Wednesday, November 18, 2009


(Lewis Milestone, 1932)
"Yeah, too bad about the soundtrack! Was it the print or the projector?"
"I dunno, but it zapped me for the first half hour or so."
"I thought I heard you breathing heavy."
"Yeah I woke up when Crawford gave her first big speech though."
"Jeez she was wearing a lot of eye liner! I was so glad they ended it like that, with her tricking Walter Huston."
"Oh! Oh. Is that it? I had a different read."
"Yeah, totally, she was doing it to get to him. Otherwise that part where she goes down on her knees going 'our father who art in heaven' would be totally over the top."
"Well, it was theatrical but it was also beautifully modulated. Gee, I thought that she really did convert, but that Huston then came in and violated her and she was like, fuck this."
"Oh, that wouldn't be anywhere near as good."
"Wait though. Then why does Crawford still act all saved when the guy comes to take her to Australia? Huston wasn't even around then."
"Well, it was just a movie thing."
"No way, it would totally screw up the internal logic. I mean, I can't be sure because I missed the setup, but I think the point of the end is that Huston gets everything he wants, and then sees that it's all wrong. That face-drama he goes through in his last scene is incredible!"
"It was very silent-movie. But she seduces him!"
"No no no he responds sexually to her, but it's not about seduction. It's all about him getting power over her through his missionary thing, and about how there's a Freudian angle to that. It's totally ANTI-production code, incredible."
"Aww well I'm disappointed then. I thought it was about woman power."
"Oh come on, the woman doesn't have to be a superhero for it to be good. Isn't it more interesting for the woman to make a mistake, and to learn to be herself from that? I mean, she does go and get married, but still. And isn't it more radical for Huston's fundamentalism to implode on its own than if Crawford is like, ha ha I fooled you?"
"Yeah. Put some Snickers bar on that soy ice cream."


  1. Been reading your Jay Scott, have you? ;-)

  2. Did he do this too? Ha ha I got it from someone else.

    When you have no authority, documentary is a safe refuge! I usually don't pass critical judgment if I doze, but I needed to say something about this one cause what I saw was great.

  3. Still haven't seen that one. Maugham is one of my favourite authors, and so I've always been meaning to check it out. Another great Crawford flick from the early 30s is Possessed, co-starring Clark Gable. (Not to be confused with the 40s film of the same title.)