Starring Jean Simmons and Burt Lancaster (who won an Oscar for his role as Elmer Gantry), this is a powerful film about faith and fanaticism, foibles and fairness — but above all, it’s character-driven story about human character. It’s the best combination of issues to chew on and characters to consider, long after the film is over.
I love those sorts of stories.
In terms of fashion, the spotlight is on Shirley Jones (who also won an Oscar for her role of Lulu Bains) in classic lingerie, most notably visible in the scene in which Lulu attempts to seduce and shame Elmer. (Click the link to watch!)
What may have begun as the vengeful opportunistic act of a lover scorned (deflowered and left to prostitution) is quickly shown to be more complicated, exposing more than unfinished business but unrequited feelings between the two.
It’s brilliant stuff, really. Not what many may expect from the Shirley Jones they remember from The Partridge Family or know from musicals (although I cry every time I see Carousel).
But if you watch Elmer Gantry, this is precisely the sort of thing you learn to refrain from. For Jones’ performance as Lulu (as layered as anyone else’s in the movie), should teach you to look beneath the surface, what you think you know. The perceptions of “who and what Shirley Jones is” that the viewer brings to this classic film is, in this case, a layer of experience that only adds to this film.
One of the things about no longer being a paid columnist and being an independent fashion blogger is that you no longer have the discipline of writing on a schedule. That, folks, explains the irregular frequency of blogging. Feast and then famine — and today’s a feast. *wink*
Apparently I also lack discipline in other areas — like shoes. Finding vintage shoes may be difficult, but finding just the right pair of shoes to go with my vintage pieces is too much fun! Especially when I find shoe sales online!
So I’m twirling away a day off, shopping for shoes online… Hey, I’m saving money! Not only with the sale, but by making sure I can — and will — wear all the outfits in my closet! *wink*
You’d think, as many times as I’ve watched it, I’d have learned something from The Red Shoes (1948):
Boris Lermontov: “The Ballet of The Red Shoes” is from a fairy tale by Hans Andersen. It is the story of a young girl who is devoured with an ambition to attend a dance in a pair of Red Shoes. She gets the shoes and goes to the dance. For a time, all goes well and she is very happy. At the end of the evening she is tired and wants to go home, but the Red Shoes are not tired. In fact, the Red Shoes are never tired. They dance her out into the street, they dance her over the mountains and valleys, through fields and forests, through night and day. Time rushes by, love rushes by, life rushes by, but the Red Shoes go on.
Julian Craster: What happens in the end?
Boris Lermontov: Oh, in the end, she dies.
This week’s High-Five Friday links are all about vintage films:
1. Film Sufi writes about Arthur Robison’s Warning Shadows (Schatten – eine Nächtliche Halluzination, 1923).
2. At Allure, actress Anna Sten.
3. Slip gushes about Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966).
4. A general shout-out to the Pre Code Film Community at LJ, where I spend hours several times a month.
5. And, because I really don’t cover horror films and fans of same might feel neglected, check out The Gorgon (1964) at Ferdy On Films.
Via Richard Jeffrey Newman I found this great video that mocks just about every convention that has been used in dramatic modern movies:
Specific outline of your major character flaws!
Having not seen many of the most recent film releases, I can at least attest to the fact this sounds like most of the film trailers I’ve seen recently. *wink*
I wonder why my friends at LAMB have to say to this?
Cliff talks about Handling the Subject of Racism as a Classic Film Blogger — and there’s lots of interesting discussion in the comments too, including mention of a post about the film I reviewed, The Toy Wife.
I agree that too many vintage films are underappreciated — if they’re seen at all. Which is partly why I didn’t mention my queasiness about several scenes with slaves in The Toy Wife. But that wasn’t the only reason…
Along with struggling with how to balance presenting the issues of racism in films of the past, of not wanting to let the known facts of past ruin a film for potential viewers, I struggle with being a white woman discussing it. It’s one thing for me to point out gender issues (I am one, and can honestly react as one), but when it comes to racism I flounder.
It’s not simply a matter of white guilt, or of defensiveness, or even of committing a sin of omission that a person of color can call me out on; it’s about how to honestly portray my horror without co-opting the issue, of committing some sin of insensitivity… If that makes sense. (I bet that does make sense to at least a few other white folks though.)
But, like all the discussion points at Cliff’s post, we shouldn’t just ignore mentioning the subject any more than others should let being told about racist depictions in films sway themselves from watching old films; it’s avoiding the past.
Because of that, I don’t think we should sanitize the racism from vintage films (and animated works), editing out the scenes with mammy’s like cigarettes from Bogart’s hand. Racism is shameful, but like our past obsession with smoking, we can’t deny it simply by giving it the old whitewash — for whatever reason. We have to remember our past honestly, even if it’s painful.
But these are my views… My questions for you, dear readers, are:
* How does racism in film affect your viewing? Do you stop watching &/or avoid films because it’s so uncomfortable? Do you just write it off as “unfortunately, that the way things were…”?
* Do you find the racism so uncomfortable in vintage movies that you wish it was edited out of the film — or that there were edited versions available?
* If you review or blog about movies, do you mention the racism? Why or why not? And if you do, how do you do it?
Now there is a lot to be said for the communal experience of watching a movie at the theatre or cinema; it’s not just the big screen (which, with some folks’ home entertainment systems, it’s nearly the same!), but the shared experience of “Ooohs” and “Ahhs” — and, my favorite, when a guy gets kicked in the family jewels and all the men collectively groan and bring their legs together. lol But if saving money is what you’re after, nothing beats staying home to watch a film.
Since I watch more vintage and classic films than the latest releases, I’m not so aware of the prices at my local movie theatres, but Alicia Young fills us in, stating a $6.75 ticket price (for a matinee?!) and the following incidentals:
Movie theaters are ripping us off with their outrageous soda and bagged popcorn prices. For example, $4.25 for a large soda (32oz), $5.25 for a large popcorn that is pre-popped and comes in a bag then warms up under the heat lamps. ( I know how this works because I worked at a movie theater for a year.)
Being a vintage film fans means you can save a whole lotta money. There’s watching TCM and DVD rentals (including at your public library) — and even buying your own DVD is worth the price when you add up multiple tickets, multiple viewings, etc.
So what are you going to do with all the money you save, glamour girl? …Maybe spend it on some incredible vintage loungewear? I know I do! *wink*
I stayed up late Tuesday night, celebrating Luise Rainer‘s 100th birthday with TCM. This was my introduction to Rainer — and even though the three films I watched are neither her best known films nor those she won her two (back-to-back) Oscars for, I was smitten.
The first movie I watched was The Emperor’s Candlesticks (1937), which, frankly, is often dismissed as more eye-candy than substantive film. It’s easy to do, what with such opulent settings for two wealthy spies each on opposite ends of political intrigues who manage to fall for each other. But if you listen as well as watch, there’s a sophistication and elegance to the acting too. Especially the banter between Rainer and William Powell.
Enjoy the lush settings, but don’t forget to focus on the faces and the dialog — if you do pay attention, it’s rather like the delight of employing the secret compartments in the antique candlesticks.
It’s not my favorite of the three Rainer films I watched, but it was good enough for me to want to watch another…