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Fighting for the light
George Cuckor became famous for his portrays of female characters and 'Gaslight' is no exception. Paola starts by being a shadow of her aunt mysteriously killed at her house in London. She seems destined to follow on her steps, even accepting to move back to the place where the murder happened. She then convinces herself she has lost her mind and finally turns around to find herself and see reality as it is. This process is brilliantly and subtly conducted by Cuckor, making the best use of Ingrid Bergman's talent, who gives the performance of a lifetime. 'Gaslight' is in many ways a display of Hollywood golden age, with a good script being served by a solid director and an all-star cast.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
Hollywood king at his darkest
WARNING - SPOILER ALERT!!!!
Victor Fleming was fresh off two absolute Hollywood classics - "Gone with the Wind" and "The Wizard of Oz". "Dr. Jekyll..." couldn't be more different, a surprisingly dark and sexually charged film for what was then Hollywood mainstream. It is shot in an amazing black and white cinematography, this for the man who had marveled audiences with the splendour of colour in his previous films. I guess he understood that the material at hand required the stark contrasts of black&white and it works to perfection. There are three of four amazing scenes, chiefly among these the one in the park when Jekyll turns into Hyde without taking his drugs, but also Ivy's visit to Jekyll's house, where we're left wondering if she ever recognises him.
The film's also a fine display of Hollywood's star system at its best: Spencer Tracy showing the full range of his dramatic talents, Lana Turner's old school glamour and Ingrid Bergman on her way to becoming one of the best actresses the world has ever known.
A must see!
Worth only for Ingrid Bergman
A really heavy melodrama, one of those unaccomplished pieces from the transition to talking movies. The moralistic tone (even for the 1930s) is not helped by some poor editing and rushed plot. So, why watch it? Well, this is one of Ingrid Berman's early films, one where she tests for the first time some of the screen qualities that years later made her one of the most iconic actresses of all time: the sweet smile, the troubled look, her capacity to show conflicting emotions in a single shot. Bergman shines among a cast that is clearly stuck in the silent era and announces a golden era for screen drama heroines, something that Selznick understood immediately. A few years later, Ingrid was on her way to Hollywood for the US version of 'Intermezzo' and the rest is history.
Wooddy Allen at his darkest, also at his most beautiful
Interiors is often mentioned as Woody Allen's most serious film and for good reason. Humour, even dark humour, is practically absent from 'Interiors', as if Allen was trying to tell the world that he could embrace melodrama as genuinely as with comedy. His stylistic changes caused a lot of controversy at the time of release, but all these years after, what you have here is an amazing script, a very rigorous direction and as usual in Woody's films, a superb cast. All of the characters hide a lot more than what they show, their feelings, their fears, their frustrations. Never was the sense of loss as crushing as in 'Interiors', with no room for comfort. An amazing film to include among Allen's most accomplished works.
Here Comes the Groom (1951)
So, this is no Capra masterpiece, but it is still clear why Capra was one of the best of his generation. The innocence portrayed seems out of place in 1951, but seeing it now, just adds to the film's nostalgic feel. Capra lets Cosby do his improv, Wyman is somehow rehearsing for the Douglas Sirk roles she would take in only a few years, only with a comedy twist. There are some hilarious scenes also (like the duel between the two female rivals - with the old grandma saying "this is better than television" - little did she know!- or the wedding scene leading to the obvious happy ending)showing that Capra had not lost his touch. Definitely worth seeing.
Trouble in Paradise (1932)
Crime definitely pays in this masterpiece of sophisticated comedy
'Trouble in Paradise' is one of those films where everything seems to work: the direction, the actors, the editing, you name it. The pace is so perfect, you almost don't realise that time went by. And then there's that dubious morality that Lubitch knew how to use so well: everyone is fooling everyone else, but nobody minds! This film got made at a time when censorship in Hollywood was still rather tame - there is plenty of sexual insinuations throughout the film, which I guess would not have seen the day of light a few years later. Lubitch went on to shoot another gem the year after, 'Design for a Living' also with Miriam Hopkins, but I believe 'Trouble in Paradise' is superior to that one.
The Long, Long Trailer (1954)
Lightweight fun for Lucy fans
"The Long, Long Trailer" is an enjoyable film, an entertaining vehicle for Lucy and Desi, where they get the chance to show us all why they were among the best American comedians ever. Minelli's genius is visible here and there, especially in the timing of some of the scenes, but one has to admit that "The Long, Long Trailer" is one of his minor works and lacks the ambition of such masterpieces as "An American in Paris", "Some Came Running" or "Meet Me in St. Louis". Still, a well worth seeing film, filled with hilarious moments.