Monday, September 23, 2013

I thought I had blogged about Twist of Fate before

The TCM schedule for Tuesday (September 24) brings a bunch of movies starring Ginger Rogers after she made all those great musicals with Fred Astaire. The day kicks off at 6:45 AM with Twist of Fate. For some reason, I thought I had blogged about it before, but apparently not. And it doesn't seem to be on DVD, either. I hope that some of you who haven't seen it before will be able to catch this post before the movie airs tomorrow morning.

Ginger Rogers plays "Johnnie" Victor, an actress who is now living on the French Riviera, and the mistress of wealthy businessman Louis Galt (Stanley Baker). The plan is that Louis is going to divorce his wife, so that he can marry Johnnie. Or, at least, that's what Louis has been telling Johnnie, although it's a pack of lies. Indeed, Louis' business is more than just the legitimate shipping business; he's the head of a criminal ring that's counterfeiting gold coins! Johnnie, of course, doesn't know any of this.

At the casino, Johnnie meets Emil (Herbert Lom). Johnnie has a passing relationship with Emil, based on the fact that Emil's wife had done some acting with Johnnie, but the wife is now in a sanatarium, or at least that's what Emil is telling Johnnie. Emil needs some money to pay for his wife's expenses, or possibly for something else, as we're going to find out later.

Things get more complicated when Johnnie meets the fourth major character in our film, ceramic artist Pierre (Jacques Bergerac). She meets him in when she's facing a bit of a crisis: Johnnie eventually learns that perhaps Louis is not only going to be unable to get that divorce, but has never really intended to get that divorce at all. Johnnie goes off driving like, say, Lana Turner's character in The Bad and the Beautiful did after finding Kirk Douglas with Elaine Stewart, and gets in an accident on one of those twisty hillside roads on the French Riviera coast like the one where Grace Kelly lost her life. Pierre's house is the nearest one, and Johnnie meets him while looking for help. She winds up falling for him, so now she's got three men in her life.

Having three men in her life is bad enough, but what she doesn't know is that Emil is an underling in Louis' counterfeiting ring, and part of the reason Emil borrowed money from Johnnie is to pay off Louis. Oh, and that's not all. Emil needs more money, so he steals one of Johnnie's necklaces, having the brilliant idea that Louis can fence it and that will help to pay the debt. There's a catch that Emil didn't know about: Louis had given the necklace to Johnnie. Emil, in fact, doesn't know that Louis is her boyfriend, and now Louis thinks Johnnie is cheating on him with Emil, when in fact she's cheating on him with Pierre.

Twist of Fate isn't a bad movie, although it's not particularly great either. Ginger Rogers made it for one of the British studios at a time in her career when she was getting to the point where women of her age couldn't get good roles like this in Hollywood. The British studios didn't quite have the budget that Hollywood did, and would bank on a big Hollywood star like Rogers to try to pump up interest for the film in the US. Still, the British knew how to make movies competently on a lower budget, and as I've suggested a lot in the past, having a good story is at least as important as having a big budget. If there's any problem with the story, it's that you have to expect it's going to have an ending that will satisfy the Hollywood Production Code. Still, Twist of Fate does a good job getting to that ending and on balance this post should be taken as a positive review of a nice little movie..

As I said at the beginning, Twist of Fate has, as far as I know, not received a DVD release, at least not in the States, and Amazon doesn't seem to list any imports either. That's a shame, because it's really a pretty good flick.

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