How is it already May? And while we're at it, how is it already 2013? I actually watched this next movie over a month ago, but once again, other things got in the way. One of those other things was a short film that I wrote and directed called Homesick. It's the story of an Australian couple who moves to New York with their six-year-old daughter, Molly. When Molly stops talking due to a serious bout of homesickness, her father takes her on a day trip around New York City, pretending they're back home in Sydney. Kat and I played the Aussie couple, and it was quite a surreal experience having auditions for our daughter. But we found a girl with enough red hair and freckles to pass as our progeny. The film is complete now, post production and all, and has already been entered into its first film festival, so I'll keep you all updated on its progress.
We now begin our look at the nominees from the Academy's 1961 Best Picture contest. First off...
Julius J. Epstein
(based on the play by S.N. Behrman and Joshua Logan, and the Marseilles Trilogy by Marcel Pagnol)
Leslie Caron, Maurice Chevalier, Charles Boyer, Horst Buccholz, Georgette Anys, Salvatore Baccaloni, Lionel Jeffries, Raymond Bussieres, Joel Flateau
It's the early 1920s in the port town of Marseilles, France. Young French girl Fanny (Caron) finds herself rejected once again by her long-lasting crush Marius (Buccholz), who has his heart set on a life at sea. When Fanny's mother (Anys) promises her daughter to the much older, but incredibly wealthy, Panisse (Chevalier), Fanny resists, but the news seems to do the trick for Marius, who confesses his love for her, and the two spend a night together, even though the next day he is setting sail for five years.
Once Marius is gone, Fanny discovers she is pregnant. Worried that she will never be able to escape the shame of being an unmarried mother, she is relieved to hear that Panisse still wants to marry her, and indeed, is excited at the prospect of having a son to carry on his family name. Fanny and Panisse get married, but upon Marius' return, things get truly complicated.
The performances are over the top across the board, especially the supporting characters. Georgette Anys, in particular, is giving it all she has, so it is unfortunate that her entire performance has been dubbed - rather badly, I might add - because her own voice might actually have been a more humorous fit for her expressive face. The usually subdued Charles Boyer even succumbs to some play-acting at times. Nonetheless, his was the only performance from the film to receive an Oscar nomination. Maurice Chevalier is borderline creepy at first (there's over four decades between him and Caron - I mean, come on!), but he eventually grows on you and is genuinely funny. Finally, the star of the film, Leslie Caron, manages to retain her loveliness and charm. Thankfully, considering she has to carry the movie, hers is probably the most subtle performance in the film.