Spellbound: Fascination

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Spellbound is a movie directed by Alfred Hitchcock and released in 1945.

The first time I watched Spellbound, I realized it was a great movie; the second time, I realized it was a very great movie and the third time (yesterday), I realized it was a masterpiece. I took a long time before seeing it. Why? Because I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t know a lot about it because it’s not one of Hitchcock’s most popular films like Rear Window or Psycho, but I had to see it since I want to see every Hitchcock’s films. He is my favourite movie director and, so far, I have seen 41 of his films. Well, I had no regrets about Spellbound: this movie is almost perfect (because nothing is perfect).

Let me first tell you what this movie is about. Constance Peterson, a psychoanalyst, works at Green Manors, a psychiatric institution. Dr. Murchison, the chief of Green Manors is about to retire and to be replaced by Dr. Anthony Edwardes. The young doctor and Constance fell in love with each other but soon, Constance discovers that he is not Anthony Edwardes, but a certain “J.B” who took the place of Edwardes. He is an amnesiac man who also suffers from a guilty complex: he is convinced that he killed the real Dr. Edwardes. Constance, who is deeply in love with him, will help him to find his real identity and discover who really killed Dr. Edwardes.

An unforgettable thing about this movie is certainly the wonderful performance by Ingrid Bergman, one of the greatest actresses of all times. Spellbound was the first of three collaborations between this actress and Alfred Hitchcock. In this film, she has the chance to play a very good person, a wonderful woman full of will and who knows how to think with her heart and not only with her head. Ingrid Bergman is simply radious as Constance Peterson. And how can we forget this beautiful smile of her, especially when she looks at the landscapes during her walk in the country with Dr. Edwardes/ J.B at the beginning of the movie? In fact, Constance Peterson is maybe one of my favourite characters of all-times and Ingrid Bergman was a perfect choice. Gregory Peck also gives an amazing performance in this film. He sometimes overacts, but let’s not forget that it was only his 4th movie. Anyway, he did a great job and his duet with Ingrid Bergman is unforgettable.

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Another memorable thing about this film is certainly the score by Miklós Rózsa. This is probably one of the most beautiful scores of all Hitchcock’s filmography. It is simply so bewitching and it fits perfectly the atmosphere of the film and also the title: Spellbound. This music almost makes the movie looks like a long choreography. It’s magic. Rózsa won the Oscar for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture in 1946.

Spellbound’s opening credits with the beautiful music score by Miklós Rózsa:

The subject of this movie, the psychoanalysis, is certainly very interesting. We have a similar case in Marnie, but the story is quite different. Not only the subject is fascinating, but also the way it is presented to us. I love to see the evolution of J.B and how Constance helps him to get well. They have to face many hardships, but we always have hope for them. Well, this subject is developed in a great story. It was very well thought. Of course, one of the most famous things about Spellbound is the dream sequence created by the surrealist painter Salvator Dalí. This sequence is visually mesmerizing and portrays the world of dreams with a mysterious charm. My favourite part of this dream is when J.B is running down a slope and the shadow of a big pair of wings is flying over him.

So, these are the main reasons why I love this film. As I said, Spellbound won the Oscar for Best Music. It was also nominated Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Chekhov), Best Cinematography (black & white) and Best Effects/Special Effects. Hitchcock’s fans, if you haven’t seen this movie yet, really, it is worth watching.

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The Lady Vanishes: Review of a Fantastic Movie

The Lady Vanishes

If I had the chance to star in a Hitchcock’s film, my choice would have been The Lady Vanishes.

The Lady Vanishes was, as I said, directed by the great Alfred Hitchcock in 1938. It was produced by Gainsborough Pictures. Along with The 39 Steps, it is considered one of his best British films. It tells the story of Iris Henderson, a young English girl who is on her way to England to get married. The story begins in a little hotel somewhere in the Balkans. Here, Iris meets Miss Froy, a nice little old English lady, and Gilbert, an English musician without manners. Before she goes on the train, Iris is badly hurt by a flower-pot thrown from a high balcony. Miss Froy takes care of her and they travel in the same train compartment. About an hour later, Iris falls asleep. When she wakes up, Miss Froy is not in the compartment anymore. She asks the other passengers in the compartment if they have seen her, but they pretend that they have never seen her. All this is very strange, so Iris starts to investigate and search the train to find Miss Froy. There, she sees Gilbert who decides to help her. The two meet Dr. Harzt, a brain surgeon who tries to convince Iris that Miss Froy was only a mirage. Who is wrong and who is right? Where is Miss Froy? Was she real or not? I’ll leave you on that mystery because I won’t tell more for those who haven’t seen the movie yet.

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The Lady Vanishes is one of my very favourite Hitchcock’s films. It is more precisely at the 6th place after The Man Who Knew Too Much, Strangers on a Train, Shadow of a Doubt, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief. Why do I love this film so much? First, I love the variety of the characters. There are many of them, but they are all very interesting: Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) is the rich English girl, a little snobbish, but full of will; Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) is an English man who lives by his own way; Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) is an adorable English lady, Charters (Basil Radford) and Caldicott (Neuton Wayne) are two buddies obsessed with cricket,  Dr. Hartz (Paul Lukas) is the doctor who thinks that all this situation is “most interesting”, Eric (Cecil Parker) and Margaret (Linden Travers) are the runaway-lovers, Catherine Lacey plays the nun who wears high heels, etc. As you see, there are many interesting and funny characters in this film. The famous Googie Withers also has a small part as Blanche, Iris’s friend. Those characters all have a very different personality. It’s hard to choose a favourite because they are all fantastic and so brilliantly developed. I think mind would be Gilbert. In fact, Gilbert would be my favourite character of all Hitchcock’s filmography. The actors all give stunning performances.

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The Lady Vanishes’s screenplay by Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder is another reason to love the film. The story is very interesting and is developed in a way to keep your attention from the beginning until the end. There are also some memorable quotes. My favourite one is when Gilbert says to Iris: “Eyes for and eye and a tooth, for a toothbrush!” One of the greatest strengths of this movie and this screenplay is the touch of humour, a very British humour. Some situations are hilarious and that is also one of the factors that make the movie highly entertaining. You know, there is almost always a touch of humour in Hitchcock’s films. It can be black humour or not. This is, in fact, for me, the funniest Hitchcock’s film.

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Sooner in this review, I told you that I would have loved to play in this film, as Iris of course! I imagine you are wondering why. Well, it’s simple, it just looks so nice to play in this film. I don’t know if it was a hard movie to shoot, but the fact that the main part of the action takes place on a train makes it sounds so exciting. You also have the chance to play an original character who progresses with other original characters. It would also have been a pleasure for me to play alongside the great Michael Redgrave and under the direction of the legendary Master of Suspense.

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The first time I watched The Lady Vanishes, I immediately loved it. It’s the kind of movies that I can watch forever without getting tired of it because of all the reasons I just explained. It is also one of the movies that made me want to watch more English films of the 30’s and the 40’s, especially films starring Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave. It is also one of the best Gainsborough Pictures’ films. In its top 1000 of the best movies of all times, the website They Shoot Pictures Don’t They? ranks The Lady Vanishes at the 565’s place.

For those who haven’t seen this movie yet, well what are you waiting for? Go! 😀

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Grace Kelly

Enchanting Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly

November 12: Today, it’s Grace Kelly’s birthday. She’s one of my very favourite actresses (number 2, more precisely), so I’ll take the occasion to explain how much I appreciate her.

Grace Kelly is maybe the actress that I know the most: her cinema’s career and her personal life. This summer, I read a biography on her and I learn many interesting things. For example, did you know that she loved to cook hamburgers?! Grace Kelly had great qualities, but she also had some imperfections. Yes, she wasn’t perfect. She was a human being and that makes me love her even more. I also saw most of her movies. The only ones that I haven’t seen yet are 14 Hours and Green Fire. I will. I want to see them all. She didn’t have a long cinema’s career, but she had a brilliant one. Already thanks to her third movie, Mogambo, she received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. It’s in 1955 that she won the Best Actress Oscar for her stunning performance in the drama The Country Girl directed by George Seaton in 1954. Grace Kelly also became an iconic Hitchcockian blonde by starring in three of the Master of Suspense’s best movies: Dial M for Murder, Rear Window and To Catch a Thief. Even if she won the Oscar for The Country Girl, we have to say that it’s Hitchcock who made her a star, an icon. Grace Kelly’s second film was High Noon. This is my favourite western and she is lovely in it. She has a supporting role, but the movie wouldn’t have been the same without her. We also saw Grace Kelly in The Bridges at Toko-Ri, Green Fire, The Swan (where she played a princess) and in High Society. This last Grace Kelly’s movie reveals a Grace Kelly full of humour and makes us say: “Too sad it was her last movie!” In this video, you will see how funny and lovely she was in this film. 🙂

Grace Kelly is one of the first classic actresses that I discovered. I saw some photos of her and I thought she looked glorious. I know beauty is not everything, but, like Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly is an icon, so I felt like I had to see one of her films, just to see if she was a great actress and how her beauty was shown on screen. Well, one day, by coincidence, High Noon was on TV so I watched it with my parent and understood that Grace Kelly was not only beautiful but also talented. She had such a presence. And that’s the case for all her movies. After that, I saw To Catch a Thief. She fascinated me in this one. I had the chance to see this one on big screen, just like Dial M for Murder, The Country Girl, and The Swan. Grace Kelly’s performances are always memorable. My favourite movie of her is Rear Window, but I also LOVE High Noon, To Catch a Thief, Dial M for Murder and High Society.

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In 1956, Grace Kelly left Hollywood and married Rainier III, the prince of Monaco, and became the princess of Monaco. Unfortunately, she never made a movie during her life as a princess, but her heart always belonged to the cinema. Was she happy? Was she in love with Rainier? These are difficult questions to answer. Anyway, we know that, as a princess, she did many good things for the triumph of Monaco and was very devoted to her royal role. But that doesn’t prevent the fact that her fans would have loved to see her continue her brilliant acting career.

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Grace Kelly left us too soon. She died in 1982, age 52. This was an extremely sad ending for the princess. Today, I bet she is on her little pink cloud in heaven, maybe drinking a tea with William Holden and happy to see that she was never forgotten and never will be. Each time I see a Grace Kelly’s movie, there’s a smile on my face. That explains how I love her and care about her. She is an inspiration for me, a living dream. Happy birthday Grace Kelly! 🙂

Grace Kelly

Mrs Miniver

Mrs Miniver: Live the War

Mrs Miniver

As it was directed by one of my very favourite movie director, William Wyler, I really had to see this movie. Mrs. Miniver was released in 1942, and many great actors starred in it: Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Teresa Wright, Dame May Whitty, Henry Travers and more. This excellent drama won some important Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Greer Garson), Best Supporting Actress (Teresa Wright), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography (black & white) and The Outstanding Motion Picture Award. It tells the story of Kay Miniver, an English lady, and her family at the very beginning of the Second World War. It’s a hard time for the Miniver and their friends as the country is destroyed by the German’s bombings.

That was the 7th William Wyler’s movie that I saw and I was not disappointed. William Wyler’s films are always great and this particular one really is one of the best I saw. What I found interesting about that film, it the fact that it shows us how civilians (people who weren’t at the front) lived the war. It shows us how destructive this war was and how it created innocent victims. For this reason, this movie is really touching and heartbreaking. Even if I never witnessed a war, I could perfectly feel what those people were living during this difficult period of history. As I watched the extremely sad, but beautifully directed ending, I had a lump in my throat and I was saying to myself “this is so sad, but this movie is so fantastic”. The last shot, when we see the group of planes passing over the church is just the perfect image to finish the movie. Ok, I’m writing this text and I have tears in my eyes. See how it got me!

We can not talk about Mrs. Miniver and not mention the excellent actors’ performances. Greer Garson who played the leading role couldn’t have been better. She plays someone very human, very good and very sensitive. Just the way she looks at the other characters is magic and so deeply beautiful. Teresa Wright also deserved her Oscar. As you know, she is my 9th favourite actress, so I was very happy to see another movie with her. She plays a lovely young lady, the kind of person you can never be angry with. Walter Pidgeon and Dame May Whitty also gives us great performances and, in my opinion, Henry Travers was at his best in this film. It really makes me appreciate more this talented character actor.

Mrs. Miniver is the kind of movie that, yes, makes you sad, but also very happy because you can say to yourself: “That was an excellent movie.” And you can say it without hesitation. I think it’s a movie everybody should see to understand another side of the war and to understand how William Wyler’s films are almost perfect. Anyway, I really enjoyed this movie, as you can see, and I surely will see it many other times.

Mrs Miniver

Burt Lancaster

The Great Burt Lancaster

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I think that the best way to end this Sunday would be to write a tribute to my 7th favourite actor, the one and only Burt Lancaster. I really love this classic actor and, today, November 2, we celebrate his birthday.

After working in a circus, Burt was already 32 when he started a brilliant film career. His first movie was The Killers (1946) directed by Robert Siodmak. After that, he played in many other great movies: From Here to Eternity, Vera Cruz, The Professionals, Elmer Gantry (he won the Best Actor’s Oscar for this one), Sweet Smell of Success, The Leopard, Airport and much more.

The first Burt Lancaster’s film I saw was The Unforgiven directed by John Hutson in 1961. This film also stars Audrey Hepburn and Lilian Gish. This western made me want to watch more Burt Lancaster’s films. Talking of Westerns, Burt was a real western’s actor. After The Unforgiven, I had the chance to see him in Vera Cruz, Gunfight at OK Corral, The Scalphunters and The Rainmaker.

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Talking about The Rainmaker (Joseph Anthony, 1956), I have to say that my favourite Burt Lancaster’s performance is the one in this film. Ok, I haven’t seen Elmer Gantry yet but, in The Rainmaker, he is just brilliant. The way he moves and expresses himself with such energy is just wonderful to watch. This film also stars Katharine Hepburn, Earl Holliman, Lloyd Bridge and Wendell Corey. I especially love the first scene. Burt’s monologue is so captivating!

If The Rainmaker is my favourite Burt Lancaster’s performance, my favourite Burt Lancaster’s movie is the masterpiece From Here to Eternity directed by Fred Zinnemann in 1953. This is the kind of movie I can watch forever and never get tired of it. It’s just great. Of course, we all remember this famous kissing scene on the beach between Burt and Deborah Kerr.  One of the most famous love scenes in cinema’s history. The script was brilliant and so were the actor’s performances: Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, Montgomery Clift, Donna Reed and Frank Sinatra.

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I love Burt Lancaster yes, because of his talent, but also because he was someone very unique. He had this thing that makes him different from the other actors. It was maybe his famous smile, but I think it was also his gaze. I have always noticed that the way Burt Lancaster was acting with his eyes was very special. Burt Lancaster could be funny, he could be dramatic, he could be mean. He could be one of the greatest actors of his generation or of all times! And he was!

Burt Lancaster was not only an actor, he also was a good person. He had good tastes: he loved to play piano, read and drawing and also had a beautiful singing voice. We also remember Burt Lancaster for being one of those actors who fight for American civil rights. He attended “The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” in 1963 with some other famous actors: Sidney Poitier, Charlton Heston, Marlon Brando and Harry Belafonte. He was also one of the first actors with Elizabeth Taylor to fight against the AIDS, this terrible disease.

As you can see, Burt Lancaster was someone that deserves to be remembered for many good reasons. Happy birthday Burt Lancaster!

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