Wick Birnam: All right, maybe you’re not a writer. Why don’t you do something else?
Don Birnam: Sure, take a nice job. Public accountant, real estate salesman. I haven’t the guts, Helen. Most men lead lives of quiet desperation. I can’t take quiet desperation.
Helen St. James: But you are a writer. You have every quality for it. Imagination, wit, pity. . .
Sibyl Vane: It’s wonderful. Did. . .did you write it?
Dorian Gray: Frédéric Chopin. For a woman he loved. Her name was George Sand. Someday I’ll tell you about them.
Sibyl Vane: I should like that.
Dorian Gray: What did the music mean to you?
Sibyl Vane: I don’t know. It is full of emotion. But it’s not happy.
Dorian Gray: No. It’s not happy.
Sibyl Vane: Why was he unhappy?
Dorian Gray: Perhaps because he felt his youth slipping away from him.
Sibyl Vane: What an odd thing for you to say.
Dorian Gray: Why?
Sibyl Vane: You’re so young.
Dorian Gray: Yes. And you also.
Sibyl Vane: What is the music called? Has it a name?
Dorian Gray: A kind of name. It is called Prelude.
This is definitely one of my favorite of Hitchcock’s films and one that is rich with imagery and ideas. I am going to give you some of my thoughts on the film, but I am not going to claim to be an expert on this film. It’s definitely one that needs many rewatchings and explorations. I would really love to hear thoughts from my readers on this film solely because it is so rife with ideas. Also, beware there will be a major SPOILER about the ending, so if you’ve never seen it, you might want to not read to the end of this post. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning one: Best Score Miklós Rózsa (won), Best B&W Cinematography, Best Special Effects, Best Supporting Actor Michael Chekov, Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated that year were Anchors Aweigh, The Bells of St. Mary’s, Mildred Pierce and winner The Lost Weekend.
Hartman: 25 years ago, I commanded firing squads in France. I was a young officer. I believed then, too, in a German “master-race.” But the French patriots also died without talking. We Germans simply refuse to believe that people want to be free.
Major Bergman: You’re drunk, Hartman!
Hartman: Yes, I’m drunk. . .I get drunk every night to forget. It doesn’t help. We can’t get anywhere but kill, kill, kill! We have sown Europe with corpses. . .and from those graves rises an incredible hate. . .HATE!. . .everywhere hate! We are being consumed by hatred. . .without hope.
Major Bergman: Enough!
Hartman: We will all die. . .without hope. . .
Major Bergman: I forbid you to continue!
Hartman: . . .without hope.
Although fictionalized (including adding two romances), Irving Rapper’s sweeping biopic of George Gershwin – whose contribution to the Great American Songbook is perhaps rivaled only by Irving Berlin and Cole Porter – is highly entertaining and this newly remastered edition, available at the Warner Archive, is a must for classic film and music lovers alike.
Laura Jesson: This can’t last. This misery can’t last. I must remember that and try to control myself. Nothing lasts really. Neither happiness nor despair. Not even life lasts very long. There’ll come a time in the future when I shan’t mind about this anymore, when I can look back and say quite peacefully and cheerfully how silly I was. No, no, I don’t want that time to come ever. I want to remember every minute, always, always to the end of my days.
This is one of my favorite films from the “film noir” era of classical Hollywood (although, you could argue it’s pre-noir, since a lot of scholars place 1946 as the first year of that era; but that’s neither here nor there). Joan Crawford gives one of the greatest performances of her long and diverse career and director Michael Curtiz (whose most famous film is probably Casablanca) hits all the right notes. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning one: Best B&W Cinematography, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress Ann Blyth, Best Supporting Actress Eve Arden, Best Actress Joan Crawford (won) and Best Picture. The other films nominated that year were Anchors Aweigh, The Bells of St. Mary’s, Spellbound and winner The Lost Weekend.