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Why Can’t I Celebrate Father’s Day Like a Normal Blogger?

Let me preface this post by saying that I have a terrific father.  He is fun, he is funny, he gives great advice and he is always there for me.  However, I wanted to make a kind of a different Father’s Day post, perhaps involving pictures, so I thought I would discuss a couple movies in which fathers play a key role.  Spoiler Alert!  I may give away a few salient plot points along the way, so if you have never seen The Wolf Man or Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte, you may like watch them before reading this.

Last night we watched a movie involving a rather sad father and son story, The Wolf Man with Claude Rains and Lon Chaney Jr., as the father and son, respectively.  Chaney returns home, because his elder brother has died.  There is a nice scene where Chaney and Rains discuss how they don’t talk about their feelings and so are not that close, but that they are going to try to do better in the future.  Then, of course, Chaney gets turned into a werewolf and comes to a bad end, and it is very tragic, in addition to being a scary monster movie.

“Holy crap, I DO look like hell first thing in the morning!”

I can’t find a good shot of Claude Rains, but here is Lon Chaney, Jr., looking stunned and horrified at what he has become.  Bela Lugosi also has a small but pivotal role.

Not as slick as when he played the Count, perhaps, but, still, Bela.

Another movie I watched recently in which the father plays a pivotal role, although not nearly as large a role, is Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte.  In fact, Victor Buono, as Charlotte’s (the incomparable Bette Davis) father, is listed as Guest Star on the DVD cover.  He is an extremely important character, however.  In the opening scene, he orders Charlotte’s married boyfriend to break things off with her.  When the boyfriend is subsequently murdered, the father whisks Charlotte off to Europe, so she is never forced to face charges for a murder she may (or may NOT) have committed.  Dear old Dad is dead for most of the picture, but his shadow looms over the proceedings.  One thing that cannot be denied is that he loved his daughter, and she him.

Clockwise from top left: Bette Davis, Olivia de Havilland, Joseph Cotton, Mary Astor, Victor Buono, and Agnes Moorehead.

And, just for me, here is a shot of Davis, chewing the scenery divinely:

“Don’t you tell me to hush!”

I know, you all thought I was going to talk about Atticus Finch or Spencer Tracy.  I don’t know why you thought that, but never mind.  I will repeat that my own father is an awesome human being, and I wish a Happy Father’s Day to him and all fathers.

 

 

Hush…Hush, Sweet Cheese

I know I’ve mentioned Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964) in passing, but I don’t believe I’ve written a full post on the movie. I watched my DVD of it Memorial Day. I don’t like war movies, and that was all TCM showed all weekend. Yes, I KNOW it was in tribute to our fallen soldiers. I can’t help what kind of movies I like.

I guess you could call Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (I can’t shorten it to Hush because of a rather hideous movie of that name made many years later) a Gothic horror. There’s an ill-lit Southern mansion, well past its prime, and a Southern belle in similar condition. That’s Bette Davis, tearing into her part with gusto. I love Bette Davis.

It’s kind of a contradiction in Davis’ character. She was vain enough to insist that she play her younger self in the flash back, but she eschews all glamour in the “present day” scenes (don’t know if I really need the quotation marks; it was the present day at the time). Maybe not such a contradiction. She was rightfully proud of her acting ability, and uglying oneself up for a part is a time-honored way to show one’s acting chops. To this day it’s what glamour girls do do prove they can so act.

Charlotte (see there, I can short the title) is as interesting for its background as for the movie itself. It was kind of a follow-up to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and was to have again paired Davis with Joan Crawford. Baby Jane famously re-ignited both actress’ careers. I have to admire Oscar winners who don’t scruple to do cheesy horror movies just to keep working.

I’m not sure, though, I would call Charlotte cheesy. For one thing, there are no cheesy special effects. There is no need for them: the horror comes from what the characters do to each other, not ghosts or monsters (ooh, I could do a whole blog post on how people are the most horrible monsters) (preview of coming attractions). The atmosphere is excellent, a brooding threat and air of mystery hangs over the whole. We slowly find out what’s going on, but all is not fully revealed till the end.

At least, I guess some astute viewers guessed the big reveal ahead of time. I almost never do, which is perfectly fine with me. How much fun is a horror movie where you can see everything coming? (Ooh, another future blog post: suspense vs. surprise. Discuss amongst yourselves.) (Oh, and I just heard another amongst you sniff, “What fun is ANY movie where you can see everything coming?” Read the sentence again without “horror.” It doesn’t sound as good.)

The movie boasts an excellent cast, especially Agnes Moorehead as Davis’ faithful servant. Speaking of eschewing glamour, it’s a far cry from her Endora on Bewitched. Olivia deHavilland, Joseph Cotton, Cecil Kellaway and Mary Astor round out the cast.

I realize I have not said much about the plot of Hush.. Hush Sweet Charlotte. I think this is a movie best enjoyed when you let it unfold before you. I recommend it. Would I say if you liked Whatever Happened to Baby Jane you’ll like Hush… Hush Sweet Charlotte? I guess I wouldn’t, because I never really liked Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? And that might be a subject for a whole other blog post.

By the way, I got all my information about the movie’s background from a wonderful book called Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud by Shaun Considine (E.P. Dutton, New York, 1989). Highly recommend that, too.