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Top of the World: Snif, Snif: those Scenes that Make me Cry :'(

I’m not someone who cries easily, but I would say that the thing that makes me the most emotional in life are movies.

Here, I present you pretty much all the movie scenes that makes me cry or at least make me have some tears in my eyes. Of course, I may have forgotten some because I’ve seen a lot of movies and sometimes I don’t remember everything, but the essential should be here.

These are not necessarily sad scenes. Most of them are, but some scenes make me emotional just because of the opposite: it’s too joyful or too beautiful.

These are not in a particular order, because it’s not really something you can rate (“when I watched this scene, I cried one tear, but when I watched this one, I cried 3 tears!” a bit silly no?)

I tried to provide a movie clip for most of the scenes, but I couldn’t always find one.

Warning: there are many spoilers here, a lot of movie ending or character’s death. But many of these scenes are from films a lot of people have seen (I think). So well, just be careful ūüėČ

Well, here we go:

  • When Virginia (Olivia de Havilland) goes home in The Snake Pit-
  • When Hester (Betsy Blair) talks in The Snake Pit

Olivia de Havilland and Betsy Blair as inmates at a mental hospital in The Snake Pit, 1948

  • The end of Withering Heights, the 1939’s version (William Wyler thought this scene was a bit silly, but well).

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  • When Joe (William Holden) plays violin in Golden Boy ‚̧

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  • Carol’s (Teresa Wright) death in Mrs. Miniver

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  • The final scene of Mrs. Miniver

– ¬†“Here’s looking at you kid” scene from Casablanca

  • When they sing La Marseillaise in Casablanca

Р When Helen (Patty Duke) finally understands what a word is in The Miracle Worker

  • – ¬†The Ending of The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
  • When the little David (David Ladd) runs into¬†Linnett Moore (Olivia de Havilland)’s harm and talks at the end of The Proud Rebel ¬†This is the whole movie, just look for the last 2 minutes (if you have seen the film of course!). or well, you can watch the entire movie, because it’s a good one.
  • When Tod is abandonned in the forrest in The Fox and the Hound
  • Bambi’s mother’s death in Bambi¬†
  • Final scene of All Quiet on the Western Front (both sad and beautiful)
  • When the little John (Jackie Coogan) is taken by the authorities in The Kid
  • The end of Modern Times (Chaplin is good at making people cry lol)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life‘s ending (certainly not because it’s sad, just because it’s perfect)
  • When Luke (Paul Newman) sings and plays the banjo after his mother’s death in Cool Hand Luke
  • Spartacus‘s final scene
  • John Merrick (John Hurt)’s last sleep in The Elephant Man
  • When Clarissa (Jean Arthur) speaks to the phone with Smith’s mother in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (“She called me Clarissa! Alright Ma!” – gets me all the time) Look for 1:40:20 to to 1:40:54
  • The ending of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (look at the last 2-3 minutes)
  • When Homer (Harold Lloyd) arrives at home at the beginning of The Best Years of our Lives
  • Thelma & Louise‘s final scene
  • Love in the Afternoon‘s final scene (Audrey is too adorable)
  • Cinema Paradiso‘s final scene
  • When Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) plays the trumpet after Maggio’s (Frank Sinatra) death in From Here to Eternity
  • The ending of A Place in the Sun (this film is TOO sad)
  • “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again” scene from Gone With the Wind (so powerful)
  • John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan)’s execution in The Green Mile
  • Ashley (Leslie Howard)’s return in Gone with the Wind
  • Melanie (Olivia de Havilland)’s death in Gone with the Wind

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  • When Scarlett (Vivien Leigh) says “After all tomorrow is another day” in Gone with the Wind. Ok, there’s nothing very special about saying that, but it’s just the way she says it that gets me!
  • When Andy (Tim Robbins) and Red (Morgan Freeman) find each others at the end of The Shawshank Redemption
  • Dead Poets Society‘s final scene
  • Matt (Spencer Tracy)’s speech in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
  • Breakfast at Tiffany‘s ending
  • Life is Beautiful‘s ending
  • THIS scene from Life is Beautiful:
  • When Maria (Julie Andrews) sings the theme song at the beginning of The Sound of Music
  • Maria (Julie Andrews)’s return in The Sound of Music
  • Tony (Richard Beymer)’s death in West Side Story
  • The little girl in red’s scene in Schindler’s List
  • “I could have done more” scene from Schindler’s List (ok, pretty much the whole movie)
  • Bubba (Mykelti Williamson)’s death in Forrest Gump
  • Jenny (Robin Wright)’s death in Forrest Gump¬†(especially when he gives her the letter written by their son)
  • Dobby’s death in Harry Potter 7
  • Rose’s dream at the end of Titanic (ok, I know this is clich√©, but this scene makes me cry like a baby. Probably because it makes you realize everything that could have happen instead in the boat wouldn’t have sank)
  • Let in Be scene from Across the Universe
  • Lucy ( Evan Rachel Wood) and Jude (Jim Strugess) find each others again at the end of Across the Universe
  • When Jo (Doris Day) learns her son has been kidnapped in The Man Who Knew Too Much
  • The hospital scene in The Razor’s Edge

BONUS: When everybody cries at the end of Cry Baby! (ok, it doesn’t really make me cry, but I couldn’t not put it here ahah!- and the whole scene is pretty cool)

Ok, maybe there are some that I completely forgot, but I will update this if it’s the case!

If I had to choose the three scenes that make me the most emotional, I think I would go with the Dream Scene from Titanic, The “she knows” scene from The Miracle Worker and the final scene of Dead Poets Society

Ok, see you people!

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Something’s Wrong with Rebecca’s Wins

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Rebecca is the only Hitchcock’s film that won the Oscar for Best Picture. Produced by David O. Selznick (who had also won the Best Picture Oscar the previous year for Gone With the Wind), this film also won the awards for Best Cinematography, black and white (George Barnes) and…that’s all…¬†Rebecca was also nominated for Best Director (Alfred Hitchcock), Best Adapted Screenplay (Robert E. Sherwood and Joan Harrison), Best Actor (Laurence Olivier), Best Actress (Joan Fontaine), Best Supporting Actress (Judith Anderson), Best Film Editing (Hal C. Kern), Best Music, original score (Franz Waxman), Best Production Design (Lyle R. Wheeler) and Best Visual Effects (Jack Cosgrove and Arthur Johns). Now, it’s a pity that among all those 11 nominations, Rebecca won only two of them. Even if the film won THE Oscar (Best Picture) I always felt it was snubbed on many levels. Well, it’s a known fact that Hitchcock himself was a snub one, having won a total of zero Best Director Oscar. I think this timeless film¬†would have deserved much more, but, today, I’m going to concentrate on only one of them: Joan Fontaine’s Oscar Snub.

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Joan and Hitchcock at the 1941 Oscar Ceremony. Looks like he says to her “We should have won these Oscars Joan…”

This text is, of course, part of the 31 Days of Oscar Blogathon, hosted by Once Upon a Screen, Outspoken and Freckled and Paula’s Cinema Club. We’re at week 2: Oscar Snub, where all participants will explain why some film or some person should have won a certain Oscar. I’ve always dream of writing something about Rebecca, so this is the perfect occasion.

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Rebecca was released in 1940 and is still today considered to be one of the greatest adaptations of a Daphn√© Du Maurier’s novel. The author herself was much satisfied with the final product.¬†Rebecca tells the story of a young paid companion (Joan Fontaine) whom, during a trip to Monte Carlo with her employer Mrs. Van Hopper (Florence Bates), meets Maxim De Winter (Laurence Olivier), famous owner of the notorious Manderley. The young lady learns that he had lost his wife the previous year. After few times spend¬†together, the young lady falls in love with him. They get married and she becomes the new Mrs. De Winter. In Manderley, she has to face Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson), the cruel governess who adored Rebecca. She also has to fight Rebecca’s souvenirs that seems omnipresent and who doesn’t want to leave her and Maxim at peace.

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This year, the other nominees for the Best Actress Oscar were Bette Davis for The Letter, Ginger Rogers for Kitty Foyle: The Natural History of a Woman, Katharine Hepburn for The Philadelphia Story and Martha Scott for Our Town. The Oscar went to Ginger Rogers. Now, I don’t say that she didn’t deserve it, especially because I haven’t seen this film, but if I had the power to give the Oscar to Joan Fontaine, that’s what I would have done. Giving the Oscar to two people isn’t something impossible. In 1969, both Katharine Hepburn and Barbra Streisand won the Award.

Happily for Joan Fontaine’s lovers, the lovely actress finally won the award the next year for her other brilliant performance in Suspicion (Alfred Hitchcock, 1941). She is the only actress/actor who ever won an Oscar for an Hitchcock’s film.

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Joan and Gary Cooper with their respective Oscars at the 1942’s Oscar Ceremony

A great quality among films produced by David O. Selznick is the actors’ choice. I never felt one of them was miscast. Can you imagine someone else as Vivien Leigh in the role of Scarlet O’Hara? Can you imagine someone else than Joan Fontaine in the role of Mrs. De Winter? The actress choice for this role was, of course, something thrilling, but the final decision couldn’t have been better.

Let’s take a look at her screen-test…

Have you ever seen someone lovelier than Joan as Mrs. De Winter? She was perfectly able to embody Mrs. De Winter’s emotion just like they were described in the novel. Joan has always been able to prove us that she could move from one emotion to another very easily. That was primordial¬†for Mrs. De Winter’s role has she is someone whom happiness can vanish as quickly as she appears. One of the best scenes to prove that is when she goes down the stairs dressed up as Caroline De Winter. She then has a glorious smile, but lost it very rapidly when she realized Maxim doesn’t like the idea at all. In the same line, a moment that has always captivated me in the film is when she asks to Mrs. Danvers to get rid of Rebecca’s furnitures. The governess tells her “But these are Mrs. De Winter’s things”, to what she answers “I am Mrs. De Winter Now”. This is something we wouldn’t have expected from her character. The voice she uses has lost its innocence, is much more serious and much deeper. It can make us think of the voice used by her sister, Olivia de Havilland, at the end of The Heiress when she has realized the truth about Morris (Montgomery Clift).

To be appreciated, a film has to transmit something to the public. Many elements in Rebecca¬†do that, but we have to give most credits to the actor’s performance, especially Joan’s one. Her performance is so honest that we can feel her emotions has well. Also, how can we not be found of this adorable smile of hers. She had to play someone shy, a little clumsy, but absolutely adorable. Joan did that perfectly and the evolution of her character through the whole film impresses us as well.

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Even if Joan’s off-screen chemistry wasn’t perfect with Laurence Olivier (because this one would have preferred his wife Vivien Leigh to get the role), it’s difficult to see it on-screen. Mrs. De Winter is very much in love with Maxim and we can feel that love through Joan Fontaine’s amazing performance. Her opposition and fear of Mrs. Danvers was as well perfectly done.

What I also love about Joan in this film is her voice. When we heard her narrating the film at the beginning, it’s a beautiful music to our ears. How can we forget her enchanting voice saying this famous opening line: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again?” A good actor has to know how to act with his body, his look and his voice (except for a silent film actor, that goes without saying) and with her performance in Rebecca, Joan Fontaine was able to prove us she could do all that.

Just listen at the 3 first minutes of this clip to see what I mean. But you can watch the entire clip if you want to! It will not only make you realize how perfect Joan’s voice was, but will also make you appreciate Joan non-appreciation of Mrs. Van Hopper. Some of the facial expressions she makes worth their prize.

We, unfortunately, can’t go back and change the course of history, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that Joan deserved this Oscar. She is one of my absolute favourite actresses (number 4!) and this is mainly due to her memorable interpretation of Mrs. De Winter. It’s this role that made her a legend of the silver screen.

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My favourite picture from the film

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One more time, a big thanks to our three hostesses for having organize this event. To read more “Oscar Snub” entries, I invite you to click on the following link:

31 Days of Oscar Blogathon: Oscar Snubs

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Cinematic Experience: A Day in Glenn Ford’s Hometown

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Kristina from Speakeasy and Ruth from Silver Screening are actually hosting, from Feb 1st to Feb 5, 2016, the O Canada Blogathon. Of course, as being a Canadian myself (from Montreal, Quebec), I couldn’t say no to that! All participants are writing about Canadian movies, movies that take place in Canada, actors born in Canada, etc. On my side, I’ve decided to do something different from what I normally do on this blog (movie reviews, actor’s tribute…) and will tell you about my visit to Sainte-Christine d’Auvergne, a small village where Glenn Ford spend the eight first years of his life.

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Glenn Ford, technically, was born in an Jeffrey Hale Hospital¬†in Quebec City, but his family lived in Sainte-Christine d’Auvergne. His father, Rowland Ford, was the director of a railway company and the first mayor of the city. ¬†When I discovered Glenn had spent¬†his early childhood¬†in this village in the region of Portneuf, I had to go. Because it’s not very far from the village where my country house is (Saint-Stanislas de Champlain). So, I talked about it to my parent and, about one year ago, on December 31st, 2015, we decided to pay a visit to this place.

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Translation: Ste-Christine d’Auvergne believes in joy!
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Saint-Stanislas is between Shawinigan and Saint-Tite, just to give you an idea

I have to say, I’ve only seen one Glenn Ford’s film (Gilda), so I’m not too familiar with his acting, but I’ve read a very interesting article about him in the Photoplay Magazine. Anyway, visiting a classical actor’s hometown, whatever if you know him or not, is always thrilling.

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I remember, it was a very cold day. After 40 minutes or so, our car arrives in the village. We continue to ride, look at the houses, trying to guess which one could be Glenn Ford’s one. It doesn’t take us long to arrive at the end of the village. Pretty, but, I swear, Sainte-Christine d’Auvergne is the smallest village I’ve ever seen! Ok, maybe not as small as Soda City (Saboteur, Hitchcock), but still. Of course, Glenn Ford had lived there at the end of the 10s-beginning of the 20s, so the people who knew them are probably rare in this village. And his name is not written on a door.

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Me in the village

As there is no library or office where we can have information, we decide to go¬†to the presbytery (or maybe was it a house next to it?). A very nice lady answers. My parents, very proud of themselves introduced us by saying “We’re doing an historical research!” and we ask her if she knows by coincidence where Glenn Ford’s house was. She knows the name, calling him “Mr. Ford”, but can’t say where was his house. We then have the idea to ask her where the oldest people in the village lives. Luckily, it’s the house just across the street. But no chance, there’s no one there! We’re almost ready to go back in the car an return to our place, but we see a man and decide to ask him some information. We then learn that there are other houses in the village, a little further,¬†next to the Chute-Ford electric Central. That’s it! That’s the place where we have to go! We’re really lucky we met this man.

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The old woman’s house: the green one

So we go, park the car, go out (it’s freeeeeeezing outside!) and we first go to the central. Nothing very interesting to see, but since it was a Ford thing, it grabbed our curiosity!

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Me next to the central (I had sun in my eyes…)
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The central
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The river, next to the electric central

We then decide to ask someone which one of the houses couldn’t have been Glenn Ford’s one (there aren’t many. About four). In an area, there are some new modern cottages. A man is outside. Unfortunately, he can’t tell because he doesn’t know the village very well. He’s not from the place, you know.

¬†Finally, we actually decide to ask someone who was living in one of those big old houses next to the central. An old man and his wife answer us and invite us to come inside (people are so friendly¬†in those small villages!) We explain them what we were looking for. They show us a pamphlet about the city with a picture of Glenn Ford in it. We talk a little, they are very nice. They can’t¬†say which house was Glenn Ford’s one, but it certainly was one of them, that’s a 100 % sure.

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An hypothesis says that this could have been the house. Of course, it originally didn’t look like this!

Conclusion to this story: We never knew exactly which house was Glenn Ford’s one, but we certainly saw it, that’s for sure. And it was a magnificent journey! And what a great activity for New Year’s Eve! ūüėÄ

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Me in the village, again… A cold but sunny day: look at the blue sky!

Now I have to see more Glenn Ford’s movies…

A big thanks to Kristina and Ruth for hosting this blogathon! Here are the links to the other entries:

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five

Annex - Ford, Glenn_02

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Joan and Fritz

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Fritz Lang was probably one of the most gifted movie directors the world ever had; first in Germany with masterpieces such as Metropolis and M, and then in the USA with Fury, The Woman in the Window, Clash by Night, etc. Lang left Europa and Nazism in 1934 to continue a brilliant career in the USA. Aside from his fine work as a director, we remember Fritz Lang for his four collaborations with Joan Bennett, who, thanks to him, became a queen of Films Noir.

The talented blogger Theresa Brown (Cinemaven’s Essays From the Couch) is hosting, today and tomorrow, The Classic Symbiotic Collaborations blogathon where the participants have to talk about a movie director and a movie stars who were known for working together (more than once, of course). So, I had to go with Joan Bennett and Fritz Lang. The reason why I picked those two is simple: I wanted to see more Joan Bennett’s films and more Fritz Lang’s films. Just¬†that. Honestly, I don’t regret my choice, not even a little!

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In an interviewed with Lang conducted by Peter Bogdanovich (Fritz Lang in America), the German director lets us know how wonderful it was to work with Joan Bennett. And, according to him, she obviously felt the same about working with him. They were friends, perhaps lovers and certainly great collaborators. Fritz Lang was known for his love of women, but unlike many men of this period, he considered them to be equals and hated to see them¬†treated as¬†an inferior sex. (Fritz Lang, a feminism symbol??). Before working on Lang’s film, Joan Bennett had already proved us her talent in films such as Little Women, and even was one of the four final choices for the role of Scarlet O’Hara in Gone With the Wind, along with Vivien Leigh, Jean Arthur and Paulette Goddard. Her screen test impressed David O. Selznick, but apparently not as much as Vivien Leigh’s one.

Happily, Joan had other occasions to prove her talent and Fritz Lang has to be praised for that. To his friend, he gives the wonderful chance to prove how a versatile actress she could be.

They first¬†worked together for the film Man Hunt (1941) (also starring Walter Pidgeon and George Sanders), an exciting thriller where Walter Pidgeon as¬†Alan Thorndyke has to escape Nazis after having been wrongly suspected of an assassination attempt on¬†Adolf Hitler. Back in London, he still his followed by some Gestapo’s agents. He meets Jerry Stroke (Bennett) a young woman who will help him.

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Peter Bogdanovich notices how touching was Joan Bennett’s character in this film. He’s right. We can’t help being very fond of her when we watch this film as much as we would like to enter in the television and console her when she’s crying. For her first collaboration with Lang, Joan Bennett was able to prove us that she could play a sensible and endearing¬†woman. Her character can certainly be one of our favourites. In the film, Joan is supposed to be a prostitute, but obviously because of the Code Hay’s severity, this needed no to be¬†guessed by the audience. So, a sewing machine was placed in Jerry’s room to let us believe that she was a simple seamstress. Something completely ridiculous according to Lang.

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For her second collaboration with Lang, Joan played the role of Alice Reed, a character far different from Man Hunt‘s one, but always extremely interesting. The Woman in the Window, directed¬†in 1944, was her first co-acting collaboration with Edward G. Robinson under the direction of Fritz Lang.

The film tells the story of¬†Richard Wanley (Robinson), a psychology professor who is fascinated by a woman’s portrait exposed in a window¬†next to the library where he often meet his friends and colleagues. One evening, as he is observing the portrait, a ¬†smiling woman appears. She is the portrait’s model. Her name is Alice Reed. She invites him to her place for a drink. At the middle of their conversation, an apparently very jealous¬†man¬†runs into the room and tries to kill Richard. To help her new friend, Alice gives him a pair of scissors that were lying on the floor and he kills the crazy man with it. Instead of calling the police and explaining that all this was legitimate defence, Richard decides to hide the corpse. Alice is worried enough.

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For The Woman in the Window, Fritz Lang presents us a rather ambiguous character portrayed by Bennett. We can’t really know what to think of her. Is she a true Film Noir’ femme fatal who will lead the man to his loss? She can’t really denounce him to the police as she is a partner in crime, but she can always “leave him alone with his problem”… The complexity of this character makes the film even more thrilling that it already is.

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Joan Bennett’s third collaboration with Fritz Lang is perhaps my favourite one. Released in 1945, Scarlet Street was probably the best way to prove Joan’s acting versality. Here, Fritz Lang made of her one of the best femme fatale examples of Film Noir history. Joan once was the sweet Jerry Stroke, she’s now the manipulative Kitty March.

Scarlet Street is a remake of the french film La Chienne (1931), directed by Jean Renoir. According to IMDB, that was Fritz Lang’s personal favourite film of his own. I honestly think it’s one of his most accomplished ones. Of course, Metropolis is visually impressive, but as one of my teachers made us notice, it’s not one of his more interesting narratively. There’s much more to analyse in Scarlet Street, especially concerning Joan Bennett’s character.

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Scarlet Street tells the story of Christopher “Chris” Cross (Edward G. Robinson), a cashier, who, on a night, rescue a poor lady (Bennett) who is assaulted by a man who, we’ll later know is Johnny (Dan Duryea) her boyfriend. Chris and the lady, named Kitty March, (get acquainted. In his free time, Chris paints. Kitty believes he is a professional painter and that he wins a lot of money out of it. Chris, who doesn’t want to disappoint the lady he has fallen in love with doesn’t deny it. March decides to set up his painter’s workshop¬†in Kitty’s apartment. Johnny, obsessed with money, sells the painting under Kitty’s name. Kitty, who obviously has no tender feeling for Chris, becomes a accomplice of the case and, when Chris will discover her true nature, the result will be disastrous.

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Joan embodies a perfectly mean woman in this film. She seduces and manipulates for money. According to me, this is one of Joan’s best performances. She is convincing and was perfectly casted for the role. The cruelty of her characters is simply amazing. Except Joan’s brilliant acting in this film, we can’t not mention her radiant beauty and the magnificent gowns she wears. Those were designed by Travis Banton who also dressed her for Man Hunt and Secret Beyond the Door.

This leads us to Joan’s last collaboration with her friend Fritz Lang. Released in 1948, Secret Beyond the Door is the most psychologically complex films among the four. When we watch it, we can’t help noticing the similarities with Hitchcock’s Rebecca and Bluebeard. Before I started working on this blogathon, this was the only Bennett-Lang’s films I had seen. I re-watched it with my mother and she loved it.

In Secret Beyond the Door, Joan Bennett plays the role of Celia. She is engaged to an old friend. During a vacation, in Mexico, she meets a handsome and mysterious man, Mark Lamphere (Michael Redgrave), and falls in love with him. They finally marry, but she then realizes she barely knows him. They move to his big manor¬†where he leaves with his sister, Caroline (Anne Revere); his son, David (Mark Dennis); his secretary, Miss Robey (Barbara O’Neil) and some domestics. Celia is, of course, surprised to discover¬†Mark has a son from a previous marriage (her last wife died) and begins to understand¬†how strange (not in the right way) and distant her new husband his. Mark as a quite peculiar hobby: he collects rooms. During a party, he makes a guided tour of the rooms for the¬†guesses. This turns out to be very creepy when we discovered that a murder was committed in each one of them. However, one of the rooms¬†is locked and Mark refuses to show it to the guesses. That’s mysterious. What’s hidden behind this door? Of course, Celia has all intentions to discover it, to her own risks.

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Secret Beyond the Door was the beginning of something for Michael Redgrave as it was his first American film, but, sadly, the end of something for Joan and Fritz as it was their last collaboration together. Unfortunately, we can’t say this was a beautiful ending. People obviously didn’t “get” the film and it was a complete flop at the box office. According to IMDB,¬†tension between Lang and Bennett was obvious during the shooting of the film and Bennett said of the film that it was a¬†¬†“an unqualified disaster”.

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An happy moment on the set

Of course, today we have to watch this a certain¬†distance. I don’t think it’s indeed Fritz Lang’s or Joan Bennett’s best film, but it remains very relevant¬†and quite¬†worth watching one. Here, Joan Bennett’s plays a victim. What’s really interesting about her character is that we ¬†hear her thoughts, so we’re able to understand her feelings and intentions. She is not a mystery to us. Michael Redgrave as Mark Lamphere is. Joan remains convincing and still is able to prove us that she could play many types of characters.

Joan Bennettt as Celia Lamphere in SECRET BEYOND THE DOOR  (1948, Fritz Lang).

But, if we forget the disaster caused by this film, I can positively say that, among the four films we’ve discussed today, Secret Beyond the Door is the most stunning visually. Here are some images to prove it:

Fritz Lang and Joan Bennett never worked together again after making Secret Beyond the Door. At the end of Fritz’s days, Joan said “Tell Fritz how much I still love him”. The message was given and Joan was told that he was moved by it. Fritz Lang died in 1976 at the age of 85.

Out of all directors Joan worked for, Fritz Lang certainly was the one who knew perfectly how to make her a star of the silver screen, and discovered the best in her. I can positively say that Fritz Lang is now one of my favourite movie directors and that Joan Bennett is one of my favourite actresses. It was a real pleasure for me to discover their work, thanks to this blogathon, and want to thank Theresa for having this great idea!

Classic Symbiotic Collaborations

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Music in the High Society of The Philadelphia Story

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Remakes are, in general. something peopled tend to avoid, because the concept itself doesn’t really have a good reputation. However, there are some exceptions. Sometimes, the remake can be as good as the original film, sometimes it can even be better! Well, that’s all a matter of tastes. I’m telling you all this because, today, I’m participating to the They Remade What?! Blogathon hosted by Phyllis Loves Classic Movies. It’s, as you may have guessed, a blogathon about movie remakes. On my side, I’ve chosen to compare The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940) and its musical remake, High Society (Charles Walters, 1956). High Society is one of those great remakes. Just like The Philadelphia Story, it also became a classic.

I must say, if you’d ask me which one is my favourite between the two, I wouldn’t really be able to answer. Well, I might prefer The Philadelphia Story little bit more, but I LOVE them both. They both have their¬†strengths and weaknesses. For this article, I won’t review the two films separately, but will compare them together telling you what I prefer in one, what I like less in another, etc.

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We all know the story of The Philadelphia Story and High Society, but let me refresh your memory. Tracy Samantha Lord (Katharine Hepburn/Grace Kelly) is engaged to John¬†Kittredge ( John Howard/John Lund) and they are about to get married. She comes from a rich family and lives in a big mansion with her mother (Mary Nash/Margalo Gillmore) and her younger sister Dinah (Virginia Weidler)/Caroline (Lydia Reed) in High Society. Their uncle, Willy (Roland Young/Louis Calhern), lives not very far and often visits them. Their father, Seth Lord (John Halliday/Sidney Blackmer) has left the house and rumours say he’s having an affair with a young dancer. Two years ago, Tracy had divorced from C.K Dexter Heaven (Cary Grant/Bing Crosby) and isn’t too fond of him since then. Spy Magazine,¬†a gossip magazine, is very interested by Tracy’s wedding and want a journalist and a photographer to cover the event. Mike Connors (James Stewart/Frank Sinatra) is the reporter who would be sent. Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey/Celest Holm) is the photographer. But how will they access to the inaccessible Tracy Lord? This one especially doesn’t like gossip magazines. Well, that differs from one film to another. In The Philadelphia Story, C. K Dexter Heaven will be their access card, introducing Liz and Mike to the Lord as friends of Junius (Tracy’s brother). Of course, she doesn’t believe him so Dexter has to confess his lie, but he also explains her that she has no choice, because Sidney Kidd (Henry Daniell), Spy Magazine publisher, has treated to publish a juicy article about her father and this dancer, if she refuses to receive a journalist for her wedding. In High Society, all this happens more quickly. As a matter of fact, it’s uncle Willy who learns Kidd’s project and tells Tracy. So, she will receive Mike and Liz, but she doesn’t have the intention to act normal and things will turn pretty strange…

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The Philadelphia Story and High Society are not that much different, but they are all unique in their own way (except the fact that one is a musical and that the other one is in black and white…). Well, let’s see how.

The casting and the characters:

In the original version, Tracy Lord is interpreted by Katharine Hepburn and, in the remake, by Grace Kelly. Grace Kelly is my favourite actress between the two, but, in this film, I must admit Katharine Hepburn is hard to beat. She might be a little more suitable for the role. However, Grace is great too, and there are some scenes where she really steals the show. I’m particularly thinking of this scene when she is simply interviewing Mike and Liz without letting them time to ask HER some questions, like they are supposed to do. She’s just so funny in this scene. Katharine Hepburn is too, but Grace amazed me more. I must say, it’s also pretty unusual to see Grace playing someone a little too joyful due to the effects of alcohol and she handles this greatly.

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I must give all the credits to James Stewart for the interpretation of Mike Connors. He might be the best one of them all, including the actors of both films. Well, let’s not forget that he won an Oscar for this film. How can we forget this scene when he goes to Dexter’s place in the middle of the night completely drunk? How can we forget his great complicity with both Katharine Hepburn and Ruth Hussey? Jimmy is great. OK? That’s not without reasons that he is my favourite actor. Frank Sinatra was good as Mike, but not as much as Jimmy. However, I must give him the singing credits because James Stewart was a good actor, but certainly not a good singer! Well, that’s another way he can make us laugh (when he sings Over the Rainbow).

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I don’t know if I prefer Bing Crosby or Cary Grant in these films. Well, in life in general, I prefer Cary, but here I must say I’m good with both. Bing Crosby might be a little more likeable as Dexter, less arrogant than Cary Grant, but in a way I like them both equally. On the other hand, Cary might be a little funnier, but Bing charms us with his sexy low singing voice. Well, I guess they both win a place in my heart.

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Between Ruth Hussey and Celest Holm, I think Ruth did a better job playing Liz Imbrie. She acts with a certain easiness that is fascinating to watch. Celest Holm was good too, but Ruth Hussey was more natural. I really love her in this film and her team work with James Stewart might be a little better than Celest Holm and Frank Sinatra’s teamwork. But don’t get me wrong, Celest Holm did a fine job too and I’d have always liked her as well.

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Virginia Weidler is one of those child actors who can really sometimes steal the show as soon as she has the occasion to. Along with uncle Willy, her character, Dinah, is one of the funniest of The Philadelphia Story. The reason why we might remember her better than Lydia Reed is because, I’ve noticed, she appears more often in the film. But, in a way, I must say Virginia Weidler really was at the top. Complicity between Lydia Reed and Bing Crosby (Dexter) might be better though, and she really is adorable.

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The interpretation of uncle Willy was greatly handled by both Roland Young and Louis Calhern. Young might be a little bit funnier, but Louis Calhern is one of those great character actors. He has a really refine humour in this film, which is highly appreciated. Honestly, just like Bing and Cary, I wouldn’t be able to say who gives the best performance, which one I prefer.

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Mary Nash really is a delight in this film. She’s a mother who cares about her children. She’s a little crazy sometimes, but this is due to all the stress of the wedding. I must say her interpretation was better than¬†Margalo Gillmore’s one. This one was ok, but I’m sorry to say that she’s far from giving the best interpretation of the two films.

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I don’t have much to say about John Howard and John Lund’s interpretation of George. Both plays him perfectly right because he is so boring, but I think that was meant to be. So, in this idea, they certainly did a great job. Well, I must say, in a way, I wasn’t really impressed by their acting, maybe because they were playing someone too ordinary to give them the occasion to develop their acting skills. I don’t have much to say neither about¬†John Halliday and Sidney Blackmer, who both play the role of Seth Lord. John Halliday was a little¬†better, but Sidney Blackmer was nice too.

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We have to give a big credit¬†to High Society for Louis Armstrong’s presence (playing his own role). This legendary man certainly adds a lot to the film and to its musical side!

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The costumes

Well, when we came to costumes, colour movies certainly help a little, it gives us the occasion to see how the outfits really look like. The costumes I’ll be focusing on are certainly Katharine Hepburn and Grace Kelly’s ones. Katharine Hepburn’s costumes for The Philadelphia Story were designed by Adrian. She wears some beautiful dress. The wedding dress is really pretty, because it’s simple, not too extravagant. But, we must say that Helen Rose, who design Grace’s costumes, kind of win the competition. I’m kind of jealous seeing Grace wearing such beautiful dresses! I would like to wear stuff like that too. The colors, of course, helps a lot as I said. I had the occasion to see some of these costumes during the Grace Kelly’s exhibition in Montreal. Believe me, it was a real treat for the eyes! I also have to say that Ruth Hussey has some pretty interesting hats in The Philadelphia Story!

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The music

Before I continue, let me point out a little difference between the Dexter of The Philadelphia Story and the Dexter of High Society. The first one designs boats, that’s his profession, and the second one is a jazz singer. He organizes a little jazz festival the day before the wedding. Well, that’s a musical. Of course, there is some nice background music in The Philadelphia Story. This one was composed by the great Franz Waxman. Being a musical, High Society is certainly more noticeable for its music. You have some great tunes here! Those were composed by the great Cole Porter. My favourite ones are “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”, “True Love” and ¬†“Now You Have Jazz”. This duet between Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong is simply unforgettable.

The editing

Ok, I’ve noticed something ¬†quite odd in High Society: we rarely see close shots of close-up. That’s the main reason why I prefer the editing of The Philadelphia Story, we are more able to see people’s emotions. Well, we can see and feel them in High Society too, because the actors are great, but some closer shots of the actors’ faces would have been appreciated. Continuing with the concept of editing,¬†I might say that some scenes might be a little too long in The Philadelphia Story (I’m thinking of the one just before the wedding, when Tracy remembers what happened during the party,¬†and the one between Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart at the party, just before they decide to go swimming). I guess the songs in High Society¬†helped to¬†avoid that.

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The screenplay

The Philadelphia Story was based on a play. High Society was, I think, more based on The Philadelphia Story‘s film than on the play. Well, I’ve named some differences, but in general, both stories are pretty similar. The little differences doesn’t really influence the way the action progress. The lines do¬†not completely change in High Society, we can find the same ones in both films. This scene when Mike (James Stewart) visits Dexter (Cary Grant) completely drunk includes some of the most memorable lines. In High Society, they sing a song instead. Well, in a general way, The Philadelphia Story might emphasizes¬†on its lines and High Society on its songs. ¬†The Philadelphia Story won an Oscar for Best Screenplay, but¬†I’d be interested to read both screenplays, both seem interesting.

The directors

I think each director were both perfectly suitable for each movie. The Philadelphia Story is such “George Cukor’s film”, one last time pairing Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. Those two always make a fine duo. Charles Walters was well chosen to direct High Society. The man is greatly able¬†to direct nice and easy comedies like this one. Of course, George Cukor would have been able to direct it, but I think it would have lost its pretty innocence, and it’s nice to see both films directed by different directors.

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Well, these are the main elements with whom I wanted to compare The Philadelphia Story and High Society. You can now understand better what I prefer from one film to another. Honestly, I always have so much fun watching both. These are films I just never get tired to watch. The one I’ve seen the most often is The Philadelphia Story, but that’s because I’ve got the DVD since a longer time.

I was not alone in this marvellous blogathon, so, of course, as Grace Kelly says in High Society, “keep your lovely seats” and take a look at the other lovely entries!

They Remade What?! Blogathon

Of course, thanks to Phyllis Loves Classic Movies for hosting this event!

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