Thursday, August 11, 2011

I gotta start a blogroll

In looking through the blog's site traffic, I saw that I got a couple of referrals from the blog Via Margutta 51. Being relatively lazy, I had never heard of the blog before, but the posts I read look interesting and well-written, especially considering that blogger Clara is writing in her second language. (Maybe I should blog about something in German, but the one time I tried titling a blog post in German, I got the verb wrong: note the verb in the link, and how I had to edit the title of the post.)

That having been said, I'm going to have to disagree slightly with her views on The Garden of Allah, which was the subject of her most recent post. It's somewhat odd that I'm defening a movie that's not one of my favorites, I think Clara's reviewis a bit too harsh. Her first criticism reads,

And you learn all this in the very first minutes. Really. Zero mystery.

Yet, this is the same technique used in some of the great noirs. If you consider Leave Her to Heaven, we know at the beginning that Cornel Wilde's character just got out of jail, and we know that Gene Tierney bore a lot of responsibility for Wilde's getting into jail. Fade to flashback, and the meeting of the two which just happens to be on a train as well. By the same token, we know from the beginning of Double Indemnity that Fred MacMurray is going to get shot, and from the beginning of Sunset Blvd. that Bill Holden is going to get the swimming pool he always wanted, the dope.

The big problem I have with The Garden of Allah is the things that make it a chick flick: it's just too melodramatic, and presented as too much of a tear-jerker, for somebody like me to enjoy as much as I should. (Of course, I'm the man who laughs at the funeral in Imitation of Life.) But the theme of Charles Boyer's character having an obligation to strangers and not just the people he wants to love is something that's quite similar to Deborah Kerr's moral crisis in Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison. (The latter movie probably works better because having a nun instead of a monk allows for the other character in the romance to be a rough man.) Also, going back to the people one is more fit for is a theme that comes up in Two For the Seesaw, which would probably be a better movie if Robert Mitchum hadn't been miscast.

But Dietrich and Boyer both put in good performances, and the Technicolor is gorgeous. I can see why somebody would keep mentioning the Technicolor.

1 comment:

Clara said...

Hi Ted, thanks for highlighting my site AND adding me to your brand new blog roll!!
Uhm, it's nice to hear different opinions, and yes, sometimes I do get carried away and I'm kind of harsh with the movies I review. I especially get mad when movies that had great cast, money, and crew, don't work.
But I still maintain this movie is bad. Yes, there are many films in which you know from the very beginning how things ended for the main characters. And I love those movies: I love "A letter to three wives", "The barefoot contessa", "The bad and the beautiful", "I wake up screaming", and a big etc. Of course I also love the movies you mentioned, "Leave her to heaven", "Double Indemnity" & "Sunset Blvd." But those movies did something "The Garden of Allah" doesn't achieve: they kept the mystery. Even when you knew the facts, you really wanted to know how things got there and how it's gonna end.
But in this case, it was very predictable they wouldn't be together at the end; so the whole parts of the movie become evident: "the happy times", "the start of the tension", etc etc. And when that happens, the movie has failed.
Besides, can you recall an interesting scene, a memorable dialog? What was the point besides constructing a very unattractive melodrama, based on a main relationship that isn't well developed?
Those classic movies also made a deep exploration of everyone's motivations, through an effective storytelling. I don't know, the characters in "The Garden of Allah" lacked humanity, everything happened just because it had to happen; the secondary characters were unidimensional and didn't make a great contribution to the story (plus the fortune-teller guy was plain hilarious). That's also a difference with "Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison", which really explore its characters motivations, which makes it so powerful.
But I did love the Technicolor :) Anyway, I have seen worse movies than this one.

SO SORRY I got carried away again!! I just wanted to explain my point.

Hope to see you around!

(I will copy this reply over my site)