1941: 2 movies

(Last updated 13 February 2014)

The Lady Eve 
Written and directed by Preston Sturges
Produced by Paul Jones
Cinematography by Victor Milner
Editing by Stuart Gilmore
Art direction by Hans Dreier and Ernst Fegté
Costumes by Edith Head,
Richard Bachler, and Edna Shotwell
Music by Charles Bradshaw, Leo Shuken
and Sigmund Krumgold
Starring Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda,
William Demarest, Charles Coburn, and Eric Blore

   Bursting with creativity in the writing, editing, and acting departments, this movie continually surprises with all of its twists and turns. A bookish rich boy falls for a ravishing lowdown, street-smart girl. All their ups and downs, challenges and delights, are compacted ingenuously and humorously into an hour and a half. Barbara Stanwyck seems to light a keg of a dynamite in the history of women's roles by playing such a complex, take-charge character. She makes absolute mush out of the Henry Fonda character, which is also played to perfection. The sexual innuendos feel vibrant, and still naughty, even by today's standards. Part of the charm is in the fact that Stanwyck plays virtually two roles in one, and the story is split into three chapters, each building on the other to reach the fantastic and metaphorical climax.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Directed by Victor Fleming
Produced by Victor Fleming and Victor Saville
Written by John Lee Mahin, Percy Heath,
and Samuel Hoffenstein
Cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg
Editing by Harold F. Kress
Dream sequences by Peter Ballbusch
Art direction by Cedric Gibbons
Set decor by Edwin B. Willis
Music by Franz Waxman
Starring Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman,
Lana Turner, Donald Crisp, and Peter Godfrey

   While the 1931 version of this story focused on the psychological and emotional, this version can be described as the more psycho-spiritual version. Starting with a sublime zoom in on a church tower, we hear a Victorian sermon, we are treated to an upper-class dinner party, and then we descend into an acid trip of sex, dreams, and nightmares. It all can get a little wordy at times, but whenever it does, the intensity is right around the corner which is enough to keep us watching and reflecting on the dangerous matters at hand. The cinematography is off the hook, capturing garden kisses through potted plants, sleepy masses in their pews, ominously foggy London, troubled Spencer Tracy trying to keep his cool, Lana Turner looking her most glorious, and Ingrid Bergman at her most complex. She is phenomenal as a woman before and after an abusive relationship!
   Thankfully, the makeup department kept away from transforming Tracy by falling into traditional racist stereotypes. There are no more bushy eyebrows and coarsening of his hair, but the downside is that at times, Tracy doesn't look all that different from his usual self. Luckily, his acting is so good that it's still scary. In fact, he's downright creepy, surprisingly so! On the whole, it's a gut-wrenching piece, especially when the tone shifts into a depiction of male-on-female abuse. That's the real charm of this movie, that its story can hold so many thematic angles, that it has so many fine performances, so many fine shots, so many fine scenes, and they all hold together brilliantly, seamlessly, breath-takingly well.

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