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Posts Tagged ‘claude rains’

In this 1946 film from celebrated director Alfred Hitchcock, Ingrid Bergman plays Alicia Huberman, the daughter of a man imprisoned for being a Nazi collaborator.  The CIA, specifically a man named Devlin (Cary Grant) recruit her to go to Rio, where a group of her father’s Nazi friends have relocated.  Devlin wants her to infiltrate and report on the group, by getting close to one of them – a man named Alex Sebastian (Claude Rains) – but the mission becomes muddled when Alice and Devlin fall for each other.

I find Hitchcock films to be a bit hit-and-miss, but I realised today that my favourite Hitchcock movies all starred Cary Grant.  I’m still trying to work out if that is coincidence or not.  In any event, I did not enjoy Notorious as much as North by Northwest or To Catch a Thief, but nonetheless, this was still a good film (actually better than I expected).

Ingrid Bergman is just beautiful as Alicia, and it is not surprising at all that two men fall in love with her.  Alicia is a girl who drinks too much and has had more than her fair share of male companions (in the original script she was a prostitute), but she still manages to garners sympathy, and I was hoping that she would make it through the film safely!  Bergman and Grant have great chemistry together, as seen in their other collaboration, Indiscreet (an altogether more light-hearted film), and they are both on top form here.  They also share a very sensual kiss, which was cleverly filmed in order to get around the Hayes Code, which stipulated that on-screen kisses must not last longer than three seconds.  In keeping with the code, the actors break off from their kiss every three seconds, and then kiss again!  The end effect is very sexy, which ironically is probably what the Hayes Code was trying to avoid.

The story moves along nicely, and there are no real dry or boring patches, although it is very obviously a Hitchcock film, with all his trademarks in place (such as gimmicky camera angles, which I believe can date a film somewhat).  The suitably ambiguous ending is satisfying, and while I would not rush to watch this film again, it was certainly worth seeing.  I would recommend it to fans of Grant, Bergman or Hitchcock.  The reliable Claude Rains is also worth watching as the conflicted Sebastian.

Year of release: 1946

Director: Alfred Hitchcock

Producer: Alfred Hitchcock

Writers: John Taintor Foote (story ‘The Song of the Dragon;), Ben Hecht, Alfred Hitchcock, Clifford Odets

Main cast: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Leopoldine Konstantin

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This film is thought by many fans to be one of the most romantic films ever made. It stars Bette Davies as Charlotte Vale, a lonely, depressed woman, who is dominated by her (frankly, horrible) mother (Gladys Cooper). Psychiatrist Doctor Jaquith (Claude Rains) encourages her to stay at his sanatorium, where she gains confidence and changes from a frumpy old-before-her-time woman, to a glamorous lady. On a cruise, Charlotte meets Jerry Durrance (Paul Henried), and the two fall in love. Jerry is married with two daughters, but although he is desperately unhappy with his manipulative wife, he cannot leave her. Has Charlotte swapped one kind of unhappiness for another?

I had high hopes for this film – it is classed as a great romance, and a hugely popular movie from Hollywood’s golden era. And….I was slightly disappointed. I do think Bette Davis was superb, and Paul Henried was fine, but it all felt slightly flat. There was also a sub-plot with one of Jerry’s daughters, which seemed a bit pointless, and even sat slightly uncomfortable to me.

Also, I thought that Charlotte’s transformation from frump to fabulous was all very sudden, which made it hard to believe. Furthermore, her oppressive mother was so horrible that she came across as a pantomime villain! That said, I did like Charlotte’s sister-in-law Lisa Ilka Chase, and Claude Rains was as wonderful as ever as Doctor Asquith (I would actually have liked to have seen Charlotte and the doctor end up together).

As with all my reviews, this is purely my own opinion, and certainly this film is highly rated, and regarded as a classic. So don’t let me put you off watching it – it just wasn’t a film for me, I’m afraid.

Year of release: 1942

Director: Irving Rapper

Producer: Hal B. Wallis

Writers: Olive Higgins Prouty (novel), Casey Robinson

Main cast: Bette Davis, Paul Heinreid, Gladys Cooper, Claude Rains, John Loder, Ilka Chase, Bonita Granville

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Joe Pendleton (Robert Montgomery) is an amiable prizefighter, whose plane crashes, and his soul is plucked out of the aircraft by a messenger from the afterlife (whose job it is to collect the souls of the dead). When Joe ends up in the afterlife, it is discovered that he has been taken there 50 years too early; he would in fact have survived the crash. The head of operations in the great beyond -a kindly man named Mr Jordan (Claude Rains) says that Joe must be returned to earth, but there’s one problem – Joe’s body has been cremated. Mr Jordan lets Joe inhabit the body of a man named Farnsworth, who has been murdered by his wife and her lover. When Farnsworth ‘comes back to life’, his wife is most surprised! As Farnsworth, Joe falls for a young woman named Bette Logan, but she is unaware of his real identity.

This film was one of many released in the 40s, which looked at the issue of life after death, and it reminded me somewhat of A Matter Of Life and Death, which starred David Niven, and which explored similar themes. I actually prefered A Matter Of Life and Death, but that is not to say that Here comes Mr Jordan is not a great film. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Despite the fact that the storyline deals with death and murder, it is actually very funny in parts, and sweetly romantic in others.

The pacing is tight, and the whole film comes in at about an hour and a half, which means that it never gets dull. It is helped along by an excellent cast – as well as Montgomery, who is perfect as Pendleton, and Rains, who brings a calmness to his role which balances out the over-excitement of other characters, the over-zealous messenger who plucked Pendleton from the plane is played by Edward Everett Horton; the exchanges between the Messenger and Joe provide a lot of laughs. James Gleason is outstanding as Max Corkle, Joe’s former manager (both Gleason and Montgomery were nominated for Oscars for their roles).

Overall, I would highly recommend this film – it really is lovely, and packed with charm. Highly recommended!

Year of release: 1941

Director: Alexander Hall

Producer: Everett Riskin

Writers: Harry Segall (play:’Heaven Can Wait’), Sidney Buchman, Seton I. Miller

Main cast: Robert Montgomery, Claude Rains, James Gleason, Evelyn Keyes, Edward Everett Horton

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This film probably gave its stars Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman their most famous and celebrated roles.  In unoccupied Africa in the early days of World War II, Rick Blaine (Bogart) is a cynical and disillusioned exiled American, who runs a popular gin joint.  When Czech underground leader Victor Lazlo (Paul Henreid) arrives at his premises, he brings with him his wife Isla (Bergman), a woman who is well known to Rick, and who reawakens feelings that he thought he had put behind him forever.  Rick may be in a position to help Victor, but he has to choose whether he will use this position to his own advantage or not.

Have you ever watched a film that is called a classic, and been a bit let-down?  Well, this is not one of those films.  To put it bluntly, Casablanca is awesome.  It demonstrates the changes in people’s characters and lives that are caused by war, it has a beautiful romance at it’s heart (I cried a number of times throughout), and it’s a blindingly brilliant story.

I particularly liked the fact that Rick’s rival for Ilsa’s love, Victor, was not a bad guy – in fact he was an extremely good guy, who was fighting for people’s freedom and human rights.  It would have been so easy to have the audience rooting for Rick, by making Victor an unlikeable character, and it made the film all the more powerful for the script not taking this route.

The lead actors – Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid were just wonderful, and the chemistry between Bogart and Bergman was electric.  I also thought Claude Reins as the French officer, Captain Renault – a man who was loyal to whichever side served his own interests best, and Dooley Wilson as Sam, the piano player at Rick’s bar – were excellent.

Certain scenes stand out in my mind, in particular the ending, but I’m not going to reveal any details here as I would not want to spoil it for any first time viewers.

In short, this film is well worth all the accolades it received.  If you still haven’t experienced Casablanca, I strongly recommend that you watch it.

Year of release: 1942

Director: Michael Curtiz

Writers: Julius J Epstein, Philip G Epstein, Howard Koch, Murray Burnett, Joan Alison, Casey Robinson

Main cast: Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains

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