Lobby cards from Song Without End

May 27, 2010


A gigantic THANK YOU to Tom from Motion Picture Gems for sending me this amazing set of lobby cards from Song Without End!! (Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!)







Victim (1961)

May 23, 2010



Before I write about Victim, I'd just like to make a few points about this blog, and how much time I spend (or don't spend) on Dirk Bogarde's sexuality, and why.

I haven't yet completed all of Dirk Bogarde's autobiographical books, but I think it is safe to say that he spent his entire life publicly denying the fact that he was gay. After he passed away, family members and friends put any speculation to rest and confirmed that the man he lived with for most of his life - Anthony Forwood - was his partner. Because he was so diligent in hiding this, because he denied this part of his life in his books and interviews, I feel strange discussing it here, as if I am in some way betraying the public image that he worked so hard to build.

Additionally, I personally don't think that a person's sexuality has any bearing on their art, and as an audience we should only consider it as a tiny fraction of who they are. That so many Dirk Bogarde sites and pages I've found seem to concentrate on his sexuality, I think, is a disservice to his outstanding talent and remarkable career.

And lastly, I am colorblind when it comes to sexuality. I don't think anyone should be treated differently because they are straight or gay. Much like you wouldn't refer to Clark Gable as a "white actor", you also wouldn't refer to him as a "straight actor". He's simply, an actor. So it should be for gay actors as well. They are just actors.

On occasion, I've received comments on this blog, saying things to the effect of "such a great actor, it's a shame he was gay." Perhaps this is partly why Dirk Bogarde never wanted the public to know. I mean, come on! It's like saying "such a great actor, it's a shame he didn't eat broccoli." It's just a stupid thing to say.

So because I think Dirk would prefer it this way, and because I do not think it relates much to his films, I don't concentrate on that part of his life on this blog. Except for this once.

Knowing what we do now, we can say it was amazingly brave and daring of Dirk Bogarde to take the starring role in Victim, a groundbreaking movie from 1961 that tells the story of a barrister, Melville Farr, who sacrifices his family and career to track down the blackmailer that drove his gay lover to suicide.

Three other films dealing with homosexuality were released around the same time -- Advise and Consent (1962), The Children's Hour (1961) and The Best Man (1964). None of these films were as raw, stark and brutally honest as Victim. While there are scenes in The Best Man that imply Cliff Robertson's character was gay, they were still dancing around the subject, afraid to even utter the word "homosexual". Victim confronts the topic head on -- and more importantly, confronts the archaic laws in England which made homosexuality a crime. In fact, this film brought such attention to the anti-gay laws, that it is credited with helping to overturn them.

You can hear Dirk discussing Victim about 3/4 of the way into this interview --


(copyright The Dirk Bogarde Estate)

Dirk Bogarde gave another interview as part of the publicity for Victim, that I found especially interesting and insightful, considering his own love life. I purchased this on ebay and scanned it so that you can read it. (click images to view larger)





I've read many confused articles about this time period in his career, in which some people say that Victim's controversial subject matter cost him his reputation as a matinee idol and giant film star. But this simply isn't true -- one need only look at some of his lighter roles that followed Victim, like the last installment in the Doctor series, Doctor in Distress, to see that his popularity remained. And Victim marked the first page in a new chapter of Dirk Bogarde's career that included a series of edgy, new-wave films like Darling, The Servant and The Mind Benders, which, I would argue, are among his best.

Sadly, I think that Victim is still as edgy and avante-garde today as it was fifty years ago. In a perfect world, we should have been able to look back on this bigoted time period as old news by now. But like Dirk Bogarde and his character Melville Farr, many people still feel the need to hide their homosexuality as if it was something to be ashamed of -- and being "outed" still seems to be something that can ruin a career. While Victim did help to make homosexuality more acceptable (and legal) in the UK, here in the United States homosexuals are still denied many basic civil rights that are granted to every other citizen. I know that most people can't be swayed on this topic, but if anyone is sitting on the fence, I'm sure that watching Victim would help them to come to their senses.

Cary Grant vs. Cary Grant : Where do you stand?

May 22, 2010



There's a huge battle raging all over the internet (okay, it's just between me and Millie) over who was more dashing, debonair, charming and all-around handsome: 30's/40's Cary Grant or 50's/60's Cary Grant? I think you can tell by my above graphic where my own loyalties lie.

Where do you stand?

Happy Birthday Robert Montgomery!

May 21, 2010



Happy Birthday to one of my all time favorite actors!

ps. sorry for such a lengthy post! ;-D


Wait, you LIKE that movie? But, Kate! It was made after 1970! - PART II

May 11, 2010

When I wrote this post last year, I was a little bit more uptight about what production years were acceptable for my movie-watching needs. Post 1970? Pashaw! Don't even talk to me about it.

Since then, I've expanded my horizons a teeny tiny bit. For one thing, I noticed that my rationalization was a little off. Both of my favorite tv shows are from the 1970's (Good Neighbors and Mary Tyler Moore) but yet I refused to watch any movies from the same time period?

But I really realized that things had changed when I saw a clip from 500 Days of Summer on tumblr and knew I had to see the whole movie. Um, this movie is new. Not just 1977 new, but 2009 new. "What the heck is wrong with me?!?!?" I thought to myself as I added it to my netflix queue.

I almost had a complete psychological meltdown while I was watching it. I was enjoying a new movie. REALLY enjoying it. The kind of enjoyment I get from old movies.

This does not happen to me.

Ever.

After the film was finished and I was left with that post-good-movie glow, I realized that since my last post I had watched at least ten newer films, and enjoyed every single one of them. While ten a year might not seem like a big number to most people, keep in mind this is coming from someone who had probably watched a total of five new films in the last ten years.

Before I proceed to my little list, I just want to say two quick things about (500) Days of Summer. First of all, it's definitely my favorite movie from the 1995-2010 time period (You know, of the ones I've actually seen....) The direction and screenplay are incredibly clever, and the main character, Tom Hansen, is just the sweetest thing ever. (Ooh! accidental rhyme!)

Ok, on to the list!

1. (500) Days of Summer (Reasons explained above)
2. Amelie (so magical and lovely. REALLY close to coming in first place in my 1995-2010 category)
3. Klute (Amazing performance from Jane Fonda, and a real nail-biter!)
4. Avanti! (Jack Lemmon. Juliet Mills. Billy Wilder. Italy. Need I say more?)
5. Ordinary People (This movie haunted me for weeks after I saw it)
6. Spice World (Don't hate me.)
7. The Out of Towners (I've actually seen it before but forgot to include it on my last list)
8. The Shootist (Favorite John Wayne film ever now)
9. All The President's Men (um, Robert Redford.)
10. The Ruling Class (Also saw this one before, but was reminded that I love it when TCM did a mini Peter O'Toole marathon last month.)


Anyone else have new movie skeletons hidden in their closet?

Last Holiday (1950)

May 03, 2010




Every so often I watch a movie that completely shakes me, and I haven't really come across one quite this unsettling since I watched The Mind Benders last October.

Last Holiday is about a man named George Bird - played brilliantly by Alec Guinness - who finds out from his doctor that he only has a few more weeks to live. On the younger-side of middle age, lonely, no family, working in a dead-end job, Bird cashes in his life insurance, quits his job, withdraws his money from the bank and sets off on a last holiday to enjoy himself while he still can.

When he arrives at the posh, swanky hotel after his one-way train journey, Bird becomes the subject of everyone's curiosity. Who is he? Is he rich? What is he doing here? The other guests soon befriend our mystery man, who becomes a helper and guardian to many of them, offering some money to a woman in need and advice to an aging inventor who could use some tips on improving one of his machines. Before long, he's been offered jobs, consulted a big-wig in the government and won a ton of money gambling. His life has finally become worthwhile, but it's all too late.

I won't give away the ending, but I will say that this is, indeed, a tearjerker.

I am, unfortunately, a troubled thinker. I think way too much for my own good, and overthink and overthink some more. At 23, I've already spent way too much time pondering death and sickness. This movie did nothing to help quell that preoccupation. Instead, I spent all night tossing and turning, wondering what on earth I would do if my own doctor gave me such a blood-curdling prognosis. I'd probably spend the next few weeks crying non-stop; no British stiff-upper-lip for me. And to do it alone, like Bird does in the movie, is frightening beyond belief.

There are scenes in the movie that show Bird waking, dressing, doing the casual things one does every day, after his prognosis. It could be that I was reading deeper into the scene than I should, but I think Alec Guinness moved, took each step, like a man who knew this was it. He just looked so awfully lost, so helpless, so unprepared. Sitting up in bed after a restless night, you could almost read his thoughts "another day. will this be the last?"

I read recently (though for the life of me I can't remember where!) about post-war British films often featuring friendly ghosts or lovely pictures of heaven, as a way of comforting the millions who had lost loved ones in the war. A way of saying, "everything is O.K. your dad is in heaven now, or your son is in this room watching over us" But this film didn't have that same comforting message about death. It was more realistic, depicting Alec Guinness as a scared man, approaching the unknown.

I am not a religious person. I have an overwhelming sense of envy, though, for people who do have an unwavering belief in an afterlife. To be confident that life continues and that after death you'll be able to reunite with all of your loved ones, must be the most comforting feeling. But I wasn't raised this way, and I still find it personally impossible to have any faith that things go on. I see death as the most tragic, devastating thing that can happen -- the end. I fear it more than anything else on this planet, both for myself and for the people I love. And I have no built-in-coping mechanism to help me deal with it when it does happen.

This film, I think, was made for people like me who have a very bleak outlook on the end. No ghosts, angels, heaven or happy remembrances. Just sadness. It is a powerfully depressing film, one that -- at least if you tend to think too much, like me -- will probably affect your mood for days. I couldn't look at anything today - my cats, my parents, myself in the mirror - without thinking of that inevitable end.

However, I recommend the movie highly. Sometimes it does us good to think about things like life and death. I, for one, took two things away from this movie. Of course there were the pesky thoughts about death that have preoccupied me all day, but I also realized that life is way too short to spend it doing routine things that I don't enjoy. We shouldn't wait until we have three weeks left to enjoy our little time on earth. We should do it now. I, for one, am going to make every effort now to make sure that when my time finally does come, I can say - if I can speak through my hyperventilating crying- that I had a very good, rich life.