Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

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Our little illusions

Yesterday was lousy.

After that, I stayed up 'til 6am watching movies. First I watched The Guardsman, a domestic comedy from 1931 about a married couple of actors that sucked.

The man felt his wife was being unfaithful so, to prove it, he disguised himself as a Russian soldier and made to woo her. Now, no one watching could expect that, in real life, a man could fool his wife this way, especially after he, as the Russian guardsman, kisses and has sex with the woman--in good lighting even. So we kind of get the idea that we're supposed to play along, in this fantasy world, and make believe that he could. Except . . . for the whole movie the wife had this coy manner about her that had me thinking, "Oh, please don't end this movie with her proclaiming, 'I knew it all the time, Darling, and I played along because it was romantic!'"

But the movie went right ahead and did that.

It even went so far as to ignore the fact that this didn't answer the question as to whether or not the man was right in thinking she had a faithless heart. In fact, that she didn't dismiss the ruse instantly says either one of two things; 1) She really didn't know it was him and really was being unfaithful or 2) she didn't care whether or not her husband thought she was unfaithful. But the poor bastard melts in her lap at the end, all is forgiven, tra la la, The End. Blech!

So I had to watch another movie after that. I couldn't let the night end that way.

I watched the much, much better film Possessed from 1947, starring Joan Crawford. This was the second movie Crawford made by this title, the first having been made in the early 1930s. Both are great but completely different. This one was a much darker story in which Crawford brilliantly plays a schizophrenic nurse named Louise Howell who works for a wealthy gentleman named Dean Graham, taking care of his deranged wife.

Louise is having an affair with a man named David Sutton (Van Heflin) who lives nearby. She's passionate for him, but the bastard dismisses her like a mildly tasty meal.

This is a very good movie. At centre stage is Louise's schizophrenia, which, although the psychological exposition is silly and inaccurate, is much more believable, realistic, and relevant to a sentient viewer than is the fantasy schizophrenia seen in Ron Howard's abysmal A Beautiful Mind. Howard apparently felt that the characteristics of Nash's real life schizophrenia were too interesting and reflective of the man's view of himself and the world (Nash at times believed he was a mouse) so he invented lame ass, irrelevant hallucinations about a government conspiracy.

Louise's illusions, on the other hand, seem to derive from actual thought processes. She feels guilt for the death of Dean's wife, so she mangles history in her brain to fit her guilt, until she honestly believed she was responsible. A scene where she confronts Dean's daughter on a staircase that ends up being a hallucination completely created by her own paranoias and dreads, is wonderfully brilliant.

So it's interesting that, even though the doctor characters' diagnoses were laughable, the movie in the end portrays a realer person than a newer, supposedly biographical film. I love Joan Crawford.

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