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What a Character Blogathon: How Arthur Kennedy Changed my Cinematic Life

Actor Arthur Kennedy

When Paula, Kellee and Aurora announced that they’ll be back for a fifth edition of their famous What a Character! Blogathon, I said to myself that this was something I shouldn’t skip and that I had to choose the right subject. I was supposed to write an entry, last year, about Jessie Royce Landis, but due to a lack of time, I had to skip it. I was a bit angry at myself because I had everything prepared, but well, those things happen. But I didn’t want to make this mistake again this year. I didn’t want to pick something too obvious like Claude Rains or Thelma Ritter (don’t get me wrong, I love those two). I first thought of Jack Carson. I love Jack and I was obviously thrilled at the idea of writing something about him and see more of his films. But then I said to myself “wait, Virginie, you have to look for the other possibilities. Jack Carson isn’t the only great character actor.” Then I thought of a few others, including George Kennedy and George Kennedy made me think of ARTHUR Kennedy. I remembered enjoying Arthur Kennedy’s few performances I had seen and even putting him in the 47th place or so of my top 100 favourite actors (now he would very probably be higher). I decided that he would be my character actor for the blogathon and, believe me, I couldn’t have made a better choice. I simply grew up loving him while I was preparing this blogathon, and now I’m totally fascinated by him. For example, last Wednesday, I was working and I was so impatient to finish so I could get home and watch Arthur Kennedy’s movies! I was (and still am) thinking about him ALL the time when I was preparing this blogathon. If he has such a presence on screen, no wonder why he also has a great one in my mind too! It’s been a long time since I’ve been so motivated about the writing of an article. Feels good!

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I feel there’s so much I want to say about him. I should start by giving you my general appreciation of this actor and then will focus more particularly on the films I decided to watch for the blogathon, which are: City for Conquest, Elmer Gantry, Champion, High Sierra, Bright Victory, The Man From Laramie, The Desperate Hours, A Summer Place, The Window and Murder She Said... I like that because it reminds me of the good old times when I was doing those movie stars marathons. 🙂

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Well, Arthur Kennedy, dear Arthur Kennedy. Was he Jack Nicholson’s father? Could have been, but that’s something we’ll very probably never know. But, on my side, I like to think he was. It might be just a fantasy, but I like the idea that those two amazing stars could be relatives. And I have to say, Arthur does make me think of Jack! They both have this  unique smile. Similar eyes too, but I’ll say that Arthur’s one are gentler, softer. Their voice is similar too, without being exactly the same. Ok, this might just be me, but I think Arthur Kennedy’s voice sounds like a mix of Jack Nicholson, William Holden, and Joseph Cotten’s voice. I know, it’s quite a mix, but it’s just an impression I have if I pay enough attention to this detail. It’s, in fact, a voice that can be at the time very kind and comforting, but also more “rough” when it is necessary. Always agreeable to hear. We don’t associate Arthur Kennedy to crazy characters like we often do with Jack Nicholson, but I could imagine him in some of Jack Nicholson’s role and vice versa, without any problem.

I’ve compared a lot Arthur Kennedy and Jack Nicholson’s physical traits. And that leads me to answer a question: YES, yes I think Kennedy was handsome. He didn’t have a typical handsome face like Gary Cooper or Gregory Peck, but there was something about him. He was handsome in his own way and what glorified him was his impressive charisma, his self-confidence. Charisma is always a winner for me. And he had a unique face. Arthur Kennedy was Arthur Kennedy, he couldn’t have been anybody else and nobody could have been him.

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But of course, I don’t like him only because of his physical appearance (!), but also because of his acting skills. Before I started working on this blogathon, the Arthur Kennedy’s films I had seen were Lawrence of Arabia, Elmer Gantry, The Desperate Hours and City for Conquest. I somehow thought that he was one of these very underrated actors who never received any Oscar nomination or so. Yes, yes, like all character actors he is condemned to be underrated, condemn not to be remembered as an iconic actor and that’s the sad truth, but about the Oscars I was wrong. Arthur didn’t receive any, but he was nominated for no less than 5 of them! I think that’s something to be proud of. These were for Champion (Best Supporting Actor), Bright Victory (Best Actor), Trial (Best Supporting Actor), Peyton Place (Best Supporting Actor) and Some Came Running (Best Supporting Actor). Ok, I personally would have nominated him for all his roles, but we can’t have everything! Notice that, except for Some Came Running, all those films were directed by Mark Robson. Arthur Kennedy often played under the direction of Mark Robson and I believe this one was able to bring the best in him. So, hurray for Mark Robson!

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Arthur Kennedy is always a good support in the films in stars in. To be honest, some (many) of them wouldn’t be the same without his presence. He is a wise actor and that wisdom is shown in his subtlety, the fact that he never overacts or “explodes” when it isn’t necessary. He’s a thoughtful and reflected actor. While I was watching his movies for the blogathon, I’ve noticed that, while he knows what he’s doing, he is, at the same time, constantly looking for a way to improve himself and make a scene be as worthy as possible. He is in constable harmony with the movie atmosphere or with the other actors’ acting skills. Arthur Kennedy is an actor who observes.

This great character actor is good at playing characters that are a bit hard to size. There’s often an aura of mystery around them. Men that we don’t exactly know how they are inside. Not meaning that they are bad, but just a bit secret. This also creates an aura of mystery around the actor himself. And that’s why I would love to read the book Arthur Kennedy, Man of Characters: A Stage and Cinema Biography. It seems to be an excellent one! Somehow, I could often associate myself with Mr. Kennedy. I think that “ambiguity” was a major factor. I’m a bit like that myself, creating a sort of wall so people won’t know too much about me, what I think and feel.

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Arthur Kennedy apparently did some great stage work too. He started as an actor on Broadway in 1937. Too bad we aren’t able to see some of his stage work anymore… :/ I do wish time machines would exist!

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On stage with James Dean!

The impressive versatility of Mr. Kennedy as an actor was shown through a range of memorable films. It’s his performances in those films and the movie characters he portrayed that I am now going to explore in 10 of his films. Warning: I won’t be providing any plot summary for the simple reason that I don’t want this post being longer that it already is. I shall strictly focus on Mr. Kennedy’s performances and characters. Of course, I will prevent some plot elements if necessary.

Film 1 : City for Conquest (Anatole Litvak, 1940)

Role: Eddie Kenny

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Nothing better than starting all this with Arthur Kennedy’s first on-screen role. In this film, he plays a musician and music composer, and James Cagney’s brother, who portrays a boxer. The two actors are in perfect harmony and support each other with their respective talents. The film provides some very touching scenes between him and Cagney, especially in the parts where Cagney is at the hospital after having been badly injured during a boxing match. Even if this was Arthur Kennedy’s first role and not the leading one, he certainly steals some scenes. He was young and full of life. Even James Cagney seemed impressed by him! And if I’m not mistaken, it’s James Cagney who discovered him for the role. As a music composer, he is passionate and passionating. In this concert scene, when he leads the orchestra, he is shown in an impressive glory and dynamism. Anatole Litvak did a great job at giving him scenes that would emphasize is talent and make us noticing him. Finally, we observe that the character he’s portraying is one that is often calm, but can explode. This is not only felt in his music and the way he plays piano, but also in the boxing match scene when is brother is being completely destroyed. The desperate Arthur Kennedy certainly breaks our hearts.

Film 2: Elmer Gantry (Richard Brooks, 1960)

Role: Jim Lefferts

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I think this is one of my very favourite Arthur Kennedy’s roles and performances. In this world full of “passionate” Christians, he plays a reporter and perhaps the most normal character of the gang. What I like about Jim Lefferts is the fact that he represents the non-Christian spectators like me. Due to that, and other elements, Elmer Gantry is a film many can appreciate. I’m not religious at all, and religion is the central theme of the film. It remains a favourite and I believe Arthur Kennedy has a lot to do with it (of course I’m also a big fan of Burt Lancaster and Jean Simmons). Jim Lefferts is a character that is hard to size. He is sort of a double- faced one, which makes him quite interesting. Arthur Kennedy is a great support to Jean Simmons and Burt Lancaster. He sort of adds a touch of wisdom in the film, in this crazy world! But what I appreciate the most about his performance is the fact that, while I was watching the film, me and him sometimes had the same facial expressions at the same time. That connection felt great! Due to that, he’s the character I understand the best in Elmer Gantry. Arthur Kennedy also plays a reporter in the masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia. Once again, his “normality” creates an interesting contrast with Lawrence of Arabia himself, a greatly interesting man on many levels.

Film 3: Champion (Mark Robson, 1949)

Role: Connie Kelly

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For his performance in Champion, Arthur Kennedy received his first Oscar nomination. Here, he, once again, plays a brother, and, once again, he is a boxer’s brother (Kirk Douglas’s one this time)! It’s with this film that I noticed how Arthur Kennedy was excellent at playing men with a certain concern, who often worry about what is happening around them. In Champion, Arthur Kennedy is again the most “down to Earth” character, unlike his brother whose fame isn’t doing any good. When he tries to reason him, it doesn’t seem to really work and we wish we could be here to help! Arthur Kennedy has a great chemistry with all the actors in this film, but what particularly struck me were his scenes with Ruth Roman. Those are simply beautiful. If we are good watchers, we can see, from the beginning of the film, that Connie is in love with Emma (Ruth Roman). I personally think he is the one who deserved her the most. The film also contains some memorable scenes between him and Kirk Douglas, especially the final one: just before Midge Kelly (Kirk Douglas)’s 2nd boxing match against Johnny Dunne, the two men are having an argument which ends in a fight. Arthur Kennedy puts an impressive range of emotion in this scene as the desperate men who doesn’t know what to do anymore to reason his brother. Once again, he “explodes” at the perfect moment. Finally, Champion is a film that can be praised for his impressive black and white cinematography. Due to that, Kennedy is as much filmed in a glorious way as Douglas is. One of my favourite shots is when he walks in the dark corridors that lead to the ring. The only light is focused on him and we can see the despair in his face and that he knows that [spoiler] all this won’t end with a happy ending… [end of spoiler]

Film 4: High Sierra (Raoul Walsh, 1941)

Role: Red Hattery

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Arthur Kennedy’s role in High Sierra was a smaller one. As a matter of fact, it was his second on-screen role. But small or not, just because it’s Arthur Kennedy we appreciate any of his roles. I like the fact that one of the first things we see from him in this film noir is a smiling Arthur Kennedy. The film was, of course, much more Humphrey Bogart and Ida Lupino’s one. Arthur Kennedy simply plays one of those typical criminal “assistants” that are too often overshadowed. And I think that’s too bad and it would have been interesting to see more of him in the film. His acting shows potential and it would have been great if his character would have been more well-developed.

Film 5: Bright Victory (Mark Robson, 1951)

Role: Larry Nevins

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Finally a leading role for Mr. Kennedy! An another Oscar nomination too. 🙂 We must admit that the competition was high at the 1952’s Oscar for the Best actor category: Humphrey Bogart for The African Queen (the winner), Marlon Brando for A Streetcar Named Desire, Montgomery Clift for A Place in the Sun, Fredric March for Death of a Salesman (ok, that’s the one I haven’t seen, but I bet he deserved the nomination!) and, of course, Arthur Kennedy in Bright Victory. Unfortunately, there can only be one winner, but, in my heart, they all are! 😉 When I started watching the film, Arthur Kennedy made me smile immediately. Not that he is doing anything that could voluntary make us smile, he’s just driving a car, but simply the fact that he’s here and that I  was beginning to know him more and more. You know, just as if he was a friend. 🙂 In Bright Victory, he plays a man who becomes blind after being injured in the war. The moment when he receives the bullet and closes his eyes to express the pain is just perfect. Because he plays a blind man, Arthur Kennedy had to express a lot his emotions with his mouth, his voice, his gestures, and he did it right. I’ve noticed how he uses a lot his hands to show the tension his character is feeling, and this, especially after the heartbreaking scene when he learns that he won’t ever be able to see again. The scene where he tries to see his reflection in a mirror after having learned the bad news shows an emotional Arthur Kennedy, but, this time, emotional for what is happening to him and not what is happening to his relatives like in City for Conquest or Champion. Arthur Kennedy often shows an impressive energy and dynamism in this film, but can be calmer too. For example, when the lieutenant wants him to inform his family about his blindness, he looks at him like a little boy who has done something wrong. Poor Arthur! That telephone scene with his mother certainly is heartbreaking. Another great example would be this scene when he dances with Judy (Peggy Dow). There’s a lot of softness in him and it’s nice to see a romantic Arthur Kennedy! The evening ends with a kiss (and that was the first time I was seeing Kennedy is a kissing scene. Very worthy. *sight*….). You know that I love when Arthur Kennedy smiles, so, of course, that scene when he discovered that he has a sort of “natural radar” that allows him to “feel” the obstacles that are on his way is one of my favourite. He seems so happy and we know that his life will be alright after all. To continue with the touching scenes, I like the fact that Arthur Kennedy is very good with the girls in this film. That scene when he discovers Judy is crying is forever touching and almost made me cry. Or the fact that there’s always a lot of tenderness when he hugs Chris (Julie Adams), or when [spoiler] he hugs Judy in the final scene at the train station: the emotion! Simply beautiful! [end of spoiler] Arthur Kennedy was very thoughtful in this role. He somehow manages to make us feel his emotions and the emotion of his partners, with whom he always has an excellent chemistry. He is an actor who listens, who pays attention to his environment. If the feeling of anxiety is well expressed by Arthur Kennedy is this film, it’s also the case for the feelings of hope and happiness. The only thing I would have appreciated more from this film, and that’s not Arthur Kennedy’s fault, would have been to see more close-ups of his face. There’s one scene that does justice to that: when he’s on the balcony and opens and closes a light. There’s something sad in this scene, that is not only shown by his solemn face, but also by the light itself, as we know that, open or closed, it doesn’t make much difference for Larry Nevins’s eyes…

Film 6: The Man From Laramie (Anthony Mann, 1955)

Role: Vic Hansbro 

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The viewing of this film was a special one for me as Arthur Kennedy was starring on the sides of James Stewart, my favourite actor. It also was the first (and only one so far) western starring Kennedy that I was seeing. And the man is great in every type of role. Kennedy makes his first appearance in the film when he arrives to stop James Stewart’s aggressors. He warns Jimmy to not cause trouble in the town, and when Jimmy doesn’t “respect that” he has a fight with him. :O But strangely, unlike Jimmy he is quite calm after the fight. Arthur Kennedy still is a very “attentive” actor in this film. He has so much presence, even when he isn’t saying or doing anything. While he remains a very “relax” character (at a certain point) his unique love scene with Cathy O’Donnell (as Barbara Waggoman) is more aggressive and shows a more savage passion than the scenes with Peggy Dow in Bright Victory for example. Kennedy often proves is great acting abilities at many moments of the film. When he has a confrontation with Alec Waggoman (Donal Crips), toward the beginning of the film, he is angry, bitter and convincing. He NEVER overacts, but that doesn’t mean he has a lack of dynamism and good theatricality. He’s always very natural when he’s angry. When Dave is making a fire to attract the Indian’s attention, his “he’s completely crazy” face is just perfect. Kennedy shows a certain authority and remains [spoiler] and ambiguous villain. [end of spoiler] We just don’t see him coming. In the final confrontation with James Stewart, is desperate “What did I do to you!” makes us realize that he’s not the worst villain there is, mostly a misunderstood man. He then becomes the victim. He is “controlled” by James Stewart and we are not used to see Arthur Kennedy, the one who always stands up, the one who is so independent, receiving orders. That scene has one of my favourite Arthur Kennedy’s moment: his ” what the hell did we just do” face after he and James Stewart pushed the wagon full of rifles down the cliff simply cracks me up with laughs!

Film 7: The Desperate Hours (William Wyler, 1955)

Role: Deputy Sheriff Jesse Bard

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Just like City for Conquest and Elmer Gantry, this was not my first viewing of The Desperate Hours. But I was impatient to see it again to pay a better attention to Kennedy’s performance. In this film directed by my third favourite movie director, William Wyler, Arthur Kennedy plays a deputy sheriff and he’s just perfect at it. He is greatly involved in his role and shows an impressive concentration. Depending on the situation, he knows perfectly how to choose the right facial expressions. Kennedy was a natural. If he loses his patient, it’s always in the appropriated circumstances, but he knows how stays reasonable. Kennedy stands tall in every scene of the film and always owns the screen. When I came at the point of watching this film, I was recognizing Arthur Kennedy’s voice more and more, and that’s something I always like. As a “detective”, he couldn’t have been better. With his long grey coat, his hat, his cigarette he is highly convincing. Jesse Bard is a man who knows what he’s doing. Never he will put the victims in danger, despite the very delicate situation. He makes the right decisions and saves the family in a wise way. Finally, the final shots of Arthur Kennedy in The Desperate Hours shows some great close-ups of his profile, which allows us to see his very “typed” face.

If you wish to read more about The Desperate Hours, I invite you to read this article I’ve written for the Great Villains Blogathon: Glenn Griffin: The Desperate Hours’ Villain.

Film 8: A Summer Place (Delmer Daves, 1959)

Role: Bart Hunter

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In this melodrama, Arthur Kennedy plays an alcoholic family father. What I like about this film is the fact that he is one of the first actors we see. He is here at the very beginning. Yes! Bart Hunter is a man with a certain sense of humour. That unique smile of his and those cheekbones are obviously always welcomed. 😉 Bart Hunter is a very daring man. But he’s quite patient and constantly trying to calm the atmosphere (for example, when Molly and Johnny are missing). But he can also lose his temper. For example, in this confrontation with his wife (played by Dorothy MacGuire): this scene is very interesting as it shows a different face of Bart Hunter. He becomes a broken man from a broken family. There’s a long part in the film where we don’t see Kennedy, but his “comeback” is a powerful one. Molly and Johnny find him, drunk, and announce him their engagement. It’s impressive how he’s staying very calm and patient while he’s expressing his disapproval. In this scene, Bart has a moment of physical weakness and the feeling of pain is very well acted by Arthur Kennedy. A Summer Place was a great opportunity for Arthur Kennedy to show his versatility as an actor in a very complex and, I believe, very misunderstood role. At some points, he really made me think of Jack Nicholson, but I can’t really explain why! Finally, one thing I love about Arthur Kennedy in this film is this moment when he says something in French. Of course, as this is my first language, it’s always something I appreciate. When Helen Jorgenson (Constance Ford) says that the bedroom is “très, très jolie” he replies ” Votre approbation touch mon coeur madame.” That was too charming and this accent was too sweet, I had to play the scene a second time. The funny thing is that Mrs. Jorgenson doesn’t understand what he’s saying so Molly (Sandra Dee) has to do the translation. It’s always nice to have a sort of connection with our favourite actors! 😉

Film 9: The Window (Ted Tetzlaff, 1949)

Role: Mr. Ed Woodry

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The Window was a very interesting film about a boy who witnesses a murder, but that nobody believes due to his reputation of always telling stories. Here, Arthur Kennedy once again plays a family father. He was young and handsome in 1949 and had a lot of style. Mr. Woodry is a very patient man who first listens to his son’s stories with a certain amusement. But after he tells him about the murder, he tries to reason him and convince him that what he saw probably was just his imagination or that he is telling another story. We feel he becomes irritated by his son at some point, but he remains always very patient. Ok, I must admit there’s a moment in this film that really frighten me for a moment: after his son has run away from the house by his bedroom’s window to go tell the police about the story, Arthur Kennedy tells him “There’s something I will have to do, even if I don’t like it” or something like that, and he takes what looks like a wooden stick in a drawer. When I was watching that I was thinking “NO! No, he’s going to beat his son with this wooden stick. Please, Arthur Kennedy, don’t break my heart!” And the most frightening thing about it was the fact that he was staying very calm, just like a psychopath, you know. You can’t imagine my relief when I realized that this wooden stick was just the handle of a hammer and that he was only  going to use it to close the bedroom’s window. Ouf! Don’t worry, Ed Woodry is a good father!

Film 10: Murder She Said… (George Pollock, 1962)

Role: Dr. Paul Quimper 

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We finally come to our last film. In this adaptation of Agatha Christie’s novel starring Margaret Rutherford as the notorious Miss Marple, Arthur Kennedy plays a family doctor. He is a gentleman, quite agreeable. I’ve noticed that Arthur Kennedy’s voice in this film seems a bit more low-pitched than in the previous ones. But that might just be an impression! Anyway, it’s just a small detail. Dr. Quimper has a secret romance with Emma: we like that!  The way he pronounces the name “Emma” is soft and beautiful. We, however, notice a certain tension in him when [spoiler] Miss Marple discovers that he is the murderer. But he handles this in a brilliant way, without any unnecessary rage. [end of spoiler]. Murder She Said… certainly is a fun film and it was a great way to end my little marathon. However, as Arthur Kenned is the second actor credited, I would have expected to see more scenes with him. That’s the only thing that disappointed me a bit about the film.

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My viewing of Arthur Kennedy’s films certainly won’t stop here. I know I still have a lot to see, including his other Oscar performances. But this marathon made him an absolute favourite of mine, and as I’ve said in the beginning of this article, I couldn’t have chosen a better subject for the What a Character! Blogathon! I would have liked to talk also about his performance in Lawrence of Arabia, but I didn’t have time to re-watch this very long film in time for the blogathon. However, Monday I’m going to see the film on the big screen! 😀 Jealous? 😉

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The wisdom of Arthur Kennedy impressed me much and the very thoughtful and calm character he plays in those 10 films sort of made me a better person. Arthur Kennedy has a great influence on me, because, since I’m watching his film for the blogathon, it seems that I am more patient myself. I’ve learned a lot from Arthur Kennedy and I’m forever grateful.

I hope that with this quite long article (!) I was convincing enough on why Arthur Kennedy is such a great character actor and deserves more recognition.

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A big thanks to Once Upon a Screen, Paula’s Cinema Club and Outspoken and Freckled for hosting this amazing blogathon. It honestly felt good to be back after this absence due to final essays (that are fortunately over now).

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Don’t forget to take a look at the other entries, a good way to discover a bunch of other amazing and underrated character actors!

What a Character! Blogathon Day 1

See you! 🙂

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Thing Like Cricket!: The Friendship of Charters and Caldicott

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This weekend, Debbie from Moon in Gemini is hosting the You Gotta Have Friends Blogathon, honouring the beautiful thing that friendship is, on and off the screen. I was, for the occasion, inspired to write about the notorious British characters Charters and Caldicott, two friends portrayed by Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne.

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It all started with The Lady Vanishes (Alfred Hitchcock, 1938). This Hitchcock’s suspense is known for its variety of characters rich in personality and this includes Charters and Caldicott.

The two fellows are best known for being cricket addicts. They are always talking about it and for them, it seems that it’s all that matters in the world. In The Lady Vanishes, they are on their way back to Manchester for the Test Match and they simply CANNOT miss their train connexion at Bâle.

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On her side, Iris Henderson (Margaret Lockwood) has lost her friend Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty) and suspects something has happened to her. Oddly enough, everybody on the train tells her they haven’t seen her. Iris looks for witnesses and remembers Miss Froy had talked to Charters and Caldicott in the restaurant wagon when they were having tea. The two men pretend they don’t remember it, as they don’t want anything to interfere with their hurry to arrive in Manchester on time.

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See, cricket is the most important thing in life for them. They simply refuse to help because of it! And when Iris ask them how things like cricket can make them forget, it’s the supreme insult!

But as much as they try to avoid it, Charters and Caldicott will eventually be involved in the train situation that implies a bunch of spies.

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After having read that, you might think that Charters and Caldicott are not very sympathetic characters. But you are wrong. Their appearance in The Lady Vanishes was so appreciated by the public that they appeared in 3 other films: Night Train to Munich (Carol Reed, 1940), Crook’s Tour (John Baxter, 1941) and Millions Like Us (Sidney Gilliat and Frank Launder, 1943). They were also part of the BBC radio serials Crook’s Tour and Secret Mission 609. A one season TV series called Charters & Caldicott was made in the 80s, but this one obviously doesn’t star Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford.

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Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne appeared in 8 other films together as different characters: The Next of Kin, Dead of Night, A Girl in a Million, Quartet, It’s Not Cricket, Passport to Pimlico, Stop Press Girl, and Helter Skelter. 

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Charters and Caldicott are like peas and carrots. One couldn’t exist without the other. They simply are like non-identical twins and their personalities connect perfectly. We have no doubt they have a big complicity and we’ll have the tendency to think that they met at a cricket match and discovered a common passion. They seem to be a bit selfish and snobbish, but, somehow, they are always involved in a political conflict: in The Lady Vanishes they take part in the final fight and help the “good ones” to escape with the train and cross the border. In Night Train to Munich, they help an old friend, Dickie Randall (Rex Harrison), and also Anna Bomasch (Margaret Lockwood) and her father Axel Bomasch (James Harcourt) to escape from the Nazis. In Crook’s Tour, they became owners, by accident, of a record containing secret instructions for the German Intelligence. Their appearance is very brief in Million’s Like Us, but once again they are here to help their country as two English soldiers fighting in the war (the second one).

Because yes, despite their indifference toward life, Charters and Caldicott turn out to be two jolly good fellows that are always willing to help. They are “very British” and would do everything to save the faith of their country, even if it includes risking their own life.

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Charters and Caldicott are English gentlemen that are hilarious and this, unwittingly. First, because of their strong and comical devotion to cricket, something that is quite anodyne. Then, for always putting themselves in some ridiculous situations, but always trying to be serious. I can think of this scene when they have to sleep in the maid’s room at the inn in The Lady Vanishes or when Charters has his face covered with whip cream when he attempts to pick save the famous record in Crook’s Tour.

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Their way of thinking and their life priorities are rather amusing too. One of the best examples is when, in Nigh Train to Munich, they learned that England is at war, and the first thing Charters thinks about is what will happen to his gold clubs (!). Or when, in the same film, Charters is reading Hitler’s Mein Kampf as if it was some little easy going lecture, as if it was an Archie Comic or something like that!

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Charters and Caldicott are always talking about cricket, but the funny thing is, in all the four films we actually never see them attending a match or playing themselves. No, they always seem to be travelling together, in countries with an unstable political situation.   This makes their character even more interesting and we surely are curious to know more about their life in England.

We have the pleasure to watch the four Charters and Caldicott films as each of them gives us more information about their life and their personality. In The Lady Vanishes, we don’t know much about them, except for the fact that they are cricket addicts. Bon. Then, in Night Train to Munich, we know that Caldicott went to college AND had a friend named Dickie Randall. We also know that Charters is not only a cricket’s addict, but also a golf ‘s addict. And, finally, we discover how patriotic they are, and how to be treated as good British subjects is very important to them (even if the German don’t seem to give a damn at all…). Crook’s Tour maybe is the most revealing of the three as Charters and Caldicott are the main characters of the film. The story depends on him. Here, we learn that Caldicott is engaged to Charter’s sister, the very authoritarian Edith (Noel Hood), who doesn’t seem to be an idealistic choice for him. We also learn their first name: Sinclair Caldicott and Hawtrey Charters. We realize how they are important to each other when Charters thinks he has killed Caldicott by accident (but he hasn’t). His traumatized face tells us a lot about how he regrets it. Poor Charters! And also, one of my favourite things about this film is the fact that Caldicott is in love! Not with Charter’s sister, but with the beautiful exotic dancer La Palermo (Greta Gynt). He’s too adorable when he smiles too her, hypnotized. And it’s in Crook’s Tour that we’ll see the only Caldicott’s on-screen kiss. So, Charters and Caldicott actually have feelings and can also be in love with girls and not only with cricket! Finally, in Millions Like Us, we learn that Caldicott has a wife, but we don’t really know who it is. Could it be La Palermo???

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Caldicott in love!
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Noel Hood as Edith Charters
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Greta Gynt as La Palermo

 

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Charters and Caldicott are one of the best examples of what best friends are. Always, calling each other “old man”, they do not only have very connective personalities, but always seems to get along well. We indeed never or rarely see them angry at each other. They are perfect travelling companions and their complicity is contagious.

The Lady Vanishes, Night Train to Munich, Crook’s Tour and Millions Like Us certainly wouldn’t have been the same without their presence. They form one of the most appreciable duos of the British screen. Of course, their interprets were brilliant too. Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne built those unique personalities and gave them the perfect essence to become first class characters.

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Charters and Caldicott simply are the proof that two ordinary English gentlemen can become some of the most interesting characters in a film.

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I would like to thank Moon in Gemini for hosting this fun blogathon! It was a perfect occasion for me to finally watch Crook’s Tour and Millions Like Us that I had never seen before. The Charters and Caldicott’s films are all brilliant in their own way.

Don’t forget to read the other entries!

You Gotta Have Friends Blogathon Day 1

You Gotta Have Friends Blogathon Day 2

You Gotta Have Friends Blogathon Day 3

See you!

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Fun picture of Nauton Wayne, Margaret Lockwood and Basil Radford on the set of Night Train to Munich
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Hitchcock’s Dangerous Waters

Hitchcock’s films have been analyzed through various subjects. They are recognizable for having common points, both in their narrative and technical aspects. We know Hitchcock liked cool blondes, “wrong men”, murders, stairs, trains, cameos, etc. But a subject that isn’t talked much about is the importance of water in his films. I was thinking about this recently and, generally, water in Hitchcock’s film is associated with danger or, at least, to something not positive.

I had the idea of writing about this as, yesterday, in class, we were talking about two Lucia Puenzo’s movies, XXY and The Fish Child. In both movies, water is associated with something calm, something not menacing and beautiful. And then I thought, “Oh not like in Hitchcock’s films!” Because Hitchcock obviously always comes to my mind…

How is the element water used in Hitchcock’s films? That’s what I’ll explore today through 17 of his films. I might reveal some spoilers, so be careful. There are movies I might not be discussing if I haven’t seen them already.

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MURDER:

Generally, water is associated with murder in Hitchcock movies. What always first comes to our mind when we think about Hitchcock movies is the famous shower scene from Psycho. Here, we could also associate this shower to vulnerability. Marion Crane is trapped like a mouse. There’s no way she can get out and save herself.  Why did the murderer decide to kill her in the shower? Let’s precise that Hitchcock did not invent that original murder, but Robert Bloch in his book of the same name. But anyway, why the shower? My theories are that it is a place where the victim becomes highly vulnerable like I previously said, but also where the blood is easier to wash. I’ve always liked this scene when Norman Bates cleans the blood in the bathtub after the murder. It’s all washed very quickly and easily. He doesn’t have to scrub during hours.

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Psycho, yes, is the first film we’ll think about when we mention water and murder while discussing Hitchcock’s films, but it’s certainly not the only one. A movie where water is absolutely like hell is the not so often talked about Jamaica Inn. Based on the novel of the same name by Daphné Du Maurier, it takes place on the Cornwall coast. Without going into the whole movie plot, the main problematic involves a bunch of criminals who provoke shipwrecks by turning off the light of the lighthouse on the coast. As a result, the boats dart on the rocky coast and sink. The survivors are then killed by the men and are abandoned in the water like the boats and the rest of the already dead crew. The criminals then steal the boats from their possessions. Unlike Psycho, this involves mass murder. The concept is very interesting, although I’ve always thought those men were going through a lot to reach their goal… Jamaica Inn is a very dark film. Water here is not only associated with murder, but also to barbarism. Poor Mary Yellen’s uncle is one of them. He and the other men are people with no manners and no consideration. They are more like beasts than humans, unlike [spoiler] Norman Bates, who remains a someone with manners despite his wrong actions (of course, we only discover at the end that HE is the murderer). [end of spoiler]. But of course, here we’re comparing someone with a mental case to common thieves with no common sense.

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Then, there is Saboteur. Here, it’s not complicated, one of Frank Fry’s hideous sabotage plans consist in the explosion of a boat. The struggle between Fry and Kane in the truck where the detonator remains among the most stressful scenes in Hitchcock’s filmography. Will Kane succeed to stop Fry from pushing the detonator? Unfortunately, no. The boat explodes under the eyes of terrified people. Here, what we associate with water is simply the boat. No need to explain why. One of the most memorable shots of the film is when Fry, sat in a car, sees the boat lying on its side in the water, and does this creepy criminal smile. By the way, Norman Lloyd, the oldest Hollywood actor will turn 102 years old next November 8! Very soon! 🙂

The last movie we’ll talk about is Strangers on a Train. Here, it concerns Miriam’s murder. Remember, Bruno Anthony kills her on the Lovers Island at the amusement park. The island is obviously surrounded by water, which allows the murderer to escape in his boat and go back on the solid ground. Here, the victim is not directly killed in the water like in Jamaica Inn or Psycho, but her murder takes place next to a watercourse.

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AFTER THE MURDER…

Sometimes, the victim in Hitchcock’s film would not necessarily have been murdered in  the water, but would be found in a watercourse, simply because that’s where the murderer decided to get rid of her. This refers to the famous cliché that murderers get rid of their victims by throwing them in a lake, a river, the sea, etc. Once again, water is associated to something creepy. I mean, who would like to go swim in a bay where a corpse has been found?

The first film we’ll think about is Young and Innocent. It’s poor Robert who discovers the dead body of actress Christine Clay while he’s walking on the beach. First, we see a hand appearing among the waves (kind of creepy) and then the whole corpse. But the presence of a belt as well let us know that she didn’t drown, but had been murdered by strangulation.

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Then there is Rebecca. During the whole movie, we think Rebecca died in a boat accident until we learn that she, in fact, died in her little house by the sea. [spoiler] In the novel she is killed by her husband Max the Winter, but in the film, she dies by falling and hurting her head (always in the presence of Max). But in both cases, Max decides to get rid of the corpse by putting it in the sailing ship and arranges for it to sink, so people would believe in an accident.[end of spoiler]. The ocean is menacing in Rebecca. This one seems always in movement, never calm and highly impressive. [spoiler] Rebecca’s boat and the corpse are found in the stressful climax of the film. [end of spoiler] If you have read Daphné du Maurier’s novel, it describes how, even if the west wing’s rooms give a beautiful view of the sea, the east wing’s rooms are more peaceful having a view on the garden. Precisely because there’s something, yes, beautiful, but also menacing and violent about the ocean, especially on windy nights.

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In To Catch a Thief, water is first associated with something casual and pleasant when France and John swim in the Mediterranean on a sunny day, until [spoiler] Foussard is killed. He is knocked out on the head and falls into the sea from a high cliff. We remember his inert face, with the eyes open, when he is found. Quite a shock for the poor guy…[end of spoiler]

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We then get back to Psycho, where water becomes important, not only during the shower scene, but also in those sequences where Norman Bates gets rid of the victim’s cars. And where does he put them? In the dirty pond! Clever. Here, water is used to hide something. Marion Crane’s car is fished out at the end of the film. We know her body is in the trunk of the car, but we’re thankful those details are not shown to us. Hugh!

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To wrap up on this category, the last film we should mention in Frenzy. At the beginning, one of the victims of the “necktie murderer” is found in the Thames under the terrified reactions of the Londoners. Mind the river.

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Murderers seem not to have understood something: even if you throw a body in the water, it will always come back to the surface… Better bury him!

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SUICIDE

A delicate subject, suicide has not been as much present as murder in Hitchcock movies, but it’s there. The first film that comes to our mind when we think about suicide in Hitchcock films is Vertigo. Remember, Scottie follows Madeleine (well, that’s what he thinks…) and, when they arrived next to the Golden Gate (the story takes place in San Francisco), she throws herself in the San Francisco Bay. Ironically, the Golden Gate is known as the bridge where the biggest amount of suicides was committed in North America. The second one is the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal where I live (…). Anyway, Madeleine creates an association between her and water by choosing this way of killing herself. Luckily, Scottie manages to rescue her. Poor Kim Novak, she really couldn’t swim. Hitchcock could be harsh on his actresses…

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Chloé from the mediocre film The Skin Game does the same and kill herself by falling into a pool. To be honest, I don’t really know why. It’s not a very good film, so I kind of forgot about it.

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Finally, Hitchcock’s early silent film The Manxman also contains a suicide scene when Kate elegantly throws herself in the water. Her wedding life was not going too well…

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A beautiful dramatical shot

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BOATS

Water also becomes dangerous when you are on a boat and this one sinks… This was used at its full potential in Hitchcock’s Lifeboat. After a boat as been sunk by the German army, its survivors find themselves surviving on a lifeboat, for an undetermined period. What will happen to them? They are lost, forever alone in this huge ocean. But “water” here is also a synonym of “hope”. They hope for rain, as they practically have nothing to drink. This Hitchcock’s film, where all the action takes place on the ocean is one of his most thrilling.

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There’s also an important scene in Rich and Strange that involves a boat sinking. That’s what happens to Emily and Fred at the end of their cruise. The poor ones think they are at the end of their life, but, luckily, they are saved by another boat. We remember when they are locked up in their room and the water starts coming through the door. It seems to be the end, but, when they wake up, Fred and Emily realizes they are not dead. That would have been too dramatic for such a film.

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OTHER

There are four more films I briefly want to mention that are also related to water in Hitchcock’s films.

First, there’s Sabotage. In this film, the two saboteurs have a secret meeting in an aquarium. It’s indeed a very special place to have a meeting. Of course, it’s a calm place, there are not too many people and the fish cannot really hear them… This is a very special scene in the film. Shot in an interesting visual way.

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Second, The Birds takes place in Bodega Bay. The bay is part of the pacific ocean and it’s in this little Californian town that aggressive birds will attack people. Once again, the menace is happening next to a watercourse. We see a lot of seagulls in The Birds, which birds that NORMALLY live by the sea (if there’s not a McDonald around…)

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Third, Roger Thornhill almost falls from a cliff when he is driving his car, drunk. Vandamm and his gang hoped to kill him this way, but, obviously, Thornhill manages to save his skin. Well, it would have been too weird if Cary Grant would have died in the first minutes of the film, no?…

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Finally, water becomes associated with danger at the end of Number 17, when the train, that goes at a very high speed, falls into the sea. The film is not a very good one, but that’s a moment we don’t forget. And, as much as the water is menacing for the train, by falling into it, the train also becomes a menace for the water as it pollutes it. Yes, we must have an environmental conscience, even when we watch Hitchcock’s movies! 😉

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There are some movies that I might not have mentioned that also use water as an object of fear and danger. I think there’s a plane that crashes in the ocean in Foreign Correspondent, no? But I preferred not to develop on the subject as I haven’t seen the film yet and didn’t want to say anything that could be wrong.

Well,  as always, there’s always so much to say about one specific subject in a Hitchcock film! I hope this was interesting!

See you! 🙂

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CORRECTION: FILE - DECEMBER 15: Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine has died in California at 96 years old. Fontaine won an Academy Award for her role in "Suspicion" and was in such films as "Rebecca", "Jane Eyre" and "Ivanhoe." UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1950:  Actress Joan Fontaine poses for a studio publicity photo in Hollywood around 1940. (Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images)

Top of the World: 10 Joan Fontaine’s Films

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Last Saturday, we celebrated what would have been Joan Fontaine’s 99th birthday. Unfortunately, as I was quite busy, I didn’t really have time to do anything to celebrate the event on my blog. Well, I’m back with a top from the top of the world and would like to introduce you my 10 most favourite Joan Fontaine’s films. Of course, these are my personal choices, so I simply ask you to respect them (I think you know the song now)!

Here we go:

10. The Affairs of Susan ( William A. Seiter, 1945)

I must be honest, I really hesitated between The Affairs of Susan and The Bigamist, because I’ve only seen them once and quite a long time ago, so I don’t really remember which one I preferred. I’ll go with The Affairs because of Edith Head’s gorgeous gown.

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9. The Constant Nymph (Edmund Goulding, 1943)

But one of my very favourite Joan Fontaine’s performances

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8. Jane Eyre (Robert Stevenson, 1944)

Once again, it’s one I’ve seen quite a long time ago. But I remember enjoying it. Must revisit it as soon as possible as it is one of Joan’s most iconographic films.

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7. Letter from an Unknown Woman (Max Ophüls, 1948)

Joan is lovely in this film. I couldn’t think of someone better for the role.

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6. The Emperor Waltz (Billy Wilder, 1948)

Yes, this probably comes as a surprise (even to me) that I like it better than Letter or Jane Eyre,  but it’s just a film I enjoy so much, and even more than that I’ve been to Vienna! You can read my review here.

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5. Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (Fritz Lang, 1956)

A very underrated one. I watched it for the first time Saturday and highly enjoyed it. Fritz Lang is always a winner for me.

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4. Until they Sail (Robert Wise, 1957)

Because of the cast: Joan Fontaine, Jean Simmons, Piper Laurie, Paul Newman and Sandra Dee

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3. September Affair (William Dieterle, 1950)

Joan and Joseph Cotten. Such a beautiful film.

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2. Suspicion (Alfred Hitchcock, 1941)

Hitchcock! And she won the Oscar, you know!

Actress Joan Fontaine

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Suspense…

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1. Rebecca (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940)

Hitchcock again! I know, not a very original #1 choice, but it’s such a great film! What more can I say…

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Well, that’s it! I hope you enjoyed. Don’t hesitate to share your personal top with me!

Happy heavenly birthday again Joan 🙂

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Love Has Blue Eyes and the most Beautiful Smile: Ingrid Bergman in For Whom the Bell Tolls

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On August 29, 2016 (in two days), Ingrid Bergman, the best actress in movie history, would have been 101 years old. Sadly, this date also marks her death anniversary. But, for both reasons, I’ve decided to honour her by hosting The 2nd Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon. To host is a big entertainment, but the real fun always is to participate.

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When came the time to choose a topic for this blogathon, at first, I wasn’t very sure what to pick. Because when I host my own blogathon, I always like to talk about a special or precise subject. Last year, I wrote a tribute to her in honour of what would have been her 100th birthday (celebrations were big last years all around the world), but I couldn’t repeat myself again. Should I write about her and Hitchcock? About her and Cary Grant? About her Oscar winning performances? None of these ideas satisfied me. Then, I thought: why not writing about her first Oscar nomination? Something that proves you that you’ve been acclaimed by the world of cinema. As much as we can sometimes hate the Academy for their decisions, to gain an Oscar nomination is always a big step in the life of a star.

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So, Ingrid Bergman’s received her first Oscar nomination for her most touching performances in From Whom the Bell Tolls, a film directed by Sam Wood and written by Dudley Nichols. The film was based on the novel of the same name by the famous American novelist Ernest Hemingway.

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Interestingly, this film also was Ingrid’s first colour feature, the first film that allowed us to see the blue of her eyes. Oh, we’ll talk a lot about those beautiful blue eyes! And since the remake of Intermezzo in 1939, it also was her 6th film made in the United States. Remember, Ingrid was born in Sweden and first starred in Swedish and German movies before going to Hollywood. The year before, in 1942, she starred in Casablanca, the film that made her an international star. Even if it’s not her best film (some will disagree with me, but don’t get me wrong: I LOVE this film), it remains, and will always be her most iconic film.

Anyway, Ingrid didn’t win the Oscar this year. No, Jennifer Jones did for her performance in The Song of Bernadette. I can’t say if Ingrid should have won instead of Jones because I haven’t seen The Song of Bernadette. But there this cute thing that happened when Ingrid Bergman congratulated Jennifer Jones on the Oscar Night. Jennifer told her: “Ingrid, you should have won.”, to what she answered, “No, Jennifer, your Bernadette was better than my Maria.”. I think she was very humble, but most of all could recognize other one’s talents and not only hers, which is a great human quality.

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Ingrid and Jennifer

But the most important thing is to understand by ourselves how great and professional Ingrid was in From Whom the Bell Tolls, and this without according any importance to the fact that she has won the Oscar or not.

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Today I really want to concentrate on Ingrid’s performance because there’s much to say. I have a tendency to talk about the other elements of a film (the music, the script, the cinematography). But this time, those will be put aside so I could use all my energy on our beloved Ingrid unless there is an important connection to do with her and the other film elements. For example, her connection with the other actors is a subject not to neglect, as for the way her face was filmed too, and some of the memorable things her character, Maria, says.

But before going further, lets remind us what For Whom the Bell Tolls is mainly about.

Hemingway’s story takes place in Spain in 1937 during the civil war. The American Robert “Roberto” Jordan  (Gary Cooper) has come to Spain to fight on the Republican side. En Castilla, he has for mission to make a bridge explode, so the enemies, the Nationalists led by the dictator Franco, could continue the road. Jordan makes a union with the local guerrilla fighter who are established in the mountains. At the head of the group, there is Pablo (Akim Tamiroff), a drunk coward, and his strong wife Pilar (Katina Paxinou). Ingrid Bergman’s plays Maria, a young 19-years-old girl, who have been “adopted” by the clan after her parents’ execution by the Falangist during the war. When she sees this tall and handsome American arriving at her “home”, she falls in love with him. and that’s how this film becomes not only a war movie, but also a romantic one.

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It’s curious how life is made of coincidences. I was thinking about this, and that’s actually a very interesting subject I’ve chosen. Why? Because the last book I read was Jessica Mitford’s autobiography Hons and Rebels in which she told us how this thrilling Mitford girl ran away from her home in England with her cousin Esmond Roomily at the age of 19 (same age as Maria) to go help in the Spanish War (on the Republican side). Anyway, I just thought it was an interesting continuity to what kept me entertain these days.

But let’s get back to our film. On its release in 1943, For Whom the Bell Tolls received one Oscar and was nominated for 8 others. That winning award was for Katina Paxinou for her magisterial performance as Pilar (Best Actress in a Supporting Role). The film also was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor (Gary Cooper), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Akim Tamiroff), Best Cinematography-color (Ray Rennahan), Best Art Direction – Color (Hans Dreier and Haldane Douglas), Best Editing (Sherman Todd, John F. Link Sr.) and Best Music (Victor Young).

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Katina Paxinou and her Oscar

Ironically, the film lost the Best Picture award to Casablanca (the other Ingrid Bergman’s film) that was also nominated that year. Casablanca is more known as a 1942’s film, but it was part of the 1944 ceremony, rewarding 1943’s films. The thing is, it seems it the premiere took place in 1942, but was “officially” released in the whole country in 1943. Well, that’s another story.

On its release, For Whom the Bell Tolls wasn’t only a success at the Oscars, but also at the Box Office.

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Now: Ingrid. She has everything to charm us in the role of Maria. Ingrid was about 27-28 years old when she made that film and we remember, she plays the role of a 19 years-old girl. Well, don’t think she wasn’t right for the part. Even if she was tall and had large shoulders and technically didn’t really look like someone of 19, she succeeded to make us believe she was. Acting is about pretending, but watching movies too. She gave the right age to her character, not by the look, but by how she decided to behave.

Another proof that she was the right one for the part: When Hemingway wrote his novel, he had Ingrid in his mind for the role of Maria. Approved by the author himself! Even when Vera Zorina was first cast for the role of Maria, Hemingway kept insisting on having Ingrid Bergman for the role. And she got it. According to Gary Cooper’s daughter, he also was considered by the author for the role of Robert Jordan before the movie was made.

Ingrid was known as a great friend of Hemingway. She called him “papa” and he called her “daughter”. Remember, Ingrid lost her mother when she was just a small child and then her father when she still only was a young kid. Hemingway didn’t only admire her as an actress, but certainly had a certain affection for her.

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Ingrid and Hemingway

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Ingrid was an actress who LOVED and was passionate by her acting career. She was always giving everything she had to give the best performances. Sometimes, she even saved mediocre movies this way. I read this very interesting thing on IMDB on about how bad she wanted to be part of the film. When Hemingway told her she would have to cut her hair very short for the role, she said, without  any hesitations: “To get that part, I’d cut my head off!” That’s our Ingrid! The way we love her. She kept her promise and gave everything she had for the role, working days and nights on her role and perfecting a scene even when the director was already highly satisfied. She had the true gift of professionalism.

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The effective way in a movie to make us remember a character and his actor is the way this one is introduced to us. There are many types of entrances. In Ingrid’s case, we could qualify her entrance in From Whom the Bell Tolls as “simply adorable”. Just when she enters we know she will portray a character we will like. It’s very simple. Roberto and the other men are outside of the cave and she arrives to give them food to eat. When Maria (Ingrid) arrives, we simply saw her little head coming out of the cave like a little curious animal. She then saw Roberto and it’s, obviously, love at first sight. She’s shy with him, but always smiles when he looks at her. They eventually get acquainted and her love for him grows immensely has the story goes by.

To express the feeling of love, but most of all, the feeling of love felt by a young woman, Ingrid decided to remain very simple. Her Maria is a timid girl, but who can’t help smiling when she is happy. And she has the most wonderful smile. Our heart beats for her and Gary Cooper when they simply say “hello” to each other.

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There’s this scene in the film that maybe is the most memorable one. It remains very simple. Maria is about to kiss Roberto, but it’s her first kiss. She has never kissed a man before. Before doing so, she asks him, in a very innocent way: “Where does the nose go?” WHERE DOES THE NOSE GO! I mean, that’s fantastic (in a good way).

Maria’s love for Roberto is so high that she’ll do everything for him. She’ll even be ready to fight on his side or die for him.

The way Ingrid’s expressed the feelings of joy and love could be nothing but honest. The thing is, it’s not only Maria who was in love with Roberto, but also Ingrid who felt in love with Gary Cooper during the shooting. But how could she help it? I mean, everybody would fall in love with this tall and handsome gentleman that Gary Cooper was!

The actor said about Ingrid’s love for him: “In my whole life I’ve never had a woman so much in love with me as Ingrid Bergman was. The day after the picture [For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943)] ended, I couldn’t get her on the phone.

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Ingrid and Coop on the set of the film. She seems lost in her loving thoughts 😉

The two actors will find each other again for the shooting of Saratoga Trunk (1945).

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Ingrid had the gift of being a versatile actress, that’s why she also was able to express sadness and fear in this film with an impressionable tact. As much as she can make our heart beat, she can also break it in pieces. How can we forget this scene when she has to be separated from Roberto? She cries, she’s panicking and desperately shouts “Roberto! Roberto!” During all the film, we witnessed the electrifying passion between Maria and Roberto, so this scene only makes us want to enter in the TV screen and console the little woman. Her emotionalism can also be felt when she talks about her parents’ death.

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To capture those many wonderful acting moments, the camera captured some of Ingrid Bergman’s best close-ups. Those not only make a focus on the way the feelings are simply expressed by the eyes, but also allow us to see how beautiful Ingrid Bergman was. Her white smile is perfectly placed on her round face and her blue eyes simply shine on her tan. Ingrid Bergman could never be ugly, even with a funny haircut like Maria’s one.

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Ingrid not only had a great onscreen chemistry with Gary Cooper, but also with Katina Paxinou (as Pilar). As a matter of fact, the two women and Gary Cooper forms the beautiful trio of the film. Pilar knows what are Roberto and Maria’s feeling for each other and makes sure they have their chance in love. She is quite a woman and, in a way, Maria has inherited from her. She has frankness, but will express it in a more delicate way than Pilar, and she is a courageous woman too. But most of all, she is a sensible one. Pilar is sensible too, but it’s less obvious as she hides many of her feelings under a tough attitude.

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After all, one of For Whom the Bell Tolls‘s theme could be “how must a woman survive in a men’s world?” Here we have two different versions. The Pilar one: act like a man, or the Maria’s one: act like a complement of a man. Maria is the one the man needs to have a more sensible heart in those rough war times.

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Well, Ingrid’s performance in For Whom the Bell Tolls is nothing, but an honest model of acting for any movie star. It’s not for any superfluous reasons that she won that Oscar nomination. Ingrid Bergman was a strong woman who could literally sacrifice herself for a cause. Here, she chose the wonderful art of movie acting and she did it well. Honestly, I didn’t think I would have that much to say about Ingrid in Sam Wood’s film, but while I was watching it again for this blogathon, I discovered there indeed was much to say about this flawless performance.

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From left to right: Ingrid, director Sam Wood, Katina Paxinou and Gary Cooper

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We haven’t finished talking about Ingrid because the blogathon still goes on with many other lovely entries! Click on the following link to read them:

The 2nd Wonderful Ingrid Bergman Blogathon

And, of course, a very happy heavenly birthday to the wonderful Ingrid Bergman!

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