Setter’s ‘Spectives: Love’s Got No Strings Attached in ‘Humoresque’

Setter Drawing for Blog 082613OMG … I actually liked a movie with Joan Crawford in it!

That film was Humoresque, which I watched for the first time on TV last night. Quite a fun, if melodramatic ride, centering on the love affair an egocentric though brilliant violinist (played by John Garfield) has with a married socialite (Crawford). Normally, I don’t care for pictures with Joan in it, but this one had a good script co-written by Clifford Odets and able direction from Jean Negulesco. Plus, simply glorious violin playing by the incomparable Isaac Stern, who did the virtuoso performances attributed to Garfield’s musician character.

So does that mean, all of a sudden, that I’m a big Crawford fan? Not at all. This film rose above the usual sordid plotlines her flicks so often seemed to encapsulate, making it altogether a more interesting work. I frequently find her acting overdone, but in this case, she kept her portrayal in check. Whether that’s due more to the direction or her own ability, I don’t know.

Certainly, any film that features snippets from Bizet’s Carmen and Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde has got to be good, right?

Well … the jury’s still out on that.

Skip’s Quips: The ‘Dog’ Fan Cometh

Blog Sketch 082813Guess what Turner Classic Movies was showing on the tube late last night.

If you said Un Chien Andalou, you win an ant-covered hand.

That’s right. Luis Buñuel’s bizarre, seminal 1929 short was appearing on the cable channel that’s also featured flicks starring Joan Crawford, Robert Wagner and the like.

Variety’s the spice of life, it seems. Or in Chien‘s case, maybe the razor.

I’ve got to admit, though–TCM definitely doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the cinema. Its eclectic selection’s one of its hallmarks, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anything more eclectic than Buñuel’s Andalusian Dog.

I still remember hearing gasps during showings of this film at, I believe, New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The notorious scene where a man appears to slice a woman’s eyeball (it was actually a cow’s) still elicited a reaction after all these years.

I think the great Buñuel would’ve been tickled at that. He might even be amused that his Andalou was being showcased on a major cable channel.

And I can’t help but be pleased, too. This is a movie that everyone should see–a picture about nothing, filled with wild, nonsensical yet somehow connective images. It’s about filmmaking and the ability to tell a story without having one. It’s about art.

And art starred on TCM last night. Turner Classic Movies, I salute you.