Number 4 Child Will be Flying Away Too Soon!

May 27th, 2016, will be an exciting and monumental day for our family.  Baby #4, our 3rd son, will be graduating from Rolla High School.  The maroon graduation robe is hanging in his room, hooked on top of the curtain rod, and every time I walk by his open bedroom door I am startled, as it looks like a figure is standing there, from what my

peripheral vision is seeing!   HS Graduation

Memories of this son’s childhood come flooding back to me a lot lately.  Without getting too personal, he was the easiest delivery, he potty-trained himself, and taught himself to read at age 4!  He just picked up our collection of Dr. Seuss books, and while I was homeschooling his 3 older siblings, he’d sit with those books on his lap and just figured out reading.   I also remember how this child liked to be a contrarian.  If the sun was shining and I said, “What a nice day out,”  he’d be quick to retort that it was a cloudy and stormy day!  When his siblings couldn’t wait to get out into the snow and sled or make a snowman, he was content to stay in the warm house.  I’ve always told him it won’t surprise me at all if he chooses to live in the Southern U.S. where snow and frost and ice are rare.

Truman State

Truman State University is his future spot for higher learning.  He wants to be a doctor and with the hard work he has put in at school to earn all A’s, plus all of the extra curricular activities where he has helped lead, the scholarships have been a wonderful reward.  He has mentioned wanting to work in the future with Doctors Without Borders, but for a pre-med student, that goal is a long ways off.

Fox and the HOund

This is my son who loved to watch Disney’s animated movie, The Fox and The Hound.  Over and over and over again, he’d ask to watch this dvd.  Of course, I’d let him as it meant a chance for me to tackle household chores uninterrupted, but I did get a bit tired of hearing it play on the tv.  I think a few days before he departs for college, I will have to pop this dvd in and watch it with him, and add in a big bowl of popcorn, and I might need the kleenax box nearby, too.

Before the final good-byes as he departs for this next chapter of his life, I hope he will know how proud of him his father and I are, how much we love him, and how rich our lives have been from God blessing our lives with him 18 years ago.

Beyond the Cover: Books to Film Blogathon: Kings Row

I live in Rolla, Missouri, which is in the south-central part of the state.  1 and 1/2 hours northeast of Rolla is the city of Fulton, Missouri.   Fulton has two  claims to fame, as fame goes.  It’s the place where Winston Churchill, on March 5th, 1946, made his famous “Iron Curtain” speech at Westminster College.  Fulton’s second claim is that in 1940, former hometown boy, Henry Bellamann, published a novel titled Kings Row, which readers in Fulton soon figured out was based upon their town.   The novel angered the community because despite Bellamann’s disclaimer that Kings Row was a fictional place, and all of the characters were fictional, Fulton readers could depict their town from Bellamann’s descriptions, and also the citizens he described.  Bellamann’s novel was about a midwestern town, near the turn of the century, where outsiders perceive it as an idyllic place to live and raise one’s family, but in reality, the town contains evil people, hiding their evil secrets, and where the wealthy families mistreat the poorer ones.

Kings Row sign

After the anger lessened on Fulton’s part, Hollywood announced that Warner Brothers studio had bought the  film rights to Kings Row and in 1942 the movie reached America’s box offices.  Despite the lurid tale, Kings Row was a smash hit, and some film buffs say it contains the best role President Ronald Reagan ever played when he was an actor.  The film was also nominated in 1943 for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography, Black and White. Let’s dive into the film’s plot, shall we?    kings-row-ann-sheridan-ronald-reagan-everett

The film concerns itself mostly with a group of children, ages 10-11, who are occupied with most things 10 and 11 year olds would be occupied with: having fun, playing with their friends, school, and trying to please their parents and/or guardians(two of the boys are being raised by relatives, since both are orphans.)  There is Parris(Robert Cummings), Drake(Ronald Reagan), Cassandra(Betty Field), Randy(Ann Sheridan), and Louise(Nancy Coleman.)  We only see the children for half an hour into the film, and then it jumps ahead to their young adult years, when they’re in their late teens.  When we meet the children we learn that Parris is polite. sensitive, and curious.  Drake is a jokester and thinks he’s a lady’s man.  Randy is a tomboy.  Louise is obedient to authority.  Cassandra is weird and moody.  The change to late teen years brings about the fact that all five are good looking people with varying degrees of wondering what to do with their lives.

Cassandra and Parris

Cassandra and Parris

Randy and Drake

Randy and Drake

Parris has been raised by a wealthy grandmother(Maria Ouspenskaya) who immigrated from the Lorraine area of France.  Her husband began a successful nursery business outside of Kings Row, and she, Madame Von Eln, carried on with the business after she was widowed.  Owing to her ancestry, she has made sure Parris can speak and read and write in French and German, and she’s also raised him with excellent manners.  She has also insisted on his taking piano lessons.  When Parris is a teen, he begins to grow infatuated with Dr. Tower’s (Claude Rains) daughter, Cassandra.  Cassandra is pretty, and seems to be able to only open up and really talk when she’s with Parris.  However, her father is very strict with her and always keeps her at home, even pulling her out of school and homeschooling her when she turns 12.  Due to his actions, Cassandra really has no friends in Kings Row, other than Parris.   Cassandra’s mother(Eden Gray) is considered very odd by the townsfolk, as she never leaves the house, and can be seen in the living room sitting in a chair, or peeking out at passerby’s from curtained windows.  Parris cares deeply for Cassandra, even declaring he loves her.  He and Cassandra begin to secretly see one another under Dr. Tower’s nose; Parris had gone away to Europe for medical school, and came back to Kings Row, to study psychiatry with Dr. Tower’s help.

Mysterious Dr. Tower

Mysterious Dr. Tower

Drake, always the merry prankster looking for love, raised by an aged aunt and uncle, is very wealthy when they pass away and leave him the full of their estate.  Drake wants to marry Louise, but her father, Dr. Gordon(Charles Coburn) a severe man, doesn’t like Drake, thinks Drake is immoral, and tells Louise she can’t marry him.  Louise is too weak to stand up to her father, so Drake breaks off his engagement to Louise and after a while, begins to date Randy, the girl descended from Irish immigrant railroad workers, who lives on the wrong side of the tracks, literally.

Drake telling Dr. Gordon what he really thinks of him.

Drake telling Dr. Gordon what he really thinks of him.

Randy is very likeable, and very pretty.  She is full of common sense, has a good sense of humor, and is a hard worker; Drake couldn’t do better to date  and woo her.  Tragedy hits Drake twice: he finds out an unscrupulous banker has swindled him of his inheritance, and having to work for a living and getting a job in the rail yard, he is accidentally crushed by a boxcar.  SPOILER!!!   When Dr. Gordon, Louise’s father, is called in to treat Drake, he decides to punish Drake for all of his past moral failings and needlessly amputates Drake’s legs!  It is as Drake awakes from his surgery, feels for his legs, and realizes they’re gone, that Reagan’s most famous line was uttered, “Where’s the rest of me??!!”  (Reagan felt he owed so much to Kings Row and that line that he used it as the title to his autobiography.)

Where's the rest of me??!!

Where’s the rest of me??!!

Robert Cummings is winning as Parris, the fresh-faced naive boy turned the same, even as a young adult; naive until he discovers what Dr. Tower did to his wife and to his daughter.  The naivete is gone and  Parris decides to study psychiatry, which at the turn of the century, was a new medical field.

Ronald Reagan is great as Drake.  One can tell by watching Reagan that he was enjoying the fun of the character and that he was probably having the time of his life playing Drake.  A lot of credit has been given to director Sam Wood, for working with Reagan on his part, but once again, Reagan was also from a midwestern state, Illinois, and a small town, so I am sure he could see some of the same points of distinction or similarities the screenplay was bringing out about life in a small midwestern town.

Ann Sheridan is superb as Randy.  Her efforts to display Randy’s character come shining through.

Betty Field is eerie as Cassandra.  She goes about with her eyes wide-open, as though she is expecting a ghost around every corner.  One can feel that Cassandra is living under a large amount of stress, but one doesn’t know why.  It will be revealed later in the plot of the film.

The adults in the film are some of the greatest character actors and actresses to ever grace a film: Claude Rains as the strange Dr. Tower, Charles Coburn as the stern Dr. Gordon, Dame Judith Anderson as Mrs. Gordon, Harry Davenport as Colonel Skeffington, Maria Ouspenskaya as Parris’s grandmother, and, I must confess an unknown to me actress, Eden Gray portrays the reclusive Mrs. Tower.

I don’t want to reveal too many more spoilers for Kings Row, but I will say that after all the evil deeds are exposed and the topic of mental illness is discussed,  there is a happy ending, or at least a hopeful ending!!  Turner Classic Movies will be airing Kings Row next week on Tuesday, April 12, at 8:00 est/7:00 cst.   The film is also available to view on Amazon’s instant rent and there are various clips on Youtube, but not the entire film.

I decided to read Kings Row prior to writing this blog, and went to Rolla’s library 3 weeks ago to get the book.  Alas, it wasn’t available so I ordered it through their interlibrary loan program, and 2 weeks later, Kings Row arrived for me, coming in from Sedalia, Missouri’s library.   I have read 1/3 of  the book and it is a good read.  Bellamann wrote a very descriptive picture to give the reader a mental image of Fulton, er Kings Row.  There are a lot of characters and good character development in the book, but as is so often when a book is turned into a film, many of the characters in the book were cut from the film’s screenplay.  Some of the  taboo topics in the book didn’t make the screenplay either due to the Hays Code: premarital sex, homosexuality, and incest.  The topics of mental illness, sadistic malpractice, murder, and suicide were acceptable for the screenplay.

Many have speculated as to why Henry Bellamann would have written such a negative novel about his hometown.  There are several theories, but at last, Fulton seems to have accepted it’s place in literary and film history.  Here’s a link to an interesting piece I read about the book and the film from a 1987 article in the  LA Times.

My post today is for the Beyond the Cover: Books to Film Blogathon, hosted by two excellent bloggers who know their classic movies: Ruth at Now Voyaging and Kristina at Speakeasy.  Be sure to visit their blogs to read about other bloggers contributions in the world of literary art being turned into visual art via film.

Beyond the Cover

For the Bette Davis Blogathon: A Stolen Life

Actress Bette Davis, if she were still alive, would be turning 108 today, Tuesday, April 5th.  To honor her memory, blogger and classic film fan Crystal at  In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood created a blogathon for this purpose. Be sure to visit Crystal’s blog to read all of the other great posts by other classic film fans about Bette Davis and her outstanding career.

blogathon-bette

 

 

I decided to focus on one of Bette’s lesser known films, 1946’s A Stolen Life, a film that Bette actually produced as well as starred in for Warner Brothers.  It’s a film that is intriguing to me as Bette gets to play identical twins, and as a mom of twins, I am always interested in seeing how Hollywood handles the concept of twins, and how  did the scenes look where the actor or actress  in dual roles are in the same scenes at the same time?!

A Stolen Life

In A Stolen Life, we get the “good” twin and the “bad” twin plot.  It may seem stale but in the hands of director Curtis Bernhardt and actress Bette Davis, the concept of the dual twins with wildly varied personalities turned out well.  Davis had been wanting a better contract with Warner Brothers, and studio head Jack Warner was not going to let his leading female star go, so the studio agreed in 1944, that Bette could make 5 pictures for them and get to be the producer too.  A Stolen Life was Davis’s first time as a producer.   Producing was a big task and Davis ably carried it out.  A Stolen Life was based on the best selling novel Stolen Life by Czechoslovakian writer Karel J. Benes.  His novel had been made into a movie in England in 1939 and Davis wanted to make a new version of the film in America.  Catherine Turney and Margaret B. Wilder wrote the screenplay and I think it was a great idea of Davis’s to get women to write this film’s screenplay, since the two main characters are sisters, and the story revolves around love, and what one wants out of life.  Davis had seen Barbara Stanwyck’s 1946 film, My Reputation, and had enjoyed it immensely.  She decided she wanted that director for her picture and that is how Curtis Bernhardt came on board.

Bernhardt, along with cinematographer Sol Polito, devised the intricate shots needed to really show Bette as twin sisters.  Using matte shots, a double for Davis, and then reshooting with Davis’s head or face on another matte shot, a scene such as one sister lighting the other sister’s cigarette could be done.  The film did receive one nomination at the 1947 Academy Awards for Special Effects.   The always great Max Steiner composed the music for the film, and Orry-Kelly designed the costumes.  For the leading man of the film, Warner Brothers wanted Davis to consider Dennis Morgan, but she said no to that choice.  She then agreed to sign Robert Alda, but actor Glenn Ford caught her attention.  He had just gotten out of the Marines, where he’d been serving during the war.  Jack Warner didn’t want to hire Ford, as he was at Columbia Pictures and that meant Warner Brothers would have to pay Columbia a loan out fee.  Davis wanted to see if Ford could do the role, so she had him secretly brought on to the Warner Brothers lot and do a screen test.  Ford did so well, that Davis gave him the part and Jack Warner grumblingly complied.  Ford impressed Columbia Pictures so much in this Davis vehicle that they cast him in Gilda, for his next role, and that really got his acting career moving forward.

Bette Davis plays identical twin sisters Kathryn and Patrica Bosworth.  Independently wealthy women, due to inheriting their family’s wealth, and being that their parents are deceased, the only family the two has is each other and one cousin, Freddie(Charlie Ruggles.)  Kathryn, or Kate, is the quiet twin.  She is an artist, lives in NYC, and is introspective and thoughtful.  Patricia, or Pat, is loud, flamboyant, and a flirt.  As the film opens, Kate is rushing to catch a steamer that is to sail out to an island off the coast of Massachusetts-she’s spending the weekend there with her sister and their cousin, Freddie.  Kate misses the boat, but luckily finds a man with his boat who agrees to take her out to the island.  The man is Bill Emerson(Glenn Ford), an engineer, and he and Kate hit it off as they sail to the island.  Bill does tell Kate that he has to stop at another smaller island on their way, to pick up the old lighthouse keeper, Eben Folger(Walter Brennan.)  Kate decides that she wants to get to know Bill better, so she asks Eben if he’d agree to sit for his portrait to be drawn and painted, which means Bill would be the one to sail her out to Eben’s lighthouse.  Eben agrees, and Bill and Kate get to know one another better through the portrait sittings.

Bette Davis as Kate and Pat Bosworth

Bette Davis as Kate and Pat Bosworth

Kate and Bill getting to know one another.

Kate and Bill getting to know one another.

As we know, since this film is a drama, Bill meets Pat by accident one day at the dock, and he assumes she is Kate.  Pat decides to let him think she is Kate, takes him to lunch, and bedazzles him with her personality.  Kate does appear and the trick Pat played on Bill is revealed.  Bill tells Kate he has to go to Boston for his work for a few weeks, and Pat overhears this info, and hops the same train to Boston for a shopping trip.  She continues to charm Bill on the train, and in Boston, and when Bill returns to the island where Kate is, he admits that he and Pat are in love and will be married soon.  Kate sadly resigns herself to this fact, and soon her sister and Bill are wed.

The conniving Pat working her magic on Bill

The conniving Pat working her magic on Bill

Kate returns to NYC to resume her art career.  She meets an intense artist, Karnock(Dane Clark) who criticizes her work as too stiff, too boring.  He encourages her to be more expressive with her art, and then tells her he loves her.  She realizes that she still loves Bill, and tells Karnock that her heart belongs to another man.  Still despondent, Kate returns to the island for some self-examination and planning for her future.  Pat arrives, telling Kate that the marriage to Bill was a huge mistake.  Bill is in Chile working on some project, so Pat decided to come to the island and stay there while he’s away.  One day Kate and Pat decide to sail in their boat, and a storm erupts, crashing their boat onto a reef.  When Kate comes too, she sees Pat is drowning and tries to save her sister.  Conveniently as Pat sinks under the waves, her wedding ring pops off and Kate grabs it.  At that moment, Kate decides to put on the wedding ring, pretend to be Pat, and try to save the marriage to Bill.

Kate with fellow artist, Karnock.

Kate with fellow artist, Karnock.

Bill arrives back in Boston, where he and Pat live, and Kate is waiting for him trying to pretend she is Pat.  Bill coldly tells her that he’s going to file soon for a divorce.  It is then that Kate learns that Pat was a very unfaithful wife to Bill, having numerous affairs with quite a few men, one who even divorced his wife for her!

Will Kate be able to convince Bill that she, pretending to be Pat, can become a new, and better Pat?  A Pat who loves him unconditionally and one who will now honor their wedding vows?  Will Bill believe this new Pat?  Cousin Freddie starts to have his doubts that this is really Pat.  Will he spill the beans?

Luckily, Turner Classic Movies will be airing A Stolen Life on Sunday, May 1, at 10:00 pm est/9:00 pm cst so be sure to set that dvr and watch it.  If you don’t have access to TCM, you can watch it via Amazon for a fee.

Lastly, here is the scene expertly filmed showing one twin lighting a match and handing it to her twin sister, courtesy of Youtube.

An article on TCM’s website, written by Margarita Landazwi was immensely helpful in my research for this blog post.

Book Review: In the Field of Grace

I love to read books and when I was a kid, I could easily read a book and finish it in a week’s time.  In 1991, when motherhood came calling, my time to be able to read a book greatly diminished and even though I still love to read, it takes me a lot, lot longer to finish a book.  My favorite type of books to read are books based on historic events or people, and books that blend historical facts with fictional characters.

I was perusing the shelves at the Rolla Public Library in February and came across In the Field of Grace, a  historical fiction novel based upon the wonderful bible story about Ruth.   I have said for years, to anyone who might be listening, that the story of Ruth would make a wonderful movie, if done correctly and not taken out of character, or taken far from the truths the story imparts.  Hollywood? If you’re interested, this book should be the basis for a screenplay!!!

Field of Grace book cover

Tessa Afshar, the author, has taken the story of Ruth and added so much richness to the story.  The reader is allowed to ponder many what ifs that ring true to the biblical story.  Such as, perhaps Ruth was not loved by her biological family and that caused her to easily fall in love not only with her first husband but his mother as well, who treated her as a beloved daughter, who treated her with great kindness.  That would help explain why Ruth would be so willing to travel to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, when both were now widows, to be willing to live in a new town and new country despite that country having such different customs and worldviews than her native Moab. (Which is actually modern day Jordan.)

Afshar has done her research well: we delve into customs, foods, how homes were set up and cared for, the daily chores and seasonal tasks one had to do in bibilical times. We also get some great behind the scenes looks at Boaz’s life pre-Ruth.  Boaz is the strong, heroic man of the story.  He is fleshed out wonderfully with emotions and a strong faith in God, and all of these attributes help in giving his character a deeper sense in who he might have been; more than just the man who saves Ruth and Naomi from starvation.

I highly recommend this book, In the Field of Grace.  I had a hard time putting it down!  It really is a well-written, well-researched, and one can tell, lovingly crafted story.  For more information about the author, Tessa Afshar, here is a link to her online information page.

Two Helicopter Landing Pads at Mark Twain National Forest?

Near Rolla, Missouri lies the Mark Twain National Forest.  It’s one of 155 such designated forests in the United States, the forests falling under the jurisdiction of the US Forest Service and the USDA.  The forest is 1.5 million acres and most of it is located in the Ozark Highlands.  It covers 29 counties in southern Missouri and represents 11% of all forested land in the state.  Named after favorite son and famous author, Mark Twain, the Forest was set aside as a protected area in 1939.

MTNF

I was somewhat surprised when I was reading the Rolla Daily News on Feb. 19th when I  learned that the U. S. Forest Service wants to build 2 helicopter landing pads, or helibases, in the National Forest, in Phelps County.  The article went on to state the acreages of the land needed for this project, and the types of buildings that will also be needed along with the helibases; 140 acres of forest to construct several landing sites, buildings for the pilots and other air staff,technology,etc.  The Forestry Service wants to be closer to the forest in fighting wildfires, listing that as their main reason for wanting to build this complex.

 

MTNF 2

The Forestry Service presents the information in the newspaper article as a done deal, doesn’t mention how many  millions of dollars this project will cost, and near the article’s end, mentions that they are required to ask for the public’s comments until March 14th concerning the two helipads.  For those citizens of Missouri who want to send their opinions about these Helipads: 1.  One can mail a letter to the Houston/Rolla/Cedar Creek Ranger District, 108 S. Sam Houston Blvd.,  Houston, MO 65483.  Attn. Mark Hamel.  2. Fax your opinion to Mark Hamel, Integrated Resource Analyst at 573-364-6844.  3. Or send an  email to: comments-eastern-mark-twain-houston@fs.fed.us   and include Helibase Development Project #48670 on the subject line of the email.

MTNF 4

My opinions about this project? I have several.  The current helipad that is in use for the National Forest is at Rolla’s airport in nearby Vichy, MO.  Wouldn’t it be less costly to add the additonal technologies, another landing pad, and another building or two at an already exisiting airport?  Trees wouldn’t need to be knocked down, and with the University of Science and Technology next door in Rolla, couldn’t the university be consulted, professors and students be utilized, in coming up with green energy ideas for  the current Vichy site?  I think using taxpayers’ dollars in the  most cost-effective way possible is always a good thing to strive for, I think keeping the helipad and building a new one at the Vichy site is a win for the city of Rolla, I think not cutting down forest in a National Forest is a good thing, and I think utilizing the University for any help they could supply would also be beneficial.

MTNF 3

Here is the article from The Rolla Daily News, article written from Staff Reports.

 

Sole Hope-A Worthy Endeavor

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus related a very strong visual of what the day of judgement would look like.  He relayed how the people of all the nations would be divided into two groups, much as a shepherd divides up the flocks into  the sheep and the goats; the sheep on His right hand side, the goats on His left.  He tells those on His right that they are blessed and they are to enter into their inheritance.  “For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat,  I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Mt. 25:35-36.   The righteous are puzzled by Jesus’s announcement.  They ask when did they see Him in such need? Jesus reminds them that whenever they did something to meet the needs of their fellow man, that they were also serving Him.

A thought provoking passage, to be sure.  One that is good for self-introspection.  How are we doing at serving our fellow man, woman, or child in need?  Sunday, I had an opportunity to do just that, working alongside a wonderful organization, called Sole Hope.

Sole Hope began a few years ago when Asher Collie was perusing the internet for more information on international adoptions.  She found a Youtube video about the horrors of jiggers, the parasitic chigoe flea of Sub-Saharan Africa.  These fleas burrow into the flesh of unsuspecting humans, the feet the most common site of the attack.  After burrowing in, the flea lays eggs, which cause infections, horrible sores, difficulty in walking, and if left untreated, can lead to fatal conditions such as gangrene, and sepsis.

The images from the video stayed with Asher and she shared her concerns to her husband, Dru.  Something had to be done to combat this horrid medical issue, and that’s where Sole Hope was born: creating shoes for the people in Uganda in order to protect their feet, provide medical clinics to help those infected, and education classes in order to help the Ugandans know how to protect themselves from these fleas.

Sole Hope hosts shoe preparation parties and that was the event I was invited to at my church, Greentree Christian, in Rolla.  8 pf us ladies  divided our efforts into 3 different groups of activity.  Some of us cut apart the donated and washed blue jeans-cutting away the hems, seams, front pockets, and waistband in order to leave behind the main leg material of the denim.  Another group took the cut denim and laid onto it the patterns for making the shoes upper parts, tracing the patterns onto the denim.  The third group cut the pattern pieces out and then pinned them together as a set.  These would then be mailed to Sole Hope’s headquarters in Uganda, where locals there make the shoes.  Another good idea that has stemmed from Sole Hope’s work is that in Uganda, bicycling is a thriving mode of transportation, however when one’s bicycle tires wear out, it’s not uncommon to toss that tire off of the road, out into the brush.  Sole Hope has been able to collect these unwanted tires and has found a company that can recycle the tires into the soles of the shoes being made.

It was a small effort on my part, but I had an enjoyable time working with the other ladies at the Sole Hope Party, and it was nice to think that my small effort could have a good and larger impact on people who would truly benefit from pairs of shoes.

If you are intrigued about Sole Hope and what they are about and trying to accomplish in Uganda, then click on this link and learn more.http://www.solehope.org/gallery/      The included gallery is a montage of pictures of Sole Hope in action in Uganda.

 

My Classic Movie Pick: Love Letters

British Officer Alan Quinton has a big problem.  It’s World War 2, he’s in Italy, and he has been writing love letters to a girl back in England for his war buddy, Officer Roger Morland.  Roger was granted a leave in London a few months back and while there, he met a beautiful girl, Victoria Remington, at a ball.  He danced with her a lot and made her laugh.  He decided to keep the lines of communication open with her despite his return to the war and despite his lackadaisical attitude to writing letters, so he asks, begs, and badgers his friend Alan to write love letters to Victoria for him.   Alan, even though he’s engaged to Helen Wentworth and has never met Victoria, begins to fall for her due to the responding letters she writes back.

Love Letters

Alan writing a love letter for Roger

Alan writing a love letter for Roger

 

The plot thickens when Roger gets another leave to London and marries Victoria on a whim.  Alan gets wounded in a battle and is sent home to England to finish his recovery.  While at the hospital for recovering veterans, Alan and Helen know that their earlier promise to one another to marry has been weakened somehow.  Alan then learns that  Roger has died in an accident and Alan also finds out he has inherited an elderly aunt’s country home, still employing her caretaker, Mack.  Alan decides to move from London to live in this inherited home, hoping to  clear the cobwebs from his mind and decide what he now wants to do with his life.  Prior to going to the home, his brother, Derek, takes him to a party and it is there that Alan meets Dilly and a young woman who goes by the name Singleton.  At the party, Alan has too much to drink and goes on and on to Dilly about how he wrote love letters during the war for his officer buddy who he has recently learned was killed in an accident.  Dilly, startled by Alan’s confession, urges him that after he’s settled in at the country home, he should focus on the story about an “old murder” that happened near his aunt’s home.

Alan recovering at the Veteran's Hospital

Alan recovering at the Veteran’s Hospital

Dilly's suggestion to a now sober Alan about investigating an old murder

Dilly’s suggestion to a now sober Alan about investigating an old murder

Alan recalls Dilly’s advice, breaks off his engagement to Helen, and decides that since he has fallen in love with Victoria, he must meet her, especially now that Roger has died.  He travels back to London to visit a  library in order to try and find out about Roger’s death.   Alan finds out that Victoria was found guilty of murdering Roger!  Now Alan feels terrible, as he blames himself for writing those letters that brought Roger and Victoria together.

As I watched this romance/mystery film, I thought two things: one, I know that TCM is focusing on films that were either nominated for Academy Awards or winners of the award, showing such films as a lead up to the Oscars, but why not put Love Letters on the air on Valentine’s Day??  Second, this film is screaming for a remake, maybe Hallmark Channel needs to do this??

The plot continues to thicken: Alan is told Victoria is dead, he remeets Singleton and they fall in love.   He learns that Singleton has amnesia and can’t remember who she really is.  Dilly has information for him about Singleton.  Dilly shares with him her fears of the negative consequences that could happen when Alan tells her that he and Singleton wish to marry.  An elderly lady appears in the story, a Miss Beatrice Remington and she seems somewhat menacing towards Alan and Singleton and their wedding plans; she eventually relents and reveals that she is a key connection to Victoria and Roger Morland.  Singleton is driving herself crazy with memories suddenly popping up in her mind, memories that are confusing and scary for her.  She is also worried that Alan married her out of pity and that he really is in love with Victoria Morland, perhaps Singleton should just go away and give Alan up so he can find Victoria and be truly happy?

Alan and Singleton have fallen in love

Alan and Singleton have fallen in love

Mack and Alan helping Singleton when she has one of her hysterical episodes due to memories re-emerging

Mack and Alan helping Singleton when she has one of her hysterical episodes due to memories re-emerging

Love Letters arrived at the US movie theaters in 1945 and it did really well with American audiences.  The film was produced by Hal B. Wallis, based upon the novel, Pity My Simplicity, by Christopher Massie.  The screenplay was written by Ayn Rand.  William Dieterle was selected as the director.  Producer, movie mogul David O. Selznick agreed to let two of his actors, Joseph Cotton and Jennifer Jones play the two leads, Alan and Singleton, but he sent constant memos to Wallis with suggestions and essentially commands as to what he wanted for Jones’s contract; Selznick soon after married Jones.   The rest of the cast: Roger Morland-Robert Sully, Helen Wentworth-Anita Louise, Dilly-Ann Richards, Mack-Cecil Kellaway, Beatrice Remington-Gladys Cooper.

What I liked about this film was the acting and the score.  Sure, the plot was a bit  convoluted, hence my Hallmark remake suggestion, but all of the cast works well together to tell the story and make it believable and Dieterle’s direction with Rand’s screenplay give it all a fitting ending.  The score, by Victor Young, was nominated for an Academy Award as was Jones, for Best Actress.   Where can one find this film?  TCM will be airing it again on Sunday, March 13, at 10:00 am est/9:00 am cst.  The film is available on dvd via Amazon,  and at TCM’s Shop.

Here is a lovely clip of Nat King Cole’s rendition of Love Letters,  Victor Young’s Academy  Award nominated song for the film.  Here is the link to the trailer that audiences in 1945 would have seen to advertise the film.   http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/154197/Love-Letters-Original-Trailer-.html

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