Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Written On The Wind/Scarlet Empress/O Brother, Where Art Thou?/Queen Kelly

Have done some old movie-watching lately. Came across a few good ones.

Have to mention some of my favourite scenes.

Written on the Wind / Rock Hudson, Lauren Bacall / Douglas Sirk
Trashy, and strongly conservative 50's melodrama, with fab colour photography.
Trampy rich girl Dorothy Malone breaks her daddy's heart by picking up strange men at gas stations, then does a wild mambo in her room oblivious to her father having a heart-attack on the dramatically steep staircase outside her door.

The Scarlet Empress / Marlene Dietrich / Josef von Sternberg
1930's flick.
Marlene sleeps with half the men in Moscow, while still being a more virtuous character than most of the people in the film. There are parts of the film which are intended to show that the filmmakers in Hollywood weren't officially approving of this kind of floozy behaviour. But the story sends the opposite message. Marlene learns the games of Moscow better than anyone else. She gives up on love and uses sex for pleasure and power, finally being made queen in the triumphant finish.
Also like the rather rude scene where Marlene first turns up at the Imperial court and is checked by a doctor to make sure she is fit for marrying into royalty. So while Marlene is being interviewed by the queen, the doctor disappears up under her dress and rummages around. When he's done, he pops his head out and advises the queen that all is as it should be. The punchline comes when Marlene reaches up under her dress, ruffles around a bit, pulls out the doctor's wig and hands it back to him.

O Brother, Where Art Thou? / George Clooney / Joel Coen
Not an old movie, but a good one, and I had to mention that I love the musical Ku Klux Klan scene.

Queen Kelly / Gloria Swanson / Erich von Stroheim
Young orphan girl Gloria is walking along one day when her knickers fall down. Somehow she doesn't notice this happening. A nobleman riding past is amused by this. When Gloria works out what has happened, she decides that she doesn't appreciate being laughed at. To teach the fellow a lesson she throws her knickers in his face!
This film was never finished, due to Erich Von Stroheim going over-budget. So there are different versions. The film I saw had Gloria jumping to her death in a river. The grieving nobleman uses a sword to kill himself. But on amazon.com, it says the american version has Gloria going off to Africa to work in a brothel!