Friday, July 26, 2013

Vera Miles in The Wrong Man and Psycho

(Click to get a larger version of the image.)

Hitchcock evidently liked to cluster things around Vera Miles's head. She's most famously framed by looming light-bulbs in Psycho cellars, but, as our image shows, a lamp in The Wrong Man and some rakes earlier in Psycho show that for Hitchcock, Miles's head was always in play.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Claire Bloom in Carol Reed's The Man Between (1953)

Carol Reed's The Man Between (1953) reprises much of the structure of The Third Man (1949), with a bombed out Berlin substituting for Vienna, James's Mason's Ivo Kern making for a slightly less shady/trying-to-make-good version of Welles's Harry Lime, and Claire Bloom's Susanne Mallison combining aspects of both Alida Valli's Anna and Cotten's Holly Martins.

Susanne arrives in Berlin all smiles:

While she soon realizes that something potentially unsavory is up with her brother's wife's friend, Ivo:

since Ivo is James Mason, any wariness she feels is made bearable:

Happy through a dissolve:

Love in the ruins....

Things take a more serious turn; still very beautiful though:

Not even being captive in a Psycho-cellar-like room brings her down:

Susanne ends up whacking that big light like she's Vera Miles too! See about 1m 45s into this German trailer for TMB:

It wouldn't be Reed without some Dutch Angles:

Oh, just kiss her already!

I mean, look at her:

Happy Saboteurs.

Susanne and Ivo end up sheltering in a prostitute's apartment to evade capture. He ends up clinging for dear life out the window, while she has to pose as another prostitute:

Susanne reveals that she's quite the hotsy-totsy under her lady-like exterior, finally getting Ivo to kiss her:

And quite a bit more by implication. We cut to the morning...


Needless to say, there's not a happy ending after all this. But for a tale about bombed out cities, war criminals, kidnappings, East-West tensions,  and so on, The Man Between is pretty sunny and romantic. Thanks to Mason and Bloom's charm and beauty, it's a hell of a date movie.

Bloom is such a brunette ringer for Grace Kelly in TMB - and hits some of the same notes that Kelly will as Lisa Fremont in Rear Window (becoming a saboteur and posing as a prostitute rather than breaking and entering) - that TMB almost feels almost like a missing Hitchcock picture: Lisa Fremont meets VanDamm. As far as I know, however, Bloom never worked with Hitchcock. Maybe he was too low-brow for her? Bloom was classically trained, after all, did lots of prestige theater, hung with Olivier and Burton, married heavy-Method-guy Rod Steiger in the '50s, and lived with Philip Roth through the '80s, marrying and then spectacularly divorcing him in the '90s (go here for a gossipy overview and some nice photos). Or maybe Hitch associated her too strongly with Chaplin (after her breakthrough in Limelight (1952)), or found Bloom too not-blonde and too English at the exact moment he was at his most American, really making his bones in Hollywood, and the most waist-deep in blondes signable to long term contracts he'd ever be. Presumably the rough answer is available in one of Bloom's two memoirs/autobiographies.

Bonus Video: I've heretofore mainly known Bloom from Robert Wise's The Haunting (1963) and from her Lady Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited (1981) for TV. Here's one of her key scenes from the latter: