Stir Crazy II – Worthy Vintage Films

None But the Lonely Heart (1944) adapted and directed by Clifford Odets from the novel by Richard Llewellyn. Cary Grant (playing the cockney he was by birth), Ethel Barrymore (in top crotchety, tender hearted form) and Barry Fitzgerald act the story of a lazy, young drifter unexpectedly home after many years. Warily welcomed by his elderly mother who owns an antiques/bric a brac shop, his intention is to amorally earn a fast buck and again leave…until discovering she’s secretly very ill. There’s a neighborhood girl and a dolly. Things come round, though not smoothly. Understated and fine.

Another less well known Grant film, Only Angels Have Wings (1939) can also be found on Prime. Grant is the tough head of a struggling, South American air freight service. Arthur plays a showgirl, Hayworth a former, now married flame, both of whom end up in the Andes accidentally…and vie for our hero. Peril, manly integrity, romance. Jean Arthur, Richard Barthelmess, Rita Hayworth, Thomas Mitchell.

The Enchanted Cottage (1945) based on a play by Arthur Wing Pinero. Upper class Air Force pilot Oliver Bradford returns from the war horribly disfigured only to face a socialite finance who can’t cope. Depressed and bitter, he withdraws to a seaside, New England cottage where he’s befriended by blind concert pianist, John Hillgrove who lives nearby.

Plain, old maid Laura Pennington, hired to manage the cottage, gradually gets through to Oliver. They fall in love and marry feeling jointly handicapped, but discover a transformation has occurred. Just lovely. (Not saccharine) Dorothy McGuire, Robert Young, Herbert Marshall, Mildred Natwick. Note – the film by this name listed on Prime is a remake, not the original.

I Know Where I’m Going (1945) A pragmatic, independent, middle class Englishwoman travels to the Hebrides to marry a wealthy, much older industrialist. Successive days of terrible weather keep Joan away from the fictitious island on which her fiancé lives. Exploring, she encounters Torquil MacNeil, a local Naval officer whose leave was to be spent there.

Despite the heroine’s stubborn assumption that she knows what she wants, they connect. Still, she tries to get away, unwittingly putting herself in great danger. A gentle, adult love story with a super ending.Wendy Hiller (the original film Eliza Doolittle) and Roger Livesey.  

A second Roger Livesey film, here with Deborah Kerr, is The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943). Told in flashback, it centers on the career of a retired Army Officer serving in The Home Guard during WWII. Winston Churchill angrily thought the character was modeled after him. Blimp seems an unlikeable blowhard until we see him through his past. An unusual, lifelong friendship with a German officer, a great love and service in three wars offer a more sympathetic picture. Insightful and well crafted.

The Captain’s Paradise (1953) may be the one Alec Guinness film with which you’re unfamiliar. My other favorites are The Horse’s Mouth (Amazon Prime) and The Man in The White Suit. (Amazon Prime) Yvonne de Carlo and Celia Johnson play the wives of a ferry captain bigamist who goes back and forth from Gibraltar and Spanish Morocco with a spouse in each port. The two couldn’t be more different- one a fiery, hedonistic sexpot, the other a calm, affectionate homemaker. He has the best of both worlds until…well, they don’t find out about one another until after predicating changes.                                                                                 

Pandora and The Flying Dutchman (1951) Ava Gardner at the height of desirability plays a restless, much pursued, ex-patriot (in Spain) enmeshed among the rich and bored, one of whom she’s ambivalently agreed to marry. When Dutch captain Hendrick van der Zee (James Mason) arrives on an unidentified yacht, the femme fatale swims out to it (naked) and finds him painting a picture of her namesake Pandora.

He is, in fact, The Flying Dutchman, doomed to sail the seas for eternity in retribution for a violent, unfounded act, until a woman is willing to give her life to join him. The legend is implied throughout relationship upheavals on land. He is, of course, too noble to tell or ask. Chemistry/magnetism, a wonderful fantasy narrated by the sole level headed man in the port. also Nigel Patrick, Sheila Sim.

Gardner, in all her fabulousness, also stars as The Barefoot Contessa (1954) with Humphrey Bogart. A wild spirit appears to be conscripted by the dark side of Hollywood, finds genuinely unexpected, misrepresented love, and dies because of it. Bogart is the wry, pessimistic voice of reason. Amazon Prime (make sure you don’t get the chef using this nom de plume) or

Top photo: Bigstock

About Alix Cohen (787 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of eight New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.