David O. Selznick, Elizabeth Taylor, Farrah Fawcett, Gene Kelly, George Cukor, Lana Turner, Leslie Howard, Loretta Young, Marlene Dietrich, Nils Asther, Olivia de Havilland, Ricardo Montalban, Tyrone Power, Vivien Leigh
One of the nicest Technicolor achievements of the 1940s, “Blood and Sand” will capture your attention from the very beginning. The film depicts the life of a famous bullfighter, Juan Gallardo, who is doomed to have a tragic destiny as soon as he reaches stardom. Tyrone Power is in the leading role and he plays to perfection a man torn between the love for his wife and the passion for his lover, but also between the quiet family life and the demanding career, that later ruins his existence. Despite his glorious years, Juan knows very well what is the immediate fall after the rise. His tormented destiny is worsened after he meets a femme fatale, the exotic Doña Sol, who is masterfully played by Rita Hayworth (the director Rouben Mamoulian himself said in an interview that Rita was his choice, because she was perfect for the part). On the other side, Juan is still very much in love with his gentle wife, Carmen, played by the beautiful Linda Darnell. Unfortunately, he puts an end to his relationship with Doña Sol much too late, the moment when his life seems to be compromised. His wife’s forgiveness and faith in Saint Mary can’t help him any longer. He dies in apparent glory, at a young age – certainly the price he had to pay for all his sins. “Blood and Sand” was a successful production, that earned an Oscar for Best Cinematography, Color, and a nomination for Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Color. It was filmed very nicely and all the stars (including the veteran Nazimova as Juan’s mother) gave a wonderful performance. I highly recommend you to watch this film also because you will get to see a memorable dance number of Rita Hayworth and Anthony Quinn. As a matter of fact, this film is a “must” for all the fans of Rita Hayworth and not only, so whenever you have the chance to find it, don’t hesitate to watch it.
The screen version of the homonymous novel by Louis Bromfield, “The Rains Came” is one of the greatest films made in 1939. Starring Myrna Loy, George Brent and Tyrone Power, this production of the 20th Century Fox Studios was a big hit, earning an Oscar for Best Effects, and also five nominations, for Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Film Editing, and Best Music. It was directed by the masterful Clarence Brown, who was loaned by MGM, like Myrna Loy, to the 20th Century Fox for this film. “The Rains Came” is beautifully photographed, with lots of impressive scenes – especially the earthquake and the floods. It was a great accomplishment for 1939, which is considered “Hollywood’s greatest year”, as many top films and masterpieces appeared then, such as “Gone With The Wind”, “The Wizard of Oz”, “The Women”, “Ninotchka”, and “Goodbye, Mr. Chips”. In “The Rains Came”, aside from the wonderful music by Alfred Newman and the special effects that were as effective as the ones that I saw in “The Good Earth”, the real attraction were the actors’ performances (and the good looks of Tyrone Power as the Indian Major), the costumes and the exotic settings. The film’s budget was also a huge one for those times, approx. $2.600.000, but it had enough earnings, as it was amply publicized in the international press. I, personally, liked very much the acting of George Brent, who reminds us of Clark Gable, and Tyrone Power and Maria Ouspenskaya were also impressive, but I have to admit that Myrna Loy was terribly miscast. There were times when not even she realised what to do with the scene. We are all accustomed to see her as William Powell’s wife in “The Thin Man” series – witty, funny, very distinguished and ladylike. In the role of Lady Edwina Esketh, the ideal choice would have been Jean Harlow, but unfortunatly she died in 1937. Another good choice would have been Greta Garbo (who appeared in a quite similar film opposite George Brent, and that was “The Painted Veil”), Marlene Dietrich or Joan Crawford, so that is why I really can’t understand what made them cast Myrna Loy. She was good, because she was a very fine actress, but her acting was superior in other films. All in all, “The Rains Came” is a top film, without being a masterpiece. You will like the atmosphere and also the direction of Clarence Brown – especially in the romantic scenes between George Brent and the young Brenda Joyce, who was a pleasant surprise among the supporting actors, and who later played Jane in the “Tarzan” films from the 1940s. I might as well add that there was also a remake, “The Rains of Ranchipur”, from 1955, directed by Jean Negulesco in glorious Technicolor, with a perfect choice for the leading role, Lana Turner, but with a disastrous performance of Richard Burton as the Indian Major.
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
O eră demult apusă, când frumusețea era o caracteristică nu doar a femeilor, ci și a bărbaților. Robert Taylor, Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Tyrone Power, Cary Grant, Errol Flynn… Doar câțiva dintre cei mai chipeși actori care iluminau ecranul cu prezența lor impozantă în marile filme ale anilor ’30-’40.