Tag Archives: Joan Fontaine

September Affair

1950

directed by: William Dieterle

Well, well, well. Another Joan Fontaine flick.  I watched this the other night on Netflix, and before I go any further, a couple of notes.  Yes, I found this searching “Joan Fontaine”.  Yes, this is the earliest movie they have starring her on Netflix.  Yes I’m currently in my 1-month free trial, and yes I’ll try to watch as many films as possible before the close of the month’s time.  That and Breaking Bad.  Damn, that’s a fine show.  Anyways, where was I? Ah, yes.  September Affair.

Now it’s a supreme bummer that this movie was titled thusly.  Let’s look at other similar movie titles.  An Affair to Remember, Love Affair, Brief Encounter, XYZ Affair, The Thomas Crown Affair, well you get the picture.  None of these ended well, especially the XYZ Affair, which drove John Adams out of office (not true).  So it’s no surprise that I wanted September Affair to end differently.  I mean, surely it couldn’t just be a film about an affair in September?

September Affair begins in Rome, or Florence, or Naples, Capri or somewhere in Italy. I had trouble keeping track of the tourism plug that was the first act of the movie.  We meet Joe Cotten, an unhappy married rich Manhattan-ite about to return back to New York to his unhappy family.  But, the man is an engineer.  So, I definitely fell for him.  Hah, anywho, Joan plays Manina, not to be confused with soon-to-be-rebooted-played-by-Jessica-Biel-in-Total-Recall Melina.  So Manina is a pianist and sort of free-spirit, and I took it as she was kind of just roped into this whole situation of meeting a married man on the flight back to America.  So pretty simple stuff.  They hit it off on the plane, but then there’s some engine trouble and the plane has to land in … Naples, I believe.  So rather than wait for the delay to fix the plane, they both hitch a ride into town, sightseeing montage ensues, and they end up in this romantic Italian restaurant overlooking Naples.  Pretty textbook seduction, Joe.  They end up missing their flight (go figure), and then get this,  EVERYONE DIES ON THE PLANE!  Whammy.  So rather than reflect on their mortality, they say “F it”, and start a new life together in Florence (I think).  Problem is (well, there a ton of problems with this plan) they’re both legally presumed dead, and you can’t get by on your good looks, even in Italy.  In a twisted, brilliant, never fully explained way, Joe pre-dates a check two days before the crash (illegal) to Manina’s piano teacher as charity (also illegal) and then the piano teacher gives the money back to Joe (more illegal).  So, basically Joe swindles his still living wife and son out of money so he can pay for a luxury mansion/villa with Joan Fontaine.  I mean, which isn’t to say I wouldn’t have done the same thing.  The wife and kid come to visit.  The affair falls apart. The end? Yeah, pretty much, except get this.  Joan moves to South America at the end.  What?   Did I miss something?  Maybe they’ve got a good piano scene down in Rio.

Best scene was them on a raft in a lake and Joan had a bikini on.  Too bad it was only like a minute long scene though. Sigh…

Underrated Actors: meh, no one.


Rebecca

1940

directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Oscars: Best Picture, Best Cinematography – Black & White

There are great disservices in our day to day lives.  We all have to put up with annoyances caused by others and take it in stride most of the time.   It’s part of being human.  Today, I’ve done a great disservice by not reviewing this sooner.  It’s probably been a month since I watched Rebecca, and it’s one of those that I want to get just right because it blew me away.  This was honestly one of the best movies I’ve ever seen.

Wow.

Lofty words.  Now the cynics in the crowd are probably just muttering that it’s because Joan Fontaine is in it.  And on first glance, this is what made me dive in and grab it.  Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that Olivier is in it, and it’s directed by Hitchcock.  So it’s got that going for it.  On top of that , Best Picture 1940, beating out Philadelphia Story and Kitty Foyle (reviewed on this site) Foreign Correspondent (in my queue), Grapes of Wrath, and other great films (I’m assuming).  So it’s got the critical pedigree.

It’s honestly a movie that I don’t want to really get much into plot-wise because the plot is just too damn good to gloss over.  It starts a bit like Suspicion (another Fontaine-Hitchcock vehicle) in that it’s really going well for Fontaine (great wardrobe in this), but quickly gets weird for her, and then things start going wrong.  But again, it’s a Hitchcock picture, so it’s more just tension and psychological toying.  But unlike other Hitchcock pictures, the overall morality of Olivier’s character, along with the other pseudo-villains, is not over-the-top, black & white, or unbelievable.  And George Sanders is in it.  And as a general rule of thumb, everything the man is in is pretty pretty good.  It’s even got a costume party and an inquest. Only included that because I wanted to type inquest.    Hah, anyways.  Definitely see this movie.  A great one.

 

Underrated Actors:  George Sanders as Jack Favell


Suspicion

1941

directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Oscars: Best Actress – Joan Fontaine

 

Cary Grant film #41 of 74.   Grant plays a roguish playboy (I’m seeing a theme to the parts the man gets).  Being a Hitchcock film, the plot is a bit nuanced for the general paintstrokes I’m going to give it, but it’ll have to suffice for now.  Fontaine (a babe) (an unnecessary paranthetical) plays a timid naive bookish girl, Lina, still living with her parents in their gigantic home.  Grant, it is assumed, is broke and latches on to her money/her almost immediately.  But the beauty of it is that’s not how the film, to me, played out in the first 20 minutes.  It was more like a genuine love story, and you were wondering…wait…this is a Hitchcock film, something has to go horribly wrong.  And then it just starts getting worse and worse for Lina.  First she finds out that Johnnie (Grant) is broke and assuming that she will pay for everything.  As things spiral down, people start dying, and Lina thinks she’s next.  However, the ending was totally confusing, and I was left scratching my head.  Soooo, did he want to kill her? …. or not?  Boom, Suspicion.

Grant, as a definite departure, played a convincing menace/not?menace.  I’ve read since that the studio made Hitchcock change the ending of the film, well that makes a little more sense.  As a retrospect I think people can swallow Cary Grant murdering someone, but at the time midway through his career, he had that laughable, carefree, comedic image to keep up with people.  So there’s that.  Also Joan Fontaine, my oh my, what a babe.  Great hairstyles, great dresses, great, great, great acting.

Underrated Actors: well Fontaine won Best Actress, so she’s not underrated… let’s go with Nigel Bruce as Beaky, who kept referring to Johnnie as OB or ‘Ol’ Bean’ and Lina as ‘Ol’ Girl’


Gunga Din

1939

directed by: George Stevens

First action movie. Here we go.  Cary Grant movie #33 of 74.  Grant plays a British Sergeant in India in the late 19th century.  Along with his two fellow Sgts. Grant is always causing trouble, getting into fights, causing a raucous in the barracks, etc.  He’s also convinced there is gold and treasures out there to be had.  Very reminiscent of Three Kings with George Clooney, mixing lots of humor in a military film.  So anyways, there’s this tribe of cultish Indians that have been raiding towns and taking out communications and just causing a lot of mayhem.  So the Sgts. are deployed to the latest town and they come upon an ambush from the cult, but narrowly escape.  Enter Joan Fontaine as the love interest of one of the Sergeants about to finish his active duty.  They should have at least tripled her screen time.  (ggggrowl)  Anyways, Gunga Din , this Indian servant of the British Army, tells Grant where there’s tons of gold and treasure and they set off to find it.  The other two dudes follow after they disappear.  Turns out they all get captured by the cult who worships Kali (Think Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom).  Although no one’s still beating heart gets ripped out, these dudes are evil (and the 2 main ones , along with Gunga Din, played by an Italian, a guy from Milwaukee, and a Jew, respectively).  So after all 3 go missing, they send out the entire battalion or regiment or whatever, complete with bagpipes.  But these cult guys have hidden an army of their own waiting to ambush them.  However, the 3 and Gunga Din manage to break out of their cell, and Gunga Din warns the oncoming Brits of the ambush, ultimately causing his demise.

Let’s see, this film was okay.  I didn’t expect the level of comedy it had (or at least attempted to have).  It seemed like there should have been a ton more British casualties at the end/ throughout the movie, and Grant got STABBED in the back with a BAYONET, yet walked off on his own a couple minutes later.  Talk about a warrior.  At the end of the day, the sets and battles were pretty neat, enough to get you through the attempts at humor.  And Joan Fontaine was in it.

Underrated Actors: besides Joan Fontaine, Sam Jaffe was pretty likeable and good as Gunga Din