Women in peril / husband or brother disappears films

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movieman
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Women in peril / husband or brother disappears films

Post by movieman »

The films where a woman is in peril, or other films where a couple is on some kind of trip, and the man disappears are major plot points of many movies.

In this thread I'd like us to discuss those kind of movies, if you'd like it.

These movies are, nowadays, often regarded as noir films. They're most often period pieces (Gothic, set in the 1800s or around 1900).

My opinion on films like "So Long at the Fair" (dir. Terence Fisher) is that they tend to be overlong and tedious. The plot functions much better in the short story format or TV episode format. When they're properly made they can be brilliant.

Here's some of the 'women in peril (woman threatened by husband)' films which comes to mind:

-Experiment Perilous (1944)
-Gaslight (1940/1944, UK/US versions)
-Dragonwyck (1946)
-Sleep, My Love (1948)
-Caught (1949) not sure if this one fits in here...

Some 'a couple is on some kind of trip, and one of them disappears' films:

-The Lady Vanishes (1938) (UK)
-So Long at the Fair (1950) (UK) "based upon an urban legend popular in America and Europe." The same story was previously filmed in "Season One of the TV series, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (1955), under the title "Into Thin Air"." (imdb.com)
-Dangerous Crossing (1953) based upon the "Suspense" radio play "Cabin B-13" by John Dickson Carr
-Treacherous Crossing (1992) (TV) based upon the "Suspense" radio play "Cabin B-13" by John Dickson Carr

The three last films on this list are very much alike.

The films may be discussed in the coming posts.

Even B
Last edited by movieman on February 13th, 2008, 10:54 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Dangerous Crossing ("Cabin B-13") / So Long at the

Post by movieman »

Dangerous Crossing (1953) was based upon the CBS "Suspense" radio play "Cabin B-13" by the classic, american, mystery author John Dickson Carr (1905-1977).
The radio play's premiere was on March 16, 1943. It was a big success and was repeated on several later occasions in the 1940's and 1950's.

The following reveals major plotpoints of, especially, "So Long at the Fair", but also of "Dangerous Crossing":

Carr's biographer writes: "...Carr's tale is a variant of the situation in the classic Paris Exposition story: [spoiler start] A young woman leaves her mother in a hotel, but when she returns, her mother has disappeared and the hotel claims that she never existed. (The original story concludes that the mother had bubonic plague and the hotel therefore hushed up her presence there.)"[end of spoiler] (Douglas G. Greene (1995), p. 252).

The above citation sounds almost exactly like the plot for the UK movie So Long at the Fair (1950), except that her mother is instead her brother in the film.

Greene further writes: "[Cabin B-13] was adapted for television, and [...] became the basis for a 1953 feature movie, Dangerous Crossing, starring Jeanne Crain and Michael Rennie. Unfortunately, the screenplay by Leo Townsend ignores the radio play's feeling of strangeness, of having stepped into another dimension, and it reveals the solution too early. The result is no better and no worse than a typical damsel-in-distress film."

In this regard So Long at the Fair must be one of the most faithfully told adaptations of the classic plot.

Jean Simmons is fine in her part and is not as hysterical as Jeanne Crain in Dangerous Crossing.
SLATF is an overlong, but very competently filmed and acted movie.

I'd like to post some vidcaps from the Spanish R2 DVD of So Long at the Fair ('Extraño Suceso'), but I don't know how.

Even B
Last edited by movieman on March 7th, 2008, 10:59 am, edited 6 times in total.
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So Long at the Fair

Post by movieman »

I'd like to post this user comment from imdb.com (it's excellent):

"A Fair to Remember?, 25 April 2004
Author: theowinthrop from United States

There can be a small study made of movies set in Worlds Fairs. Start with THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, where a few scenes appear at Joseph Paxton's Crystal Palace. Then CENTENNIAL SUMMER, where the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition is the center piece. Go on to The STARS AND STRIPES FOREVER, where Clifton Webb (as John Philip Sousa) performs at the 1896 Cotton Exposition in Atlanta. Then go to this film, followed by MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (the St. Louis Worlds Fair in 1904). There would be others.

SO LONG AT THE FAIR is about the Paris Worlds Fair of 1900. It is based on an incident that has grown into a modern urban legend [spoiler start] concerning how a young woman was told that she had no mother (or,in the film, a brother), there was no room in a hotel that she left this party in, and that she has been imagining events and people for the last couple of days (at least). In the original legend, the young woman is so hopelessly lost by this she loses her mind and is put into an asylum. In the movie (and its novel and other versions) eventually the massive conspiracy to cover-up what happened is revealled.

Did it happen? Did a young woman (here played by Jean Simmons) come into Paris, readying itself for the big world's fair, find herself confronted by a conspiracy that claimed she imagined it all?[end of spoiler] No historical evidence has ever surfaced that this actually happened. Yet the story survives. It is a terrific story, for it is based on the fragility of reality. If everyone doubted us how could we prove what we said was true? Hard to say. You need some people to validate your story in part or whole for people to believe you. In all the retellings of this story, the heroine is isolated once the mother or brother is gone. The very person to prove the story is the person whose absence is deplored but questioned.

As a costumed historical film, SO LONG AT THE FAIR is very good, with Simmons aided by Dirk Bogarde as the one person in Paris who believes her. And together they prove that Cathlene Nesbitt (the hotel owner) is lying - but with powerful friends to assist her.

It is not the best retelling of the story - Hitchcock used the plot, but changed it, in THE LADY VANISHES, where it is the missing spy, Miss Froy, whose existance is questioned by all who hear the heroine (Margaret Leighton), except Michael Redgrave.

I should add that students of this mystery don't know which world's fair is the site of the story: the 1889 French fair (where the Eiffel Tower first appeared), or the 1900 one. However there was also the 1867 fair in Paris, where Tsar Alexander II of Russia arrived. One version of the story tells that the reason for the cover-up deals with an attempt on the life of the Tsar. So it could have been one of three fairs that was the basis for this marvelous yarn."

Mr. Winthrop is wrong regarding the year of the setting of the movie. The correct year is 1889, as you can see in the opening seconds of it.

Even B
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Post by movieman »

Seems like I'm the only one here interested in these kind of movies.
Anyway, here's some links for further reading:

'So Long at the Fair', interesting TCM article by Jeff Stafford URL:
http://www.tcm.com/thismonth/article.js ... eId=159329

+

A very interesting essay from 'The Village Voice' on the net, 'Fright Plan - Toward a cultural history of the vanishing lady-with a nod to Jodie Foster' by Devin McKinney URL:
http://www.villagevoice.com/film/0544,m ... 12,20.html

This article tries to trace the history of the 'vanishing lady' myth or fact.

Even B
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Post by cinemalover »

Hi movieman,
I've never seen So Long at the Fair, but it sounds interesting.

Both versions of Gaslight are entertaining and The Lady Vanishes is one of hitchcock's better films that doesn't usually enter the discussion of his best works. The lack of recognizable "American" stars may have hurt its reputation a bit on these shores.
Chris

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Post by MikeBSG »

I've never seen "So Long at the Fair," but there is an interesting write up of it in "A Heritage of Horror" by David Pirie, one of the first books written about Hammer horror films. "So Long at the Fair" was co-directed by Terence Fisher, who would be the main workhorse director for Hammer studios, making "Curse of Frankenstein" and "Horror of Dracula." I've always been interested in seeing this movie, since I like Fisher's later work so much.
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Post by mrsl »

movieman:

Right off hand I can think of two fairly recent movies with the 'vanishing person' story. They would be Frantic with Harrison Ford whose wife disappears while he is showering. The other is Flightplan, with Jody Foster whose little girl disappears while everyone is sleeping. Both movies keep the suspense up quite well and keep you guessing until the person is found at the end - the twist is why and how they were taken.

As for people in trouble, the best example of that is Barbara Stanwyck and Barry Sullivan in Jeopardy (1953) where Barry is hurt on the beach and the tide is coming in while he is pinned down and she can't move him. That one keeps you going quite well for the length of the film, partly due to Ms. Stanwyck's acting talents, and the sinister portrayal of Ralph Meeker, or it could be the elfin effect of Lee Acker, Barb's little boy, and finally, possibly because John Sturges directed. I don't know for sure, but it is a good and very suspenseful movie.

Anne
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Post by cinemalover »

Anne,
There were parts of Flightplan that I really liked. I thought it was a very interesting, if flawed, movie. Jodie Foster is very good at playing INTENSE. The audience almost starts to believe that she was crazy from the get go.
Chris

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Post by Ollie »

MrsL. your mentioning of the excellent JEOPARDY with Meeker as the bad guy who somehow charms Stanwyck while endangering her husband and son, also reminds me of the joys of sailing, as told by Sam Neill, Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane in DEAD CALM (1989).

While both films have little to do with the other, they share a 'sequel' question in my mind. I've forever wondered, "So, in their next marital squabble, does the hubby bring up that prior, uh, episode?" ha ha
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Post by mrsl »

I have never been a Nicole Kidman fan and I saw Dead Calm long before Days of Thunder came out which I believe was the movie which introduced Nicole to American audiences, as well as unlucky Tom. From the first time I saw her, there was something about her that turned me off and I'll never be able to put my finger on it. She just seems so snooty and better than thou to me. I know a lot of women like that, and never include them in my circle of friends, because I don't believe in competing with friends for looks, or compliments or anything else.

Anne
Anne


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Post by nightwalker »

Another good film along these lines is 1965's BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING, directed by Otto Preminger.

In the film, Carol Lynley's young daughter disappears from a day school, managing it so completely that Mom is unable to prove she ever existed when the police, led by Laurence Olivier, come to investigate.

And since we, the audience, never saw the child, our acceptance of her existence depends entirely on Ms. Lynley's ability to convince us that she does exist and is missing.
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Woman In Hiding

Post by Alan K. »

A newly surfaced film, courtesy of Bob O'Neill at Universal, stars Ida Lupino married to an odious Stephen McNally. The film opens with an Ida voice-over after her car goes off of bridge. Seems that hyper-ambitious McNally married her only because Ida's Dad owned the plant he managed and it is immediately apparent that bad intentions abound on this star-crossed honeymoon. This is the picture where Ida got hooked up with Howard Duff off screen.

Really entertaining picture.
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