Reviews written by registered user
|6 reviews in total|
I am prompted to review not based on any passionate feelings for this
movie. I tend to agree with those reviewers who did not "feel"
Deneuve's portrayal of Lucile in the movie and thus, I think this movie
failed. I think in fact all of Sagan's adaptations to film have failed.
But that is why I am adding my review, to disagree with the reviewer who called the original novel "silly." In fact, there is nothing more beautiful and poignant, simultaneously light and heavy, light and dark, as a Francoise Sagan novel. I don't say she is one of the greatest or most profound of French writers even in the 20th century, but she is so far from being silly it offends the senses to hear it; she has a perfect grip of the human heart and its dance with the human mind, and a magnificent grasp of phrasing, enough to convey profundity and round the most incidental of characters that most writers would allow to lay flat.
As this is not a place to review the novel, I will only say in contrast to the film that Lucile's struggle between Antoine and Charles is not passionless nor can it be summed up simply as a "heart vs. head" conflict, although I appreciate this is the easiest way to summarize and is not inaccurate. In short, it gets a 5 from me and not a zero because it is so faithful to the book, and yet, it gets a 5 and not a 10 because (I suspect) the direction and performances were inadequate to the task of explaining the relationships, the everyday, everyman experiences of love &/or heartbreak that Sagan originally put down so masterfully.
Such an unpretentious gem, this belongs in the collection of anyone
with a sophisticated sense of humour (do I really mean it? YES!) who is
well loved for successful movie parties. I'm afraid friendless bores
might not get the point.
Many people these days rate a movie by how "slick" it is without really stopping to consider how difficult it is to write crisp, witty dialogue that doesn't loiter about taking itself too seriously. CFTPL is well written, well paced and sports a pretty decent cast of actors - there are weak moments, but the strong ones in which riotous lines are delivered with uncanny timing far outweigh them. The original songs are hilarious, and the novelty of the unique take on an old form allows a certain knee-slapping unpredictability to the familiar formula's.
The "monster movieness" is self-consciously derived from the cultish success of what we now consider the bad special effects of 50s horror, as another reviewer has said, but it is done so smilingly, and with such a nod to what makes those movies fun for us now that one needs only a rudimentary understanding of the genre to appreciate what the filmmakers are doing here.
There are many swell things about this movie, not the least of which is how much fun it obviously was to make. These people love life, and we need more movies from people who manage to convey a love of life in their art. Yes, this is Art! Each of the characters is a believable stereotype, all the actors take center stage in some manner at some point, constantly setting each other up for memorable moments. With such an ensemble, a movie that causes its audience to come away with a clear sympathy for each of character as the lead (most people will choose one or two favorites, I couldn't!) is no simple task - there are so many fantastic, quotable lines to go around that the director was able to dole them out generously, and the actors didn't disappoint him by leaving any of the dialogue limp. By the same token, each character has a distinct & round enough voice that none of his lines could imaginably have been delivered by any of the others. Okay, you sucked it out of me: my favorite by a very slim margin has got to be the Paul Lind channelling Philip Clarke. No stank you Randall!!!
Bottom line, it's relatively short, never beats its shtick into the ground and maintains an undeadly pace through multiple viewings. Get it in you!
You can't really love this picture, to be honest, though I really do
want to love anything with Hepburn. In fact, this was the first time I
ever caught myself thinking she'd put in a second-rate performance, but
that's arguable - some will say that her boyishness actually was well
done, and I can't entirely disagree with that.
The truth is that this movie is bursting with melodramatic affectation, and that is rather off-putting to us who are so used to the post-Brando state of character representation. We have to believe that the actor IS the character for the whole thing (writing, characterization, acting, everything) to be a success. If we are embarrassed by what we perceive as a bad performance, the whole thing's in danger of being embarrassing. Now I am no expert on 30s cinema, but I have seen a lot of this kind of thing originating from that decade and I kind of reckon it was the expected style of performance, still left-over from the silent days when body language was all a performer had. Knowing what Hepburn would be capable of bringing later, I think it can't be that she relied on the melodrama like a crutch - instead it's my feeling that she was too easily by Cukor's direction, since many of the other cast members act similarly.
The script is also weak, as it relies on the audience using their imagination far too much in order to fill in the gaps we assume exist in the novel. A good writer/director team will indicate passage of time more fluidly than this; we are left with a lurching sensation, like weeks or months have passed for the characters but not for us, and some might even be confused by the sudden shift of action. If it hadn't been for this clumsiness, I would have given the picture another star for scope.
The film gets the five stars I gave it for Cary Grant's performance, which is one of the best of his career, a superb, well rounded job, and of course it is good enough to deserve a recommendation for the film, even if everything else about it was not-so-good.
This film has it all, great photography, well developed plot AND story,
snappy dialogue and passable acting. I suppose I shouldn't say it has
it "all" in that case, as the characters are not particularly round and
because of that the acting is not always completely satisfying to me.
But that doesn't prevent me from popping this movie in again and again,
just because it's non-stop action and so so pretty to look at.
"Leave it Beaver" fans should see this, of course, but might be slightly disappointed that Beaumont is a bit more rigid than the sit-com serial allowed him to be - I wished for more warmth from his character, as I know he was capable of conveying. John Ireland, however, was brilliantly evil and his acting, at least, was top notch.
I haven't read all of the numerous comments, so maybe someone has
already mentioned this, but this film is not film noir, and "Gilda" is
not a femme-fatale. Oh sure, she's dangerous, but not deadly.
That said, if you wanna see a great actress delivering sharp dialogue and exhibiting fantastic chemistry with her "romantic opposite" then get this film NOW. If you need a clear, well developed storyline and hope for an equally solid supporting cast, I don't recommend it. I know, I know, Hayworth is ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC and makes this a great movie all by herself, she's strong enough to carry the rest of it on her shoulders. If the filmmakers had worked a little harder, this could have been as great as Casablanca, but they stopped short after developing Hayworth and Ford's chapters in the plot line, and left the rest hanging, like a great painting in a rather crappy frame.
Funny, the comment there about the title - it's the strangest part of
the adaptation because at least it IS mentioned in the film, but
nowhere in the book. It's an absolute mystery to me how this title made
it through intact when great titles like "Farewell My Lovely" were
dumbed down to "Murder My Sweet" for the sake of Hollywood audiences.
James M. Cain originally submitted the story to Alfred Knopf with the
title "BBQ" (which makes sense in context) and was asked to change it;
he considered "Black Puma" and "The Devil's Checkbook" before settling
on the mystifying title by which the novel and both adaptations are
Anyway, I like the film and think it's a great straight adaptation of the book, though the dialogue in the beginning seems a bit hurried (for the sake of the quick establishment of character and story) - the book does a better job of painting the hobo/gypsy lifestyle Frank embraces, and I think it's pretty central to the eventual conflict between him and Cora, so it's a shame it wasn't better depicted in the film.
Lana Turner is good, but probably just a bit mis-cast - she's a little too "glamorous" for Cora, which is also established immediately in the famous opening shot of her legs and lipstick (in contrast to the book, where she was introduced in an apron, working hard for the business like she always says she wants to.)
One note for femme-fatale buffs: Cora and Nick in the film are surnamed "Smith," which in the book was Cora's maiden name. (Nick in the book was Greek - "Papadakis") Is this a statement on marriage in general, or perhaps a desire to eliminate the racial implications in what happens? Seems unlikely; it is what it is, for smarter people than me to unravel.
"So long mister, thanks for the ride!"