Archive for November, 2018

1997’s Titanic for The Greatest Film I’ve Never Seen Blogathon

I know that 1997’s Titanic was a film that several of my husband’s nieces saw over and over and over again.  I know that the film was directed by James Cameron.  I know that it starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.   I know that Celine Dion sang the hit song for the movie, “My Heart Will Go On“, and that it won an Oscar for Best Song in 1998.  I also know that the elderly lady in the film was played by Gloria Stewart, an actress from the early 1930s, who played The Invisible Man’s fiancee in that 1933 film.   Those facts are about all I know of this film as I’ve never watched it.

Being a fan of classic movies, I admit that I am a bit of a snob if a film was made after 1969.   I also confess that if a film comes out today, I am likely to wait until it is available to rent on dvd or via a streaming service instead of going to the theatre to see it.  So, when Cameron’s monster hit arrived in theatres across the US in 1997, I decided to wait and see it via renting it.  However, at the time of the film arriving on dvd,  I was just too busy raising 3 kids, ages 6, 4, 2 and another one due in February of ’98 so viewing the film was put to the back burner of my life.

I am also not ignorant as to what happened on April 15, 1912.  That is the date that the luxury ocean liner hit an iceberg and sank in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, on it’s maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City.   Also, having lived in Missouri since 1993, I have heard about Molly Brown, the subject of the musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown, she being the feisty lady born in Hannibal, MO,  who became rich due to mining and survived the Titanic, doing all she could to help other passengers into the lifeboat that she was on.

Hollywood and Great Britain have actually produced two other movies about the Titanic’s sinking and those I have seen.  1953’s Titanic and 1958’s A Night to Remember.     I do recommend both movies that depict the tragedy in two different ways.

 

 

1953’s Titanic was made by 20th Century Fox.  Jean Negulesco directed and he had an excellent cast to work with: Barbara Stanwyck, Clifton Webb, Robert Wagner, Audrey Dalton, Thelma Ritter, Brian Aherne, and Richard Basehart. The plot of this film revolves around an unhappy wife, Julia(Barbara Stanwyck) who secretly buys passage on the Titanic for herself, and her two teenage children.  Julia is tired of living as an expatriate American and wants to move her children to her hometown of Mackinac, MI.  Julia’s husband Richard(Clifton Webb) finds out what she has done, and rushes to the ship, managing to buy a steerage-class ticket and gets on board.  He finds his wife and despite his efforts at reconciliation, the marriage looks to be truly broken.  There is a side plot, where the bitter couple’s teen daughter Annette(Audrey Dalton) falls in love with college student Giff Rogers(Robert Wagner) on board the ship. Thelma Ritter portrays a Molly Brown like matron, Brian Aherne is  the Titanic’s  captain, E.J. Smith, and Richard Basehart portrays a recently defrocked priest, George Healey, alchoholism being the reason he has lost his priestly duties.  Near the finality of the tragic event, forgiveness and love win out, bravery and courage are on full display, and I can sum up that it is a very moving film.

 

1958’s A Night to Remember, was made by The Rank Organization with Paramount Pictures taking on the US distribution of the film.  Directed by Roy Ward Baker, and with a very good cast to work with: Kenneth More, Honor Blackman(Goldfinger, The Avengers) Ronald Allen, Robery Ayres, Anthony Bushell,  John Cairney, and David McCallum(Man From U.N.C.L.E., NCIS), among others.

A Night to Remember was based upon a screenplay that was written by Eric Ambler, based upon the book Titanic by Walter Lord.  The film is very much told in the docudrama format and it follows with excellent detail the actual happenings on board the ship before it finally sank; the details as to what the employees of the ship were doing pertaining to their jobs on that fateful night.  The producers asked and found cooperative survivors of the Titanic disaster who agreed to be consultants on the film.  For some reason, the film didn’t do as well at the box office however, critics praised it.  I watched it and found it compelling and a film where the viewer will be thinking “if only” as there were so many of those during this event.  For example, if only the nearby ship, The Californian‘s radio operator had been on duty to receive the distress call from the Titanic, how many more lives could have been saved?

With a nice Christmas break approaching, I do plan to find Leo and Kate, and watch the film, finally!  If you are interested, Turner Classic Movies will be airing the 1953 Titanic on December 29th.  They have aired A Night to Remember in the past, so you’ll just have to be intrepid and search the monthly schedules to see if they’ll be airing it in 2019.   Be sure to visit Moon in Gemini for other great posts about films not seen before by classic movie bloggers.

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For the Claude Rains Blogathon: 1947’s The Unsuspected

Claude Rains could do no wrong, in my opinion, as an actor.  Whether he was playing the lead or a supporting character, as soon as his presence appeared  on the screen, one could be sure they were going to see a quality performance.  To honor the actor, who began his career on the English stage in 1899 as a child of ten, running on stage to be in a  crowd scene,  The Pure Entertainment Preservation Society decided to honor Rains on his November 10th birthday with a three day blogathon. Be sure to visit their blog’s site and read the other great pieces about Claude Rains.  I am pleased to be a part of this tribute and have chosen to write about Rains’s performance in 1947’s

The Unsuspected.   

The cast, and a solid cast too, working with Rains in this film: Audrey Totter, Constance Bennett, Hurd Hatfield, Joan Caulfield, Ted North, Fred Clark, Harry Lewis, Jack Lambert, and Ray Walker.  Directed by Michael Curtiz, screenplay by Curtiz’s wife, Bess Meredyth and Ranald MacDougall.  The film was based on a novel written by Charlotte Armstrong.  Warner Brothers Studios earned a nice sum from the release of the film.  

Rains plays Victor Grandison, the popular radio host of a “true crimes” radio show.  One evening in Victor’s home, his secretary Roslyn’s body is found hanging from a chandelier.  Suicide is what the police suspect and all who knew Roslyn are in shock.  A couple weeks later, Victor’s niece Althea(Audrey Totter) is throwing him a birthday party and a new shock arrives at the party in the form of one Steven Howard(Ted North).  Howard claims to be the husband of niece Matilda, who is presumed dead!  Matilda was involved in a boating accident while on vacation and her body was never found.  The length of time for a possible deceased person to re-appear alive is waning and Matilda’s share of the estate was to go back to her Uncle Victor.  Now that this Howard fellow has appeared claiming to be Matilda’s husband, he could fight for her share of the estate!  What a way to ruin Victor’s birthday party!

Poor Roslyn! The secretary is about to be murdered!

Althea’s drunk husband Oliver, Steven, and Jane, Victor’s manager-good to see Constance Bennett in this film. She was a star in the early 1930s.

Can Matilda trust her Uncle Victor?

Is Matilda starting to remember who Steven is?

Victor asks police detective Donovan(Fred Clark) to investigate Howard, who frustratingly seems to know all about Victor, Althea, and the rest of Matilda’s family.  Huge plot twist when Matilda re-appears!  Unfortunately for Howard, she has no memory of who he is and no memory of marrying him!  Without giving away a lot of the film’s plot, I will say that Howard has a reason to appear when he does into the Grandison Family’s lives, Althea and her husband Oliver(Hurd Hatfield) aren’t the idyllic couple, and Victor Grandison has an evil heart and mind.

Rains is great in this role.  With his rich and distinct voice, he’s perfect as a radio show host.  With his two nieces, he is caring towards them one moment, but then cunning and scheming, an uncle they need to respect and be wary of all the time.  Rain’s Grandison is ultimately only concerned with himself but is so polite and mannerly, it is a character trait that he can use in order to get his way in a lot situations.

The Unsuspected  is available to purchase through TCM’s Shop.

From time to time TCM airs this film so keep your eyes on the lookout via the station’s monthly schedule.  Here is a great trailer that I found on Youtube, that would have been used to advertise it to the filmgoers in 1947.

This has been fun for me to re-enter my hobby of blogging about classic films.  I took a hiatus in order to re-enter my career field of teaching.  I taught school eons ago, 1987-1991, then took a number of years off to be a stay-at-home mom to a lot of kids, 7 specifically.  When the youngest turned 12, hubby gently suggested I go back to my career and I agreed, it was time to return to the classroom.  So, while substitute teaching and working one year as a para, I had to take a few college classes, a teacher’s exam, and apply for a Missouri state teaching certificate.  With my certificate in hand, in early August I was offered a teaching spot at an elementary school and it is wonderful to be teaching full-time once again.   Hopefully I will be able to balance work and blogging with ease!