Tuesday, June 27, 2017

If Margaret Mitchell Had Been High On Crack, She Would Have Written "The Beguiled!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                         Oh, my God, darlings, Pamelyn Ferdin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And Darleen Carr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                          Now, you know how sacred "Gone With The Wind" is to me.  Scarlett's "As God is my witness...." speech was my mantra for living during adolescence, and even beyond.  But there has been another great Civil War movie, lurking out there in the shadows, and I am here to bring it out into the light.

                           Yesterday, at BAM, I saw a screening of the original, 1971 film, "The Beguiled."  This is the real, bloody thing, girls, not the picture poesy thing I am certain Sofia Coppola's remake--which I intend to see, and report on, here--is bound to be.

                             To say that "The Beguiled" ratchets up "Gone With The Wind"  to extremes is to do both stories an injustice.  Both have a feel for the grittier, more realistic aspects of Civil War-time; both have women and domestics, alike, working in the fields to survive--and they do it in their bare feet, in "The Beguiled,"-- and the visuals here, as in the 1939 film, have a lost kind of grandeur.

                               But comparisons end there.  There is no Tara, here, simply the Martha Farnsworth Seminary For Young Girls, which is one place I want to be at!!!!!!!!!!!!  The headmistress is Geraldine Page, at her most eccentric, mannered, every tic on display, and let me tell you she is absolutely riveting and brilliant.  No one could mix psychosis and sexual repression like Miss Page.
Clint Eastwood, during his transition period, plays the wounded Yankee soldier, and let me tell you, I have never seen him more scared than when he realizes he is faced with the prospect of acting opposite Geraldine Page!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               That is the least of his worries.  Clint at his hottest, locked in with a bunch of hormonal women, trapped in an ante-bellum dwelling, where sexual tensions are bound to erupt.  Who could ask for anything more?

                                One thing I have always wanted to know.  What did women of this time do when it was "their time?"  Did they just use what was about?  There were no tampons back then, darlings! Was this the origin of the phrase "on the rag?"

                                  Getting back to Geraldine Page; she actually was from the South, having been born in Missouri.  Everyone in this film is so gloriously over wrought that I am convinced Don Siegel, the director, had each actress chart out their menstrual cycle, and shoot their signature scenes on days when they were actually "on the rag!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                   Girls, "The Beguiled" is full of surprises.  A dreamy three-way fantasy between Eastwood, Page and Hartman made it into this film, and, for the time, I was surprised it did.  As I was about the not so subtle depiction of an incestuous relationship between Page's Martha Farnsworth, and her brother, Miles, called Robert, in the novel.

                                    The movie is fundamentally faithful to Thomas Cullinan's novel.  One character--younger sister, Harriet Farnsworth--has been eliminated, and sort of combined, with Elizabeth Hartman's Edwina.  Who, in the book, had Negro blood, though no mention of that is made here.   As Edwina, Hartman does her signature thing--the fragile, repressed spinster with passive aggressive steel running in her veins.

                                    Let's get back to Pamelyn Ferdin, and Darleen Carr!!!!!!!!!!  Ferdin should have received a Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her work here.  Not only is she onscreen more than I expected, she delivers a performance of unusual range, going from charm and tenderness to malign femininity in a flash!  Once her turtle, Randolph, meets his demise, at the hands of Eastwood, the venom at which Ferdin screams out "I hate you!" is overpowering, and undeniable.   When she says "I understand," regarding the dinner mushrooms, this child's darkness flows deeper than any adult on the place.  And if looks could kill, the one she gives Eastwood at the dinner table is chilling.

                                   As for Darleen, well, there are those Charmian eyes, and her running about the place in furious self-righteousness, as if she were auditioning to take Page's place as head of the Farnsworth school!  Whoever casted this movie did a brilliant job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   And how about Mae Mercer as Hallie, called Hattie, in the novel?  She gives an honest portrayal of a woman of the times, good enough to step from the pages of Toni Morrison.

                                    Girls, this film will remind you of how hot Clint Eastwood once was.  I had actually forgotten!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  You have to see this "Beguiled" in all its gooey, Gothic, glorious grandiosity.  It is certain to pale beside Coppola's more pasteurized process take.

                                    Velveeta pales beside the real thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Victoria Adams said...

"Clint Eastwood's hair deserves its own academy award" lol

The Raving Queen said...

Clint had the most perfectly
coiffed hair for a wounded soldier!