Before Lassie there was Rover!

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Even if they are not human actors, animals sometimes have an important place to play in movies. They can represent friendship, danger or simple company. With her blogathon The Animal in Films Blogathon, Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood allows us to celebrate our furry friends and what they brought to the art of films.

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For the occasion, I decided to focus on the British silent short Rescued by Rover directed by Lewin Fitzhamon in 1905.

The story is simple, a baby (Barbara Hepworth) is kidnapped by an alcoholic bigger (Mrs Sebastian Smith) during a ballad in a park with her nurse (May Clark). The family dog, Rover (Blair) will save her.

Of course, Rescued by Rover was made long before Lassie, but just like the famous dog, Rover is a Colley. The film is often considered to be the first fiction film made in the UK and the first fiction film to use a dog in its story. On its release, “Rover” became a popular dog name. The film was written by Margaret Hepworth and it’s her own dog, Blair, who was used for the role of Rover. Blair itself is considered to be the first canine film star. Blair was also seen in the 1903’s version of Alice in Wonderland, Rover Takes a Call (1905) and The Dog Outwits the Kidnapper (1908).

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The film is, of course, a family affair, not only because it stars Margaret Hepworth’s dog, but also because it stars the writer herself in the role of the mother, her husband Cecil Hepworth in the role of the father and their daughter, Barbara, in the role of the baby. Were the actors paid? Well, an article from the BFI informs us that Rescued by Rover was made on a seven pounds thirteen shillings and sixpence budget. So, probably not. 😉

Rover is, of course, a very brilliant dog. It has a perfect flair and it doesn’t take it long to find the baby. Rover can open doors (which turns out to be very useful in this situation), swim (well, like most dogs) and remembers its way.

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When we watch this film, we become quite fond of Rover (or Blair) as it seems to be the perfect dog. It doesn’t even bite the kidnapper! What a gentle dog. What an absolutely adorable pet! Of course, another thing I love about this film is the baby. Seriously, even if we don’t see her very often in the film, little Barbara Hepworth really is one of the cutest babies I’ve seen on screen. With her little white dress and her round cheeks, she is nothing but absolutely sweet. We are glad Rover is here to save her! The movies stars with a medium shot of her and Rover.

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Narratively, Rescued by Rover remains a very simple film. Where it becomes interesting, it’s on the technical aspects, particularly the editing. The film contains a total of 22 shots, which was rare at the time, especially for a five minutes feature. Movies were more often made in a more “theatrical” approach where the camera was static, filming the subject in a long shot or medium long shot. But here, the characters move out from the space where they initially were, and the story has a certain physical evolution. Also, we don’t need much information to understand what’s happening. When we see Rover running in the street, we immediately know it’s on its way to save the baby.

So, Rescued by Rover is a simple, but important film. The most interesting fact on how it influenced history is that, the film inspired D.W Griffith, who also used parallel cutting in his films. And that’s still often used today. Kidnapping also was the main subject of his first film, The Adventures of Dollie (1908)

If you haven’t seen Rescued by Rover yet, I highly recommend you to do so. It’s very short and worthy. You can watch it here:

Many thanks to Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood for hosting this very original blogathon!

Of course, I invite you to read the other entries as well:

The Animals in Films Blogathon

See you!

Sources:

https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauvée_par_Rover

http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/514859/

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Rover (Blair) and Barbara Hepworth in The Dog Outwits the Kidnapper

Put your Dance Shoes and Watch “Footloose”!

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When Bonnie from Classic Reel Girl announced that she was hosting the Gotta Dance! Blogathon, celebrating dance in the world of cinema, I, of course, had to participate to this highly appealing event. You see, apart from my passion from classic films, I also have a passion for dance. I love watching dance television shows, dancing myself (I did two years of dance when I was in CEGEP). When there’s music around, I can’t help swinging. And, of course, I love dance movies because they are the perfect combination of my two passions.
In this field, when I think of a movie that makes me want to dance, the first one that comes to my mind is Footloose (Herbert Ross, 1984) Of course, the 80s were a great decade for dance movies with movies such as the one previously named, Flashdance or Dirty Dancing. Of course, dance in films already existed with the Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly of this world, but here I’m mentioning films were the only performing art is dance (not dance and singing). They are movies who really celebrate dance, movies about about dance. It’s the central subject.
Footloose takes place in the boring little town of Beaumont. Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) and his mother Ethel (Frances Lee McCain) have left Chicago to come live in the city with Ren’s aunt and uncle. The problem in this city is that dance and rock & roll music have been forbidden by city reverend, Shaw Moore (John Lithgow), after a fatal road accident. That’s a problem for Ren as dance is his passion. He makes new friends, including Willard Hewitt (Chris Penn) and Rusty (Sarah Jessica Parker) and falls for the reverend’s daughter, Ariel (Lori Singer). Ren has to compete against her boyfriend Chuck (Jim Youngs). Things don’t start too well for Ren as he always seems to get himself into troubles. However, his only objective will be, with the help of his new friends, to bring back the art of dance in the city.
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Footloose story was based on a real life event that happened in the very religious town of Elmore City, Oklahoma in 1978. Dance was forbidden for 90 years and a group of teenagers decided to challenge this. (IMDB) 90 years! Imagine the nightmare.
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I don’t know where I first heard about this film, but one thing is sure, it’s the kind of film everybody knows the existence of. I was curious to know what kind of film it was. So, I watched the trailer and was amazed. Those dance moves, this music; all this was everything I needed to be entertained. So, I immediately borrow the film at the video club and it turned out to absolutely be my kind of film. I later bought the dvd and watched it over and over.
Footloose is  the perfect representation of the dance style at the time, which was much more cool than today’s one.
The film starts in a perfect way with the opening credits where we see different pair of feet doing dance moves, some being quite imaginative and creative. Our attention is immediately grabbed with this scene and we feel like getting up and dancing too. However, we have to sit down to watch the rest of the film.
Of course, this is not the only moment that makes us want to get up and dance. My favourite dance scene is the one when Ren dances in a warehouse. Things aren’t going very well for him and that’s his way to externalize his anger. We can easily say that it’s the most impressive scene of the film with some amazing dance moves and stunts. Kevin Bacon could dance, however, for this scene, he had four stunt doubles for the more difficult tricks.
A very amusing dance scene is the one when Ren teaches to Willard how to dance. Of course, we laugh a lot while watching this scene, but, just like Ren, we are really impressed by Willard’s improvement. The interesting thing about this scene is that Chris Penn really couldn’t dance so he had to be taught on the set. This scene was added precisely because of that. Mixing fiction and reality can sometimes be worthy.
We don’t only remember Footloose for its dance, but also for its music. How can we forget the theme song “Footloose” sung by Kenny Loggins or “Let’s Hear for the Boy” sung by Deniece William (both nominated for an Oscar), or “Holding out for a Hero” sung by Bonny Tyler??? If you like 80’s entertaining music, Footloose‘s soundtrack certainly is a must to your musical library.
Footloose‘s main objective is to celebrate dance, how this one can cheer us and feed us. Just like Ren wants to prove it to the people of Beaumont, dance is not a synonym of debauchery and danger. Dance, after all, remains an art.
So, has David Bowie said “Put your red shoes and dance the blues”!
A big thanks to Bonnie for hosting such a nice blogathon. I invite you to read the other entries as well:
And a happy National Tap Dance Day to all! 🙂
A Time to Dance - Hearts and Laserbeams

Top of the World: My Ultimate Top 100 Favourite Actors

I once presented you top 10 favourite actors. But, of course, I have much more than only 10 favourite actors, even more than 100 favourite actors. But I’ll keep that to this number as it is a beautiful number, no? Of course this list contains my own personal choices. I don’t say that an actor is better than another one if he is higher in the list. The most important thing to know here is that, I love all the actors on this list, even number 100!

It was, of course, not an easy exercise and I’m working on it since quite a long time. Of course, is this actor REALLY my #58? Well, for the moment, yes, but it may always change. The thing is, there are some actors I love as much as some others, so it’s hard to make decisions.

Anyway, in general, this list will give you a view of what my tastes are. Here, we have all types of actors, classic, modern, leading man, character actors, etc. I only want to precise that, on my list, I only included the actors from whom I had seen at least two films.

So, here we go! Enjoy!

1. James Stewart

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2. William Holden

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3. Marlon Brando

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4. Cary Grant

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5. Burt Lancaster

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6. Gregory Peck

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7. Joseph Cotten

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8. Robert de Niro

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9. Gary Cooper

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10. Peter O’Toole

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11. Jack Lemmon

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12. Buster Keaton

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13. Charlie Chaplin

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14. Michael Redgrave

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15. James Cagney

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16. James Mason

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17. Robert Mitchum

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18. Fredric March

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19. Laurence Olivier

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20. Claude Rains

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21. John Gielgud

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22. Peter Lorre

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23. Sidney Poitier

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24. Robert Young

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25. Jack Carson

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26. Humphrey Bogart

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27. George Kennedy

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28. Paul Douglas

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29. Charles Laughton

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30. Jack Nicholson

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31. Eli Wallach

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32. Montgomery Clift

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33. Spencer Tracy

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34. Herbert Marshall

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35. Henry Fonda

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36. Dustin Hoffman

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37. Anthony Hopkins

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38. Stewart Granger

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39. Paul Newman

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40. Leonardo DiCaprio

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41. Earl Holliman

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42. David Niven

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43. Rémy Girard

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44. Robert Donat

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45. John Williams

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46. Clark Gable

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47. Arthur Kennedy

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48. John Mills

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49. Lee J. Cobb

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50. Cecil Kellaway

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51. Paul Henreid

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52. Michel Côté

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53. Edward G. Robinson

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54. Walter Pidgeon

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55. Paul Dupuis

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56. Pierre Fresnay

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57. Lew Ayres

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58. Rod Steiger

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59. Dana Andrews

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60. Karl Malden

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61. Tom Hanks

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62. Bing Crosby

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63. Frank Sinatra

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64. Gilbert Sicotte

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65. Robert Ryan

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66. Naunton Wayne

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67. Louis Calhern

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68. Dennis Hopper

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69. Glenn Ford

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70. Brian Aherne

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71. Robin Williams

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72. Thomas Mitchell

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73. Charlton Heston

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74. Yul Brynner

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75. Tony Curtis

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76. George Raft

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77. Lionel Barrymore

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78. Basil Radford

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79. Morgan Freeman

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80. George Sanders

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81. Al Pacino

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82. Sterling Hayden

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83. Michael Rennie

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84. Eric Blore

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85. S.Z Sakall

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86. Martin Balsam

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87. James Dean

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88. Paul Lukas

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89. Alan Arkin

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90. Wallace Ford

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91. Tyrone Power

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92. Rod Taylor

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93. Richard Basehart

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94. Jude Law

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95. Richard Dreyfuss

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96. Andrew Prine

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97. Robert Duvall

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98. Roger Moore (the only exception to the rules, as I haven’t seen him in any movies, but only a TV show: The Saint.)

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99. Walter Matthau

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100. Cliff Robertson

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Ok, honorable mention to Warren Beatty, Kevin Spacey, Clint Eastwood, Louis Jourdan, John Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Richard Burton, Ernest Borgnine and many others favourites that I would have loved to include on the list. I have to say, that’s the hardest thing I ever did for my blog! A very difficult, but worthy exercise. The problem with these tops is that they may always change depending on the actors you discover in the future.

Anyway, I hope there’s at least ONE actor you like or love among those on this list. Otherwise, well, we have VERY different tastes ahah!

Stay tuned for a ultimate top 100 of my favourite actresses!

Glenn Griffin: The Desperate Hours’ Villain

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In the world of movies, we can find many types of characters: good, bad, anti-heroes, people who “don’t give a damn” and so on. To celebrate the world of movie villains, Kristina from Speakeasy, Ruth from Silver Screening and Shadow and Satin are once again back with the Great Villain Blogathon! I always thought that villains, even if we don’t like them, are, sometimes, the most interesting characters in a movie. Yesterday I was watching A Clockwork Orange again and, oh my, if I’ll write something about Alex de Large one day, I’ll have much to say.

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But for this week’s blogathon, I’m going to focus on a less notorious character than Kubrick’s one and will talk to you about Glenn Griffin, The Desperate Hours‘ villain portrayed by the one and only Humphrey Bogart.

The Desperate Hours was directed by the great William Wyler and release in 1955. It stars Humphrey Bogart as Glenn Griffin, Fredric March as Daniel C. Hilliard, Arthur Kennedy as Deputy Sheriff Jesse Bard, Martha Scott as Eleanor “Ellie” Hilliard, Mary Murphy as Cindy Hilliard, Richard Eyer as Ralphie Hilliard, Dewey Martin as Hal Griffin, Robert Middleton as Simon Kobish, Gig Young as Chuck, Walter Baldwin as George Patterson and Whit Bissell as FBI Agent Carson. This was to be one of Humphrey Bogart’s last film before his death in 1957. The film was based on the 1954’s book The Desperate Hours and its play, both written by Joseph Hayes. The author also wrote the film’s screenplay. The story was itself based on a real similar event that happened to the Hill family in 1952.

But what is The Desperate Hours about? Because we agree, it’s not one of Wyler’s most famous films, so you might have heard about it, but haven’t necessarily seen it. However, I consider it to be one of it’s most thrilling films. The Desperate Hours takes place in Indianapolis, Indiana. Glenn Griffin and his two partners in crime, his brother Hal and Simon Kobish have escaped from jail. They have to wait for a envelope of money before running away from the country. They decide to invade Daniel Hilliard house and hold hostage him and his family until the package arrives. The Hillard will live the most horrible hours of their life. On its side, the police is investigating on the escaping of Griffin and his two acolytes

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There isn’t, of course, only one villain in The Desperate Hours, but three. However, Glenn Griffin is the worst villain and the bright head of the group. He leads and takes the decision. Simon Kobish is dangerous as he is a big and violent brute, but he doesn’t really know how to use his head, making him someone rather dumb and with no judgement. As for Glenn’s brother, the young Hal, he obeys his brother orders, but we know he doesn’t necessarily agree with them and this will be proved toward the end of the film. All he wishes is to receive the money and go away. Glenn, with his cruel mentality, takes a pleasure to torture a poor innocent family, but Hal’s duty is only to make sure they won’t go away. If Griffin probably hates Hillard (as his wife says), it doesn’t seem to be the case for Hal. He doesn’t have anything personal against them.

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Of course, the worst villains are the bright ones, those who know how to use their cleverness to reach their goal, those who won’t only torture people physically, but also mentally. In the same category, we can think of villains such as Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or Eve Harrington from All About Eve. They are the types of characters who seem to be innocent at first, but finally turn out to be real evils. As for Glenn, well he is both, as much a brute as a clever villain. That’s what makes him a rather fascinating character and complex person.

The Desperate Hours is the kind of film that makes you realize that anything can happen to anybody, not necessarily only to people who look for trouble. Here, we have the perfect example: the typical average American family; mum, dad, the daughter and her little brother. Oh, this little brother, Ralphie, is seriously one of the most adorable movie characters ever. How can a bunch of stupid criminals dare put his life in danger. Luckily, he and his sister have a loving father who will do everything to protect them and their mother.

Talking about Hillard, we have to admit that the opposition between Fredric March and Humphrey Bogart in this film is quite exciting. For both actors, it wasn’t their first time working under the direction of William Wyler. Bogart was seen almost 20 years earlier in Dead End (1937) and, as for Fredric March, he previously starred in Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives (1946). It’s a fact that that Wyler was one of those movie directors who knew how to bring the best out of his actors. Humphrey Bogart and Fredric March were, indeed, perfectly cast in their respective roles. They knew how to adjust their acting to what their characters needed to express, with the body language and the voice tone. Humphrey Bogart gives to his character a cruel dimension that makes us perfectly hate him, and Fredric March is perfect as the tortured victim. The opposition between the two characters is worthy due to their respective intelligence. Hillard tries to figure a way to save his family, but Griffin always seems to figure what he’s thinking about. Who will win this battle? That question certainly is one of the elements that perfectly catch our attention while we’re watching the film.

But if we’ll get back to Humphrey Bogart’s character himself, Glenn is not an invincible villain. He surely takes pleasure to scare the Hillard, especially Ms. Hillard, but we discover that he has his weaknesses, one of them being his brother. If Hillard seems to be a man with no love and no pity, one of the rare persons he seems to care about is his brother. As the oldest brother, he feels responsible of what might happen to him in this situation. A situation that is not only dangerous for the Hillard, but also for the three villains as we’ll never know how things will turn out.

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Of course, Mr. Hillard is not the only one to here to help the family. Luckily, Chuck, Cindy’s boyfriend, starts being suspicious about what is going on in the house. When he goes out with Cindy, this one never wants him to come in the house. On their side, the police, including Deputy Sheriff Jesse Bard (brilliantly portrayed by Arthur Kennedy), puts the puzzle pieces together and manage to plan something to save the family.

When I watched this film for the blogathon, it was my second viewing. I realized how it was one of the most exciting and stressing movies directed by William Wyler. It’s very different from some of his previous movies and that shows perfectly the director’s versatility. In 1990, a remake directed by Michael Cimino and starring Mickey Rourke and Anthony Hopkins was released. Like most remakes of great films, it wasn’t a big commercial success nor a critical one.

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I tried not to reveal too much about the film, because there’s so much you need to discover by yourself if you haven’t seen it! I, of course, invite you to read the other entries of this blogathon as well.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Once again, a big thanks to Speakeasy, Shadow and Satin and Silver Screening for being back again this year to host such a fun blogathon!

See you soon!

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Lauren Bacall, notorious actress and Humphrey Bogart’s wife, visiting the set