William Holden as Erik Erichson in “The Counterfeit Traitor” (Guest Post by Juliet Campbell)

The following article on The Counterfeit Traitor was written by Juliet Campbell, a huge William Holden fan!


Erik Erichson was a reluctant spy…much like William Holden was a reluctant participant at first to take on the role. But the lure of visiting distant European countries was a magnet to him.

No disagreement then that Eric Erichson was at the beginning the reluctant spy executing a selfish act to save his business  and William Holden played the part perfectly from beginning to end.

From not a moral thought to what he was doing or how it affected those around him , to a realization about morality and the correct thing to do, his conscience eventually took over..

“It just takes one atrocity”….”suddenly he becomes your brother”

William Holden played his part to perfection….it was his gem in what was considered his “down period” after many successful roles.

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He played so many emotions….resignation, pathos ,humour, terror, sensitivity….any emotions he had shown in any of his movies beforehand were rolled up and out in this one.

A man whose conscience becomes morally refined by circumstances around him.

To me this was one of William Holden’s finely etched portraits ….It didnt get the accolades it deserved, possibly because at the time he had decided to forgo living in the U.S.A and opted for living in Switzerland, a decision that caused a backlash with the public and the filming industry.

But once again he played the part as though it was made for him and once again I cried with him…

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The Moon, the Stars and Bette Davis

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I always have difficulties to determine which film starring Bette Davis is my favourite one. But today, I think it’s Now, Voyager. Yeah, I might have given you another title in a past article, but you see, this is the type of choice that changes all the time for me. It doesn’t really do that for other actresses tho, just for Bette! Now, Voyager has all reasons to be a favourite. It’s that kind of movie that I like better on each viewing. Nothing from it bores me and I enjoy everything from it from the beginning until the end. I also believe it’s a moment of glory for the main actors: Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Gladys Cooper, and Claude Rains.

I’m writing this article for the Third Annual Bette Davis Blogathon hosted by Crystal from In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. Actually, the event was taking place from April 5 to April 7, so I’m a little late. But, hey! Better late than never!

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I, of course, take the occasion to wish, once again, a happy heavenly birthday to Mrs. Davis who was born on April 5, 1908.

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Now, Voyager was directed by Irving Rapper and released in 1942. The masterpiece received two unsurprising nominations at the Oscars: Best Actresses for Bette Davis and Best Supporting Actress for Gladys Cooper. Max Steiner won a Best Music Oscar for his beautifully composed score.

A highly acclaimed movie, Now, Voyager was the biggest box office success of Bette Davis’s career (imdb)

In this film, she plays the role of Charlotte Vale. She lives in Boston with her possessive and tyrannical mother (Gladys Cooper). Do to her mother’s abuse, she has become a very insecure woman. One day, her sister-in-law, Lisa (Ilka Vale,  and her niece June (Bonita Granville) come to visit them. They are accompanied by Dr. Jaquith (Claude Rains), a psychiatrist because Lisa fears Charlotte might be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. After making acquaintance with Charlotte and came to the conclusion that she is, indeed, “a very sick woman”, the doctor decides to bring her to his sanitarium, Cascades, for a complete rest and cure. When the young woman is healed, she doesn’t feel confident enough to go home and face her mother, who was the main source of her illness. So, the doctor suggests her to go on a cruise. This is also a way for her to meet new people and gain confidence with the world surrounding her. During the trip, she meets Jeremiah “Jerry” Duvaux Durrance (Paul Henreid), a charming architect who is traveling with his friends Deb (Lee Patrick) and Frank (James Rennie) McIntyre. As they learn to know each other, they, surprise!, fell in love. Unfortunately, Jerry is already married, but Charlotte discovers from Deb that he doesn’t love his wife and that they have a daughter, Tina (Janis Wilson), who seems to be in the same situation Charlotte was a few months before.

After the dramatic goodbyes, Charlotte, a now completely transformed woman (mentally and physically) is back home in Boston. Of course, her mother doesn’t approve of her new attitude, much more confident, and her glamorous style, but Charlotte is decided not to let her walk on her feet again. She will coincidentially meet Jerry again… And, eventually, his daughter, at Cascade.

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There’s so much more to say about this film’s story, but I don’t want to reveal too much!

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The character of Charlotte Vale is one that undergoes a radical transformation and, for this, Bette Davis had to express acting versatility in a single movie and, obviously, she did it with brio. When she is the “first version” of Charlotte, the camera focuses on her hands twisting each other. We can also feel a certain incomfort in her character by the way she walks, talks and looks at the world surrounding her like a little scared animal. Then, when she is the transformed into the “cured” Charlotte, we still can feel a certain incertitude in her, but this one is well-balanced with an indiscutable elegance. And the more the story goes, the more we see Charlotte gaining confidence in herself and look like a happy person who can now take care of other like it was done for her.

1942 obviously was a very important year for Austrian-born actor Paul Henreid as he also starred in the ultimate classic that Casablanca is. In Now, Voyager, he embodies a devastating charm as well as a beautiful wisdom. And how can we forget the cigarettes trick! Lightning two cigarettes at the same time became his character’s signature. One of the things I like the most about the film is the brilliant chemistry he has on-screen with his co-actress Bette Davis. I love the scenes involving the two because it’s so believable. Nothing seems forced and the complicity between the two stars is honest. Paul Henreid who also worked as a director would direct his friend Bette Davis 22 years later in the thriller Dead Ringer (which I still have to see). I think Now, Voyager would be my favourite performance of him…as a good man! As a villain, it would be Night Train to Munich!

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And Claude Rains also was part of Casablanca‘s distribution! It’s weird but I also think Ingrid Bergman could have rocked the role of Charlotte Vale! But well, let’s not make a casting copy of Casablanca either. I have to admit, Now, Voyager is the film that really made me “notice” and love Claude Rains. First, I love the character he plays, a good and wise man with a sense of humour. And I love how natural his acting is. Of course, what made Claude Rains’s charm was his beautiful smooth British voice. According to IMDB, he initially didn’t want to play the role but I’m glad he did. I wonder who could have been as good as him in the role…

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And Gladys Cooper. The wonderful Gladys Cooper! Respect. Not towards her character, but towards her acting. She would also play the tyrannical mother in Separate Tables and, each time, she does it with so much wit and gives to her characters a fascinating cruelty.

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The supporting cast is fine as well. Honourable mention to Mary Wickes who plays nurse Dora, one of the most lively characters of the lot. I love it when she calls Mrs. Vale “Queen Elizabeth”, full of mockery!

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Now, Voyager is a film full of good life lessons. I love the way Bette Davis’s character understands the meaning of “don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you”. Instead of developing herself into a pale copy of her mother, Charlotte becomes a good person and eventually comes in help to Jerry’s daughter. There’s also a mirror effect if we compare her situation to Christina’s one. We never see Christina’s mother, but we heard about her and believe she’s not entirely fond of her daughter. Some of my favourite scenes of the film also are the ones where Charlotte and Christina go camping! That makes me think, I haven’t been in a while (camping)!

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We also have to praise the beautiful costumes designed by Orry-Kelly, especially Mrs. Davis ones. Ok, here I’m not talking about the old maid dress she’s wearing at the beginning of the film, but about her classy gowns that she wears after her journey at Cascades. These showcase her special beauty and her figure and add a lot to her impressive transformation. This moment when she arrives on the boat with her new look is just iconic for me. The hat and the veils she wears on her head doesn’t reveal her face totally. It’s just a few moments later when she takes off that we can really see it completely. I love the mystery this hat creates!

Discussing Now, Voyager truly was a stimulating activity. If you haven’t seen this film yet and are in the mood for a fascinating story, I urge you to watch it as soon as possible! Hopefully, it’s magic will have an effect on you as much as it did on me.

Many thanks to Crystal for hosting this blogathon. I’ll invite you to read the other entries here.

See you!

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Clash of Cultures: Bon Cop, Bad Cop

When Eva from Coffee, Classics, & Craziness announced her Good Cop, Bad Cop Blogathon, the first film that immediately came to my mind was Érik Canuel’s Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006), the most commercially successful Quebecois films of history… so far.

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“Bon” literary means “good” in French so, basically,  the title of this film is the same as the title of the blogathon. That’s why I immediately thought of it. 😉

This dark comedy-thriller is an opposition between the provinces of Quebec and Ontario, between French and English, and between a rule-bending detective from the Sureté du Québec and a by-the-book detective from the Ontario Provincial Police.

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The victim of a murder has been found impaled on the top of a sign demarcating the frontier between Ontario and Quebec. Both the detective from Ontario, Martin Ward (Colm Feore) and the one from Quebec, David Bouchard (Patrick Huard), are called on the scene as the body, well, “touches” both Ontario and Quebec. Therefore, both provinces are “involved” by the situation. Both Ward and Bouchard aren’t interested in the case so they obstinate each other in order to determine who should really take the case. This gives place to a sassy dialogue:

Martin Ward: His heart is in Québec.

David Bouchard: Ya l’Ontario dans l’cul aussi!

Martin Ward: What ?

David Bouchard: But his ass belongs to you.

Ouuuch!

They both decide to take a ladder to see the body closer. As they reach the top, both the ladders fall and they have to choices but to grab the body not to fall. Bouchard grabs the legs and Ward, the arms. Well, what should happen, happens: the body, already damaged by the impalement parts in half and now it’s clear: half of it is in Quebec and half of it is in Ontario.

Re-ouuuch!

So, Martin Ward and David Bouchard don’t have much choice but to join forces in order to solve the murder, for better or but especially for worst since they don’t really like each other. But, they’ll eventually learn to cooperate. All along the investigation, they’ll discover more than one victim and these all have the particularity to have been tattooed by the murderer. These tatoos create connections between each victim and, eventually become clues as for the reason for these murders.

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But now, how are they labeled as the bad cop and the good cop? Obviously, David Bouchard is the “bad cop”, but not in the way you might think. He’s not the sadistic cop like Hume Cronyn in Brute Force or like Clancy Brown in Shawshank Redemption. Ok, these are prisons guards, but you get the point. No, David isn’t a bad person or a sociopath. Let’s just say he has unconventional ways to do his job. For example, when he and Martin manage to catch a suspect, he doesn’t put him in the back seat of his car, but in the trunk. See, the guy just has no pity. It, therefore, creates a very eccentric character and allows some hilarious scenes such as the one I just mentioned. David Bouchard simply doesn’t like to follow rules. He’s a rebel at heart. The fact that he breaks into a house without a warrant is another proof of it. This is also shown in his attitude, his way of talking (with a lot of swearing), the old car he uses for the job, and the way he dresses, which makes him look more like a bum than a detective.

But he remains a “good” cop as he helps to the progress of the investigation with the help of Martin Ward.

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This one is pretty much the opposite of David Bouchard, and not only because he is an English-speaker. This is first shown by his apartment, which is very clean in opposition to David’s one, just like his clothes, which include a well-pressed jacket and a black turtleneck, which David really likes to make fun of. Martin Ward is also a bit snobbish and this is shown in his very by-the-book methods and the pedantic things he can say:

David Bouchard: [surprised] You speak French?

Martin Ward: No, not really. I had a small gadget installed in my brain and I see subtitles under people when they speak.

And then he talks about the fact that he went to French school and spent a year in Paris.

But, even if Martin Ward seems a bit like a “boring” person in opposition to David, he might actually be the most interesting character as he changes a lot during the film. He actually becomes more and more influenced by David and not a so by-the-book detective after all. I was mentioning the suspect being put in David’s car trunk. Well, this is what Martin Ward has to say about it:

Harry Buttman: [the suspect] Don’t you know who I am? We’ll sue your asses. You can’t put me in the trunk of a car.

Martin Ward: Yes we can. It’s Quebec tradition.

[Ward closes the car trunk]

And cases like this happen on several occasions.

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The comedy in Bon Cop, Bad Cop is created by the way the two cops like to tease each other, the opposition between the French and English languages and the references to French-Canadian and English-Canadian culture. By the way, despite being a Quebecois movie, the film is both in French and English. I, however, believe it was more successful in Quebec than in English-Canada. All this creates some delightful situations and that’s why the main force of the film is the screenplay.

If we first look at the opposition between Martin and David, both like to make fun of each other based on their home province, their personality, and habits.

For example:

Iris Ward: What are you doing here?

Johnathan Ward: I just saved my dad.

David Bouchard: From what? Heart attack by watching curling on TV?

Or when Martin says to one of his policemen co-worker “He is from Quebec”, talking about David and trying to justify his manners.

Also, during a fight in the restaurant with the first suspect (the one put in the trunk of the car),  Martin finds himself in a bad position and asks for David for help, but this one only agrees to help him if he asks him in French. Then, the opposite situation happens.

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Talking about language, the film obviously makes a lot of fun of Quebecois trying to speak English. But, luckily, we have a good sense of humour. 😉 While Martin Ward has a subtle English accent when he speaks French, his French is much better than David’s English is. Obviously, the Quebecois in this film don’t care much for the English language. It’s also the case for David’s superior, Captain LeBoeuf (Pierre Lebeau):

David Bouchard: [in French] Chief, it’s okay – I understand English.

Capt. Le Boeuf: [French] Ah, shit.

[to MacDuff, in English]

Capt. Le Boeuf: It’s okay. David… can English.

Brian MacDuff: [doesn’t understand]

Capt. Le Boeuf: He can English. He can…

Brian MacDuff: [gets it] Oh! Okay!

Capt. Le Boeuf: [continues in broken English] So, uh – we thought it would be good, uh – hopititit… it was a good…

Brian MacDuff: Opportunity.

Capt. Le Boeuf: It was a good… hopportunity to…

Martin Ward: [in French] You may speak French, Captain.

Capt. Le Boeuf: [French] Ah, for fuck’s sake…

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This is obviously very caricatural. We don’t all speak English like this! Well, I hope I don’t! But it holds a part of truth as some people from Quebec really do.

I also like the various references to Quebecois culture this film presents. There are also some references to Ontarian culture, but I think they are less interesting because I’m not Ontarian and, therefore, don’t necessarily understand them.

Here is one of my favourite examples:

When the suspect Luc Therrien (Sylvain Marcel) hides in a Hockey mascot costume, he stands in front of a bathroom mirror with his gun in his hand and says to his reflection “You talkin’ to me?” This is obviously a reference to Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver  (nothing to do with our local culture), but, at one point, he also yells “Ah-Ha!” which is a reference ot the Familiprix television commercials in which the actor Sylvain Marcel plays a pharmacist who witnesses a situation where somebody gets hurt. When it happens, he yells “Ah-Ha! Familiprix!” which is a famous slogan here in Quebec.

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Examples of Familiprix commercials:

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We could talk endlessly about the humour in this film, but it also contains a part of seriousness and more “dramatic” situations such as the climax where [SPOILER] David’s daughter, Gabrielle (Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse), is taken in hostage by the “tattoo killer”.

The actors in this film all give justice to their characters and give very good performances. I’ve always like Patrick Huard who plays David Bouchard and, while I’m less familiar with Colm Feore, his acting as the snobbish Martin Ward is admirable too. Lucie Laurier (sister of Charlotte Laurier, another famous Quebecois actress) and Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse both give performances with a lot of energy and determination as David’s ex-wife and daughter. Humorist Louis-José Houde also plays a small part in the film and his hilarious as always.  Interesting fact: actor Patrick Huard also participated in the writing of the film’s screenplay.

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Bon Cop,  Bad Cop was a commercial film, but also has a lot of qualities and is not only “commercial” in the pejorative sense of the word. Commercial successes in Quebec are actually a good thing. Obviously, our industry isn’t as big as Hollywood one (you don’t say!) and our stars don’t make millions like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie do. So, commercially successful movies are only a sign that our industry is working well and that our small, but strong cinematic culture, is given chances. The film made around 10 million at the box office (which is A LOT for a Quebecois film) making it one of the 10 most successful films at the Quebecois box office among big Hollywood stuff like Titanic, Lord of the Ring and Avatar. The film wasn’t only a huge commercial success, but also received a good critical success, winning a few awards such as the Best Motion Picture, Best Achievement in Overall Sound and the Golden Reel Award at the Genie Awards (our Canadian Oscars). At the same Awards, it was also nominated for Best Achievement in Art Direction/Production Design, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Direction, Best Achievement in Editing, Best Achievement in Music – Original Song, Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (both for Huard and Feore), and Best Achievement in Sound Editing. So yeah, that’s not too bad, right? 😉 It also won and was nominated for Jutra Awards, Canadian Comedy Awards, Director Guild of Canada Awards, and prices at Boulder, Hong Kong, Seattle, and Stockholm film festivals.

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Even if you aren’t Quebecois or Canadian and might not necessarily understand all the cultural jokes in the film, I believe you might enjoy it just the same. It’s a thrilling story that keeps you on the edge of your seat from the beginning until the end!

A film sequel was released in 2017, but I haven’t got the chance to see it yet.

 

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A big thank you to Eva for hosting this great blogathon. Don’t forget to read the other entries here!

See you! 🙂

I’ll leave you with the trailer!