Saturday, June 11, 2016

100 Days of Old Movies: Instalment 5

Here's the fifth instalment of my sketches for #100DaysOfOldMovies for the 100 Day Project. I'm officially halfway through!

41: Miranda (1948)

There's a dreadful shortage of men underwater. 

Miranda isn't one of my favourite movies, but I picked it because I wanted to do one mermaid before Mermay finished on social media. On the whole, I like the sequel (Mad About Men, 1954) better, but it features far too much of Margaret Rutherford, who is not an actress I can stand for any extended period of time. She has a much more minor role in the original. 
Glynis Johns plays Miranda, a man-hungry mermaid who kidnaps Paul (Griffith Jones) while he's out fishing, and blackmails him into taking her on land and into his house as one of his 'patients'. She has no morals, and attaches herself to any man available, including the chauffeur and Paul's wife's friends fiancee. A trail of broken engagements is left in her wake before all the men realise that they were being taken for simultaneous rides and come to their senses. Paul's wife (Googie Withers) is suspicious of her, and when she discovers the truth Miranda wheels her wheelchair out to the river and disappears. At the end of the movie we see her somewhere warm with a merbaby on her lap - a suggestive ending that could only have been in a British film at the time. 

The other movies are below the cut >>

42 & 43: Love Affair (1939)

If something had to happen to one of us, why did it have to happen to you?

Love Affair was remade as An Affair to Remember in the 50s, but I have always preferred the original - there was something delicate about 1930s tearjerker romances than became overblown when they were remade as technicolour melodramas. So we don't have Cary Grant, but we do have Irene Dunne and Charles Boyer, and that should be enough to please anyone. 
Kept woman Dunne meets playboy Boyer on a ship, and by the time they reach New York they are in love. However, neither of them has any money, and they like the finer things in life, so they give themselves six months to end their various affairs and see if they can make it on their own. When the six months are up they will meet at the top of the Empire State building. Irene ditches her boyfriend and gets a job singing in a nightclub (a sweet little song that I do not, alas, have the sheet music for) and Charles starts working as an artist. When the six months are up, Irene rushes to the Empire State, but she's so excited that she walks out in front of a car, is hit, and loses the use of her legs. Her old boyfriend pleads with her to let him help her, or at least to let him tell Charles, but she refuses. Eventually Charles tracks her down, and goes to visit her in a very bitter mood, until he sees the painting he had painted of her hanging in her flat - he had told his agent to give it to the poor disabled girl who had come in and admired it, without having any idea who she was. All is resolved with the maximum amount of tears. Good times. 

This film is in the public domain, so do yourself a favour and watch the original An Affair to Remember. 

44, 45 & 46: Sabrina (1954)

I have learned how to live, how to be IN the world and OF the world, and not just to stand aside and watch. And I will never, never again run away from life. Or from love, either.

Sabrina is another film that has been remade, this time in the 1995 with Harrison Ford and Julia Ormond. It was a decent remake, but can't compare to the original. Sabrina (Audrey Hepburn) is the chauffeur's daughter, hopelessly in love with playboy son of the house David (William Holden). She's sent away to Paris to attend cooking school, where she is taken under the wing of an elderly Baron, who teaches her how to be sophisticated and alluring. When she returns, she sets out to get David - but his brother Linus (Humphrey Bogart) has other ideas. David marrying Sabrina would upset a big business merger that is hanging on David marring someone else. Linus sets out to woo Sabrina away from David just enough so that he can pack her back off to Paris with some money and get back to the merger. Things do not go according to plan, but they go awry with a succession of beautiful costumes, so we really don't mind... 

47 & 48: Broadway Melody of 1936 (1935)

I just want a chance. 

There was a series of Broadway Melody films, and this is the second, Broadway Melody of 1936. The plot is thin, but we have some lovely dance sequences, and Robert Taylor to look at. 
Eleanor Powell turns up in New York so that her highschool sweetheart can give her a chorus spot in the musical he is currently putting on Broadway (this was the plan they made at school). However, at first he doesn't even recognise her, and then he tells her that the theatre is no place for her, and packs her off back home. Meanwhile, his secretary (Una Merkel) has discovered that a gossip columnist (Jack Benny) has set up Robert by giving a big build-up to an elusive French musical star, la Belle Arlette (named after a cheap cigar). Robert wants to get Arlette to star in his show, especially as if he doesn't find a star soon he's going to have to cast the society girl who's putting up the money, and she has no talent (bizarrely, she's played by June Knight, who was originally on Broadway, and they give her a song and dance segment to do, which makes the whole 'no talent' thing confusing.) so Una dresses Eleanor up in a blonde wig, 6-inch eyelashes and a bad French accent, and she gets the part. Basically, this movie would have no plot if Robert Taylor would just admit that he needs glasses, and possibly if he would just have let Eleanor dance for him in the first place, so that he could see she was good. But where would we be then? Without a movie. 

Here is the trailer. And while we're at it, here's a fun musical number (I've Got a Feelin' You're Foolin', which I really need to pick back up on the piano again. It's a bit feral to play) and here you can get a load of Eleanor Powell pretending to be a French vamp

Bonus sketch! I did this in 30 minutes from a promotional photo I found while I was looking up the costumes. Sometimes it's nice to kick back and just sketch from a photo. =)

49 & 50: The Thin Man (1934)

Is your husband working on a case?
Yes. A case of scotch. Pitch in and help him!

I love the Thin Man series. Nick and Nora have got to be the best married couple ever to feature on screen, even if they are almost permanently sozzled. 
Nick Charles (William Powell) is a detective who retired when he married rich Nora (Myrna Loy). They're visiting New York when a friend's daughter turns up, distressed that she hasn't heard from her father, and Nick is very reluctantly drawn (or pushed by Nora) into a tangled web of people that I couldn't describe to you, even though I watched it only a few days ago, until he eventually unveils the murderer. 
Apparently the director pushed Myrna Loy into a pool at a party to see if she was funny before casting her. I don't know what she did when she fell in, but if that's true, I'm glad she passed, as this is a great screen team. 

The little dog here is called Asta. Technically his name was Skippy, but he was often credited as Asta after this movie and the sequels he was in, as it is his most famous role. He is also the dog in Bringing Up Baby and The Awful Truth. Apparently he once bit Myrna Loy. And then I went and named my dog after her. Sorry Myrna. 

Here is a scene with Nick and Nora and here is the trailer, which has got to be one of the more bizarre trailers I've seen. It also points out that the case is about a thin man, Nick is not The Thin Man himself, despite the series of sequels. 

And with that, I am officially halfway through my 100 Days of Old Movies!!

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