Saturday, January 16, 2010

From the sofa

Not feeling so boomps-a-daisy so having a day watching movies in my pyjamas. I'd tracked down some Ida Lupino films so gave The bigamist (1953)a go. Despite the subject matter this is a quiet little low budget number about travelling salesman Harry who, though very well intentioned, ends up with two wives - the classy Joan Fontaine and the lonley Ida Lupino. Surprisingly, everyone is portrayed in a very sympathetic light and you end up feeling sorry for all of them. Harry is working hard, travelling a lot, always talking of the day he'll be able to stay at home and be able to employ someone else to do the legwork, alone in a big city and living in hotels. Ida, who left the country for Los Angeles and works in a ham Chinese restaurant as a waitress. Joan Fontaine, classy and beautiful but infertile, throwing herself into business to cover her emptiness - and being a bit more successful than her more stolid, weary husband. What comes across is the limited options people had. All these people are lonely and seemingly without friends. Ida Lupino's depressing me a bit at the moment. She's so worthy.

Much more fun was Alexander's Ragtime Band (1938)- which is basically a showcase for Irving Berlin tunes (30 in all!)The cast is fabulous - Tyrone Powers, sure he's wooden but my is he beautiful, Alice Faye - man I love her, she's such a tough broad, even when she's successful and in love she looks like she's ready to hit the bottle - and the warm and handsome Don Ameche, such a honey. It also has the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz and a young Ethel Merman being very sassy. The songs are a real delight. Until they got to Having a heat wave. Will I never be rid of this song??? (If you listen closely you can hear they've changed the lyrics from 'making her seat wave' to 'making her feet wave')

I also watched The bells of St Mary's (1945), sequel to Going my way and amiably silly. Bing Crosby is his usual likeable self as a Catholic priest and Ingrid Bergman plays the most adorable nun, so beautiful.

I'd started the day with Boom Town (1940) starring Clark Gable, Spencer Tracey, Claudette Colbert and Hedy Lamarr. It's pretty much a love song to the American oil industry and big business, with Gable and Tracey playing roles of 'wildcat' oil prospectors who win and lose fortunes and fight for the love of (a rather dull) Claudette Colbert. Hedy plays a sophisticated New York temptress and to me the film is hers. Oh she's so beautiful. I could just watch her forever. She's her enigmatic best here. And you've got to admire the chutzpah of the film makers. Sure it's set in 1918 - 1928 but let's put all our leading ladies in snappy 40s outfits anyway. Gorgeous.

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