Flipping the Tables

I had the opportunity to write for a website I really enjoy called Cinema Shame. If you are a cinephile as I am, I think you’ll love the podcasts there especially, delightful romps through films that are very popular but which the writer’s had not seen before.
Here is mine, after watching Raging Bull for the first time.

Cinema Shame


The movies I watch most frequently, roughly 80%, are subtle, full of dark images, deep thoughts, and painted with smoke, mirrors, and chiaroscuro. The movies I tend to walk around, to avoid, even when given four-star reviews, are bloody, action flicks, brutal and gruesome, cruel and angry. My best friend might argue with you, that is exactly what I watch, a mixture of the usual top-ten noir films we’ve all seen with Bogart and Mitchum and their splendid ilk. But I also watch a lot of 1940’s crime films with twisted femme fatales, and a mixture of characters with seemingly no conscience and no regrets. I suppose there is a discrepancy there but we all have our limits and I never did well with brutal, unless it was painted up pretty and put in stockings and a ball gown.

Enter Raging Bull, the top daddy on many critics’ lists, including…

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Tantalizing Tuesday: Jean Arthur

Jean Arthur

I fell in love with Jean Arthur for the first time in Mr Smith Goes to Washington. She guided Jimmy Stewart as a Junior Senator who stumbled over some corruption during his first time in Washington. I could go on an on about the film itself–its great casting, the marvelous filming around Washington, D.C., as well as the involvement of the child-actors who really made the film special. But we’re talking about Jean Arthur today. Let’s take a peek–and a listen–

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Tantalizing Tuesday: Noël Coward, part 2


Last Tuesday we began looking into the life of Nöel Coward. He was born Nöel Peirce Coward in 1899 in Middlesex, England. His body of work is enormous. He was a playwright, composer, poet, painter, he wrote short stories, he sang, and he acted.

What piqued my interest when I first started watching Coward’s plays and films was the depth of human experience and interaction. There is much within a small space. He would give us a one act play, perhaps 30 minutes long, and manage to punch into it such depth of feeling that one would have expected from a longer piece. For example, in the play and subsequent film,The Astonished Heart, that we discussed in part 1, we follow the characters along a relatively normal scenario. Surely the setting of marriage and cheating on one’s spouse is not new, especially in Film Noir. But just when you are relaxing into this simple story that you have heard before, pow! He lays something devastating upon you, in a quick twist of plot. I am fascinated by this sort of writing. I have dabbled in it myself but not anywhere near what Coward accomplished.

Since poetry is my favourite medium, I was delighted to discover that he also wrote poems. Here is a poem he wrote called “Nothing is Lost”, from his volume entitled Noel Coward Collected Verse :

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten years
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.
-Noël Coward

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Tantalizing Tuesday: Noël Coward

Noël Coward. Always with the eyes, and that little raise of one eyebrow. He had such an expressive face. Today let’s give the boys their due in this Tantalizing Tuesday with a man that I only knew of as a playwright , then found out he was so much more. I would give my left ti…..big toe for an ounce of his talent.

Reviews are mixed about his singing voice, but no one can argue about his songwriting abilities. This song is still being covered over 80 years later.

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Alex Forrest – villain, or just misunderstood?


It was supposed to be a one-night stand. A dalliance, that by some is viewed as harmless. Harmless to any long-lasting problems, harmless to the marriage in general. An adventure. A door that opens and closes, almost upon itself. Then again, some doors should not be opened because they cannot be closed again. This was 1987. The AIDS crisis gave us plenty to be concerned about. But I am getting ahead of myself in the story.

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Tantalizing Tuesday: Lizabeth Scott


“Don’t ever change, Tiger. I don’t think I’d like you with a heart.”
-Danny, in Too Late for Tears

In an interview in 1996 Lizabeth Scott said that the film noir roles that she played, often the good girls gone bad, were not written for her, that it was serendipity, due to the popularity of noir at the time. She said, “I fell in love with the lens, and the lens fell in love with me.”

You came along.jpg
Elizabeth Scott, in her first film, You Came Along

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Tantalizing Tuesday: Anne Baxter


Were her characters femme fatales or sociopaths? Were they driven to be devious and contriving or evil manipulators who did not know what they were doing? Who could take a perfectly happy home- loving and creative, hospitable and caring – and turn it upside-down in a matter of months? This lady, that’s who. Here, as Evelyn in Guest of the House she convinces her new husband Dan to go away for awhile so that she can get some quality time with her new brother-in-law.

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Tantalizing Tuesday: Veronica Lake

Veronica lake

Our femme fatale for the week is Veronica Lake. I saw her in Sullivan’s Travels when I was a teenager. I was mesmerized by the way she used her eyes and a characteristic flip of hair that hung over one eye. She had that look. What look? The look to which describing does not do justice.

Here she meets Joel McCrea in Sullivan’s Travels. This banter is a keeper. I always admire a lady that has the guts to tell a man what to do when she has just met him.
“Drink your coffee….”

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Tantalizing Tuesday: Bette Davis, pt. 2



As I have watched Bette Davis, what has impressed me most has been her staying power. There is a point in some actors’ careers where they find themselves unable to go further, due to bad press, pressure to compete with younger actors, perhaps even their own expectations and discouragement with aging. Not Bette Davis. She seemed to get better and better. She changed with the times and with age and its limitations, but she always showed up with class.

In her films post-1940’s there were a few stand-outs for me. As we’ve discussed before, All About Eve was released in 1950 and the subject of aging in Hollywood was approached head-on. Check out this scene with Bette and Gary Merrill. She was called paranoid by those around her- but her instinct was spot on. She knew it sooner than everyone about her, but too late to stop it from happening.

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