Classic Capsules II: The Misfits, Bonnie and Clyde, Lady Sings the Blues
“The Misfits” was written by Arthur Miller, author of plays like “Death of a Salesman.” It was supposedly a gift to Marilyn Monroe, who he later married, and who is featured as the main actress in the film (I didn’t realize this until twenty minutes in, when I paused to read the Wikipedia entry on the movie). Monroe plays a divorced woman who meets three different men – Clark Gable as a cowboy, Montgomery Clift as a rodeo rider, and Eli Wallach as a pilot. They all, to some extent, fall in love with her, and the movie twists like a tornado with Monroe in its center. Perhaps because of Miller’s background, much of the movie is made up on ornate dialogue, which can be frustrating at times, but overall, the film is pretty interesting. 3.5/5 – at the end, everyone heads up into the mountains to catch wild mustangs, and the shots of the mountains the horses are breathtaking.
“Bonnie and Clyde” is a 1967 film about the famous criminal duo, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Supposedly a landmark, and I think the tale goes something like this: after one major critic’s negative review got smashed by the young public, he resigned, noting that if he could no longer ‘understand’ new, ‘modern,’ movies, then perhaps he was no longer ‘right’ for reviewing. I thought the movie told a good story, especially in the middle, when Bonnie and Clyde expand their two person gang to include a car mechanic, Clyde’s brother, and the brother’s wife. The relations between the five members include tension, puppy love, dislike, respect, and it is all told in a way that is palpable. Much of the time is spent on the road, and a car stuffed full of five people is a great place for interactions to flourish. 3/5 – perhaps because I am a modern viewer dulled to the supposedly shocking sex and violence that “Bonnie and Clyde” presented, I am not the ‘right’ person to review this either. (In other news, the 2011 movie “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” is going to feature none other than Hillary Duff as Bonnie. WTH?)
“Lady Sings the Blues” is a 1972 movie about Billie Holiday, with Diana Ross as the leading actress. Ross does an excellent job with the complicated role, portraying Billie all the way from her tomboy childhood to celebrated singer to morphine addict; she sings all the songs in the movie, employing an especially detailed “on drugs” singing and “off drugs” singing style. Similar to the more recent movie, “Ray,” this movie is about one singer’s rise to fame and subsequent struggles/fall due to drugs. “Lady Sings the Blues” is a difficult film to watch, as Billie’s self destructive behavior spirals, cutting into her career and her relationship with her eventual husband, Louis McKay. (A side note – Billy Dee Williams plays Louis, and I finally realized the reason he looks so familiar. Billy Dee Williams played Lando Calrissian in the original “Star Wars” trilogy. Weird.) 4/5 – this movie was painful, but elegantly so; Diana Ross does an amazing job portraying the legendary jazz singer, and her strength truly drove the movie to greater heights.