Rick’s Journal – MY FILM CAREER
There are movies we somehow always miss, for whatever or varied reasons. As a moviegoer, you know what I mean, I’m sure. It is always a satisfying feeling to place a check mark against one of these on that list of the unseen, even when the at-long-last viewing has been a disappointment. My latest AT LONG LAST is Raintree County from 1957, directed by Edward Dmytryk the Uneven (But Interesting).
I can’t imagine what Maltin AND Halliwell mean by describing it as MGM’s attempt to out-do Gone with the Wind. There is little to relate the two films except for the Civil War as background for some of the years covered by each. An interesting novel (by Ross Lockridge, Jr.), has been simplified and makes for an overlong and dull movie. Gone with the Wind‘s four hours, with not a dull moment, could not even cover all that novel’s narrative. And Raintree County‘s plot hinges on miscegenation which never rears its head in novel or film of The Wind. There is no comparison between the two as to quality.
Elizabeth Taylor is very good in the first part of Raintree County, though her Southern accent distractingly comes and goes. As the story progresses, though, and details her plantation past and her growing madness, she is less consistent in characterization and generally lacking in depth.
Did Montgomery Clift’s automobile accident and subsequent surgery result in an unusually long shooting schedule for the film? He at least in not inconsistent, and this may be his best performance. Clift was always a self-conscious actor. (Our university theater director: There’s nothing wrong with being self-conscious, unless you’re an actor. If you’re self-conscious, go to your room and close the door and be self-conscious as much as you like. But don’t get in front of a camera.) But here Clift creates a character, and there are none of those falsely modest watch-my-great-method-acting mannerisms.
An ambitious supporting cast is largely wasted. But Eva Marie Saint as the torch-carrying childhood sweetheart is excellent. Lee Marvin is glorious fun. And a different Tom Drake is very good in his small part. Nigel Patrick is perfectly cast, and his character may be the best written in the script. Though not much happens that changes him, his consistency is thorough, and enjoyable.
THE MISSING MAN
Life‘s just published “Gone With the Wind, the great American movie 75 years later,” available on newsstands, is a good job. It boasts an introduction by knowledgeable Molly Haskell (author of Why We Still Give a Damn) and offers some photographs that even this GWTW-er has never seen, even some of Vivien Leigh new to me.
The concluding section, “Life After Tara,” which treats Vivien Leigh in a manner I like and approve, also capsules the post-GWTW careers of Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland and Hattie McDaniel. I wish the text had not ignored LESLIE HOWARD. While the little time remaining to him allowed but few films (as actor, director and producer), an acknowledgment of his World War ll death would have been appropriate — and appreciated.
Turner Classic Movies regularly shows some of Howard’s best perfornances. If you don’t know them, you should: It’s Love I’m After, Intermezzo, Pygmalion and The 49th Parallel. TCM does not show Stand-In often, but it is in their collection — a shrewdly funny movie about making movies. Watch for it. Howard and Bogart naturally play well together, admirably aided and abetted by Joan Blondell who, in one scene, does a splendid send-up of Shirley Temple (in 1937!).
ARE YOU IN NORTHEAST OHIO? — Tonight at the Lincoln Theatre in downtown Massillon, Ohio Kurtiss Hare is showing, as part of his ReelMassillon series, Force Majeure, Sweden’s submission for this year’s best foreign language film Academy Award. At 7:00 P.M.
NEXT FRIDAY POST December 5. See you then, I hope.
See you at the movies,