Friday, May 19, 2017

Dishonored Lady

I'm not the film guy here but I can watch them like anyone else and do a little stream of consciousness.   During last week's rainy weekend in New England, Amazon Prime recommended a whole slew of older films and I picked this one because I liked Hedy Lamarr's look on the ad.    Dishonored Lady was a 1947 film featuring Hedy as Madeleine Damien, a very social career girl (and budding scientist-typist) with a past (and a present too at the start of the film).  They never come out and show her being a bad girl but they do a whiz bang job of implying the hell out of it.   These drippy no good guys just seem to want to follow her around everywhere.  ( Per, apparently the Hays Office held it up for while for being too dirty and in the end, the moviemakers caved and cut all the fun smutty stuff).  Trivia Note- A 1932 film Letty Lyndon featuring Joan Crawford has been unavailable since 1936 because it apparently plagiarized the play upon which Dishonored Lady was based. 

There is a murder mystery aspect that's not much of mystery and a big court scene which has very little to do with the actual law (the murder defendant subject to the death penalty is just too depressed to let her high-priced counsel ask the witnesses any questions)- its mainly a character profile and sort of love story (there's still one decent guy out there damnit).  Also does great violence to the notions of modern psychiatry.  Morris Carnovsky plays one pushy therapist. He shows up everywhere in his patient's life and takes an active role in getting these two crazy kids together.  He invokes his confidentiality sort of willy-nilly in the trial scenes, not afraid to break it and go off at length when something interests him.   I think we are all just meant to assume that everyone who works in magazines, fashion, jewels or attends nightclubs are skeevy drunks up to no good.  (Also they really could have used Uber as you can never get a cab which fact results in many plot points).  The cops portrayed are not going to win any good conduct commendations from the ACLU.   And spoiler alert, the film sets you up for a sort of a thoughtful ambiguous ending but at literally the last moment, it just can't help itself.  (I read it was tacked on in production).

Familiar faces include (in what must have been a role that was cut down) Natalie Schafer- Lovie from Gilligan's Island- as the work friend/buttinsky and Margaret Hamilton channeling her wicked witch persona as the landlady.    Reading up on the film afterwards, I see it went way over budget and disappointed mightily at the box office.  But I'm writing about it 70 years later, so there's that.


Blogger LAGuy said...

I like seeing cops and courtrooms in films made before the Warren Court revolution. I'm not saying movies are realistic to begin with, but the attitudes back then toward due process are amazingly lax.

The Hays Code controlled everything for decades. Not just language and nudity, but the very topics that could be discussed. (See Detective Story (1951), which has a plot revolving around an abortionist--but they can't even say the word so he just comes across as a sloppy obstetrician). And certain American institutions couldn't be shown in a bad light, so if something went wrong, it had to be due to some anomaly.

It's also fun to see trials in foreign movies, like The Seventh Juror, a 1962 French film. The juror is actually the murderer, and he keeps interrupting the trial to ask questions of the defendant.

1:45 PM, May 19, 2017  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I saw the title I was sure this was Columbus Guy writing about Hillary Clinton.

4:04 PM, May 19, 2017  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

High praise, indeed.

4:24 PM, May 19, 2017  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He'd never call her a lady.

5:18 AM, May 20, 2017  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Fair enough. According to Camille Paglia, she's cis-empty.

11:48 AM, May 20, 2017  

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