Considering the weather conditions, tonight at Cinema Jolly we will screen LAST WORDS by Jonathan Nossiter instead of LADIES SHOULD LISTEN/AMONG THE LIVING
Archie Leach, the young lad from Bristol who later became Cary Grant, made his debut in Hollywood under Tuttle’s direction, in the Lubitschian This Is the Night (1932). There is more Leach than Grant in that film, yet the star on the rise appeared in no less than four features in 1934, the best of which was Ladies Should Listen, also by Tuttle (and the one that contributed most to his ‘Cary-Grantness’). It would seem that Tuttle did for early Grant what Hitchcock did for mid-period Grant. He plays the debonair Frenchman, Julian de Lussac, who returns to Paris from South America, with no prospects for financing his luxurious lifestyle. When a rich fiancée appears to be the answer to his problems, the pursuit of the wealthy socialite makes him deaf to the call of the heart and he ignores the switchboard girl who is secretly in love with him. Edward Everett Horton is on the scene too, with his usual confused charm, following his own agenda with women almost as successfully – though not as tactfully – as Grant. What begins as skirt-chasing, thanks to the unexpected arrival of love, leads to a better understanding of women. For Tuttle, the key to conveying the seductive nature of the sharply written script by Claude Binyon and Guy Bolton lies in techniques he had fully mastered by the early 30s: the timing of performances and the pacing of scenes, with a minimum number of camera setups. Even when it seems there’s absolutely nothing to break the theatrical nature of the scene, a highly ironic panning shot from the characters to a statue and back again – from sexual innuendo to a more humane and emotional note – adds a cinematic quality to that which seems at odds with the lens. As with most of Tuttle’s comedies, the location for the battle of sexes is a site of charming intrigue and playful plotting, with devices and deceptive spaces such as secret doorways, alluring staircases, and gadgets – which here include a fake thunderstorm generator!
Cast and Credits
Sog.: from the eponimous play (1933) by Guy Bolton, adaptation of the play La Demoiselle de Passy by Alfred Savoir. Scen.: Claude Binyon, Frank Butler. F.: Henry Sharp. M.: Eda Warren. Scgf.: Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegté. Mus.: Tom Satterfield. Int.: Cary Grant (Julian de Lussac), Frances Drake (Anna Mirelle), Edward Everett Horton (Paul Vernet), Nydia Westman (Susie Flamberg), Rafael Corio (Ramon Cintos), Rosita Moreno (Marguerite Cintos), George Barbier (Joseph Flamberg), Charles Ray (Henri), Charles E. Arnt (Albert), Ann Sheridan (Adele). Prod.: Douglas MacLean per Paramount Pictures. 35 mm
Within a running time of just over an hour, Among the Living samples an array of genres: Southern gothic horror, evil-twin thriller, Freudian melodrama, comedy, and politically charged satire. In the opening scene, unemployed mill-workers crowd around the gates of a dilapidated mansion, heckling the funeral of the hated mill-owner – surely voicing the views of Lester Cole, who cowrote the story and screenplay. The son of a union organiser for the garment industry, Cole was one of the most unapologetic communists among the Hollywood Ten. Six years before the congressional hearings that would send him to jail and onto the blacklist, he seems to forecast the mood of the McCarthy era in a climactic scene where a small town’s citizens turn into a frenzied mob, rabidly pursuing a cash reward for the capture of a killer and trying an innocent man before a kangaroo court. The film’s spooky, sinister atmosphere presumably owes much to co-screenwriter Garrett Fort, best known for his work on Dracula and Frankenstein, as well as to German-born cinematographer Theodor Sparkuhl. His inky, densely cluttered interiors and shadowy views down empty alleys make this an early milestone in the development of the noir look. Director Stuart Heisler drives the story along at a fast clip, chasing scares with laughs, as in a hilarious scene where the mentally disturbed Paul Raden (Albert Dekker), just emerged from a lifetime of confinement in a secret room, stumbles into a dive bar. The joint is jumping, and the jazzy, rapid-fire montage of jitterbugging couples is a reminder of Heisler’s background as an editor. A further jolt of energy comes from a turbo-charged young Susan Hayward, playing an avaricious flirt who fastens onto Paul, an early avatar of the childlike, mother-obsessed psycho. More shocking is the venerable Harry Carey as a coldly selfish, unethical doctor, subverting his kindly persona and previewing the kinds of disillusionment that film noir had in store.
Imogen Sara Smith
Cast and Credits
Sog.: Lester Cole, Brian Marlow. Scen.: Lester Cole, Garrett Fort. F.: Theodor Sparkuhl. M.: Everett Douglas. Scgf.: Haldane Douglas, Hans Dreier. Mus.: Gerard Carbonara. Int.: Albert Dekker (John Raden/Paul Raden), Susan Hayward (Millie Pickens), Harry Carey (Dr. Ben Saunders), Frances Farmer (Elaine Raden), Gordon Jones (Bill Oakley), Jean Phillips (Peggy Nolan), Ernest Whitman (Pompey), Maude Eburne (signora Pickens). Prod.: Sol C. Siegel per Paramount Pictures 35 mm. D: 67
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LADIES SHOULD LISTEN
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