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Posts Tagged ‘arthur o’connell’

In this romantic comedy (of sorts), Marilyn Monroe plays saloon singer (or ‘chanteuse’ as she would have it) Cherie.  Don Murray plays Bo, a naive cowboy with no social skills, due to his having lived an extremely sheltered life.  He goes to Phoenix for a rodeo competition, sees Cherie and immediately falls for her.  He decides that whether she likes it or not, they are going to get married, and he’s taking her back with him to live on his ranch!

Marilyn received a lot of acclaim for her role in this film, and it probably is her best work.  She manages to combine innocence with knowingness – Cherie has been promiscuous in the past, but really she is like a young girl waiting for a nice man to come and rescue her.  She and the other main female characters (her friend Vera, played by Eileen Heckart; and Grace, the owner of the diner at the diner at the titular bus stop, played by Betty Field) are what make this film worth watching.

Bo however, was an extremely irritating character – way over-the-top with his whooping and hollering at every moment.  I imagine he was supposed to be childlike in his enthusiasm, but he came across as more childish when it came to what he wanted.  At one stage, he literally lassoes Cherie to prevent her getting on a bus and leaving him, and carries her away despite her protests.  It may have been that in 1956, this was a comedic moment, but watching it in 2013, it is simply silly and were it not SO silly, it would have been disturbing.  Don Murray received an Oscar nomination for this performance, but honestly I can’t see how.  (I feel almost guilty writing this, as Murray is by several accounts, a thoroughly lovely man, but I couldn’t help it – this character really grated on me.)  The performance reminded of Jim Carrey in full manic mode!

Despite this though, the film was quite watchable, and did have a few amusing moments.  It was one I had wanted to see, being a Marilyn Monroe fan, and I’m glad I watched it, but I wouldn’t rush to watch it again.

Year of release: 1956

Director: Joshua Logan

Producer: Buddy Adler

Writers: William Inge (play), George Axelrod

Main cast: Marilyn Monroe, Don Murray, Arthur O’Connell, Betty Field, Eileen Heckart, Robert Bray

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James Stewart is Paul Biegler, a former District Attorney turned small town defence lawyer. He is called upon to defend Frederick Manion (Ben Gazzara), an Army Lieutenant accused of shooting dead the man who Manion believes raped his wife Laura (Lee Remick). As Paul digs deeper into the circumstances surrounding the crime, he realises that things are not as clear-cut as they initially seem. And that is before he has to face the fearsome – and fearless – prosecutor Claude Dancer (George C. Scott)…

Well….WOW! This is a superb film. I actually put off watching it for a long time because of it’s length; it runs at 2 hours 40 minutes, and I don’t generally like films that are much longer than two hours (blame it on my attention span). However this film gripped me from the word go, and once the action moved to the courtroom – about an hour into the film – it really became compelling viewing. The role that James Stewart will always be most remembered for is probably George Bailey in It’s A Wonderful Life. And while that certainly is a wonderful film, I preferred him here, and thoroughly enjoyed his performance as the morally ambiguous Biegler. He was not let down by the rest of the cast either – it’s hard to pick any one performance as outstanding, because everyone in the cast was excellent. Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Eve Arden (as Biegler’s smart, loyal but long suffering secretary), Arthur O’Connell (as Biegler’s friend, the alcoholic Parnell McCarthy, who finds a reason to stop drinking and start living, as he works with Biegler on the case), and George C. Scott. If this were any other cast, Scott would probably steal the show with his excellent performance!

The story ticks along nicely, with plenty of twists and turns, and I found myself switching points of view, and never quite sure what the truth was. There was tension, atmosphere and even a few laughs as the story unfolded.

However, I do have one gripe with this film and that was the ending! By that, I mean the last 7 or 8 minutes, which is not too bad for a film of 160 minutes. I won’t give anything away, but for me, the ending was unsatisfactory and not what I was hoping for. Nonetheless, it was a hugely enjoyable film, and I would certainly recommend it, especially to fans of courtroom drama – this is one of the best!

Year of release: 1959

Director: Otto Preminger

Producers: Otto Preminger

Writers: John D. Voelker (book), Wendell Mayes

Main cast: James Stewart, Lee Remick, Ben Gazzara, Arthur O’Connell, Eve Arden, Kathryn Grant, George C. Scott, Murray Hamilton

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