Wicked Ladies

There are three great brand names in the British cinema — Ealing comedies,Hammer horror and Gainsborough melodrama — but the third group has never achieved much of a reputation in the US. That’s most likely because these racy costume dramas, which starred a rotating cast of Margaret Lockwood (above), James Mason, Phyllis Calvert, Stewart Granger and Patricia Roc — were heavily censored when they were released here (and in the case of “The Wicked Lady,” also above, heavily reshot to impose more decorous necklines on the leading ladies). The Criterion Collection, through the company’s no-frills Eclipse label, has now released a judicious selection of three of the most rousing Gainsborough melodramas, presented uncut: Leslie Arliss’s “The Man in Grey” (1943), Arthur Crabtree’s “Madonna of the Seven Moons” (1945) and, by common consent the greatest Gainsborough of them all, Arliss’s “Wicked Lady,” with Margaret Lockwood (best remembered here as the virginal heroine of Hitchcock’s 1938 “The Lady Vanishes”) as a 17th century adventuress who becomes bored with her aristocratic husband (after having stolen him from her best friend) and takes to the road in male garb as a highwayman. It’s overheated, highly entertaining stuff, with, particularly in the case of “Wicked Lady,” some catty dialogue that would make Joseph L. Mankiewicz jealous, and a transgressive feminist subject that clearly had great appeal to the unexpectedly independent women of World War II Britain. A review here, in the New York Times.

38 comments to Wicked Ladies

  • Alex

    Sound like extremely entertaining revelations.

    Sounds like the sort of proto-feminist films (in which suspicions of the dangerous husband are confirmed as in “Gaslight” and “Sleep, My Love” that was targetted at the newly independent U.S. Wartime female labor force participants had parallels in Wartime U.K. (See Diane Waldman’s “At Least I Can Tell it to Someone: Feminist Point of View and Subjectivity in The Gothic Romance Film of the 1940s,” Cinema Journal,1979.)

  • Barry Putterman

    The biographical entry for Leslie Arliss on Imdb suggests that his career was blighted after disagreements with Alexander Korda regarding BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE and his subsequent departure from London Films. under less than friendly circumstances. His later credits would certainly suggest that such might well be the case (although I would certainly be looking forward to seeing a short film with Peter Sellers called INSOMNIA IS GOOD FOR YOU.).

    For me, this is just a reminder of how little I know about the inner history of the British film industry and the conditions which produced the films we saw from it.

    I remember once when I was in London watching a documentary about the CARRY ON films on TV there. It was not only informative, it was hilarious. One of the actors from the series said that they had to get actors who could find where the joke was in a scene on the first take, because you weren’t going to get a second take. Another actor said that she had the impression that if a they had fallen behind schedule on any of those films, the producers would have simply released it without an ending.

    That’s the kind of stuff I’d like to know about the whole history of British films.

  • Tony Williams

    The reputation of Gainsborough owes much to Sue Harper and other critics who produced a monograph to accompany a season at the National Film Theatre in the 1980s. Pam Cook and others have since followed this lead. It is good to know that these three films are now available on DVD but there are others such as THE IDOL OF PARIS starring Christine Nordern (possibly lost) that need further investigation as well as the color melodrama JASSY with Margaret Lockwood that appeared in the Sidney Box era. A wealth of information does exist in British criticism on this wartime and immediate post-war genre and Marcia Landy does cover this area in her BRITISH FILM GENRES.

  • Johan Andreasson

    Both THE MAN IN GREY and THE WICKED LADY (haven’t seen MADONNA OF THE SEVEN MOONS) are so good that I’m surprised they’re not well known in the U.S. On the other hand it’s not at all hard to understand that they got into trouble with censors. I don’t want to spoil any surprises, but some of the actions of Lockwood’s character in THE WICKED LADY must be among the most outrageous ever by someone intended to get the audience rooting for her. WICKED LADY is really something out of the ordinary: equal parts Errol Flynn swashbuckler and something Anita Loos could have written in the pre-code era.

  • Tony Williams

    Apart from Margaret Lockwood, Phyllis Calvert and Patricia Roc (CANYON PASSAGE) did try to “go Hollywood” but both were dissatisfied with the industry. By contrast, James Mason and Stewart Granger were able to make the transition successfully. These films were known at the time of release but soon became forgotten. By contrast, Jean Kent (MADONNA, WICKED LADY, CARAVAN) never made the transition into full stardom though an attempt was made with the non-melodrama color UK film TROTTIE TRUE. She is still with us today and continued as a character actress in film and television. Her 1960s Wednesday Play title role in “A Night with Mrs.Da Tanka” was one of her most memorable performances and she was Queen Elizabeth in the Terence Morgan 60s TV series SIR FRANCIS DRAKE.

  • VCI Entertainment, which has been releasing a lot of titles from the Rank library in the US, also has a few Gainsborough productions, including “Caravan” (directed by Crabtree), Anthony Asquith’s upscale “Fanny by Gaslight” (which, not surprisingly, had to be renamed for the US market — “Man of Evil”) and Arliss’s contemporary melo “Love Story”. No sign of “Jassy,” though.

  • Barry Putterman

    While these films might have been basically forgotten in the U.S. after their initial release, they could not be forgotten by those in the general proximity of William K. Everson, who showed such films constantly.

    Ironically, British films were a staple of programming during the early days of American television prior to any of the U.S. studios licensing anything from their libraries for airing. I remember Everson showing us a film called SALOON BAR and mentioning that it had never gotten an American theatrical release, but since it had been part of a package which ran on U.S. television, he was able to get a print of it.

    The subject of who did or didn’t cross over from England into the American industry successfully is worthy of continuing attention. In terms of the women, I think it possible that the national stereotype of the demure, ladylike Englishwoman worked against a number of people. It is difficult for anybody to break through in ingenue parts unless you have a tremendous natural store of charisma. Recently I saw Patricia Roc in one of her immediate post CANYON PASSAGE Briths films, WHEN THE BOUGH BREAKS, which suggested that there might have been a lot more to her Hollywood career if time and care had been taken.

    On the opposite side, Jean Kent’s image seemed to have been formed in harder edged roles such as in THE WOMAN IN QUESTION and GOOD-TIME GIRL, and the assumption might have been that we had enough noir women over here to preclude the necessity of imports.

    It kind of makes me wonder what would have happened with Jean Simmons had she not been in Olivier’s HAMLET. I’m constantly surprised to see earlier British films and have her popping up in pigtails as somebody’s kid sister. But HAMLET seemed to give her a stature that went beyond national bounderies and allowed for a deeper exploration of what parts she could play. Then she ran into Howard Hughes and….

  • patrick henry

    A more mature Margaret Lockwood co-starred with Dirk Bogarde in CAST A DARK SHADOW (1956), about a clever young charmer who marries the widowed Lockwood after having previously married a much older woman and killing her so he can inherit. Unlike most such films, which emphasize suspense and “will he or won’t he succeed in killing her?” this is an urbane character study (despite the age difference Lockwood and Bogarde seem well matched), often drily amusing.

  • Thanks for the story, Dave. It’s not just in the US that British film-making (both pre- and post-“kitchen sink”/Free Cinema) is underappreciated. Though most of these films had a commercial release in Portugal at the time, and some of them even were popular hits, they’ve since been completely forgotten, except if the names “Hitchcock” or “Michael Powell” are somehow attached to them. Personally, I remember seeing a load of them on television weekday matinees or late shows and being surprised by the generally high level of quality – the early Leans, like “In Which We Serve”, or even lesser-known stuff like “The Way to the Stars”, have held up much better than bigger contemporary films.

  • Blake Lucas

    Sounds very enticing reading the piece.

    In truth, I’ve seen all three of these if memory serves but was a long time ago on TV, and even though they had some reputation, my feelings were kind of moderate then. But I had no idea they’d been cut (these were certainly the cut versions) so with little real memory of them I’d go for all three again.

    Meantime, off thread, Dave, could you bring your Lew Landers expertise to following titles TCM is showing tomorrow and say which ones stand out for those of us who want to see more.

    NIGHT WAITRESS
    BORDER CAFE
    DANGER PATROL
    FLIGHT FROM GLORY
    THE MAN WHO FOUND HIMSELF
    THEY WANTED TO MARRY
    WITHOUT ORDERS
    YOU CAN’T BUY LUCK
    BLIND ALIBI
    CONSPIRACY
    SMASHING THE RACKETS

    I’ve seen some of these and especially liked FLIGHT TO GLORY, which does, as Todd McCarthy’s Hawks biography suggests, anticipate ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS. Not claiming it’s on that matchless level but stands on its own as a very good movie.

    Sorry they are leaving out THE BIG GUSHER which I would have strongly recommended. This too is kind of Hawksian, two oil rigger best friends (Preston Foster, Wayne Morris) and a woman (Dorothy Patrick) and I thought it was the best role of Dorothy Patrick’s career.

  • Blake, the Landers films on TCM are all from the few years in the late 30s when he was functioning as a sort of A-/B+ director at RKO, so they show him working with better actors and production values than he would be accustomed to for most of his career. I haven’t seen all of them, but I can recommend “Night Waitress,” “Border Cafe,” “Danger Patrol,” “Flight from Glory,” “Blind Alibi” and “Smashing the Rackets.” His comedies tend to be a little strained, but I’m curious to see how he handles “They Wanted to Marry” and “You Can’t Buy Luck.” The one I haven’t seen that has a good reputation is “Conspiracy,” so I’m particularly looking forward to that. Two of the best from this period aren’t here — “Twelve Crowded Hours” and “The Girl and the Gambler” — but I think they get fairly regular exposure on TCM.

  • Mark Gross

    Thanks, Barry, once again for jogging my memory! I knew I had seen these films (including JASSY, which I recall as being in stunning Technicolor)somewhere. Of course, it was in William K. Everson’s British Cinema classes at NYU. I remember THE WICKED LADY as being the most fun. Something to look forward to the next time Criterion has a 50% off sale.

    As far as VCI is concerned, while it is true that they have been releasing many of the most important Rank films from the late 40’s to early 60’s on DVD & Blu-ray over the past year, I bought three: GENEVIEVE; DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE; & ROMEO AND JULIET (with Lawrence Harvey) last December. All three had serious DNR issues which made the films difficult to watch. In the case of GENEVIEVE, one of the most glorious of British color films from the early 1950’s, the first half hour appears completely monochromatic, all white and grey. Both Kay Kendall’s complexion and the eponymous red antique car are wan and ghost-like. In DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE, all of the actor’s faces appear as if the flesh has been eaten away. Most of the detail is missing in the sets as well. The same problems appear in ROMEO AND JULIET, which is particularly noted for its photography and production values, but since all the details in buildings and faces are gone, why bother to watch?

  • Stephen Bowie

    I’m also guessing, although no one ever seems to be able to knowledgeably confirm this (in part because VCI doesn’t send out many review copies), that most of the VCI Rank DVDs are ports of the UK editions and therefore have standards conversion issues on top of the problems Mark mentions. Yes? No?

  • Tony Williams

    Patrick, In CAST A DARK SHADOW Dirk is a serial killer attracted to older women. When the film begins he is married to Mona Washbourne but when he encounters Lockwood he meets more than his match so the age difference is relevant to the plot. For some reason, Lockwood fell foul of the film industry in the 50s and 60s but she distinguished herself on TV playing the owner of a hotel in a 50s BBC TV series and a barrister (female lawwer) in a 1960s series than ran on ITV. Bryan Frobes brought her back to the screen as the Fairy Godmother in THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE (1970)
    .
    Patricial Roc was capable of playing other types of roles as her appearance in BLUEBEARD’S TEN HONEYMOONS (1960) witb George Sanders revealed. Jean Kent also appeared as another victim.

    As Steve Chibnall and others have shown, Britain had a very strong B’movie and noir tradition that tended to be marginalized. However, many of these films are now appearing on DVD in the UK reasonably priced.

  • David Cohen

    About the Lew Landers films: Any idea why TCM would have chosen tomorrow to show 11 Lew Landers films, followed immediately by 4 Robert Aldrich films?

  • Barry Putterman

    David, because they CAN! It should be noted that the 4 for Aldrich will then be followed by Edward L. Cahn’s DESTINATION MURDER, which our host also fervently advises you to see.

  • David Cohen

    I guess on 10/11/12, anything goes …

  • Blake Lucas

    Thanks for the good word, Dave.

    Of course, I might have gone for a movie called NIGHT WAITRESS with Margot Grahame even without Landers’ name attached…

  • “While these films might have been basically forgotten in the U.S. after their initial release, they could not be forgotten by those in the general proximity of William K. Everson, who showed such films constantly.”

    Barry and Mark, I also took Bill Everson’s British Cinema class at NYU in the 1970s. Most of the 16mm prints were from his personal collection and I vaguely recall that some of them were the cut US versions that Dave mentioned in his piece.

    “The Wicked Lady” (along with “The Lady Vanishes”) was screened at the Motion Picture Academy as a tribute to Margaret Lockwood as a tribute to her after her death in 1990 or ’91 (I don’t remember the year offhand,)and judging by the amount of cleavage on display it must have been the UK print of the former that was screened. A very good picture indeed, and niece to have it back in circulation.

  • Tony Williams

    So should FANNY BY GASLIGHT under its original title with James Mason as the evil Lord Manderstoke more ruthless than his Marquis of Rohan in THE MAN IN GREY and Stewart Granger more debonair than his role in the earlier film. The People’s War eventually brings star crossed lovers together – until a post-war future unseen in 1943 but assessed shrewdly by Eric Portman in MILLI0NS LIKE US.

  • Robert Garrick

    The site has been quiet for a while. I guess everyone is exhausted from watching Lew Landers films from dawn to dusk. I skipped a few of them in order to be well rested for “Destination: Murder” (1950), directed by Edward L. Cahn, which TCM aired at 4:15 AM my time. (Thanks to Barry for reminding me of this.)

    Dave Kehr wrote about Cahn in his “Further Research” column in the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of “Film Comment,” and while he never mentions this title, he pretty much nails its sensibility. The characters, while not hateful, are lacking in humor, empathy, and the general ability to engage on a human level. Hurd Hatfield comes up with something like a marriage proposal to Joyce Mackenzie, and he might as well have been HAL programmed to lure an attractive human target.

    But the film drives along relentlessly, full of neat little angles and bits of business. It is never boring. It’s more than competently shot, but in a matter-of-fact and not a beautiful way. The film has an unusually good cast for a Cahn film. Besides Mackenzie and Hatfield, we have Myrna Dell. And we have Albert Dekker, playing a B-level version of the well-bred thug he had just portrayed in the TCM offering that immediately preceded it on the schedule, “Kiss Me Deadly.”

    “Destination: Murder” begins at a movie theatre. It’s the old Marcal Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, way on the east end of the street near the exit from the Hollywood Freeway. That’s the bad end of a street that was pretty bad in general, at least in the ’60s and ’70s when I was going there. (By then the Marcal had been renamed the World.) In 1950, when “Destination: Murder” was made, the Marcal was a reasonably respectable place, though it had a possible connection to the Black Dahlia murder. But by the 1960s and 1970s, until 1986 when it closed, it was the place to see triple bills of Kung Fu epics and blaxploitation films for a dollar or two, and Quentin Tarantino is rumored to have acquired much of his grindhouse education there.

    Earlier this month TCM showed the Cahn-directed “Zombies of Mora Tau” (1957) and “The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake” (1959). But as Dave notes in his Film Comment piece, it’s Cahn’s crime films that are his most personal.

  • “Destination Murder” is pretty great — one of two indies that Fast Eddie produced himself for release through RKO in 1950 (the other is “Experiment Alcatraz,” and both are available through Warner Archive). It has one of my all time favorite Eddie Cahn lines, when a lovesick assassin (Stanley Clements) says of his new girlfriend, “I never would have met her if I hadn’t killed her father.”

    Did any of our Los Angeles correspondents catch Eddie’s ultra-rare “Laughter in Hell” when it was screened this week as part of a Jim Tully series at the American Cinematheque? (I know Tom Brueggemann did — perhaps he would care to share his observations). This is the movie that apparently got Cahn fired from Universal (and banished to the shorts department at MGM, where he alternated between “Crime Does Not Pay” and “Our Gang”). As recently as last year, Universal was denying that they had a print, but miraculously one has turned up.

  • “Destination: Murder” is my second favorite Cahn: right after “Emergency Call”.

    Thought Lew Landers’ “Conspiracy” was an enjoyable romp (on TCM yesterday). It is consistent with the interest Landers shows in ships and planes throughout his career. Before Landers, Frank Capra did a lot of air adventure films circa 1930. Landers’ sometimes seem to come out of this same tradition (only with lower budgets).
    Landers would return to similar “escapism on the move” with the light-hearted train thriller “Easy Mark”, an episode of “Maverick”.
    ***
    Thought “Wicked Lady” was terrific, when seen on the Afternoon Movie decades ago. It is a rousing piece of storytelling. It really makes one identify with the heroine, despite her moral lapses (to put it mildly!) It is great that we now have a chance to see other films in this subgenre, with the new DVD release.

    The British seem to have a whole genre of tales of highwaymen. Their motto: “Stand and Deliver!”
    Just like outlaws in US Westerns, British audiences wink at crimes committed by highwaymen way back when, that would create indignation if done today. Just think of the reaction, if Celia Johnson in “Brief Encounter” had supplemented her household allowance by knocking over a bank :)

    An impression: historical dramas, British “heritage films”, and costume dramas are under-studied, despite their popularity.
    In Hollywood, costume dramas played a big role in the rise of 3-color Technicolor: “Becky Sharp”, “The Adventures of Robin Hood”.
    Certain stars made major impacts in costumers: Ramon Navarro in the terrific “Scaramouche” (Rex Ingram), Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power in the sound era.

    Meanwhile, I can hardly wait to see what happens on Season 2 of Upstairs Downstairs, now playing every Sunday night on US Public Television… It seems to be left of center. And the costumes are gorgeous!

  • Alex

    So what’s one who hasn’t caught any Gainborough Swashbucklers to think of them in comparison with su such swashbuckler classics of Stateside conventional wisdom as The Mark of Zorro (1920), The Three Musketeers (1921), Robin Hood (1922), The Thief of Bagdad (1924), The Black Pirate (1926), The Count of Monte Cristo (1934), The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), Captain Blood (1935), The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938),n The Sea Hawk (1940), Forever Amber (1947), The Exile (1947), Scaramouche (1952), Moonfleet (1955) and Lester’s Three Musketeers films?

    Are there (the possible exception of Forever Amber aside) any non-Gainsborough Swashbucklers with strong independent women protagonists that I’m missing?

  • Alex,
    It’s not clear that “Wicked Lady” is really a swashbuckler. But this raises an issue, what is a swashbuckler? How it is defined as a genre?
    Many of the swashbucklers Alex cites have a hero in a quest for social justice. He’s trying to improve the world and right social wrongs. These films sometimes have left-of-center social critiques. This is less true of The Three Musketeers though, which is fairly apolitical.

    By contrast, the anti-heroine of “Wicked Lady” wants personal gratification, especially sex. It can play like a Georgette Heyer “Regency romance” novel, gone deliriously off the rails.
    Her career of crime can recall Bette Davis playing evil women in “The Little Foxes” and “In This Our Life”.

    “Anne of the Indies” (Jacques Tourneur) is about a woman pirate. She has lots of gender issues. I found this film disappointing, although like all Tourneur it is worth seeing.

    “She’s a Sheik” (Clarence Badger, 1927) is a silent spoof of Valentino. Bebe Daniels as a woman sheik kidnaps Richard Arlen, wanting him as her lover… I’ve never had a chance to see it.

    Imperious, beautiful Princess Ardala kidnaps the hero on the TV series “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century”. She tells him: “I’m giving you three choices: You can be my consort, my lover or my slave!” Margaret Lockwood would approve.

  • Alex Hicks

    Ah, yes, I guess social justice, and plain vengeance, often figure notably in swashbucklers, but I’m unsure these Regency romances — like general bowdice rippers, don’t overlap a lot with both the Swashbuckler and the Gainsborough type films; and I think that such films as “Forever Amber” and “Angélique, marquise des anges” might bridge any little swashbuckler-Gainsborough gap.

    No judgement on how good these Gainsborough films are? (Beating out “Forever Amber” wouldn’t be too hard, even granting it auteurist bonus points) -=- but Robin Hood, The Count of Monte Cristo (1934), The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), The The Sea Hawk and those Lester films are hard to beat for sophisticated varieties of what were once called “children of all ages.”

    Thanks for the “Anne of the Indies” and “She’s a Sheik” tips and the “Buck Rogers” –and, in turn, “Flash Gordon” –reminders. (Ah, those Martian Princess!)

  • Blake Lucas

    I watched “Anne of the Indies” again within the past year (have seen it a number of times) and I don’t agree with Mike. This is one of my half dozen favorite Tourneurs and I love so many of his films. Just to begin with, Tourneur’s style, sensitivity to color and the look of scenes, and the touch of reflectiveness he brings even to a narrative driven by action (a fair number of movies like that in his filmography and one of the things that makes him interesting) would make it pleasing to me simply on a level of mise en scene.

    But if Captain Providence/Anne, as so vibrantly incarnated by the alluring and exciting Jean Peters, has gender issues, they are interesting gender issues and sympathetic ones. The film’s embrace of androgyny in her sensibility (as well as costume and manner) is itself still resonant at a time when some film criticism takes a sensitive look at things like this and seems like it must have seemed daring and provocative at the time–this movie is many years before Fassbinder, and a studio picture (Fox). I won’t give everything away but there is a triangle between the pirate Anne, the hero (Louis Jourdan) who deceives her and is willing to use her emotions in the process, and good girl Debra Paget, who interestingly has some physical resemblance to her. I don’t think there is any doubt where the movie’s deepest sympathies lie and play movingly in Tourneur’s brilliant hands.

  • “I guess social justice, and plain vengeance, often figure notably in swashbucklers”

    Alex, I was delighted and surprised when I finally saw the uncut “The Adventures of Captain Blood” after decades of seeing the Cold War re-issue print. In the complete version there’s a scene of Capt.Blood near the beginning where he drafts the sailing articles which include provisions for social security and workman’s compensation! He almost goes as far as saying “From each according to his ability to each according to his needs.”

  • I agree with Blake on “Anne of the Indies.” One of Tourneur’s best movies and maybe his best color movie. Chris Fujiwara’s “The Cinema of Nighfall” has a nice discussion of the film and some interesting background information on the production.

  • Tony Williams

    The deletions in the Cold War reissue print of CAPTAIN BLOOD are not surprising in view of the move against the New Deal. “Share and share alive. That’s the American way” in TENDER COMRADE incurred the displeasure of Mrs Leila Rogers and the ancestors of today’s Tea Party at the time

    However, social issues in Gainsborough are there implicitly according to gender and class roles. Clarissa and Rokesby can only unit via their descendents during the “People’s War” era of 1943. By, contrast Rohan and Hesther leave no negative legacies: class violence and the impossibility of the devious Hesther becoming Lady Rohan, apart from her dark manipulative activies as a return of the lower class repressed. THE WICKED LADY looks forward to better divorce laws and MADONNA OF THE 7 MOONS can only resolve its class and sexuality issues via death where both John Stuart and Granger mourn the passing of “Rosanna” from separate spaces. All these films look forqard to a better post WW2 class future that was never realized.

  • Barry Lane

    Clearly, Canyon Passage has to be considered when discussing the best of anyone’s color films.

  • Alex

    The post-WWII repression of portions of CAPTAIN BLOOD can surely be much understood in terms of Cold War conservatism, especially where any hint of communism was concerned. The egalitartianism of the original film owes its appearence to not only Depression economic ppopulism and the New Deal’s strain of egalitarianism but also to the left leanings of Curtiz and to the facts of Carribean piracy itself (perhaps present in Sabatini’s 1922 novel). Caribbean piracy was democratic and egalitarian as an ample historical “literature” documents. (for example, see Leeson, Peter T. “An-arrghchy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization.” Journal of Political Economy 115, no. 6 (2007): 1049–1094. pg 1066.)

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘Clearly, Canyon Passage has to be considered when discussing the best of anyone’s color films.’

    CANYON PASSAGE and ANNE OF THE INDIES is showing creative range of Tourneur to use color. I cannot say that one is better than other, but both is using color for different expressive reason. Color of CANYON PASSAGE is from natural world, location photography is half of movie showing this. ANNE OF THE INDIES is artificial color scheme to show emotion of characters, maybe more abstract use of color than CANYON PASSAGE. Both movies is good, both showing Tourneur as sensitive director.

  • jbryant

    Off topic, but has everyone been enjoying today’s Google “doodle” celebrating the 107th anniversary of Winsor McCay’s Little Nemo in Slumberland. Inspired.

    If you miss it, just go to http://www.google.com/doodles/

  • A starter list about color in Jacques Tourneur. It needs a lot more work:

    White ground:
    white sand during plane landing: Nick Carter, Master Detective,
    snow-covered cattail marsh: Days of Glory,
    snow: Nightfall,
    light sand in desert: Timbuktu
    related:
    red ground in desert: Stranger on Horseback

    Red-and-green color schemes:
    Portland streets, Devine’s house: Canyon Passage,
    outdoor scenes: Stranger on Horseback,
    hero rides into Wichita, bank: Wichita,
    Red British uniforms vs green Forest Ranger and vegetation: The Gunsmith

    Red-and-blue color schemes:
    red light and blue light on ship’s deck: Appointment in Honduras,
    Marshal’s office, hotel corridor, hero’s room at hotel, dinner table and dishes: Stranger on Horseback

    Neutral color schemes, often with men in brown, symbolizing repressed or controlled worlds:
    first part: The Flame and the Arrow,
    jail cell: Stranger on Horseback,
    second half after law comes to town: Wichita

    Men in brilliantly colored clothes, expressing dynamism and action:
    minstrels at end: The Flame and the Arrow,
    hero in blue shirt at end: Stranger on Horseback,
    hero in red shirt: Wichita,
    green Ranger uniforms: The Gunsmith

    Purple dresses:
    heroine’s mother in bank: Wichita,
    heroine gets picture painted: The Gunsmith

  • Professor Scott Higgins will be teaching a free, on-line course next February:
    https://www.coursera.org/#course/hollywood

    Subject: The Language of Hollywood: Storytelling, Sound, and Color.

    This is one of the first MOOCs (massive open online courses) on film.

    First impression: this is a LOT of ground to cover in a 5 week course.
    Still, it might be quite informative!

  • Four other free film courses are listed in the site Open Culture, along with 540 free college courses on all subjects:

    http://www.openculture.com/freeonlinecourses

    (Scroll down to the Film section.)

    I have tended to to learn all my life from reading books.
    Free on-line courses are pretty new to me.

  • Alex Hicks

    Martin Scorsese’s 2 top 10 lists (1 domestic 1 International) of films which exemplify the use of light and color:

    English Language Films (in alphabetical order)
    • Barry Lyndon (1975, Dir. Stanley Kubrick; Cin. John Alcott)
    • Duel in the Sun (1946, Dir. King Vidor; Cin. Lee Garmes, Ray Rennahan, Hal Rosson)
    • Invaders From Mars (1953, Dir. William Cameron Menzies; Cin. John F. Seitz)
    • Leave Her to Heaven (1946, Dir. John M. Stahl; Cin. Leon Shamroy)
    • Moby Dick (1956, Dir. John Huston; Cin. Oswald Morris)
    • Phantom of the Opera (1943, Dir. Arthur Lubin; Cin. W. Howard Greene, Hal Mohr)
    • The Red Shoes (1948, Dir. Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger; Cin. Jack Cardiff)
    • The Searchers (1956, Dir. John Ford; Cin. Winton C. Hoch)
    • Singin’ in the Rain (1952, Dir. Stanley Donen, Gene Kelly; Cin. Harold Rosson)
    • Vertigo (1958, Dir. Alfred Hitchcock; Cin. Robert Burks)
    International Films (in alphabetical order) • Contempt (1963, Dir. Jean-Luc Godard; Cin. Raoul Coutard; France/Italy)
    • Cries and Whispers (1972, Dir. Ingmar Bergman; Cin. Sven Nykvist; Sweden)
    • Gate of Hell (1953, Dir. Teinosuke Kinugasa; Cin. Kohei Sugiyama; Japan)
    • In the Mood For Love (2000, Dir. Wong Kar-Wai; Cin. Christopher Doyle, Mark Lee Ping-bin; Hong Kong)
    • The Last Emperor (1987, Dir. Bernardo Bertolucci; Cin. Vittorio Storaro; Italy/United Kingdom/China/Hong Kong)
    • Red Desert (1964, Dir. Michelangelo Antonioni; Cin. Carlo Di Palma; France/Italy)
    • The River (1951, Dir. Jean Renoir; Cin. Claude Renoir; India/France/United States)
    • Satyricon (1969, Dir. Federico Fellini; Cin. Giuseppe Rotunno; Italy/France)
    • Senso (1954, Dir. Luchino Visconti; Cin. G.R. Aldo, Robert Krasker, Giuseppe Rotunno; Italy)
    • Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1964, Dir. Sergei Paradjanov; Cin. Viktor Bestayev, Yuri Ilyenko; Russia/Ukraine)
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