Posts Tagged ‘raymond massey’

Joan Crawford In Possessed

Monday, August 12th, 2013

In this 1947 Warner Brothers film noir, Joan Crawford plays Louise Howell Graham, an unstable woman with an obsession for ex-lover David Sutton, played by Van Heflin, and her resulting madness.

The film begins with Crawford’s character, Louise, dazed and walking the streets of Los Angeles looking for “David.” She enters a diner where she collapses and is taken to the psychiatric ward of a nearby hospital. In an effort to understand the nature of her problem, Dr. Harvey Willard coaxes Louise to relate her story. How did she end up this way, and what pushed her over the edge?

In the state of Washington, Louise had been working as a nurse caring for the wife of Dean Graham, played by Raymond Massey. Engineer David Sutton, who is both a neighbor and friend of Dean shares a casual relationship with Louise. Casual, that is, to David. However, Louise is completely intoxicated with David and believes herself so in love with him that she feels she will burst if she does not express these feelings along with her desire to marry him. Louise is certain that David must feel the same about her.

He does not. Not only is David not in love with Louise, he is angered by her smothering possessiveness. The rejection shocks Louise who demands that they stop seeing one another for good. Dean has been unaware of the affair between his wife’s nurse and his friend and neighbor. One day David comes over to talk with Dean to ask him for a recommendation as David has an opportunity for a great job in Canada. Louise, unable to control her obsessive feelings toward David, overhears the conversation and begs David to take her with him to Canada. He refuses and leaves without her.

Shortly after, tragedy strikes the Graham family. Mrs. Graham drowns while Louise is away at the local village. Already distraut over David’s leaving, Louise is now racked by guilt over the death of Mrs. Graham. Had she only not gone to the village, the death would never have occurred.

That evening, Dean Graham’s daughter Carol confronts Louise accusing her of having an affair with her father that drove her mother to drown herself. Louise denys the false accusation, but the denial does not satisfy Carol’s suspicions.

Louise’s emotional stability is being pushed to the limit. With David gone, the death of Mrs. Graham, and Carol’s accusation, Louise slips closer and closer to the edge.

As Louise tries to remove David from her life he returns from Canada. His reappearance and actions now seem as though he is taunting her love for him and constantly reminding her that she will never be able to have him in the way that she wants.

Unexpectedly, Dean Graham proposes marriage to Louise. Though she does not love Dean, Carol accepts the proposal believing that this will enrage and make David jealous. David crashes their marriage ceremony and when introduced to the grown up Carol immediately begins to take an keen interest in her. Louise’s plan has backfired. Not only does David not show any jealousy she herself becomes jealous of David’s interest in Carol.

Once the relationship becomes serious between David and Carol, Louise starts to have delusions and hallucinations about the reality that is around her, and often times cannot discern between what is real and unreal.

A final confrontation between David and Louise can only lead to tragedy.

The story of Possessed reveals the agonizing and torturous experience of a scorned lover who is torn apart by the unrequited love of someone who toys with the rejection.

This 1947 film noir was one of Joan Crawford’s finest screen performances earning her an academy award nomination for best actress.



Friday, February 8th, 2013

Possessed [Blu-ray]

Tagline – Love can be maddening!

Starring – Joan Crawford (Louise Howell), Van Heflin (David Sutton), Raymond Massey (Dean Graham), Geraldine Brooks (Carol Graham).

Released – July, 1947

Directed By – Curtis Bernhardt

Produced By – Warner Brothers

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – Walking the streets of Los Angeles alone and dazed, Louise Howell looks for David. She enters and collapses in a diner from which she is brought to the psychiatric ward of a hospital. While there she is gently coaxed into telling her story.

Louise works as a private nurse, in the state of Washington, taking care of Dean Graham’s wife Pauline. She has a romantic relationship with engineer David Sutton, a neighbor of the Grahams. Louise is in love with David and her love is becoming more and more of an obsession.

She wants very badly to marry David, but he does not return her feelings at the same level, and is increasingly annoyed at Louise’s possessiveness. So much so, that he breaks off their relationship.

Wanting to move on with his career, David speaks with Dean about an opportunity in Canada. He hopes that Dean will recommend him for the job. Dean is unaware of the previous relationship between Louise and David. This conversation is overheard by Louise who begs David to take her to Canada with him. He refuses, and after getting the job leaves for Canada.

Shortly after, while Louise is in the village, the emotionally unstable Pauline Graham drowns herself. After the funeral, David asks Louise to remain in his home and help with his son Wynn and college-age daughter Carol. This does not make Carol happy, and she accuses Louise of having an affair with her father.

David returns from Canada and Louise’s obsessive emotions begin to resurface. She is so upset by still not being able to have David that she quits her job at the Graham house. However, Dean confesses his love for her and asks her to marry him. Although she does not love him she accepts.

Carol, after speaking with her mother’s doctor, realizes that her suspicions of an affair between her father and Louise were incorrect and she apologizes to Louise. They attend a concert together and run into David.

This meeting sets the stage for Louise’s obsessive feelings toward David to spiral out of control. She leaves the concert, and once home begins to hallucinate that Carol and David are plotting against her and that she had killed Pauline Graham. Now fearing for her own sanity Louise sees a doctor who informs her that she may possibly be suffering from schizophrenia and suggests she see a psychiatrist.

She returns home and asks Dean for a divorce. He suggests that a vacation my help with her problems and any thoughts of divorce should be put on hold. They go away to the beach house where Pauline died and while there Louise again begins to hallucinate. This time Louise believes she hears Pauline’s voice telling her to kill herself because she was responsible for Pauline’s death.

She tells Dean about this and he is again able to calm her fears and they return home. Together they decide to go dancing as a way to relax, but while at the dance, run into David and Carol who announce to them that they are engaged to be married.

With this news, Louise’s obsessive feelings of love for David take a tragic turn toward insanity. Before Louise’s spiraling emotional cycle can end, someone else will lose their life.

NOTABLE: Possessed received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Joan Crawford).

To help prepare for her role, Joan Crawford visited hospital mental wards and talked extensively with psychiatrist’s. She has said that this was the most difficult role she had ever played. Crawford would be sued by a former female mental patient who claimed that the actress had observed her without permission. The suit was later dropped.

The role of Louise Howell was originally offered to Bette Davis who had to turn the role down because she was pregnant.

This motion picture was the film debut of actress Geraldine Brooks.

Personal Note: One of my favorite films noir, with a great performance by Joan Crawford along with strong supporting work, most notably by Van Heflin.

One of the early films to focus on mental illness and extremely well done.


Things To Come

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Things to Come (B&W + Colorized Versions)

Tagline – What Will the Next Hundred Years Bring to Mankind?

Starring – Raymond Massey (John Cabal/Oswald Cabal), Edward Chapman (Pippa Passworthy/Raymond Passworthy), Ralph Richardson (The Boss), Margaretta Scott (Roxana/Rowena), Cedric Hardwicke (Theotocopulos).

Released – April, 1936

Directed By – William Cameron Menzies

Produced By – London Films Productions

Distributed By – United Artists Corporation

Description – A British science fiction film about the present and the future. In the British city of “Everytown,” businessman John Cabal is unable to enjoy this Christmas day as the threat of war has cast a dark cloud over the world.

John’s holiday guests, Dr. Edward Harding shares his concern, while Pippa Passworthy feels that it will not occur. Mr. Passworthy’s over-optimism is shattered by a bombing raid that evening and the breakout of global war.

John Cabal, now a pilot, shoots down an enemy bomber. He lands in the area of the bomber’s crash and tries to tend to the wounded enemy. As poison gas surrounds them, the pair put on gas masks and speak of the horror of war. A little girl passes in a daze and the wounded enemy gives her his mask accepting his own death.

John takes the girl to his plane and heads for safety. The war rages on for decades, taking a deadly toll, until the remaining people are mostly those born after the start of the war. There is desolation everywhere, and society has totally broken down. The only remaining hints of cities are groups of small primitive communities.

It is now 1966, and a great plague called the “wandering sickness” is spread by the enemies few remaining airplanes. With little medical equipment still in existence, a cure is hopeless. Four years pass and a warlord, known only as “The Boss,” has emerged as leader. His cure for the plague is to kill all those infected.

In May of 1970 a futuristic airplane lands, carrying John Cabal, announcing a new society called, “Wings Over the World.” They are rebuilding civilization and have renounced war and all independent nations.

However, The Boss is not ready to give up his power and authority. He takes John prisoner forcing him to help repair some remaining planes. One repaired plane is taken on a test flight, but the pilot heads for the location of the new society and tells them of John’s capture.

The people of “Wings Over the World” attack Everytown, killing The Boss and freeing John. The next few decades will provide a period of reconstruction. The people now live underground due to the poison air above them.

There is now hope for a new and peaceful society. That is until a revolution against progress begins to take root and the cycle of war begins again.

NOTABLE: The screenplay for Things to Come was written by H. G. Wells, and is an adaptation of his 1933 novel, The Shape of Things to Come.

Things To Come proved to be a prediction of the future as, in the film, war began on Christmas day 1940.  World War II would start on September 1, 1939. Also, the depiction of poison gas used in the film was a very real fear during World War II.

Personal Note: Here is a poignant quote from the film made by character John Cabal, “If we don’t end war, war will end us.”

A fearful and sad sentiment that is still with us today.


East of Eden

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

East of Eden (BD) [Blu-ray]

Tagline – Of what a girl did . . . what a boy did … of ecstasy and revenge!

Starring – Julie Harris (Abra), James Dean (Cal Trask), Raymond Massey (Adam Trask), Burl Ives (Sam the Sheriff), Richard Davalos (Aron Trask), Jo Van Fleet (Kate).

Released – April, 1955

Directed By – Elia Kazan

Produced By – Warner Brothers

Distributed By – Warner Brothers

Description – Much like the biblical story of Cain and Abel, this is the story of a young man seeking his own identity and the loving affection of his deeply religious father while vying against his favored brother.

With World War I raging in the background, Cal Trask, his brother Aron, and their father Adam run a small, but successful farm in Salinas valley, central California. Cal and Aron have always been told that their mother had passed away “and gone to heaven.” The truth is that she is alive and running a brothel in nearby Monterey.

Cal learns of his mothers life and has gone to see her to make contact and to ask for her help with his plan to enter the bean-growing business and use his profits to help his father who has just lost a great deal of money in a vegetable shipping venture.

It is Cal’s hope that this will help close the emotional gap between he and his father, something he desperately needs. Meanwhile, brother Aron has just become engaged to his girlfriend Abra. Complicating what should be a celebrated occasion is the fact that Cal and Abra have discovered that they are attracted to each other.

Cal’s business goes very well and he makes a gift of money to his father on his birthday. His father Adam, refuses to accept the money calling it “wartime profiteering.” Cal takes his refusal as another emotional rejection and the gap between the two seems to be getting wider.

When Cal takes his brother to see their mother, the shock of her life causes Arun to get drunk and enlist in the military. This fact causes their father Adam to suffer a stroke resulting in his paralysis.

Things just keep going from bad to worse.

NOTABLE: East of Eden won the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Jo Van Fleet), and received nominations for Best Director (Elia Kazan), Best Actor in a Leading Role (James Dean), and Best Writing, Screenplay.

This was the first of James Dean’s three major screen roles and the only one to be released while he was alive.

In his 1988 autobiography “A Life,” director Elia Kazan noted that during filming Raymond Massey came to despise James Dean as Dean had the habit of provoking Massey off-camera in an effort to anger him allowing Dean to better get into his character. Kazan did nothing to prevent this as he felt the tension between the two carried over to the screen successfully.

James Dean’s refusal to attend the premiere party almost cost him the lead in “Rebel Without A Cause.”

Personal Note: This is a powerful and emotional film depicting miscommunication and conflict between father and son. A fine, though loose, adaptation of the second part of John Steinbeck’s novel of the same name. Steinbeck, by the way, loved the film and Dean’s performance.



The Woman In the Window

Monday, December 13th, 2010

The Woman in the Window (MGM Film Noir)

Tagline – It was the look in her eyes that made him think of murder!

Starring – Edward G. Robinson (Professor Richard Wanley), Joan Bennett (Alice Reed), Raymond Massey (Dist. Atty. Frank Lalor), Dan Duryea (Heidt).

Released – November, 1944

Directed By – Fritz Lang

Produced By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed By – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Description – College Professor Richard Wanley and his friends admire a portrait of a woman in the window next to their men’s club. The Professor’s admiration goes a little beyond what would be considered normal as he regularly stops to gaze at the portrait.

While doing so one day, he sees the image of the woman in the picture looking back at him in the glass. Indeed, the woman standing behind Wanley is the woman in the window. After casual introductions, Alice Reed invites him to her apartment to continue their friendly conversation.

During this visit, the boyfriend of Reed bursts into the apartment and misinterprets what is taking place. He argues with, and then assaults, Professor Wanley. During their struggle the boyfriend is accidentally killed.

Although the accident happened in an act of self-defense, the married professor is very concerned about a possible scandal and how this would affect his reputation. Frightened, and not sure what to do, Professor Wanley agrees with Alice’s suggestion that they dump the body and try to cover up the death.

Almost immediately Wanley regrets this decision, as it turns out the boyfriend was a noted criminal who the police have been watching. His sudden disappearance has raised the suspicions of the authorities and they begin looking into his whereabouts. This includes questioning Alice Reed.

Professor Wanley’s uneasiness soon turns to fear as the police begin putting together the clues to what happened. To make matters worse, a man named Heidt, who is an ex-cop and the body guard of the dead man, is blackmailing Alice.

NOTABLE: The Woman In The Window, along with The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, Laura, and Murder My Sweet were released in France in 1946. After viewing these films, French movie magazines coined the phrase Film Noir to describe this type of American film.

Edward G. Robinson, Dan Duryea, and Joan Bennett would go on to play the three leads in Fritz Lang’s next film Scarlet Street.