I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mildred Pierce

Given a choice between a movie made now, and a movie made during the days of D.W. Griffith, or L.B. Mayer or Jack Warner, I will easily pick the old movie. It makes for an interesting Netflix queue.

I love them all - Lillian Gish, Norma Shearer, Mary Pickford, Lionel Barrymore, Marlene Dietrich, Bette Davis, Harold Lloyd, Spencer Tracy, Judy Garland, (Not Mickey Rooney.), and...Joan Crawford.

When Netflixing, I try to maintain a good mix of things I've heard of, and things I've never heard of. I've seen some really crappy Eastern European movies, and some okay Japanese ones. And some not-so-okay Japanese ones, and some truly awful independent Gay cinema.

But every now and then, I'm surprised when I see a movie that really drives home just why a Star is (or was) a Star.

And for that reason, I highly recommend Mildred Pierce, Warner Bros.' 1945 6-Oscar winning hit.

I'm not going to really go into it much, besides mentioning that the movie feels like the stereotype of every 1940s film noir with a murder backstory, but that's not a bad thing. Afterall, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

From the damp outdoor night scenes, to the sforzando brass notes at key moments, to scenes acted out in shadow, to the chorus girl who says, "Pleased to make your acquaintance, I'm sure!" This movie is the embodiment of everything a movie from 1945 should be. It even has that "is that a banana in your pocket," MPAA-approved writing style.

I realize that some of you are disinclined to rent something that's not a New Blockbuster, but I suggest you would be well to dig up this movie.

Most especially, (and unlike What Ever Happened to Baby Jane [another movie I HIGHLY recommend, "But ya are in that chair, Blanche! Ya Are!"]) this movie erased the "wire hangers" vision that I've always held about Joan Crawford (thanks to Mommie Dearest, one of my favorite movies) and made me see her as the superb actress that she was.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, you've all got Netflix. Use it. It's opening doors for me that Blockbuster never even bothered to construct. Some of those doors were best left unopened (Read: Party at Kitty and Studs a/k/a The Italian Stallion, Sylvester Stallone's 1976 "debut" - don't waste your time. It's not even a good soft-core porn. It's...truly awful.) but while blithely clicking away it's lead me down some really worthwhile paths.

I mean, who's going to go to Blockbuster and rent "A Place in the Sun" with Shelley Winters and Elizabeth Taylor? Probably not me. But if you can just Netflix Lolita, and see Shelley Winters steal the ENTIRE MOVIE... It really does show you that they don't make 'em like they used to.