For Reel


Those Endearing Young Charms (1945)
May 30, 2015, 9:37 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lewis Allen
2.5 Stars
Those Endearing Young CharmsAs Those Endearing Young Charms begins, Helen Brandt (Laraine Day) is being courted by the boyish, over-eager Jerry (Bill Williams), who seems like a thoroughly respectable kid but has little romantic or sexual charm–he might as well be played by Mickey Rooney. It’s no surprise, then, that an Air Force cad played by Robert Young is able to quickly divert Day’s gaze from Jerry to himself. Young was never particularly good at playing characters that were anything but genuine–even when playing a heel (such as a Nazi party member in The Moral Storm), he played them rather directly. But the ever-reliable Day is right for the doe-eyed, sympathetic lover whose naïveté comes from her optimism rather than simple foolishness–can one be blamed for falling prey to a liar? Lewis Allen, who directed the terrific ghost story The Uninvited the previous year, lends uninspired direction in this case, but at least he has the sense to shoot the expressive Day in lingering close-ups. Ann Harding returned to the studio that made her a star to play Day’s mother and brings her talent for understatement to a role that neither Allen nor the writers (Edward & Jerome Chodorov) know what to do with.



The Uninvited (1944)
November 4, 2014, 3:05 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lewis Allen
4 Stars
The UninvitedGail Russell first came to stardom with The Uninvited, a rare ghost film of the period in which the supernatural is taken seriously. She was said to be so uncomfortable on screen that she began drinking to calm her nerves during the production (a vice which would lead to her tragic early death). It might be this very tension that contributes to the greatness of the performance–it’s a dynamic one, proving that she was far more than just a pretty face. Her character must navigate the fallout of her mother’s gruesome death, and Russell demonstrates her relationship to the past by simultaneously being terrified and eerily calmed by the spirits that haunt her. She’s aided admirably by Ray Milland, who similarly had a tense demeanor about him in his best roles despite his calm, cool exterior. Perhaps no contribution is greater to The Uninvited than the Oscar-nominated cinematography by Charles B. Lang, however, who gives as much attention to sunlight as he does the absence of it (for a horror film of the period, it’s surprising that the location is so idyllic). The scene in which Milland investigates a mysterious weeping coming from downstairs is absolutely chilling–a testament to Lang’s use of light and framing, conveying Milland’s sheer vulnerability in a house that now seems far from hospitable.