Indiscretion of an American Wife
, 16 Mar 2009
This DVD featured 'Three Classics of the Silver Screen' - the rating applies only to the third and best film .A more bizarre mixture would be hard to find!
I'd requested it solely because of the 3rd film : Vittorio De Sica's INDISCRETION OF AN AMERICAN WIFE, a rare item, which I once saw as the second feature in a double bill in the fifties In Norwich ( the main feature was, I think THE BIG COMBO, now belatedly considered a good example of 'film noir' starring Cornel Wilde). After seeing Hitchcock's I CONFESS, ( when will THAT be available?) I was an ardent fan of Montgomery Clift and also admired Jennifer Jones - I had no idea it was an 'art film' - I recall ( I was then in my teens) that my school form teacher disapproved because of the racy associations of the word 'Indiscretion'! -( this was the complete title then ).
The film is an undiscovered gem: marvellous direction, editing, and superb black and white cinematography, all set in and around Rome's Central Station, full of little cameos and constantly interesting background details. All quite compelling, helped by the two stars in typically febrile form. Interesting to see Dick ( Richard) Beymer, later star of WEST SIDE STORY, in quite a substantial boyhood role.,.
BUT the other two films bear no relation to it whatever!
: The early ( 30s) version of the classic war drama A FAREWELL TO ARMS,( at least preferable to the remake), cuts out virtually all the main wartime plot of Hemingway's novel in order to focus on the sentimental love story.The narrative is incoherent and inconsequential, but the film is distinguished by some lovely camerawork, German expressionist style, and a powerful atmosphere which transcends the script. Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes are an attractive pair of leads - this was at least worth seeing, as a rather dated curiosity with considerable visual merit as well as nostalgia.... BUT:
THE GROOM WORE SPURS is quite appalling!. One of the worst films I've ever seen .One would have expected better from director Frank Borzage.
A creakingly unfunny b & w comedy about a cinema cowboy ( Jack Carson, grappling gamely with an embarrassingly silly role,)who gets mixed up with gangsters, and falls in love with his lawyer ( Ginger Rogers, as always polished and poised, but looking strangely 'old' and unflatteringly garbed).It was laboured and lame throughout ,and it was quite an endurance test to see it through to the end!. No wonder it isn't listed in 'Halliwell'.
Who on earth compiled this wildly disparate collection?? There can't be anyone to whom all three films would appeal. But it was worth it for the de Sica - dreadful that such a distinguished art film is buried amongst the others- it should be available separately, or perhaps paired with another short Montgomery Clift classic: Fred Zinnemann's incredibly moving THE SEARCH..
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