[OUT] CHANNELS the CONJUGAL (1949)

Chains domestic (1949) has been reviewed by Antoine in the framework of the topic Reflections and Poetic.

Oscar-best screenplay and best director in 1949 – lined that it is re-established in 1950 with Eve STRINGS MARRIAGE of Joseph L. Mankiewicz comes in the category of movies to puzzle dear to the filmmaker. The son of Polish migrants, Mankiewicz is today one of the undisputed masters of classical hollywood cinema. MGM to Fox, he directed more than twenty films, signing some of the masterpieces of the period (The Adventure of Mrs. Muir, Eve, Julius Caesar, The countess with bare feet, Suddenly last summer, Cleopatra, and The Bloodhound) with the biggest stars of the time (Marlon Brando, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, etc.).

The main difference film of Mankiewicz is based on the fact that he wrote most of his screenplays in the image of the CHANNELS in your MARRIAGE, adaptation of the work of John Klemper, A Letter to Five Wives (reduced to the number of four, then three, by the co-writer Vera Caspary and Mankiewicz himself). His style, often referred to as sober and elegant, prompts the larger complicity with the viewer. His stories in puzzle combine the knowledge of the characters to the viewer : here, the three heroines (Jeanne Crain, Ann Sothern, Linda Darnell) read together the letter to a certain Addie Ross claiming to be part with one of their husbands. All the fun of the spectator resides in quest of clues that will allow him, as a private detective, to reconstruct the truth. In Mankiewicz, the prologue and epilogue give the tone of the plot. The voice-over omniscient Addie Ross, who is not without evoking that of the series Desperate Housewives, prompt to interfere in the everyday lives of these women and in their oh-so-typical residential area. The imagery that calls the film called, logically, gossip of all kinds, which are corroborated by the attitude of husbands that appears to be most suspicious.

The film is built around three flashbacks, each heroine will return in an episode more or less marking of their married life, culminating in the absence always noticed of Addie Ross – what figure of the out-of-field all the same – and this, by the intermediary of an object-index (a bottle of champagne, a disc, a photo). Among this study of characters, the first flashback appears below the other two. The fault in the theatrical performance of Jeanne Crain, who force the respect of the young innocent woman, just landed from his campaign home, and that acclimatization, which is reinforced by the absences of apparently repeated to her husband, is experiencing some difficulties.

Conversely, the second flashback turns out to be a pure delight. Rita (Sothern) and George Phipps (Kirk Douglas) form at first sight a couple who loves. But after seven years of relationship, Rita still shows a desire careerist (she wrote for a radio hit) that no longer shares her husband, who remained a simple teacher. During a dinner where they receive the “friendly” patron saint of the radio – able to interrupt the meal to listen to one of his broadcasts fetishes – Rita becomes aware of the chasm that separates now from her husband. Completely obsessed by his work that it often prolongs until late in the night, she will even forget her birthday ; an event for which Addie Ross will not forget to provide a sumptuous disc of Brahms. The high point of this flashback is the “awakening” of George. Frustrated to see his wife “lying” is the way he balance his “four truths” to the patron slanderous content appalling and mercantile of his radio (superb critical of advertising in the media).

“The establishment a sophisticated of tale, the efficiency of the fittings and of the ellipses, the admirable partition of the casting (except Jeanne Crain) are Chains of Domestic a marvel of pace and efficiency narrative.”

The third and last flashback is just as tasty. Living at his mother’s home with his sister, Lora Mae is the result of a poor environment and aspire to social success. However, far from any fairy tale naive, she is no longer seeking the “prince charming” but only a form of power, of security that represents perfectly Porter Hollingsway (Paul Douglas), her boss. The seduction that takes place here is quite original and modern. Although it is in the precarious position, Lora Mae knows perfectly be desired, to languish. It is she who pulls the strings of this game and eventually getting what she wants, a marriage in good and due form.

Beyond the intelligence of the dialogues – a true listening pleasure that can be found in all the films scripted by MankiewiczSTRINGS MARRIAGE work marital relations with a lot of irony and lucidity : the love that runs out, the contrasting feelings towards the other, the complicity friendly, the reports of hierarchies, competition within the couple, the repressed desires… putting in place sophisticated of the story, the efficiency of the fittings, and ellipses, the admirable partition of the casting (except Jeanne Crain) are CHAINS of DOMESTIC a marvel of pace and efficiency narrative.

Antoine Gaudé

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