Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thursday Movie Picks: Unrequited Love


It's Thursday!  That means it's time for another Thursday Movie Picks.  Let's just get it underway.

This week's theme is:



This one was a tough one.  I kept trying to find films that really represented a love being rejected...a real love...and that was hard to find.  I found a lot of affairs and whatnot, or rejected passes, but not many that felt like genuine love being unrequited.  And the one that I really wanted to use was used up by Wandering Through the Shelves.

But I think I found some good ones...

Written on the Wind
As a whole, I think the film is slightly uneven and tonally bizarre (so melodramatic), but this film, for me, is the perfect representation of unrequited love.  In fact, you get TWO cases of it, all thanks to Rock Hudson and Lauren Bacall have to be complete bitches (not really, but you get my point).  The thing about this movie is that it shows how devastating and deteriorating and destructive this kind of love can be, with Robert Stack's (remarkable performance) rejected husband turning to alcohol abuse and Dorothy Malone's (another remarkable performance) rejected woman turning to manipulating, man-eating, self-centered loathing.  It's chilling.

The Misfits
Poor Eli Wallach.  All he wanted to do was woo the beautiful Marilyn Monroe, but it's worse, because she falls in love with his best friend, Clark Gable.  I feel this one, pretty rough, because I've been there...in love (so in love) with this amazing girl only to have her reject my affections and fall for my best friend...and having to sit in the backseat of your best friend's car while he rides around with this girl, cuddling her, kissing her...it's just...awful.

The Talented Mr. Ripley
One could easily try and dismiss this as lust, but it's not.  Sexually, yes, Ripley was lustful, but this is about a different kind of love, a platonic love that is openly and viciously rejected, and the aftermath is remarkably destructive.  Ripley loves Dickie...truly, deeply loves him.  Dickie tolerates Ripley...and then doesn't anymore.  This is such a devastating reality, and we've all been there when we thought we were closer to someone then we really were.  Highsmith was clever and turned a very real emotion into this super rich thriller, but at the heart of this story is a man who just wanted to love, and be loved in return.

36 comments:

  1. I can't believe I didn't think of Written on the Wind - I fucking LOVE that movie. The most phallic film ever made. It's HILARIOUS. Dorothy Malone gives a performance for the ages.

    Talented Mr. Ripley is a GENIUS pick. Interestingly, the French adapted the novel long before Hollywood did, and that version, Purple Noon, with Alain Delon as Tom, is also great.

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    1. Also, I am totally with you on this one being really hard. TRUE examples of unrequited love are few and far between!

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    2. I like the French version on it's own, but as a representation of Highsmith's work, not so much. I felt like Minghella's film is far more true to her intentions with the book.

      And yes, Malone gives a performance for the ages!

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    3. You're probably right about that. I saw Purple Noon before I read the book - which I think is a-fucking-mazing, BTW - so I had nothing to compare it to and didn't realize until long after that it was even an adaptation lol.

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    4. Yeah, they changed the entire character of Ripley (he's not even attracted to 'Dickie', i.e., Philippe) and the whole ending, where he declares love for Marge and then gets caught...like, it's a great film from a technical angle (stunning, and so sharp) and as it's own story, it's really good, but as an adaptation it just doesn't work.

      They should have changed all the names and called it something else because it's not Highsmith's story, outside of the boat scene, really.

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  2. Fantastic picks!!

    I LOVE Written on the Wind and its a very apt pick. You're right it is wildly melodramatic but that's never bothered me since it proudly owns that from the very first minute it hits the screen with that windswept opening. I love the bold use of colors and at times almost gymnastic layout of scenes. Sirk keeps it moving at an almost breakneck pace with symbolism all over the place (Dorothy Malone's final scene!! how'd he get away with that!). Speaking of Malone, she's brilliant as the love starved Marylee with Stack almost most matching her, but she MVP. Her Oscar win is one of my favorites in the supporting actress category.

    I never would have thought of Eli Wallach in The Misfits but that's a great catch. It's hard to say I love the film, I guess I like it as much as you can any movie that's so much about despair. Because of the fates of Monroe and Gable that made this the last film for both, and their fine work within, plus the broken down Montgomery Clift Wallach's contribution is often overlooked but he really nails his character's sad frustrations.

    Ripley is another terrific choice. Damon never got enough credit for his complex work in it. He's so naked in his desire for acceptance but always with that menace just below the surface.

    My three this week are:

    Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)-In turn of the century Vienna a pianist (Louis Jourdan) is preparing to skip town to avoid a duel, his manservent hands him a letter from an unknown woman which tells the tale of the young girl (Joan Fontaine) who has loved the self absorbed cad though several decades and periods of their lives. The twist is that he's so shallow and selfish that each time he meets her again he doesn't remember her despite her enduring devotion to him. Moodily directed by Max Ophuls with wonderfully atmospheric cinematography the movie is heavy with doomed portent and highlighted by one of Fontaine's best performances.

    Splendor in the Grass (1961)-A young couple is pulled apart by circumstances driving the sensitive girl to madness with unrequited longing. Set in Kansas just before the stock market crash this Elia Kazan directed adaptation of a William Inge story was Warren Beatty screen bow and he's good, and almost supernaturally good looking, but he and everybody else is blown off the screen by Natalie Wood in what is without question her best performance. She's so raw at times it's painful to watch her.

    Brokeback Mountain (2005)-In the sixties two down on their luck cowboys sign up separately for a stint herding sheep in a remote location. During their extended isolation they are drawn together and become involved, when they return from the mountain they part and continue their separate lives. But they remain in each others minds and when they meet again they realize nothing has changed between them. However because of the times, their fears and timing they can never work out their conflicts and be together yet the film is full of that unrequited yearning. Masterfully directed and amazingly acted by Heath Ledger, Jack Gyllenhaal and Michelle Williams this should have won the Best Picture Oscar in 2006, Lee did win for director though.

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    1. I really, REALLY want to see Letter from an Unknown Woman!

      As far as Splendor in the Grass and Brokeback Mountain are concerned...are they really examples of unrequited love? I mean, there is no doubt that both parties reciprocate the love, but because of the current social environments in both cases, they can't be together.

      Now, Alma's love goes unrequited to Ennis, since his heart belongs to another.

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    2. Yeah I guess I'm a little off and they are more cases of unfulfilled love than unrequited although Alma, and too a lesser degree Lureen, fall into the unrequited category.

      Natalie in Splendor just rips my heart out every time! She was cheated out of the Oscar that year, Sophia Loren was strong in Two Women but I was more moved by Natalie.

      I'm kicking myself that I didn't think of Lon Chaney!! Unrequited love was practically his leitmotif. Have you ever seen The Unknown? It is one freaky movie, so much strangeness packed into just under an hour!

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    3. Splendor is a hard case for me, because I find the film's tone to be so...bizarre...and I just can't take Wood's performance. Like, I kind of hate it, and I liked her as an actress mostly. Beatty, on the other hand, I found to be incredible, and I usually find him so wooden and off-putting...but he was so loose and so natural.

      But I'm apparently in the minority on that one.

      I need to see The Unknown...sounds great and I love Chaney.

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  3. I haven't seen the first two, but Mr. Ripley is fantastic! I really want to revisit this film, I think I threw it in my Netflix queue awhile back.

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    1. Ripley is just a perfect film, like...it is technically perfection, from every angle.

      I really like The Misfits, despite the fact that it is 100% a downer, but Wallach's performance is one of my favorite Supporting Performances of all time.

      Written on the Wind is a roller-coaster of a film, but worth checking out, for sure!

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    2. With your love of Written on the Wind, which I share, have you seen Sirk's The Tarnished Angels? Everybody from Written except Betty Bacall is back only Stack & Malone play marrieds this time out, Stack is a barnstorming pilot and the Rockster is a journalist. It's a good one with Sirk putting his customary interesting spin on the material and a terrific performance by the under appreciated Jack Carson.

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    3. I haven't, but I really need to! Bacall was my least favorite aspect of Written on the Wind, so I'd be really interested to see Sirk take on the rest of the cast.

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  4. The Talented Mr Ripley is a fabulous choice. One of my all-time favourites. It always felt to me like the kind of dark, handsomely-mounted movie that Coppola might have made before Apocalypse Now fried his mind.

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  5. These Thursday picks are going to be the end of my social life...I haven't seen any of these but they all sound like films I want to see!
    - Allie

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    1. OMG! See The Talented Mr. Ripley, like, now!

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  6. Great picks Drew! There's something about unrequited love that appeals to me. I love what you wrote about Ripley, it seems to be more than just lust and that's what hurt him so much and drove him to madness. I like both this remake and the original French film.

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    1. Both versions are very good, but I prefer this one. Minghella's sharp attention to detail fleshes out every single angle of the story, and every character. It's a beautiful adaptation of Highsmith's work.

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  7. Mr. Ripley! Love that one! Haven't seen the others, but I think I'm gonna watch soon!

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  8. Nice work, man! Regrettably, The Talented Mr. Ripley is the only one I've seen of your picks. I was just talking to my Mom about that one the other day, when I posted about Phil Hoffman. Such a great film! I need to get into some Douglas Sirk. I really want to see what his stuff is all about. Seems I've been hearing about several of his movies lately.

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    1. Sirk...he basically directed the feature film soap operas of the 50's. SO MELODRAMATIC and yet, they were always dripping with such star power and such dynamic energy. I'm harsh on Written on the Wind only because I felt like the two leads were so dull they dragged down Sirk's intentions...which is what made it feel tonally inconsistent to me.

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  9. I have Written On The Wind and have not seen it yet! The Misfits is excellent and so is The Talented Mr. Ripley. Great choices and this was a hard one to think about. I would pick Hans Christian Anderson with Danny Kaye. He loves this ballerina but she does not see him as anyone but a nice guy. I would pick Laugh, Clown, Laugh with Lon Chaney. It's a bit creepy because he raises a little girl like his daughter but then falls for her (literally) but she only has eyes for another and the last would be The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I mean one can pick the Chaney version which is excellent or the Laughton version which is my favourite. He is a living gargoyle who has eyes for the beauty Esmeralda but she only, again, has eyes for another, despite being saved by the hunchback

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    1. Hunchback is a great pick. Wish I had thought of Lon Chaney, unrequited love was sort of his stock in trade. There's He Who Gets Slapped where he loves Norma Shearer from afar and The Unknown a very bizarre film where he is the armless man in the circus who pines for magician's assistant Joan Crawford who in turn is loved by the strong man but has a fear of hands and for whom he goes to incredibly extreme lengths to win her love.

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    2. Hunchback is a PERFECT choice!

      And Chaney also did Phantom of the Opera...and that's like another perfect example of unrequited love!

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    3. I thought of Phantom as well but I already picked Hunchback:) Yes Lon was the king of not being loved back

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    4. He really was...such rich work there.

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  10. The Talented Mr. Ripley is a great choice! I haven't seen the other two movies.

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    1. So glad to see all the support for Ripley being here. It really is a wonderful film.

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  11. You've got me, this time. I haven't seen any of these. To be honest, though, I've had several chances to watch The Talented Mr. Ripley and just never did. Might change that soon. Great picks.

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    1. Yes, fix that. I just rewatched Ripley a few nights ago...and it holds up even better than I remembered. Brilliant film!

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  12. Talented Mr Ripley is the only one of yours that I've seen. I liked that you went for the platonic kind of relationship. I caught a bit of it again recently and it's such a beautiful looking film. I also didn't know Phillip Seymour Hoffman had a part in it too, which was such a surprise. I've been seeing him in rewatches of some of the films made more than a decade or so ago that I didn't remember he was in the first time I saw them, like Scent of a Woman, then again he wasn't quite a name until the 2000s right.

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    1. Yeah, he really didn't become someone people looked for until he won that Oscar, then he became this renowned actor everyone wanted to find more from. It's a shame that he wasn't respected enough early on.

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  13. Excellent picks, as usual. I've been meaning to rewatch The Talented Mr. Ripley since 2012. I *must* do that soon!

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    1. I think it's pretty much going to sweep through the Fisti techs for 99...like...it's effing perfect!

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