Saturday, 8 December 2012

This Was Love, This Was The Real Thing: My Laurence Olivier Obsession


I don't know how well I've succeeded at keeping my huge Laurence Olivier obsession a secret on this blog but anyway, IT'S ALL COMING OUT NOW.


Since about August I've been just a bit obsessed with Laurence Olivier. I've watched a few more of his movies and generally been dedicated to worshipping his face. The situation actually became so serious a few weeks ago that I made a collage dedicated to appreciating the wonderment that is Larry Olivier.

There you go guys.
I just love him. He's such a romantic, charismatic - and let's just face it now - TALENTED actor. He also has an amazing mass of hair and he is extremely handsome. I can never work out which film of his is my favourite. UGH THERE ARE SO MANY. I adore Rebecca because he's so totally tortured and I just want to hug him the whole time, but then theres his adorably awkward performance in The Divorce Of Lady X (one of my favourite movies) but of course, there's Heathcliff in William Wyler's Wuthering  Heights... Kill me now!


The strangest movie I've watched for Larry was probably 49th Parallel - since he had near top billing I was expecting this to be a Powell and Pressburger war film with Larry starring as the heroic lead. Boy was I wrong. I watched Larry be a crazy French-Canadian, moustachioed fisherman in a lumberjack shirt for the fifteen minutes of the film and then he was killed off and I still had 2 hours left... THE THINGS I DO FOR YOU.

My GIF
Of course I've covered 2/3 of the Viv and Larry (Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier) films, That Hamilton Woman, Fire Over England and I have 21 Days Together bookmarked. I totally ship them and think their story is tragic and romantic. Of course they probably were the most talented and prolific acting couple of the 20th century. But then again, the fact that Laurence Olivier was married to Vivien Leigh somehow decreases my chances even further of going back in a past life to marry Laurence Olivier (me and Victoria have tried to logically justify this but we failed) unless I actually WAS Vivien Leigh...


His directorial and adaptational skills are insanely good. I watched his Hamlet which was a really interesting interpretation and it was a beautiful experience to watch.


I meed more people to fangirl over him with!!!! The wonderful Franka and I can over-excitedly scream and talk for hours about Laurence Olivier, Rachel is also getting to like him and my real life BEST FRIEND and classic-movie-aholic, Ia is also a little in love with him. But let's spread the Larry love!!!! Obviously there's Kendra from the incredible Viv and Larry.com, but WE NEED MORE GUYS!


I just can't explain it omg I love that man so much you may have guessed I'm a bit obsessed just NOOOOO I can't anymore with life because he doesn't exist and he doesn't go to my school and he just AHHHHHHH.


This has been an intelectual update from the extremely coherent brain of yours truly. Hahaha no. I'm sorry for the amount of capital letters and lack of punctuation...

Bette

P.S. Tell me if you love Laurence Olivier, too :-D

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Fallen Idol (1948)


A little while back a lovely friend sent us a copy of her favourite film, Carol Reed's (The Third Man) film noir/thriller The Fallen Idol starring Ralph Richardson, Bobby Henry and Michèle Morgan. I'm always so intrigued by this sort of classic British cinema like Powell and Pressburger and David Lean, so I was thrilled to watch this movie!


The film centres around a young french boy, Phillipe (Bobby Henry) living in the french embassy in London. His ambassador parents are most often out of the house on official duties so he is raised almost entirely by the butler and the housekeeper, Bains (Ralph Richardson) and Mrs Bains (Sonia Dresdel). He idolises Bains and spends most of his time following him around the house helping him with work - that is when he isn't tending to the snake he's been hiding in a brick outside his bedroom.


After an argument at the lunch table with the cruel Mrs Bains, Phillipe disobeys Mrs Bains and follows Bains into London where he finds him in an emotional conversation with a pretty young girl, Julie (Michèle Morgan), whom Bains tells Phillipe is his niece. Phillipe doesn't understand what's going on but they are deciding to end their affair (a la Brief Encounter).


Mrs Bains finds out about the affair from Phillipe, and she pretends to be gone from the house for a few days so that Bains will bring Julie to the house and she can confront them. Bains finds her and there is a huge argument during which Mrs Bains falls to her death from a staicase. Phillipe only sees that she has fallen and that Bains is looking down at her. After remembering the epic tales of Bains's adventures in Africa (which he made up to entertain Phillipe) he decides that Bains is the only one who could've done it. Did he or didn't he?



I thought this film was extremely clever and very beautifully shot and crafted. Ralph Richardson (who I  wrote about when he played James Tryone in Long Day's Journey Into Night) was fantastic, and he's obviously one third of the holy trinity of British Actors, Laurence Olivier and John Guilgud being the two others. He really perfected all the delicate mannerisms of his character. This was a perfect example of a performance that didn't have to rely on melodramatic facial elastics to create a strong impression. It was the very fact that he was so understated that made it so interesting.


Bobby Henry was adorable as Phillipe and he also had the trouble of acting bilingually - French, and English with a strong posh French accent - and he pulled off the little boy thing without making him whiney or annoying. He didn't have as prolific a career as a child actor as you would've expected but even this one film was a huge achievement. Similarly, Michèle Morgan was lovely as Julie. She played the part with the sensitivity and warmth that you felt the film needed from a female character, as you got more and more depressed by the hideousness of Mrs Bates, who was also played very well by Sonia Dresdel.


Carol Reed really had a chance to show off his photographic talents, especially with the darkly lit shadowy hide and seek sequence in the deserted quarters of the French Embassy. But aside from that there was a great feeling of friendship and real trust between Bains and Phillipe that was hard to force and made the film that much more upsetting when their trust was broken and he was no longer the role model he thought he was (hence the "Fallen Idol"). It was a pleasure to watch and made me really want to rewatch The Third Man! Also, David Lean got his start in movies by working as Carol Reed's cameraman!

Bette