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falderal : a moving images blog

Archive for the ‘1950s’ Category

More film watching

Monday, May 11th, 2015

I’ve been naughty and have been rewatching some films. I can’t always get myself to watch new movies — I don’t know why!!!

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The Age of Innocence (1993)
Director: Martin Scorsese
Actors: Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder, Geraldine Chaplin
Country: U.S.A.

First of all, I did like the film, but there were things that I felt were slightly off because of the casting of the main characters. Day-Lewis, Pfeiffer, and Ryder are great actors but I guess that I imagined these characters a certain way that I couldn’t get passed the cast. However, I do think that it says something about how great these actors are because I started seeing why these actors were chosen for their parts. Pfeiffer was graceful, the way I imagined Ellen to be; Ryder occasionally looked so sweet and innocent, which is how I saw May; and I started to get over Day-Lewis’ hair because I always imagined Newland to have a more slicked down hairdo. My ideal cast would have been John Barrymore for Newland, Mary Astor or Vivien Leigh for Ellen, and… oh May is such a hard one! Maybe Lana Turner? Joan Fontaine? Ooooh maybe Lillian Gish?!?! I think Lillian is the one I’ll stick with for May!
Because I have such an immense crush on Winona Ryder, I just have to say that the sweetness of May came through in the scene when she is reading (narrating?) the letter to Newland about agreeing to hasten the wedding. Also, she did a perfect job in the scene when she tells Newland that she is pregnant.
The only major complaint I have is the use of voiceover even though I know why it was used — I knew that voiceovers would be inevitable for this film. I wondered how in the world anyone could film this book due to how descriptive it is and how much of it is based on Newland’s perception of New York society, but I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up enjoying the film even though I hoped that Scorsese would find a way around voiceovers. I honestly was a bit wary to watch the film because I imagined that anyone who attempts to film The Age of Innocence would fail.
Beautifully shot film (especially the ending!!!) and I loved all the food porn. I still stand by that this is Scorsese’s Barry Lyndon because I didn’t expect either Scorsese or Kubrick to make the films.

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Chaplin (1992)
Director: Richard Attenborough
Actors: Robert Downey Jr., Geraldine Chaplin, Paul Rhys, Moira Kelly, Anthony Hopkins, Dan Aykroyd
Country: U.S.A., Japan, France, Italy

Since I do not know much about Chaplin’s personal history, I don’t really have anything to compare this film too, which I am actually glad about because knowing too much about Chaplin could have made me dislike the film because all I would be doing is moan about inaccuracies or wonder why they left certain things out. But maybe the film isn’t riddled with inaccuracies since Chaplin’s daughter is in the film and I doubt she would have been in it if she strongly disagreed with it. I don’t think the film itself is made well (it is ok but I had some issues with the way they edited it), but the acting was phenomenal!!! I also loved Mary Pickford’s hair in the film and even though she wasn’t portrayed in a good light, it is true that Chaplin and Pickford did not get along so I wouldn’t be surprised if Pickford was nasty to Chaplin.
Geraldine Chaplin and Robert Downey Jr. shine in this film and seeing their performance was a joy to watch. At first I was like, “Robert can’t get away with this. He can’t be Chaplin.” but I was proven wrong because his performance was so convincing that it was as if he became Chaplin. I wouldn’t mind rewatching this movie to watch Robert Downey Jr.’s performance again because it is just that good.

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Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Actors: Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Jean Hagen, Cyd Charisse
Country: U.S.A.

I’ve wanted to rewatch this movie for some time and I finally got around to it! The last time (and only time) I watched this was in 2007 or 2008 and my mom told me that she enjoyed this movie a lot and that I should watch it. I loved this movie back then because I thought that it was hilarious and fell in love with Gene Kelly’s dancing. I still love the same scene, which is when The Dueling Cavalier‘s sound synchronization goes out the window; it is one of the most hilarious scenes I have seen in any film that I’ve watched.
The reason why I wanted to rewatch this film was because I remembered enjoying it but didn’t remember why I liked it so much nor did I really remember much about it. After rewatching it, I found out that I still love the movie because I find it funny, but I now love it because of all the references to film history. When I first watched it, it was when I was getting my feet wet with film history, so I knew about silent films but not much. Now that I am more aware of film history, all the scenes related to the silent-to-talkie transition resonated with me.
It was rewatching this movie that made me keenly aware of Gene Kelly’s athleticism in regards to his dancing. In the “Moses Supposes” number, seeing Gene dancing next to Donald O’Connor made me think of Fred Astaire because O’Connor is slim and his dancing isn’t as full of power and energy like Gene’s. O’Connor is a great dancer but his style is different than Gene’s, just like how Fred and Gene are very different too. I saw so much power in Gene’s dancing that I was blown away.
I still can’t get over the beauty of how that long veil moves in the “Broadway Melody” sequence — Cyd Charisse looked awesome in it! The whole “Broadway Melody” sequence also made me think that Hollywood films can be very avant-garde and artsy-fartsy too because there were times when it looked very surreal. I actually find all of Gene Kelly’s ballet sequences to be really surreal and it takes the musical genre to a whole ‘nother level. Fred and Ginger tell a story through their dancing and Gene Kelly does the same thing too, but by taking the viewers into a whole different realm than the location of the story is a bold thing to do. I guess it isn’t as jarring in this film because Gene Kelly’s character is telling his idea for The Dancing Cavalier, but it was rather surreal in On the Town and (if I remember correctly) An American in Paris.
Also, does anyone think that Gene Kelly is not a very convincing silent film actor? I don’t know what it is about him but he just doesn’t look like one!!! I know that makes no sense whatsoever because there is no “look” when it comes to an actor in a silent film. I kind of felt that way about Jean Hagan too. Don’t get me wrong though because this movie would not be the same without them and I love them in it.

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On the Town (1949)
Director: Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly
Actors: Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra, Betty Garrett, Ann Miller, Jules Munshin, Vera-Ellen, Alice Pearce
Country: U.S.A.

Around 2008 or so, I did a Gene Kelly marathon where I would hunt down as many Gene Kelly films as I can and watch whatever I could get my hands on. After several years passed, my memory of these films waned but I remember that back then, there was a film that I considered to be better than Singin’ in the Rain in Gene’s oeuvre. The thing is, I don’t remember what the movie was called but I thought that it was this film or It’s Always Fair Weather because I remembered sailors, Frank Sinatra, and Cyd Charisse.
Now that I watched this film, I don’t think this is the movie I was thinking about but at least I know which movie has Frank Sinatra and sailors — I hope that I don’t forget again. I wonder if my taste and perceptions of movies have changed so much that I won’t know which film I preferred back then. This film was fun to watch but I didn’t think it was anything special and I don’t think I’d watch it again because there isn’t even a scene that would draw me back to this film. Oh wait, I will rewatch parts of this film because I want to learn how to do the Charleston and I think that this film shows off the dance quite well! I wonder what I thought of this film when I first watched it; this is why I need to be more vigilant with my blogging!
Between the time I first watched this film and the time I rewatched it, I was on a Bewitched kick so I was so happy to see Alice Pearce because I love her as Gladys Kravitz.
Now I need to get my hands on It’s Always Fair Weather!!!

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Mr. Skeffington (1944)
Director: Vincent Sherman
Actors: Bette Davis, Claude Rains, Walter Abel
Country: U.S.A.

This is the first Bette Davis film that I’ve ever watched and the first time I watched it, I hated it! I hated the film, I hated Bette Davis, and I was a raging madwoman and didn’t understand the hype about this film or Bette. Well, things have changed over many many years and I think I’ve watched more Bette Davis films than Joan Crawford films >_>; I used to say that I love Joan more than Bette but I’m not too sure anymore!!! I now love them both and they’re brilliant in their own ways.
Anyway, I rewatched this film a year or two ago and I really enjoyed it and found it so touching. I don’t know why I hated it so much when I first watched it and why I found it to be such a bore then, but when I rewatched this film once again, I enjoyed it once more. When Job comes back and Fanny accepts him, my heart was wrung dry and my eyes watered from emotion.
I believe that I read this in Bette’s memoir when she said that she bluffed her way through this role because she knew she wasn’t the most beautiful woman. This film shows off Bette’s acting chops because she is totally convincing as the most desirable woman. I also find Bette to be pretty and wouldn’t mind if I looked like her at all — Warner Brothers knew how to make her up! Maybe all I need is a studio makeover?
I know I’m babbling a lot about Bette BUT HOW CAN WE FORGET CLAUDE RAINS’ PERFORMANCE? Jesus christ that man can act!!! He is so touching as Job and when Fanny keeps on mentioning his eyes, you completely understand what she means because Claude Rains is SO GOOD.

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Robin Hood (1922)
Director: Allan Dwan
Actors: Douglas Fairbanks, Wallace Beery, Sam De Grasse, Enid Bennett, Paul Dickey
Country: U.S.A.

I know the basics about Fairbanks due to reading a bit about Mary Pickford but I never watched any of his films because I had this odd abhorrence towards them for no good reason. I think it’s because I felt as if the kinds of films he was known for wasn’t my type but… I WAS WRONG! My reluctance to watch a Fairbanks film ended up being the way I felt about western films: my feelings towards them were completely irrational.
I have to say that this film is something special because no other film has drawn me in that I started to whoop and holler while watching it. Without knowing, when Robin Hood was kicking some booty, I was shouting, “YOU GET THEM!”, “HOORAY!!!”, and other related things. I was laughing, squealing, and rooting for Robin Hood and this is something that I’ve never done in my entire life. I can now understand people who shout at bars while watching sports. Because no other film gave me such an interactive experience, I have to think highly of this film and put it in a special place. It’s rather odd since it’s not really a film I would watch on repeat or whenever I want to cheer up, but I can’t disregard the experience that this film gave me. I wonder if contemporary moviegoers also rooted for Robin Hood while watching this film.
Fairbanks was so charming in the role of Robin Hood. He was ok as the Earl of Huntingdon but he truly blossomed when he portrayed Robin Hood and I wanted to see more of Fairbanks and didn’t care for any of the other actors because he was a joy to watch. Kind of random, but I was surprised to like Wallace Beery in this film because I usually don’t care for him and always see him as a douchecanoe (I don’t know why), but I did like him as King Richard.
The film was shot beautifully and I couldn’t get over the gorgeous sets and elaborate costumes. Also, SERIOUS HAIR INSPIRATION IN THIS FILM. If anyone says that old films weren’t polished or as great as modern films or talkies, they need to watch this film because it has the finesse of films from Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Did anyone else think of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in the scene where the court jester is murdered? Another thing that surprised me was that people getting hanged and hanged people were shown in the film — isn’t that a bit disturbing?!
I need to make a gazillion gifs from this film because there were so many great moments.
I’m glad that the ice is broken and I look forward to watching more of Fairbanks’ work!

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Ninotchka (1939)
Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Actors: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire, Bela Lugosi, Sig Ruman, Felix Bressart, Alexander Granach
Country: U.S.A.

Before I start rambling about the movie, CAN WE PLEASE DISCUSS BELA LUGOSI AND ALEXANDER GRANACH BEING IN THIS FILM?! I was working on my “art project” (paper chain) while watching this movie and when the film started and the credits came on, my eyes went straight for Bela Lugosi’s name and I was like, “WTFBBQQQQQQ?!?!”, because I’ve watched this film probably 10+ times and I never noticed. When the credits came on at the end of the film, my eyes went straight for Alexander Granach and once again I had the same exact reaction as I did to Bela Lugosi’s name. HOW IN THE WORLD DID I MISS THIS THE LAST BAZILLION TIMES THAT I HAVE WATCHED THIS FILM? HOW?! I always associate Alexander Granach with German silent films (never forget the pig exit in Schatten) so to see him in an American film (and a talkie at that!) had my head reeling.
I haven’t watched Ninotchka in awhile and decided that this time around, I’m going to be a more active viewer and try to find Lubitsch’s brilliance because as much as I love Lubitsch, I also question why he is so great. Sometimes I wonder if Lubitsch is great because of the great scripts he has (I’m focusing on the sound picture era here) or if he’s great because he really brings out the greatness of a darn good script. I need to read some academic works on Lubitsch to help me out… but I should do that after I do another Lubitsch marathon! After rewatching Ninotchka, I think that maybe Lubitsch’s brilliance is that you forget everything and become a passive viewer; I just take in the jokes and have a good time. I guess that’s some dangerous filmmaking though… I think this is even more apparent in To Be or Not to Be because I always feel reluctant recommending that film because as much as I love it and find it hilarious, some people might find it offensive. I wonder how Russians would see Ninotchka, especially people who lived much of their life in the USSR.
I have a love/hate relationship with Greta Garbo but I absolutely LOVE, LOVE her in this film. I wish that she did more comedies because she is brilliant in this film. Her deadpan face expressions are perfect but she is also great when her character loosens up too. It’s a real shame that her last film, also a comedy, was kind of a dud. I remember not enjoying it when I watched it… or maybe I’ll change my mind like I did with Mr. Skeffington?

Paths of Glory ; 1957

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Director: Stanley Kubrick
Actors: Kirk Douglas, Ralph Meeker, Adolphe Menjou, George Macready, Wayne Morris, Richard Anderson, Joe Turkel
Country: U.S.A.

My friend and I have been planning a Kubrick marathon for some time but something always came up and we would not watch a Kubrick film or we wouldn’t get to it. We decided that The Shining would be our first film but due to technical difficulties, the only choice we had was Paths of Glory. We both groaned since we both dislike war movies and I felt pooped about having to stare at Kirk Douglas’ face. I have nothing against him but whenever I see his face, I just want to punch him, just like Jason Schwartzman. Just like how I didn’t want to punch Schwartzman when I actually met him, my urge to punch the computer screen whenever Douglas showed up lessened and lessened. He was wonderful as Colonel Dax.

In many ways, I don’t think that Paths of Glory is special but at the same time, there are many exceptional things about it. For the most part, the film looks like a normal A/B feature film but then you start seeing things that are distinctly Kubrick, specifically cinematic aspects that you see later on in his films. I, and many others, associate Kubrick with tracking shots, and I have often associated Max Ophüls with tracking shots as well. For me, when I watched Paths of Glory, the tracking shots did not have the grand feel that Ophüls’ tracking shots had. Or maybe they both achieved the same effect in that Ophüls used those tracking shots to give his films a glossy feel whereas Kubrick used tracking shots to achieve various effects. For example, in the famous tracking shot of when Colonel Dax walks in the trenches, the viewer isn’t marveling at the lovely movement of the camera but instead, one notices the grim look on everyone’s faces. Each face may be different but they don’t really have an identity — instead, they collectively give off the impression of people being in the dumps. War isn’t glamourous and fighting it isn’t all flags and glory — instead, it is a cause for unhappiness.

This picture (on the right) also made me aware that Kubrick was stepping out of the norm in regards to normal Hollywood style camera angles. It was moments like this when I became aware that this film was made my Kubrick, versus let’s say… Edmund Goulding (no offense to Goulding, of course). The impression I got was that the director was going for something new and the odd angle had an almost Brechtian effect on me. Sure, it made me focus on the character and made it look like I was looking down on him, just like what the judges and prosecutor were doing, but at the same time, all I could think was “WHY DID HE USE THIS ANGLE?” It bugged me loads.

All in all, I thought it was a good movie but it definitely made me feel pooped, as usual. I wonder how I’ll fare with Full Metal Jacket.

IMDb Link: Paths of Glory

The Damned Don’t Cry ; 1950

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Director: Vincent Sherman
Actors: Joan Crawford, David Brian, Steve Cochran, Kent Smith, Hugh Sanders
Country: U.S.A.

It saddened me to see the great Joan Crawford in this B-movie with almost no glamour and bad acting. The only reason I can’t hate this film is because Crawford’s performance is excellent, the cinematography, and the quick and witty dialogue. Although this film looks like a cheap movie even from the beginning, somehow ths story and dialogue keeps you intrigued the whole time. I really thought that I wouldn’t enjoy this film when I watched the first few minutes of it, but as I kept watching, it got better and better. To see Crawford as a woman who will do anything she can to get what she thinks she deserves made me think how similar her character was to Crawford’s own life story. The cinematography is that of a film noir’s, which adds to the cheap look of the film. Although Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity made the film noir style look glamourous, this film didn’t do such a great job. Nevertheless, the camera movements and the editing was effective for this film although the lighting was a bit questionable at times. I was surprised by the scene when Ethel (Crawford) gets beaten by George (Brian) because I didn’t think such behaviour would be allowed to be shown due to the Hays Code. But maybe the censors thought that Ethel deserved what she got.

I really admire Crawford for her acting and how she was able to rise up to become the huge star that she was. While I do admire her and love her as an actor, I can’t help but notice how much her face changes. During her flapper era, she was the embodiment of what I thought a flapper was, at least appearance-wise. She had wide eyes, the hair, and the dance movies, and she looked like a girl who wanted to have fun. She definitely matured with her looks as one can see in Grand Hotel and I thought she became even more gorgeous, or should I say glamourous? I thought Crawford was very pretty during her flapper years but I can see why people in the 30s thought Crawford was beautiful. Even I said, “Wowee~ No wonder so many people said she was gorgeous!” But when I saw her in The Damned Don’t Cry, I couldn’t help but think that her looks became harder and her eyes became more intense and almost frightening. While in some moments of this film I thought I saw her old, beautiful looks, I couldn’t help but think that Crawford looked terrifying. And even later in her career, I think that she becomes a shadow of her former self and almost becomes a caricature of herself. Her trademark Crawford smear is almost laughable while also being a bit creepy and her features are so hardened that she no longer has the glamourous look of a beautiful woman. My first Crawford film was The Women and I was head-over-heels with her looks, but my mom remarked, “She looks scary! Well, pretty I guess, but scary…” I guess Crawford’s transformation started even as early as the late 1930s. While Crawford’s looks have diminished, her acting abilities are still intact. I cannot deny Crawford’s talent as an actress and would say that she is definitely one of the best actresses that MGM ever had, possibly even beating Greta Garbo.

I highly recommend this film for everyone. I know that many of my friends who are interested in older films are women, but maybe this can be a film that one can watch with a boyfriend or father since it has action, intrigue, and all the good stuff that appeals to everyone.

IMDb Link: The Damned Don’t Cry
Where to buy: Amazon.com

Eine Berliner Romanze ; 1956

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Director: Gerhard Klein
Actors: Annekathrin Bürger, Ulrich Thein, Uwe-Jens Pape, Erika Dunkelman, Marga Legal, Erich Franz
Country: East Germany

Before November 9th ends where I am, I have to post at least one entry that has to do with the Berlin wall… or at least about East and West Germany. I chose Eine Berliner Romanze, although the film was made before the wall itself was built.

It is a lovely film, but I feel like I would have gotten so much more if I knew the historical context and understood the ending. The English DEFA website says that Hans (Thein) gets a job in the GDR, but I didn’t think that was all that clear. Maybe it just went over my head? Maybe it was simply implied since he goes to the east with Uschi (Bürger) when she tells him that he is invited for dinner, thus there is a happy ending for both of them. There is a bittersweet note to all this because even though this couple is happy, another character does say that sooner or later, it won’t be easy for the couple to meet. The building of the wall is implied although it isn’t specific to the wall because the character knows that the tension between the Soviet bloc and the Western bloc is growing.

What I liked about this film was that it’s a simple story yet it gives an insight to what Berlin was like during the division. People could walk in and out of the different sectors and there didn’t seem to be discrimination towards the East Berliners since the West German shops accepted GDR’s currency. The two boys who fall for Uschi do not discriminate her for being an East Berliner and are more than eager to court her.

So is this film propagandistic? I would say yes and no. Uschi wants to get away from her drab life in the east and says that she wants to go to the west where everything is modern and exciting. Yet in the end, Uschi brings Hans to the east rather than the film ending on a middle ground or Uschi successfully running away to the west. The film also shows West Germany’s supposed economic boom in a bad light because we see Hans going to multiple places yet not succeeding in getting a job. I am planning to post about Alexander Kluge’s Abschied von gestern, which I think is somewhat similar to aspects of Einer Berliner Romanze. Both films don’t show the idealized view of either sides of Germany by portraying both sides having their own problems. But then again, I suppose any film can be deemed as propaganda when they portray their own country in a positive light *shrugs*.
While the ending is simple and cute, does it really mean anything? I guess film scholars can go on and on about what this film could mean except I am scared that I will overanalyze this film. I just need to be more sure about myself! And I definitely need to rewatch this film to clear up the ending and to read more about life in East and West Germany, particular in Berlin.

I highly recommend this film because it’s not like what you would imagine a film to be from a socialist country. It’s cute, it’s sweet, but it also has moments that give you an insight into what life was like back then or even before (such as Uschi’s comment about the thing she was eating “not being the same”, which I thought was a poke to Germany pre-East/West split). It’s a great way to start watching East German films because it goes against the stereotypes of “communist/socialist” films and shows that East German films have similarities with the films from the west.

IMDb Link: Eine Berliner Romanze
Where to buy: DEFA Film Library

Auntie Mame ; 1958

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Director: Morton DaCosta
Actors: Rosalind Russell, Forrest Tucker, Coral Browne, Fred Clark, Roger Smith
Country: U.S.A.

One of my friends told me that she wanted to be Auntie Mame. I was a bit confused since I only owned the movie and haven’t watched it yet and made a remark somewhere along the lines of, “Well, Rosalind Russell is quite beautiful and amazing…” When I got back home, I searched through all my films and decided that I must watch it to see why Auntie Mame is so amazing that someone would say that she wants to be her. After watching it, even I said, “I want to be like Auntie Mame!” She has fabulous clothes (duh, it’s Orry-Kelly after all), wit, charm, and intelligence. Not only that, she is open-minded about everything (well, except conservative bourgeois) and she has (had at one point) enough money to redecorate her house often. Although this film isn’t anything groundbreaking or spectacular, I think it’s a fun movie to watch. And who wants to give up the opportunity to see Rosalind Russell in Technicolor? She has aged so well that I was jealous.

What surprised me the most in this film was Patrick’s transformation in the middle; I thought with Auntie Mame’s influences, he would not become what Auntie Mame hated. But of course since this film is a feel good movie, all is well in the end.

This film has such lush colours that the visuals are great. Even the credits were fun to watch, which made me wonder if the late 50s had a thing for vivid colours for credits. Douglas Sirk’s Imitation of Life has gorgeous credits that have colours that can’t be described.

My final verdict: thumbs up!

IMDb Link: Auntie Mame
Where to buy: Amazon.com

Clash by Night ; 1952

Saturday, March 14th, 2009

Director: Fritz Lang
Actors: Barbara Stanwyck, Marilyn Monroe
Country: U.S.A.

I adore Fritz Lang’s work in Germany such as Metropolis, Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (The Testament of Dr. Mabuse), and M, thus I was excited to watch one of his Hollywood films. I could definitely see why Lang is considered to be one of the biggest contributors of film noir because the story, lighting and editing were very much like one. I adore Barbara Stanwyck and was happy to see her as a femme fatale in this film, but I am just really unsure about how I feel about her character, the story, etc. What I am sure about is that I thought the cinematography, for the most part, was pretty good, but I would say that it isn’t as great as M. The film set the mood of the film pretty well for the most part and the cinematography and acting went hand-in-hand. I sometimes didn’t understand the point of some shots, such as the shots of seals and fish, and there were parts of the story that I didn’t understand. Maybe it’s because I am watching this film through modern day glasses, because I could not understand why Peggy (Marilyn Monroe) stayed with her boyfriend or why Mae (Barbara Stanwyck) would even want to be with Earl (Robert Ryan).
So here is the gist of the film:
Mae comes back from New York after leaving her hometown for years to find a rich man to marry. She ended up falling in love with a married man, who died and left Mae some money, but her lover’s family took her to court and she ended up poor thus she returns home. Mae wants a man who makes her feel confident, and she seems like a woman who has her own thoughts and cares about herself. She marries Jerry (Paul Douglas) because she knows that she’ll have security in her life, but she isn’t happy with her plain life as a mother and housewife. Jerry’s best friend is Earl and Earl is pretty much a misogynist due to suspecting his wife, who is in show business, of cheating on him. Earl has a temper, isn’t nice to Mae at all and even insults her. Despite all this, Mae and Earl fall in love, which is what I don’t get. I’m assuming that Mae likes adventure in her life and security is something she considers drab. In the end, she realizes that she can’t be with Earl because he does not want to have Mae’s child with them, thus she goes back to Jerry.
I’m assuming that the film is saying not to trust women since even Peggy has a wandering eye for a bit, but in the end comes back to her boyfriend, Joe (Keith Andes). Joe is abusive to her, even getting to the point of strangling her, but she stays with him anyway. Mae also returns to her boring life and stays with her husband and child. There are so many mixed messages because Mae leaves a child and adoring husband because of her own wants, yet maybe her actions are excusable since she does tell Jerry that she is not the woman for him. But then both women in the film come back to their husband/fiancé, thus I wonder if the point of the story is that women are meant to be wives and never live the life they want. It was upsetting that Peggy decides to be with a man who is willing to beat her and that Mae returns to her husband. At the beginning of the movie, there are hints that she isn’t a “moral” woman since she did have an affair with a married man, but she seemed like someone who could think on her own. When Earl does an imitation of a Chinese man, Mae seems to be genuinely repulsed by it and it seems like she doesn’t mind being single. But then she ends up with Earl, probably for some fun in her life, but in the end, she returns. I guess it’s nice that she returns since I did feel bad for her husband, but why did she have to marry him anyway? Probably to get the story going.
So I guess I ended up ranting since I’m not too sure what to think about the film in general. I felt that the cinematography wasn’t all that bad and the acting was pretty good by all characters, particularly Barbara Stanwyck, but I felt like something was missing. Maybe I was just irked about some parts of the film, but it had nothing to do with any technical aspects. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for the Thea von Harbou x Fritz Lang films, but something was just weak about this film. I should watch more of Lang’s American films and then decide if I favour towards his earlier works or his later works, but that might not be a good idea either since I should accept that things change due to various reasons. Social reasons, artistic movements of that time, and political reasons could affect films and of course, Lang’s tastes could change based on what is going on in his surroundings. But of course, I’m someone who likes to live in the past, thus most likely, I’ll be partial to Lang’s earlier films (boo on my part).
Conclusion: I have mixed feelings about this work! Nonetheless, I believe that Lang remained a good director, but the script was a tad weak (and had some really bad lines). But then again… WHY DID HE HAVE TO DIRECT THIS FILM?! Maybe under contract? Maybe he wanted to? I don’t know. Nevertheless, I do believe that it is a film one at least give a go, especially for people who are interested in film noir, people who adored Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, and people who like Fritz Lang’s films.

IMDb link: Clash by Night
Where to buy: Amazon.com