Grace Kelly set surveys star’s brief film career
This week, we begin in Monaco:
The Grace Kelly Collection The Country Girl, Dial M for Murder, To Catch a Thief, High Society, Mogambo, The Bridges at Toko-Ri and Princess Grace of Monaco: Moment in Time
Available Tuesday on DVD.
For this long overdue collection highlighting the short but fascinating career of Grace Kelly, Warner Home Video has assembled six movies on seven discs, aptly titled The Grace Kelly Collection.
Kelly won her only Best Actress Oscar for The Country Girl (1954, 104 minutes), based on Clifford Odetts’ play about a fading alcoholic actor (Bing Crosby) who lands a choice part in a new Broadway play, while his wife (Kelly) stands beside him.
Alfred Hitchcock directed both Dial M for Murder (1954, rated PG, 105 minutes) and To Catch a Thief (1955, 106 minutes). In Dial M, Kelly plays a potential murder victim who defends herself against her jealous husband’s (Ray Milland) plot. Kelly plays opposite Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief, a breezy romance set on the Riviera with Grant playing a cat burglar.
Kelly’s final film, High Society (1956, 111 minutes), a musical remake of The Philadelphia Story, sports a Cole Porter score smoothly delivered by Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.
Kelly earned her first Oscar nomination for Mogambo (1953, 116 minutes), a remake starring Clark Gable in the same role he had in the original, 1932’s Red Dust. Linda (Kelly) falls for Victor (Gable) even though she’s married to his boss.
James Michener’s quasi-existential novel served as the source for The Bridges at Toko-Ri (1954, 102 minutes), a Korean War saga in which Kelly again plays the dutiful wife, this time to a Navy pilot played by William Holden.
DVD extras: Former presidential press secretary Pierre Salinger hosts the documentary Princess Grace of Monaco: Moment in Time (1982, 51 minutes). The former Kennedy aide interviews Kelly at home in Monaco, an encounter made more poignant by Kelly’s death a week after filming. The collection also offers individual supplements, such as a history of Hitchcock on Dial M. High Society offers a featurette on Cole Porter, a cartoon, a newsreel and more. To Catch a Thief includes commentary, a featurette on writing and casting the film, a “making of” featurette, an appreciation of Hitchcock, and a featurette on designer Edith Head’s years at Paramount and more.
Love in the City (L’Amore in Citta) (***1/2) Raro Video and Kino Lorber have teamed up to rescue this 1953 Italian treasure that features looks at the early works of Federico Fellini, Michelangelo Antonioni and four other young directors.
Now released on Blu-ray and DVD, Love in the City features six short segments from six directors. Writer-director and neo-realist pioneer Cesare Zavattini approached six young filmmakers for a contribution centering loosely on love. And he paid them nothing. Zavattini also receives co-writing credit on all the half-dozen shorts except Fellini’s.
The films can be loosely broken into three nonfiction-based works, with three having more of an artistic nature. Several of the narratives feature the involved persons playing themselves: In director Francesco Maselli’s “Story of Caterina,” the title character plays herself in her story of being expelled from Rome but unable to return to her native Sicily because of the shame caused by her pregnancy. Antonioni’s “Attempted Suicide” interviews actual survivors of suicide attempts.
Fellini’s whimsical “Marriage Agency” uses non-actors in its story of a man inquiring at a marriage agency for a possible bride for an alleged friend. The man wants a woman so desperate that she’s not afraid to marry his friend — who just might be a werewolf. Director Carlo Lizzani, Dino Risi and Alberto Lattuada also contribute brief works.
Not rated, 111 minutes.
DVD extras: interviews with film critics Paolo Mereghetti (13 minutes), Luca Bandirali (24 minutes), and Angelo Pasquini (15 minutes); each episode has commentary from various film critics. Plus: a 20-page booklet with related essays.
Dom Hemingway (**) In this lame and pointless crime-comedy, a scruffy, foul-mouthed Jude Law struts around for about an hour and a half as the title character, a safecracker who leaves prison after 12 years. First, he and his friend (Richard E. Grant) call for money from the man (Demian Bichir) he shielded while in prison. After losing his money, Dom tries to return to his old occupation while also trying to find time to reconcile with his daughter (Emilia Clarke).
Rated R, 93 minutes.
DVD extras: Director’s commentary, four brief “making of” featurettes, a stills gallery, trailer and more.
The Face of Love (*1/2) Again this week, for the second time in a few months (see: Jake Gyllenhaal in Enemy), the hoary plot device of a double serves as a plot. Unfortunately, this time, director and co-writer Arie Posin (The Chumscrubber) uses the gimmick for treacly, overwrought melodrama.
Not a second rings true in the story of Nikki (Annette Bening), a Los Angeles woman, mother of Summer (Jess Weixler) and wife to her longtime husband (Ed Harris). But he dies suddenly on a vacation trip to Mexico. Flash ahead a few years and Nikki is still struggling to escape her grief when she sees Tom (again, Harris), an artist and art teacher.
She more or less stalks him until they meet, movie-cute. They start a relationship, while Nikki never explains her attraction. From there, the film’s only interest comes in anticipating what Tom will do when he discovers the truth, which naturally has to come some time. Robin William plays a caring, smitten neighbor.
Rated PG-13, 92 minutes.
DVD extras: commentary, a nine-minute featurette on the cast, and five minutes of deleted scenes.
At War With the Army (**1/2) This forgotten 1950 artifact marked the third film in which Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis appeared, but it was the first of what could be considered starring roles for both. Hal Walker directed the film from Fred Finklehoffe’s script, based on James B. Allardice’s stage play — an origin made apparent by the limited sets.
Coming on the heels of World War II, much of the film’s humor relies on recognized military norms and stereotypes. But overall, it’s an amusing trifle with Lewis at his most manic, playing Pfc. Alvin Korwin, and Dino as Sgt. Vic Puccinelli (and he performs a few songs). Before entering service, they were close friends, but now the sergeant must enforce discipline on the unruly private — which isn’t always possible.
Not rated, 93 minutes.
The Den (**1/2) The “den” itself is a video chat room. One night, Elizabeth (Melanie Papalia) witnesses a murder. She is convinced it is real. But when she tries to alert others, she suddenly finds she has been pulled into a gruesome, unexpected situation. Directed by Zachary Donohue, and written by Donohue and Lauren Thompson.
Rated R, 76 minutes.
DVD extras: commentary and a “behind-the-scenes” featurette.
Also available Tuesday on DVD: The Amazing Catfish, Finding Vivian Maier, The French Minister and Noah.