May try to make this a weekly feature, Sunday night, of things noticed while dubbing movies and watching bits and pieces of them, but not really the whole movie. For this week, one of these movies is about filthy people who’ve defined their souls by what they’re willing to do for money. The other is THE WAGES OF FEAR:
THE WAGES OF FEAR (Henri-Georges Clouzot, France, 1953) — Saw the beginning and the end of this one. A chivalrous director would feel uncomfortable telling a woman to act in the first reel like Vera Clouzot does, i.e., like a bitch in heat. (Sorry, but not taking that back … that’s how she’s acting.) A man asking his own wife to act that way? Ick. They say Clouzot was the French Hitchcock and when it comes to women (see also here), I guess there too. Sorta like I said about HAIL THE CONQUERING HERO, the utterly heartless ending of FEAR works as well as it does because of the context of the other films surrounding it — endings like this didn’t happen in 50s Hollywood thrillers, which gives this one an oomph that an identical ending today wouldn’t. Occupies a special place in my memory because it’s one of the few foreign films I’ve ever watched with my parents and had them enjoy as much as I did (my father at least apparently had seen it years ago).
THE LADY EVE (Preston Sturges, USA, 1941) — I wished Henry Fonda had made more comedies, as I like him better as a clueless Sturges male being eaten up by scheming Barbara Stanwyck than the goody-good-good he usually played. Like Graham Greene noted, Sturges knows that in the sort of movie, we identify with the schemers, especially when they’re as classy and well-bred and attractive as Stanwyck and Coburn. The scene of Jean’s directing the other women’s attempts to get Hopsie’s attention while looking in her own compact mirror is a metacinematic joy. And Sturges skates right up to the line again … “they all want Pike’s Pale, the Ale that Won for Yale / Well, tell em they can go to Ha-arvard.”
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