Monday, June 4, 2007

June 4th Log

1932, Wesley Ruggles, United States
Repeat Viewing, DVD

Today, No Man of Her Own can be seen as a landmark film as it stands the only on-screen collaboration famous married couple Carole Lombard and Clark Gable ever made together. Of course at the time the film was made, Lombard and Gable were not romantically linked (that would not come until they met each other again several years later). Though the pairing is strictly business here, their on-screen chemistry is wonderful. Together they sparkle in this romantic comedy/drama about card cheat who avoids a police detective by leaving hiding out, where he meets a librarian he ends up marrying on a flip of a coin. The dialogue is sharp and the film has sexy pre-code touch that makes it appealing. Above all this film is all about its star chemistry and Lombard and Gable deliver. The fact that they later became one of the most famous Hollywood married couples only makes this film more of a treasure to cherish. For me, its all about Lombard, who I absolutely adore. No Man of Her Own was early in her stardom but she is an absolute joy to watch here, as it captures both her excellent comedic timing, and her sexy and classy sophistication. I love the way the film ends: a fade out in the middle of Gable lying to his wife about his trip, while she (aware of his lies) just looks at him with a loving smile. No Man of Her Own is indeed a delightful little film.

1949, Raoul Walsh, United States
Repeat Viewing, DVD

This month I plan of watching and rewatching the films of Raoul Walsh. I started things off with on his most memorable classics: White Heat. The gangster film faded from American cinema after the1930s, but Raoul Walsh (the director of perhaps the last great gangster film of the 30s, The Roaring Twenties) unforgettably resurrected the genre with the 1949 release of White Heat. Walsh reunites with The Roaring Twenties star, James Cagney, a rare and incomparable icon actor who defined the gangster era. Cagney was a versatile actor (who excelled in musicals), but it is his roles as a gangster that are most quintessential. Here Cagney (as Cody Jarrett) is presented as a brutal, psychotic killer who trusts no one (except his mother) and would kill without thought. However, through Cagney's energetic performance and Walsh's graceful filmmaking, there is a sympathetic aspect to Cody, and the audience is engaged and understanding with him. Also, though it's Cagney's film all the way Virginia Mayo as Cody's selfish and sleazy girlfriend, and Edmond O'Brien as the undercover cop who gets Cody to trust him, each give terrific supporting performances. Walsh's crafty and gripping directing builds both visual atmosphere and emotional tension as we see both the criminals and police point of view. The ending is brilliant as Cody's uncontrollable rage results in his doomed demise as his world (literally) explodes just as he shouts the eerie and ultimately classic line ("Top of the world, ma!"). White Heat belongs mention amongst the finest film of the genre. It's a film that holds it's own unforgettable place in American film history.


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