AGNES MOOREHEAD : THE SEVENTH CROSS

Spencer Tracy.Agnes Moorehead

Spencer Tracy.Agnes Moorehead

Agnes Moorehead has a small part  in THE SEVENTH CROSS (1944). In fact she is in only one scene, but, as we have come to expect from this fine actress, she gives a memorable performance.
I rate this film very highly ,with Spencer Tracy as George Heisler, one of seven escapees from a concentration camp  in the  Germany of 1936.He returns to his home town of Mainz  trying to find anyone to help him. His belief and trust in people is slowly eroding. His girlfriend has rejected him and the police will be watching his parents’ home so he cant go there.
He has a severe cut to his hand and is wearing a leather jacket he stole. He’s exhausted and sick with hunger. Who can he trust.
Another of the escapees has told him about a shop he can go to-  a theatrical costumier called Marelli.

Agnes is Madame Marelli and her small,dimly lit shop is full of costumes and dress making accessories.
Heisler tells her he is a friend of Bellani (an acrobat).

“Don’t you feel well?” she says. He doesn’t answer but says that she would have some clothes for Bellani and maybe they would fit him.
She expresses surprise ,”He was here only this morning,said he’d be back in an hour or two.”
(In fact,Bellani is dead).
She continues, “What made him change his mind. You artists are funny people. Were you on the same bill as Bellani?”
She is almost talking to herself for George does not answer. But she brings him a suit of clothes including a coat. As he puts them on, she goes back to her table and starts sewing, but she is still talking.
“(Bellani) a great performer – I love a real artist.”
“You have to look right or you won’t succeed in this business.”

As he comes over to her,she notices his cut hand and says, “You’d better see about that hand.”
Again, he doesn’t explain and just says, “I have no money.”
She replies,”Bellani paid in advance this morning.”
She adds,”There’s a doctor down the street,No.25.”

As he leaves, she says ( rather weakly) “Heil Hitler”
When he gets outside the shop, he discovers she has put some money in his pocket.
Madame Marelli is one of a small band of people who begin to restore George’s will to live.

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The whole scene is played with a quiet strength by Agnes as the shop-owner who must know about the escaped prisoners.The prison guards and police are all over the small town. She is playing a game of pretense. One look at this man will have told her she shouldn’t ask too many questions. So she makes small talk even as her world of theatricals is being invaded by the world outside where these seven anti-Nazis are being rounded up and hanged.
But there is no question of her not helping the desperate, hounded Heisler. She doesn’t ask his name because it is better not to know.
The camera draws us to her throughout the scene. The performance is flawless.
Spencer Tracy too is excellent,conveying so much through his physical demeanour and facial expression.

FADE TO COLOR

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Imagine the thrill for audiences back in 1939 when Dorothy in THE WIZARD OF OZ  opened that door and stepped into a glorious Technicolor world. The real world is in black and white – the fantasy world of Oz in is radiant color.
Studios in the 30s were forever teasing audiences with color sequences in the otherwise usual black and white movies. There were only so many Technicolor cameras,strictly controlled by the Technicolor company. and of course the cost of filming in color far exceeded black and white.
During the decade, there was much experimentation in color film until the full three-strip Technicolor hit the screen – with Walt Disney one of the first to see what could be done with color.

There were only a few films (for example, Nothing Sacred,Gone With The Wind) made entirely in color, but from the start of sound films, the public were shown what was to come.

Only black and white sequences of the number,‘Wedding of the Painted Doll’ survives from Broadway Melody of 1929. The song and dance number was filmed in two-tone Technicolor (mainly red and green.)

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Samuel Goldwyn spared nothing in the spectacular finale of Kid Millions‘The Ice Cream Factory’ number was filmed in Technicolor and looks amazing (with Eddie Cantor and Ethel Merman).

The Cat And the Fiddle sparked into full Technicolor for its finale, with Jeanette MacDonald and Ramon Navarro. (Filmgoers got to see Jeanette’s flaming red hair!)
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MGM gave the black and white The Women a glorious Technicolor fashion show.
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The tantalising glimpses of color continued into the 40s. In the film Irene, Anna Neagle’s number ‘Alice Blue Gown’ was in color.

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Anna Neagle

 

The Tyrone Power film, I’ll Never Forget You’ had the modern day sequences in black and white ,and the historical scenes (in the 18th Century)  in color.

Tyrone Power, Michael Rennie

Tyrone Power, Michael Rennie

Tyrone Power,Ann Blyth

Tyrone Power,Ann Blyth

At the end of The Secret Garden, the garden is shown in full bloom – in color.
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In Britain, A Matter of Life and Death, Earth is shown in its natural color while Heaven is in black and white.

Marius Goring as Conductor 71

Marius Goring as Conductor 71

Marius Goring

Marius Goring

A process called Dufaycolor ( invented by Frenchman,Louis Dufay in 1908) was used in Radio Parade of 1935, for the number ‘Black Shadows‘,sung by Alberta Hunter.

And in The Picture of Dorian Gray,when we see the portrait of the young man played by Hurd Hatfield, it is in color, as is the painting of him at the end of the film, when his debauchery is shown through the picture.
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Any other examples?

JOAN FONTAINE: IN HER OWN WORDS

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BBC interview from 1969:
“My first film was with Joan Crawford – No More Ladies – and I was 18 maybe. I was supposed to play a sophisticated rival of about 40! But that’s Hollywood.”
“I must have made about 5 or 6 a year before Rebecca.”

On Hitchcock and Rebecca:
He was darling, a bit formidable, enormously bawdy sense of humour. He had a habit of rather keeping all his actors at loggerheads,so he would be the one in the middle – rather puckish – good for me – made me suffer quite a lot – and it probably came out on the screen that way.

He had absolutely no nonsense about mood or meaning. He was telling a story and expected you to tell it with him – in absolutely common terms – no theories like The Actors Studio or any of that – made it terribly clear.

I remember one day I had to cry quite a lot and I said,’Hitch,I just cant cry any more’, and he said,’Well,kid,what are we gonna do’. I said,’Well, slap me in the face’, and off he went – slapped me. The tears came down,partly in pain,but a great deal of gratitude for his understanding.. It was wonderful of him.”

 

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The Oscars and Olivia:

“Olivia was up for it also, and I never expected to get it. Had I not got it for “Rebecca”,it was silly to think of it for “Suspicion” – they weren’t comparable to me. and I was making “The Constant Nymph.”

Olivia called me that day, as did the head of the Screen Actors Guild. I said I cant come, I’ve got to get up at five in the morning.

So, Olivia (and we were supposed to be enemies at this time – which was ridiculous) brought a seamstress over and several lovely gowns she had purchased for me – it was so sweet and wonderful of her.”

 

“Olivia was under contract to Warners, I to RKO, and I imagine the publicity depts. got together and said what are we going to do about these two spinster ladies, and evolved the feud…”

 

Joan was a wonderful interviewee and could have gone on talking,I’m sure, for a long time. She constantly smiled and seemed a woman in control of her life and with a sense of humour and a down-to-earth attitude to everything. Very impressive.

 

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DIALOGUE GEMS 3

 

 

THE DARK MIRROR:
Lew Ayres to Thomas Mitchell,discussing the twins played by Olivia De Havilland:
One of our young ladies is insane – very clever,very intelligent but insane!”

Olivia De Havilland. the Dark Mirror

Olivia De Havilland. the Dark Mirror

 

BRINGING UP BABY:

Katharine Hepburn as ‘Susan’ reading the letter from her brother about ‘Baby’:

He’s three years old,gentle as a kitten and loves dogs.”  I wonder whether Mark means that he eats dogs or is fond of them.”

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HARVEY:
James Stewart
as ‘Elwood’:

I always have a wonderful time,wherever I am,whoever I’m with.”

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HIS GIRL FRIDAY:
Rosalind Russell as ‘Hildy’ to Ralph Bellamy as ‘Bruce’:
“If you want me,Bruce, you’ve got to take me as I am instead of trying to change me into something else. I’m no suburban bridge player. I’m a newspaperman. Darn it.”

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INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS:
Kevin McCarthy
(describing the body he has found):
“It’s like a first impression that’s stamped on a coin. It isn’t finished.”

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KEY LARGO:
Humphrey Bogart to Ed.G.Robinson:
“You don’t like it,do you,Rocco, the storm? Show it your gun, why don’t you. If it doesn’t stop, shoot it.”

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LAURA:
Clifton Webb
as Lydecker to Dana Andrews as McPherson:
“Laura considered me the wisest,the wittiest,the most interesting man she’d ever met. And I was in complete accord with her on that point.”

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THE MALTESE FALCON:
Sidney Greenstreet
as Gutman:
Here’s to plain speaking and clear understanding.”

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THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE:

Frank Sinatra as Marco describing the Lawrence Harvey  character:
Raymond Shaw is the kindest,bravest, warmest,most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”

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MEET ME IN ST LOUIS:

Margaret O’Brien as ‘Tootie’,talking about her doll:

I expect she wont live through the night. She has four fatal diseases.”

Chill Wills as ‘Mr Neely’: “And it only takes one.”

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SABRINA:

Humphrey Bogart as ‘Linus’:

“Paris is for lovers. Maybe that’s why I stayed only 35 minutes.”

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THE THIN MAN:

William Powell as ‘Nick Charles’:

“Now don’t make a move or that dog will tear you to shreds.” (as ‘Asta’ immediately hides.)

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BROTHER ORCHID 1940

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A cute comedy with Edward G.Robinson in fine form as gangster John Sarto who decides to retire and enjoy the good life – and find ‘class.’

He calls a meeting of his gang and tells them he’s going after good taste and refinement.

His second in command,Jack Buck (Humphrey Bogart) is ready and willing to take over. Sarto’s long time girlfriend is Flo (Ann Sothern).He says they’ll have a church wedding after he gets back from his solo trip to Europe.. Flo says, “I aint been in a church since the night your brother got bumped off.”

Ann Sothern,Edward G Robinson

Ann Sothern,Edward G Robinson

Flo wants to be in show business,so to keep her happy, John arranges for her to get a job in a nightclub – as a hat check girl – Flo is happy.

There’s a montage of John in Paris,Rome and Monte Carlo – he’s away 5 years (though it’s more like 5 minutes). He loses all his money trying to find class and blithely returns to the States thinking he can take over where he left off – after all, it’s only been 5 years.

Of course, Jack Buck disagrees and John says he’ll form a new mob.

He also seems to think good old Flo will still be waiting for him. But Flo has gone from being a hat check girl to owning a club and living in a fancy apartment – with the help of rich rancher Ralph Bellamy who wants to marry her.

However, she hasn’t changed and drops everything for John. She even innocently arranges a meeting with Buck and John so they can stop fighting. Two of Buck’s hoods kidnap John and he is wounded before escaping and taking refuge in a monastery run by Donald Crisp.

 

The monks raise flowers and sell them in the city.. John takes to the quiet life and calls himself ‘Brother Orchid’ – “That’ll be my new tag.”

The monks run into trouble with Buck’s Protective association, but Brother Orchid sorts it out.

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He goes from thinking of the monastery as a ‘swell hideout’, and Crisp as ‘the biggest chump in the world’, to deciding to stay in the monastery and telling Bellamy that he’s the right man for Flo.

He’s found’ Class’ at last.

Edward G. and Ann Sothern head a good cast, though it was just another supporting role for Bogart – Maltese Falcon and High Sierra were just around the corner. The supporting cast are the usual stalwarts –  Allen Jenkins,Cecil Kellaway,Richard Lane and Paul Guilfoyle.

 

 

 

 

FOREIGN POSTERS

We know that Hollywood film titles are often changed for foreign distribution. It’s proved interesting to see the illustrations used abroad – and the change of titles, which are often surprising or odd, but obviously meant to make the titles attractive in the country concerned. Here are a few examples, mainly French: image Not just HARVEY, in Germany it becomes MY FRIEND HARVEY.

image ON THE TOWN becomes UN JOUR A NEW-YORK in France – A DAY IN NEW YORK. I guess having New York in the title gave it added glamor. No attempt has been made to make the figures resemble the actors. But it does show the six principals in action. image NORTH BY NORTHWEST in Italy is INTRIGO INTERNAZIONALE(INTERNATIONAL INTRIGUE). Sounds more exciting?

image ANOTHER MAN’S POISON becomes JEZABEL! (Have they forgotten the original – do they even know about it?)

image SHANE is L’HOMME DES VALLEES PERDUES  (Man of the Lost Valleys). I guess the one word ‘Shane’ wasn’t impressive enough.The French title’s mention of ‘lost valleys’ doesn’t convey much.

image LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN is LAD HIMLEN DOMME. Not sure about this one but I think it means ‘Let Heaven Judge’.  I guess the artist hadn’t seen a photo of Gene Tierney.

image This is an odd one if I have the correct translation. MR BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE becomes UN MILLION CLEFS EN MAIN  (‘A Million Keys in Hand’). I know they looked at a few houses…..

 

image  EASTER PARADE in Italy is TI AMAVO SENZA SAPERLO, with the translation ‘I Loved You Without Knowing’. Can’t think why this change was made, though it does convey Fred Astaire’s character. Still, there’s an easter rabbit on the table.

And my two favorites changes: image THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE in France is UN CRIME DANS LA TETE  (‘A Crime in The Head’) A title that conveys what the film is about.

image NOTHING SACRED is changed in France to LA JOYEUSE SUICIDEE (‘The Joyful Suicide’). I’m not sure the Hays office would have allowed that title!

ON THE SET. 8

Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich,Tyrone Power, Billy Wilder. WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION

Charles Laughton, Marlene Dietrich,Tyrone Power, Billy Wilder.
WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION

Elsa Lanchester,Marlene Dietrich,Charles Laughton.WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION

Elsa Lanchester,Marlene Dietrich,Charles Laughton.WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION

James Stewart.IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE

James Stewart.IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE

Fred MacMurray,Barbara Stanwyck.DOUBLE INDEMNITY

Fred MacMurray,Barbara Stanwyck.DOUBLE INDEMNITY

Ralph Meeker,Barbara Stanwyck,Barry Suloivan.JEOPARDY

Ralph Meeker,Barbara Stanwyck,Barry Sullivan.JEOPARDY

Cary. Grant,Howard Hawks.I Was A Male War Bride

Cary Grant,Howard Hawks.I Was A Male War Bride

Butterfly McQueen, Hattie McDaniel. GONE WITH THE WIND

Butterfly McQueen,
Hattie McDaniel. GONE WITH THE WIND

Robert Taylor,Barbara Stanwyck. DOUBLE INDEMNITY

Robert Taylor,Barbara Stanwyck. DOUBLE INDEMNITY

 

James Stewart,Jean Arthur,Frank Capra.MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON

James Stewart,Jean Arthur,Frank Capra.MR SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON

 

Grace Kelly,Cary Grant. TO CATCH A THIEF

Grace Kelly,Cary Grant. TO CATCH A THIEF