Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Great Moments in Movie Shelves #87

There's a great scene about 3/4s of the way into Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train where Guy's girlfriend (played by Ruth Roman) goes to talk to Bruno's mother about her son being, you know, a psychotic murderer - it's probably the only really good scene involving Ruth Roman's character actually, who's pretty forgettable as the standard bearer of heterosexuality inside a very queer film.

It's okay, Ruth - you never really stood a chance against the fiery chemistry between Farley Granger & Robert Walker. Not many would've. Anyway I never noticed until watching the film over the holidays that the scene takes place in the library! And Hitch hilariously shoots Bruno and his mother exiting the room in the exact same way.

What a pair of queens. I do want to give a shout-out to Marion Lorne (who's probably best known for playing Aunt Clara on Bewitched) who makes Mrs. Antony's cluelessness both very very funny and totally creepy all at the same time - there are a great many Great Mothers in the Hitchcock Canon and she's right up there.


joel65913 said...

I LOVE Ruth Roman but I'll admit Ann Morton isn't much of a role for her. Hell even her sister Barbara is able to make more of an impression and her role is smaller. It's not Ruth's fault. Hitchcock didn't want her, he was quoted as finding her bristling, but the studio insisted and I think because of that he just abandoned her rather than finding ways to spotlight her as he did with his signature blondes.

I've seen her in films where she's much more impressive and memorable. Lightning Strikes Twice, Down Three Dark Streets, 5 Steps to Danger and Bottom of the Bottle are some of her best-she's very, very good in the last two. And then there is Three Secrets which is just an amazing soap opera starring Ruth, Eleanor Parker and Patricia Neal as three women who each gave up a baby for adoption five years previously and now a plane has crashed in a remote mountain range and one of those babies is the only survivor but the question is whose child is it and the three race to the area where they anguish and the audience wallows. Great stuff.

Agree that Marion Lorne, such a unique character actress, is one of the best of Hitch's mothers. Not quite in the class of queen monster mother Madame Sebastian in Notorious but very memorable.

Bill Carter said...

I just read a fascinating piece by Phyllis Nagy, the screenwriter of "Carol", about Patricia Highsmith opinion of Hitchcock's adaptation of "Strangers on a Train. She didn't like it.(Surprise, surprise. Highsmith rarely liked anything, or anybody.)

She did like Robert Walker’s performance as Bruno, and Marion Lorne as his mother.

Nagy also talks about Highsmith's opinion of the various Ripleys, and who should have played them.

It's an interesting article, and it's only 6-7 paragraphs long. Recommended.

Bill Carter said...

I just did a little further exploration of the site with the Nagy article, and discovered that Metrograph is a having Patricia Highsmith film festival on January 19 - 23.

"Introduced to a whole new generation when her pseudonymously published 1952 novel The Price of Salt became the basis for Todd Haynes’s lovely, plangent romance Carol, Highsmith (1921-95) was better known as a Mistress of Suspense, honored in her native America and her adopted Europe alike. Both pop phenomenon and revered psychological portraitist, her novels, gripped with unspoken desire, lucid about the role of class in international society, helped to define the modern suspense-thriller, and attracted the attention of some equally massive talents in the film world. Although Highsmith was often leery of the resulting films, these elegant, masterful works are finally important outgrowths of her lasting influence."

So if you're in NYC and don't mind missing the TV coverage of the Inauguration (choke), you might want to check it out. You can see the insanely beautiful Alain Delon at his absolute peak, playing Ripley in "Purple Noon".

Details here: