Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Favorite Underrated Dramas - Raquel S. ""

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Favorite Underrated Dramas - Raquel S.

Raquel runs the Out of the Past Film blog where her focus is on classic cinema. Read her here:
And follow her on twitter here:

A Lady of Chance (1928) – While technically a part-talkie, the talkie part is not currently available so for all intents and purposes let’s call this film a silent. This is one of my favorite Norma Shearer films and one I wish more people would watch. Shearer plays Dolly, a scam artist who thinks she caught herself a millionaire. She marries her “millionaire” Steve (Johnny Mack Brown) only to discover he’s on rich in spirit and not in dollars and cents. Unfortunately, her old scam artist friends Bradley (Lowell Sherman) and Gwen (Gwen Lee) didn’t get the memo. They both think Dolly hit pay day and follow her to her new home in order to cash in on her find. Dolly starts to fall for Steve in earnest and is desperate to save Steve from her old cronies’ snare. It’s a wonderful movie with great 1920s aesthetic appeal. Shearer is at her most beautiful and it watches more like an early talkie than a silent. Some might consider the film a comedy but I see it as more of a light drama.

Young Man With a Horn (1950) – This movie is really special to me and I wish it got more attention than it does. It follows the story of Rick Martin, a jazz trumpeter, from his early start as an orphan who falls in love with jazz, to his skyrocketing career as a musician and to his ultimate downfall. Kirk Douglas does a wonderful job playing Rick with an intensity that suits the character well. Also in the film is the lovely Doris Day who plays a singer in Rick’s band. She’s the good girl and friend that Rick should be with. However, he’s tempted away by bored socialite Amy North, played by Lauren Bacall. She’s the femme fatale he shouldn’t be with but eventually marries much to his bad luck. It’s interesting to note that all three main stars in the film are still alive today! This film has jazz, booze, addiction, adultery and deals with race and inequality.

River of No Return (1954) – This film gets overshadowed by the fact that iconic Marilyn Monroe is one of the stars. But it’s really not just a Monroe film. It’s a wonderful Western, shot on location in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada, along the Athabasca river. I’ve spent some time in that area and by that river so this film reminds me of those times. Robert Mitchum stars as Matt Calder. He’s in town to pick up his young son Mark Calder (Tommy Rettig) whose been sent to him by his mom. They both meet Kay (Marilyn Monroe), a saloon singer, whose fiance Harry (Rory Calhoun) gets her and the Calders in trouble. The film is directed by Otto Preminger and it’s absolutely stunning. It’s not a perfect film but the actors all deliver fine performances, the action sequences are great, the shots of the Athabasca and the Mountains couldn’t be better and the plot goes along at a nice clip. I had the pleasure of seeing this film on the big screen at the TCM Classic Film Festival with producer Stanley Rubin in attendance.

Ex-Lady (1933) – This is a new favorite of mine and I’m sure it’s one Bette Davis looked back on with disgust. I disagree with her though because I think this one is a gem. It doesn’t go in for the shock factor like so many Pre-Codes. Quite the opposite! It takes a very solemn look at romantic relationships and the pressures of society. Bette Davis plays Helen, an in-demand and talented artist. She’s dating Don (Gene Raymond), an advertiser. They are secretly living together, unmarried. Her parents find out and the pressure is put on them to marry. Everything gets really complicated when they not only get married but start working together. It’s not a film that entertains rather its one that looks at relationships in a very frank manner rather than romanticizing them. This isn’t about courtship but rather what happens after you found love and all the demands that come with it.

A Patch of Blue (1965) – I can’t tell you how many times I have watched this film and have both fallen in love with Sidney Poitier and cried over the heart-wrenching story. The film stars then-newcomer Elizabeth Hartman as Selina. She’s blind and is the victim of the abuse of her floozy mother Rose-Ann (Shelley Winters) and the neglect of her drunkard grandfather Ole Pa (Wallace Ford). Her life seems bleak until she meets Gordon Ralfe (Sidney Poitier) in the park. She’s white and he’s black but she’s blind, both literally and figuratively to his race and they fall for each other. Things get really complicated when her mom begins to meddle. It’s such a fantastic story that really tugs at the heart strings.


Vanessa Buttino said...

I agree with every single one of these picks - they're all absolutely FANTASTIC! Another great post Raquel!

SteveQ said...

Patch of Blue is one of my favorite films. I fell in love with Hartman - to the point of looking her up to see what she was doing (suicide, as it happens).