Archive for the ‘Orson Welles’ Category

LadyFromShanghaiThis is the weekend of duplicitous, murderous women: The Lady from Shanghai with Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth and The Man Who Cheated Himself with Lee J. Cobb and Jane Wyatt.

The Lady from Shanghai was a great noir movie with a totally ‘noir’ ending, although it didn’t have that dark, mysterious locale. The murder plotting takes some unpredictable turns. As in Gilda, Rita Hayworth is manipulative, alluring and wonderful. Orson Welles has changed his persona yet again from Touch of Evil and The Third Man. Now he’s seaman Michael ‘Black Irish’ O’Hara, with appropriate Irish brogue, who takes a job aboard Hayworth’s and her crippled husband’s yacht. In Touch of Evil, he was the bloated, misguided sheriff in a U.S./Mexico border town. In The Third Man he was the suave, confident black marketeer in Europe. I find it so hard to reconcile these Orson Welles images with the cigar smoking man who appeared on TV talk shows back in the day. Although I’m sure the other actors in The Lady from Shanghai were well known in their day, they were unknown to me, but they were cast superbly. This is a movie to watch.

I also liked The Man Who Cheated Himself with Lee J. Cobb and Jane Wyatt. It was a totally different kind of movie. TheManWhoCheatedHimselfI thought they were both well cast, Cobb as the Detective in love with socialite Wyatt who ‘mistakenly?’ shoots her estranged husband and has Cobb clean up the mess. According to the blog Film Noir of the Week, however, Wyatt was not considered up to femme fatale standards, “Completely miscast as the object of Ed’s (Cobbs’) desire is Jane Wyatt. No perfect housewife Margaret Anderson is Ms Wyatt in her role as the femme fatale, Lois Frazer. Her performance can politely be called “over the top.” Some have referred to her performance as the worst ever by a femme fatale.” Personally, I thought she did a pretty decent job.

Suffice it to say, I’m in total agreement with Dani Callanzano of Dani Noir…the only real femme fatale so far is Rita Hayworth, in both Gilda and Lady from Shanghai. (However, please note that I do have 11 more movies to go, including Gene Tierney in Laura. She may give Rita Hayworth a run for her money.)

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TouchOfEvilThe good news and the bad news on these movies? Bad news first. I’m sorry but Touch of Evil, as a movie, was a clunker. However….there were a bunch of good things about it. Firstly, a young and very pretty Janet Leigh. Then there’s Charlton Heston. The makeup on Orson Welles to make his character look as evil on the outside as he was on the inside. Dennis Weaver playing a deranged motel night manager. Cameo appearances by none other than Zsa Zsa Gabor and Marlene Dietrich (not one of my personal favorites, but a lot of people like her). And finally, Ray Collins, who’ll always be known to me as Lt. Tragg on the Perry Mason series.

The good news? The Third Man was the polar opposite of Touch of Evil.  A marvelous, suspenseful movie.ThirdMan Compare the two Orsons. What a difference. One disgusting. One so suave. And finally, Joseph Cotton. Would you think less of me if I said I had a thing for Joseph Cotton. I just like him, the way he looks, the way he acts, ThirdMan2the characters he plays. I just love his movies. The Magnificant Ambersons? What a great movie. But I digress. He and his female co-star, Alida Valli, had a chemistry.

There were no femme fatales, per se, in these movies. Remember, I got the names from the book Dani Noir, in which she envisioned femme fatales and noir movies. While both were definitely noir movies, if I had to pick one, I’d pick The Third Man.

Next on the list: Lady from Shanghai.



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