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A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

Three VERY different women (who happen to be in same social circle in a small town near NYC) get a letter from another, Addie Ross, stating that she has run off w/ ONE of their hubbies.  Then we get closer glimpses into their respective relationships w/ their men. 

Deborah (Jeanne Crain) is the newbie in town, having married her guy (“nice and has money”) while they both served in the navy.  Leaving that old life and uniform (“the great equalizer”) behind, the former farm girl feels insecure in the upper-middle class, country clubby community.  Rita (Ann Sothern) is a confidant working mother (radio show writer) who’s married to proud schoolteacher George (Kirk Douglas).  Working -class Lora Mae (Linda Darnell) married up when she wed her older boss.   They bicker and insult each other constantly, though their pals are used to it.    

I esp. enjoyed seeing Douglas is a lighter role; this was BEFORE he become a headliner.  His character was VERY smart, principled, and fun to watch.  Darnell was also VERY good as a woman who protects herself by being TOO much of a realist and plain talker. 

 

Life in Flight (2008)

Will (Patrick Wilson) seems to have the perfect life: large brownstone, socially poised wife, cute young son, and a great job (architect).  But he’s NOT happy w/ they way his life has been going lately; he’s under pressure to sign a contract w/ a huge contruction firm that he’s been dealing w/ for 2 yrs.  His wife Catherine (Amy Smart) is eager for them to make more money and take an expensive vacation w/ her well-heeled pals.  

Then Will meets Kate (Lynn Collins), a free-spirited urban designer at a mutual friend’s party; they seem to have instant chemistry.  Will doesn’t mention that he’s married; he chooses NOT to wear a ring.  He looks over Kate’s designs and is impressed.  But Kate may get an offer from an LA design firm soon.    

I liked Collins character b/c she was good at portraying a sensitive young woman who’s at a crossroads in life, uncertain of what step to take next.  However, this film is a BIT slow and NOT as well-developed as I thought it would be.  Smart’s character is pretty one-dimensional.  The acting could’ve been stronger, though the minor players did fine IMO.  The themes are current.  I loved seeing NYC, of course!

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Cairo Time (2009)

This little gem of an indie film (written/directed by a 2nd gen Arab-Canadian woman, Ruba Nadda) reminded me of old Hollywood romances though it’s set in busy, modern-day Egypt.  If you like thoughtful, slow-paced, character-driven stories, you’ll enjoy it.  The cinematography and lighting alone will WOW you!       

Juliette Grant (Patricia Clarkson), an American magazine editor from NYC, travels to Cairo for the first time, expecting to spend some time w/ her hubby, who runs a UNHCR camp in Gaza.  At the airport, she’s greeted by the former head of her hubby’s protection detail, Tareq Khalifa (Alexander Siddig).  Now retired from his job, Tareq runs a tea shop/spends time w/ pals.  After a few days of jet lag and hanging around the hotel, Juliette decides to venture out and experience the city.  Tareq will be her guide on this journey. 

Juliette, w/ her serene and observant ways, seeks to adapt herself to the ways of Cairo.  (She’s not content to sit about complianing w/ the typical diplomat wives.)  With the gentlemanly Tareq, Juliette sees and begins to understand the real city, full of beauty, history, and contradictions.  They learn about each other, too.

Yes, that is Dr. Bashir from Star Trek: Deep Space 9.  (Sid impressed the producers SO much that had he been a bit older, he would’ve been cast as the captain!)  It is SO refreshing to see a Muslim-background character portrayed as a sweet, thoughtful, and all-around normal guy.  Check out Syriana if you haven’t seen it yet, b/c he has a meaty role there.      

Related Links:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0896529/

http://www.cairotime.ca/

Stage Door (1937)

This film has it ALL- witty repartee, energy, humor, and pathos. You’ll see several lovely/talented actresses in their youth, before they became household names.  Though it was made in the ’30s, it will resonate w/ a modern audience, esp. if you are a singleton trying to further your career in a creative field.  Debutante Terry Randall (Katherine Hepburn) goes to live in a crowded, noisy boarding house (The Footlights Club) near the bright lights of Broadway.  Like the other young women there, she’s determined to become an actress.  Her roommate is Jean (Ginger Rogers), an argumentative and sarcastic blond whose specialty is tap dancing.  She’s like Meg Ryan, but more subtle in her acting style.  They DO NOT hit it off, as they are both outspoken.

Terry: I see that, in addition to your other charms, you have that insolence generated by an inferior upbringing.
Jean: Hmm! Fancy clothes, fancy language and everything!
Terry: Unfortunately, I learned to speak English correctly.
Jean: That won’t be of much use to you here. We all talk pig latin.

Another gal at the house is Judy (Lucille Ball), who dates often b/c she hates to eat the lousy dinners prepared at the house.  LOL!  Sometimes she double-dates…    

Judy: Do you want a date?
Jean: To some other lumberman?
Judy: Am I supposed to apologize for being born in Seattle?
Jean: Well, the last couple we went stepping with were made of lumber. Especially their feet.
Judy: All right, all right, you can stay here and gorge yourself on lamb stew again.

The morally upright Jean constantly makes fun of snobby/elegant  actress Linda (Gail Patrick) b/c she has chosen to have a relationship w/ older/influential talent manager, Anthony Powell (Adolphe Menjou).  Linda gets picked up in a car, eats at the best restaurants, and wears furs and jewels given to her by Mr. Powell.  She knows she won’t get ingenue roles at her age.  

Linda: If you were a little more considerate of your elders, maybe Mr. Powell would send his car for you someday. Of course, he would probably take one look at you and send you right back again, but then you have to expect that.
Jean: Is that so?
Linda: Do you know, I think I could fix you up with Mr. Powell’s chauffeur. The chauffeur has a very nice car too.
Jean: Yes, but I understand Mr. Powell’s chauffeur doesn’t go as far in his car as Mr. Powell does.
Linda: Even a chauffer has to have an incentive!
Jean: Well, you should know!

Most of the gals look up to Kay (Andrea Leeds- Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner), a sensitive/serious actress who got rave reviews last year in a fine play. But now, Kay is nearly wasting away from the disappointments that come w/ being unemployed.  She hopes w/ all her heart to get the lead role in Enchanted April.  (Leeds looks VERY much like Olivia de Havilland, the actress chosen to play Melanie over her in Gone with the Wind.)

Just getting any job, even dancing at a supper club, is exciting for the girls, who DO NOT come from money like Terry.  Their choices are to go home and get married or tough it out in the city.  They have to develop a thick skin, something that Kay lacks.

Terry’s fearless, no-nonsense attitude and sense of entitlement MAY get her far…