Jan 9, 2018

Montgomery Clift, A Place in the Sun

Montgomery Clift has a face that was meant to be gazed at. As if by the grace of God, his matinee idol looks pull you in, commanding you to pay attention.

The camera knows this. The opening seconds of A Place in the Sun is that of an opening long shot of Monty, his back to us. His turn to the camera is accompanied with a swell in the score, as if we've experienced some sort of dramatic reveal. It then closes in on Monty's face, very close. Too close? This happens on a number of occasions throughout the film, the camera encroaching rather tightly into Monty's personal space and lingering its focus on that mug of his for our collective gaze.

Dec 25, 2017

Shelley Winters, A Place in the Sun

Through Shelley Winters, Alice Tripp is an anomalous character which presents an array of conflicting feelings. Alice is fundamentally a good person, one who wants to do the right thing when she finds herself in a precarious situation. And yet I didn't like her - and I imagine I'm not the only viewer to have felt this way. More broadly, Alice is a character whose total screen time will make you feel as though she is a supporting character - yet she is deeply central to A Place in the Sun, and the film could not advance without her.

Dec 4, 2017

Katharine Hepburn, The African Queen

While Tracy Lord was the role that reinvigorated Katharine Hepburn's career, Rose Sayer is one which seems to mark the beginning of a new era for Kate. Watching The African Queen, one might be surprised to realize that she is just a little over ten years older than she was when she played Tracy. Gone are the soft, beautifying studio lights befitting for A Goddess. Gone are the gowns by Adrian. Gone are MGM's opulent mansions. Instead, we see a sweaty, matronly Kate thrusted out in the bright African sunshine and shot in vivid, unforgiving technicolor. The African Queen is the debut of the deglammed, "old maid" Kate.

Oct 28, 2017

Humphrey Bogart, The African Queen

Won: Academy Award - Best Actor

Humphrey Bogart's victory for The African Queen checks off two common tenets that come with rewarding Academy Awards - the first being that Bogie defeated performances which've become much more iconic or revered in time, and the second being that Bogie won for a performance not widely perceived as being as "good" as other works in his filmography. Needless to say, I was not expecting to have much of a reaction to this particular performance, but was surprised to have liked it as much as I did.