Screened Out: Monday, June 4th

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jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

traceyk wrote:Is there something wrong with mt? I found "Rosemary's Baby" extremely funny when I watched it a few years back. Ruth Gordon and Patsy Kelly were a hoot. I loved the way the next door neighbors kept bursting in everytime the couple tried to get intimate--saving Rosemary for the Master, no doubt. (My sister and I still make jokes about those "interferring Satanists from next door.") And in the end, when they're talking about the baby, I keep wanting someone to say, "And look at his wittle hoofies...and his itsy bitsy horns..."


Tracey
Nothing wrong with your perceptions, Tracey - it's supposed to be funny. The idea is that even the most mundane things can harbor horrible evil, as poor Rosemary learns. You can think of it as a sort of cautionary tale.

The cultists in The Seventh Victim all appear to be rather well-to-do, ordinary looking people, those you would least suspect of being devil worshippers. That's what makes them so extra-threatening -- who knows, the person you are sitting next to on the bus could be the one who wants to destroy the world. The film has a spooky scene on a subway late at night. Kim Hunter is frightened, riding alone after witnessing a murder, and at first it is really as difficult for us as it is for her character to tell which are the bad guys and which are not.

Not so far-fetched a concept, these days.
MikeBSG
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Post by MikeBSG »

I have read the book by Joel Siegel on Val Lewton, and he goes into what was cut out of "The Seventh Victim." One big cut was a scene in which it was explained why people joined the Satanists. The reason was that they had lost something. Thus the one-armed woman joined them because she had lost her arm and could no longer be considered a beauty (or something like that.)

There were four scenes cut out of "Seventh Victim." I only remember two. The explanation scene and the scene in which the poet's new book is crushingly rejected, so he has lost both girl and career at the end of the film.
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

Thanks, Mike, that does help.

Another non sequitur is the "dying woman" who lives above the Dante Restaurant. It seems that she should have more of a back story or more of a resolution at the end (if her last scene is really the end of the story). Is she supposed to replace Jacqueline, who apparently is the 7th victim (and lives in Apt. #7 - what a coincidence)? Will she get mixed up with the satanists, if she isn't already? Just who is she? That wasn't very clear to me.

By the way, the scene of the cultists playing the waiting game with Jacqueline, trying to will her to drink poison -- I've been thinking about that scene all day. Pretty cool. And didn't Jacqueline look a whole lot like Morticia Addams?

One point though - all those scenes of the characters running through the deserted streets of Greenwich Village (notice how many times the characters said something was "down in the Village" as though it was some awful, decadent place?) -- even way back then the streets of the Village were rarely deserted. It was always a 24/7 kind of place. Notice the narrow, winding street that Jacqueline ran down? Looked just like an Expressionist Minetta Lane. I'm glad now that I recorded this movie - I want to look at it again and try to piece together the real story.
MikeBSG
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Post by MikeBSG »

As I understand it, the TB woman is going out on the town for one last fling before she dies, so in effect the "Seventh Victim" ends with a double suicide: the woman who hangs herself and the TB woman. Which makes me wonder why the heck the censors let this one go.

I will have to look up my copy of Siegel and see what the four cut scenes were. I will try to post that tomorrow.
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

MikeBSG wrote:As I understand it, the TB woman is going out on the town for one last fling before she dies, so in effect the "Seventh Victim" ends with a double suicide: the woman who hangs herself and the TB woman. Which makes me wonder why the heck the censors let this one go.

I will have to look up my copy of Siegel and see what the four cut scenes were. I will try to post that tomorrow.
I see it, Mike. And on reflection, I think there's a little classic allusion going on: she descends toward the Dante Restaurant, which is, like most Greenwich Village restaurants of the day, below street level. She is proceeding toward her time in the underworld.

But there has to be more to it which we didn't get to see -- all of the cultists, as depicted in what we do see, are pretty boring, after all. They don't seem to take much pleasure in their covert activities. The TB woman wants to live, live, live, until she dies. There's a mixed message going on there that isn't resolved.

I also think now that our experience with Rosemary's Baby probably makes The Seventh Victim more comprehensible to us than it might have been to audiences of its own time. I'll have to ask an elderly friend of mine if she and/or her husband are familiar with The Seventh Victim; I'm not sure if either of them is quite old enough to have seen it at its first showing, but maybe as kids they snuck in somewhere to see it.
MikeBSG
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Post by MikeBSG »

The four cuts in "The Seventh Victim."

1) A scene in which Gregory visits Mary at the nursery. Mary says: "If Jacqueline were dead, it would be easier."

2)Judd visits Mrs. Cortez, the one-armed woman, pretending to want to join the Satanists. Mrs. Cortez explains that she was a dancer until she lost her arm. "Life has betrayed us. We've found there is no heaven on earth, so we must worship evil for evil's own sake."

3)Judd meets with the Palladists and accidently reveals that Jacqueline is staying with Mary.

4)After Jacqueline's death, Mary, Gregory and Jason meet at the Dante. Mary goes away with Gregory, leaving Jason, whose latest book has been rejected.

This is from Joel Siegel's "Lewton The Reality of Terror," published in the Seventies and perhaps still the best book on Lewton's horror films, although the recent "Icons of Grief" by Alexander Nemeroff is quite good.
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

MikeBSG wrote:The four cuts in "The Seventh Victim."

1) A scene in which Gregory visits Mary at the nursery. Mary says: "If Jacqueline were dead, it would be easier."

2)Judd visits Mrs. Cortez, the one-armed woman, pretending to want to join the Satanists. Mrs. Cortez explains that she was a dancer until she lost her arm. "Life has betrayed us. We've found there is no heaven on earth, so we must worship evil for evil's own sake."

3)Judd meets with the Palladists and accidently reveals that Jacqueline is staying with Mary.

4)After Jacqueline's death, Mary, Gregory and Jason meet at the Dante. Mary goes away with Gregory, leaving Jason, whose latest book has been rejected.

This is from Joel Siegel's "Lewton The Reality of Terror," published in the Seventies and perhaps still the best book on Lewton's horror films, although the recent "Icons of Grief" by Alexander Nemeroff is quite good.
Well, Mike, that certainly sheds a lot more light on the plotline. It was very strange to hear Judd say to Gregory "You love Mary." Where did that come from, I wondered? And, toward the end, when Gregory tells Mary he loves her and she says she knows, but it can never be, while staring off nobly into the distance - that seemed more than a little out of place, since she barely seemed to pay Gregory any attention throughout the rest of the film. In fact, the whole idea that Gregory and Jacqueline were married didn't make too much sense. Why the secret? And why didn't they seem even to like each other very much? Jacqueline barely acknowledged Gregory. When she came out of hiding, she warmly greeted her sister, and completely ignored her husband. Oh, those wacky satanists!

But thanks very much for the clarification. I still believe this movie is a prime candidate for a remake; but a good remake.
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

OK, OK, I know it - I'm becoming obssessed with The Seventh Victim. Maybe not to certifiable levels just yet, but I have been doing a little online research about the movie and how it got made.

I found this interesting tidbit on a site called missinglinkclassichorror.co.uk:


Scriptwriter DeWitt Bodeen was sent to New York to attend a Satanist meeting where he was admitted as a silent observer and recorded that the members were predominantly older men and women who knitted and sipped tea while casting spells against Hitler.

Can't you just picture it?

--"Double, double, toil and trouble!"
--"That's nice, Dear."
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Post by filmlover »

Oops, somehow ended up in wrong thread.
Vecchiolarry
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Post by Vecchiolarry »

Hey Judith!!

"Bubble, bubble; toil and trouble
May Her Hitler wind up in the rubble!".........

And, he did; so it works!!!!!

Larry
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

Vecchiolarry wrote:Hey Judith!!

"Bubble, bubble; toil and trouble
May Her Hitler wind up in the rubble!".........

And, he did; so it works!!!!!

Larry
You're right, Larry. Who's to say this bunch didn't have a hand in the defeat of the Third Reich?

Now, I want to talk about something else: did anyone see "Turnabout," which was shown in the middle of the night last Monday? I taped it, but just got around to watching it last night.

Very nice; I really liked it.

This movie was directed by Hal Roach in a semi-screwball style. That is to say, I think his intention was that it be a screwball comedy, but it wasn't quite on the mark. Some parts sort of dragged and sputtered a little, and toward the end more than once I thought it was ending, but it kept going.

Nevertheless, the dialogue was very clever and the performances were great. In fact, I had it in my mind that the female lead was Carole Lombard, when it was in fact Carol Landis, but Landis was so skilled and good in this, she very well could have been Lombard. I didn't make the connection until the credits ran at the end.

The male lead was a Hal Roach player named John Hubbard (a/k/a Anthony Allan). I'm sure I've seen him before, but I just didn't notice him. He was terrific in this. His performance as a woman in a man's body was very funny, and brought to my mind Steve Martin in "All of Me," although in "Turnabout" things were not quite so subtle. For example, the husband and wife still had their own voices (dubbed in), although they had each others' bodies.

This movie was part of the "Screened Out" series, and Mr. Barrios explained that there was some censorship. For example, Franklin Pangborn (playing a character named "Mr. Pingboom") is a client trying to see the husband, who hates him, and assiduously avoids him. When the wife is in the husband's body and goes to the office, Mr. Pingboom barges in to have an audience, and the wife (who looks like her handsome husband) is very sweet and flirtatious with him. Apparently, Mr. Pingboom responded in kind, but the censors decided that was too much for the American public, so most of the scene was cut.

There is so much going on in this movie that it would take paragraphs to explain it all. I was a little surprised that the transformation - the switch- didn't occur until about 2/3 of the way through, but it was very funny when it happened.

The supporting cast was uniformly excellent. The husband's business partners were Adolphe Menjou and William Gargan, each of whom had his own little story and many "bits of business." Mary Astor and Joyce Compton played the partners' respective wives, and there were several very funny wisecracking secretaries in the Eve Arden mode as well.

I don't think I've ever seen Mary Astor look as beautiful as she does in this movie, and that's saying something. She was gorgeous, and very effective as the waspish wife. The real surprise for me was Menjou, who was really very funny as the partner with a constant yen for a drink. He was actually quite expansive in his performance in the broad comic style we expect from Hal Roach, and he did it very well.

Oh, yes, Marjorie Main is in it as the couple's cook, and she's hilarious and has some of the best lines.

There was one brief scene of note (among many, actually): Menjou and Gargan are trying to turn off a radio that won't stop playing a raucus tune they don't want to hear. They begin to take it apart, and every time they step on a tube, a few more instruments stop playing. Finally there's only a screeching clarinet playing, and Menjou steps on another tube, and the music stops. The whole thing was so Laurel & Hardy, and these two actors did it very well.

So, I give this one a strong recommendation; it's really very good. It's also of interest as one of the first, if not the first, body-switch movies; and I think it would be a great party movie as well.
Last edited by jdb1 on June 24th, 2007, 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
feaito

Post by feaito »

After reading your glowing review, I definitely want to see "Turnabout"! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and views with us Judith.
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Turnabout sounds like a Mustsee.

Post by moira finnie »

Mary Astor "never looked as beautiful as she does in this movie, and that's saying something"? Well, Judith, this I gotta see. I see by the TCM schedule that Turnabout (1940) will be on again on Aug. 29th at 11:00AM EDT and Sept. 28th at midnight.

Your discovery that Adolphe Menjou "was really very funny"...[and the fact that] he was actually quite expansive in his performance in the broad comic style" reminded me that within the last year or two I feel as though I've discovered a new Adolphe Menjou too.

His broad, wonderfully cynical performance in William Wellman's Roxie Hart (1941) opposite Ginger Rogers (who's at her rambunctious comic height here), his roles in The Sniper (1951) and Paths of Glory (1957), and most of all, his thirties work opposite Barbara Stanwyck in Frank Capra's Forbidden (1932) and Ann Harding in Tay Garnett's forgotten Prestige (1932) made me look at the old fashioned roué, (and political archconservative), with renewed respect and, for the first time, affection! He really could be charming, touchingly vulnerable and not just be a smarmy clotheshorse, as he was so often asked to be in too many roles over the decades. He is particularly affecting in Forbidden as a sweet-natured but weak-willed politician who realizes too late that he's pursued something illusory in his public life. And in Roxie Hart, he actually made me laugh out loud. How many times have you ever read that about ol' Adolphe??
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Adolphe Menjou: worthy of reassessment?
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Post by Vecchiolarry »

Hi Moira,

Adolphe Menjou was known in movie circles for his sartorial splendour. He was always dressed up in suit and tie and even spats (in the 60's!)...
His wife was Verree Teasdale, who was equally a finely decked out fashion plate.
Both were great friends with Pola Negri.
And, they were friendly with my grandmother too, although I never knew them. Adolphe called Nell, 'Czarina'.... She loved that!!

Larry
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Post by moira finnie »

Hi Larry,
I'd read that Adolphe Menjou was well known for the sartorial splendour of his wardrobe, but frankly, his acting ability and evident good humor, on screen occasionally, and off, apparently ("Czarina", indeed!) are really news to me. His other claim to fame, at least in my family, was his attendance at Cornell University, where I believe he studied engineering--of all things--with an ancient professor who was a family friend of my parents. I bet that field of study stood him in good stead in Hollywood, eh?

Your mention of Verree Teasdale reminded me of a long, exceedingly goofy "argument" that I had about a year ago with one of my siblings. While watching Skyscraper Souls (1932) with one of my sisters, we both wondered aloud if Verree was any relation to Sara Teasdale, the American lyric poet of the early 20th century, at one time beloved by English teachers in middle schools across the country for such poems as "The Cloud", "Let It Be Forgotten" and "Joy". All we could discover after a bit of research was that Verree Teasdale was related to none other than another, greater writer, Edith Wharton, who was a cousin of hers. I don't suppose anyone every mentioned any Sara Teasdale connection for Mrs. Menjou to you, did they, Larry? Not important if you don't know, just amusing...thanks, :wink:
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