Dr. Christina J. Johns
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Dr. Christina J. Johns

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Book reviews, movie reviews, classic movie picks, classic actor picks, a discussion about all things arty. 

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Berthe Morisot

Posted on December 27, 2018 at 11:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Berthe Morisot

French Painter, Movement: Impressionism

Born: January 14, 1841 - Bourges, France, Died: March 2, 1895 - Paris, France

"I do not think any man would ever treat a woman as his equal, and it is all I ask because I know my worth."

 



Lady on a Train (1945)

Posted on December 20, 2018 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

  Lady on a Train (1945)

While in a train halted at a station, a woman witnesses a murder. When she reports it, everybody thinks she’s crazy. Stars Deanna Durbin, Ralph Bellamy, Edward Everett Horton.

This is a Christmas murder mystery in which Deanna Durbin (as the lady)  seeks to find the murderer herself. Durbin was very popular with audiences in the 30s. But as she entered adulthood, she struggled to maintain her career and only three years after this film was made, she retired.

The film is based on an original story by Leslie Charteris. In the supporting cast is William Frawley, of I Love Lucy fame.

 


Kansas City Confidential

Posted on December 17, 2018 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Kansas City Confidential (1952)

Kansas City Confidential (1952)

This is a highly rated film noir classic.  John Payne (Dodswroth, The Razor's Edge, Miracle on 34th Street) plays a vet down on his luck and out of prison.  He gets a job driving a flower truck which is used by others to pull off a bank robbery.  To clear his name, Payne hunts down the robbers, a collection of well-knows bad guys. 

Full of small filthy rooms and dark alleys, the story moves to Mexico where Payne finds the villians, Preston Foster, Neville Brand, Lee Van Cleef, and Jack Elam.  

The film is based on an original screenplay.  

 

Clark Gable: A Biogrpahy

Posted on December 8, 2018 at 3:05 PM Comments comments (0)

  This is an interesting biography of Clark Gable.  You can order it from Amazon or get it from Audible. 

by Jane Ellen Wayne

This is the write-up on GoodReads

To his fans he was the King of Hollywood. To others he was embittered and embattled - the King of Tragedy. "He was an alcoholic, an egotist, and an opportunist who used the casting couch for sexual encounters to get into films. He married women to further his career. But he was the most enduring actor in the history of motion pictures." So begins this incisive and revealing portrait of Clark Gable, one of Hollywood's greatest luminaries, by the best-selling author of Marilyn's Men. From the beginning it was Clark Gable as Gable who caught the eye of movie- and theatergoers around the world. On stage in Houston and New York in the late twenties, he was noted for his commanding stage presence and roguish charm. On screen in the 1931 film A Free Soul, he shocked audiences by roughing up the delicate and captivating Norma Shearer, something that was previously unheard of in movies. Audiences, both men and women, loved it and Gable was catapulted into the big league. From there he rose swiftly to near idol stature, making close to one hundred films in his lifetime and achieving immortalization in the timeless epic, Gone With the Wind, where, again, he gave audiences exactly what they wanted: Gable. For more than any other role, the character of Rhett Butler epitomized that of its creator: The cunning, manipulative, and devastatingly good-looking gunrunner was a Civil War era incarnation of Gable himself. The man who finally won the indomitable Scarlett O'Hara onscreen was even more of a lady's man offscreen. He seduced, and, in several cases, married women of immense wealth and ambition who could sustain his extravagant lifestyle and further his career. His marriages to the dowdy, middle-aged Josephine Dillon and, later, to Houston socialite Ria Langham, for instance, were clearly little more than financial arrangements and Gable maintained extramarital relations throughout both. Among his most famous lovers were Hollywood stars Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner, and the inc (less)

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The Misfits (1959)

Posted on December 7, 2018 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)


The Misfits (1959)

My favorite Clark Gable movie of is The Misfits, written for Marilyn Monroe by Arthur Miller.  

In this film, we see Gable with all his vulnerabilities showing.  He's not trying to be a charming, sophisticated ladies man, just close to what I imagine is himself, or what he had become after the death of Carole Lombard.

This is also probably the film that killed Gable, or he killed himself, something he had arguably been trying to do since Lombard's death in a plane crash.  After several crashes, the studio had to forbid Gable from riding motorcycles.  For some reason, they didn't forbid him doing his own stunts in this film.  Gable did several scenes with wild horses that were extremely dangerous and strenuous. He died shortly afterward.

As well as the wonderful Marilyn Monroe, the film stars Montgomery Clift and Eli Wallach, and Thelma Ritter.

When it opened, the film had mixed reviews and poor box office but it has become highly regarded among modern critics. It is, as one reviewer said “Haunting.” I can’t think of another movie as haunting until “Brokeback Mountain.”



The Misfits (1959)

Posted on December 7, 2018 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)


The Misfits (1959)

My favorite movie of Clark Gable’s is The Misfits, written for Marilyn Monroe by Arthur Miller.  

In this film, we see Gable with all his vulnerabilities showing.  He's not trying to be a charming, sophisticated ladies man, just close to what I imagine is himself, or what he had become after the death of Carole Lombard.

This is also probably the film that killed Gable, or he killed himself, something he had arguably been trying to do since Lombard's death in a plane crash.  After several crashes, the studio had to forbid Gable from riding motorcycles.  For some reason, they didn't forbid him doing his own stunts in this film.  Gable did several scenes with wild horses that were extremely dangerous and strenuous. He died shortly afterward.

As well as the wonderful Marilyn Monroe, the film stars Montgomery Clift and Eli Wallach, and Thelma Ritter.

When it opened, the film had mixed reviews and poor box office but it has become highly regarded among modern critics. It is, as one reviewer said “Haunting.” I can’t think of another movie as haunting until “Brokeback Mountain.”

 


The Catered Affair (1956)

Posted on December 6, 2018 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

There was debate about whether to cast Bette Davis in this film, but she considered it one of her best performances.  It's hard to watch.  It breaks my heart to see them spend the money on the wedding, but it's a great set of performances and a great play.  

the Postman Always Rings Twice

Posted on November 16, 2018 at 4:15 PM Comments comments (0)


From the very first scene between Cora (Lana Turner) and Frank (John Garfield) it's a duel to the death.  

 

 

Cora: My husband tells me your name is Frank.

Frank: That's right.

Cora: Well Frank, around here, you'll kindly do your reading on your own time.

Frank: Your husband, Nick told me I was through for the day and I thought he was boss around here.

Cora: The best way to get my husband to fire you would be not doing what I tell you to do.

Frank: Well, you haven't asked me to do anything - yet.

Cora: I want all these chairs painted.

Frank: All right. I'll look in the paper. Maybe I can find a sale on some cheap paint.

Cora: You won't find anything cheap around here! [ by film's end, her price turns out to be very high] Look in the cupboard under the counter.

Frank: (He looks and finds a can of paint) As my friend Nick would say, 'That's wonderful.' Next time anybody makes a trip into town, they can pick up a paintbrush.

Cora: Look on the bottom shelf.

Frank: Well, what do you know about that. Why didn't you start this campaign of rehabilitation before I came? Or were you waiting for me?

Cora: Nick was saving that paint.

Frank: Nick saves a lot of things.

Cora: It's none of your business what he saves.

Frank: I didn't say it was. Only when I have something, I don't save it. What do you want to paint these chairs for. They look all right to me.

Cora: Because I want to make something of this place. I want to make it into an honest-to-goodness...

Frank: Well, aren't we ambitious?  

James M. Cain

Posted on November 10, 2018 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (0)

  James M. Cain's first wife, Mary.  Cain said that as soon as they married they both knew they had made a mistake.  Cain was married four times, the last time to a colatura soprano, like Veda in Mildred Pierce.  As one of the characters in Mildred Pierce says of Veda, a colatura cares about nobody but herself.


The Postman Always Rings Twice

Posted on November 9, 2018 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (0)

  Lana Turner, one of the stars of The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946).  This film is an adaptation of the novel by James M. Cain.  There had been two previous adaptations, one French and the other Italian before this one.  The studios at first thought that "Postman" was unable to be transferred to film because of the content and objections from the Hayes Office.  But, due to the successful adaptations of Cain's two other novels (Double Indemnity and Mildred Pierce) studio bosses were very interested.  


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