The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). 113 minutes. Directed by Tay Garnett. Starring Lana Turner (as Cora Smith), John Garfield (as Frank Chambers), Cecil Kellaway (as Nick Smith), Hume Cronyn (as Arthur Keats), Leon Ames (as Kyle Sackett), Audrey Totter (as Madge Gorland), Alan Reed (as Ezra Liam Kennedy), and Jeff York (as Blair).
Based on the James M. Cain novel of the same name, The Postman Always Rings Twice effectively channels the sinister aspects of the film noir mode: the temptation to commit crimes of violence, greed, and cynicism; the femme fatale with murder in her eyes; the morally compromised drifter who falls prey to beautiful women; and the adversarial courtroom scenes. It offers not one but two conspiratorial murder attempts (the second of which is successful), and it features a smoldering, doomed love story, in which the two leads sneak furtive glances and passionate looks while the woman’s husband hovers just out of view. The result is a … Read the rest
Portrait of Jennie (1948). 86 minutes. Directed by William Dieterle. Starring Jennifer Jones (as Jennie Appleton), Joseph Cotten (as Eben Adams), Ethel Barrymore (as Miss Spinney), Lillian Gish (as Mother Mary of Mercy), Cecil Kellaway (as Mr. Matthews), David Wayne (as Gus O’Toole), and Albert Sharpe (as Moore). Produced by David O. Selznick.
Portrait of Jennie is one of several films that paired actors Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones together in a romantic scenario, but what is particularly noteworthy about this venture is the extent to which it blends sentimentality with supernatural fantasy. The plot concerns a painter who draws inspiration from someone whom we gradually suspect is a ghost. Given this premise, you may discern already that the potential for it to veer into melodramatic terrain is great, and with producer David O. Selznick at the helm, the events depicted do, in fact, grow to be over the top; the emotional storyline erupts in a cataclysmic fever towards the … Read the rest
I Married a Witch (1942). 77 minutes. Directed by René Clair. Starring Fredric March (as Wallace Wooley), Veronica Lake (as Jennifer), Cecil Kellaway (as Daniel), Susan Hayward (as Estelle Masterson), and Robert Warwick (as J. B. Masterson).
As a supernatural comedy that also has a political subplot, I Married a Witch is both a good Halloween movie and a good election-year movie. Possibly it is familiar to you as one of the inspirations for the television series Bewitched. The movie tells the story of the witches Daniel and Jennifer, a father and daughter pair who were found guilty of sorcery and burned in seventeenth-century New England at the instigation of Puritan Jonathan Wooley. Just before her execution, Jennifer curses the Wooley men, condemning them all to unsatisfying love lives until the end of time. Daniel and Jennifer’s ashes are buried under an old tree, where their spirits remain until 1942, at which point, thanks to some stray lightning, their … Read the rest