THE SWIMMER (1968)

All I can say is  wow  after this one with Burt Lancaster take risks  as a performer  and for story content.    THE SWIMMER (1968)  Directed by Frank Perry  is  a  stylish  journey of  Man: in this case  Ned Merrill (Burt Lancaster) to ‘swim home” in his neighbor’s pools which are all in a basic line some distance apart: one summer day rural Connecticut.

The Journey consists of old  lovers and acquaintances from a life that slowly reveals itself as being not  quite what one thinks.   It is a bitter trip  filled with physical toil, isolation, lost love, rivalries, unfulfilled moments and  brilliant ecstasies.

I would  suggest its a  “Guy” film in that it  examines aging process in a  different light. Directed  with some ‘sixties” style  with  zooms, closeups,   slow mo  running in the  grass  filed shots all set to quirky pastoral score by Marvin Hamlisch.     The source material was a 12 page  short story by John Cheever who has been featured in many magazines such as  Esquire who often  wrote of  nostalgia of  a vanishing life and  alienation.

Its a quirky picture which I think fits right beside Mike Nichols Directed  THE GRADUATE (1967)  as a  portrait of male changing roles in the 1960’s.

Hard  to see  but worth the  time.

 

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LAYERED MOMENTS FROM PICNIC (1956)

 

This sequence from PICNIC (1956) Directed by Joshua Logan has  good use of layers on par  with Tennessee Williams Southern use of men, women and  relationships gone  wrong or  embittered.

This sequence has been called one of the “sexiest dances”  in the  movies.  Yes it has the look,  the  smoldering feel of something passing between the glances between Kim Novak and  William Holden.  I say that its  Rosalind  Russell that steals the scene as  she tosses herself recklessly demanding affection in spite of the  “Small town morals”.  This is setup with Holden later  dancing with Arthur O Connell at before Russell’s burst out. Her character of the  old maid school teacher Rosemary Sidney wants William Holden’s  Hal Carter so much that she is stung by even the affection shown to everyone else but her.

 

 

Susan Strasberg  performance as  younger Millie Owen’s:  the  ‘ugly sister”   to Kim Novak’s older  Madge Owens also take  the scene with her background reaction.  She  as  well is infatuated with Hal Carter yet she takes her place with a  broken heart.  Well crafted scene which is more  than what it is known  for which was  the  ‘dance”

THE SEA WOLF (1941)

 

A good picture will allow  you to understand the story and the  roles  almost without  dialogue.  These moments from Michael Curtiz Directed version of  THE  SEA WOLF (1941) is a  wonderful example of  that technique.  Curtiz was  a story teller on par with John Ford even if  he moved  from genre to genre.  Curtiz was at home with the  ‘large  story” and the character  study.    Here he  works with a brilliant cast of  Edward  G  Robinson, Ida Lupino, John Garfield and  Alexander Knox.      The scenes  are  cut to music  yet  you can still understand the motives,  the churning ambitions and  passions of the people.     The  turmoil of the  sea water  that surrounds the  ship….The  Sea Wolf.

TOMORROW THE WORLD (1944)

 

STARDUST AND SHADOWS suggests  another off  the  path story in TOMORROW THE WORLD (1944) . The picture was Directed by Leslie Fenton who was married  to Anne Dvorak.   Its a story of a  German Boy Emil (Skip Homeier)who is  sent to America to live to live with  his Uncle  Mike Frame (Fredric March).  Emil has been exposed to the Hitler Youth training even struts around: spouting Nazi idealogy in a uniform complete with dagger.  Fredric March is wonderful as the  upright Mike Frame who is  going to marry Leona Richards (Betty Field) who is Jewish.   Agnes Moorhead has a  good  turn as  Frame’s sister Jessie.  The picture features some not  so typical strong roles  for children particularly Joan Carol in the role of Pat Frame.   The children have the distinction of solving Emils intigration into American society by doing many of the  actions adults had  done in  picture of the  time.  They hunt down Emil at the conclusion and show  him the  error of his ways.

TOMORROW THE WORLD (1944)  is one of  handful of  wartime films that tried to show the plight of the everyday German during, that time.  It was  was also a  successful play under the same title with Homeier in the role of Emil on Broadway.