Tuesday, April 10, 2007

April 10th Log

1947, Orson Welles, United States
Repeat Viewing, Turner Classic Movies

All month (on Tuesday Nights) Turner Classic Movies will be featuring the films starring Rita Hayworth. Her being one of my all-time favorite Hollywood actresses, I decided to rewatch a couple of her most memorable performances. The first being her only ever collaboration with one-time husband Orson Welles. As strange as it is, The Lady From Shanghai remains a truly great film. The film is packed with Orson Welles' usual cinematic visual style and editing techniques. Initially, The Lady From Shanghai (much like Welles' Touch Of Evil, which I believe is his greatest film) was not well received with American audiences. However, it was praised in Europe and with time has grown appreciation as one of Welles most notable works. Rita Hayworth, who in real life had just divorced Welles prior to shooting the film, gives an absolutely memorable performance as the controlling and seductive Elsa Bannister. Hayworth is one of (if not the) most gorgeous actresses to ever grace the screen, and here she gives one of her finest dramatic performances in the femme fatale role. Orson Welles stars as Michael O'Hara, a man who desperately wants to believe and love Elsa, yet ultimately is a victim of falling into corruption. Elsa (perceived) innocence, beauty, and charm easily has Michael falling for her. In terms of cinematic technique, there are some great visual sequences, but the climax is truly fascinating. Perhaps influenced by a scene from Charlie Chaplin's brilliant 1928 film The Circus, Welles uses a fun of mirrors fro the films final moments. It's a deeply effective scene in portraying the films deceptive themes and capturing emotions (both visually and physically). The Lady From Shanghai is a film that requires several viewings to fully appreciate. It's multi-themed, and unique film noir (and at times even slapstick) style may not connect immediately. However, this is great filmmaking (every shot is finely detailed and composed), and features the incomparable Rita Hayworth at her most seductive (and blonde). To me, this is one of Welles' best films.

1944, Charles Vidor, United States

Repeat Viewing, Turner Classic Movies

To me, Cover Girl ranks among the most unforgettable Hollywood musicals of the 1940's. Driven by it's star, the incredible Rita Hayworth, but strengthened by a smart and witty script. There are many funny and memorable moments (of course most notably the musical numbers by Jerome Kern, or Gene Kelly dancing with an imposed image of himself). There's some interesting characters (of which including the supporting roles- like the memorable performance by Eve Arden, who gives the films humor a biting edge) and wonderful set designs. Cover Girl is a magical and glorious production that represents a true beauty in musicals: enjoyable escapism entertainment. In 1944, Cover Girl was considered innovative and ahead of it's time. It also uses it's musical numbers as part of the narrative. But the force of the film comes from the incomparable Rita Hayworth, who easily ranks among the greatest actresses of all-time. Not only and absolutely gorgeous "Love Goddess", Hayworth was an exceptional performer (and dancer!). She completely lights the screen with each and every moment. Cover Girl is definitely an intelligent and elegantly produced musical that remains a must see for both fans of the genre or of Hayworth.


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