The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part
The Walking Dead
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All Critics (2)
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nothing but burnished dreck
In the MGM tradition, it presents such uninteresting melodrama trash with style and makes it entertaining through its talented cast.
The main theme of this movie is one that has played out so many times in movies and books (and life): a man (James Mason) cheats on his wife (Barbara Stanwyck) with a woman (Ava Gardner) who gives him the thrills she cannot. The affair was over, but now she's back. He resists, but she points out that fireworks are not something to be taken lightly: "Maybe it wasn't love, maybe it was only chemistry, or the right combination, or a miracle. But most people drag through their whole lives without finding it. We both know that, don't we Bran?" And when he tells her he doesn't want to see her again, she purrs the sexy double entendre "I'll do exactly what you want Bran, exactly what you want."
Gardner is just brilliant, oozing raw desire and channeling Jean Harlow in "The Red-Headed Woman" when she later gets slapped by Mason. Instead of being hurt, she eggs him on, knowing his passion is rising, and knows "that's what you're missing at home", and "you want to be rotten like me." Stanwyck plays the virtuous wife with quiet grace, though I thought she was too reserved in a showdown scene with the outlandishly mean Gardner. It's always great to see her movies though, and she does play 'hurt' and 'conflicted' well.
There is a lot of star power here, with Cyd Charisse and Van Heflin also in the cast, and even an appearance from Nancy Davis, who of course would later be Nancy Reagan. As Stanwyck is betrayed by Mason, she turns to Heflin, and it's quite clear they're mutually attracted. Heflin is so smooth and likeable, and there is dignity in his acknowledgment of his love for her without resorting to adultery, in direct contrast to Gardner and Mason. Mason and Stanwyck may have gotten top billing, but I think they were upstaged by Heflin and Gardner.
As the pressure ratchets up, both Mason and Stanwyck find themselves needing to make choices, though Mason's is disrupted by an event I won't spoil. There are some events that might be too convenient as it plays out, but there is reality and passion here, and I enjoyed this film.
A good drama about complicated romances.
A great cast isn't given much to do in this generally droll melodrama that gets slightly noirish. Barbara Stanwyck and James Mason are surprisingly unmemorable, but and early performance by Ava Gardner stands out (as if a young Ava Gardner couldn't stand out) for the few scenes she has but East Side, West Side. Otherwise this movie is just dated and for the most part forgettable.
This one really took me by surprise; it's well worth the watch. Barbara Stanwyck is superb here as the long-suffering wife of James Mason, the playboy who claims to love her, but cannot seem to stop chasing other women -- especially Ava Gardner. This might be Stanwyck's best acting job I've seen so far. It's very understated. You feel sorry for her, but she never overplays the victim role. She is too strong to do that, by far.
The biggest surprise for me, however, is Van Heflin. If this were a performance battle between him and James Mason, Heflin would clearly be the winner. Too bad he didn't have a greater career. The man can really deliver lines.
As a side note, Cyd Charisse does not dance in this one. Still, she is wonderful. A very fine actress on top of her dancing prowess.
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