Tag Archives: stars

70 Years of Cinema-1939: Dark Victory

10 Jul


DARK VICTORY (Not rated-probably G equivalent) 104 min. Directed by: Edmund Goulding. Written by: Casey Robinson from the play by George Emerson Brewer Jr. Starring: Bette Davis, George Brent, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Humphrey Bogart, Ronald Reagan. Cinematography:  Ernest Haller. Original Music by:  Max Steiner, Howard Jackson.


“I think I’ll have a large order of prognosis negative”–Judith Traherne.

cinemagrade bBette Davis was on quite a roll by the time 1939 came around. She had already been nominated thrice for the Best Actress Oscar and had won it twice. When she landed the role of Judith Traherne in Dark Victory, it would be her 39th screen appearance and  fourth Oscar nomination. And what an appearance it is. Surrounded by the likes of Humphrey Bogart, George Brent and Ronald Reagan, Davis shines like a big, bright, creepy-eyed beacon in the middle of a vast sea of melodrama. Dark Victory is the kind of movie that needs her charms the most; She flits from place to place as a high-minded socialite and then later as a woman on her death bed, she channels all her emotional energies. Her malignant brain tumor conveniently lets her keep her looks and health, but takes her eyesight.  Towards the end of the film Davis blindly gropes her way around her home, eerily echoing Christ’s Stations of the Cross as she faces the great beyond with serenity and dignity. Goodness, how did they manage to write this stuff without snickering? Less cynical times, I guess. But, hey, you want to know the truth? It worked for me! And I give Bette Davis complete credit for that little miracle. Continue reading

Movie Review: Biel, Firth and Thomas make ‘Virtue’ easy to like

8 Jun


Easy Virtue (2009) PG-13. 93 min. Directed by: Stephan Elliot. Written by: Stephan Elliot and Sheridan Jobbins. Starring: Colin Firth, Kristen Scott Thomas, Jessica Biel, Ben Barnes. Cinematography:Martin Kenzie. Original music by: Marius Devries.

cinemagrade b

Stephan Elliot’s adaptation of Noel Coward’s  Easy Virtue is the epitome of summer art-house; light, frothy, frequently bombastic and as enduring as a popsicle in August. And for most of its running time it’s a perfectly refreshing bit of blockbuster counter-programming. Elliot, the director of the quirky Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (and not much else really) takes all the best satirical bits from Coward’s 1924 play and adds a few new wrinkles to update the plot. He also manages to nab an eclectic cast that include pros like Kristen Scott Thomas and Colin Firth (not slumming it for a change) and the luminous Jessica Biel, who while slightly miscast, shows acting chops not previously seen. With the help of  cinematographer Martin Kenzie, who captures the idylls of posh British manor life in bright, lush details, Elliot crafts a fast-moving, witty comedy that maximizes its cast but ends up minimizing the strength of Coward’s observations by dilluting the tale’s substantial edge. Continue reading

David Carradine has died…Updated with link

4 Jun


June 4th,2009-

Actor David Carradine, 72, of Kung-Fu and Kill Bill fame, died Wednesday night in a hotel room in Bangkok (he was there to film a movie). It was earlier reported that he commited suicide, while his manager Chuck Binder went on record to say he believed the death was of natural causes. Now Carradine’s rep has come forward and it appears the death was accidental. Seeing how he was naked in a closet in Thailand with a cord around his neck and, as the news reports have said, “other parts of his body” I’ll just leave you with this link to IMDB that clarifies the matter. Definitely an odder story now than it was this morning.

This is sad, sad news. Being a fan of the original Kung-Fu series from the 70s and having enjoyed Carradine’s work in Kill Bill (it was one of the few times an actor really humanized Tarantino’s pop dialogue) I was always waiting to see him spring forward again with something of worth. This is very unfortunate to hear and my prayers are with his family.