Tag: melodrama

November 3, 2009 / / Main Slate

Mr. Skeffington (1944) – dir. Vincent Sherman

The great Bette Davis had many cinematic tricks up her sleeve. Three of these held her in good stead over a nearly-seventy year career: her eyes, her voice, her cigarette.

Never enough can be said about the famous “Bette Davis eyes”; they had their own three-ring circus going; they cartwheeled, they jumped, they batted, they flew, they flirted, they lied, they fluttered, they drooped.  They were wet with tears when she wanted to deceive some man. They raised their joys to heaven and poured their poisons into the cups of those who worshiped at their altar.  Davis knew what to do with them, and even when she over-used or over-relied on them, there seemed to be a reason for it.  Entities unto themselves,  they worked overtime for her and made her the finest screen actress of her time.

August 21, 2009 / / Main Slate

By Christine and Robert Bamberger

The Thin Man – 1934 – dir. W.S. Van Dyke

Most people get a terrific kick out of the interplay between William Powell and Myrna Loy in the Thin Man movies, especially in the original, made just before the Production Code in Hollywood went into full force. But the film’s convoluted plot and numerous characters make it necessary to keep notes just to follow along. In getting a handle on the many personalities in the movie, it becomes increasingly apparent that this large cast of characters, spread all over the periphery of the plot, is not peripheral at all. Indeed, this bunch serves to draw our attention even more to Nick and Nora Charles.

April 13, 2009 / / Main Slate

The Red Shoes -1948 – dir. Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger

“Why do you want to dance?” asks Anton Walbrook as the ballet impresario Boris Lermontov in an early scene of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1948 classic The Red Shoes. “Why do you want to live?” is the immortal reply from flame-haired Moira Shearer’s Victoria Page, her words pinpointing the themes that The Red Shoes holds closest to its heart. That moment, and the film as whole, has carried incredible resonance for those who make or love art of any kind, those who see little to no difference between the will to create and the will to live.

November 17, 2008 / / Film Notes

By Melvin Cartagena 

Point Blank – 1967 – dir. John Boorman

The opening sequences show deception, and Alcatraz. The closing scenes show deception, and Alcatraz. Point Blank explores relationships, mortality and alienation, yet retains a core of impenetrability in its ultimate meaning. An essential mystery remains that no critic or academic that has tackled this movie can fully explain it in writing. Even the mighty Pauline Kael somewhat recanted her initial opinion of the film, going from, “A brutal new melodrama is called Point Blank, and it is,” in a 1967 New Yorker review to “intermittently dazzling,” in a re-viewing of the film a few years later.