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Classic Ethereal Fantasy
Albert Lewin's independently produced and directed UK film PANDORA AND THE FLYING DUTCHMAN (1951) is one of the most ethereal and haunting love stories ever filmed. Lewin directs with a keen vision and doesn't often stray from the ethereal atmosphere, to the viewers delight. We get truly superb performances by the entire cast, particularly Ava Gardner, who delivers a heart-felt and very memorable performance. Not to mention the other-worldly photography, which is beautifully shot by two-time Oscar winner, the master cinematographer, Jack Cardiff (BLACK NARCISSUS,THE RED SHOES). Another major addition to this film is the musical score by classical composer Alan Rawsthorne, which is dream-like and uplifting, yet blended with a sense of melancholy. The score also blends poetically with the other-worldly visual richness to extraordinary effect. Fans of classic fantasy films are sure to be delighted. Highly recommended.
It's quite amazing to me that EVANGELINE isn't more well known, particularly among silent film enthusiasts. What struck me most when watching this movie for the first time were the incredibly spellbinding close-up shots of Evangeline (DOLORES DEL RIO) as she was swept away with the most innocent feelings of pure love in her encounters with her beloved, Gabriel (ROLAND DREW). Her eyes flutter with excitement and anticipation of the happiness to be for her and Gabriel. This dreamy and romantic beginning quickly becomes only a memory for the two when they are separated by the war between the British and the French. Evangeline then endlessly wanders the states in her quest to reunite with her lost love. The cinematography is unforgettable in a number of different shots, particularly of Del Rio and the separation scenes. The use of the selected color tints are also highly effective as each color conveys the mood of the different sequences. Del Rio delivers a truly angelic performance that, in my opinion, wouldn't have been as effective if this movie had been in sound. I do not believe that EVANGELINE would have worked so well as a talkie. We are quite lucky that the film wasn't re-shot as a talkie to suit the new excitement of the sound era, which was already upon the world of cinema in the year of its release (1929), for the images that you experience is pure gold.
Double Harness (1933)
Double Harness (1933) - Harding Delivers ...
I just caught this sixty-nine minute comedy/romance from RKO (released to American theaters in 1933) on TCM as part of their lost-and-found spot tonight. Very fun picture directed by John Cromwell and starring Ann Harding, William Powell, and Lucille Browne. I am not very familiar with Ms. Harding's career, but I must say that I was very much impressed with her performance here. Actresses today should watch her in this film and take lessons. Her facial expressions had so much depth and realism, something that we, with few exceptions, do not see in modern actors. Powell holds his own as a playboy wanting to do little with his life besides play Polo and women. This was a nice warm-up spot for Powell until he would make his most legendary 'The Thin Man' ('34) the following year. DOUBLE HARNESS has a heck of a lot to offer in its 69 minute runtime. Let's hope we see this one appear on DVD soon.
White Cargo (1942)
Masterpiece of Camp !
Almost every film buff would watch this and immediately write WHITE CARGO (1942) off the map due to the 'anti camp' syndrome. Although this movie is definitely campy, it is still a work of art. Take it to the camping ground and watch it at night by the fire. There is a certain magic to this movie that is sure to make the atmosphere of s'mores and grilled hot dogs all the more enjoyable.
HEDY LAMARR's caked-on brown makeup reminded me of Jennifer Jones' 'Pearl Chavez' in the (at times) campy classic DUEL IN THE SUN(which is a personal favorite of mine) made four years later in 1946. LAMARR has an over the top accent that is hardly believable. However, she pulled it off! Believe me, White Cargo is worth it just to see Hedy sweat on her dark skin wearing a one-piece bikini top throughout this movie! Walter Pigeon is a flame of fire all the way to the end. Very obscure part for Walter to be playing with such intensity.
The story takes absurd and wild twists and turns and is nothing if not purely fun entertainment. It doesn't have a long runtime, only about 80 minutes or so. It's not a large commitment of time. If you are a fan of camp, don't miss this classic.
That Hagen Girl (1947)
Supreme Forties Melodrama
I must admit that this movie was the sort that you can't stop watching after it starts. Shirley Temple plays a 17-year-old (Mary Hagen) that has mystery surrounding her birth and who her parents are - and as a result is mercilessly discriminated against by the entire "town elite". Temple is splendid in this role as I believe is the best performance of her career. Solid performance by co-star Ronald Reagen as he played the man who everyone suspected was Mary Hagen's father. The entire cast puts in solid performances as well.
Give "That Hagen Girl" movie a chance, I don't care what the average rating is!
I watched this movie today. Just as I was almost ready to find something of even mid-grade quality, this movie kept me watching it, primarily to see how much more ridiculous it would evolve.
Tori Spelling is undeniably unbelievable in every part of the movie. Ivan Sergei is a laugh at best. After about ten minutes into this film I looked at my friend and said, "You or I could seriously act as well as these two actors", and thats pretty painful since neither of us could act worth a lick.
Overall, the story was predictable from start to finish. The characters acted as robots. If you haven't seen this movie, SPARE YOURSELF! It's that bad.
Portrait of Jennie (1948)
Review on Portrait of Jennie
Portrait Of Jennie is a romance/drama/fantasy. It was produced by David Selznick, who produced most of Jennifer Jones films. Selznick is most remembered for producing one of the most famous films of all time 'Gone With The Wind". This film ranks toward the best producing effort of Selznick's career. This film features phenomenal scenes of 1940s NYC, haunting music, and a storyline that is unmatched for its category. Jennifer Jones and Joseph Cotten get an A+ each for their respective performances. Great supporting cast that includes Ethel Barrymore (who has a fantastic performance), Lilian Gish (popular silent film actress), Cecil Kellaway, and more. Since this review contains no spoilers, I will just say that 'Portrait of Jennie' is in a category of its own when it comes to romance/drama/fantasy films. A must see for all fans of classic films. I rate this film 10/10.
Escape Me Never (1947)
Review on Escape Me Never
I give this movie 10-10 because it is captivating from start to finish. Errol Flynn is charming as usual and Ida Lupino has a very strong showing. It was the first time that I've watched a Ida Lupino film, but it will not be the last. She brings a sensitivity to the screen but also strong-willed and her own person. Her on-screen passion compensates for the lack of funds put into this movie. Lupino also compliments Errol Flynn as a great on-screen couple. Escape Me Never has a great feel to it and will not disappoint. The "I hate Errol Flynn" bandwagon may have been emboldened by this film, however, because Errol is flirtatious and is as womanizing as ever. But, if you watch the entire film you will find that he comes around in the end to realizing his true love and commitment. Watch this movie! It will not disappoint.