Sunday, February 15, 2015

Our Hospitality (1923)

The Hatfield's and McCoy's are at it again in the Ozarks. Did I say Hatfield's and McCoy's? I meant the Canfield and McKay's, somewhere in Appalachia. After the feud heats up again, the Canfields vow to wipe the McKay's off the map. Maw McKay sends her young son to New York so he never has to learn of this feud. Twenty years later he returns to claim the family homestead. Things heat up when the Canfields discover a new McKay in town.

One year old Buster Keaton Jr played Keaton's character at one year old. His love interest was his then wife Natalie Talmadge. Theirs was a stormy marriage, if memory serves. They divorced about the same time as his career went south. His hard luck father also had a bit part. There is one amusing joke where they depict 1830's New York as no more urban than the Appalachia. That one took a second to sink in.

Amusing, watchable, short, Our Hospitality is a pleasant diversion. Not a masterpiece, but well worth watching. AMRU 3.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Suspicion (1941)

Lina (Joan Fontaine) is a pretty bookworm. A spinster in training, really. When she crosses paths with the fast talking charmer Johnnie (Cary Grant), she isn't sure what to make of him. After she discovers her parents have given up on her ever catching a man, she decides to return Johnnie's advances. They elope.

Soon Lina realizes that Johnnie is broke. Instead of working he is at the races. She catches him in lie after lie. She first suspects he married her for her money (not as grand as once thought), then to kill her for the insurance.

Suspicion plays heavy on the melodrama, and if the storyline doesn't lend on, just listen to the overbearing soundtrack. Like many Hitchcock films, the focus is square on the pretty young woman. Nothing happens without her on screen. Grant is playing mostly against type here, much to the dismay of RKO who wanted all scenes where he appeared menacing cut. This wasn't going to work.

This is really a story about two people, but the supporting cast is excellent. Dame May Whitty, whom old friends may remember her in The Lady Vanishes and the Hollywood version of Gaslight, plays Lina's mom. Longtime Dr. Watson Nigel Bruce plays Johnnie's friend Beaky. He was in She that should have been filmed in color. Both he and she were in a lot of movies I should have seen by now were I not overly focused on genre films. Leo G. Carroll had a small role. He has been in quite a few Hitchcock films. He was over a barrel when Tarantula took to the hills, but that's another story.

Before I am finished with this blog, I will have seen all of Hitch's available films. My appreciation grows with each one I watch. Suspicion is by no means a masterpiece, but it's a satisfying mystery and well crafted film. Even if the ending is somewhat lacking. AMRU 3.5.
"Well, well. You're the first woman I've ever met who said yes when she meant yes."