Posts Tagged ‘John Abbott’

My Classic Movie Pick: 1946’s Deception

In 1942, Warner Brothers scored a huge hit with the tear-jerking, bittersweet romance Now, Voyager, which starred Bette Davis, Claude Rains, and Paul Henreid.  In 1946, the studio decided to put this triumvirate together for another picture and this go round resulted in the film, Deception.  Did any other actresses in Hollywood know how to wield a gun as well as Bette? Sorry for that spoiler, but not really!   

Bette plays Christine Radcliffe, a promising pianist who happens to have been a student of the famous conductor and composer Alexander Hollenius(Claude Rains, having a great time with this role.)  Christine is sitting high up in a concert hall, tears in her eyes, as she listens to the guest cellist playing his piece with an orchestra accompanying him.  After the concert, she rushes backstage to see the cellist, Karol Novak(Paul Henreid). She is desperate to see him because before WWII struck, they had both been music students in Europe and had fallen in love.  Christine got back to the USA before the War got worse but poor Karol spent the war in a concentration camp.  He survived, but Christine thought he had been killed.  She is joyful and deliriously happy to be reunited with Karol again and they soon make plans to marry.

Christine has one big secret and she decides to not tell Karol about it until after they are married, when she finds the right time to tell him.  Big mistake! However, that would take away from movie’s plot if Christine did the sensible and honest thing.  During the wedding reception Christine realizes her decision to wait for the big secret reveal is a mistake when Alexander Holenius crash’s the party at Christina’s apartment.  He saunters in, clearly realizing that his expectation to be alone with Christine was a mistake as he sees all the people and the wedding cake.  It’s pretty easy to figure out that Holenius and Christine had “something” going on and her marriage to Karol feels like a slap in the face to Holenius.

Holenius not too happy at the wedding reception!

Karol is no dummy.  He has an inkling that Christine and Holenius weren’t just a student and a teacher. How did Christine afford her apartment and her fur coats, fancy dresses, pieces of art and jewelry? Christine tells him at first that Holenius just likes to give his favorite friends gifts.  Then she finally tells him the truth and assures him that it is all over between her and Holenius.  Karol is on the brink of classical music stardom and Holenius offers to let him audition to play the cello solo for an upcoming concert series.  Christine makes some visits to Holenius to try and explain that she loves Karol and not him, that Holenius should respect that, and he better not do anything to destroy Karol’s career.  With that threat from Christine, there’s a gleam in Holenius’s eye to make it a difficult experience for Karol in the world of classical music in NYC.

Christine warning Holenius not to mess with Karol!

Bette Davis is great as Christine. Passionate in her love for Karol, weary in spirit when she is dwelling on her relationship with Holenius. Paul Henreid is the strong, silent, handsome type but he does let a flicker of Karol’s anger appear at times and it’s scary.  Henreid didn’t actually know how to play the cello but mastered the hand movements and is very convincing in his musical scenes.  For St. Louis Symphony fans, a bit of trivia: former conductor Leonard Slatkin’s mother, Eleanor Aller,  was the cellist for this movie, playing the parts that Henreid pretended to play.  Of course it goes without saying that Claude Rains has a field day as the former teacher/lover of Christine, roiled with jealousy at Karol, and knowing he has the power to control this couple’s future in the classical music world.

Paul Henreid in one of his excellent cello playing scenes.

If you love classical music, this film has a lot of great pieces in it, arranged by the wonderful Erich W. Korngold.  A musical prodigy in his youth in Austria, he began to help Hollywood movies with beautiful and rich musical scores, beginning with A Midsummer’s Night Dream in 1935.  In 1938, Hollywood called again asking him to return from Austria to create the score for a new film, The Adventures of Robin Hood.  While Korngold was working on this film score, the Nazis were marching all over Europe and brutally establishing their regime.  This caused Korngold to decide to stay in the US during the war, and he often said later that The Adventures of Robin Hood saved his life.

For a good drama, to see three actors performing their roles very well, and despite telling yourself as you watch, “Christine shouldn’t have kept that secret from Karol…,” tune in to Deception.  It is available on Amazon via their instant rent.  TCM may show it again before this new year is over, so keep your eye out for it via their monthly schedules at their website.

Deception: Warner Brothers film, directed by Irving Rapper, produced by Henry Blanke, screenplay by John Collier and Joseph Than, based on a play Monsieur Lamberthier by Louis Verneuil.  Good supporting cast members include John Abbott as Mr. Gribble, a competing cellist, and Benson Fong, as Jimmy, Holenius’s servant.  Fong, when in  his senior citizen years, was often cast on the tv show, Kung-Fu.

Advertisements

My Classic Movie Pick: 1948’s The Woman in White

Wilkie Collins, English novelist and some say the creator of the first modern detective novel, wrote an absorbing story, The Woman in White, in 1859.  Warner Brothers decided to made a film version of Collin’s novel in 1948.  Turner Classic Movies aired it this past week, so I tuned in and was not disappointed with this tale of mystery, romance, and murder! Beautiful ladies in distress, a handsome hero trying to unravel the strange goings on, and a trio of baddies.  Let’s dive in to this atmospheric and eerie film!

the-woman-in-white

 

Walter Hartright(Gig Young) has been hired to be the art tutor for heiress Laura Fairlie(Eleanor Parker).  He arrives in the English town of Limmeridge, late at night.  Since it’s a full moon and he learns the walk to the Fairlie estate is only 30 minutes from where the stagecoach has deposited him, he decides to walk to the estate.  On the way, a young woman dressed in a white dress and a white cape, startles him as she emerges from some nearby shrubbery.  She is Ann Catherick(Eleanor Parker, in a dual role) a very pretty woman with her long hair loose around her shoulders, but she also appears to be quite troubled.  Hartright, being a gentleman, asks how he can help her.  Ann replies that he is to tell no one that he saw her, and when a carriage begins to approach, she shudders and runs away.  In the carriage is  Count Fosco(Sydney Greenstreet) and Dr. Nevin(Matthew Boulton) who asks Hartright if he’s seen a young woman roaming about, that she’s escaped from the nearby asylum!!  Hartright remembers Ann’s request and he tells the two men that he hasn’t seen anyone.  Within these first 5 minutes of the movie, we have met the hero, Hartright, one of the ladies in distress, Ann,  and one of the main baddies, Count Fosco.

Ann Catherick, The Woman in White, meeting Hartright,

Ann Catherick, The Woman in White, meeting Hartright,

Hartright makes it to the Fairlie estate, and is greeted by Laura Fairlie’s first cousin, Marian(Alexis Smith) who warmly explains the household to him: various butlers, Laura’s retired nurse Mrs. Vesey(Emma Dunn),and Frederic Fairlie(John Abbott) the incredibly nervous, annoying invalid of an uncle to Marian and Laura.  Uncle Frederic goes on and on about how loud sounds upset his nerves; his lines reminded me of Vincent Price’s lines from Roger Corman’s The Fall of the House of Usher.   The next morning, Hartright sees Ann from the night before but he is greatly mistaken for this young woman is not Ann but is Laura Fairlie, his new student.   Laura has a bit of fun telling all at the breakfast table of Hartright’s encounter with the woman in white.  This immediately causes Count Fosco’s eyebrows to shoot up.  Why does he seem so startled and a bit irritated that Hartright had met this woman in white?  Why does this woman in white, Ann, look so similar to Laura?  We begin to wonder at these events as the movie continues.

Laura, Hartright, and Marian listen to Mrs. Vesey as she recalls Ann Catherick

Laura, Hartright, and Marian listen to Mrs. Vesey as she recalls Ann Catherick

Love begins to bloom and blossom between Laura and Hartright, and we can also tell that Marian is in love with Hartright  but she’s trying to fight that emotion.  One afternoon during an art lesson outdoors, Laura becomes upset with her efforts at painting and runs away from Hartright, crying.  Marian is able to pull Hartright aside and give him the news that Laura hadn’t and should have, that Laura is engaged to marry Sir Percival Glyde(John Emery) and that Sir Glyde is due at the estate that very day!  Hartright decides to do the honorable thing and pack up and leave the estate.  He doesn’t know that  Count Fosco was spying on he and Laura during a passionate kiss.  Hartright also doesn’t know that a letter that gives information about another little girl who used to live at the estate and play with Laura, an Ann Catherick, was stolen by the Count.   Ann, all grown up, who has been forcibly placed in the asylum by Count Fosco, as part of his evil plan to have Sir Glyde marry Laura, then have Laura slowly poisoned, so Glyde will receive the inheritance, and he’ll split it with Count Fosco!  Ann knows of this evil plan, and keeps escaping from the asylum  to try to get to Laura to warn her!

Laura shares her fears about Fosco and Sir Glyde with Marian

Laura shares her fears about Fosco and Sir Glyde with Marian

Evil Count Fosco

Evil Count Fosco

Will Laura marry Sir Glyde? How does Count Fosco have the legal power to force Ann into an asylum?  Will Hartright come back to the estate to stop the wedding?  Will Count Fosco and Sir Glyde’s plan be foiled?  What will happen to Marian and her love for Hartright? It sounds like a crazy plot but by the film’s end, all questions will be answered.   Also,  pay attention to the great Agnes Moorehead as Count Fosco’s long-suffering wife. She enters into the movie at the halfway point, but her character is a key that will unlock the shenanigans that belong to Count Fosco and Sir Glyde.  For an intriguing story acted by a great cast, seek out 1948’s The Woman in White.

Agness Moorhead as Countess Fosco

Agness Moorhead as Countess Fosco

The mystery is starting to be solved

The mystery is starting to be solved