On "No Down Payment": Anne said...This is what makes me wonder if Jeffrey Hunter and Patricia Owens'scharacters had even consumated thier marriageThe kid's got a broken radio, Jeff pulls out a screw driver and sets to work.Tony Randall gets smarmy with Jeff's wife and he's a frozen bystander...if Tony was mashing a radio, I think Jeff's character would have sprun into action. March 9, 2013
On "Trooper Hook": Vienna said...Wonderful review ! I haven't seen TROOPER HOOK for a long time but hope it becomes available on DVD. You describe Joel and Barbara's characters so well. An unusual role for Barbara. I guess she chose to do it for that reason. March 11, 2013
Anne said...Thank you for writing about this little gemOne can see this film on the encore west channel now and then and it's astonishingly good. With a budget not enough for a modern office pastry cart, it shows what can be done with excellent writing and acting....and directing. I love how we see the tiny stage from afar, then we see it though Nanches legs, we are right behind him, and we now know he's on their trail...it makes him almost a gonzilla of a threatChildren: let Mr. McCrea and Ms Stanwyck show you how it's done.They are hotter across a dusty feed store than many buck necked couples in love scenes today.March 7, 2013
On "Any Number Can Play": Vienna said...I love this film. Great cast, though I hate seeing Audrey Totter so totally wasted. All Audrey seemed to do was stand around with a glass in one hand and cigarette in the other.I thought Alexis Smith did well ,playing a woman whom I 'm sure was meant to be older than Alexis who was probably about 30 at the time.Great to see Mary Astor though,again, what a small role. And Marjorie Rambeau is always a joy.It could have been a play, with the only sets the gambling club and Gable's house.An unusual role for Gable and he was convincing.March 1, 2013
On Anita Sharp-Bolster: Vienna said...I've just see Anita in THE LONDON BLACKOUT MURDERS and she is so good as another battle-axe character , but with a touch of comedy . Nice tribute. Thanks.http//:dancing lady39.wordpress.com February 2, 2013
On Victor Jory - On Stage and Screen: Vienna said...Thanks for great tribute to Victor Jory whom I like, especially in a couple of films where he isn't the villain! In FIGHTING MAN OF THE PLAINS, Victor does his best to help Randolph Scott and becomes a good friend to Scott's character. Such a contrast to Victor's usual roles. I also liked him in a little B, THE UNKNOWN GUEST where he is the leading manI had no idea Victor and Alexis Smith did two plays together - thanks for the information. Oh to have seen them!January 24, 2013
On And Then There Were None: Ryan said...I bought this years ago on DVD, and it's still my favorite movie version of this story. The cast was perfect, and to tell you the truth, though I love the book, I almost prefer this ending. I think it's the hopeless romantic in me.February 19, 2013
“Love Letters” (1945) is our third and last in the series of “war stories”. It’s a love story, and a mystery that doesn’t really need The War as a backdrop, but this was a time when so many letters were written, and relationships begun on the strength of a chance meeting.
In many families, the wife said goodbye to the husband (or sweetheart) at the train station. She said welcome home to him (if she was lucky), three or four years later. The only way to communicate in the years between were by letters. They might meet again -- to resume their lives and their relationship -- as near strangers, unless the letters were particularly heartfelt, and the communication between them was open and honest.
I doubt in our age of instant, but often weak and meaningless, communication does the power of language ever come close to matching the importance it had during World War II.
Note: Ayn Rand co-wrote the script with the writer of the novel on this story is based, Christopher Massie.
Joseph Cotten, again here in his trademark role of the troubled, romantic loner, is an officer with the British Army in Italy. He pens the letters that his fellow officer, Roger Moreland, sends to his girlfriend. Roger, played by Robert Sully, is a boorish, self-centered cad, who, though unfaithful to this woman, is amused by the idea of winning her through Mr. Cotten’s tender prose.
Cotten is sick of the idea, and disgusted with himself for doing the chore, partly because he knows Roger is an ass, and partly because he fears he is falling in love with the woman who writes sensitive replies to his letters. He has a fiancée of his own, and he is growing apart from her. He seldom writes her, saving his deepest thoughts for Roger’s friend, Victoria.
“I was able to write to her all the things I was never able to say to any woman I know.” He says, and felt the ruse was innocent as long as the girl didn’t care. “But Victoria cared, understood.” He realizes Victoria has fallen in love, not with Roger as she believes, but with his letters.
“She’s in love with a man who doesn’t exist.”
Mr. Cotten demands the charade stop. He won’t write anymore, wants to know nothing more about her. When Cotten is seriously wounded and placed in a military hospital in Italy, he gets a letter from Roger, who has returned to England for training. Roger has married Victoria.
When Cotten is sent back to England to convalesce he learns from another pal that Roger is dead, not in the war but from an accident at home. This news nags at Mr. Cotten, because it means this Victoria is now a widow, and free, and a temptation in spite of himself. He also feels guilt for making possible what he suspects must have been a bad marriage. In a way, though it is never couched in these terms, it's as if he prostituted this earnest, romantic woman to a callous stranger.
He still wants no part of the charade he committed, and wants to distance himself from what he has done. But when his brother takes him to a party at a friend’s flat, Cotten meets Victoria even though he is not aware of it, mainly because she is not aware she is Victoria.
Victoria is played by Jennifer Jones in their second pairing after last year’s “Since You Went Away.” She goes by another name, because she has lost her memory. There is more intrigue to come, and we get bits and pieces a little at a time. I won’t give a play-by-play on the plot, that would ruin it, but we do learn that Roger was murdered, and Mr. Cotten discovers his letters played a part in a tragedy and the great mystery of Miss Jones’ amnesia.
Jennifer Jones is by turns ethereal, and also teasing and free spirited. This is also something of a trademark role for her, the fey innocent, but she appears more at ease in this film and less fragile than in some of her other work.
Ann Richards plays her friend, a woman who took Jones into her flat and cared for her when she was unable to take care of herself. Ann Richards also had minor roles in “Random Harvest” (see this post) and in “Sorry Wrong Number” (see this post here and here), but her film career ended in the early 1950s.
It’s difficult to believe she could not have been given better promotion by a studio in Hollywood and enjoyed a longer film career, as she has an engaging presence in this film. Her role is minor, but she shows a range of emotion and great chemistry with Joseph Cotten. Until Cotten falls in love with Jennifer Jones, one might suspect, and even wish, that she would get together with Cotten.
Notice the scene where, when Ann Richards wants to discuss the tragedy/mystery privately with Cotten, she sends Jennifer Jones to the store to get some porridge. She hands her their ration book. Since the UK imported most of their cereals (and a lot of other products), rationing was more severe there and lasted well beyond the war. Though the US had its own rationing program, I don’t think we rationed oatmeal (porridge). Maybe somebody can set me straight on that. Being the so-called “bread basket of the world” had its compensations.
We don’t see too many ration books of the day in the movies, and I’m not sure why. Possibly the government requested the cooperation of the film industry not to make too big a joke of them so that people would follow the rules and take their use seriously. Possibly they did not want to harp on (though an English setting in this movie, this was still an American-made movie for an American audience), shortages to an audience weary of them and doing its utmost to sacrifice.
Mr. Cotten takes up residence in a country cottage left to him by his deceased aunt, where he is looked after by rustic family retainer Cecil Kellaway (whom we saw in “Portrait of Jennie”, see here). Ian Wolfe plays a vicar, and Harry Allen a local farmer, both character actors who you might remember from “Mrs. Miniver”, which we reviewed in the second post on this series.
Gladys Cooper, who also teamed up with Jennifer Jones in “Song of Bernadette” (1943), see this previous post, plays Miss Jones’ guardian. She plays prominently in the tragedy/mystery, and she’s a shadowy figure for most of the film. It’s not until the very end we get her story and the truth about Victoria. It’s a good scene between Jones and Cooper, where they both reach back into their memories and describe a particular pivotal event, each finishing the other’s sentences.
The war in this movie, unlike in “Mrs. Miniver” and “The More the Merrier” is less on the surface of everyday life for these country dwellers and more in the fog-shrouded background, though there is one scene where Cotten, driving with Jones on winding lanes, does mention the gas rationing, “Since you love motoring so much, we’ll travel to the end of our coupons.”
Also, there is a scene with a wedding in what appear to be the bombed-out ruins of a church, evocative of the end of “Mrs. Miniver.” The war is still present in this movie, but it seems to be sliding into the background.
And I think that portrait of the little boy which figures in a couple of scenes that Joseph Cotten says is him as a child really was him. There is a similar photo in his autobiography, “Vanity Will Get You Somewhere” (Mercury House, Inc., San Francisco, 1987). In that book, he states that the photo was also used in “Shadow of a Doubt”.
The war is mostly represented in the letters he has written to her, and in his depression on coming home. He tells her, “Ever since I came back from the war, I’ve wanted to be alone. I’ve been miserable with other people. You’re the first one with whom I feel at peace.”
She replies, “That’s because you’re broken up inside almost the same as I am. You’ve been through the war and you can’t bear to look back.”
In this movie, and as World War II drifted into the past (the film was released in August 1945, after the Japanese surrender but before the formal surrender ceremonies in September), the generation that fought the war seemed to decide in large measure not to talk about it anymore. Many servicemen, like Joseph Cotten in the film, preferred not to look back.
Much of that war is documented in letters, and the intriguing notion that two people can fall in love without ever meeting each other…I would not hazard a guess as to how many times that actually happened. I don’t doubt that it did.
This is the end of our series on “war stories”. The all-clear has been sounded. Now get out of my cellar. I'd better not be missing any cans of SPAM.
Meet Me in Nuthatch - A publicity stunt to attract tourists to a small dying town results in the entire community turning the clock back to 1904. It is local Christmas tree farmer Everett Campbell’s idea, after watching the film “Meet Me in St. Louis,” his young daughter’s new favorite movie. What begins as half practical joke and half desperate ploy initiates the rebirth of Nuthatch, Massachusetts. Tourists do come, along with the media. To Everett’s dismay, his campaign to save their community results in also attracting representatives of a chain of theme parks who want to buy Nuthatch 1904. Everett now stands to lose his town in a way he never imagined, and the community is divided on which alternate future to choose. A local drug dealer, the longtime enemy of Everett, may hold their future in his hands unless Everett can pull off his most spectacular, and dangerous, practical joke.
“…a comforting, pleasant read that stays with you even after the last page is turned. After finishing the book, I found myself still musing about the relationships and how they'd changed and progressed. This book was a nice, hot chocolate sort of read.” Grace Krispy, "MotherLode" blog book review.
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