Friday, March 26, 2010

A Life Of Her Own (1950) George Cukor

This melodrama is not a favorite of mine but is notable for the more minor roles. Lana Turner and Ray Milland are the “stars” but their characters are not that likable. Watch for the small parts played by Jean Hagen (later the hilarious Lina Lamont in “Singin’ in the Rain”), Kathleen Freeman, Richard Anderson, Percv Helton, and the ever-movie-present Whit Bissell. Tom Ewell is great in the beginning of the movie as the fast-talking manager of the modeling agency. The beautiful Ann Dvorak plays her part well as the washed up model, and Barry Sullivan puts in a good performance as the slightly sleazy “friend” of Turner’s. The always likable Louis Calhern plays the Turner-Milland go-between.

In a nutshell, Lana becomes a famous model, falls in love with married Ray Milland, meets his wife (a nice performance by Margaret Phillips) and must decide how to proceed, or not, with these parties and with rest of her life. The movie has its moments but isn’t one I can watch again and again. Of special note is the haunting theme music composed by Bronislau Kaper that is featured frequently throughout the film, including in the piano bar. The piece later became known as “Invitation” as it was featured in the movie of the same name several years later. (The music haunted me enough to find a CD of the film music of Kaper.), But back to the movie: watch it with low expectations and with appreciation for the minor characters and the music.

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