Evelyn Prentice (1934)

The union of marriage is one that is cherished and celebrated by virtually all societies. It represents love, companionship, and most of all trust between two individuals with presumable a deeply shared connection. A great deal of responsibility, compromising, and openness must be mutual between both parties in cultivating an increasingly grounded and resonant amalgamation, especially with children present. It is when mistrust and dishonesty begin budding that this growing, anchored foundation may become windswept. It is history and sincerity that then drives the path towards dissolution or resolution. “Evelyn Prentice” is a 1934 drama directed by William K. Howard starring the dynamic duo of William Powell and Myrna Loy exploring this very issue with a very unique, unusual, and devastating secret at its core.

John Prentice (William Powell) is a confident and flirtatious defence lawyer who has the reputation of winning all of his cases. Nancy Harrison (Rosalind Russell) is his latest client who he acquitted who is obviously very grateful for his services, but wants to continue a very different kind of service with him behind closed doors. John’s marriage to Evelyn (Myrna Loy) is deemed to be quite peachy to others, but his physical and mental absence related to work poses great discomfort with Evelyn. She catches the eye of master money manipulator Lawrence Kennard (Harvey Stephens), and they begin written correspondence. Various events lead to Evelyn asking Lawrence to end their communication, but he threatens her with blackmail. A gunshot is then heard with Evelyn running out of the apartment, and speculations subsequently run wild.

This particular project is obviously quite different from Loy and Powell’s other well-known pairings for two obvious reasons that come to mind. It is definitely NOT a comedy, and the gumshoeing as per the Thin Man movies is not collaborative at all. In fact, there is a high amount of secrecy and concealment on Evelyn’s part. Despite the differences and intermittent datedness of some core messages in the film, it still displays the timeless ample tension, doubt, and fear that accompany a team in distress. Loy and Powell demonstrate their chemistry and charisma in this dramatic and problematic atmosphere that would only grow with further pairings, helping to create the iconic partnership forever embedded in cinema.

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I do not own the above photo. Also, this post is part of the Bill and Myrna’s New Year’s Blogathon hosted by The Flapper Dame and Phyllis Loves Classic Movies! Please check out the other posts!

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Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

“Home is where the heart is”, as the age-old saying goes. Some associate “home” with dread, anguish, and fear while others relate familiarity, comfort, sentimentality, pride, and a sense of belonging to the term. Growth and change can allow one to bloom beyond their comfort zone, but the idea of uprooting from home may arise trepidation. The development of relationships, a career, and overall support is often cultivated in one location designated as home, and the thought of potentially starting anew is daunting. The vibrant 1944 Technicolor musical Meet Me in St. Louis directed by Vincente Minnelli delves into these apprehensions among an upper-middle class family in the face of starting a new life in the Big Apple.

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The film begins during the carefree summer of 1903 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Smith family children are enjoying the freedom and joviality of summer, counting down to the 1904 World’s Fair. Their father Lon Smith (Leon Ames) drudges through daily life as a lawyer in a downward career cycle. The proposition of success as a lawyer in New York prompts Lon to instruct the family in a highly patriarchal manner that they will be leaving their beloved St. Louis to begin a new life in New York. Meanwhile, wife Anna (the highly versatile Mary Astor) has created strong roots in this community in raising their children. Eldest daughters Rose (Lucille Bremer) and Esther (the always magnificent Judy Garland) have romantic involvements and educational prospects in St. Louis. Esther is particularly fond of the “boy next door” John Truett (Tom Drake). The younger bratty daughters Agnes (Joan Carroll) and Tootie (Margaret O’Brien) advocate in favour of staying to continue their obscene and inappropriate pranks. Eldest son Lon Jr. (Henry H. Daniels Jr.) is already in college at this point, having begun exploring life beyond St. Louis. As the seasons advance towards the once prospectively exhilarating Fair, an aura of despair looms through this observed upbeat, decadent, colour-saturated world.

This film is undoubtedly a quintessential musical. The musical numbers are highly memorable and vibrant, with “The Trolley Song”, “The Boy Next Door”, and the classic “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” being among the fabulous roster of songs. The propelling of popularity and timelessness of these songs are mainly due to Judy Garland’s exquisite and astute vocals, expressing every emotion necessary in a very genuine manner. Vincente Minnelli’s careful direction showcases Garland’s talent but also allows the viewer to feel great compassion for the Smith family. I must also mention the beautiful costumes, embodying the fashion of the early 1900s. Overall, romance, drama, teenage troubles, and childhood woes all captivate in this wonderful film, which is ultimately an ode to the glory and connection of home. This love, joy, and adoration for St. Louis are expressed within the film’s title and eponymous initial number.

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I do not own the pictures in this post. As well, this post is part of the Judy Garland Blogathon hosted by In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood. Please check out the other awesome posts honouring the amazingly talented and legendary Judy Garland!

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Day 1 Recap – Medicine in the Movies Blogathon!

There have been a multitude of excellent and informative posts today about medicine and its incorporation in films! I have greatly enjoyed reading them, and look forward to the next two days of posts. Here is a list so far of the bloggers and posts related to the blogathon’s theme!

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Thoughts All Sorts – Tombstone (1993)

For The Love of Movies – Contagion (2011) & Persona (1966)

Movie Movie Blog Blog – A Day at the Races (1937)

Silver Screenings – Night Nurse (1931)

Picture Show Girl – High and Dizzy (1920)

Maddylovesherclassicfilms – The Nun’s Story (1959)

Realweegiemidget Reviews – K-PAX (2001)

Critica Retro – A Farewell to Arms (1932 & 1957)

The Motion Pictures – Eyewitness (1956)

Sean Munger – Reversal of Fortune (1990)

Listening to Film – Coma (1978)

and…

Yours Truly! – A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

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Stay tuned for tomorrow’s recap of blog posts related to Medicine in the Movies!

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I do not own any of the pictures in this post.

3 Women (1977)

The value of individuality in many cultures is immeasurable. Some feel as if humans cannot actualize or achieve their full potential until they have reached a consensus of inner solitude and clarity in understanding their true identity. The pressure and temptation to idolize and acclimate with supposedly “greater versions” of ourselves can prevent or hinder that valued pursuit of unique identity discovery. Some may subsequently become illusionary with their position in the social sphere as well as their untouched persona.  3 Women is a 1977 avant-garde drama directed by one of the gurus of ensemble cinema, Robert Altman, which explores the extreme benefits and costs of collectivism versus individuality in a Western society.

Pinky Rose (Sissy Spacek) is an impressionable, clingy teenage girl from Texas who begins working at a California health spa for senior citizens. Millie Lammoreaux (Shelly Duvall) is a highly valued employee of the spa who orients Pinky to her new work environment. Pinky is infatuated with Millie, viewing her as an inspiring, mature, majestic human being who is loved by all. When the opportunity for becoming Millie’s roommate appears, Pinky is only too thrilled to oblige. The third woman, Willie Hart (Janice Rule), is pregnant and paints ancient, mythical, human-like creatures as a means of expressing her perception of reality in the midst of loneliness, suppression, and exceptional introversion. Willie’s obnoxious, womanizing husband Edgar (Robert Fortier) co-owns the apartment complex in which Pinky and Millie live. His presence and distastefulness create great divides and power struggles amongst the three women. Each woman faces and deals with alienation, frustration, and restlessness via distinct and various means which transitions through roads of unity, seclusion, and eventual resolution.

 

The themes in this convoluted, at times dreamlike film hones understandably into its complexity. Mimicry, reclusiveness, fear, guilt, unison, facades, and personality are some of the notions investigated which emerge from each woman’s evolving sense of relating to their world. There is no hero or villain as is the case in reality. There is an aura of vanity, shame, and uneasiness in many actions executed in the film, which is highly relatable to humankind. The actors, especially Spacek and Duvall, embody this concept remarkably well with great chemistry, thus enhancing the viewer’s discomfort with recognition of their own past sometimes regretful actions. Further through incredible direction, cinematography, and fantasy, this intricate film taps into the raw curiosity, shame, guilt, conflict, and concordance of the human experience.

 

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I do not own the pictures in this post. As well, this post is a part of the Decades Blogathon hosted by Thomas J and Three Rows Back! Please check out their blogs over the next couple of weeks to read about films from years ending in the number ‘7’!

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Random Harvest (1942)

Memories based on everyday and momentous experiences form the basis of human development and identity. Their formation and foundation can create an environment of empowerment and growth of knowledge. Conversely, their presence can sometimes traumatize and significantly regress one’s path to self-actualization. The wish to eradicate some painful memories has been held by all at some instance. However, I could not fathom anyone yearning to erase joyful recollections imprinted for years in their brains. Some individuals living with neurocognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, are robbed of the grandest and most beautiful memories with no mercy. Random Harvest is a 1942 drama-romance film directed by Mervyn LeRoy which explores the potentially devastating effects of memory loss on individual identity and surrounding relationships.

“John Smith” (Ronald Colman) has been hospitalized at Melbridge County Asylum for over a year following his harrowing experiences on the battlefield of WWI. His diagnosis would fit with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but he has dissociated from the raw emotions of his experiences to the point where he cannot remember his own identity. While wandering away from the psychiatric facility on the night of WWI’s end, he meets Paula Ridgeway (Greer Garson) in the town of Melbridge. She is a local actress and dancer who empathizes with “Smithy” to the point of finding a home in the countryside to escape authorities and unwitting family members. As in many classic films, the two rapidly fall in love and marry. Smithy’s newly discovered writing talent blossoms into a job proposal, but a head injury inflicted via automobile accident allows Smithy to remember and slide into his previous life as the wealthy Charles Rainier. Paula is inevitably obliterated from his memory with few reminders of her once great impact. Themes of abandonment, jealousy, anger, detachment, frustration, and never-ending hope engross the remaining intertwining journey of our lead characters. This leads to an ultimate tear-jerking finale which will melt even the coldest, steel-engulfed hearts.

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“Random Harvest” is an interesting and multi-faceted title for this film. Paula and Smithy meet during the typical harvest season (Autumn) randomly it seems in a tobacco shop. The estate to which Charles Rainier and his siblings are entitled is called “Random Hall”. Separately, these words and their place in the film could definitely account for its title. However, the definition of the word “harvest” lends to growth and cultivation, which is what led to Paula and Smithy’s glorious bond and millions of other relationships. As well, the two were randomly brought together, and their relationship was randomly taken away. Hence, their growing interconnected maturation was inadvertently interrupted for varying reasons. Others may beg to differ, citing that no event or association is truly random. Regardless, the atrocity of the events occurring in these characters’ lives is incomprehensible, and we greatly empathize with them.

These drastic impediments yet intermittent delights in the film create a harrowing atmosphere leading viewers to the edge of their seats, fabricating major peaks and valleys of emotion. Our own fears and relatedness to memory heightens the concern and sentimentality in the film. We feel overwhelmed, frightened yet optimistic for the characters’ resolutions. Overall, I feel that “tear-jerker” is an understatement for this beautiful film.

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I do not own the photos in this post. As well, this post is a part of the “No, YOU’RE Crying” Blogathon hosted by Moon In Gemini! Please check out the other posts related to tear-jerker films over the coming days!

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The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

Grief is an unfortunate yet unavoidable process. This can be related to and can include loss of a relationship, job, or physical or emotional loss of a loved one. While there are various stages of grief, each individual handles it differently. They may exact revenge, anger, guilt, or detachment. Regardless, these events are life-altering. They halt the anticipated course of our life trajectory, interrupting any previous sense of rationale we once held. “The Sweet Hereafter”, a 1997 Canadian film directed by Atom Egoyan, explores the complex web of emotions associated with grief and bereavement following great tragedy impacting a rural community in British Columbia.

Mitchell Stephens (Ian Holm), an outside lawyer with a complex and contentious relationship with his daughter Zoe (Caerthan Banks), ventures to a small Canadian town during a harsh winter. He is representing a group of citizens in a class action lawsuit for negligence against their own town and a bus company. We quickly learn the true, heartbreaking nature of this lawsuit – a bus accident claiming the lives of fourteen children. Carefully paced, Stephens unearths the raw reality, fears, and new challenges of those affected by the crash, wrestling with his role in Zoe’s battle with drug addiction.

There are many techniques enhancing storytelling used in this devastating yet beautiful film. Firstly, it is crafted such that the story is out of sequence. This aids to juxtapose between a sorrowful present and a once joyful past, but also to highlight parallels between Stephens’ suffering and that of the community. In addition, “The Pied Piper” is incorporated into the story, showcasing similarities between a legend known to many and this town’s tragedy. Nicole Burnell (Sarah Polley) narrates, and her role as “the lame child” serves as a metaphor for her own fate. As a whole, these techniques enhance the palpability of the film’s catastrophic truths.

“The Sweet Hereafter” is spoken within a phrase near the end of the film. Nicole recites that the once united community is now emotionally disbanded, living separate “strange and new” lives in the “sweet hereafter”. I initially felt that there is a great sense of irony in the title, as the future following a mass casualty seems quite grim. However, in the process of grief, acceptance is generally deemed as the final stage. I do not believe that we “move on” from tragic events as they will forever be imprinted in our memories, but we try to create a new sense of normalcy through an understanding and acceptance of our past. Through this, we may be able to find peace and meaning in the new paths we forge.

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I do not own the above image.

This is part of the Ultimate 90’s Blogathon hosted by Kim from Tranquil Dreams and Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews. Please head on over and check out the other awesome entries!

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