Private Affairs of Bel Ami (1947)

George Sanders

There are multiple movie versions of Bel Ami, based on the story by Guy de Maupassant, one of my favorite writers, but THIS one happens to have a young Angela Lansbury as the lovelorn Clothilde, and George Sanders as the status-and-power craving Bel Ami. Looking both handsome and a bit Snidely Whiplash, eh?

Warren William, the “Pre-Code King”

and one of my favorite actors of the era, Warren William in a small role as Laroche-Mathieu.

The plot is straightforward: Bel Ami moves himself up the social ladder by marriage and deceit. Callous and plotting to the point of psychopathy, he is loved faithfully by Clothilde. She sees his villainy and calls him out for it. His downfall (not a spoiler, we know it’s coming) arises when he attempts to buy what he believes is an available title of an aristocratic family. As noted in the plot synopsis on the Internet Movie Database page, “The moral, at the end, is it is okay to mess with French women, but trifling with French titles is going too far.”

Credit: Les Adams: <a href="http://http://<;


The trailer does not do this movie justice.
Had this film not been included in a “cult classic” set of 6 and had I only seen the trailer, I would have gone no farther. But I saw a review that said, “the best mermaid movie I’ve ever seen.” Well that made me laugh, I mean, I can only think of a couple like the Tom Hanks/Darryl Hannah movie and a movie called Mermaids with Cher… the closest that one gets is girls in the bathtub.

Dennis Hopper and Linda Lawson

This IS the best mermaid movie (unless you suffer from attention deficit in which case you’ll struggle, as relying on the atmosphere, the plot ambles along as a young sailor pursues a relationship with a peculiar and beautiful woman who is a seaside side show mermaid.) But is she really a mermaid? And worse, is she responsible for the deaths of two men–former boyfriends? The pace contributes to the woogie surreal world our sailor finds himself in… do Sea People exist? Is he in danger? And who is the strange witchy-woman who keeps showing up ? 



Carnival of Souls cover

Iggy talked me into watching this odd movie and I’m glad I did.

It’s not scary, it’s artsy and peculiar. Won’t give away the plot too much, but here’s the gist: two vehicles are playing chicken on an old wooden bridge. One car goes into the river and only one passenger survives. The woman, an organist, takes a job at a church near an abandoned seaside carnival that seems to draw her to it. And a ghoulish man keeps appearing to her. What does he want? 

Sadly this film was not well received and came close to disappearing. Fortunately, it was rediscovered and redistributed in 1989, this time to more favorable criticism. It has become a cult classic. If you like artsy films, this is a must see. The lighting, music and the carnival set are sublime… dream-like. Filmed at the magical, abandoned Saltair Amusement Park utilizing its massive ballroom, one of the largest ever built. A pity this is the writer/ director’s only film. I’d say it’s comparable to the 1946 French film La Belle et La Bete (Beauty and the Beast) in terms of mood and atmosphere.  

To Have and Have Not (1944) Bogie and Bacall

No small wonder Humphrey Bogart fell in love with Lauren Bacall while making this movie… she smolders.  Intrigue, spy stuff, action, romance, this film is perfect and glossy. It features one of the most iconic scenes of its era: the “you do know how to whistle, don’t you?”   
I don’t think I’ve ever been that cool in my life… and she was only nineteen!
Cassablanca is a classic Humphrey Bogart picture and also a must-see… but while Cassablanca has the star-crossed lovers-who-must-part ending, To Have and Have Not is the opposite– soul mates who are meant to stay together. And while it’s a war time film, the drama is balanced with romance and a bit of comic relief with Walter Brennan as a sweet, drunk friend.
In 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, author Stephen Jay Schneider notes that the director wanted a true partnership between the two main characters– Slim is not going to slip into an apron, stay at home and bake pies while Harry goes out to fight the fascists and win the war; they will do it together. She is “as intrepid and daring” as her counterpart. Funny how women’s roles shifted so much between the 40s and the 50s…
Some interesting trivia about the movie can be found at the Internet Movie Database website that follows–for example, the movie notion launched because director Howard Hawks made a bet that he could make a great movie out of the worst Ernest Hemingway story! (I think he won the bet.)  Bogart said he fell in love with her portraying her character, Slim, who…more trivia… was based on Howard Hawks’ wife…see below–
More trivia:

Found a public domain photo of the real “Slim” with husband Howard Hawks and their dog:    Slim indeed!!! Is there a size smaller than zero? I think the dog has a bigger waist!

Don’t Bother to Knock (1952) : Marilyn Monroe Richard Widmark and Anne Bancroft

Fatal Attraction caused a sensation in 1987 with Glenn Close terrorizing Michael Douglas as an obsessed lover. I haven’t seen it since, but I do recall it was riveting. Glenn Close scared everyone and “fatal attraction” became a cliché.
It was a reboot of Play Misty for Me (1971) , one of Clint Eastwood’s directorial efforts. Watched it twice a long time ago… as I recall, overall, it had great tension, but dragged in places and the film was kind of grainy. It’s probably been cleaned up and re-released…I should try it again.
Not a big Marilyn fan, I stumbled on this recently. WOW! It holds up! Marilyn did a terrific job as a combination of vulnerable, unhinged, lost but dangerous woman.
The plot: she’s had a troubled past, and her cousin, an elevator operation in a hotel, gets her a job as a hotel babysitter. But while she’s babysitting, she meets a man just jilted by his girlfriend… the man reminds her of her dead boyfriend, and soon she believes he is her boyfriend, and will do anything to keep him.
To be honest, I’m not a Richard Widmark fan…not sure I buy the ending, but I loved Anne Bancroft! I’ve never smoked, but wow, she knows how to work a cigarette…I can see why they were so popular in the movies. 


Charade (1963)

charade ttitle

It’s hard to imagine this movie being successful with any other actors.  Audrey was 35 and Cary was 59… hard to imagine that she’d fall in love just like that…but he IS Cary Grant after all and  this movie is just fun. And so 60’s! : the cartooning in the opening credits, the music, her hairstyle and clothes (Givenchy designed Audrey Hepburn’s wardrobe–check it out).

The plot:  She went off on a ski holiday with a friend. While she was gone, someone threw her husband from a train. When she gets home, she finds he had sold everything in their house in Paris — and, ooh la la, what a house!  She has nothing. Along comes Cary Grant, a nice older gent who wants to take care of her. Soon, three men are after her, threatening her. She has something they want. What?

    charade back jacket   charade cover

Gaslight (1944)

Get the popcorn and turn off the cell phone! This is where the term “gas-lighting” comes from… Charles Boyer plays a sinister husband out to systematically make his wife crazy. It holds up! Great acting and ratcheting tension. A must see if you like movies. Nominated for seven Oscars. Ingrid Bergman won for Best Actress; a very young Angela Landsbury was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. This film holds up as a classic.  There is a 1940 British version as well…not bad, worth watching for comparison, but Boyer, Bergman and Landsbury are tough to beat. 

Metropolis (1927) IF you never watch another black and white movie, you HAVE to see this.

This movie is a MUST SEE for so many reasons. History: it was censored, cut up, squirreled away and scattered by WWII. In the late 80s, a dedicated director, Giorgio Moroder went on a hunt to find it. He got most of it, put it together, and added an 80’s soundtrack. (Queen!). And just recently, another section was found. The movie has been re-released (2001) and is now available in the closest form to what Fritz Lang intended all along.  THIS MOVIE WILL BLOW YOUR MIND FOR HOW AHEAD OF IT’S TIME IT WAS!