Friday, October 5, 2012

'Since You Went Away' Open Thread


  1. Well, I did get a chance to watch this show, and there were parts that were thoroughly enjoyable. I loved Joseph Cotton in this. He is so smooth, so gentle with the Jennifer Jones charater, and his persistent good humor and encouragement felt so very genuine. It was remarkable also to watch Jane (the Jennifer Jones character) go from being a wide eyed young girl to a very steady mature young woman. Soda was a crack-up, and I loved the ending (I'm a bit of a softy). But by far my favorite scene was of the ball. The waltz, the mood cast by the lighting, the seemingly effortless movements of the dancers, and Lieutenant Tony (Joseph Cotton) kindly sharing a dance with the star struck young daughter of his life long love. Very nice.

  2. Favorite line? Well, obviously,

    "Oh, bother Grandpa!"

    What a lovely movie this is. I know a lot of people decry it as melodrama, but I think that does a great disservice to families that bear up under the strains and losses of any war. I thought at first that Anne Hilton was going to be a bit too good to be true, and she may have behaved a lot better than I probably would have, but she was quite human, quite believable, and I found I liked her more and more. (It's hard to believe that this Claudette Colbert is the same spoiled rich girl of It Happened One Night.)

    I was rather worried when I saw Shirley Temple, but I thought she was great in this. I loved her no-nonsense approach to working out the adjustments between the family and the boarder -- that government-issued etiquette manual was priceless -- and her immediately friendly, affectionate nature.

    I dearly loved Col. Smollit's story, a bitter man who has lost everyone he loves to either death or "unforgivable" disappointment, coming to recognize the goodness in young Bill, and embrace this second family that helped him to see it. The scenes between Jane and Col. Smollit after Bill's death, the simple, brief moments of affection and shared loss, were beautifully done. I would love Monty Woolley reading the proverbial phone-book, but I enjoyed Jennifer Jones' performance more as she portrayed the maturing young woman than when she was the officer-crazy/Uncle Tony-smitten schoolgirl. (But how great was Joseph Cotten in the mumps farewell scene! I loved that exchange, with Tony finding the perfect way to make clear that a relationship with Jane was impossible, without rejecting her: "I wish I were seventeen." Beautiful.)

    I've seen a little background on the sad pairing of Robert Walker and Jones, and since I don't know Walker from anything else, I don't know whether it was poor casting from a talent/type standpoint or a not-great performance due to the stresses of the situation, but Bill seemed the least believable character of the movie, too timid to have made it to corporal, too bumbling to have been attractive to Jane. I have to admit, I didn't peg him as doomed until the scene of his train leaving, and Jane's desperate goodbyes. She did seem, as she told her mother later, as though she knew it all along.

    I did like Joseph Cotten in this -- he always seems to be a regular guy who just happens to be a bit more attractive than most regular guys -- but he was not my favorite character. His loving relationship with his honorary nieces was wonderful, but I didn't care for his constant reminders to Anne that he was still and always in love with her. For one thing, it's unseemly (yes, I said unseemly); it undermines strength of character (she would not have been the first to find some comfort in the wrong man's arms); and, although Anne seemed pretty immune to his charms, what kind of situation might he have found them all in if her husband had not survived the war?

    Agnes Moorehead was very interesting, not an outright villainess, but a selfish woman with a nasty streak. So different from either of the only other roles I've seen her in -- Fanny in The Magnificent Ambersons, and Endora* from Bewitched -- I'm really psyched to see some of her other movies.

    Of course, I loved the ending -- interesting, to never "meet" Tim Hilton -- and it didn't hurt to have a bit of Christmas to it. :)

    * When I was a kid, the re-runs of Bewitched never included the first season, which had a very different feel than the later, increasingly farcical, episodes. Elizabeth Montgomery was awesomely lovely, Dick York was actually permitted some dignity, and Agnes Moorehead suggested a potential for real malevolence that made witchcraft seem like serious business. I love that first season.

  3. Thanks for your comments, Cathy! It was a hugely popular movie in 1944, and I can see why. It's hard for us today to get into the mindset of those times, but when the kids go to the soda shop and they can't serve them .. was it ice cream? .. that showed you how broadly the war changed things. Same with people having cars but no gas to drive them. Made for open roads, I imagine. Yes, it was a bit of a time machine, and I am sure it was intended to sympathize with the very real problems people were going through.

    The Lieutenant - unseemly is exactly the right word. A bit much hanging around the married woman and her girls. And her husband was his friend? You can be appreciative of a man's wife, but you sure can't be making passes at her. I think he was waiting for her to reach out to him. Unseemly. He should have gotten the heck out of there. But as she took it all as some great joke, I suppose that was rather deflating. And it is not as though the Lieutenant was a stranger to women. They kept waving to him, to Anne's apparent amusement. I did like the modest manner in which he spoke of himself, when he was promoted, and when he was up for the Navy Cross. I don't know - perhaps he really admired her, and that was the point, to say that a woman with a husband away at war was still vitally a woman, still attractive as a woman, still worthy of the admiration of an attractive and vital man.

    That was a fun one! Thanks for watching it with me. Now - you need to pick the next one!

  4. Hmm... It's too soon for Christmas movies, isn't it.

  5. A Christmas movie is it? And why not? Is there some convention or courtesy we are expected to conform to? I cannot imagine it would apply to us. If you would like to see it, I'm all for it!

  6. Well, I didn't have a particular one in mind; I just sort of had a hankering. BUT -- there are two perfectly good holidays between now and Christmas that we shouldn't overlook; three if you count Veterans' Day. (Hey, I could do a war movie, if it had a happy ending.)

    But it's starting to feel like Halloween, and I would kind of like to watch something a little bit scary, if you can think of something that isn't really dark or gory. Fun-scary. Arsenic and Old Lace is my "tradition" Halloween movie, but it's more of a (slightly dark) screwball-comedy than anything else.


  7. That Hitchcock movie with Joseph Cotton as the uncle and Theresa Wright as the adoring niece, where Cotton is secretly a serial murderer, and as Theresa slowly comes to see a very dark side to him it is apparent that she knows, and he knows that she knows, which leads him to decide to snuff out her life, adoring neice or not - that was pretty creepy and scary as I recall. It's been quite a while since I've seen it, but I love Theresa Wright and am getting more and more appreciative of Joseph Cotton. There was a lot of talk of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" - don't know. How about that one "Gaslight", where Ingrid Bergman's husband is trying to drive her insane. That wouldn't be too close to home, would it? : ) Just kidding. Or "Spellbound", with Ingrid Bergman and Gregory Peck? Oh, how about... "Suspicion", where Cary Grant marries this lovely young gal played by Joan Fontaine, but then it seems this guy she married is really a cold blooded killer... or is he? Grant was great in this, that cold look in his eye... you just didn't know. The ending was played one way, but I think Hitch intended it to go the other. Anyway, the way Grant played it I wouldn't want to leave you alone with him... which of course Joan has to do. I mean, she married him, so there you are.

    I don't know, Cathy. "Arsenic and Old Lace" would suite me just fine. Then we would still get Cary Grant, and that's always a good thing. You get to choose, Cathy. We'll enjoy it, whatever it is, I am certain sure.

  8. Oh, Jim, they all sound great! Let's watch them all -- then it will be time for Christmas movies!

    But first... Would you be up for watching the remake of The Fly, with Jeff Goldblum and Gena Davis? It may be kinda creepy, but it comes highly recommended. Then maybe we could do Arsenic and Old Lace to lighten the mood. ???

  9. Very creepy! "The Fly" it is! And "Arsenic and Old Lace" to follow.

    Should have it up in a couple of days.