Tag Archives: Paul Vogel

The Face Behind the Mask (1938, Jacques Tourneur)

Until seeing The Face Behind the Mask, I had no idea there really was a mystery man in an iron mask. I’ve seen at least two of the movie adaptations, maybe three, and am aware of the source novel… I just had no idea it was based in some kind of fact.

MGM calls the short a “historical mystery;” the narrator tells the story as the action plays out, in summary. Sometimes the narration directly affects the action, which is disconcerting. It’s not a bad approach for a non-fiction narrative and the short is well-produced.

Tourneur’s finest sequence is when the prisoner is taken to prison. The actors interact with the sets instead of pose as they later do, when the narrator has to introduce them.

It’s a mildly amusing short, with Tourneur really making the time count. Face imparts a lot of information in a short time.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Jacques Tourneur; written by Milton Gunzburg; director of photography, Paul Vogel; produced by Jack Chertok; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Narrated by John Nesbitt.


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Interrupted Melody (1955, Curtis Bernhardt)

Interrupted Melody is an interesting example of economic storytelling. The film covers about ten years, has a number of strong character relationships, but moves gently through all of it. It’s got moments where there isn’t any dialogue, just the look between characters, it’s got a great love story–and, even better, a great struggling marriage. Director Bernhardt deserves a lot of the credit–for example, he knows just how long to let these scenes go and the first date between Eleanor Parker and Glenn Ford does better in five minutes what most films–most good films–spend twenty doing. It’s not just Bernhardt though. Interrupted Melody was co-written by Sonya Levien, who also worked on The Cowboy and the Lady and it had similarly perfect pacing.

Most of Interrupted Melody is a showcase for its actors, whether it’s Parker or Ford or even a young (and good-looking) Roger Moore. The film’s structure varies in focus–for instance, there’s a large part where Ford is the protagonist over Parker–but manages the transitions back and forth beautifully. So beautifully, in fact, I don’t even recall the first transition. The second, later one, I still do….

Besides being Parker’s best performance (probably, at least in the lead), Interrupted Melody has a great Glenn Ford performance. Ford never gets the proper respect–search for him on IMDb and the first title to come up is Superman, but he’s really good, especially in this, mid-1950s period of his career. Melody‘s not out on DVD, but it does run occasionally on TCM. TCM has their wonderful database, which allows you to vote for films for Warner Bros. to release on DVD. Like Interrupted Melody, for example.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Curtis Bernhardt; written by William Ludwig and Sonya Levien; directors of photography, Joseph Ruttenberg and Paul Vogel; edited by John D. Dunning; produced by Jack Cummings; released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Glenn Ford (Dr. Thomas King), Eleanor Parker (Marjorie Lawrence), Roger Moore (Cyril Lawrence), Cecil Kellaway (Bill Lawrence), Peter Leeds (Dr. Ed Ryson), Evelyn Ellis (Clara), Walter Baldwin (Jim Owens), Ann Codee (Madame Gilly), Leopold Sachse (Himself) and Stephen Bekassy (Count Claude des Vignaux).


This film is also discussed in Sum Up | Eleanor Parker, Part 2: Technicolor.