Golden Age of Film

6 Degrees Film Roundup for June: Judy Garland at 100!

The best of…The “best of” films are sometimes hard to find! Because people have different tastes and some bad “B” movies are the ones you really might be in the mood for some nights. I had a friend who worked in the old movie rental stores, and people would come in looking for something different. They would complain when she recommended films to people that were just not right for them. And that seems to be the way of it. Everyone has different tastes and standards, and it’s hard to find something to agree on with “Family Film Night!” That’s why you end up watching documentaries like “Call of the Wild.” What may be hilariously funny to you can leave others cold. And it’s the same with film reviews. I’ve seen people complain about bad reviews that just loved the films that I or others have panned. It’s a subjective thing-the subject of movies and especially “Best of!” Judy Garland at 100   For films of Judy Garland, the most beloved is one of my personal favorites. The Wizard of Oz has so much in the way of talent and beauty and it is a very family-friendly film. And yet, the fantasy takes you to places that Lord of the Rings lovers would agree are timeless. The realm of Oz is a fictional land of fantasy that really represents so much that is ‘the best’ of Hollywood. The Wizard of Oz captures the essence of what Hollywood can be at its heights. And it was made in a year that has come to be considered the ‘height’ of the Golden age of film. The year 1939 saw so many great films made, that stacks of books have been written about it. That was how Judy Garland came to be first seen, and then univerally beloved on celluloid. Some recommendations for her best performances include Wizard of  Oz as well as Meet me in St Louis and In the Good Old Summertime. The Harvey Girls is one of the #MeToo films for women who can see what women were depicted on screen in a favorable light during the Golden Age of Film. They were not always simply objects and there were so many great performances from strong female leads that it is important to highlight them. Some of Judy Garland’s later performances showed a complete metamorphosis of her character and physical appearance that it is almost startling. Judgment at Nuremberg is one of the darker appearances, but Montgomery Clift is even more pronounced in his character. TCM Highlights   For lovers of film noir, two favorites that have been shown frequently of late are Laura with Gene Tierney and The Big Sleep with Bogart and Bacall.  And those who can take a dose of dark humor, Kubrick’s classic Dr Strangelove is shown (with scenes that are unfortunately almost too real for these dark political times!) The Armchair Film Fest This month, those who love summer films may also enjoy some of the Bad B’s. Forbidden Planet is a sci-fi classic that is campy, but not really in the same category as the formulaic bad movies that make the grade! Plan 9 from Outer Space is a must-see, as well as the Attack of the 50-Foot Woman. There is also one called The Wild, Wild Planet which looks as if it fits the bill and checks every box for Bad B! Later this month, Mel Gibson fans can see a film fest that includes the original Mad Max (which also fits into the Bad B category with its dubbed dialogue for Mel making it completely campy!) Also, Mrs Soffel, (with a real-life sad version of this film recently seen in the news, as Soffel is also based on a true story of a woman seduced into helping a convict escape from prison.) The Year of Living Dangerously is one of director Peter Weir’s best, and also foreshadows the darker elements of Mel Gibson’s true character in this story. And on the subject of ‘bad boys,’  James Dean is seen on TCM in two of his big hits made during his short life. Rebel without a cause and Giant are both very good films. And I’ve often speculated about where the rebel character would have taken him in his film career. The James Dean Legacy in Film is a chapter in my book, 6  Degrees of Film, with the theory that Paul Newman and Steve McQueen  ended up taking over the mantle of Rebel that was Dean’s Legacy. They were the stars in the roles he would have been offered as the dark and mixed-up youth becomes the troubled young man and finally a haunted and despairing loner in later life. Friday Flix Recommends… Our online magazine, Friday Flix, highlights some of the revisionist westerns, including one of my all-time favorites, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid. There’s a piece on some of Judy Garland’s ‘best films’ (See above!) And a beginner’s guide to American Film Noir. That is a new way to cover noir, (Noir means dark in French!) Noir is noir, and that can be American or French or any other combination of the above. In 6 Degrees of Film, there’s a chapter on the rise of Film Noir. It was a movement that gave a voice to many returning from war who were looking for meaning. And it also catapulted stars such as Humphrey Bogart to fame. That’s all for now film friends. Don’t forget to follow us each week at the newly re-vamped 6 Degrees of Film Facebook page! And sign up for the newsletter to receive updates and downloads from 6 Degrees of Film. Until next time, have a great summer vacation and see you at the movies!

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6 Degrees Film Round-up for April

This April, 6 Degrees is focusing on the great films that are found on the small screen. Our big screen blockbusters have often been eclipsed by the amount of content that has been available to everyone through streaming and all the online services. Even the Oscar winner CODA made history (which was overshadowed by ‘the slap!,’ by being released through a streaming platform and not a traditional studio. Another big event was the Best Director Oscar going to a woman for the third time! There is change afoot, but it is always a bit slow… Turner Classic features Strong Women on Film   There are always great movies with strong female leads on Turner Classic. This month, my favorite picks are Ninotchka, The Harvey Girls, The Philadelphia Story and Rachel & the Stranger. The Harvey Girls and Rachel & the Stranger deal with the real-life background stories of women who were true pioneers. The Harvey Girls were women who had the courage to move out west and try to bring ‘civilization’ to the rough and tumble world that existed past the Mississippi River! And Rachel & the Stranger dealt with the reality that occurred when your spouse died. It meant that the need to replace a strong worker was real, and it came before love or romance or anything else when you were out on a farm on the lone prairie! The Philadelphia Story is beloved for the scene where Cary Grant thinks better of assaulting his ex-wife and instead pushes her down. This is one of those controversial moments in old films. because it would be considered an acceptance of violent acts against women in modern times. In this case, it somehow fits the storyline and also tells us that there are and were characters such as Katherine Hepburn, who could fight back with words as well as deeds to make the men appear small! And Ninotchka is well-known from the Golden Age of Hollywood for the great publicity line, “Garbo Laughs!” This was a rarity in Garbo’s career, as she didn’t appear in many comedies.   Books on Film   For National Library Week, we have tried to highlight the many great books that have been written about film. Some are listed on the website and each Friday, in 6 Degrees of Film at the Movies, we feature the best recommended blogs as well as books and reviews on film. This week, we have recommended some books I love including “Film Noir” -edited by Alain Silver & Elizabeth Ward. There’s a great pictorial guide from Life Magazine-“Life goes to the Movies.”  And “The Story of Film” is a short history of film by Mark Cousins. There’s one with all sorts of great stories from films Golden Age called “The Great Movie Stars” from David Shipman. Another reference volume I love is “The Movies,” from Griffith & Mayer. Another good read for writers is “Writers in Hollywood” by Ian Hamilton.  And one of the more recent books that I really like is from Alicia Malone: “Girls on Film: Lessons from a Life of Watching Women in Movies.”  And finally, of course you can take a short walk through the history of film with my own “6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village. ”  We are celebrating our ninth year in publication with a new Ebook Addendum out soon! From the Friday Flix Files   Finally, on the topic of resources for film, there is our Friday Flix magazine.  Friday Flix has a mix of articles on the Golden Age of film as well as news about the latest adventures in Hollywood (Yes, the ‘slap’ is there as well!) Some of the latest not-to-miss topics include: Life Changing Movies: The Atlantic delves into the question of what elements can make a movie life changing; And from my book, I have a post about films that did affect my life. Some films can definitely be life-changing… Coen Brothers: The unique film-making qualities that comprise the films made by the Coen Brothers are the reason that their films have been so successful. In this piece, there are ten tips that make their films stand out from the rest… Critics Choice: One of the unique tidbits that we found out this past week concerned the invention of the “Two thumbs up” sign for a movie’s success or failure. Siskel & Ebert were the great film critics out of Chicago who dominated the film review industry for years. Ebert’s widow, Chaz, has put together a special article that lists some of the reasons that Roger Ebert was one of the great film critics of all time. 50 Years of The Godfather: Friday Flix features several articles celebrating the fifty years since one of America’s most beloved films made its debut. Some facts about the making, some behind-the-scenes look from the cast members and some thoughtful pieces that try to pinpoint why this film has made such a powerful impact upon the psyche of our lives and times. How Star Wars changed the Film Industry   And finally, Cine-vue.com has a piece that marks the definitive ways in which Star Wars has impacted and changed the film industry since its 1975 debut. That is also one of the sections that is covered in my book, “6 Degrees of Film.” Here is a short excerpt: “…Peter Bogdanovich said, “There’s a general juvenilization of movies that’s happened over the last ten years that’s pretty scary. The other day, somebody read a script that I was working on and said, ‘Oh, I get it: This is an adult comedy.’ I said, ‘What do you mean—that it’s a comedy FOR adults?  He said, ‘No, no, no, it’s a comedy ABOUT adults.’ Most of the comedies, the rest of the comedies, are about kids. I think a lot of things have gone wrong. Movies are far less complex in their structure and in their execution than they’ve ever been.” In their defense, let’s remember Spielberg

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6 Degrees of Film: A short response to the “It’s a Wonderful Life” critics

Let me start with this: It’s a Wonderful Life is not a long-winded, melodramatic & manipulative tear-jerker. There are life lessons to be found in Frank Capra’s entire body of work. And considering the times in which this film, It’s a Wonderful Life, was conceived and made, this movie stands the test of time. The movie was made after the country had been through a Great Depression followed by the second World War.  I have seen it at the movies and at home, and the film is not long-winded, but cathartic as we watch the action unfold. The critic, Emily Strong from Salon, is bothered by the fact that this is an unabashedly Christian message of sacrifice. But if you are not religious or a Christian, the life lessons are still there. The Character of George Bailey Some of Capra’s work has been called “Capra-corn’ for a reason. There may be a hook or device that is too cute for some. However, if you are going to look at this story from the vantage point of a Morality Play, then the character of George Bailey is even more important as a hardened, beaten-down and cynical, broken man. That is where we see him when the action moves forward. She complains about the ‘contrived and increasingly satirical levels of suffering’ that are inflicted upon George. And they only lead to two possible outcomes: Offering personal sacrifice or allowing people to suffer. The Community of Friends came through for George In her estimation, the outcome that saves George’s life is reached only because of his ‘constant selfless deeds.” The critic also overlooks one small factor. The ending of the film is predicated not simply on the selfless deeds and moral fortitude of the character, George Bailey, but the fact that the community raised the money to keep him out of jail. The rich friend was ready to send limitless supplies of cash to George, in order to help his friend in a jam. George’s actions helped to save the lives of hundreds who would have died because he saved his brother’s life as a child. The Domino effect: How our lives can enrich others These are not small issues to overlook. The point being, the domino effect can create ripples that transcend our own life and are even part of the balance of the Universe. If we allow it to go into the order of infinite possibilities that may be found, the ideas can play out in multiple scenarios. The point the film was making was about ways our lives can enrich others. The Christian element is there for all to see. I’ve even written an article about it. However, the human element is even more to the point. And finally, the American element is something that is played out over the course of the film. Don’t forget Pottersville!   Strong didn’t really mention Pottersville. And the idea that “The Little Guy,” the one Capra lifted up and extolled over the course of his career, is the front and center character of this movie. That is something that should be central to any analysis of this film. Speaking of multiple universes and outcomes, the reality of a Pottersville is something that can be found in the current and global crisis of Income Inequality. We see this played out in ethical and moral outcries from millions of ordinary people across the planet. That is certainly not a contrived idea. The notion that those who have power can manipulate and control others is overlooked by Strong.   Subsequently, the idea of profiting from  other’s misery, as is apparent with the living conditions in the alternate reality of Pottersville, is also unmentioned. That small detail is never addressed by this Salon critic. She is bothered by the emphasis on George Bailey’s “selflessness.” Yet George is shown as being cranky and disillusioned, and plainly bothered by his own stifling lifestyle.  He makes no bones of feeling ‘stuck’ with no escape. Many in years since this film was made, have felt trapped by bad marriages. They’ve been disillusioned through bad working conditions, and have felt obligated through family illness and loyalty that becomes stifling. There is no dearth of possibilities of where this plot can lead. The Cockeyed Optimist in us all And the very fact that so many have remade this classic film, and so many have identified with it, are signs that this film is going to outlive its critics. Naturally there is some schmaltz and contrived “Hollywood” trappings in this movie. However, the timeless appeal has roots in the universal nature of the triumph of the “Little Guy” and the American notion of rooting for the underdog. This is what carries the day in It’s a Wonderful Life. And I believe it’s partly because we see that the cockeyed optimist, innate in the American character, as an integral part of a film that is universally beloved.

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6 Degrees of Film: March Round Up: Celebrating Women’s History!

Greetings Film Fans! The month of March has brought us lots of good news from the world of film. We are celebrating Women’s History month here at 6 Degrees, and the spotlight is on the rising number of women who are directors of both independent and major Hollywood films. To be fair, there have been many powerful women in Hollywood working behind the scenes at the studios for decades. But the role of auteur and the vision and focus that a director can bring to a picture is one that has not been explored by enough women throughout the history of film. Rotten Tomatoes has a post on the 165 Best Movies directed by women in the 21st Century. Other notable news is the mixed reviews received for Eddie Murphy’s anticipated comedy sequel Coming 2 America-which was described several times as a ‘retread.’ There’s also an interview with the director of the film Craig Brewer. Another anticipated film released is Raya & the Last Dragon, which is reviewed on Rogerebert.com And there’s a question now being floated around about the true meaning of the cinematic experience and if that is achievable if movies are going to be streamed from now on?  Martin Scorsese asks the question, and we also hear from Forbes’ film critic Scott Mendelson. Mendelson looks at the consequences of Hollywood prioritizing the streaming services over the existence of a successful film opening at the box office as they did in the ‘old days.’ (Pre-Covid!) Meanwhile, back at the Turner Classic Movie place, there is a new era where the old films that were written and produced in the ‘bad old days’ of big studios and the so-called Golden Age of Hollywood are getting a new look and some much-needed analysis. The scrutiny is part of the screenings going forward at TCM, so this should prove interesting!  Turner Classic: Strong Women at the Movies The women in movies come from different backgrounds and work in various genres: Musicals, westerns, comedies, all sharing This month the strong women who were pioneers of Hollywood film share the same common denominator-a strength of character that permeates the scope of the film, whatever genre be it a Western, a musical or a comedy. They include this month’s ‘Star of the Month”- Doris Day, as well as Olivia de Havilland and Katherine Hepburn. Westerns In three of the featured westerns: The Westerner, Calamity Jane and Red River, the women are not always center stage (with the exception of Calamity Jane), but the roles are written for smart women who are tough and can survive in the old west. The Classics Lawrence of Arabia is one of the films often seen on the top ten lists of famous critics (In 6 Degrees, it comes in at Number Four!) We have it described as such: “A not so simple tale based on the real-life exploits of T.E. Lawrence, the famous English adventurer. The deceptively simple quality of this complex man is introduced at the beginning of the film when various people try to describe him with each coming up with a different description” A Man for All Seasons swept the Oscars with multiple wins for Best Actor and Best Picture. The 6 Degrees Connection in our top 100 list has A Man for All Seasons at Number sixty-six. The film has a basis in true historical events- It’s from a play based on the true story of Sir Thomas More, a man who stood on his principles and refused to use his influence to obtain an annulment for King Henry VIII and paid for his refusal with his life. The de Havilland Decision Olivia De Havilland is featured in Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn. This was an early role for De Havilland before she put her foot down about accepting parts in films that were not to her liking. Here’s an excerpt from 6 Degrees of Film talking about the landmark case brought by Olivia de Havilland and known as the ‘de Havilland Decision.’ Olivia de Havilland also fought studio bosses, winning a landmark decision against onerous hiring practices in what became known as the de Havilland Decision. She began her film career at the age of nineteen starring in Captain Blood with Errol Flynn. She was under a seven-year contract with the Warner Brothers film studio, a standard contract for all performers, who signed their lives away when they agreed to the terms. She was “loaned out” to David O. Selznick for her memorable part in Gone with the Wind, which earned her an Oscar nomination in 1939. After that, she demanded better parts beyond the same old sweet-young-thing roles she had been playing. The studio not only refused but slapped her with a six-month suspension, another standard practice of those who wielded absolute control. The last straw came at the end of her seven-year contract, when Warner Brothers informed her that she had to make up the lost six months from her suspension. Adding time to contracts was another standard operating procedure to keep actors in line. This time, de Havilland sued. The court ruled in de Havilland’s favor, stating that not only did she not have to make up the suspension, but all future seven-year contracts had to hold to the intent and not force extra time from suspensions on the contracted actor. The de Havilland Decision paved the way for better treatment for actors from the omnipotent studio bosses. Olivia de Havilland was right in her decision to hold out for more quality roles. She won an Oscar for her performance in The Snake Pit, one of Hollywood’s early attempts to portray serious subject matters such as mental health problems. As one of Hollywood’s pioneering women, she has paved the way for all female actors and for all women working in Hollywood Comedy Murder by Death is the Neil Simon film adaptation notable for its stellar all-star cast.  Overboard was remade recently, but the original is the best.

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6 Degrees of Film: February Film Round Up

Oscar News This month, February is a preview of things to come. And for things delayed! The Oscars will be held this year on Sunday, April 25th, so there will be a few months to go yet before the Oscar “Buzz” and predictions heat up. A good indicator always for the Oscar nominees are the many award shows that precede it. The Golden Globes, the SAG (Screen Artists Guild) awards, the BAFTA (British Equivalent of Oscar) and the Sundance Film Festival all preview some of the pre-eminent films of the past year. CODA won the Sundance Film Festival Best Picture; and Frances McDormand will surely be a nominee for Best Actress in Nomadland; plus the late Chadwick Boseman has been nominated in multiple categories for his performance in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. For current information and up to date reviews of the latest award nominees and winners, check out 6 Degrees of Film magazine each week. Tributes to those we lost We just heard of the passing of Christopher Plummer, an exceptional actor who after so many credits, will always best known for his role of Captain Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music.” Cicely Tyson also died recently, and that fact only serves to remind us of the talents of those pioneers who helped to break barriers for African-American women in film. Black History Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is one of the films that is showing at the movies and is streaming currently. And as mentioned, the late Chadwick Boseman has broken ground for nominations in a variety of categories, for roles in Ma Rainey’s as well as the many memorable roles he created. Boseman, like Mr Plummer in Sound of Music, will be known primarily as the defining character in the Black Panther Marvel series. Some other notable films for Black History Month include Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner starring Sidney Poitier, playing on Turner Classic this month.  But I would recommend the original documentary series “Eyes on the Prize” and Spike Lee’s Malcolm X with Denzel Washington for those who seriously want to delve into Black History. The movie: The Black Panther is another obvious choice to watch, as well as Hidden Figures, both of these films being much more recent and notably well received. Chadwick Boseman was also brilliant as Jackie Robinson in 42 and to complete your viewing, there is his turn as the famed first Black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, playing Marshall as a rising young lawyer in the early fifties in the film- Marshall. Armchair Film Fest At 6 Degrees, each week we highlight the film events as well as the small screen feature films that are notable enough to record and watch (Sometimes known as “Binge-watching”!)….This month on Turner Classic Movies, they are featuring: Comedies with Mel Brooks: Blazing Saddles and The Producers are shown this month, both starring Gene Wilder. Robert Ryan: The Film Noir star is a particular favorite of mine-he is featured in Marine Raiders, The Set-up (Directed by Sound of Music director Robert Wise), and a Western-Trail Street. Romantic Valentine’s: For those who would like to see something romantic around Valentine’s Day, know that some of the most enduring romantic couples of all time are found in Hollywood’s Golden Age films. Casablanca features one such couple, and Doctor Zhivago features another. Alas, (Spoiler alert), both are films about a timeless love that endures, but if you are a fan of happy endings- Love doesn’t always lead to ‘Happily ever-afters” even in Hollywood! The state of Hollywood films in 2021 There are still many delays of big-studio films due to the ongoing Pandemic. James Bond will wait till November to debut with Daniel Craig in his last Bond film-No Time to Die. Some films will be released for streaming and On-Demand due to COVID-19 concerns. Stay tuned for announcements as the release dates have changed frequently these past months. That’s all for now, folks, and like everything else during the era of Covid, we will have to wait and see what the next few months bring in terms of Oscar nominations as well as the release dates for this year. Denzel Washington is currently starring in The Little Things, one of the films listed as popular at the drive-in’s, if you are lucky enough to find one near you!  Check it out if you can…Till next time, see you at the movies!-ML

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6 Degrees: Women of Note at the Movies

Hello Film Fans: In honor of Women’s History Month, there is a list of films that were showcased and highlighted this past month on Turner Classic. I recommend to record as most are seen fairly regularly or are easy to rent. Some of these women were groundbreaking pioneers as there characters on film show us that we have always revered women who are smart and funny and courageous. It’s not always been easy to find your niche when Hollywood had the casting couch and the Golden Age of Film was not known for championing women’s causes or for enlightenment. But a new day is dawn, and we are not turning back. Here’s a list of films and women who were featured this past month on Turner Classic: Carole Lombard in To Be or not to Be: Carole Lombard was known as one of the most versatile comediennes of her era or any other. She really played straight man to Jack Benny in this piece. Benny’s timing was unmatched, but Lombard kept up with him and she gave the greatest performance of her short career in this classic Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep: In the “Me Too” era, some would find fault with many performances and personas that sprang from the forties and fifties female stars. But Bacall was really a path setter, and gave as good as she got in keeping up with Humphrey Bogart’s very cynical and world weary characters. Bacall was not simpering, but tough and smart and funny, which was a distinct contrast to the wide-eyed dumb blonde routines that Marilyn Monroe and other big stars used as the standard for female stars throughout the fifties. A few bucked the trend, like Bacall and Katherine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn, but most were conformers. Eleanor Parker: Many Rivers to Cross: Eleanor Parker is best known for the classic Baroness with evil intentions as she set out to catch Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music. But she was a great comedienne and actress in her own right, and this was a light comedy that veered off from many others of the fifties era in which it was made. As stated earlier, the persona for many was the dumb blonde, but in setting out to ‘get her man’ in this frontier comedy, Parker is athletic and funny and smart and determinedly setting a different standard for women to emulate. I saw this film as a young girl and always remembered the counter-typical character portrayed here of a woman who is bound and determined to get what she wants and goes after it with everything she has. And in the short blurb in the beginning of the film, it’s obvious that there is some recognition that women had to be rugged individuals with strength and character in order to survive in the early days of our country’s founding. Myrna Loy: The Bachelor & the Bobby Soxer; Myrna Loy was the antithesis of the ‘dumb blonde’ throughout her career. She was not blonde, of course, and the characters she portrayed embodied some of the sharpest and wittiest dialogue ever written for film. In The Thin Man, she made her mark along with William Powell as a woman who is determined to be more than just ‘the little wife’ who stays home and simpers while her man does all the dangerous work. And in this film with Cary Grant, she plays a judge who has the measure of the Cary Grant character and he knows it. She is smart and completely in control of every situation, and that is a pleasant departure from some of the standard Hollywood fare of the Golden Age of Film where women were often portrayed as either femme fatales or hopelessly dumb. Sigourney Weaver in The Year of living Dangerously: Sigourney Weaver has made a career of landing these pioneer roles where women are the front and center heroes, as in Aliens where she takes charge and essentially carries the role that a man would have played a generation before her. And in this film, The Year of Living Dangerously, she’s a journalist who is not only the most ethical of the characters, she is also vulnerable but worldly wise at the same time. It’s a truly amazing performance from a young Sigourney Weaver, and a very prescient moment when we hear of the Mel Gibson character described as someone who is charming but fatally flawed. Women’s History Month showcases some of the film roles where strong and decisive characters are developed in this selection of beautiful and brainy women. We have seen the creation of the characters that Angelina Jolie played, that Jennifer Lawrence has perfected along with the new Captain Marvel star, Brie Larson, and the emergence of the women in Black Panther. The latest Mad Max film with Charlize Theron finally has tipped the hat to the notion that women are as tough and courageous and resourceful as men. Here’s hoping for another one hundred years or so of creative and brilliant characters for women to play, and for women to write and direct (and women critics to critique!) Till next time, see you at the movies-ML

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Capsule Review: Notorious-The Greatest Cut of all…

  Notorious is one of Hitchcocks best films. Why? Not because of the well-known movie stars that grace the film. Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman are at the top of their game, but ironically, it’s not their performances that stand out in this movie. In Notorious, Cary Grant’s character is that of a cynical and slightly skewed personality. He comes off as a tad less than his characteristically perfect self. The Ingrid Bergman character is one of a fallen woman. She’s the girl who’s “been around the block”. She’s seen it all, done it all and is not a candidate for the illusion of true love. Yet, one of the most memorable lines in Notorious is delivered by an obscure Austrian actress named Leopoldine Konstantin. She plays the well-developed Hitchock-ian role of the obsessively dominant mother figure. Not only does she delivers one of the greatest lines in all of Hitchcock, it could be considered as one of the definitive cuts of all time While the portrayal of Mothers in film usually conspire to be in a nurturing and protective role, as was so often the case with Hitchcock, the image of Mom is turned on its head. In this instance, “Mother” is someone who might give Lady MacBeth reason to pause, as the mom in Notorious is by far the more ruthless and calculating of villains in the piece. . That’s saying a lot, as the characters in the film are part of a group of Nazi sympathizers. Hitchcock was well known for the type of woman/mother figure portrayed by Madame Sebastian. In Marnie., the character of Tippi Hedrin’s mother was responsible for her young daughter’s psychotic behavior. In The Birds, Tippi Hedrin was again plagued by the domineering and darkly possessive mother figure. Then comes Psycho, with the most famously disturbed mother/son duo since Oedipus. In so many Hitchcock classics, we see a different image of  a Mom; one who is less than sweet as apple pie in most cases. Such was the world of Hitchcock. The line Madame Sebastian delivers is to her own son, Sebastian/Claude Rains, who comes to her in anguish over the discovery that his new wife, Alicia/Ingrid Bergman, is in fact a spy. Frightened of the ruthless gang of Nazi cohorts he is entwined with, he comes to ask his Mother, Madame Sebastian, for advice. Madame Sebastian pauses a moment to light a cigarette, the perfect bit of “business” that lends credence to her next statement. She then tells her son that all is not lost. Why? Because, she says, “You are protected by the enormity of your stupidity-for a time .” It’s then up to dear old Mom to come up with the idea of slowly poisoning Alicia. The line works so well because it is played in such a matter of fact manner and given just the right amount of understatement to make the subsequent actions so completely evil. And now, so many years later, I am reminded from time to time of the cool and utterly ruthless cut given to Claude Rains. Most of the time, it’s a self-deprecating phrase I use to put myself in my place. And it’s a saying that works every time. “No worries, my dear, you are saved by the enormity of your stupidity” It translates to mean that no-one could possibly fathom the thought that such a colossal mistake could be made. The Peter Principle in effect applies here. The notion that one almost always rises to the level of their complete incompetence. Of course no-one believes you are THAT incompetent! That is your saving grace… It is the type of clever cut that never fails to make its mark. Perhaps, as put-downs go, it is one of the truly great ones.. In the end, we are all protected by the enormity of our stupidity! Notorious is playing at Tampa Theatre this Sunday, July 10th at 3:00 pm.      

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