Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Chacun à son goût

Last night, my movie group watched a little known film noir from 1941.

Ladies in Retirement is an interesting flick. Ellen works for a retired showgirl, who can afford to pay for a live-in companion out of her handsome inheritance. Ellen is industrious and almost completely humorless. She really needs this kind of crappy job in the remote English countryside because she's the sole support for two older sisters who live in London. Her sisters are completely dependent -- "dotty" -- and are about to be thrown out of their boarding house. Ellen is told if she doesn't come for them, pronto, their landlady will have their institutionalized.

She loves her sisters desperately and can't allow them to be hauled away. Ellen brings the two nutcases to the countryside cottage for "a visit," but has every intention of keeping them with her forever.

After just a few days, Ellen's boss and the owner of the cottage wants those two nutty sisters gone. And Ellen with them. Which would leave all three sisters broke and homeless.

Ellen cannot allow that to happen, and so she thinks about the unthinkable.

Ellen (center) and her nutty sibs
I enjoyed Ladies in Retirement well enough. I like mysteries that unfold amid the moors, where the skies are filled with fog and gnarled, leafless branches. I have two "dotty" sisters. There was a slick and charming leading man. There are even charitable nuns who show up when they're needed most. And it's always fun to discover a new classic.

But I don't care if I never see it again. Because I don't like Ida Lupino (Ellen). I know she's strong, I know she's versatile, I know she's technically adept. But I don't like her. The movie would have been so much more compelling with a leading lady I cared for. (In 1941, Bette Davis or Olivia dehavilland could have been cast in this movie with, I think, better results.)

But I kept my reservations to myself. First of all, last night's meetup was not well attended, and our moderator puts so much work into them. I want him to know I appreciate him finding this chestnut and putting together the presentation. Secondly, he has almost unlimited admiration for Ida Lupino. Chacun à son goût.

1 comment:

  1. I'll have to check this out. That looks like Hermione Baddely on the left there.