Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Furies (1950)

What I find most interesting about this movie is how much I empathized with Barbara Stanwyck's character. This movie had a way of making me really feel what she was feeling, with the exception of her liking Wendell Corey's character... er, is she nuts? But her love of her father (Walter Huston) and the ranch and her best friend (Gilbert Roland... more on him in a bit), then her reaction to Judith Anderson's presence (is she ever not scary?), her helplessness as the ranch starts slipping away from her. Then I felt the same hatred for her father when he does something completely nasty. I wanted revenge on him myself... I mean, how dare he do that? GAH! Then, watching Walter Huston on his cattle drive, taking down the bull single-handed, emotionally coming around again and not being able to maintain the hate... just like Stanwyck's character.

It was a fascinating roller coaster ride that I did not expect to come full circle like that. After what he did, I didn't think I could ever like his character again, and yet I did. Good filmmaking that, but then this movie is directed by Anthony Mann, so no surprise at all.

Walter Huston is fantastic. He's always been my favorite of the Hustons, and he's so full of energy and gumption, grins and anger. He grabs your attention everytime he's on screen. Barbara Stanwyck is, as usual, at the top of her game, playing an even more strong-willed, stubborn woman than usual. I think it's that steely core and her very confidence, that when she finds that she could lose everything she's worked for despite that confidence -- when she's shaken that badly, the vulnerability her character's worked so hard to hide really resonates.

When Wendell Corey first walked on screen, I thought he was James Donald. The two look remarkably alike at first glance. But Wendell Corey is so flat and devoid of emotion in this movie, except for that delicious smirk he gets when he takes $50,000 instead of Barbara Stanwyck. That's a priceless moment. He seems an odd casting choice, really. Honestly, I wanted someone more classically handsome, more charming and deceitful, cuz I just couldn't see Barbara Stanwyck falling for him.

Then there's Gilbert Roland, who doesn't have a big role, but it's a pivotal one. I've liked him since I first saw The Bad and the Beautiful back in the late '80s. Gilbert Roland has this sensual ease about how he physically moves, rather cat-like. He's a neat actor to watch, and I always love catching him in something new. He's everything Wendell Corey isn't, but Barbara Stanwyck only sees him as a friend. Actually, their relationship in the movie was very refreshing, as it's rare to see a guy/girl best friendship. I love their dialog together, particuarly as it's with him that Stanwyck's character lets her guard down.

4 comments:

  1. Haven't seen this one yet.

    Not sure I even know who Wendell Corey is...is he usually bad??

    Not sure I know who Gilbert Roland is, either.

    (ha) I feel like a blank slate this morning. :)

    I'm glad you enjoyed Stanwyck. She's always a safe bet.

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  2. No, not bad, just... a tad boring? I know Wendell Corey best from "Rear Window," where he plays Jimmy Stewart's detective friend. He's fine there, but in this movie he seems a bit miscast.

    As for Gilbert Roland, you probably have seen him in something, somewhere, as he did a ton of work, from the Silents on forward all the way to the '80s, everything from bit stuff to leads. He has a fascinating combo of toughness, grace, and strong physicality to him that I've always found appealing. I find him a commanding presence, and it's hard not to notice him, even in small parts.

    Netflix has some of his Cisco Kid movies, I think I might check them out next, as amazingly enough, Netflix doesn't have "Gone With the Wind" right now, and having just read the book, I really wanted to see the movie again while the book's fresh in my mind. But they don't have it, the rats!

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  3. No GONE WITH THE WIND? That is strange! You'd think they'd keep extra copies of the best movies ever made...probably have hundreds of copies of every New, awful movie that's released.

    Did you enjoy the book??

    I've read several chapters of it, but never finished it.

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  4. I was quite surprised, because I wasn't expecting to like the book, and I had in my head some weird preconception that it would be hard to read. Psssh. It was very easy to read, it sucked me right in, and I really loved it. It gave a bit more insight into Scarlett and where she's coming from, and I liked that.

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