Gregory Peck

Heated Lust – Duel in the Sun 

Of course writing about Gregory Peck is going to come with a certain amount of bias from my side. But, hey…whatever…

The 3rd Annual Sex! (now that I have your attention) Blogathon asks for movies that imply rather than show. And not just a single sex scene (there are loads of movies with those) but oozing (maybe that’s not such a sexy word) sex appeal right through. While many movies fit the bill in a scene or two, I think Duel in the Sun (1946) is filled with sexual tension from beginning to end. So much so that it was apparently referred to as “Lust in the Dust” by critics.

Flirtatious dancing by Pearl‘s mother in the very first scene sets expectations for what is to come. Disguised as a western, we know this is going to be more than that. Circumstances have Pearl (Jennifer Jones) move to the McCanles ranch. She’s met in town by responsible Jesse (Joseph Cotton) and not a few miles later she’s already fluttering her eyelashes at him. She even offers to change her dark clothes right there and then. Admittedly, I doubt she knows the hormones she inadvertantly stirs by just suggesting this. Or maybe she does, as she does boldly ask Jesse if his brother is as nice as he is with almost dreamy eyes. Little does she know about the other, less gentlemanly brother waiting at the ranch. That he’s the one who would love nothing better than have her change clothes right there and then.

That’s where the real sizzling tension is. The bad, bad, baaaaad boy Lewt (Gregory Peck). But, make no mistake, he’s not all to blame. Pearl is just as guilty, for sashing around, fluttering more eyelashes and generally holding a tantalising posture and stirring wild dreams in the poor cowboys on the McCanles ranch.

Most of the time she acts as if she doesn’t want anything to do with Lewt but we know exactly that she does. He unsettles her but she likes it and she definitely wants more of that feeling. She denies it, oh, but she wants it. It is so obvious during the scene where she is helping count food stock – her mind is clearly elsewhere. And, what does she  expect to happen cleaning her bedroom floor on hands and knees with the door wide open? She slaps Lewt alright…but…well…that slap…it is more sex than the ensuing kiss and the lightning storm outside tells us all we need to know.

Even Jesse has his eye on Pearl and while he’s less direct and definitely less mean (Lewt lets her freeze in a pond just because he’d love to see her get out naked) there’s definitely a gesture here and a look there to show he has the same ideas as his brother.

There are so many scenes that I could write about but ultimately, they only make sense in context of the visuals. Besides, I’d hate to spoil this horrid but oh so good (don’t ask, I can’t explain) movie by giving away more than I already have. Let me just say…you haven’t seen bad boy until you’ve seen Lewt

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First Impressions of…Spellbound

I’ve been anticipating Spellbound (1945) for quite a while now pretty much for Gregory Peck but also because I’ve been wanting to see who Ingrid Bergman is (soooorrrrryyy if you are in shock that I’d never seen her. And yes, that means I’ve haven’t seen Casablanca either but that will change soon). You’ll most likely be shocked to know that I’ve never seen an Alfred Hitchcock movie either. Shaking your head in disbelief?

I’ve rectified all that as of yesterday evening.

For those of you who don’t know the story, here you go: Dr Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) is a psychiatrist who falls in love with the new Doctor “Dr Edwards” (Gregory Peck). However, she soon learns that things are not what they seem and that the new doctor is actually an amnesiac imposter who has periodic “attacks” triggered by certain visual cues. Determined to get to the bottom of this and convinced that he is not a murderer or dangerous, she risks her career and safety until the truth comes out.

So, what are my first impressions? Well, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Not sure what I was expecting but, as is usually the case, not this. I think I may have expected this high-tension thriller with (subconsciously) some birds thrown in together with some screaming shower scene. Instead, I got a suspense movie that had just enough tension and a great story (including some romance). Despite anticipating the ending, or at least, the outcome, it wasn’t all that obvious and I was kept wondering the whole way through as to how it would unravel.

I’m biased when it comes to Gregory Peck whom I always enjoy watching, but I really like/d Ingrid Bergman. Can’t believe I’d never watched her before. I’m going to give more of her roles a go and definitely more Alfred Hitchcock too.

Nominated for 6 Oscars, the only win went to Miklós Rózsa for Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture. This is definitely deserving because the music was actually one thing that stood out for me while watching. Yes, it built up tension (as it usually does), but it was also a comfort mechanism for me because it noticeably preempted the upcoming scenes. This meant I could relax a bit, knowing this wasn’t the end of Constance.

A great movie. Definitely one I’ll watch again.

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A Kiss is just a Kiss – not with Jeff Bridges or Gregory Peck

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A Kiss is just a Kiss…absolutely not! Well not those that move me. I have a few favourites, but two in the pre-80s really make me giddy. You know, that fluttering, squeezing feeling when you realise the characters have fallen in love? And then, you wait for the kiss. That kiss. One that draws you in, engages your own emotions, that’s a Kiss. The ones that catch me unawares they’re the ones that hit the spot. So, without further ramblings, let me present two stirring kisses (in no order of passion and naturally, there are spoilers here):

The first from a largely unknown movie Lolly Madonna XXX (1973) aka The Lolly Madonna War and no, it is not an x-rated film. In a fairly violent story around mistaken identity, Zack Feather (a very young Jeff Bridges) has been charged with keeping a kidnapped Rooney Gil (Season Hubley) from escaping. LollyMadonnaKissSpending quite a bit of time in the hayloft (what is it about those haylofts?) Zack reaches out to gently mess her hair and then leans in to kiss her…tenderly, sensitively, gentlemanly. In fact, three kisses with the first on her mouth, the second her cheek and the last somewhere along the side of her neck. “Nobody’s ever kissed me like that before” to which he replies “I know that”. It is just so moving how, despite the terrible circumstances, he remains kind and caring and learns to love again (or so I tell myself). Her amazement from that special moment is beautiful. A second group of kisses follows, moments later, just as lovely but cut short by reality. The entire hayloft scene is simply my kind of romance.

Then, the western Yelllow Sky (1948). Ah, one of my favourites (movies and kisses) where Stretch (Gregory Peck), a bank-robbing gang leader and Mike (Anne Baxter), a tom-boy, cross paths when the gang hides out in the ghost town of Yellow Sky. We are treated to that special kiss one evening when she can’t sleep (I wonder why???), leaves her house and waits in a barn watching the gang camping at the spring a little way over. The moment is tenderly built up as she is waiting, anticipating, Yellow Sky Kisshoping and then…he appears. That ensuing kiss is just something. Being a black-and-white movie, the shadows and lighting are perfect as Stretch takes Mike into his arms in that classic-movie-stylised type of way (you know what I mean?) and she collapses backwards into his arms (also, classic-movie-stylised type of way). Finally! I was waiting for that as much as she was. And in that classic cliché (but I like it) she runs off, he grabs her arm and ends up saying “Listen here Lady. This ain’t something you argue about”. I have a weakness for these old movies. Oooh and how he looks at her in previous and subsequent scenes….swoon.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Romantic in me…

For starters, don’t read this if you don’t want me spoiling things for you. So:

I’m a romantic. Let me rephrase. I’m a hopeless romantic. The one who thrives on that tumbling, twisting feeling in my stomach when two characters finally fall in love. But not just any two characters. No, they have to be strong and independent with lots and lots of oomph! Their journey to each other mustn’t be obvious and definitely not soppy but also not the overused “we hate each other but actually love each other” type. In fact, the romantic kick I need is the kind that is not typically “romantic drama” or “romantic comedy” formula driven material. Don’t get me wrong, in order for my escapism to be satisfactory, I do want a happy ending (otherwise, what’s the point?) but, not the cheesy guy-and-girl-get-together-as-you-predicted-from-the-first-few-minutes-and-live-happily-ever-after, but a rich, rewarding, more realistic ending where there is genuine hope that they will stay together. Here are the ones that are my absolute best:

One of the most romantic movie moments for me is in Centurion, where Quintus Dias (Michael Fassbender) and his two roman colleagues come across the dwelling of Arianne (Imogen Poots). Quintus Dias has been a tough, yet intelligent, ruthless Roman until this point. She has been living on her own (I admire her), using the guise of being a witch to keep men from the nearby garrison away. Without a moment of doubt, she holds her own but for some reason (fate?) she lets Dias and his men into her home, risking her life. These two form such a natural bond that Dias sees her home as the place he ultimately belongs. He doesn’t give up his quest for her, she doesn’t beg him to stay, yet, their actions are so much more romantic, more real because of this. Nothing like a good cat-and-mouse action movie with such tenderness thrown in to give a bit of a pace reduction for just a few minutes yet having such an impact.

Then, moving on to one of my favourite films in general, but, also one of the most romantic. The Last of the Mohicans. Wow, now there is romance. In the wild frontier of America, you get this absolute heart-wrenching love.  What is more romantic that Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Uncas (Eric Schweig) running through the carnage of an attack to save the women they have come to love. Or the waterfall scene where Hawkeye says to Cora (Madeleine Stowe) “No matter how long it takes, no matter how far, I will find you” and Uncas just holding Alice (Jodhi May) not requiring any words. In fact, the Uncas/Alice love story is so understated that it leaves me wishing it had been more prominent. But then, had that been the case, I doubt it would have been as heart-felt, as real, and as rewarding, even though, she does get a bit needy and helpless at times. But, thinking about it, how much more could have been said about their love than Alice throwing herself off the cliff to be with Uncas?

Yellow Sky, now that’s an amazing film. This 1948 black and white film is absolutely fantastic with James ‘Stretch’ Dawson (Gregory Peck) taking his bank robbing gang across the desert to hide out in a ghost town. Here he comes across Constance Mae (Anne Baxter), disguised as Mike, and her grandfather. As the story unfolds, Stretch discovers that Mike is Mae but, we also see the contradiction of Mike/Mae where she is tough and holds her own, yet, at other times wants to be a lady. This is so much more rewarding that the usual man saves damsel in distress scenario. He simply lets her be who she really is and vice versa.

Ah – Robin Hood, the Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett version. I just love the amazing love story that develops between Robin Longstride and Marion Loxley. There is utmost respect for each other from the moment they meet. Both are strong and independent without ever changing who they are for each other. The most romantic part is, not when they finally dance together or when they bid each other farewell stating their love, but, when Marion arrives on the beach of the Cliffs of Dover to help fight. They stand by each other, working together yet always staying true to themselves.

And man, oh, man. I spent the entire first season of the brilliant Peaky Blinders wanting, needing, silently begging Thomas (Cillian Murphy) and Grace (Annabelle Wallis) to get together. I was tortured to the last episode for that to finally happen and therefore it had so much more impact. Grace makes all the right (or wrong, depending on your stance) decisions fully knowing the potential consequences yet staying true to herself while rationally knowing she shouldn’t be falling in love with a tough, uncompromising gangster.

Then, the Swiss Family Robinson (1960) deserves a mention. Yes, Roberta (Janet Munro) comes across as the stereotype helpless damsel to be rescued, but, cut me some slack here – watching Fritz (James MacArthur) and her fall in love is just beautiful. She may not be the strong independent woman at first, but, she rises to the challenge and puts her whole heart into the situation that has come her way. This story leaves me wanting more but, realistically, all that needs saying is said and anything more or less would not have worked. I guess what it comes down to is that by leaving the viewer craving that feel-good effect, the goal has been achieved.

Then there are those films that leave you wishing, wanting the hinted or implied romance being developed more. The likes of The Quick and the Dead (Sharon Stone’s Ellen and Russell Crowe’s Cort), Broken Arrow (Christian Slater’s Hale and Samantha Mathis’ Terry), and oh my gosh…Ironclad where the brilliant James Purefoy’s Thomas Marshal and Kate Mara’s Lady Isabel develop an understated relationship. Ultimately, for me, the romance is in the strong women and the men who love them. Or, maybe, it’s the fact that these films have romances second to the main story and therefore have so much more impact. But, that “addictively” strange lurching feeling, that’s when I know a scene has worked with me, regardless of the actors (being good or bad) but the fact that they have successfully portrayed an emotion that has reached the audience.