Thursday, May 27, 2010

Movies Unlimited & Me?

Please pardon my blushing, but I thought that I ought to mention that I had the honor of being chosen as a guest blogger for Movies Unlimited new Movies Fanfare section of their website this week.
They asked to feature a piece I wrote on director Douglas Sirk's highly entertaining Lured (1947) some time ago and posted it alongside several other very well written guest bloggers assessments of other classic movies on their site here.

This droll film, blending suspense, romance, and comedy is also available on DVD and has appeared on TCM from time to time in the past. The comic element in this movie, which was made independently by Hunt Stromberg Productions, is unexpectedly not courtesy of Lucille Ball, (who never looked more exquisite on film), but of Boris Karloff, having a fine sinister romp as a mentally unbalanced dress designer!

Btw, an additional attraction in this movie is that Sirk gave one of my favorite actors, George Sanders, an opportunity to play the hero instead of the heel, which he does with his customary aplomb, revealing as well a playfulness that was uniquely his own. Sirk and Sanders also teamed up effectively in Summer Storm (1944) and A Scandal in Paris (1946), both of which are slated to be reviewed soon on this blog.

Below you can see a clip of the stylish opening sequence of Lured (1947)...cue the fog machine...this is London...

The cast of Lured (1947) also includes Sir Cedric Hardwicke in one of his fascinating turns as a respectable man whose sense of right and wrong takes some surprising twists, (think of a modern day "Frollo" to Laughton's The Hunchback of Notre Dame) . After seeing this film for the first time a few year's ago and having the depth and breadth of Hardwicke's talent pointed out to me by a friend (Miss Goddess, you dickens!), I was compelled to write the following memo to her:

Office of Dr. Hackenbush, D.O., DVM, PhD., QED
One Vicious Circle
Isle of Skye, Cyberspace, NY

Dear Miss Goddess,
I am writing this missive to you to ask that you please pay a Ms. Moira Finnie's physical therapy bill in the immediate future, since, thanks to the opening of the floodgates on her memories of and curiosity about one Sir Cedric Hardwicke, she has taken both volumes of his autobiography, "A Victorian in Orbit" and "Let's Pretend; Recollections and Reflections of a Lucky Actor" out of her local library. Her unalloyed enjoyment of these wittily written tomes has led to her carrying both volumes with her at all times in a voluminous bag, (along with other "vitals" such as her dayrunner, water bottles, 28 pens--only two of which actually work--a comb, a few linty breath mints, more keys than a janitor at Bellevue, and an unfortunately slim wallet).

Ms. Finnie claims that toting these books along with everything else will allow her to read Mr. Hardwicke's distinctly Shavian reminiscences and observations whenever she is standing in line at the grocery store, sitting in traffic, goofing off at work, waiting for clothes to dry in the drier, and catching a breath of fresh air. Consequently, this formerly hale and hearty woman has a distinct stoop of her right shoulder, which she also claims aches whenever she stops carrying that now weighty bag around. We are also considering having a psych consult due to the number of people who've reported seeing this "alleged madwoman" (their words, not mine), laughing uproariously in grocery stores and traffic jams. It is our considered opinion that you, Miss Goddess, are actually responsible for this turn of events, since you began her slide into infirmity and possible unstoppable mirth by piquing the interest of this formerly serious, capable worker bee in such trivialities.

Therefore, please remit payment for 12 sessions of physical therapy to my account forthwith, along with a sum to cover the psych consult.
Yours very truly,
Dr. Hugo Z. Hackenbush

P.S. Ms. Finnie is also suffering from the possibly delusional conviction that these 2 volumes of Hardwicke's autobiography are actually the same bio, with some updates added to the 1960 version with the snappier, space age title, "A Victorian in Orbit."
If you can stand one more "must-read" book for this summer, you might enjoy Hardwicke's autobiographies too. Affordable used copies can readily be found on the internet, since my eagerness to read these memoirs led me to some horrendous library fines! I recommend Hardwicke's humor and perceptive insights to anyone seeking a respite from this less articulate but over-informed globe spinning off kilter. His was another, seemingly more civilized age.
Uh-oh, now I'm in real hot water. Unfortunately, I have just discovered some new Hardwicke artifact and am now on a second crusade to unearth a record album made by Sir Cedric (who had a lot of alimony to pay) in the 1950s or early 1960s. It is called "Co-Star: The Record Acting Game" and promises me that I (who, me?) can now play a scene opposite the thespian from MacBeth, A School for Scandal and something called Death Is Called Sam (Hey, could that be what Mr. Brink of On Borrowed Time fame is called at home?). Apparently there are copies of this tantalizing sounding record around on the internet, though I suspect they may prove pricey.


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