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falderal : a moving images blog

Archive for October, 2009

Red-Headed Woman ; 1932

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Director: Jack Conway
Actors: Jean Harlow, Chester Morris, Lewis Stone, Leila Hyams, Una Merkel
Country: U.S.A.

I loved Red-Headed Woman because I wish I could be like Lillian (Harlow)! To have that much charm to seduce every man she likes is something that not every woman can do.

So what exactly do I think about this film? First I would like to start by saying that I give it a thumbs up. One can’t find films like this when the Hays Code was in effect and I thought that this film was the epitome of what was acceptable pre-code. You can watch this film for yourself and see what I mean. I don’t find Jean Harlow to be beautiful, but she is glamourous and perfect for this role. I cannot imagine anyone else playing the part because the way Harlow moved, glanced, and looked was dead on for the role for Lillian. Something about Harlow made me understand why so many people love her to this day; the way her makeup accentuated her features and her large, almost tragic, eyes definitely drew me in. She was also an amazing actress and I enjoyed watching her in a comedy and I liked her just as much in this film. This is my second film with Chester Morris (the first being The Divorcee) and I thought he was suited for this role. I don’t really like him much for some reason… maybe it’s his slicked back hair that doesn’t do much for his profile. Leila Hyams as Irene was GORGEOUS. When I saw her, I couldn’t help but keep my eyes on her. Although she is beautiful, I still thought Harlow stole the show with her acting.

For all pre-code film fans, this is a must watch. I can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t enjoy this film because modern day viewers can see that life back then was just the same as today and it’s interesting to see that scandalous things were portrayed in films in the past.

IMDb Link: Red-Headed Woman
Where to buy: Amazon.com (VHS) ; Amazon.com (Forbidden Hollywood Collection Vol. 1 DVD set)

Anna Karenina ; 1935

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Director: Clarence Brown
Actors: Greta Garbo, Fredric March, Freddie Bartholomew, Maureen O’Sullivan
Country: U.S.A.

I have yet to read Tolstoy’s classic novel due to my fear of Tolstoy that was instilled in me as I was a child. Although I have enjoyed one of his novels, Anna Karenina always scared me despite it being one of my mother’s favourite books thus I decided that I’ll take the easy way out and watch the film to educate myself a bit and perhaps make me less intimidated by the book. It was an enjoyable film for the most part, but I didn’t find it to be anything special. I usually like Garbo when I watch her films, but I thought that her acting wasn’t as great as everyone says it is; I thought her voice inflections, tone, and pitch were odd at times and not right for the scene. I know that Garbo is known for saying more with her face than her lines, but even I wasn’t impressed and thought everything was not right. It’s a gorgeous film to watch but it just didn’t do it for me. None of the other actors were any better and I felt that everything was too overdone. This film was a big disappointment for me since I do adore (well, it’s more like love/hate, but while watching this, I did like her) Garbo and wanted to like this film. The only thing saving it would be Garbo’s beauty and Adrian’s lovely designs. Yes, I stooped down to the level of superficiality for this film.

Just like Grand Hotel, Garbo is presented in a dramatic fashion with a cloud of smoke and then the beautiful face emerges from it. Oh MGM, how overly dramatic you can be!!!

I would recommend this film for Garbo fans, Anna Karenina and Tolstoy enthusiasts, people interested in Clarence Brown’s works, and people interested in old costume films. Oh and Fredric March fans as well (ALTHOUGH I REALLY CAN’T SEE WHAT THE HUBBUB ABOUT HIM IS). I can’t find anything special about this film, but that doesn’t mean that it should be thrown in the “don’t watch it” bin.

IMDb Link: Anna Karenina
Where to buy: Amazon.com