wording of the title, but I remembered the story and most of the cast.
More than 20-years later, I recalled the story and cast but still could not remember the exact title. In desperation, I wrote to the publicists of Beau Bridges and Julie Harris to ask if they could tell me more about the film and if they would encourage someone to make it into a DVD and a holiday classic to air on TV every Christmas. I never received a reply.
At last I asked an area librarian to look for the story and film. She had a directory of story plots, through which one could find titles and authors. She found it for me, and I never again will forget the title, "Stubby Pringle's Christmas," or the author's name, Jack Schaefer.
The librarian was astonished that I had read the story in a high school anthology so long ago. According to her records, the story had been published in Boys Life magazine in 1955 and then in book form, which she was able to find for me. Her records did not mention any publication in a school anthology in the late 1950s to early 1960s or the 1978 film version.
I have enjoyed reading other contributors' touching remarks about the story and its special meaning to each of them. To me, it is a heartwarming western story of 1880 Montana, and yet it is much like "The Gift of the Magi," which O'Henry set in the same era in New York City. Both stories convey the same message: "It is more blessed to give than to receive."
I agree that this film should be televised each Christmas and that it should be available on DVD.
The meaning of "Life"
I usually am not a fan of Eddie Murphy, but I thoroughly enjoyed the interweaving of comedy and drama in "Life." At first glance the title seems to refer to the life sentence wrongly given to the two men. As the story unfolds, the viewer sees the "life" they must make for themselves in the spartan setting of a prison in Mississippi. The end of the film should bring the viewer to question what he has done with his life and how much he has depended on "props" for a meaning to his own life.
Many who submitted comments compared "Life" with "The Shawshank Redemption," but a more likely comparison is "Cool Hand Luke," which starred Paul Newman in a similar story also set in a Mississippi prison. The comic gags, such as the warden's curvaceous daughter, were taken from "Cool Hand Luke." Overall, the film is rich in meaning as it shows how life in general is an interweaving of comedy and tragedy. Another comparison story is "Death Comes for the Archbishop" by Willa Cather, in which Ms. Cather shows how two priests, also in a spartan situation (a desert pastorate in New Mexico) and without the usual trappings of success, make meaningful lives for themselves while living sacrificially for others.
Seven Minutes in Heaven (1985)
What the title means
The title of this film is taken from a party game called "Seven Minutes in Heaven." The game was popular among my husband's friends when he was in junior high school in Brooklyn, NY, and he describes it as something like "Spin-the-Bottle," "Lifesaver Relay," and other preteen kissing games. According to the rules, a boy's name and a girl's would be drawn, and the chosen ones ordered to get into a dark closet together and to stay there for seven minutes. In the meantime, there would be speculation among party guests as to whether or not the two had the nerve to hold hands, embrace, and/or kiss each other in the privacy of the closet. At the end of seven minutes, the game leader would say, "Time's up" or knock on the closet door, and the couple would emerge from the closet. After being quizzed by the other guests, the couple would have to admit what they had done during their "Seven Minutes in Heaven." Then other couples would be chosen to enter the closet until all the guests had participated. The couple who admitted to doing the most would be the winners of the game.
Such games have served as social "ice-breakers" for children and teens, but they can be embarrassing and intimidating to shy individuals. The film has been given this title because it deals with the teens' first experiences with crushes and romantic love.
The Bravados (1958)
True justice is served
Three of the four men pursued by Jim Douglas are not the same men who robbed Douglas' ranch and murdered his wife, but they commit these same acts (as proof of their capabilities and guilt) as Douglas and the posse pursue them. When Douglas does kill the three, they get what they deserve. It is fitting that Douglas spares the Indian, the man who went along with the other three but did not harm anyone. The only evidence found on the Indian is the gold which he took from the dead miner's hand.
Although the film has no connection to Alfred Hitchcock, the plot bears out the Hitchcock belief that "Everyone is guilty of something and everyone will receive justice or karma in the end."
The most sinister character in the film is the phony hangman who has hatched the plot to free the four captives from the jail. The accompanying scenes remind me of the "Howling Man" episode in "The Twilight Zone" series. Had everyone kept a distance from the captives and had discernment about the phony hangman, the four would have been lynched as originally planned.
Perhaps the good to come from the story is that the three guilty men received the death they deserved while the innocent Indian received mercy and pardon and was spared.