Bette Davis Project #10: The Great Lie (1941)

Why The Great Lie wasn’t made in 1933 with Kay Francis is beyond me, because this is so obviously a Kay vehicle that it’s impossible to see it any other way. The fact is, however, that it never could have been a Kay movie: it’s based on a Polan Banks novel from 1936 when both Kay and her style of movies were fading out of popularity. The fact that these light-on-plot women’s weepies weren’t all that popular in the 1940s makes it even more strange that Warner Bros. would choose this film for Bette Davis in 1941 when she was at the peak of her career. The plot is your basic unnecessarily complicated affair: Pete (George Brent, of course) marries tempestuous pianist Sandra (Mary Astor), a glamorous and world-famous diva who enjoys to party as much as he does. After a week of marriage and wild, apartment-wrecking soirees, Pete finds out they’re not really married, as Sandra’s divorce wasn’t yet final. Learning this, he takes his own plane to Maryland to talk to Maggie (Bette), the woman he was supposed to marry but didn’t, because she (rightly) thought he was an alcoholic and he (idiotically) refused to stop drinking. Maggie caught cold when she read about Pete’s marriage and spent a day walking in the freezing rain.   Maggie chews Pete’s ass out for showing up a week after he married just so he could whine that he’s made a blunder, which is why Pete doesn’t tell Maggie that he’s … Continue reading

Shatnerthon: The William Shatner Blogathon

It’s summertime. Kids play in the streets, a warm breeze rustles the green leaves, bugs invade your home and form powerful alliances with your pets, and it’s time for Shatnerthon: The William Shatner Blogathon. Yes, good friends, I am doing my first blogathon. Fingers crossed and all that. I’m seriously excited about this and, I can only hope, at least one other person is as well. Don’t make me force my husband to create a blog just so I have at least one participant! The good news is that the rules are simple: Blog about William Shatner. Doesn’t matter what you blog about; anything that bears the golden touch of the Shatman is fair game. You could blog about movies, sure, but you could also blog about TV shows, interviews, musical performances, cartoons, satire, you could even send me a link to something you have already written and submit it for the Shatnerthon! That is how generous I am, my friends. Submit your entries to me in comments or via email, preferrably during the week of July 5th through 9th, but I’m not gonna turn down earlier submissions. I’ll post daily links to every submission I get. And. AND! Everyone who submits an entry to the Shatnerthon will be entered into a random drawing for free DVDs! Two people will win a “Twilight Zone” compilation DVDs, either Volume 9 with “Nick of Time” or Volume 2 with “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.” These are an almost $6 value! Very exciting! Note … Continue reading

Duel at Diablo (1966)

The fine folks at Movies Unlimited, and their official movie blog Movie Fanfare, very kindly asked me to contribute a guest blog article for them, one I’m proud to re-post here on SBBN. *** Duel at Diablo (1966) is an odd, unique Western, a rare collage of individual desires in a genre that routinely celebrates the successes of teamwork, partnership and camaraderie. One of the most talked-about aspects of “Duel at Diablo” is the music which, at first, seems wildly out of place, far too cheerful and lighthearted for the subject matter. But listen closely to Neal Hefti’s score: The theme for the Apache is a strummy guitar track laid over a driving beat that mimics stereotypical “Indian drums”. Underneath the jazzy main theme track is a sweeping, orchestral score that would be right at home during a majestic scenery shot in any VistaVision Western of a decade earlier. The music is as anachronistic as the background of the character of Toller (Sidney Poitier), a civilian businessman who once served as a cavalryman in the same regiment as Scotty McAlister. During the so-called “Indian Wars”, black soldiers such as Toller were segregated into all-black U.S. Cavalry regiments known as Buffalo Soldiers. While historically it’s possible Toller would have served at or near Fort Concho during the Apache Wars of the 1870s when “Duel at Diablo” takes place, he would not have served in a unit with white soldiers. Yet this anachronism is not problematic in the least, as Nelson has … Continue reading