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Tchaikovsky Triumphant What Price Success? The film works whether or not one has an interest in boxing or aware that Jake LaMotta is a real person. It's an emotionally and dramatically credible story buoyed not reliant by being based on true events. While he indisputably hit his artistic stride with the poetic and well-received adaptation of D. At times The Music Lovers looks exactly like the kind of overheated dream one would have after falling asleep listening to Tchaikovsky while pulling an all-nighter studying for an exam on the composer.

This moment is important to savor, for it is one of the last times genuine happiness makes an appearance in the film outside of idealized images in impossible fantasies. As he would do in his next film The Boy Friend , Ken Russell uses the opening sequence of The Music Lovers to introduce all the film's major characters in context of their personalities and interrelationships — present and future — before we actually know who they are. Again utilizing a device employed to similar effect in The Boy Friend , Russell familiarizes us with the main players in his drama by granting us access to their fantasies and innermost desires.

The inherent unattainability of said ideal suggested by the extravagant-bordering-on-absurd visual extremes of each fantasy; its anguish reflected in the real-life self-contradiction that has nearly everyone in question falling desperately in love with precisely the person least capable of returning it. With desire charting the path of the conjoined destinies of these individuals, The Music Lovers takes the position that Tchaikovsky, a gay man tortured by his homosexuality and his inability to lead a life of emotional truth, poured all of his impassioned fantasies and romantic dreams into his music.

In centering his film on an artist who struggled to create artistic truth while being untrue to himself, Russell provocatively posits whether an inauthentic life can ever produce authentic art. In no way, shape, or form is this a movie for all tastes. And indeed, I would agree with those who say it is fairly valueless as biography although it did serve to spark my interest in the composer and led me to seek out the more traditional — but arguably as false — Russian film on Tchaikovsky released in Tchaikovsky, against the wishes of his family and in an effort to conform to societal pressure, did in fact impulsively marry a woman he barely knew, a young music student from his conservatory.

Their marriage was disastrous, the composer remaining married the better to deflect rumors of his homosexuality but deserting his wife within weeks of their wedding. As envisioned by Russell, Tchaikovsky marries out of rebellious self-denial and romantic self-delusion, while Nina Jackson is depicted as just another dreamy fantasist.

A mentally and emotionally unstable woman given to reckless romantic infatuations who sets her sights on wooing the composer because of his fame and stature. She's a tragic figure representing the destructive side of reality avoidance, her mental and emotional deterioration a hysterical indictment of Tchaikovsky's weakness of character and the false promises held forth by his unabashedly romantic compositions.

The Music Lovers' most controversial scene of many, I assure you is the honeymoon train journey that finds the visibly repulsed Tchaikovsky trapped in a tiny carriage car with his drunk, sexually rapacious bride. As the car jostles violently back and forth, Nina, now nude and unconscious, rolls about on the floor as Tchaikovsky literally climbs the walls in horror and disgust. None of it should work it's practically a parody of a gay man's reaction to seeing a vagina but somehow it does. And that the sexually-conflicted composer should be portrayed by a sexually-conflicted actor Richard Chamberlain came out in when he was years old adds heaps of unexpected subtext to the already over-the-top proceedings.

Although my childhood is full of memories of my sister's major crush on Richard Chamberlain during his Dr.

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Mr Bingle Bongle

Kildare days, I can't say that I've actually seen him in very much. Certainly not enough to know how successful he was in his bid to shed his teen heartthrob image and be taken seriously as an actor. I do know that as leading men go, he's very easy on the eyes, and that I can find no fault with his performance here.

It feels very committed and appropriately tortured. Delivering a sensitive performance that can also be as broad as a barn when required, she's just a marvel to behold. Her showier scenes got all the critical notice and lambasting , but it's her smaller moments like the range of emotions that play across her face when she meets Tchaikovsky for the first time that make her Nina a rivetingly sympathetic, pitiable, unpleasant character. I don't have the space to pay tribute to them all, but the entire cast of The Music Lovers is uniformly top notch.

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Fans of Ken Russell will recognize his familiar band of repertory players, each contributing invaluably to the whole. Beloved Friend In love with both the man and his music, wealthy widow Madame von Meck here with her twin sons supports Tchaikovsky for thirteen years and is content to love him from afar.

Ken Russell is known for being a visual director, and on that score The Music Lovers doesn't disappoint. The lush imagery and sumptuous costumes are more than a match for Tchaikovsky's colorful compositions. But because Russell's films are such an assault on the senses, I often think the soundness of the ideas behind his films get shortchanged.

My appreciation of The Music Lovers is rooted not in its status as biography, but in its thought-provoking themes examining the origins of artistic creativity and the heavy price that's often extracted. When Richard Chamberlain came out as gay in his memoir Shattered Love , one of the things he was fond of saying during his media tour was that after a lifetime of living in fear, how liberating it was to finally be himself.

Yet one of his strongest epiphanies was the realization that his being gay was the least interesting, most benign thing about him. Just sort of wafted along like a wood sprite. Never put her two feet on the ground. Not a nightmare, but a tranquil, languorous dream in which she sees herself driving up to a secluded country house, knocking on its door, but always leaving just before the inhabitant answers. When a dream comes true, is it then a premonition? And when dream and reality merge, can one truly know where one ends and the other begins?

Whenever anyone mentions Night Gallery , unfailingly, this is the episode that comes to mind. I was just years-old when this episode premiered in , and trust me in this, you can have no idea the effect it had on me. To use the vernacular of the time, it was mind-blowing. One I never forgot, and one I revisited every chance I could when the episode aired again. In those pre-DVD days, anticipation played a great part in the development of pop-culture obsessions. Once a show aired, one had to content oneself with memory until the summer reruns came along.

Directed and penned by Gene R.

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That is to say, a woman he has only seen in his dreams…he really has no idea if she is a real person or even exits. When he at last discovers the vision haunting his dreams is an actual, flesh-and blood being — an unhappily-married woman of mystery named Claire Foster — we realize in an instant just why his search for her has been so fervent; for she comes in the exquisitely beautiful, vaguely celestial form of Joanna Pettet.

Photographer to the stars Harry Langdon is credited with all the photos attributed to James Farentino But new-found success brings with it the nagging sense that he has unwittingly entered into some kind of Faustian bargain. My strong feelings for the episodes which make up the unofficial Joanna Pettet Dream Girl Trilogy are so deeply rooted in my adolescence and associated with my decades-long crush on Ms. Pettet, I claim absolutely no objectivity in my assessment of their quality.

I have no idea how anyone else may respond to them, I only know they represent the my absolute favorite episodes of the entire series. Laurence Harvey and character actor Don Knight are the stars and walk off with the honors of this atmospheric piece which I recall finding extremely creepy when I was young. Joanna Pettet is once again the object of obsessive affection, but her role is so slight one imagines that, overall quality of the script and production notwithstanding, her longtime friendship with Laurence Harvey played a significant part in her accepting it.

She would co-star with Harvey in his final film — which he also directed — the oddball cannibal horror feature Welcome to Arrow Beach While Pettet is photographed lovingly and offers a not-unpleasant change of pace as the reserved, principled wife of a man old enough to be her father; for me it just feels like a waste of natural resources.

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Old Hollywood always seemed to know how to showcase their glamour stars did Hedy Lamarr or Marlene Dietrich ever play a housewife? Appearing in things that muted rather than emphasized her unique appeal, she just always struck me as so much better than a lot of her latter-career material. Because I think these Night Gallery episodes represent some of Joanna Pettet's best work, AND because this is a film blog, I've taken the liberty of visualizing Pettet's four TV excursions into the macabre as a single, four-episode anthology film; Woman Times Four , if you will.

A tribute to one of my favorite unsung actresses of the 70s. The Heiress is one of my favorite popcorn movies. In truth, the film is really a rather severe, withering rumination on love familial love, romantic love, self-love and the injurious cost of its absence. Sharing their home in Washington Square is Dr.

Supportive of her niece and devoted to not seeing her drift heedlessly into spinsterhood with only her embroidery to keep her company; Lavinia is nevertheless one more pitying voice reminding Catherine of her lack. Miriam Hopkins is the queen of the silly and superficial busybody. No matter how extremely her character is written, she finds both the humor and the humanity Although Dr.


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Sloper regards the assessment as indisputable fact…like a medical diagnosis. Curious then that when an outside party is suspected of appraising Catherine on much the same terms — the outside party being the dashing, obscenely handsome and penniless young suitor Morris Townsend Clift — it is only Dr. Sloper who objects. The film tugs at our beauty biases, our belief in Cinderella fantasies, and our weakness for ugly duckling myths. It also, in providing an emotionally and dramatically satisfying ending which deviates from the novel, taps into the kind of visceral revenge scenario beloved of any individual who has ever felt undervalued or underestimated.

Popular Hollywood movies all tap into common fantasies. There's clearly a market out there for romantic comedies about cloddish, schlubby boy-men who win impossibly beautiful women simply because they possess an ounce of the most basic human decency. There must be. I'm just happy I don't know that market personally.

The Bewitching Of Camille

Because of the laundry list of my adolescence: shy, one of the few African-Americans in a largely white Catholic school, gay in an all-boys high-school - I'm drawn to stories about outsiders. Those who are habitually overlooked because they don't conform to established norms. Revenge fantasies rate rather high among disenfranchised groups, while those high on the status quo curve seem to enjoy "Hey!

I'm not a total creep so reward me with my mandatory supermodel! The Heiress is my kind of tragic pop fairy-tale in that it tells the story of a woman duped into believing her happiness lies in having someone a male deem her to be worthy of love. Though her path one both cruel and life-alteringly painful, she arrives at a place of self-discovery, self-acceptance and, ultimately strength.

And, conforming to the ambiguous tone of all that went before it, the ending of The Heiress can be viewed as either tragic or triumphant with no loss to the film's overall effectiveness and power. You never will know, will you? But this is more a reflection of the type of movies she appeared in westerns, period adventure films It cannot be an easy feat to imbue an outwardly plain, reactive character like Catherine with as much depth and feeling as de Havilland achieves.