THE END OF THE AFFAIR. (1999) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©


THE END OF THE AFFAIR. (1999) BASED ON THE BOOK BY GRAHAM GREENE.
WRITTEN, DIRECTED AND CO-PRODUCED BY NEIL JORDAN.
STARRING JULIANNE MOORE, RALPH FIENNES, STEPHEN REA, JASON ISAACS, JAMES BOLAM AND IAN HART.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘Love doesn’t end, just because we don’t see each other.’

I love this film, characterised by gorgeous scenes of endless heavy rainfall in post-war Britain and a rather spiffing shot of Ralph Fiennes bare backside captured splendidly in mid-coitus. Phwoar. The more I see of this guy, the more I fancy him.  

I saw the film on the big screen back in 1999 when it was first released. I’ve had fond memories of it ever since, though it certainly wouldn’t appeal to lovers of action movies as it’s quite slow. That suits me though, being quite a slow-moving person myself, lol.

There’s a bit too much religion in it; that’s possibly the only aspect of the film I didn’t enjoy, but otherwise, it’s as damn near perfect as anything else you’ll see. It’ll appeal to fans of history and thwarted love affairs, heavy rainfall in cinema and Ralph Fiennes’s lovely bare arse doing the old in-out, in-out. What’s not to love?

Ralph- that’s ‘Rafe’ to you!- plays Maurice Bendrix, a moderately successful English novelist in wartime and post-wartime Britain. Well, he’s had one of his books made into a film, so, if that’s moderate success, I’ll have some, please. Beats obscurity and starving in the proverbial garret any day!

Anyway, one rainy night after the war, Maurice bumps into Henry Miles (Stephen Rea), a politician with whose wife, the beautiful Sarah, Maurice had a raging affair during the war.

Seeing the cuckolded Henry again encourages Maurice to re-kindle his acquaintance- and romance- with Sarah, subtly played by Julianne Moore. It’s not difficult to fool poor Henry, Gawd bless his naive, too-trusting buttons.

If ever a man was downbeat, downtrodden and expecting to be made a fool of, it’s poor old Henry. Maurice and Sarah are taking the actual piss by the way in which they practically have sex under Henry’s nose and get away with it. Even in Henry’s own house, on Henry’s own couch, of all places…!

Henry needs to grow a pair, seriously, but I think Henry thinks he’s punching above his weight in marrying Sarah, and is therefore grateful that she consents to stay married to him while still having her little affairs.

Anyway, Maurice has always wondered why Sarah broke off her affair with him during the war years, when London was having the bejeesus bombed out of her by nasty Uncle Adolf and Company; now, in 1946, having inveigled his way back into Sarah and Henry’s lives again quite by chance, he might just finally get to find out.

Three members of the eventual cast of the Harry Potter films are to be found here; Ralph Fiennes as Maurice/Lord Voldemort; Jason Isaacs as the rather surplus to requirements priest/Lucius Malfoy and Ian Hart as the private eye Parkis/Professor Quirrell from HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE.

I disliked intensely the attempt to make Julianne Moore’s character Sarah into some kind of a saint at the end. As the friend with whom I recently re-watched the film pronounced uncompromisingly, she wasn’t a saint, she was a shameless and adulterous slag. I don’t mean to slut-shame, by the way, lol. I’m just telling it like it is.

I love this film, a rain-spattered, doomed wartime romance- positively the best kind of doomed romance there is!- and I have particularly fond memories of watching it in the cinema, so it’ll always get a thumbs-up from me. Women will probably relish all the soul-searching and nudie Ralph Fiennes; insensitive males will more than likely just switch over and watch the footy. Their loss, folks…       

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:

The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1781994234

MILDRED PIERCE. (1945) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

MILDRED PIERCE. (1945) BASED ON THE BOOK BY JAMES M. CAIN. DIRECTED BY MICHAEL CURTIZ. STARRING JOAN CRAWFORD, ANN BLYTH, EVE ARDEN, BUTTERFLY MCQUEEN, JACK CARSON, BRUCE BENNETT AND ZACHARY SCOTT. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

JOAN CRAWFORD: THE ULTIMATE MOVIE STAR- A FEATURE-LENGTH DOCUMENTARY. (2002) WRITTEN, PRODUCED AND DIRECTED BY PETER FITZGERALD. NARRATED BY ANJELICA HUSTON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

What perfect viewing for a lockdown Saturday! I absolutely love Joan Crawford, she of the fur coats with the wide shoulders and the imposing eyebrows. She’s every bit as good an actress as Bette Davis, her one-time screen rival and her co-star in one of the best psychological horror films of all time, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962).

Maybe more people have a soft spot for Bette Davis than they do for Joan Crawford, though, and I suppose the book (1978) and the subsequent film (1981), MOMMIE DEAREST, about Joan’s alleged mistreatment of her children and especially her daughter Christina, didn’t do the lady any favours. I still love her work though. She really was an incredible actress, a true star in an era when that word truly meant something.

MILDRED PIERCE is the film for which Joan Crawford won the coveted Oscar. Along with another of Ms. Crawford’s wonderful old films, GRAND HOTEL, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library Of Congress as being ‘culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.’ That’s a great honour, by the way, as if you didn’t know…!

MILDRED PIERCE is the story of a downtrodden, unhappily married housewife who makes a conscious decision to improve her lot for the sake of her daughter Veda, whom she thinks deserves only the best things in life.

Mildred leaves her deadbeat husband, Bert, who may or may not be seeing a certain blonde Mrs. Biederhof on the sly, and then works her fingers to the bone until she’s the proud owner of a chain of successful restaurants. Now that’s how you do it, ladies.

The heartbreaking thing about this film, of course, is this: the more riches, treats and goodies Mildred bestows on her spoilt, selfish ungrateful daughter, the more Veda throws the whole lot back in her face. Nothing is good enough for the snobby Veda.

Except, maybe, for her mother’s second husband, the caddish and weak Monte Beragon… That little bitch. She gets one good backhanded wallop from Joanie in the film for her despicable rudeness and ingratitude, but it’s not enough. It’s not enough by a long shot. That kid is poison, pure poison.

Joan Crawford gives a powerhouse of a performance as the mother whose efforts to improve and enrich her daughter’s life have not yielded the results for which she would have hoped. On the contrary, they’ve ended in disaster. It’s a lesson for the parents of today who lavish too much of everything on their kids. As a result, the kids don’t value or appreciate things the way they should.

Poor Mildred, busting her hump for a child who will never repay her with the love and gratitude she thinks she deserves. Veda is an extremely unlikeable character and it’s hard not to root for Joan to cut her off without a cent. She’s possibly one of the most easy-to-dislike characters in a film from that era. The actress who plays her is still alive, actually, an amazing feat of longevity.

I much prefer the character of Wally Fay, Joan’s dynamic business partner and would-be lover. He sure does dig a dame with a pair of gams that don’t quit…! Mildred’s first husband Bert is weak and doesn’t put his foot down about Veda to Mildred. A pity. A few good spankings from her father might have turned Veda into a nicer person. Monte Beragon is that most despicable of swines, the gadabout cad-about-town who sponges off women and cheats on them to boot.

Prissy from GONE WITH THE WIND (aka Butterfly McQueen) does a nice job of playing Mildred’s maid. Remember in GWTW when Prissy told Scarlett she was an expert at ‘birthin’ babies,and then when Scarlett found out she was lying she gave poor old Prissy a backhander that you could probably hear all the way out to Tara? Happy days.

I also love Ida, Mildred’s manageress, beautifully played by Eve Arden. She’s a game broad who’s been there, done that and hand-stitched the bloody T-shirt. She’s wise to men and their tricks, in other words. She’s a good friend to Mildred, probably more of a friend than any of Mildred’s husbands, lovers or suitors have ever been.

Also, check out the scene with the typically American policeman from the ‘Forties who doesn’t feel like ‘taking a swim.’ That’s one way of putting it. American movie cops and health workers, eg, sanatarium olderlies, are always being portrayed as horribly unsympathetic, cold and short on understanding in the films of the period. Can you imagine having been a female rape victim in these times and bringing your story to the police? It doesn’t really bear thinking about, does it? I suppose it was the same in all countries back then.

My own copy of MILDRED PIERCE comes complete with some rather spiffing extra features, the best of which is undoubtedly the feature-length documentary from 2002: JOAN CRAWFORD: THE ULTIMATE MOVIE STAR. My kids and I watched this over the Saturday night takeaway and we were so glued to it our chips went cold.

It literally tells the story of Joan Crawford, from her birth as Lucille Le Sueur in the early 1900’s to her death in 1977, by which time she’d cemented her position as one of the greatest stars of the Golden Era of Hollywood. Her oeuvres are mostly truly marvellous films.

Women will certainly love the films and guys will too, if they love classic movies from the days of the big studios when a film was called a ‘picture’ and a real star made some of the so-called ‘celebrities’ of today look like total nobodies. Miaow…! Sorry about that.

Joan started her career as a dancer and a chorus girl. She was apparently a brilliant dancer and she loved to dance. In the ‘Twenties, she was seen as the perfect embodiment of the flapper: the gay girl-about-town who danced till all hours and was never seen without a fancy martini in her hand.

‘Early Joan,’ as I call her, does indeed make the ideal ‘Twenties girl. She’s stunningly attractive and doesn’t even look like the Joan Crawford she eventually grows into, the Joan with the strongly-defined lips and eyebrows and the glamorous fur coats and massive shoulder-pads.

A whole host of people who knew Joan, including her former husband Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and her adopted daughter Christina Crawford, talk on-screen about their memories of Joan. Some of these memories are very moving, while others are humorous or just plain fascinating.

We know that Christina wrote her infamous book, MOMMIE DEAREST, after the reading of her mother’s will at which it was revealed that Joan hadn’t left so much as a penny to Christina or her brother, for reasons which are well known to them.’

I’ve read the book myself and it does make for uncomfortable reading. If it’s all true, then Christina deserves our sympathy. I still love Joan’s movies, though. Am I allowed to say that? Well, I’ve said it anyway.

One of the interviewees in the documentary comments that it’s a shame that the book kind of overshadows some of the accomplishments that Joan actually achieved, such as making her way all alone in a man’s world, first as a movie star and then as the ‘First Lady of Pepsi-Cola’ after she married Alfred Steele, its managing director.

We hear about Joan’s rivalry with fellow stars Norma Shearer and Bette Davis, and how she outlasted all the big female MGM stars of her day except for Davis herself. We hear about how Joan’s unhappy and maybe even abusive childhood caused her to constantly seek approval, admiration and adulation from the people around her. In fairness to her, she treated her fans really well and was never too tired to sign autographs or reply to fan letters.

We’re told of her obsession with cleanliness that probably has its roots in her childhood and the alcoholism that seems to have gone largely undetected by the public until Joan was quite old.

We hear about her many husbands and about the way in which she was a consummate professional in her work. Not only could she cry on demand but if she was asked to produce a tear, she’d even say: ‘Which eye…?’ I’m a woman too, but even I can’t cry on demand, never mind out of a specified flippin’ eyeball. I need to work up to it, lol.

As a big horror fan, I was thrilled to see Betsy Palmer, otherwise known as Mrs. Pamela Voorhees from the FRIDAY 13TH films, sharing her memories of Joan for the camera. Joan apparently treated actress Mercedes McCambridge as a rival. The name Mercedes McCambridge will of course also be familiar to horror fans, as this lady went on to do some rather famous voice work in the most iconic horror film ever made, THE EXORCIST.

‘Your mother sucks cocks in hell, Karras…!’

We hear about how Joan slept with her directors in order to bind them to her and how she was once upstaged at a grand event by Marilyn Monroe in a tight, low-cut dress with her legendary tits locked, loaded and ready to fire. Now that was kinda funny…!

Christina Crawford talks about the notorious ‘night raids’ which resulted in the infamous ‘NO WIRE HANGERS!’ scene in the movie MOMMIE DEAREST, in which Joan was wonderfully played by Faye Dunaway who looked uncannily like her subject.

We hear about the horror films that were the only films that Joan could find work in towards the end of her career. There is no shame in working in a horror film. Bette Davis, who incidentally turned down the leading role in MILDRED PIERCE when it was offered to her, starred in BURNT OFFERINGS, one of the best horror flicks ever made, when she was in her sixties. Starring in horror is nothing, I repeat, nothing to be ashamed of. Some of Joan’s horror films, like STRAIT-JACKET and SUDDEN FEAR, are films I’m now dying to get my mitts on.

The documentary is every bit as good as the film itself, MILDRED PIERCE. It’s a fascinating insight into a Hollywood that doesn’t exist any more, and an absolute must-have for fans of Joan Crawford’s.

She always felt like it was her fans who made her a star. Wherever she is right now, I’m sure she’s ticking off names on a list and writing her famous thank-you notes, about which she was most assiduous, to the folks who still watch her movies. If you want to be sure of getting yours, then watch the film. Happy Monday.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.

THE YEAR OF MAX AND JULIET: FREE, FREE, FREE UNTIL SATURDAY 19TH!!!

Max, a bored and unhappy middle-aged man, meets a younger woman, Juliet, by chance in a bookshop. Instantly attracted to each other, they begin an affair. Juliet quickly realises that Max is not like most other men sexually. Lonely, and craving the affection she has been denied throughout her life, she allows herself to become Max’s sexual plaything- and punchbag- in exchange for his love. Max takes full advantage of Juliet’s friendless state and coerces her into doing things that leave her feeling degraded and violated. Afraid of losing Max, Juliet is unable to say no to his demands, and so the game continues until the situation blows up in their faces, and both Max and Juliet have no choice but to confront the consequences of their messed-up love.

ANOTHER BOUQUET (OF BARBED WIRE): THE 1977 SEQUEL TO THE SEXY, CONTROVERSIAL TV SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

bouquet 2

ANOTHER BOUQUET (OF BARBED WIRE). (1977) BASED ON THE WRITINGS OF ANDREA NEWMAN. MADE BY LONDON WEEKEND TELEVISION. DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY TONY WHARMBY AND JOHN FRANKAU.

STARRING FRANK FINLAY, SHEILA ALLEN, SUSAN PENHALIGON, JAMES AUBREY, DEBORAH GRANT, ERIC CARTE, CAROL DRINKWATER AND PHILIP MADOC.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Hmmm. Well. I loved this second instalment of the BOUQUET OF BARBED WIRE television series nearly as much as the first, but I’m not at all happy with the way it’s turned out. Some absolutely mad stuff happens to some of the characters that I can’t believe they’d be happy to go along with, but then, it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad world we live in and, who knows, maybe they are happy, the bunch of crazy loons.

Poor Peter Eliot Manson is in a bad way. Still separated from the saintly Cassie and living in the flat he bought for his former mistress Sarah Francis, he’s obsessed with his dreams and thoughts of his daughter Prue and seems to be gradually losing touch with reality. He tries to concentrate on Prue’s little girl, his grand-daughter, but she’s not a patch on Prue, unfortunately, and she won’t compensate Peter for his daughter’s absence.

He’s revolted to the pit of his stomach to find that his wife, Cassie, has been sleeping with the son-in-law he loathes, Gavin, and furthermore, that the affair started when the pregnant Prue was in hospital after being beaten up by Gavin. He sees Gavin as having murdered his beloved daughter and ruined his marriage. No wonder he wants to biff him in the schnozz…

Annoying goody-two-shoes Cassie is hurt beyond belief that bad boy Gavin, Prue’s widower and the baby’s father, has ditched his older girlfriend (Cassie) for a new woman. It was bound to happen. She should never have hooked up with him in the first place, and her a respectable married woman in her forties (at least!).

She loses no time in hooking up with Gavin’s new girlfriend Vicky’s father, a Dr. Lewis, a really annoying, commitment-phobic man who is not ashamed to admit that he has two other women on the go as well. Cassie thinks she can be modern enough and mature enough to put up with this bullshit, but I’m telling you now that she won’t. No woman worth her salt would.

Gavin has a really sick relationship with his new girlfriend Vicky, who seems to be as masochistic as Prue was. ‘Do anything you want to me, Gavin, only please love me!’ The relationship is not a healthy one, and the worst part about it is that Gavin doesn’t give a shit about poor unloved hippy chick Vicky. (Her father, Dr. ‘Freelove’ Lewis, is horribly neglectful towards her too.)

All she is to the carelessly cruel Gavin is a free babysitter and sex on tap when he feels like it. Elizabeth ‘There is only ice in the ice house’ Romilly is excellent in the role of deeply troubled Vicky. In choosing Gavin to love, she’s only replicating the loveless relationship she has with her selfish bastard of a father.

The most frustrating thing of all about this sequel was the fate of my favourite character, Sarah Francis, Peter’s former secretary and mistress. Even now, she keeps muddying the waters by continuing to sleep with Peter behind the back of her rich handsome blond husband, Geoff, who is extremely loving towards her and lenient about her independent ways and all the time she spends away from him ‘getting a bit of space.’ Space, my eye!

Anyway, Sarah discovers she’s pregnant and, instead of plumping for living a privileged, charmed life as Rich Geoff’s adored wife (did I mention he was rich?), she goes off and deliberately chooses a really stupid and probably temporary alternative which will possibly put Geoff off her forever. Well, it serves her right, if she’s actually going to be that irresponsible about her future…!

She’s self-sabotaging big-time because somewhere deep down inside her, she doesn’t think she deserves to be happy or loved. This course she’s chosen now won’t yield any love or fulfilment, just more of the punishment she probably feels she has coming to her. And, who knows, maybe she’s in love with the drama and excitement of it all as well, the excitement of living such an undisciplined and unstructured life. I wash my hands of the whole thing.

Did anyone notice the way the baby is treated in the series, by the way? Apart from, obviously, as the poor parcel in ‘pass the bleedin’ parcel…!’ They keep putting her down on her tummy to sleep, which, yes, you’re right, that’s what they thought was best back then, but it’s since been proven to be a bit of a big fat no-no.

Also, Cassie keeps putting the baby out in the garden on a blanket (on her tummy, of course!) while she herself goes back into the house to do the washing-up or read the paper, and the front gate is wide open so anyone who wants to can come into the garden and steal the baby, which actually happens in the series. It causes a big furore, but you can’t say that it doesn’t serve Cassie and Gavin right…!

Also, when Gavin tells Cassie that Vicky’s lost her temper with the baby and shaken her a little bit, Cassie brushes it off and says it’s nothing. Oh, she says, I used to shake Prue and the boys all the time when they were babies, it didn’t do them any harm…! I’m just glad that times have changed since then, that’s all I’m saying.

Peter’s ending is incredibly sad. I cried buckets at it. How I would have loved another sequel, but some things are finite and that’s that. I know there was a re-make of the series in 2010, but I can’t imagine myself wanting to watch it, having seen the excellent and incomparable original series. Why re-make everything, anyway, instead of creating something new? Some things are perfectly fine just as they are.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

BOUQUET OF BARBED WIRE. (1976) THE CONTROVERSIAL SEXY TV SERIES REVIEWED BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

bouquetofbarbedwire

BOUQUET OF BARBED WIRE. (1976) WRITTEN BY ANDREA NEWMAN. DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY TONY WHARMBY AND JOHN FRANKAU. MADE BY LONDON WEEKEND TELEVISION.

STARRING FRANK FINLAY, SHEILA ALLEN, SUSAN PENHALIGON, JAMES AUBREY, DEBORAH GRANT, ROLAND CURRAM, ROGER REES, ANN BEACH AND CAROL DRINKWATER.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Wow. I watched this vintage British television series over the May Bank Holiday this year and it practically fogged up the screen with the smouldering sexuality. I believe it was the critic Clive James who said of it that, by the end, everyone in it except for the baby had slept with everyone else, a pretty accurate assessment, if you ask me.

Not that you see any nudity or actual sex happening on screen, but you see the before bits and the after bits and it all leaves you with the distinct impression that you’ve actually seen the middley bits too, if you know what I mean.

It’s a family saga with lust, physical violence and forbidden desires simmering away under the surface, with a generous dollop of guilt, remorse and consequences thrown in for good measure, just in case any of the characters should be seen to be enjoying the deliciously illicit sex too much…!

Frank Finlay does a phenomenal job as grey-haired paterfamilias Peter Eliot Manson, a wealthy publisher with the ‘perfect’ family: Cassie, his lovely wife, who’s devoted the best years of her life to supporting Peter and bringing up her family (but she has her secrets too); their twin sons of about ten whom we hardly ever see, because they’re ‘away at school;’ and a beautiful, spoiled adult daughter called Prue…

The series was mired in controversy on its release because of the overtones (never mind the undertones!) of incestuous desire between Peter and his daughter. They’ve never actually slept together, as far as we know, but Peter is head over heels in love with the flirty, mischievous, shit-stirring Prue who, all her life, has always gotten exactly what she wanted from both parents. Now she’s as manipulative and dangerous as any other spoiled child to whom no-one’s ever said the word ‘no…’

Peter is sick with jealousy that Prue, a university student (for all the work we ever see her do…!), has met and married an attractive but independent-minded fellow student, an American chap called Gavin Sorenson.

Gavin’s had the exact opposite upbringing to Prue and therefore has no problem in calling her out when she’s out of line. Prue is having Gavin’s baby now too, and Peter wants to kill Gavin for sullying the virginal body of his beautiful perfect daughter. It’s all very uncomfortable, albeit thrilling, to watch…

Into Peter’s complicated life (and office) then comes his new secretary, Sarah Francis. Sarah is one of those independent working girls who shares a house with other girls, the kind where there are always knickers and tights hanging in the bathroom to dry. Her house-mate Annabel is rich and a walking bitch, just thought I’d mention it!

Anyway, Sarah doesn’t come from a rich, privileged family. In fact, she hails from quite a dysfunctional one and she’s never been able to depend on them for anything. She has to fight for her place in the world. She has two lovers, the impoverished artist Simon and the handsome son of a rich businessman, Geoff, and she can’t decide between either of them. (Geoff would be my choice, lol.) In fact, Sarah never seems to really know what she wants in life and this could spell trouble for her down the line.

Sarah has a delicate beauty and an air almost of damaged fragility that draws her restrained, prim and proper cold fish of a boss Peter to her in his hour of need. He feels betrayed by his precious daughter, he hates Gavin’s guts and he and his wife are barely communicating.

Sarah is like a soothing balm to Peter’s many wounds. Knowing the risks, but nonetheless supremely confident that they can be the first two people in the world ever to have an affair where absolutely no-one gets hurt, not even themselves, they embark on a secret relationship. No-one gets hurt, right, because no-one ever needs to find out? Talk about famous last words…

The series was also famously controversial for its dark themes of sadomasochism, a shady subject that probably had never been openly portrayed on the screen before. Prue Manson-Sorenson has a powerful need to be knocked about by her husband Gavin, and she manipulates him into doing it by pushing him to his limits.

He needn’t respond, of course. He could of course just walk away with his hands in his pockets, but he’s such a hothead that he can’t resist getting into it with her every time. They need to be very careful, these two, especially with Prue’s being pregnant and everything. This is a dangerous game they’re playing and, if they’re not prue-dent, excuse the pun, the consequences could be deadly…

The Manson family is a hotbed of secrets, lies, terrible betrayals, sex, violence, resentment and, buried deeply somewhere underneath all that, love. The aristocratic Frank Finlay at fifty, with his cut-glass accent and meticulous dress, would put one in mind of Christopher Lee, who was only four years older.

Both men would attract you in the same way, with their same aura of stern austerity and regal command. I’m getting weak at the knees now at the thought of it all, lol. I hope to be back to you all in a few days’ time with my review of ANOTHER BOUQUET, the follow-up to the original BOUQUET, so until then, stay safe and we’ll talk again soon.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY. (1940) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

phila wedding

THE PHILADELPHIA STORY. (1940) BASED ON THE 1939 PLAY OF THE SAME NAME BY PHILIP BARRY. DIRECTED BY GEORGE CUKOR. STARRING KATHARINE HEPBURN, CARY GRANT, JAMES STEWART, JOHN HOWARD, RUTH HUSSEY AND HENRY DANIELL.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

Billed as ‘a sophisticated romantic comedy,’ THE PHILADELPHIA STORY is just that, a romantic comedy about- and possibly even for- rich, connected people. No peasants may apply, lol.

Not everyone watching it will be able to relate to Tracy Samantha Lord’s elegant swimming pool-and-tea-in-the-conservatory lifestyle, and I suppose not everyone watching it will sympathise with her haughty, aristocratic fault-finding manner which presupposes that no-one, husband or lover, will be able to live up to the almost excruciatingly high standards she’s set for herself. And, most importantly, for other people as well. On the other hand, she’s played by Katharine Hepburn and it’s a good strong performance, so I say just relax and go with the flow…

Beloved American actor James Stewart plays Macaulay Connor (I nearly wrote Culkin there!), a promising young newspaper writer who fancies himself as the next Ernest Hemingway, with his short-story-writing and his big literary dreams.

He’s disgusted, therefore, when his Editor Sidney Kidd, played by Henry Daniell- here for once in a non-villainous role- orders him to Philadelphia to cover the society wedding of the year, that of wealthy socialite Tracy Lord to a chap called George Kittredge.

What am I, some kind of shitty gossip columnist, he wails to his Editor but it’s no dice. Off to Philadelphia he must obediently trot, if he wants to keep his job, that is. As the accompanying photographer Elizabeth Imbrie points out, they’ve all got to eat, haven’t they, and for that they need jobs. I daresay that even the great Ernest Hemingway himself had to boil the odd egg and butter the odd slice of toast to go with it in order to stave off the hunger pangs.

When Macaulay, known to his friends as Mike, and Liz get to the Lord estate, they’re a bit bedazzled by all the grandeur. Liz (who, by the way, is head-over-heels in love with Mike but he’s too thick to know it) rather politically incorrectly remarks that she half expects to see ‘picaninnies’ floating around the place.

No doubt what she means by this is that the Lord house, with its ‘south parlour,’ resembles nothing so much as a modern-day Tara-from-GONE WITH THE WIND-style plantation.

The gangly reporter Mike, sorry, serious writer Mike, who’s already actually published a book of his short stories, is a little out of his depth amidst such obvious wealth and position. Liz is none too comfortable either, although she implies she’d swap places with Tracy Lord in a heartbeat.

Tracy herself is polished, sophisticated and able to greet the two newshounds with a professional ease that contains no real warmth. It’s born of years of practice and means little in terms of sincerity.

Mind you, she resents deeply that it was her ex-husband, C.K. Dexter Haven (Cary Grant), who managed to insinuate the pair of journos from SPY magazine into the Lord house in the first place. Now they’re staying in her home to cover her wedding- a little blackmail goes a long way- and there’s nothing she can do about it.

Tracy and Dexter split up two years earlier when Tracy could no longer tolerate his drinking and he was no longer willing to put up with her Little Miss Perfect holier-than-thou attitude.

He blames her for his drinking, saying that the worse she behaved to him the more he drank. Talk about seeking to blame others for your own failings. If he’d gone to AA at all, they might have taught him to ‘own’ his own drinking and take responsibility for it, the creep.

Tracy and Dexter fought like cat and dog and they eventually broke up. Tracy’s annoying younger sister Dinah gleefully recounts how Dexter ‘socked’ her sister in the kisser before he left- and she even expresses a hope that he might do it again some day- but don’t worry folks. He didn’t actually hit her, he merely shoved her so that she fell over. Well, that’s all right then.

There’s still a major spark between the pair though. Dexter- and indeed Macaulay- are both wondering what the hell the spirited Tracy is doing getting married to the undoubtedly worthy but undoubtedly stodgy and rather dull George Kittredge.

He’s not of Tracy’s ‘class,’ you see, and he doesn’t know how to ride properly or even to wear jodphurs properly like a proper rich person. Oh dear, how shocking. Tracy needs someone she can spar with, not this dull older man who’ll probably be in bed by nine-thirty with a cup of cocoa and a lurid paperback thriller, the closest he’ll probably come to experiencing any real thrills himself. Miaow…!

Tracy is intrigued by Mike, who’s becoming more smitten with Tracy by the hour, much to poor Liz’s distress. Tracy checks out Mike’s book from the local library and falls in love with his words. What’s someone who can write like that doing covering a society wedding for SPY magazine, she demands to know. It’s clear she’s never had to work for her own living.

There’s a lot of talk amongst the men in the film, including Tracy’s own father, of Tracy’s being like a cold, untouchable statue of a goddess who doesn’t have any real human feelings and is utterly devoid of the milk of human kindness.

They imply she’s not a real human being at all, just a perfect automaton without any faults or human frailties. She’s accused of having no understanding of, or patience with, these human frailties and human imperfections that other people have but she apparently doesn’t.

Tracy is hurt by these assertions, especially coming from her father who is a randy philanderer who has hurt Tracy’s mother immeasurably with his dalliance with a dancer. Tracy, seemingly, has forced her mother to live up to her own exacting standards by kicking the Dad out, which he certainly deserves but it makes Mrs. Lord desperately unhappy.

Maybe Tracy’s standards are okay for Tracy herself, but not for everyone. Maybe she shouldn’t try to impose them on other people? Is that the lesson she’s supposed to learn in this highly popular and successful ‘comedy of re-marriage…?’

So, who does ‘Red’ wed, in the end? The rather judgemental George Kittredge, who at the end of the film pronounces that Tracy’s ‘class’ are on the way out and good riddance to every man Jack of ’em?

The starstruck Macaulay Connor, who’s too stupid to know that he has a good woman in love with him already in the form of photographer Elizabeth Imbrie, who’s obviously had to fend for herself in a way that the uber-privileged Tracy never has?

Or will it be the dashing C.K. Dexter Haven, the gadabout yacht designer who was Tracy’s first real love and the man she drove away with her criticisms and her overbearing attitude that holds that she’s right and everyone else is wrong…?

Personally I feel like Tracy, who must be worn out from uttering all that sparkling dialogue in Katharine Hepburn’s trademark haughty voice, could benefit from some time alone to work out how she really feels about each man, but what do I know? I’m just some schmuck.

The stage is set, as it were. The wedding guests are already seated, the pastor is ready with his ‘Do you, Tracy Samantha Lord, take this man to be thy awfully wedded etc.,’ and the pianist has already struck up the first few familiar bars of the Wedding March.

Tracy has clearly got to marry someone, in order to give the guests the show they’ve come for. Which man will it be? Will it be one of our Big Three, or is there even a fourth suitor possibly waiting in the wings? (There isn’t. That’s just some red herring I threw in to stir things up.) Well, watch out anyway, folks. Here Comes The Bride…

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE. (1943) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

carre-four

I WALKED WITH A ZOMBIE. (1943)

BASED ON A STORY BY INEZ WALLACE. DIRECTED BY JACQUES TOURNEUR. PRODUCED BY VAL LEWTON. STARRING FRANCES DEE, TOM CONWAY, JAMES ELLISON, EDITH BARRETT, CHRISTINE GORDON, JAMES BELL, THERESA HARRIS, DARBY JONES AND CALYPSO SINGER SIR LANCELOT.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

This is a strange, eerie and mysterious little classic horror film that’s positively oozing with atmosphere. It’s the story of a young attractive nurse called Betsy Connell (by whom the story is being told), who is brought from the cold and snow of a wintry Canada to the island of San Sebastian in the West Indies to take up a new job.

She is to look after the invalid wife of posh Britisher Paul Holland, who assures her on the boat over that San Sebastian is a place of misery and decay, and not at all the lovely island paradise it appears to be. What a downer! Anyone would think he was trying to put her off.

The boat on which they travel to the island is worthy of mention because it’s a proper old-fashioned sailing ship complete with the big sails and everything, just like on MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY and in all the old swashbuckling pirate movies. It makes the film seem even older and more atmospheric than it already is.

When Betsy gets to the island, she discovers first of all that it is populated by black people who were brought to the island as slaves by the Holland family. Even now, now that slavery has been abolished, they still work as servants or other employees to the Hollands.

We can infer from that, I think, that the island has been a silent witness to many years of suffering and bondage on the part of the slaves and former slaves. The history here is bound to have left its mark on the island, in the same way that pain and misery suffered within its walls can leave its mark on a bricks-and-mortar building. Can leave it haunted, even, at times, with the restless spirits who once lived there and the unhappy souls who now consider that they have unfinished business here on Earth.

Betsy is introduced to the handsome Wesley Rand, the half-brother of Paul Holland. Wesley is an American guy who was born to their mother and her second husband, while Paul was the progeny of Mrs. Rand and her first husband, who is now deceased.

Betsy, by the way, is immediately attracted to her employer, Paul Holland, even though he’s the stiff-upper-lip type, he’s married and he’s much less approachable than his boozy brother Wesley. Let’s see if her inappropriate attachment gets her anywhere, eh?

Paul and Wesley don’t like each other much. That much is clear. There’s a bad history there, some bad mojo as they say. Mrs. Rand, the boys’ mother, is a kindly doctor who tries to bring good medical practices and standards to the islanders, but this is difficult enough to achieve as the islanders are steeped in superstition and the centuries-old practice of voodoo.

Speaking of which, Betsy is shocked to discover that her patient is in fact what she terms a ‘mental case.’ The scene in which she encounters the beautiful catatonic Jessica Holland, a tall elegant blonde in a white flowing gown, wandering around silently like a ghost in the Tower is one of the two best- and spookiest- scenes in the film.

Can Jessica be cured of her trance-like state, brought on by a fever that destroyed part of her spinal cord and left her unable to speak, hear or feel? She can still walk, though, funnily enough. Mrs. Rand and Paul Holland are both adamant that she’s incurable. She’s a zombie for life, one of the living dead.

But not according to Alma, a maid in the Holland-Rand household. Alma, a native islander, tells Betsy that there are voodoo priests on the island who can cure Jessica of her terrible affliction. Betsy now loves Paul Holland so much that she wants to give his wife back to him, cured. That’s some funny kind of love, isn’t it? I’m pretty sure that I’d never be able to love that unselfishly myself.

Betsy, however, is well up for it. She’s obviously made of sterner stuff than me. She and an insensible Jessica make their way to the place known as the houmfort by night, where the voodoo priests meet and the magic happens.

The scene where they have to pass through the silent fields guarded by the zombie Carre-Four in the dead of night, with the tall grasses blowing in the breeze and the sky filled with frightening shadows, is the second of the two best and most memorable scenes in the film. Such haunting images! I know I won’t forget them.

So, does voodoo cure Mrs. Holland or has Betsy just twisted the lid off of a big old can of worms? You know perfectly well that she has, lol. But if you want to find out what happens next, you’ll have to watch this fabulous old film, which incidentally celebrates its seventy-fifth anniversary this year. It shouldn’t be any hardship. It’s a genuine old masterpiece.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger, poet and book-and-movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

DOUBLE INDEMNITY. (1944) REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

double indemnityDOUBLE INDEMNITY. (1944) DIRECTED BY BILLY WILDER. SCREENPLAY BY BILLY WILDER AND RAYMOND CHANDLER. FROM THE NOVEL BY JAMES M. CAIN.

STARRING FRED MACMURRAY, BARBARA STANWYCK AND EDWARD G. ROBINSON.

REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

‘I killed him for the money. And for a woman. I didn’t get the money, and I didn’t get the woman.’

Walter Neff, insurance agent.

You can tell from the writing credits (Wilder, Chandler, Cain) just why DOUBLE INDEMNITY is one of the best and darkest film noir thrillers ever made. And the performances don’t exactly suck either.

On the contrary, they shimmer and steam with tension and desire all the way through. Not just with sexual desire, although there’s plenty of that, but with the desire to enrich oneself financially while simultaneously ridding oneself of the millstone around one’s neck, a husband who’s outlived his usefulness. It’s the old, old story, isn’t it?

Fred MacMurray, a fine handsome slice of ‘Forties beefcake, plays Walter Neff, an insurance agent who finds himself one afternoon in the lavish home of bored housewife Phyllis Dietrichson, portrayed here by Barbara Stanwyck. Walter doesn’t mind that her husband, the wealthy breadwinner to whom he would have pitched his sales spiel, is out. He couldn’t care less about the husband once he claps eyes on the wife.

Phyllis, the second wife of this Dietrichson fella, is stunningly beautiful, and don’t she just know it? Her glossy blonde hair falls in artlessly silky rolls and waves, her make-up is flawless and she dresses to seduce, with bling and cling wherever you choose to look.

Walter is immediately smitten with her. The sight of the slim, slinky gold chain winking expensively around one elegantly crossed ankle is his undoing. Bam! He’s in love, head-over-heels in love, and the attraction is mutual.

The conversation turns to murder surprisingly quickly. Walter initially walks out on Phyllis when he susses out that she wants to take out a whopping insurance policy on her cruel, abusive husband, then arrange a little ‘accident’ for the unfortunate man shortly afterwards.

But it doesn’t take long for the spider to lure the fly back into her parlour, which smells heavily of honeysuckle. ‘Murder smells like honeysuckle,’ I betcha ya didn’t know that. The fly takes the bait.

The stage is set for the demise of Mister Dietrichson. The two conspirators concoct a plan that has always seemed to me to be needlessly complex and dangerous. Too much could go wrong. Too much does…

Why does Walter do it? He loves her, of course, and he desires her more than he’s ever desired any woman in his life before. The money is not to be sniffed at either. But there’s another reason. It’s almost a matter of pride with him.

He’s an insurance agent, right? Day after day, he sits in his office reading fraudulent claims put in by people who think that they can fiddle their insurance. Walter and his boss Keyes, played by Edward G. Robinson in magnificent form, know every single trick in the book. Hell, they wrote the goddamned book.

Walter quite fancies the idea of being able to use his eleven years of inside knowledge to pull off the ultimate fool-proof insurance scam. But there’s no such thing as the perfect murder. And Walter always knew that Keyes would worry and worry at this case from the moment he got the bit between his teeth. Keyes can smell a fraud a mile off.

What Walter doesn’t know is that Dietrichson’s daughter Lola, between whom and Phyllis there is no love lost, has some rather disturbing information on Phyllis. It might just shed some light on the character of the woman whom, after all, Walter barely knows. It concerns Dietrichson’s first wife and the manner in which she died…

The sexual tension between the two leads is palpable. The swift, snappy quickfire dialogue they utter in their first few scenes together is a sheer delight to watch. It positively crackles with electricity. It was written by men who knew their stuff, goddammit.

double indemnitydouble indemnitydouble indemnityWhen Walter and Phyllis first sleep together in Walter’s apartment on a gorgeously rainy night, you’ll see no more than the aftermath of Phyllis adjusting her blouse and Walter smoking on the couch with his shoes off, but it’s as suggestively sultry as if you’d seen them actually engage in sexual intercourse.

Of course, they knew how to do things back then. These old ‘Forties thrillers were masterful at showing without telling, if you know what I mean. A fierce embrace and the music rising to a powerful crescendo was all they needed back then to imply mind-blowing, life-changing sex, the kind of sex you’ll remember for the rest of your days.

Those were the good old days, huh? And DOUBLE INDEMNITY is one of the best examples of its genre, one of the finest of all the film noir thrillers. If you haven’t already seen it, go and find it and watch it. It’ll weave its magic on you too. I say let it.

AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens’ fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:

https://www.facebook.com/SandraHarrisPureFilthPoetry

https://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com

http://sexysandieblog.wordpress.com

http://serenaharker.wordpress.com

sandrasandraharris@gmail.com

https://twitter.com/SandraAuthor

THE DEVIANTS. A NOVEL OF SEXUAL PERVERSION AND FUCKED-UP LOVE BY KINDLE AUTHOR SANDRA HARRIS.

cover max new

Max, a bored and unhappy middle-aged man, meets a younger woman, Juliet, by chance in a bookshop. Instantly attracted to each other, they begin an affair. Juliet quickly realises that Max is not like most other men sexually. Lonely, and craving the affection she has been denied throughout her life, she allows herself to become Max’s sexual plaything- and punchbag- in exchange for his love. Max takes full advantage of Juliet’s friendless state and coerces her into doing things that leave her feeling degraded and violated. Afraid of losing Max, Juliet is unable to say no to his demands and so the game continues until the situation blows up in their faces and both Max and Juliet have no choice but to face the consequences of their fucked-up love.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00PPM16YM?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

cover max new

THE DEVIANTS- A NOVEL BY SANDRA HARRIS- IS FREE, FREE, FREE FROM AMAZON FROM 16TH UNTIL 20TH MARCH!!!

THE BLOG RE-WRITTEN
Max, a bored and unhappy middle-aged man, meets a younger woman, Juliet, by chance in a bookshop. Instantly attracted to each other, they begin an affair. Juliet quickly realises that Max is not like most other men sexually. Lonely, and craving the affection she has been denied throughout her life, she allows herself to become Max’s sexual plaything- and punchbag- in exchange for his love. Max takes full advantage of Juliet’s friendless state and coerces her into doing things that leave her feeling degraded and violated. Afraid of losing Max, Juliet is unable to say no to his demands and so the game continues until the situation blows up in their faces and both Max and Juliet have no choice but to face the consequences of their fucked-up love.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PPM16YM