Best Years Of Our Lives
After reading Five Came Back, which culminates in the triumphant inspiring tale of how Best Years Of Our Lives is the best returning-home-from-war film ever made, sovay and I decided that it was time to investigate these claims!
...OK, I have not seen every returning-home-from-war film ever made, so I cannot make a decisive judgment or anything, but Best Years Of Our Lives is REALLY good. It follows three ex-soldiers after WWII -- Al, a middle-aged banker with a mostly-grown family who served as a sergeant; Fred, a former soda jerk who achieved a dashing prominence as an air force captain; and Homer, the boy-next-door who lost both of his hands in the navy (played by a disabled veteran who lost both his hands in a similar fashion) -- and does a really astounding job of avoiding cliche while telling their stories of struggling to readjust. It is also not incredibly depressing! Like, it's rough for all of them, it's quite rough, but the film is composed of really genuine moments of low-key realism and humor and eventual connection.
Though really, knowing about Wyler from Five Came Back, I was expecting it to be very good about the men. I was sooort of expecting the women to be more two-dimensional supporting background? This however is not the case, especially for the banker's family. Myrna Loy (Nora from The Thin Man!) is an INSPIRED casting choice for Al's wife Marie -- she's supportive and smart and funny, and has so many edges! -- and their strong but complicated marriage is possibly the most important and compelling love story in the film. There's also Al's daughter Peggy, a young nurse who gets a crush on unhappily married Fred:
AL AND MARIE: Honey, I know it's hard, but you know what you have to do, right?
PEGGY: Yes! I'm going to BREAK THAT MARRIAGE UP. :D
AL AND MARIE: Uhhhhh young lady that is NOT what we meant --
Sorry, Al and Marie; we cracked up. HERE IS A WOMAN WHO KNOWS WHAT SHE WANTS.
Meanwhile, Homer keeps trying to self-sacrificingly push away his fiancee, and he is having none of it, and Fred's wife is not demonized either; the trouble with that marriage is just, as someone in the film says, that they don't like each other.
sovay has written up a much more comprehensive review here which you ought to read. Anyway, it's a very good movie! Extremely worth watching.
I knew a great deal about Gaslight from lo these many film courses in college, but I'd never actually seen it.
Man, that is a rough film to watch! For those who are not familiar, Gaslight -- the origin of the term gaslighting -- is about how sweet orphan Ingrid Bergman marries an apparently sweet fellow who slowly, steadily takes complete control of her life and then steadily starts to convince her that she is insane. "Why are you always losing things, Paula? You're so absent-minded, it concerns me!" "Why did you do this thing that you don't remember doing
Ingrid Bergman does not stab her husband, but her final scene is SO SATISFYING it makes everything worth it anyway. She's just so DONE. If you do not feel up to watching the whole movie for the triggering contet I recommend just googling 'Gaslight final scene' on YouTube; it is three minutes well spent.
As a sidenote, baby Angela Lansbury also co-stars in her very first role as a judgy maid (Ingrid Bergman: 'it doesn't HELP my situation that I just feel like my maid is JUDGING ME ALL THE TIME.') Look at her judgy baby face!
His Girl Friday
I have actually seen His Girl Friday before! But I dragged setsthingsright with me to see it again.
In His Girl Friday, Rosalind Russell, ACE REPORTER!!!, is trying her damnedest to get out of the newspaper business and marry her sweet but bland new fiancee. Cary Grant, her smooth snake of an ex-husband and ex-boss, is trying his damnedest to drag her back in. Politics are terrible. Everything is terrible. But Rosalind Russell just can't help feeling compelled to report about it, god damn it!
The thing about His Girl Friday is that everybody in it is just flat-out a terrible person, including and perhaps especially including our two leads, but like ... at least they all know they're terrible .... and they're VERY WITTY about it so you can't help but enjoying yourself anyways, at least until someone jumps out of a window because the news/political/corruption cycle is SO GODAWFUL and you're like '.....welp.' (Not to mention the full-body cringe that both setsthingsright and I did when they were expositing about the plot thread we had both forgotten about that was 'it's terrible how this white guy is condemned to death row for accidentally shooting a black police officer!' Like, I also do not approve of the death penalty, BUT UM. Fortunately(?) that thread is soon completely absorbed by the overwhelming sleazy opportunism of everything else.)
So I feel kind of bad about loving this movie. But I love this movie all the same. IT'S JUST SO CLEVER.
Again, I've seen The Birds before -- it's not my favorite Hitchcock by a long shot, but it was playing for free in the park, so, you know. The thing I forget about The Birds is how much it tries to play for the first forty minutes like it's a rom-com. But, like, a VERY STRANGE rom-com.
TIPPI HEDREN: I got in a weird flirty fight with this dude in a bird shop while pretending to be an employee for no good reason! CLEARLY, my only choice is to buy his sister some pet birds and leave them at his address, which I have found out by doing the 1940s version of Google-stalking.
THE DUDE'S NEIGHBOR: Sorry, lady, you can't leave the birds at his address, he's away for the weekend!
TIPPI HEDREN: ... CLEARLY, my only choice is to go to his tiny town, motorboat across the lake in a fur coat and high heels, BREAK INTO HIS HOUSE, and leave the birds there with a personal note for his sister! Whom I have never met! THIS ISN'T WEIRD.
THE DUDE: Aww, you stalked me home? Well, aren't you charming!
THE ATTACKING BIRDS, DIVE-BOMBING PEOPLE LEFT, RIGHT AND SUNDRY: ...OK, but does anyone else think that these people are kind of weird? Maybe it's just us, but we think they're kind of weird.
I also forgot that the end of the film is their attempt at escaping from the attacking birds situation in a tiny convertible. Guys! MAYBE TAKE A TRUCK.
(The other thing is that several of the angry bird sound effects sound a lot like attractivegeekery's cat in a Mood. If Grace ever rises up against us, WE ARE READY. ... we're probably not ready.)
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