THE COMPANY SHE KEEPS (1950)
A typical RKO feature, with a difference. Lizabeth Scott plays a sympathetic parole officer who looks after Jane Greer when she is released from prison. Jane is a hard case and isn’t very happy when Lizabeth gets her a job as a nurse’s assistant at a hospital.
Before too long, Jane has her sights set on newspaper columnist,Dennis O’Keefe, who just happens to be Lizabeth’s boyfriend!
So the Greer character seems to be a selfish schemer. But the interesting twist is that we discover so much more about her – the sad way she has to consult a dictionary while trying to read O’Keefe’s newspaper column; or the scene where she almost steals a coat from a department store then changes her mind.
She even admits to O’Keefe that she went after him.
(I like this photo . the look on each of the actresses’s faces almost tells you who’s who! Jane with the raised eye brow, obviously thinking of her next move. Lizabeth looking straight ahead, honest, straightforward.)
But she can’t believe in Lizabeth’s sincerity – “You’re jealous a parolee can take something away from you, and I can too.”
The saintly Scott sticks by Greer even when she realises she’s losing O’Keefe to Jane.
So it’s Jane’s film – her character is well developed as she finally realises there are people she can trust.
Actually, Jane and Lizabeth could easily have reversed roles!
The supporting cast includes John Hoyt as a judge. A supporting actor I always look out for. He always gives a solid performance.
As happens often, the film’s poster is misleading. You’d think Lizabeth Scott is the femme fatale!
SLEEPERS WEST (1941,Fox)
Good little thriller in the Lloyd Nolan ‘Michael Shayne’ series. The plot rings bells for Narrow Margin. Opening with a mysterious figure being stretchered onto a San Francisco bound train. Shayne has to deliver reluctant witness Mary Beth Hughes to testify at a trial. Shayne’s ex-girlfriend,Lynn Bari is on board too – she’s a reporter and senses there is a story if she can only figure out what it is.
Louis Jean Heydt has a larger than usual role as a passenger who wants to leave his wife and start a new life in South America. He and Mary Beth Hughes have some good scenes together.
Always good to see Ed Brophy as a cheery railroad detective (when is Ed anything other than cheerful!)
Nolan and Bari make a great team.
THE MAN WITH A CLOAK
Some good dialogue in this 1951 MGM film based on John Dickson Carr’s story, “The Gentleman from Paris”.
Set in a New York mansion in 1848,Barbara Stanwyck,Joe De Santis and Margaret Wycherley are conspiring against the mansion’s owner,Louis Calhern. The threesome run the household. De Santis thinks Barbara’s plans are taking too long: “You have to do everything politely. You even have to murder a man politely.”
When mysterious stranger,Joseph Cotten, comes to the mansion,De Santis answers the door:
Cotten: “Are you the butler?”
De Santis: “I am.”
Cotten:”It is a role remarkably unsuited to you.”
Margaret Wycherely (good as always) is the cook/maid and says to Cotten: “Would you take advice from the likes of me?”
Cotten:”Ma’am,I take advice as easily as I take wine. The only trouble is I’ve never been able to make good use of either.”
The more I see of Louis Calhern ,the more I am impressed. When he gets a good role, as here, he shows how good he is.
For more on this interesting film , take a look at Colin’s excellent review over at Ride The High Country .
GOLD RUSH MAISIE 1940
Ann Sothern as Maisie Ravier knows her place. Maisie is a singer trying to get to a small night club which has offered her a job. She observes: “With the money they’re offering me, I know they’re not expecting Jeanette MacDonald.”
Maisie’s car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, and Lee Bowman reluctantly helps her.
(Incidentally,why is it in any film you watch, a suitcase,supposedly full of clothes etc,is handled as if it is as light as a feather!)
Maisie goes into a café run by Irving Bacon. She overhears a customer saying to Bacon: “Give me the usual and bear down on the onions.”
Bacon calls out to his wife in the kitchen: “Gus is here.The usual and plenty of tears.”
Playing mother and daughter for a second time are Mary Nash and Virginia Weidler.They were well off in The Philadelphia Story, but here they are part of a poor farming family .
It’s always a pleasure to be in Ann Sothern’s company, but the script is uneven,veering between comedy and melodrama.