Blossom: Why can’t we all be together once in awhile? Why can’t we be some sort of a family, like other people? Why can’t we? Why can’t we? Why can’t we?
Barrie: I didn’t know you felt this way about it. I suspect it’s all my fault.
Blossom: You’re alright, Dad. Why can’t you be like this all the time?
Barrie: It seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Somehow what we mean to be and what we are, are quite different.
Pete Sheppard: Good luck to you, Gladys. I sure hope you make a name for yourself, if that’s what you want. If that’s what you really want, you’ll get it.
Gladys Glover: How?
Pete Sheppard: I don’t know. Just a theory of mine: that not only ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’. . .but, ‘where’s there’s a way, there’s a will’. See?
I absolutely adore this film. Since it was recently added to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, I thought it would be a great time to explore this film. It’s one that is often overlooked and I think there’s some irrational anger aimed at it because of Judy Holliday’s win over both Gloria Swanson in Sunset Blvd. and Bette Davis in All About Eve. But I think that is a load of baloney. This is a great film and while Holliday’s performance may not have reached the iconic status of those other two performances, it is most definitely a deserved win. Billie Dawn is a remarkable character and Holliday plays her to perfection. The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, winning one: Best B&W Costume Design, Best Screenplay, Best Actress Judy Holliday (won), Best Director and Best Picture. The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Father of the Bride, King Solomon’s Mines, Sunset Blvd. and winner All About Eve.
God I love this film. I first saw it during Summer Under the Stars in 2010 at about 2 in the morning after having watched five other Bergman films that day. I think I must have dosed off during it because a few months later when I fell really hard for Joseph Cotten and was looking at his filmography, I saw he was one of the co-stars and I didn’t remember his character at all! Luckily, at the TCM Film Festival in 2011, I got a second chance to see the film, this time on the gigantic screen at the Chinese Theater. During that day I had seen two other Cotten films on the big screen (Citizen Kane and Niagara), so I was on a bit of a Cotten high. What a great day that was. And what a great film, too! I now own it (thank you very much Warner Archive!) and have watched it several times. I would be lying if I told you the following look at the film is going to go pretty heavy into Jo Cotten’s wardrobe. Also, it will contain spoilers regarding the plot twist. So if you’ve never seen it before, you might want to look away. Gaslight was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning two: Best B&W Art Director (won), Best B&W Cinematography, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress Angela Lansbury, Best Actor Charles Boyer, Best Actress Ingrid Bergman (won) and Best Picture. George Cukor was not nominated for Best Director, however. Actually, this was one of those years where Best Director lined up with three of the nominated films, while two director were nominated without Best Picture nominations (Otto Preminger for Laura and Alfred Hitchcock for Lifeboat). The other films nominated for Best Picture that year were Double Indemnity, Since You Went Away, Wilson and winner Going My Way. I should also mention that there is a British version of Gaslight from 1940 that stars Anton Walbrook and Diana Wynyard, though I have yet to see it.
As part of the What a Character! Blogathon, I decided to take an extended look at Lew Ayres as Ned Seton in George Cukor’s Holiday because not only is Lew Ayres one of my favorite actors, but this is the film that made me fall so hard for him. I also thought I would take this time to remind y’all that Lew Ayres: Hollywood’s Conscientious Objector goes on sale on November 1st. If you will remember, I contributed the foreword to that book and it would mean the world to me if you pre-ordered it; you won’t regret it, I swear.
I am going to go through Lew’s performance as Ned almost scene-by-scene, so if you haven’t seen the film yet, there will be spoilers.
Esther Blodgett: You know as much about me now as I do myself. But you see how long it’s taken me to get this far. Now, all I need is just a little luck.
Norman Maine: What kind of luck?
Esther Blodgett: Oh, the kind of luck that every girl singer with a band dreams of. . .one night a talent scout from a big record company will come in and he’ll let me make a record.
Norman Maine: Yes, and then?
Esther Blodgett: Well, the record will become number one on the Hit Parade, it’ll be played on the jukeboxes all over the country. . .and I’ll be made. End of dream.
Norman Maine: There’s only one thing wrong with that.
Esther Blodgett: I know. . .it won’t happen!
Norman Maine: No, it might happen very easily. . .but the dream isn’t big enough.