Bette Davis, Claudette Colbert, Deanna Durbin, Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo, Herbert Marshall, Ingrid Bergman, Janet Leigh, Jean Seberg, Joanne Woodward, John Gilbert, Kim Novak, Laurence Olivier, Lizabeth Scott, Melvyn Douglas, Monique classique, Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor, Rosalind Russell, Tony Curtis, Vivien Leigh
“Angel” (1937) tells the story of the typical love triangle between a wife, her husband and her lover. Marlene Dietrich excels in this role, and Herbert Marshall is effective, too, as her husband, but Melvyn Douglas is simply unconvincing as the lover. I would have chosen Douglas as the husband, instead. Though his acting is usually good (see “Ninotchka”, for instance), Douglas is not particularly suitable for the “great lover” parts. He is somehow aloof and aristocratic as Marshall, but to me, Marshall is physically more appealing. Dietrich simply steals the show, and she wears some magnificent costumes, too. The film, directed by Ernst Lubitsch in his incomparable style, is very realistic to the lifestyle of high class people in the 30s. Beautiful, young, sophisticated wives married to boring aristocrats, diplomats or businessmen, and trying to live their life as mistresses – some of them having a child or none with their respective husbands. Dietrich manages to play very well the role of the unfulfilled wife and desirable woman, sometimes assuming false or double identity to find moments of happiness and sentimental fulfillment. Even if the film is not particularly original (there have been lots of films in the 1930s on the problem of love triangles; see also “Bella Donna”, an extremely rare British production from 1934, starring Conrad Veidt, Mary Ellis and John Stuart), it does have the glamour of the Hollywoodian productions between the two World Wars. So, I recommend “Angel” (Dietrich’s character’s pseudonym) to the fans of Marlene Dietrich and to all those who love good, old, black-and-white productions.
I was very impressed by the movie “The Little Foxes”. First, the interesting play by Lillian Hellman about a ruthless clan from 1900 in a small town in Alabama. Second, the extraordinary performance of Bette Davis in the leading role of the evil Regina Giddens. She was simply terrific, as if the part were made for her. I don’t know how it was Tallulah Bankhead’s performance in the original Broadway production, but I think that Bette Davis was the best choice for the screen version. Third, the direction of the gifted William Wyler, who directed Bette Davis in other great successful films, “Jezebel” and “The Letter”. Fourth, the great cast, which also includes Herbert Marshall as Horace Giddens, Regina’s husband, and Teresa Wright as Alexandra Giddens, their daughter. “The Little Foxes” seems like a theatrical play made for the big screen. It is not a typical American film. In some way, it resembles the British films, which are superior to the American films when it comes to acting. This motion picture of the Samuel Goldwyn Productions received 9 Oscar nominations, for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Bette Davis), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Teresa Wright and Patricia Collinge, who appeared together also in Hitchcock’s “Shadow of a Doubt”), Best Director, Best Writing, Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, and Best Music. The scenes I liked the most were the ones that involved Bette Davis and Herbert Marshall. They were both superb in the moments where they exchanged ironical and poisonous words. Also their facial expressions, which revealed Regina’s cruelty and Horace’s great pain, were impressive to me. I felt as if I were watching a play at the theatre. Rarely did I see such masterful performances gathered in a single Hollywood film. Others that come to my mind would be “Gone With The Wind”, “Grand Hotel”, “Casablanca”, “The Best Years of Our Lives”… I highly recommend you to watch “The Little Foxes”, another piece of artistry wonderfully made in the land of films that is Hollywood.
One of the most famous films directed by Ernst Lubitsch, “Trouble in Paradise” brings into our attention three great Hollywood forgotten stars: Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis and Herbert Marshall. The film itself is a hidden gem that was brought to surface only in the last couple of years, several film critics promoting it in their books and articles. I, personally, wasn’t so much enraptured by the script itself, which followed the typical line of a love triangle, but by the atmosphere itself. You will certainly love all the dresses that Hopkins and Francis wear and that were masterfully created by Travis Benton, the expensive jewellery, the Art Deco designs, and, of course, the actors’ performances. You will enjoy the presence of two familiar actors in the supporting cast, Edward Everett Horton (who appeared in most of the Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire movies) and C. Aubrey Smith (known for several classics, like “Waterloo Bridge”, “Rebecca”, and “The Prisoner of Zenda”). The plot of the film involves two professional thieves who make a scheme to steal the money from a wealthy businesswoman. Throughout the film, there are many references to the economic crisis from 1929-1932, but the glamour and the exciting life of the fortunate ones is certainly the key of this comedy. Lubitsch is great at such productions, as you will remember some other top films of his, such as “Ninotchka”, “To Be or Not to Be”, “The Shop Around the Corner”, and “Heaven Can Wait”. You will get to like “Trouble in Paradise” and even to dream about it – at least, it happened to me. I liked Kay Francis in particular, not just because she was such a terrific actress, but also because she was a distinguished and elegant presence, who possessed a lot of money in real life (no wonder why she usually played the role of a socialite) and who was famous for her splendid dresses that fit her to perfection, even more because she was a very tall woman, at 1.75 m. being taller than other tall celebrities in those times, like Greta Garbo and Rosalind Russell. All in all, I highly recommend you to watch this film. It’s high class entertainment in the purest old Hollywood style!
This review was published by me on my Conrad Veidt website, http://conradveidtforever.wordpress.com/.
“This is the film that defined Conrad’t quintessential role – the monocled, dangerous officer, who puts duty above everything, including love. I wouldn’t say he is a villain, but he is a character that exudes tension and a mix of passion and cold-blooded attitude. His “victim” here is the beautiful blonde and fine actress Madeleine Carroll (best known for Hitchcock’s 39 Steps and for The Prisoner of Zenda). Connie looks impeccable in elegant uniform and wearing monocle – obviously his trademark. My regret is that he hasn’t got here the leading role, but Herbert Marshall. As the title says, this is a spy film, one of the first of this genre in which Connie appeared over the next 10 years. This was also his first motion picture made in England as an immigrant from Germany. “I Was a Spy” has a few memorable scenes (such as the scene where the Commandant is trying to seduce the nurse) and is directed by Victor Saville (who also directed “Dark Journey”). It was very successful, even if what bothered me was the lack of musical score and of impressive sets. Unfortunately, several sequences were deleted, such as the one where the Commander is having a drink with Marthe at a café. It would be nice if the cut footage would be put back where it belonged, so we could trully enjoy this complex and very realistic film about the difficult times of World War I.”
One of the finest adaptations after the novels written by W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor’s Edge reunited the legendary and lovely couple Tyrone Power-Gene Tierney. These two beautiful creatures were really meant for each other and it surprises me that they weren’t a real couple in real life, too. At 145 minutes, this drama consists of a very complex plot, with many twists and turns. The story develops over 10 years, a period of time in which the lives of the main characters go through multiple changes. This is the story of a socialite lady who loses true love and who struggles to get it back after many years of separation. Isabel Bradley (Gene Tierney) is a wealthy and extremely attactive young woman who is desperate to become the wife of a handsome man, Larry Darrell (Tyrone Power). Her only problem is his indecision of turning himself into a prosperous businessman, and that is why he refuses the help from her family. He takes, instead, some odd jobs, below her expectations, and in the end she accepts the fact that she cannot live with him as a happy married couple. Larry tries to forget about the past and regains his strength in the Himalayas, where he finds an Indian guru who heals his inner wounds. From that moment, Larry becomes a different person and finds peace at last with himself. But Fate reunites him and Isabel after 10 years, even though she is now a married woman, mother of two children. No matter how much she fights to get him back, the old flame could never be the same…
As the action of the plot happens in Paris in the years between the two World Wars, the costumes and settings are typical to the late 20s. You will get to see Gene Tierney wearing some lovely dresses, designed by her husband, fashion designer Oleg Cassini. I might as well add here the stellar performances of Anne Baxter (winner of an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress) in the role of the rival of Isabel for Larry’s love, and of Clifton Webb (nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), as the pretentious, demanding and wealthy uncle of Isabel. The Razor’s Edge earned other two Oscar nominations, for Best Picture and Best Art Direction. Both Webb and Baxter won the coveted Golden Globes for their impressive roles. The great actor Herbert Marshall appears in the role of Somerset Maugham himself, as the close friend of the family, who tells the story of the main characters.
All in all, I highly recommend you to watch The Razor’s Edge, because it is a wonderful film and it was very much appreciated by the critics and moviegoers back in the 1940s, but also now, after over 65 years since its release.
You could watch the film here