Beware these Women! Festival April 2011 - closing scene

Now the festival is over..

I hope that you had fun with our BEWARE THESE WOMEN Festival in April 2011 – I surely enjoyed it!

Thank you all for following it – and this blog!

And: Thank you to Monty, who came up with the idea of doing a cross-over - and thank you to Dawn, who joined us - both of them made awesome posts.

And - which I love most about it - without having a great agreement we all did our posts in so much different styles. It was great - and if May wasn't one of my favourite month I would plead for a longer April!! ;")

But now - my goodbye to the invidious film-women of April:

Maybe you like to watch more films with women who are dangerous? Or even able to fight for themselves?

Here come a couple of films (in random order) , which you might like to see:

  1. MILDRED PIERCE (1945) - In which Veda (Ann Blyth) is able to make her mother Mildred (Joan Crawford) do a lot of things for her - and: In this film Ann Blyth has the guts to slap Joan Crawford!! :"o

  2. SALOME (1953) - In which Queen Herodias (Judith Anderson) is willing to make her daughter Princess Salome (Rita Hayworth) sleep with her husband King Herod (Charles Laughton).

  3. REBECCA (1940) -In which are two very dangerous women - and one is dangerous though she is already death! Mrs Danvers (Judith Anderson again) is scary - but the late Rebecca de Winter is the real dangerous woman.. Right?

  4. THE THREE MUSKETEERS (1948) - In which the dangerous woman bear the name de Winter! It's Lady de Winter (Lana Turner) - and to see her hand drenched in blood is a real artistic (and impressiv) way to show that a murder happened.

  5. PEYTON PLACE (1957) - In which Marion Partridge (Peg Hillias) maybe is just a minor part – but boy is she unpleasant! Maybe the woman who disgusts me most in classic Hollywood films..

  6. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962) - In which it isn’t always fair weather between sisters like Bette Davis and Joan Crawford..

  7. THE HEIRESS (1949) - In which a mousy young lady (Olivia de Havilland) won't forget who betrayed her (- even if it is Montgomery Clift!)

  8. WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967) - In which Audrey Hepburn proofs that blind doesn’t mean helpless! Make sure to watch this one in the dark! ;")

  9. NIAGARA (1953) - In which beautiful Marilyn Monroe is not the good wife Joseph Cotton expected…

  10. THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940) -In which Ida Lupino goes mad after (or in the moment?) she murdered her husband (Alan Hale).

  11. SUNSET BLVD. (1950) - In which an aging actress - the immortal Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) - is still living in the past. - Remember: A woman who can do a good impersonation of Charlie Chaplin 's little Tramp mustn't be an easy person..

  12. THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI (1947) -In which you will see a blonde Rita Hayworth - several times. ;")

  13. LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN (1945) - In which a very disturbing Gene Tierney has the female lead.

  14. THE LADY EVE (1941) - In which a hilarious Henry Fonda doesn’t have a chance against Barbara Stanwyck. - Well, who would?

  15. ANGEL FACE (1952) - In which even Robert Mitchum can be troubled by a woman like Jean Simmons. ;")

  16. SUDDEN FEAR (1952) - In which - well, it’s Joan Crawford vs. Gloria Grahame!!

  17. WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION (1957) - In which Marlene Dietrich is a good wife – or not? ;”)

  18. PAT AND MIKE (1952) - In which Katharine Hepburn knocks Spencer Tracy out of his troubles! ;”)

  19. JOHNNY GUITAR (1954) - In which Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge show that a western can be woman's stuff, too. ;")

  20. PRETTY POISON (1968) - In which Sue Ann (Tuesday Weld) is manipulating Anthony Perkins’ film character ~ let’s be honest: To me it seems to be pretty easy to manipulate Anthony Perkins' film characters.. ;”)

Boy - don't you just love lists? ;")

Here is another one listing my favourite dangerous acting actresses (in no particular order again) :

1. Miriam Hopkins - because she can act both dumb and mean at the same time.

2. Gale Sondergaard - because she can act and I just love her. End of story. ;")

3. Agnes Moorehead - Do I have to explain? I do not think so.

4. Ida Lupino - because she can act crazy in a very impressiv way.

5. Judith Andersson - because she can act so very, very wicked.

6. Gladys Cooper - because she can show you how mean old ladies can be. ;")

7. Angela Lansbury - because she can act sooo ice cold!

8. Anne Baxter - because she can act mean - and still won't lose her beauty

9. Gloria Grahame - because she can act so cheap!

10. Bette Davis and Joan Crawford - Because they are Queen Bee and J. ;")

But remember: It’s still film – all of them just acted bad/mean/invidious etc. ;”)

- see: The wicked witch is not that mean:

I simply adore Margaret Hamilton!

Well, “Girls just wanna have fun!” ;”)

Maybe we’ll do something similar someday.. – Maybe:





...kick up your heels and have some fun!

We'll see you after the weekend!

Flick of The Day: L.A Confidential

The work of American novelist James Ellroy is notoriously hard to adapt for the screen, written as it is in short staccato sentences with dense plotting involving numerous strands and characters. This is its strength as fiction but obviously harder to carry onto the big screen. If this in done badly, you get a flop like Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia, if done well, you get today's flick of the day, L.A Confidential one of the best films of the 1990's and a multiple Oscar winner.
Apart from a great script from director Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland which successfully reduces the scope of Ellroy's novel while still retaining the core story, the other main strength of this movie is a cast to die for. Russell Crowe is a violent yet good hearted Detective Bud White, James Cromwell is his Machiavellian commanding officer, Captain Dudley Smith. Guy Pearce is Edmund Exeley an up and coming strait laced star of the LAPD. Kevin Spacey, is Hollywood Jack Vincennes, an amoral cop to the stars. Kim Basinger is Lynn Bracken, a high class call girl whose career is managed by millionaire Pierce Morehouse Patchett, a brilliant turn from David Strathairn and finally Danny DeVito as the sleazy magazine editor Sid Hudgens.
Set in 1950s Los Angeles, the film opens on Christmas Eve when a group of drunken detectives attack some newly apprehended suspects in an event the press dub, "Bloody Christmas". Thereafter in an attempt to clean up the force, the top brass seek to prosecute the officers involved. Keen to move up, Exeley agrees to testify against his own colleagues, making him a hated figure while Bud White and Jack Vincennes refuse. The film then follows the rise and fall of these three detectives and their boss, Captain Smith. They become embroiled in the investigation of a shocking massacre at a late night coffee shop that may or may not involve organised crime. However all is not as it seems, and  an intricate plot leads to a great twisting conclusion involving drugs, prostitution and police corruption that goes to the very top. 
With a plot dense enough to match the great of the genre like Chinatown or The Big Sleep, this is a great detective yarn. Hanson has managed to perfectly capture the glamour and sleazy underbelly of post-war Los Angeles. Down to a tee, everything feels perfectly of the period in terms of fashion, decor and location. It sucks you into the period and tells a great story.The film received 9 Oscar nominations but lost in almost all categories due to the unstoppable juggernaut that was Titanic. It is shocking now to think that a film as poorly written and acted as Titanic outshone this picture but such are the unknowing ways of the Academy. One of the few awards it did win was for its screenplay, adapted as I've said by Hanson and Helgeland which is well deserved as the film is endlessly quotable.

Bud White: Merry Christmas. 
Lynn Bracken: Merry Christmas to you, officer. 
Bud White: That obvious, huh? 
Lynn Bracken: It's practically stamped on your forehead

This really is a must see film, combining a great cast with a fine script to produce a really old-fashioned actor driven movie, the kind that studios either don't want to make or are unable of making. They seem more and more interested in producing thrash in a 3D glaze with each passing day. I am no luddite and have never been against the use of advancing technology in cinema but it should not be at at the expense of basic storytelling. It is telling that this film lost out to effects driven schlock like Titanic, telling and disappointing. A great film.


Diana Ross and Mary Wilson (with Florence Ballard reflected in mirror) backstage at The T.A.M.I. Show, 1964

Female impersonators, 1964

In both instances, we're fairly certain someone got bitch-slapped shortly after the shutter clicked.

Harmonious Hair

What teases.

A Sunday Kind of Love

1960's girl group cult artist, Josephine Sunday, performing on American Bandstand and doing her best to make you forget Ronnie Spector's name.

Flick of The Day: The African Queen

We have looked at the work of Humphrey Bogart before in The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon which was the first collaboration between Bogart and director John Huston. Perhaps their most famous collaboration is today's flick of the day, The African Queen. A film as famous for its laborious location shoot as for the end result, it is a great technical achievement even today its arduous shoot earned Bogart and co-star Katharine Hepburn Academy Awards nominations.
Adapted from a novel by C.S Forester, the African Queen is set in East Africa during World War 1 and stars Bogart as Charlie Allnut, a gin swilling slob of who captains the steam boat of the title, delivering supplies up and down the river. Hepburn is her usual prim self as Rose Sayer, this time the sister of a missionary who dies when the Germans invade. Allnut offers to take Rose back to the civilisation and together the two begin an arduous journey down the river. Charlie mentions in passing that the Germans have a gunboat, the Louisa, that controls the lake into which the river drains. Rose becomes obsessed with sinking the gunboat, perhaps for retribution at the death of her brother or perhaps for a need to do something to help the war effort. In either case, Charlie believes navigating the river will be suicide enough without turning their small steam boat into a torpedo boat. The pair overcome a number of obstacles, from white water rapids to a German Fort, gradually revealing the softer sides of their characters to each other and falling in love. When they eventually make it to the lake, they are resolved to sink the Louisa.
As noted at the outset, this film is best remembered for the filming of it as much as anything else. The shoot was over 4 months on location in the Congo and Uganda. This was not your typical Hollywood shoot with Bogart's wife Lauren Bacall on set for the duration and in her own words acting as cook, nurse and clothes washer. To combat the threat of disease, both Bogart and Huston survived on a diet of canned food and Scotch whiskey, more of the latter than the former. It worked as almost everyone else in the cast came down with dysentery during filming. As Bogart explained:

"Whenever a fly bit Huston or me, it dropped dead"

Hepburn, who did not drink, fared much worse, losing weight and getting very ill at one point. Despite this, the cast and crew pulled through and overcame many other obstacles such as marauding hippos and a boat fire to put together a memorable film. The shoot was documented in Clint Eastwood's fictionalised White Hunter, Black Heart
The true strength of the film is the interplay between Bogart and Hepburn, for they are the only ones on camera for most of the film. If they don't gel, then you don't really have a film, thankfully they make great sparring partners.

Charlie: All this fool talk about The Louisa. Goin' down the river... 
Rose: What do you mean? 
Charlie: I mean we ain't goin' to do nothin' of the sort. 
Rose: Why, of course we're going! What an absurd idea! 
Charlie: What an absurd idea! What an absurd idea! Lady, I may be a born fool, but you got ten absurd ideas to my one, an' don't you forget it!

This apart, the film is a romantic melodrama with adventure elements, it is however a fun journey all the same, holding your interest as they go from A to B. The difficulties involved in filming are obvious throughout, from the leech invested waters where only for Bogart's objection, they would have used real leeches at John Huston's request. Even for a director as peerless as Huston, this stands out as an achievement.
All in all, a fine film which earned Bogart his only Oscar win, a crying shame for perhaps the greatest leading man in cinema history. A great script and an interesting tale are combined to great effect by John Huston. It is well worth seeking out for a viewing.

Joan Arden

Trivia time: In 1925, MGM teamed with Movie Weekly magazine to hold a contest, bestowing $1,000 upon the lucky reader who chose the perfect name to rechristen their latest starlet, Lucille LeSueur. But, there were multiple entries with the winning name: "Joan Arden." Rather than award multiple prizes, the thrifty Metro went with the second choice: "Joan Crawford."

Two Different Worlds

Babe Paley, photographed by Richard Avedon, 1960

Bess Myerson, ca. 1950's

Two differing ideals of 1950's elegance -- one, the uncrowned queen of the social set; the other, a tiare-ed ruler of the television set.

Crowning Glory

As suggested by our beloved Toby Worthington, wouldn't this charming chapeau have been the perfect finishing touch to our Easter ensemble?

Flick of The Day: Far and Away

Given that it is Easter week and the 95th anniversary of the Easter Rebellion of 1916, it would seem ideal to take the opportunity to review a film with an Irish connection. The last such film we examined was John Ford's The Informer, which takes a romanticised look at the Irish rebellion. Today's flick of the day is an altogether more modern affair, Ron Howard's Far and Away.
Starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, then very much at the height of their powers, Far and Away is an epic tale of romance and adventure in 1890's Ireland and America. At the film's open, we are given a brief outline of the struggles of Ireland's masses against the powerful Landlords that control their country before being introduced to Joseph Donnelly, played by Cruise sporting an Irish accent that is not awful but uneven, sounding as if he is from Ulster, Munster, Connacht and Leinster in the space of a few lines of dialogue. However, that said his performance is quite restrained and doesn't play to any stereotype too much. After Joseph's father dies and his home is burnt by his Landlord for non payment of rent, he vows revenge. He makes his way to the Estate of the Landlord, Daniel Christie, on the back of a donkey and with a rusty rifle in hand. Christie is played with wit and charm by the legendary Robert Prosky of Hill Street Blues fame. As he hides in the stables with the intention of murdering Christie, he is discovered by his daughter Shannon, played by Kidman. After a series of events, the two end up running away together, taking passage on a ship bound for America. Shannon is motivated by a wish to break free from her parents and Joseph by the prospect of owning his own land. Suffice as to all does not go according to plan on their arrival in Boston. Shannon is robbed of her wealth and forced to live with Joseph in a doss house, under the thumb of a Tammany Hall style Ward Boss played by Colm Meaney. After a series of trials and tribulations, including a bare knuckle boxing career for Joseph, the film climaxes with the Oklahoma Land Race of 1893.
The best compliment that can be paid this film is that it is at times visually stunning. It is probably the last film to be shot in 70mm Super Panavision and this gives the photography and epic grandeur. The land race is a highlight, using a huge amount of extras and shot with a wide focus, it is a spectacle to behold. It is a shame that the use of 70mm never really took off for it gives films the kind of stunning visual quality that television can never deliver. That said, key sequences of Christopher Nolan's Inception were shot in 70mm so hopefully it might tempt other film-makers to make use of this format.  The film is stylish throughout with location shooting in Ireland and lavish period sets throughout, the film's strongest suit is its visuals.
That said, the script is not without its moments, dramatic in tone but with some fine humorous scenes and interplay particularly between Shannon and Joseph. 

Joseph Donnelly: [about Grace] Grace isn't a tramp. She's a dancer in the Burley-cue. 
Shannon Christie: That's not dancing. That's kicking her knickers up. I suspect if you asked her to, she'd kick her knickers off. 
Joseph Donnelly: Oh, maybe she would. 
Shannon Christie: Has she? 
Joseph Donnelly: Let me see... I'm trying to remember. 
Shannon Christie: Well, think hard! If there's any brains left in your head!

Kidman and Cruise are fine in their respective roles and aided by a fine supporting cast led by Colm Meaney carry the film to its natural conclusion. As mentioned previously, the accents are none too heinous which is always key in any Irish role. It helps that they were a couple while making this film as there is obvious chemistry between the two which no doubt helps the film's romantic subplot. 
All in all, a worthy addition to the canon of the Irish themed cinema. Visually enjoyable and a decent snapshot of the immigrant experience in America in the 1890's. Cruise and Kidman are strong and the tale is compelling enough to carry the audience through to the end. Well worth a look.

The Three R's

Rod Cameron

Rory Calhoun

Randolph Scott

Rope 'em, ride 'em, reel 'em in.