Saturday, October 23, 2010

Undercurrent. 1946

First of all one must surrender to the fact that Katharine Hepburn plays a vulnerable, sometwhat insecure damsel in distress in this femme jep (female in jeopardy) movie, then maybe just maybe you can sit back and enjoy this somewhat clunky melodrama that was directed by Vincente Minnelli. A fragile Kate Hepburn is not what legions of her fans think of her as, but that’s what she plays in this glossy M.G.M. suspense thriller. Hepburn plays the daughter of scientist Edmund Gwenn (in a bad toupee) and when the film opens Kate’s in her tomboy getup fussing and cleaning about her father’s lab and getting nudged and bothered by their housekeeper Marjorie Main as to when she‘s going to meet a nice young man and settle down. Shy and playing drab Kate soon locks eyes with inventor industrialist Robert Taylor who is visiting her dad to talk over a new chemical or something that Gwenn has come up with that we are lead to believe can save the world from future wars and make lots of money for the two of them. Kate quickly finds herself head over heels in love with Taylor and things then move very fast. Bob also finds himself in June Moon territory and soon they are married, and this is where the movie really begins. Hepburn who is still not sure of herself and feels she is out of her league living in Washington D.C with Taylor who is self assured and domineering. This lack of confidence is especially felt by her at a fashionable cocktail party that Taylor throws so all his swell well connected friends can meet his new wife. This cocktail scene is pure Minnelli, lots of little details, busy movement and tidbits of dialogue spoken by the many extras that he fills the space with. If you look quickly you can make out the recently deceased Barbara Billingsley in a tiny uncredited part as one of the guests, and the ever present extra extraordinaire Bess Flowers who even gets a few lines of dialogue. Hepburn who looks nice but underdressed is soon given a Haute couture makeover by Taylor, and she looks really great in all those beautiful Irene dresses and gowns. However soon she is soon getting weird vibs from handsome hubby Taylor who seems to be hiding lots of things from her, including a mysterious brother who might or might not be dead. His behavior and treatment towards Kate starts to get dicey and she is soon getting all nervous and out of sorts. Her main concern is the secrets that Taylor is keeping from her about his estranged brother and bad thoughts keep popping into her head. Did Taylor kill him and is she next and on top of that Kate is developing a somewhat unhealthy attraction to the brother even though they have never met. Kate discovers that he loved Brahms and poetry and lived a nearly monastic but very comfortable life in the woods. Also in the cast is a very miscast Robert Mitchum who looks either half asleep or stoned. The film itself is not dull and is easy to take even though its about as far fetched as this kind of movie gets. With beautiful cinematography by the great Karl Freund.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Site Meter