This dramatic, witty, and very memorable film is based on the Oscar Wilde novel of the same title. It’s a must-see for fans of intelligent cinema! In the opening, we meet the talkative, confidant, well-dressed Lord Henry Wooton (George Sanders), a character not unlike Wilde. Lord Henry visits the home of his close friend Basil Hallward (Lowell Gilmore), a painter. Basil is nearly finished with the portrait of a new, handsome young friend, Dorian Gray (Hurd Hatfield). Basil tells Lord Henry that everyone who meets Dorian adores him, including the painter’s little niece, Gladys.
Lord Henry admires the picture and the young man, declaring “youth and beauty are the most important things in life.” He also comments that it’s a shame that his portrait will look the same, but Dorian will grow old with age. Dorian is strongly affected by Lord Henry’s words; fear, disappointment, and panic flash across his face. Dorian silently wishes that he’d stay the same, but the painting would change. Somehow, his wish comes true!
There are crucial moments in the film where it switches from black and white to color.
A very pretty young Angela Lansbury (age 19 or 20) has a crucial role in the movie.
Another beauty here- the grown-up Gladys (Donna Reed).
This film is considered to be one of Humphrey Bogart’s finest by many critics. He is very engaging as a passionate, dark, anti-hero with a checkered past. As always, Bogie becomes the character, making acting look effortless. (“He’s so interesting, isn’t he?” my dad commented after a particularly intense scene.)
Bogart plays middle-aged, famous, and jaded LA screenwriter, Dixon Steele. He’s a man who likes drinking, fighting, and speaking whatever is on his mind. One night, he is approached by Mildred Atkinson, a pretty young coat check girl. She gushes about the movies he’s written, and wants to know more about famous people. Steele grudgingly takes her home to talk more (she kept insisting), but grows weary of her praise, naivete, and chattiness. Politely, he sends the girl on her way, saying he’s had a very long day.
The next morning, one of his friendly local cops comes to his apartment. We learn that the coat check girl was murdered just a few blocks from Steele’s home. He is their number one suspect, and has a history of getting rough with people (indcluding an ex-girlfriend).
But his new neighbor, an aspiring actress named Laurel Grey (Gloria Grahame), says she saw him at his door after the girl left. Laurel boldly comments (in front of some detectives, including Steele’s friend Captain Lochner) that she finds Steele’s face “interesting.” They quickly become a couple.
The writer and actress are a swell pair for a few weeks. He gets a burst of creativity; she takes care of his home/meals/friends. But Steele seems to have “a strange fascination with death,” as Captain Lochner’s wife comments after a dinner party. (The scripts he writes include creative ways to murder people, we learn.) Eventually, Laurel starts to get suspicious because of Steele’s sudden mood swings and bursts of violence. Could Steele have killed Mildred? And even if he’s not a murderer, should Laurel stay with such an unpredictable man?
This is one of the MOST beautifully lighted movies I’ve ever seen! It also has an unusual, engaging, and (unapologetically) romantic storyline. If you liked The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, you should check out Portrait of Jennie. Eben Adams (Joseph Cotton) is a struggling artist in NYC, hoping and waiting for a spark of inspiration. He paints for a living, earns some money, BUT wants to create a great piece.
One day in Central Park, Eben meets an unusually pretty, cheerful young girl named Jennie Appleton (Jennifer Jones). They chat as she skates across the pond. Eben is captivated by Jennie’s face, and wants to paint her portrait. But Jennie has to leave.
Eben tells his friends, art dealer, and gallery owner (played by Ethel Barrymore) about Jennie; she has become his inspiration. He looks for her in the park for several days. When he sees Jennie again, she has grown a bit older! How can that be? Eben asks to meet her parents, so he can get permission to paint her. Jennie says that her parents died in a high-wire accident. She doesn’t give her address. Eben does some research to find out more about this mysterious girl.
The third time Jennie appears, she’s in Eben’s studio. She’s a full-grown woman, ready to attend convent school (college). Eben, overjoyed and in love, can finally work on her portrait.
Before the portrait is finished, Jennie has to go away again. She’s gone for some time, and Eben despairs of ever seeing her again. He waits by a park bench as night. When she does come again, Jennie (a sophomore in college) admits that she’s in love with Eben. They walk through the streets of NYC all night, talking and wishing they could stay together for longer.
This film has an aura of mystery, suspense, and sweetness. Is Jennie a ghost? And is there any way for these lovers to be together?
This is another film I’ve wanted to see for a while! You’ll see a natural/young Mel before he became a celeb w/ extreme opinions. Guy Hamilton (Mel Gibson) is an Australian/American foreign correspondant assigned to cover political unrest in Indonesia under Sukarno in the mid-60s. (The film was shot in the Philipinnes.) Guy meets a small group of reporters from Western nations (all w/ varying ideas about Indonesia), as well as a very intelligent Australian/Chinese photographer, Billy Kwan (Linda Hunt). Billy, who is a little person, takes a keen interest in Guy. He shows the newbie around Jakarta and helps him get interviews (including one w/ the leader of the Communists). Billy also serves as narrator for most of the film, and is the most interesting character in the story. He knows Indonesia (jungles, slums, embassies, etc.), cares deeply about its common people (who face terrible poverty), and has connexs all over. Some wonder is he’s a spy.
Billy introduces Guy to one of his closest friends- a beautiful/tough-minded Englishwoman who works at the British Embassy, Jill Bryant (Sigourney Weaver). Billy slyly finds a way to bring Jill and Guy together, thinking they’d be good for each other. (Mel and Sigourney have GREAT chemistry onscreen.) Just as their romance gets going, all hell breaks loose! Will Guy keep chasing the story OR run away w/ the woman he loves?
The title The Year of Living Dangerously is a quote which refers to a famous Italian phrase used by Sukarno: vivere pericoloso, meaning “living dangerously.” -Wikipedia
Mel described his character Guy, saying, “He’s not a silver-tongued devil. He’s kind of immature and he has some rough edges and I guess you could say the same for me.” -Wikipedia
When I first started out there were very few tall actors… Mel Gibson got on a box, never had a problem. He was just as sweet as can be. He was just so secure about my height. He just thought it was a lark, he thought it was funny. –Sigourney Weaver
My little sister watches this show, so I decided to check it out. (She’s usually in the know about what’s cool.) Another reason to see Mad Men is Elisabeth Moss (known to many as President Bartlett’s youngest daughter, Zoe, on The West Wing). Elisabeth’s character, Peggy Olson, starts out as a cheerful/eager/naive secretary at the start of Season 1. Like the viewer, she doesn’t know what to expect from Sterling Cooper (the ad agency that is the main setting of the show).
Women esp. will empathize w/ Peggy, a young woman who experiences workplace harassment (it’s the early ’60s after all), romantic disappointment, and disillusionment on her way to becoming a copywriter (in Season 2). She brings to mind the compromises, trials, and sacrifices faced by early feminists, though Peggy NEVER calls herself a feminist. Peggy works hard and wins the trust/confidence/respect of boss, Don Draper (Jon Hamm).
After Peggy, my fave character is Roger Sterling (played by TV/theater veteran John Slattery). Roger, a partner in the firm, is an “old-school” guy- charming, confident, and a heavy drinker (w/o any guilt, he comments). He usually has a twinkle in his eye, enjoying work and life to the fullest. I particularly enjoyed the few eps where Roger was worried about aging.
Though many people have commented on Don’s hot & heavy romance w/ Midge, I thought the storyline w/ him and Rachel was MORE interesting. She is a successful/single/lonely businesswoman who is a client of Sterling Cooper (in Season 1). Don doesn’t want to work w/ her at first, but soon becomes intrigued by her perserverence. Though Rachel is wealthy, she is an “outsider” b/c of her Jewish heritage. Don falls deeply in love w/ her, and tells her secrets about his life. (Unfortunately, I didn’t see this ep!) He’s (visibly) shocked when he sees Rachel w/ her new hubby (Season 2).
I watched a FEW interviews w/ Jon Hamm; he comes across as a VERY polite/sweet/unassuming actor. He said he wears glasses and prefers his hair longer than Don’s in real life. I watched Jon (a few yrs ago) as a sensitive detective on the Lifetime drama, The Division. After a LONG struggle in Hollywood, this actor has made it BIG!
Hamm “has this wonderful sadness and lost quality in his eyes,” said director Alan Taylor. “It’s a rare quality for a strapping leading man.” Leave your political correctness at the door, and tune in for Season 3 of Mad Men on SUN night!