EAST SIDE WEST SIDE. 1949

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I always enjoy watching this romantic drama,the kind Ross Hunter and Douglas Sirk did so well in the 50s.
BARBARA STANWYCK and JAMES MASON are a rich married couple who live in a sumptuous West Side Manhattan apartment. Barbara battles to keep James out of the clutches of siren,AVA GARDNER. Trouble is, he is addicted to Ava who doesn’t care who she hurts.
It’s 30 minutes into the film before we see VAN HEFLIN who plays a former cop who’s been working for the Government in Europe for the last 5 years. He’s written a book and meets Barbara through her friend NANCY DAVIS who’s husband is a publisher.

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Van’s character is so grounded,charming and nice as he falls quickly for Barbara, though realising she loves her two-timing husband.
James Mason does a good job of portraying the man who is torn between 2 women. He says to Barbara,
“You’re everything that’s good in my life. Don’t you think I know that?”
She says, “I want you as much as you want her.”

There’s a dramatic twist and Heflin ends up investigating murder.
Barbara’s mother is played by GALE SONDERGAARD.The mother has put up with the husband for the sake of her daughter but when he comes to her,asking her to intercede with Barbara who may leave him,she finally gets to say what she really thinks of him,
“My happiness and piece of mind depends on her leaving you. You’re vain ,self centred and ruthless.” (Gale says this with a smile on her face,never losing her cool.)
He is so surprised he says , “but I thought you were genuinely fond of me.” To which Gale replies, “You’re a luxury she can’t afford. I no longer have to make you welcome in this house.”
Gale Sondergaard only has two scenes in the film and proves yet again what a fine actress she was.

CYD CHARISSE features too and I have no problem with her performance,but her plot line just didnt seem necessary. I’d much rather had more of Gale Sondergaard and Nancy Davis.
The film ran 1 hour 50 mins which maybe was a bit too long.

There’s one scene where Barbara and Ava confront each other and it’s reminiscent of Crawford and Shearer in THE WOMEN.

And then there is BEVERLY MICHAELS,a tall,statuesque blonde in her first film. Her character’s name is ‘Felice Backett’.Her character is described as “built like the Empire State”. Beverley’s acting isn’t all that good but somehow, she’s so unusual, it works!

Beverly MIchaels. Van Heflin

Beverly MIchaels. Van Heflin

Ava Gardner looks sensational and plays her femme fatale role very well.Barbara is solid as always in a non – showy part. Probably Ava and James Mason have the best parts. I just so much liked Van Heflin’s character and I’d like to think that he and Barbara finally got together!

4 responses »

  1. I’m a big fan of all four stars of this movie but I’ve never seen it, nor do I own a copy of it. It’s one of those titles that simply slipped under my radar somehow. I think I’m going to have to pick this one up.

  2. Hope you see it ,Colin. It’s a romantic melodrama which is very well written and that makes all the difference in this kind of film. As I said, i wish Nancy Davis ( as Barbara’s best friend and Gale Sondergaard ( as her mother) had more scenes.
    I think , once you see it, there will lots to talk about!

    • Hi Vienna,

      I just this week discovered this film and loved it. The cast was great and I like to think Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin’s characters get together in the end as well.

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