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Jane Eyre (1956)
By episode 4 or 5 it was scaring the life out of me!
I was 9 or 10 when I first watched this version. I was OK with the first episodes and in fact the sight of the mad lady creeping around Thornfield in the dead of night was at first quite fascinating. I remember the eerie music and only seeing her feet or the candlestick she was holding. But it was when she enters Jane's bedroom and one sees her for the first time and she tears up the wedding veil that really scared me and I felt quite frightened when I went to bed for a few nights even when my mother and father were decorating right outside my bedroom door! I managed to persevere though and I watched it again when it was repeated a few months later.
I wonder how this 1956 serial would come over today?
The Paradine Case (1947)
Surely one of Hollywood's under-rated pictures!
I first saw this film at the cinema in the 1960's. This was the time I first began to take an interest in vintage Hollywood and has served as a standard by which I have judged other films since. First, one must mention the brilliant and haunting score by Franz Waxman. In many scenes in the film it heightens the drama marvellously. I have watched the film periodically over the years - this afternoon on British TV being the latest - and it loses none of its appeal. In fact I think I enjoy it more than ever each time.
Many criticise Gregory Peck's performance but after so many years I could not imagine anybody else playing it. A supremely beautiful performance by Ann Todd and an almost perfect one by Alida Valli - why did Hollywood not use these actresses more? Reliable performances from the supporting players as well - the scene at the end between Charles Laughton and Ethel Barrymore is absolutely chilling - CINEMA PERFECTION.
The atmosphere of immediate post-war London is captured perfectly despite being a "studio bound" production. The depictions of British life at the time - the rigid class system, the prison scenes, the still bomb damaged Old Bailey and life in the country - are wholly believable.
Yes, one of my personal favourites. A great and under-rated film!
Happy Days (1929)
Fox's contribution to the 1929-30 all-star musical revue cycle!
Pleasant enough early musical from 1930. Catchy but unfamiliar songs and well staged musical numbers. As is usual with these revues, many of the studio's contract players appear, mostly playing themselves. However, their two top stars, Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, have a number of their own. There is a storyline of sorts but this is only at the beginning, and, from about a third of the way through, the film is "All Dancing, All Singing and All Pretty Dreadful Jokes!!". There is no cast list but stars like Warner Baxter and Will Rogers are easily recognisable. Best part of the film is the closing number in which most stars and most of the film's songs are seen and heard again. Best performance is by Marjorie White - although she has about the only acting part in it. No Technicolour sequences but I believe the film was originally shot in some wide screen process. If you like early musicals, this one is, for the most part, fair. But see it if you can as it has it's moments.
Correction. A cast list does appear just before the start of the musical numbers. I obviously missed this during the first viewing!
Wife Wanted (1946)
Kay's last movie - but she is as stunning as ever!
Not bad at all for a "Poverty Row" production. Have always wanted to see one of Kay Francis' "Monogram Trio". Fairly good story line involving a dating agency she invests in and which leads to all sorts of complications. Also, plenty of familiar faces in support - the faces you know but can't put a name to. Kay looks as ravishing as in her heyday and plays her part in a mostly beautifully subdued way. Unfortunately the print I have is not very good, but, considering she was 47 at the time, this may even compliment her. Not a single wrinkle to be seen!! Well worth watching if you're a Kay Francis fan. A real collector's item.
Stolen Holiday (1937)
Kay Francis fans will love this one!
Actually the stolen holiday of the title is only a small part of the film and is, quite frankly, a little boring and holds up the action. I found myself longing for it to finish and get back to the main plot! Fine performances from Kay, Claude Rains and Alison Skipworth, and Ian Hunter is his usual debonair self. Also, in a small part, Alexander D'Arcy (he of "The Awful Truth" fame).
Some of the strongest scenes are in the early parts of the movie, especially when Kay Francis almost arrogantly descends the staircase at a grand reception she is giving, and, seemingly ignoring everybody, manages to turn every head in the place with the new creation she is wearing! Marvellous!! To the best of my knowledge this movie has never been shown on British TV.
So, over here at least, a forgotten film worth investigating.