Tag Archive: 1950’s


Mai May Movies 2019!

Like I did, back in Year 2015 & 2016, I decided do a Blog Post on all the films I saw within this Month of May, 2019!!!!!

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The

Feature Films

The Front Page (1931)

Watched on Sunday Afternoon, 12th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

A Downloaded Movie, downloaded way back in July 2017! Have a load of Downloaded films, from July 2017, am yet to see!

The Front Page (1931) is an interesting satire centered around the Press. Earl Williams (George E. Stone), a Caucasian/white American man and supposed Communist revolutionary, claiming innocence, is convicted of killing an Afro-American cop, and is to be hanged. The court press room, situated right next to the gallows, is waiting to cash in on the latest, and cover the hanging of Earl Williams. Sometimes we see how desensitized reporters can be; for them it’s just the next story. But when the convict escapes, and is found by reporter, Hildy Johnson (Pat O’Brien); who’s about resign, get married and leave for New York, from Chicago; yet keeps getting roped in by his conniving editor, Walter Burns (Adolphe Menjou); and when Hildy Johnson realizes that Earl Williams is innocent; Hildy is hell bent on proving Earl Williams’ innocence. Of course, for Hildy, it still is the latest scoop, but he wants to save an innocent man’s life as well. A hilarious comical take on the world of news-reporters, based on the play, The Front Page, by two ex-Chicago reporters, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, which was 1st staged on Broadway in 1928!

This 1931 pre-Code comedy, is a premake of Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday (194O), minus the ‘Girl Friday’, as intended in the original Broadway play (a play I haven’t read yet). But His Girl Friday is far more an enjoyable romp than The Front Page. Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell had great chemistry in the 194O classic, as a formally married couple having to work together, and the wife, Hildy (Russell); in lieu of the male Hildy (gender swap) from the original story; constantly getting pulled in by her editor/ex-husband (Grant) and the candlestick phones that keep ringing off the hook, even though she wants to get away and get married to someone else. His Girl Friday is among the greatest comedies ever made. Reporting is in their blood, the love for the job, for both (female) Hildy in His Girl Friday and (male) Hildy in The Front Page. The Front Page‘s Hildy is actually named Hildebrand Johnson, and ‘Hildy’ is short for Hildebrand, an affectionate nickname.

Though The Front Page, directed by Lewis Milestone, is not pure excellence (not just compared to His Girl Friday, but in general); it still comes really close! A Near-Excellent, brisk, fast paced, romp with witty dialogues; that is a must watch; especially for fans of film and literature!!!!! This movie was nominated for a trio of Oscars (‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Director’ & ‘Best Actor’ – for Adolphe Menjou) at the 4th Academy Awards! Lewis Milestone had already won two ‘Best Director’ Oscars. One for Two Arabian Knights (1927), in the ‘Comedy’ category, and the other for one of my favourites films on World War I, a pre-Code anti-war film, All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).

The Front Page is a near-Excellent comedy!!!!

My Rating: 9/10!

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La Chienne (1931)

Watched on Sunday Night, 12th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

Directed by Jean Renoir, La Chienne (1931) is about a depressed married man who falls for a streetwalker (the title, the English translation of which reads as ‘The Bitch’, is a reference to her character; a character that is both conniving and foolish) and has a clandestine affair with her. Lulu (the streetwalker played by Janie Marèse) however uses the man that loves her, Maurice Legrand (Michel Simon), for the man she is in love with, her pimp, Dédé (Georges Flamant); who in turn uses her using Legrand, for his own personal gain. Legrand’s artworks are sold by Dédé making Dédé rich; and leaving Legrand a penniless vagrant.

A really good socially critical look at human relationships, showcasing how selfishly people use one another for their own benefits! La Chienne might not be an excellent French film by Renoir, yet it’s a very good thought provoking movie, with a brilliant concept. The finalé is both tragic and comic, at the same time. The satirical state of fate of mankind.

Actress, Janie Marèse, who played Lulu, was tragically killed in a car accident, soon after the filming wrapped up. Marèse’s real life lover, and her co-star, Georges Flamant (who debuted as Dédé, in La Chienne) was recklessly driving the car. He survived the accident, but his career was seriously damaged by the press.

La Chienne, released few months after Marèse’s death, was director Jean Renoir 2nd Sound film (as in with synchronized sound)!

My Rating: 8/10!

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Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)

Watched on Monday, 6th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

John Ford’s very 1st movie made in Technicolor, Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) was the 1st movie I watched this month (another Downloaded Movie, from almost two years ago).

Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck, this Historical story, is about a newly married couple who make a new home close proximity to White settlers at Mohawk Valley on the New York frontier and find themselves at the heart of the American Revolution of 1765 – 1783.

The Year is 1776, the newly married couple get roped in by Mohawk Valley’s settlers who’ve formed a local militia in anticipation of an imminent war against them, by Tories (British loyalists) and Tories’ American Indian allies. Soon war ensues, with women and children lending a helping hand. A crucial point of the plot is the Battle of Oriskany, a pivotal engagement of the Saratoga campaign, which was one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution. A small group of Brits, travelling south from Canada, invaded the Mohawk Valley as a diversion. Fort Stanwix, that was besieged, is depicted as Fort Schuyler in the film. Fort Stanwix was renamed Fort Schuyler in 1776, only after the battle. Plus, Britishers hand in the war, has been toned down, it’s practically non-existent. Apparently there are lot of minor inaccuracies. Especially, due to the brewing war in Europe at the time, Ford didn’t want to show the British as villains, as the Brits were fighting against German Nazis, the modern day villains, in a modern day war.

Though lacking in historical accuracy, the movie does manage to capture the essence of the American Revolution, through retelling of a small deviation branch of the war. Thus, it’s still a really good movie, led by Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert. The colourful cinematography is breathtakingly beautiful, and the movie was nominated for two Oscars, including for ‘Best Cinematography’ (in Colour), to Ray Rennahan and Bert Glennon, at the 12th Academy Awards, held in 1940. Ray Rennahan was also nominated, the same year, for ‘Best Cinematography’ (in Colour), alongwith Ernest Haller; for (1939), for which Rennahan and Haller, won!! With the exceptional Gone with the Wind, in competition, it’s obvious that Drums Along the Mohawk didn’t have much scope. None the less, it’s still a really good movie.

My Rating: 8/10

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The

Short Films

Dream House (1953)

Watched on Friday, 10th May 2019! Online on YouTube!

Dream House (1953) is a short Indian English-Language Film, starring Ashok Kumar and Meena Kumari. An advertorial film from Dunlopillo, UK (a popular brand for pillows and mattresses in India at the time; which Kumar happens to have in his stylishly decorated home). I came across this beautifully filmed short flick by fluke, that Friday night! Shot inside Ashok Kumar’s house, with cool contemporary Indian interior design (love the décor), as Meena Kumari visits (for they’ve been rehearsing for director Bimal Roy’s Parineeta (1953) a.k.a. The Fiancee; based on a book by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay (sometimes credited as Sarat Chandra Chatterji), a beautiful novel; of which the English translation I read quite recently, maybe ’twas a year or so ago); this quick, less than 3 minutes, short film, is really worth checking out; especially for lovers of Indian cinema; specifically lovers of Bollywood classics from it’s golden age. It was lovely to see a barely 20 year old, Meena Kumari, in a colour film; back in the early 50’s. Seen her colour movies from later on (60’s & early 70’s); but never seen her in colour, when she was so young. Though she’s a good actress and was known as the tragedy queen, back in her hey days, am not a great fan of hers; unlike her contemporaries; like, Nutan, Nargis, Vyjayanthimala, Waheeda Rehman and Madhubala (to name a few Hindi Film actresses of the 1950’s & 60’s, that I adore). But I do admire Kumari in the movies she’s worked in. So it’s not like I dislike her, just not a starry-eyed favourite of mine. Young, Meena Kumari, looks elegantly beautiful in this advertorial short, in a red saree, with a fashionable high-collared blouse!

My Rating: 8/10!

Stars of the Foxy 50’s: Madhubala (1933-1969) and Meena Kumari (1933-1972)
LEFT: Candid shot of Madhubala (51′)
RIGHT: Meena Kumari in a scene from a movie (57′)

Feature Films

Mr. & Mrs. ’55 (1955)

Watched on Tuesday, 28th May 2019! Online on YouTube!

Guru Dutt’s Mr. & Mrs. ’55 (1955) is a hilarious farce, that works well to a certain point, but soon goes downhill.

The movie starts off with Pre-60’s Independent-minded Feminist, Seeta Devi (Lalita Pawar), holding a meeting on petitioning the courts to pass the Divorce Bill. Her secretary informs her, showing her the latest newspaper headline, that the Divorce Bill shall be passed. It’s a woman’s right, if she needs to separate from a bad husband/marriage! Meanwhile her niece, not yet 21, Anita Verma (Madhubala) has secretly gone to see a Tennis match. She has a major crush on Tennis player, Ramesh (a Guest Appearance by Al-Nasir), who does not reciprocate. As Anita tries to escape her aunt’s secretary, who has come to find her at the Tennis match, Anita bumps into a lazy wayward man, Preetam Kumar (Guru Dutt), who at once is smitten by her. Soon, we see Anita turn 21, and is to inherit her late father’s fortune; but according to his will she has to get married within a month of turning 21. The independent-minded aunt isn’t happy, the young girl with a crush on a tennis player, is. But when Ramesh turns down her proposal for marriage, she is crushed. Yet, the fact he plays Tennis is what she truly loves, not necessarily the player. If he didn’t play her favourite sport, she wouldn’t be so crazy about him. The aunt decides to buy a groom, who’ll agree to a divorce, once Anita inherits everything. Who does the aunt rope in, but none other than the jobless cartoonist, Anita accidentally bumped into early on in the movie; beloved, Preetam Kumar. The name ‘Preetam’ in Hindi means beloved.

The movie is laugh out loud hilarious, and the characters have been placed perfectly. Less than a year into Independence, the modern Indian progressive minded city’s educated and elite are beautifully showcased. The movie has some memorable songs, some not so; mostly picturized around Guru Dutt and/or Madhubala. But my favourite number is the comical song, “Jaane kahan mera, jigar gaya ji”, themed around the supporting characters played by Johnny Walker and Yasmin (a.k.a. Vinita Bhatt); during a lunch break at a clerical office. Hilarious, melodic and fun. Mr. & Mrs. ’55 starts to waver when Preetam kidnaps his wife and takes her to his village (today, that would be considered harassment, in itself). In the village she meets Preetam’s sister-in-law (played by Kumkum), who shows how a woman’s place is in her husband’s home, doing all the chores, having kids and taking care of them. An acceptance of domestic violence against wife as being the norm, is mentioned. So basically women have no rights. Cringe worthy. Let’s say it’s village mentality; but soon Anita, who falls for husband during this excursion (lets say a Stockholm syndrome of sorts) starts to feel the same way, and Seeta Devi, with a brain of her own, is shown as the villain of piece. Seriously?? Guru Dutt!?!?! This is when the movie starts to falter. Of course, this pre-second wave feminism, feminist, Seeta Devi, is shown to be a bit of an extremist; hating all men; but instead of providing a moderation, director Guru Dutt has brought out a narrow minded concept that the Indian woman’s place is at her husband’s feet. The other archaic extreme, with a false sense of patriotism. That’s when it disappoints. Mr. & Mrs. ’55 was considered a movie of societal relevance, back then. But it gives such a false message. So, out of the over 21⁄2 hours film, the 1st hour or so is brilliantly excellent, and continues being enjoyably fun for the most part for the next half hour, but falls short towards the last hour.

The 50’s housewife concept existed in the west too (the famed American Dream); but it’s not something artists/open-minded intellectuals condoned. Hollywood never glamorized portraying women to stoop so low. It’s as if, if anyone’s seen Mona Lisa Smile (2003), Julia Roberts’ free-thinking Art Professor were Seeta Devi, and she was shown as the villain of the piece. Mr. & Mrs. ’55 also reminded me of another Bollywood movie, that we watched a kazillion times as kids, Chhoti si Mulaqat (1967). It didn’t fare well with 60’s audiences either. But even though it did seem to some extent pro-wife’s place is at her husband’s home; it wasn’t this extreme, and was actually a very good plot and a near-Excellent movie. It dealt with child marriage, the mental dilemma of the bride as a grown up when she’s reminded of it, as she is about to wed the man she loves, and the modern Indian woman of the 60’s. Her mother is a very progressive woman; against whose knowledge the daughter was wed as child. But in a sense, to some extent, the movie does portray the mother as the villain of the piece. Yet, the plus side is, when the daughter (mostly out of curiosity) defies her mum, and decides that she should be with her husband (a husband she never knew); the husband turns out to be the man she falls in love with as an adult. Luckily! So all’s well, saved by a thread. At least, in the case of Chhoti si Mulaqat, her husband didn’t remain a village idiot, he grew up, studied, became a modern open-minded individual and came up to her standard; and earned his place, in her heart and her social circle. In Mr. & Mrs. ’55, Guru Dutt’s character is still pretty narrow-minded, even though he is a good guy and truly loves her. She definitely deserves better. It ends with the feeling, she’ll be his ideal Indian wife (like his sister-in-law), though it’s doubtful she’ll have to endure physical abuse by Mister ‘Beloved’. But the movie overall isn’t bad, just not great; ruined by that foolishness of where a woman’s place lies; and to some extent a hint against divorce and the Divorce Bill, itself.

In India, before 1955, divorce was not recognized by the Hindus, as according to the Hindu religion marriage is sacrament and not a contract. But with the codification of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955, both men and women (of Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh and Jain, faith) are equally eligible to seek divorce. In Muslim societies, anywhere in general, the husband could divorce his wife for no reason, without a hitch, while for a wife it wasn’t an easy task to get a divorce, in some cases, not at all. The Dissolution of Muslim Marriages Act of 1939 made amendments for Muslim women in India to obtain divorce, comparatively easier. Christian marriages were (and still are) governed by Victorian era implemented, The Divorce Act of 1869, Parsis by the Parsi Marriage and Divorce Act of 1936, and Inter-racial/religious marriages The Special Marriage Act of 1954! The Hindu Marriage Act in 1955, was implemented on 18th May 1955. Mr. & Mrs. ’55, released the same year, was an acknowledgement of Modern India’s Hindu Marriage Act in 1955, from which the title of the movie was derived. But unfortunately, the hints on the fact that women should succumb to their man’s needs; even though the man in the movie is not a bad man, is still a bit too of an archaic mentality, even for that time. To show that women should succumb to blindly follow traditional values, is a major step backwards. A pity, such a fun flick, with such witty dialogues.

Guru Dutt’s character is a cartoonist, and the cartoons shown in the film were by R. K. Laxman; a style of drawing I recognized instantly, as I watched the film. In one scene, we see a hand drawing a caricature of Lalita Pawar, Guru Dutt and Madhubala. That’s obviously R. K. Laxman’s unaccredited hand. R. K. Laxsman’s creations were another plus for me.

Thus, Mr. & Mrs. ’55, was only averagely good, that too mainly thanks to the hilarious performance by bewitching beauty, Madhubala; and the brilliant, Lalita Pawar. Worth checking out. Even though the latter part, with it’s backward concept, along with the ending, sucked. Mr. & Mrs. ’55 was one of earliest Hindi movies to show an airport reunion, which was done to death, in much later Bollywood films.

Last movie I watched this month (May 2019).

My Rating: 6/10!

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Postscript:

All three stars mentioned here, Guru Dutt, Madhubala and Meena Kumari, died way before their time. Nicknamed, Tragedy Queen, Meena Kumari; who fought off depression and alcohol abuse, finally succumbed cirrhosis of the liver. She fell into a coma and soon left this world, on 31st March 1972, aged 38. The egoistic Guru Dutt; a truly great filmmaker (he has a better filmography than Mr. & Mrs. ’55) unhappily married to Geeta Dutt, and suffering from an Othello syndrome, finally committed suicide on 10th October 1964, after a couple of failed prior attempts. He was only 39 years old.

Born on Valentine’s Day, 1933, Madhubala, at a young age found out she had a hole in her heart (Ventricular septal defect), and won’t live that long. She completed many of her films by 1959, before her illness aggravated. She continued working while suffering through her illness, but by 1966 she was too weak, and could not finish her project, Chalak, co-starring Raj Kapoor. Chalak never saw the light of day. Mostly bedridden from weakening bones and spewing blood, she tried her hand at film direction. However her directorial debut with, Farz aur Ishq, was not meant to be. Ultimately succumbing to her illness, she died on 23rd February 1969, shortly after her 36th birthday; during the pre-production of Farz aur Ishq. Madhubala was admired in both senses, as a sex symbol of 50’s Bollywood (she was called Marilyn Monroe of Hindi Cinema), as well as one of the finest actresses of her time (she too has a way better résumé than Mr. & Mrs. ’55). Madhubala, also almost made it to Hollywood. Both, Life magazine’s James Burke, and American Film Director, Frank Capra, were impressed by her looks and work. James Burke clicked her pictures in 1951, and captioned them, “The Biggest Star in the World – and she’s not in Beverly Hills”. Frank Capra offered Madhubala a break into Hollywood and true international fame, but her father, worried about his sickly daughter travelling so far, politely declined the rich offer of her earning American dollars. Her Hollywood dream ended, then and there. Sad, none of them lived to be 40! Tragic!

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The 70’s

Feature Films

The Last Detail (1973)

Watched on Thursday, 23rd May 2019! Downloaded Film!

The Last Detail (1973) is a sad road trip where two Navy Chasers escort a kleptomaniac to prison. The young man is sentenced for 8 years, for the petty crime of stealing just $40! Good concept, sad story, but such a dull paced movie, it truly was a bore. The only saving grace were the acting talent roped in, including a virtually unknown Randy Quaid, at the time. Jack Nicholson is really good, as always, but did he really deserve to win a ‘Best Actor’ award at the Cannes Film Festival??????

Very Bad! Feel like dozing off, just writing about it.

My Rating: 3/10!

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The White Buffalo (1977)

Watched on Thursday, 9th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

A Western-cum-Adventure film produced by Dino De Laurentiis, The White Buffalo (1977) is another boring waste of time, made in the 70’s decade, that I saw this month. I’d say stay away from this film as well, though it’s not among the worst films ever made. This silly flick is actually beautifully shot in Colorado with it’s snow capped Mountains! What brilliant Cinematography!

Kim Novak has a small role it it! In a sense she’s the only interesting character, besides that ‘White Buffalo’ itself.

My Rating: 4/10!

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This Decade (2010’s)

Documentaries

Roger Vadim with 3rd wife, actress, Jane Fonda; seen here along with her brother, actor, Peter Fonda, in a water taxi in the Venice lagoon, in 1967

Room 237 (2012)

Watched on Saturday, 11th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

Room 237 (2012) is an analysis, with varied speculative theories, behind Stanley Kubrick’s Horror classic, The Shining (1980). Some interesting views through use of symbolism in the movie, but most are crazily extreme. The story of the cinematic version of The Shining (as the original story was a novel written by Stephen King, which apparently differs a lot from it’s cinematic adaptation; and in fact one theorist points out how Kubrick purposely kills off King’s vision, and hints on it in The Shining) metaphorically representing the Holocaust, and the Genocide of American Indians, makes sense, to some extent. BUT, the Apollo 11 Moon landing footage was fake, and directed by Stanley Kubrick (a ridiculous theory I’ve heard of from way before this movie was made), is going way too extreme. Of course, this crazed theorist, who compares the Kubrick’s Horror flick, to a 3D chess set, with various levels, states that he isn’t saying that the Moon Landing didn’t happen, just that the footage was fake. Quite ridiculous, with no factual proof to back his theories, and there won’t be (I sure hope not!). Capricorn One (1977) was a movie about a similar concept of a hoax. A film about NASA faking a Mars mission. In Minions (2015), there is a funny scene, where a Minion stumbles upon the set, where Stanley Kubrick is filming the Apollo 11 Moon landing; an obvious nod to this crazy documentary. The Apollo 11 Moon landing happened on 20th of July, 1969 (see my post The Greatest feat of the Space age: The day humans conquered the moon from July 2013). This year marks it’s 50th anniversary!!!!

So basically, Room 237, is a bunch of Kubrick crazed film fanatics, with unnecessarily extreme analysis, reading way too much into the classic psychological horror movie. Don’t expect an intelligent insight into The Shining, these are just mere observations. None the less, Room 237, is not a bad documentary. It’s average fare at the best. Check it out if you like, it’s watchable after all; especially if you are fan of . YET, watch Room 237, with a beach full of salt, a pinch won’t be enough!!!

My Rating: 6/10!

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Vadim, Mister Cool (2016)

Watched on Sunday Late Night, 26th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

Vadim, Mister Cool (2016), chronicles the life of Roger Vadim, step by step, perfectly spending just enough time on each stage of his life! From him as a Film Producer/Director/Screenwriter, to a husband, a family man, his success and his downfall. Roger Vadim was notoriously known for sexploitation of his beautiful wives/life partners; but much as he himself feels, in a sense he liberated them from the confines of anti-sexual notions. This was before the sexual-revolution of the 60’s. And each wife/partner left him, once they made it as a sex siren, but becoming something far greater in the end. Yet he did give them that necessary push. 1st wife-Brigitte Bardot (a.k.a. B.B.), partner – Catherine Denueve and 3rd wife – Jane Fonda; all started off as sex symbols of the 50’s & 60’s, under him, and went onto do great work, as actresses, as well as in other fields. B.B. later became an Animal Rights Activist, Deneuve, one the greatest actresses of French Cinema, and Jane Fonda a political activist against the Vietnam War, Nixon administration as well as a fitness guru and actress of very influential American films. At the start of this year (on 4th of January, 2019), I saw Jane Fonda in Five Acts (2018), on HBO On Demand; a brilliant documentary with Jane Fonda herself speaking about her life and life choices. And of course, she speaks of her sex-siren days as Vadim’s wife, as well.

Both Roger Vadim’s success and downfall are credited to French New Wave Director, François Truffaut, who use to be a film critic for the Cahiers du Cinéma. Truffaut, though initially a fan, was mainly critical Vadim’s sexploitation of the fairer sex. But say what you may; whether Roger Vadim help liberate his women from societal pressures of the past, or was a notorious exploiter of women’s sexuality; he was a doting father. He not only adored his kids, but was a hands on father who took care of them. A stay at home dad, role reversal, while his wives went away for work. He was a feminist, in every sense of it. And his women admired him, and some are truly grateful for helping make their career, or at least give them a start. A push in the right direction. Roger Vadim was truly a fascinating personality.

Vadim, Mister Cool, is a Brilliant Television documentary, and great insight into a man’s life, both professional and personal. Loved it! This documentary was shown soon after Carré 35 (2017) ended, on the same cable television channel; TV5MONDE!

Excellent TV Documentary, one of the Best!!!!!!!
My Rating: 10/10!

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Carré 35 (2017)

Watched on Sunday Night, 26th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

A very personal documentary, by actor, Éric Caravaca. This is the first documentary Caravaca directed. In Carré 35 (2017) Éric Caravaca speaks of a sister, he never knew existed. A sister that died before he was born. Researching his roots, his background, Éric Caravaca discovers his parents life in Algeria and Morocco, of a birth of sister, with autism and a congenital heart defect (back then known as Blue Baby Syndrome), and her ultimate death that his parents hid from him and his brother. This was before Caravaca’s parents came to Europe, and erased the life they had before, including burning all photos and film footage they had of his elder sister, Christine. The parents never spoke about her. Christine was buried in ‘Carré 35’, the French part of the cemetery in Casablanca, Morocco. Caravaca’s mother had never visited the grave. Having suffered a lot, she didn’t want to reminisce on her past. Towards the end of the documentary we see her finally visiting her baby girl’s grave.

A really tragic story where he interviews and (as his mother feels) interrogates his parents, and other relatives, trying to get the truth behind the secret history of his family’s hidden past. Heart-rending! Rather than doing an analysis of a film that in itself is an analysis of Éric Caravaca background, I’ll simply say, its must watch. Carré 35 was part of a series of Special Programs shown on TV5MONDE, in connection with Festival de Cannes 2019 (I couldn’t follow this year’s festival properly). Éric Caravaca was nominated for L’Œil d’Or (Golden Eye) Award, for Carré 35, English Title- Plot 35, at the 70th International Cannes Film Festival,held in May 2017.

My Rating: 8/10!

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Short Films

Uuquchiing (2018)

Watched on Tuesday Night, 14th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

This short film was telecast soon after Chouf (2016) ended, on TV5MONDE itself.

Uuquchiing (2018), the title means ‘Blue Fox’ in the Inuit language of the Alaskan/Canadian/Greenland Eskimo. The movie is akin to The Butterfly Effect (2004) where a young Evan Treborn (Logan Lerman as the 7year old Evan & John Patrick Amedori as the 13 year old Evan) suffers blackouts and no memory of what happened during his blackout. Similarly here,in Uuquchiing, we see Camille (Johan Libéreau) having no recollection of how he got from one place to another, with no memory of what happened in between. But sadly this short film has such an abrupt sexual ending and no explanation of what happened and why?, it just left a bad taste in the end. You wonder what it was all about!?!?!

My Rating: 3/10!

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Feature Films

12 Years a Slave (2013)

Watched on Monday, 27th May 2019! Downloaded Film!

One of the finest films ever made. Steve McQueen has proven he’s one of the greatest filmmakers of our generation, with this Oscar winning epic masterpiece, 12 Year a Slave (2013). Finally got to see this movie. Had wanted to see it since it came out in 2013, and was even more interested when in won the Oscar for ‘Best Picture’ at the 86th Annual Academy Awards. Managed to download it almost two years ago, and finally, saw it this Monday. I still have so many films, downloaded close to two year ago, from back in July 2017.

The movie follows the true story of Solomon Northup (on whose book this movie is based on), a free Afro-American man from New York State; who conned into travelling to Washington,D.C., and then drugged by two white con-men, and sold into slavery, from where he was sent to work in the plantations of Louisiana, in the deep south. This was in 1841! For 12 years, Solomon Northup (played with excellence, by British actor of Igbo Nigerian decent, Chiwetel Ejiofor) suffers and struggles to keep himself alive through all the atrocities perpetrated on him by a sadistic slave owner (played by Michael Fassbender, another performer of excellent talent). Northup finally gets a chance to tell his story to a good Samaritan, a Canadian laborer and abolitionist, named Samuel Bass (Brad Pitt) when Northup accidentally, by luck, mentions he’s been to Canada. Such a tragic story.

Lupita Nyong’o, has a small, but crucial role in 12 Years a Slave; for which she won the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ Oscar. Been a fan of Nyong’o since she won the prestigious Golden statuette, even though I hadn’t seen any of her films, including 12 Years a Slave. I liked her personality that shone through, whenever and wherever, she was either interviewed or photographed. But, I wondered whilst watching this, as good as she was in this movie (and she definitely deserved the nomination); was she the best that year?? I actually liked Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in American Hustle (2013) much more, who was nominated in the same category as well.

None the less,12 Years a Slave, is among the greatest Hollywood films ever made. It was so long, the film ended way past midnight; it was like 00:40 am, when it finished, and around 1:00 a.m. on 28th May 2019, when I finally went to bed! ‘Twas totally worth it!!

Pure Excellence!!!!! The Best Movie, I saw this month!! May 2019!
My Rating: 10/10!

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Postscript:

Speaking of the following year’s Academy Awards, am surprised Abdellatif Kechiche’s La Vie d’Adèle (2013), English Title: Blue Is the Warmest Color, was not even nominated in the ‘Best Foreign Language’ category at the 2014 Oscars!!!! In fact both lead actresses, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos, deserved to be nominated in the ‘Best Actress’ category as well (as neither was a supporting character), if not share a win. Blue Is the Warmest Color, won Palme d’Or at the 66th Cannes Film Festival, held in May 2013. For the very 1st time in the competition, both the lead actresses were awarded the Palme d’Or, along with the film’s director, Abdellatif Kechiche. 12 Years a Slave is definitely a brilliant bio-pic, and I loved it, but I feel this French film, was slightly better.

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Chouf (2016)

Watched on Tuesday Evening, 14th May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

Chouf (2016) literally meaning to “look” in Arabic, is a French film set within the drug cartels of Marseilles. In a Godfatherique style (à la The Godfather, 1972) the lead character, Sofian (played bu namesake, Sofian Khammes), a young man with a genius brain, an intelligent student, comes home for the holidays; and when a loved one gets shot, his whole world changes. In this case, unlike the The Godfather, Sofian joins the drug network to avenge his brother’s death; leaving behind his family and the progressive life, with a good education, he had hoped to be part of. His brother was a local gangster, a drug dealer, and is killed by another member of their secret network. We see Sofian getting dragged deeper and deeper into a life of crime, with no scope of an exit, as he tries to find out who was responsible for his brother’s death.

A really good movie, by Karim Dridi, who does not shy away from realistically showing us life in the French ghettos of Marseilles. Plus, the film, to some extent predictably, shows us how difficult it is too get away and lead a normal life, once someone gets deeply immersed into drug gangs in the brutally dangerous slum areas of Marseilles. Dridi’s Chouf, was released under the Special Screenings at the 69th International Cannes Film Festival held in May 2016.

Chouf too, like Carré 35, was shown as part of a series of Special Programs telecast on TV5MONDE, this month, in connection with Festival de Cannes 2019!!!!

My Rating: 8/10!

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Rutabaga (2018)

Watched on Monday, 13th May 2019! Online on iflix!

Director, Julien Botzanowsk’s horror flick, Rutabaga (2018) seemed to work till a certain point; but then it got ridiculously silly! The end was so stupid. Yet, I did like Botzanowsk’s naturalistic film direction as well as the acting talent roped in, including Julien Botzanowski, himself. But the movie itself was a waste of time, for me.

Interesting to note, 11 days after I saw and tweeted about it (as I tweet about every single movie; the Great, the Bad, the Hideous); I got a message, as a comment here on my Blog, by the director/lead actor of the movie (see my About page), thanking me. After all I did mention, on my tweet as well, that I liked his technique and talent, though not a fan of the cinematic outcome. This is not the 1st time, I got comments from the films directors; twice before two young french directors (Rocco Labbé and Sylvain Bressollette) wrote to me, once I blogged about their short films (see my Blog Posts, Portraits de Maîtresses: Rocco Labbé’s take on Charles Baudelaire, Le Ballon de Rouge (2012/2014) and Young Directors on my BLOG from December 2013, June 2014 & October 2014 respectively). Amazingly all three film directors happen to be French! What lovely, down to earth, good people to write to an odinary blogger/twitterian, like me. None the less, Rutabaga, was not a good movie; but again, Julien Botzanowsk is one to watch out for. Wishing him the best!

My Rating: 1/10

La Révolte des Innocents ()

Watched on Tuesday, 21st May 2019! On TV5MONDE!

Really good movie, based on a real incident!

Théo Frilet plays The Brave Judge, the English title of, La Révolte des Innocents (2018) though not the literal meaning. Set in France, in 1911, in an institute that’s gets a stipend from the government to educate poor children. The kids are not given an education, instead they are made to work, abused and exploited, by the keepers! The story is based on Louise Soliveau and Alexandre Landrin, who’ve been renamed, Joséphine Poliveau (played by Julie Ferrier) and Armand Sandrin (played by Bruno Debrandt) in this television movie. When a 10 year old child dies, under their care; the rest of the kids revolt. When the revolt is reported, this incident slowly starts to shed light on what has been happening at Les Vermiraux, the institute. A young judge, Emile Guidon () takes action and against all obstacles, facing lot of objections, keeps on going till the perpetrators, whose ill treatment and negligence led to the death of a child, are brought to justice.

This is a really good insight into a real life Dickensian Boarding house run by ruthless money hungry bigwigs that abused innocent children!  La Révolte des Innocents, ended past midnight; but just some minutes onto 22nd May 2019!

My Rating: 8/10!

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Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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Quoting Simone de Beauvoir

Freedom is the source from which 
all significations and all values spring.
It is the original condition of all justification of existence.
– Simone de Beauvoir
(1908 – 1986)


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If Audrey Hepburn were alive today, she’d be 90 years old! Just imagine! It’s hard to even fathom; a post WWII, modern, youthful, energetic, fun-loving and fashionable, foxy 50’s generation; that gave us stars like Audrey Hepburn, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, Grace Kelly, Marlon Brando, et al; would ever grow old! And sadly most of them didn’t; and some died way way way too young. The era of cool! I remember it like it were yesterday, when we heard of Hepburn’s demise in January 1993, at the age of 63. I was 17 years old. Where did the 1990’s go?? Am already in my 40’s, and it’s Audrey Hepburn’s heavenly 90th Birthday, today!

To mark her 90th Birth Anniversary, Audrey Hepburn’s Birth place, Brussels, Belgium; is holding a special exhibition, titled Intimate Audrey, which began earlier this week; which includes contribution from Hepburn’s older son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer (who put together this exhibition).

I wish I was in Europe, right now. If any of my fellow bloggers/Hepburn fans are in Europe these days, and happen to be in Belgium, do check it out! From whatever media I’ve come across about the exhibition, it looks amazing. The exhibition includes the green “Vespa Farobasso” scooter she rode, in Roman Holiday (1953), my all time favourite movie; Hepburn’s own fashion drawings & humanitarian writings, and the Oscar statuette awarded posthumously for her humanitarian work.

A screen legend, a style icon, a kind human with a Big Heart!!!!!! My all time favourite actress!! Great personalities never really die! They live on, through us, their greatest fans, forever!!💓

❤ Hepburn ❤

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

 

Quoting Maya Angelou

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be”

– Maya Angelou
American Poet, Singer, Actress, Feminist & Civil Rights Activist.
   (1928 – 2014)

Bookish Nuwan
Nuwan Sen n’ Literature
Nuwan Sen ()

Quoting Oprah!

“Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher”

– Oprah Winfrey
Talk Show host, Television Producer & Philanthropist
   (Born in 1954)

Today also happens to be Oprah Winfrey’s 65th Birthday! Wishing her all the best, in every way. A true leader,and a great human being!

Bookish Nuwan
Nuwan Sen’s  TV Sense
Nuwan Sen ()

Richard Burton plays Philip Ashley, in the 1952 film adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s acclaimed novel, My Cousin Rachel.

A constantly brooding, suspicious, miserable character, that we rarely see smile. Even his happiness (in rare moments when he seems to be happy) is superficial, taunted by his skeptical nature. His mental state, stained by the loss of his favourite cousin, who raised him, and with the guilt of harbouring lustful desires for a woman who might be the reason for his cousin’s untimely demise, eating away at him; Philip Ashley is never at peace. AND this character is portrayed with pure perfection, by the brilliant British Shakespearean actor, Richard Burton. Predominantly a British star, the UK’s Cornwall set My Cousin Rachel (1952) was Burton’s first foray into Hollywood and it earned him a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor in 1953.

Olivia de Havilland plays the ambiguous character of Rachel, in My Cousin Rachel (1952)

Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel is about an orphaned kid, Philip, who is brought up by his wealthy cousin, Ambrose Ashley (played by John Sutton in the movie). Ambrose, while away in Italy, meets the widowed Contessa Sangalletti (a.k.a. Rachel), a distant cousin of theirs, and Ambrose and Rachel soon marry. But their marital bliss is short lived, as Ambrose dies of a brain tumour. Yet before his death, he manages to plant the seeds of suspicion on young Philip’s mind, that she’s been poisoning him. Thus, when Rachel comes over to Ambrose’s Cornwall estate, no matter how nice a person she seems to be, Philip is never at peace. He has a love-hate relationship with her; and he suffers throughout, due to the seeds of distrust having taken root in his mind. Even in the end, he is in agony, wondering whether she was guilty or innocent. Something that would haunt him for the rest of his life.

I really liked the ambiguous ending, for we never truly find out about Rachel, though we do feel she might be more innocent than guilty. She’s not a perfect person, but she most probably didn’t murder her husband, nor try to to kill off Philip, as he suspects. And as we get to know later, she doesn’t have any intention of taking over Ambrose’s estate, she doesn’t expect a dime. It’s all left to Philip.

With no real interest in making it in Hollywood, Richard Burton joined this project, due to the recommendation of director George Cukor (whom Burton had great respect for). Originally Cukor was planning to direct this cinematic adaptation of du Maurier’s Gothic novel. But when Cukor and du Maurier, read the first draft of the screenplay, they felt it was unfaithful to the novel, and were both disappointed. So Cukor dropped out. However the project went ahead, without Cukor, and the movie was ultimately directed by Henry Koster. The end result, though different to the novel, was excellent; mainly thanks to Burton’s brilliant acting talent, along with the rest of the cast. Even du Maurier was pleased with Burton’s performance, as well as certain shots filmed in the real Cornwall; but felt de Havilland didn’t capture the mystery of the character of Rachel, well enough. Even though I haven’t read the book, I agree, I felt de Havilland’s performance was quite lukewarm. She wasn’t bad, in fact she was interesting enough; but far from great. Then again the character she played was quite ambiguous, and hard to judge. None the less, the film is excellent; Burton Brilliant; and the cinematography by Joseph LaShelle, hauntingly beautiful. The Cornwall setting and the beach play quite an important role in this story, but I noticed it’s not as significant to the plot, as much as it (especially the representation of the beach) was, in Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca; the 1940 film adaptation of which (by Alfred Hitchcock, starring de Havilland’s sister, Joan Fontaine) went on to win Oscars, for Best Picture and Best Cinematography. 1952’s My Cousin Rachel, was nominated for four Academy Awards, including one for Richard Burton (his 1st Oscar nomination), but it won none. Burton never won an Oscar, though he was nominated seven times, altogether.

Apparently, Olivia de Havilland didn’t get along with Richard Burton, whom she hated. She felt he was coarse, crude, unsophisticated. But then again, growing up, she wasn’t very kind to her own sister, Fontaine. Today, amazingly, Olivia de Havilland, is the one who is still alive. Most notable for her role as the kindly ‘Melanie Hamilton’, in Gone with the Wind (1939), de Havilland turned 102, on 1st July 2018, surpassing younger sister, Joan Fontaine, who passed away on 15th December 2013, less than two months after her 96th Birthday!

Olivia de Havilland, Audrey Dalton and Richard Burton, in a scene from My Cousin Rachel (1952)

Back in my teens, in the early 1990’s, I watched the 1983 BBC television mini-series, based on My Cousin Rachel, which apparently is comparatively more faithful to the novel, and which I loved too. YET, I loved this classic movie adaptation, I saw end of September 2018, online on Youtube, with not that clear a sound, and re-watched day before, even more. Although, if my memory serves me right, I do feel, Geraldine Chaplin in the 83′ version, most probably did more justice to the role of Rachel.

Recently there was another film adaptation of this book, released last year (2017), directed by Roger Michell, and starring Rachel Weisz and Sam Claflin, in the lead. Am yet to see this newer version, which has had some mixed reviews.

My Cousin Rachel (1952)

My Rating: Excellent – 10/10!!!!!!!!!!

Bookish Nuwan
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

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This Blog Post, is my contribution to the, REGALING ABOUT RICHARD BURTON BLOGATHON, hosted by Gill of Real Weegie Midget!!!!!

Thank you Gill, for letting me take part in this Blogathon, dedicated to a such prolific British Actor of the Stage and Screen!

Nuwan Sen (NSFS)

The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon (Day 3)

Costume Designer, Edith Head, celebrates her birthday with, actor, Mel Ferrer, and his beautiful wife, Audrey Hepburn; at a party hosted for Ferrer and Hepburn, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, in Los Angeles, California (circa. October 1955/1956)

So here are the Participants, for Day 3, of the The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon, with their contributions :-

  • On Walter Matthau (1st October 1920 – 1st July 2000)
    Paul of Pfeiffer Pfilms and Meg Movies, does an interestingly unique post, one of my personal favourite films ever, the brilliant comedy, Cactus Flower (1969), staring October born, Walter Matthau, along with Ingrid Bergman, Goldie Hawn & Rick Lenz (For Hawn & Lenz; who share a birthday, both being born on November 21st, in different years; Cactus Flower, was their debut movie). What’s unique about Paul‘s post, with his affection for Michelle Pfeiffer and Meg Ryan, is that he does a small analysis of what it would be like if Pfeiffer & Ryan were to replace Bergman & Hawn, respectively, in Goldie, Meg and Matthau, Michelle and Ingrid Bergman too: From Cactus Flower to a Pfantasy Pfeiffer Pfilm
    NSFS
  • On Roger Moore (14th October 1927 – 23rd May 2017)
    Gill at Realweegiemidget, sends in her third and final post for this Blogathon, where she pays tribute to her favourite (and definitely the most good looking, till date) on screen James Bond, Roger Moore, and she also speaks of his non-Bond roles, a parody on his 007 character and a movie she hasn’t seen (i.e. his final performance), in FILM… Remembering When Roger Moore Hit the Bullseye and Moore
    NSFS
  • On the Birth of Cinema with Roundhay Garden Scene (Birth-date: 14th October 1888) & Joseph Ignatius Breen (14th October 1888 – 5th December 1965)
    Tiffany at pure entertainment preservation society, writes a long essay, focusing on; French inventor, Louis Le Prince’s Roundhay Garden Scene (1888), filmed at Oakwood Grange (Le Prince’s in-laws house) in Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, UK, which is believed to be the oldest surviving film in existence; the (till date) unsolved mysterious disappearance of Louis Le Prince, as he was planning to exhibit his ‘moving picture’ invention; and delves deep into the life of, American film Censor, Joseph Ignatius Breen, known for enforcing the Motion Picture Production Code (a.k.a. Hays Code) under Will H. Hays; and Breen’s contributions to the Golden Age of Hollywood. Breen came into this world, in the United States of America, the same day, Roundhay Garden Scene was filmed, in the United Kingdom. Tiffany Brannan discusses all this, and more, in her essay, Clean with Breen: “October 14, 1888: The Birthday of the Motion Picture and Its Greatest Contributor” for “The Second Annual Great Breening Blogathon” & “The October Birthdayz Blogathon” – Tiffany Brannan
    NSFS
  • On All Hallows’ Eve (Birth-date: 31st October circa.1556), Bela Lugosi (20th October 1882 – 16 August 1956), Guillermo del Toro (Born on 9th October 1964), along with a couple of great Horror Giants of Literature & Cinema, who, were not born, but died during this month of Halloween, Edgar Allan Poe (19th January 1809 – 7th October 1849) & Vincent Price (27th May 1911 – 25th October 1993), respectively
    Reut of Moody Moppet, to go with the Horror month of Halloween, speaks of an anthology of Edgar Allan Poe’s macabre literary works, squished into an animated movie, where each story uses a different technique of animation. One segment is narrated by, the now Oscar winning film director, Guillermo del Toro. Another segment uses an archive voice recording from the 40’s, of Bela Lugosi (who shares his birth-date with my sister, 98 years apart) narration of Allan Poe’s short story, The Tell-Tale Heart. And another uses a caricature resembling, the legendary, Vincent Price. Reut Zriri ‏accounts all this under Extraordinary Tales (2013) – The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon
    NSFS

A Very Big Thank you, to my fellow bloggers, Paul, Reut, Tiffany‏ and Gill, for their contributions for Day 3 of the The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon. A a special thanks to Gill, for contributing 3 posts, for each day of the Blogathon, even though due to time constraints, she couldn’t do a post especially for this Blogathon, it was very nice of her to send me 3 previous posts, that go well with The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen n’ Style

P.S. Also see the participants and contributions, for Day 1 & Day 2, in my posts, The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon (DAY 1) and The ❝October Birthdayz❞ Blogathon (DAY 2), respectively.

On a Sunday afternoon, at Prescient 21, New York City, an assortment of coulourful characters, from crooks to thieves to innocent first time offenders, swarm around, waiting to be booked. One such character is a shoplifter, played by Lee Grant, witnessing all the crazy goings-on, in the squad room. Lee Grant reprises her well received role, in her film debut, in Detective Story (), for which she won the award forBest Actress at the Cannes Film Festival, in 1952.

Lee Grant in Detective Story (1951)

As the movie begins, Lee Grant arrives in a not-so-well maintained car, dragged by a shabby looking cop. She’s taken upstairs into the squad room of New York’s Prescient 21. Her crime – she picked up a purse, due to a kleptomaniac impulse. A bag she didn’t even like. And it seems this was a first time offense, or at least the first time she got caught. Naive, innocent, stressed and nerve-wrecking, she is more worried than she should be. In fact, the cop tells her, that it’s not as if she committed a murder, she most probably will be acquitted, with no charges; and it will all be a waste of his time.

When she is asked to call a lawyer, she’s apprehensive, the only lawyer she knows is married to her pregnant sister. But as things start to heat up in the squad room, she finally asks her brother-in-law for help. Meanwhile, we see what a good heart she has, and what a social person she is. She innocently tries to comfort a young girl, whose sister’s ex-boyfriend, is being booked for embezzlement. She tells one of the detective’s he is quite handsome, and doesn’t look like a cop. She is amused with a watch in a comic strip, and compares it to the wristwatch worn by the cop that arrested her. This shoplifter, might have accidentally committed a crime, but is a very genuine person. More genuine, than most cops. Of course, the cops here treat her well. When one brings her food, she is truly grateful. As Grant’s shoplifter leaves the station, she bids adieu, to all the detectives at Prescient 21.

Lee Grant is superb as a nervous wreck, a foolish and somewhat comical shoplifter. A bit of an oddball nut-bag. A very naturalistic twitchy portrayal of a scared little kitten, feeling guiltier than she should be. Grant learnt the weird New York accent, she uses in the play and movie, when she heard two girls on a crosstown bus. Yes, she eavesdropped on total strangers, not because she wanted to know what they were talking about, but to study their mannerisms. A true testament to great acting.

Based on a 1949 play by Sidney Kingsley, Detective Story, and directed by William Wyler, the movie comprises of a superb cast, including Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, Joseph Wiseman, William Bendix, Craig Hill, et al. Set in a single day, the main plot of the story, however, is about a tough cop (played incredibly by Kirk Douglas), who doesn’t believe in second chances, with a temper he can’t control. As the movie progresses, he learns of a past mistake by his elegant wife (gracefully played by the beautiful Eleanor Parker), which he finds difficult to accept. He is not a forgiving man. Detective Story, is a brilliant movie, with many a sub-plots. Lee Grant is seen through most of the movie, and is well fashioned with a scarf over her shoulders (it’s worth checking out some of cool ties and suits worn by some of the male cast, as well, including Douglas and Wiseman). Basically the movie is, out and out, a Kirk Douglas venture. He is the protagonist, the only lead character of the film. The rest are all supporting characters, revolving around the main plot within Prescient 21. So it is baffling, why Lee Grant, won an award for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival, the following year. She was no doubt superb, yet she was a supporting character; as was the cop’s wife, Mrs. Mary McLeod (played by Eleanor Parker). Parker received a Best Actress Oscar nomination, along with Lee Grant, for Best Supporting Actress‘, at the Academy Awards. In fact, with just over 20 minutes appearance, Eleanor Parker’s performance is the shortest role, to ever be nominated for aBest Actress Oscar. Like Grant, Parker ought to have been nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar, as well. The movie garnered two more nominations, including one forBest Director, for William Wyler. Detective Story lost out at the Oscars, but happens to be among greatest study of varied character-sketches, on film.

Lee Grant in a scene from Detective Story (1951)

Despite the accolades, Lee Grant received for her unique Oscar nominated performance, in Detective Story, she found it difficult to find work for the next decade. In 1952, she refused to testify against her husband at the HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee) hearings, and thus was blacklisted. This was during the notorious McCarthy era, under which the Hollywood Blacklist began, in 1947; where famous people were being persecuted for supposedly having ‘Communist’ beliefs. Sadly many great influential personalities lost work during this period, including Hollywood celebrities, such as Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles and Dalton Trumbo, to name some. Lee Grant was removed from the blacklist, in 1962, after which she rebuilt her career in film and television.

From playing a shoplifter in her first movie, her last Cinematic appearance was in a film titled, Going Shopping (2005). She hasn’t worked in films for the last 13 years, but she did appear on stage, where it all began, in a revival of Donald L. Coburn’s 1976 play, The Gin Game, in 2013; directed by her daughter, Dinah Manoff.

Detective Story (1951)
My Rating: Pure Excellence – 10/10 !!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

This write-up, is my contribution, for The Lovely Lee Grant Blogathon, hosted by Gill of of Real Weegie Midget and Chris from Angelmans’s Place!!

Thank you Gill and Chris, for inviting me to join this Blogathon.

Nuwan Sen

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There was a time when women use to raise a hem to get a him. Well not anymore (there is not much left to raise in most modern dresses, anyway). AND definitely not the dignified British Royals. But ever wonder, how their soft graceful chiffon dresses never truly fly up, a la Marilyn Monroe style, even in the windiest weather. Royal fashion tricks reveled below.

Marilyn Monroe, when her dress blew up, and ended her marriage

Back in windy Autumn of 1954, during the shoot of The Seven Year Itch (1955), actress Marilyn Monroe was filmed with her dress billowing (a very famous scene from this classic comedy, with the iconic Monroe, halter-neck, light shaded, ivory cocktail dress) at Lexington Avenue, in Manhattan, New York City (USA). This shoot lasted several hours, surrounded by around two thousand spectators, and photographers. The scene was re-shot later in a studio, and both, edited together, ended up in the movie. The jealous Joe DiMaggio, Marylin Monroe’s baseball player husband, was far from impressed. And their marriage ended. What did he expect?? He was married to a much loved actress, and that too a sultry sex-symbol of the 50’s decade. If her sex-siren image, hurt his male chauvinistic pride so much, why did he marry her in the first place?? This popular image has been recreated by many, post Monroe’s death, one of the most notable, that comes to mind is, Kelly LeBrock’s famous red satin dress, from The Woman in Red (1984).

Duke & Duchess of Cambridge: Prince William & Kate Middleton

Today I came across an unusual article, on Yahoo UK, about how the royals have managed to keep their dresses from flying high. So apparently when it comes to the younger royals, a la Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, they use static underwear to keep their dresses in place. Yup, undergarments that help keep your dress in place. But how did royals manage to do so, in the past?????

It seems the Queen of England, Queen of United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms, Queen Elizabeth II, wore dresses with lead curtain weights sewn into her hemlines. Of course, it depends on the fabric. If the Queen wore chiffon dresses, which she did, quite often, in summer months, a pea size lead, or a tiny lead chain, is sewn into the hems. It’s hard to say, whether the late Queen Mother (Elizabeth II’s mother), and her favourite grand-daughter-in-law, the late Princess Diana, did the same. But they sure were just as dignified, in their lifetime.

So below are some, not so Marilyn Monroe style, billowing moments, of the Royal Ladies.

Queen Elizabeth II, during a trip Down Under

Princess Diana battles through windy weather, in Italy

Prince Charles watches, as Camilla Parker Bowles pays tribute to the late Marilyn Monroe

The Queen in Trousers

Queen Elizabeth II in Trousers

Of course, the more sensible thing to wear, especially in windy weather, is a pair of trousers. It’s decent, it’s elegant, it’s fashionable, it’s comfortable, as well as practical. Of course, the queen is rarely seen in trousers, even though she wears them, a plenty.  That’s because the Queen wears trousers, casually, mostly during her private time, with family, at home, for leisure activities, sports and holidays. She is rarely seen in more formal trouser suits/pant suits, during formal functions or visits. In fact, when it comes to her formal engagements, she loves romantic vintage dresses, and loves bright colours with matching hats and coats. Nothing beats Princess Diana’s chic fashion sense, when it comes to the British royals, but the queen has her own signature style, and she is a fashionista in her own right. Apparently Kate Middleton follows suit (pun intended), and loves to wear fashionable dresses for formal engagements, than trouser suits; though casually she might be seen in all-American jeans.

Thus, the secrets to how the Royals remain fashionably dignified in bad weather, reveled.

Nuwan Sen n’ STYLE
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Immaterial of how accurate the facts from Sanjay Dutt’s life depicted in Sanju (2018) are, as a movie, this cinematic adaptation works flawlessly. Especially thanks to Ranbir Kapoor’s brilliant performance, as actor, Sanjay Dutt. Kapoor encompasses the essence of Dutt jr. to perfection. He feels Sanju, in every way possible, not just thanks to the prosthetics and make-up (although they do help), but the way Dutt moves, talks, his mannerisms; Kapoor manages to capture the Dutt persona, with excellence. Amazingly, Ranbir Kapoor is not a fan of method acting; denouncing great method acting skills of the likes of classic method actors, Marlon Brando, James Dean & Amitabh Bachchan to Aamir Khan & Leonardo DiCaprio (from more recent times); but Kapoor feels like he’s turned himself into one, to become Dutt, inside out.

Am generally not a great fan of Ranbir Kapoor (with his stale jokes, unfunny idiosyncrasies and a boring on-screen personality), but when he wants, he has proven himself capable of doing good roles; with movies like Barfi! (2012) – another excellent movie (a movie that almost made me a fan of Ranbir Kapoor), Bombay Velvet (2015) – an average fare (veering towards bad than good), yet Kapoor is quite good in his role, and now with Sanju (2018) – Ranbir Kapoor’s best role to date. If he follows this with similar good film choices with a good script, he’ll be going places.

Ranbir Kapoor belongs to Bollywood’s film royalty, the “Kapoor” clan. He is the fourth generation of Kapoor’s to grace the screen, along with his successful cousins, Karishma (also credited as, Karisma) & Kareena Kapoor (stars of the 90’s & noughties, respectively). Ranbir Kapoor is the great-grandson of the renowned theater & film personality, Prithviraj Kapoor, grandson of the legendary, Raj Kapoor, and son of chocolate boy hero of the 70’s & 80’s, actor, Rishi Kapoor. Ranbir Kapoor’s mother too, is a well known Bollywood actress, 70’s superstar, Neetu Singh. AND if young Kapoor comes in more movies, like Barfi! and Sanju, he’ll definitely make the family name proud. The sad thing about young Kapoor, is not that he comes in bad films, but sometimes he takes on some really really cheap roles. Box office failures are fine, critically bad movies, are fine too; but so long as he stops doing really cheap ones, even if he doesn’t have good movies to his name, at least he won’t be looked down as a lowly cheap comedian. Look at Barfi! it was mostly a comedy (an ode to great comedians like Charlie Chaplin and Donald O’Connor), but there was nothing cheap about it. So if he loves comedy, he ought to do more of it, without being cheap and tasteless. He is such a good actor, when he wants to be. AND he’s proved himself, with his portrayal of; a member of another family belonging to another Bollywood royalty, the second generation of the Dutt’s, to grace the silver screen; Sanjay Dutt (a.k.a. Sanju).

The Women in ‘Sanju’s’ Life (the reel & the real)

Manisha Koirala as Nargis Dutt

When it comes to women in Dutt jr.’s life, who best to start with, but his graceful mother; Mother India herself, Bollywood superstar of the 50’s, Nargis. Nargis, was a talented actress and a beautiful star, of classics like Andaz (1949), Awaara (1951), Deedar (1951), Shree 420 (1955) and (her most notable) Mother India (1957), to name some. It’s during the shooting of Mother India, when during an accidental fire on the set, actor Sunil Dutt (who was playing her wayward son, in the movie) ran in and rescued her. Both sustained injuries, and film was halted. Dutt was hospitalized, and Nargis nursed him to back health, and they soon fell in love. Eventually they got married, resulting in Sanjay Dutt’s existence, his controversial life, which in turn inspired a magnificent movie. If the sets of Mother India, never caught fire, during a shoot of a fire scene (both were professional actors, and neither used stunt doubles), Sunil Dutt and Nargis might never have happened (a Hindu-Muslim love story of the late 50’s), and Sanjay Dutt would never have been born. Sadly, Nargis Dutt, succumbed to cancer, and died at the young age of 51, in 1981 (less than a month away, from her 52nd Birthday).

Manish Koirala, a brilliant actress of the 90’s & early noughties (who has actually worked with actor Sanjay Dutt, as well), does an incredible role, as a middle-aged Nargis Dutt. Back in 1994, when 1942: A Love Story (1994) starring Koirala alongside Anil Kapoor, was released; there was this famous umbrella scene which was reminiscent of a scene from the song Pyar Hua, Ikrar Hua… from Shree 420, beautifully showcasing an on-screen romance between, Raj Kapoor (Ranbir Kapoor’s grandfather) and Nargis (off-screen too, Raj Kapoor and Nargis were known to be lovers, and were in a long term relationship, back in the late 40’s & early/mid-50’s, but as he was a married Hindu man, not willing to leave his wife for this beautiful Muslim actress, he was madly in love with, Nargis finally broke it off. This was before Mother India happened, and fate took a different route). The fact is, back in 1994, everyone spoke of how the Nepali born, Manisha Koirala, felt a lot like Nargis; especially thanks to that red umbrella scene, at the start of the song, Rim Jhim Rim Jhim from 1942: A Love Story. And almost 2½ decades later, we see Koirala play, an older version, of the renowned actress of 50’s Bollywood.

Manisha Koirala does not feel like Nargis in Sanju. But she essays the role with grace and elegance, and one can imagine, a middle aged Nargis being just as beautiful, kind and elegant. The few scenes with the Mother and son (a mother, who tries to hide her ailing health from the son; and a drugged out son, who witnesses his mother’s death, but is unaware of whether what happened moments before she died, was real or was he hallucinating – something Dutt jr. would regret for the rest of his life) are truly heart rending.

Manisha Koirala, herself, is a cancer survivor. She mentioned how difficult it was to relive the trauma, while playing another person, and that too such a well reputed actress, suffering through cancer.

Sonam Kapoor as Ruby

Adorable Sonam Kapoor, does a touching portrayal of Sanjay Dutt’s girlfriend of the early 80’s. In the movie, the character is fictionalized, and named Ruby. Yet, it’s obviously based on actress, Tina Munim (now Tina Ambani), who was his beautiful girlfriend, at the time. We see Ruby and her parents ridiculed and suffer, at the hands of Dutt jr., again and again. Young Dutt, is so heartless, even when Ruby’s father (a comical cameo by Boman Irani) dies, he has no feelings for Ruby’s family, but his own selfish desire to own her.

Even, when his friend convinces Ruby (as she is about to marry an NRI, as per her parents wish) that Dutt truly loves her, and she leaves her fiancé to marry Dutt jr., Sanju is way too drugged and enjoying an acid trip at home. He has sold the ‘mangalsutra’ (a necklace that an Indian groom ties on the bride’s neck, during an authentic Indian wedding ceremony) he made for her, with a Penguin (Ruby’s favourite bird), for drugs. She had been waiting for ages at the registrar’s office to get married to him (in a civil marriage). The scene where she confronts the drugged out Sanju, inquiring where her ‘mangalsutra’ is, and the drugged-out Dutt insultingly puts the toilet seat on her neck, breaks your heart. How much more can she take? She of course, comes to her senses and breaks up, but feels no animosity towards him. Did young Tina Munim really go through so much, because she loved him?? It’s hard to say, how much is fictional, how much real; but young love can be blind, blind to their partner’s faults. Kudos to her for braving up, and finally leaving him. Which Munim actually did, and she later married Anil Ambani, son of Indian business tycoon, Dhirubhai Ambani; whose life inspired the excellent epic movie, Guru (2007) starring Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai.

The song Mein Badhiya, Tu bhi Badhiya…, from Sanju, which was originally picturized with Sonam Kapoor (and I had seen, and loved the retro 60’s/early70’s style song on Youtube), had been edited. The first bit of the song is there, but the entrance of Sonam Kapoor, driving into the studio, and consequent dance sequence, are not in the movie. The rest of the songs aren’t that entertaining. Except for “Kar Har Maidaan Fateh“, which has a deep meaning dealing with with Dutt’s victory over his drug abuse, Dutt’s surreal LSD fueled trip with “Ruby, Ruby” and the fun filled, Mein Badhiya, Tu bhi Badhiya…, the rest songs from the soundtrack are not that great or memorable, and quite unnecessary. The few classic tunes hummed by various cast members are interesting, and nostalgic.

Sonam Kapoor, happens to be one of my favourite actresses of today. Initially, I loved her as a fashionista (see my post Bollywood’s young Fashionista turns 29 today from June 2014), and since watching her brilliant role in Neerja (2016), a movie I got to see on the big screen, she’s gained more of my respect as a film artiste (also see my post TEN (Plus+2) Movies released Last Year from January 2017). Sonam Kapoor is the daughter of Anil Kapoor, star of films like Mr. India (1987), 1942: A love Story (which I spoke of earlier), and of course the Oscar winning British Film, Slumdog Millionaire (2008) – which propelled daddy Kapoor towards Hollywood fame and international appreciation.

Dia Mirza as Manyata Dutt

Dia Mirza does a decent enough role as, Manyata Dutt, Sanjay Dutt’s second official/third unofficial (explanation further down) and current wife. Dia Mirza was an Indian Beauty Queen, who went onto win the title of Miss Asia Pacific 2000. She later appeared in quite a number of Indian films, but wasn’t that great a success, besides being quite a capable actress. Even here, she doesn’t have much of a role, but she still manages to make it her own, and be noticed, as the ever supporting wife. Sanjay Dutt has two little children (twins) from his current wife (i.e. from Manyata), and an older daughter from his first marriage. Dutt was married to actress, Richa Sharma, in the late 80’s. They married in 1987, and within two years she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Dutt and Sharma separated, apparently sometime after the diagnosis. She died in 1996, in her parents home, in the United States of America. After a major court battle, the custody of their child was handed over to the maternal grandparents (i.e. Richa Sharma’s parents). Dutt’s eldest daughter still lives with her maternal grandparents, in New York, USA. Soon Dutt was involved with model, Rhea Pillai, with whom he had a long-term relationship, who stood by his side, during his first jail stint. In fact, Rhea Pillai was his second wife, through a temple marriage (which makes her his second wife, in an unofficial/unregistered sense). But they went their separate ways/divorced in 2008. He married his third wife (officially/registered second marriage), Manyata Dutt, in 2008, itself. She has been standing by her man through thick and thin, since.

Both, his first wife, and his unofficial second wife, are missing in this bio-pic, Sanju. The movie does mention, he is a notorious womanizer, and has slept with 300 odd women, including prostitutes; but portrays him in a monogamous relationship, since his marriage to Mayanta Dutt (which might be true). Yet the film fails to even mention his first two marriages, let alone that he has an older daughter, from his first marriage. Not to mention how many illegitimate kids, he might have spawned.

Manyata Dutt, celebrated her 40th Birthday, on 22nd July 2018.

Anushka Sharma as Winnie Diaz

Anushka Sharma plays Winnie Diaz, a fictional writer, who is roped into write Sanjay Dutt’s biography. Such a person, apparently never existed. It’s through her eyes, we mostly see Dutt’s life unfold, as she does her research. Though fictional, she is an interesting addition to the movie, where she records different aspects of Dutt’s life through different interpretations, by an interesting array of people. But, it’s mostly Sanju’s character that narrates the story (flashbacks into the 80’s & 90’s), and the rest is shown in real time.

Karishma Tanna playing a slut

Karishma Tanna, plays the love interest of Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi (Vicky Kaushal), a village idiot and Sanju’s best friend, who is still a virgin. Through jet lag, Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi falls asleep, and Sanju (being the notorious playboy who self-admittingly has slept with over 300 women) screws Pinky, with no hang-ups whatsoever. What a jerk?? He might be a playboy, BUT at least, in this context, he ought to have though of his friend, who has been there for him throughout. Sure, the woman is a slut, herself, and has no calms of sleeping with her boyfriend’s best friend, who also happens to be an actor; but Dutt could have walked out, for the sake of his friend. What’s worse is, Dutt jr. has no conscience, he does not feel bad for his friend, for hurting his best friend. Dutt feels devoid of any feelings, in this instance.

It’s hard to say how real the character of Pinky is, but Karishma Tanna most probably portrays, any random slut, responsible for Dutt’s arousal. Yeah, the bugger is so innocent, right???

The trio of actresses playing Sanjay Dutt’s two sisters

Three virtually unknown actresses, play Dutt’s sister’s (the two daughter’s of Sunil and Nargis Dutt). In real life, Namrata and Priya Dutt played a major role in their brother, Sanjay Dutt’s life. Especially Priya Dutt, who was there supporting him, throughout his prison years, along with their father, Sunil Dutt. But the two sisters are hardly noticeable, and have practically no dialogues. Blink, and you’ll miss them.

Back in November 2010, during a visit to New Delhi, India, I came across this non-fiction book, Mr and Mrs Dutt: Memories of our Parents, written by Namrata Dutt Kumar and Priya Dutt. A wonderfully written book, about their family life, struggles and what not. A really interesting biographical read with a spread of a stunning collection of Black&White photographs (colour photographs have been printed in Black&White, for a monotonal viewing pleasure). The fact it was written by Sunil and Nargis Dutt’s daughters made me more interested in reading it, and it was truly worth it. A keepsake. Sadly, more prominence hasn’t been given to these two girls, in the movie, especially Priya Dutt.

‘Sanju’s’ Two Male Anchors

Paresh Rawal as Sunil Dutt

Paresh Rawal, plays the ever worried father, Sunil Dutt. Worried about his wife’s deteriorating health, worried about his son’s drug addiction and later jail terms. Rawal, feels nothing like Sunil Dutt, but he does a good enough role of a worried father. Any father, worried about his son’s life. He doesn’t play Sunil Dutt, but he plays a concerned father, beautifully.

As much as the movie is about Sanjay Dutt, it is also about Sunil Dutt. The great bond between a father and son, and the father’s never ending trials and tribulations for the sake of his wayward son. Sunil Dutt comes across as a saint, and in a sense he was. Both Sunil and Nargis Dutt were known for their humanity. And humanity is the religion they preached to  their kids, even though Dutt jr. didn’t adhere to their preaching.

Though we see the father going out of his way to save his son, in various instances, one crucial fact is missing. To get bail for his son, through an opposing political party ruling the state of Maharashtra, at the time, Sunil Dutt, a Congress party politician, did not contest in Mumbai’s next election. That’s just one of the things he had to forgo, for the sake of his son.

The scene where Sunil Dutt, a Hindu, mentions he was threatened by an underworld Muslim don, when he wanted to marry Nargis, a Muslim; is bogus. As Nargis was in a long-term relationship with Raj Kapoor, a Hindu, and that too a married man, long before she met Sunil Dutt. Plus, the Bombay (now Mumbai) underworld was not that powerful in the 50’s, when Sunil Dutt and Nargis got married. In fact, Haji Mastan (whom Dutt refers to in the movie), gained power only in the 60’s & 70’s. Haji Mastan’s life was inspiration behind, the Bollywood movies, Deewaar (1975) and Once Upon a Time in Mumbaai (2010).

Vicky Kaushal as Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi

It’s hard to say, who Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi is based on, but he is way too good a friend for Sanju. Various sorces attribute the character to be either Dutt jr.’s close friend Paresh Ghelani, or actor Kumar Gaurav. I don’t know much about this Paresh Ghelani, other than the fact that he is a close friend of Sanjay Dutt’s. So it’s hard to say, whether the fictional character played by Vicky Kaushal is based on him or not. But Kaushal’s character is definitely not based on Kumar Gaurav. True, Kumar Gaurav too is a close friend of Sanjay Dutt’s. Yet, Kamlesh Kanhaiyalal Kapasi comes across as an unsophisticated village fool, with a good heart, and genuine personality. Kumar Gaurav too might be known to have a good heart and down to earth personality, yet he was a highly sophisticated young man, and 80’s film star, and is truly a sophisticated mature gentleman, today. Gaurav, son of Rajendra Kumar (Rajendra Kumar played the other son of Nargis, and brother to Sunil Dutt, in Mother India) married Namrata Dutt in 1981 (and since then she goes as Namrata Dutt Kumar). Gaurav and Sanjay Dutt had a falling out, when Gaurav married Dutt jr.’s sister, but they regained their friendship, and Gaurav too stood by his brother-in-law, throughout his prison term. So like Sanjay Dutt’s sister’s, Gaurav doesn’t have a part in the movie, in fact he is missing altogether, more like Sanjay Dutt’s first two wives.

Though we see Dutt jr. being a good, though somewhat troublesome, friend; in real life Sanjay Dutt is known to have put several friends in trouble, to the extent of them getting arrested along with him.

The Verdict

There are lot of discrepancies in the movie, on the facts from Sanjay Dutt’s life, which has led to criticism of whitewashing Dutt’s image (after all the film was directed by Rajkumar Hirani, a close friend of Sanjay Dutt). Which could be true, as despite all his flaws, he comes out a troubled human with a good heart, whom we sympathize with. But if you had never heard of Sanjay Dutt, didn’t know anything about his life, and watch this movie; immaterial of the source material being fact or fiction; you’d love this. And that’s how a film ought to be judged. A movie should be able to stand on it’s own merit, it doesn’t matter that it’s based on a book, a play, a real-life incident, et al. No harm in doing a comparison, with your knowledge of it’s source material, but what truly matters is, how well it works as a movie. So, although mostly fictionalized, with removal of key characters and moments applicable to Dutt’s life, is a pity; overall it’s an amazingly well made movie. And I loved it.

Sanju (2018)
My Rating: Excellent – 10/10 !!!!!

I watched Sanju, on Thursday, 19th of July, 2018, at the Liberty Cinema.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense