Friday, September 3, 2010

That Wonderful Urge (1948)

Knitwear! Amazing sweaters! Oh, yeah, and Gene Tierney and Tyrone Power. And a nifty old airplane, too. By this time (maybe 15 minutes into the movie) I really should have turned it off. Instead, I kept watching, something I don't recommend to anyone else. Let me just give you the gist of it and you can learn from the mistake I made watching this dog, which is: catch the first 15 minutes of beautiful Sun Valley scenery, groovy knitwear and fantastic plane, then go do something else with the rest of your day.

The gist of this film: Tierney plays a rich heiress who is stalked in the papers by Power's character. Power's character tricks her into thinking he's someone else to get a story out of her, she finds out, tells everyone that they were secretly married and then won't recant that story despite his threats to embarrass her in front of her friends as a bumpkin hubby. They go back and forth for the rest of the movie...first he wants out, then she does, but this never happens at the same time. They are so bent on perpetrating on each other the punishment they think they deserve, that by the time it is all over and they are (naturally) in love, you just don't care anymore.

I'm disappointed. I have seen so little of either Tierney or Power and heard such great things about their work.

Aside from a delightful bit from Gene Lockhart (no relation to the leading lady--haha!) as the judge, a role similar to the one he played in Miracle on 34th Street, there's just not much here to give me any kind of "urge" to watch this again.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Private Lives (1931)

It is commonly known that I have a huge, husband-irking crush on Robert Montgomery. I also have more than a passing appreciation for the brilliant work of Norma Shearer. To have them in the same movie is always a treat, and to have them in a movie based on a play by Noel Coward...well, few cinematic treasures can compare.

According to Robert Osborne at TCM, Noel Coward did not like how this movie turned out, and while that might annoy some people, as a fellow writer I totally understand. It's all part of being a genius playwright, I suspect, that one would naturally have high standards that would preclude one from liking a production of your work in which you do not appear. He's one of the best, people. Don't judge.

Private Lives the movie is 30% screwball comedy and 70% clever dialogue, written with so much sophistication that you have to pay attention. And if you watch it with your children, they might think you're a trifle daft because you'll be laughing a lot and they won't know why. Just a hypothetical thought.

Shearer truly shines in this movie, stealing scenes from Montgomery quite ably. Also along for the ride are the always fun to watch Una Merkel and Reginald Denny (who will always be to me the architect in Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House).