WARNING! Spoiler Alert.
George Cukor's 1956 picture Bhowani Junction takes place during the time where India no longer wanted to be ruled under the British after the Second World War. It follows the work of the British army trying to keep order (and not in the most humane ways) against the rebelling Indians who protest against the British rule.
Cukor tries desperately to make this a true telling of the plight of the Indian people's fight for independence, and in many ways he achieves this. There are some fantastic scenes which show hundreds of Indians protesting and being forced back by the British either by threat of violence, or, as in one scene involving a train protest, by throwing sewage water on the protestors. The scenes which highlighted the mistreatment of Indians were done well and being a Brit myself, I did feel embarrassed if this was actually true. However, like so many of Hollywood's films where they try to show a strong political or moral message, it slowly falls into the background of the film, whilst the focus centres on the two leading characters, and their romance.
There are a few more of Ava's films from the late 1950s I want to see as I have heard that they are more demanding of her talents. She also looks lovely here but noticeably older. I know Ava loved to dance and drink all night around the clubs of LA, and I don't blame her for loving that lifestyle. But I do wonder if it's already beginning to show in her face in Bhowani Junction. She still looks strikingly beautiful, and we know that although Colonel Rodney Savage (Stewart Granger) is rude and dismissive with her at the beginning, that he will fall in love with her by the end of the picture.
All in all, a decent film - I'd give it 3.5/5 - between worth a watch and very good. Many critics will disagree with me, but I enjoyed it more than I expected too (perhaps Granger's handsome face had something to do with that!). A lovely and believable romance until the finale, with two solid leads, and a good telling of the fight for independence by the people of India during that time. If it's on television one afternoon and you have nothing else to do, give it a go, I'm sure you will enjoy it.
Saturday, 11 August 2012
Sunday, 5 August 2012
I am not a fashion giant, and I am not a film director, but I am a fan of Marilyn, and have been since I was 15 years old. My tribute to Marilyn is in the following words, instead of a video like I usually do...
What struck me first about Marilyn was that she was even more beautiful than everyone had made out. But what really amazed me about her was her talent for comedy. I could not stop laughing at her performance in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) where she plays gold-digger with a heart of gold, Lorelei Lee. She was so superbly innocent, but adorably crafty in finding rich husbands for herself and her best friend Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell - who is also brilliant here). Fabulously glamorous and elegant, she walked with a poise and attitude that lit up the room - every inch the movie star. I personally loved the points in the film where she was angry with either her fiancee Danny, or Dorothy's love interest - Gus. She would always retort to their remarks and accusations in a fierce and superior way, that was authoritative but subtle at the time.
Considering how much stick Marilyn has gotten for her acting ability over the years, when you actually look back at her roles you can see what a lot of rubbish those jibes were. She played the femme fatale character very commendably in Niagara (1953) and gave an unusually intriguing performance to her saloon singer Kay Weston in River of No Return (1954) - the way Marilyn sings the title song is heartbreakingly full of depth and emotion, she sounds like she has lost the love of her life for good, like her character. Even in the Oscar-winning masterpiece All About Eve (1951) with a cast abundant with acting greats like Bette Davis, Ann Baxter and George Sanders, she held her own and stood out - an unknown actress then. And as for the disastrous The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) she is the only good element about the film, not even Sir Laurence Olivier's acting and directing could save it.
As I just mentioned, Marilyn shone in her singing as much as her acting. Many praise Audrey Hepburn for her singing of 'Moon River' in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) - she didn't have the strongest voice in the world but she sang that song better than Frank Sinatra or Andy Williams ever could because she understood the song and was born to sing it. Marilyn had her moments like this too, with 'River of No Return' and the song she sings at the end of Some Like It Hot, 'I'm Through With Love'. There is something about the way she sings these songs that is true for every song where a singer gets it so spot on - they sing it from the heart, singing the words as if they lived through them. Marilyn could perform her big numbers like 'Diamond's Are A Girl's Best Friend,' and 'I Wanna Be Loved By You' fantastically and was a real show-stopper, but this applies to her slower numbers too.
(Below are examples of what I mean, the blogpost continues underneath.)
Is Marilyn a good role model? People tend to think not because she was apparently promiscuous - to the people that say that, Marilyn was doing what every other actress in Hollywood was doing, and to be honest some of the iconic actresses from then who are praised for their innocence were even more "promiscuous" than Marilyn and that is a fact. There's nothing wrong with what she or anyone else did, everyone did it, but anyone who singles Marilyn out as some sort of cheap nothing could not be more wrong.
What is really tragic about Marilyn is not that she died young (although I do wish she had lived a long, full, and happy life), but that she lived in a time where no one gave her credit for her work. Yes she won the Golden Globe for her role in Some Like It Hot but by then it seems it was too late. The criticisms, jibes, and the fact that she did not have a stable family of her own yet, I believe, had gotten to her by the time she was finally critically acclaimed for her acting. Everybody has a breaking point, and I think post-Some Like it Hot was that point for her.
"I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else." - This quote by Marilyn really sums up why she is the star and icon she is. She was for us. A woman who had nothing and no one, who became the world's biggest star and the most adored woman of the century. For those final years where she felt alone and unhappy, I really wish that she had been able to see the phenomenon that she became after her death. Millions of people worship her and she had inspired so many to conquer their demons and achieve their goals. There are tribute websites, groups, gatherings - everything in memory of her and they just keep getting stronger.
This is probably the most poorly written blogpost in the world right now and I'm sorry Marilyn but I think that that is a credit to you and how you are just too big for my small words. I really wish that I could phrase my feelings and thoughts on how you have helped me what a joy you are to watch on-screen, but it's impossible.
This is Marilyn, to me.