Tag Archives: Joseph Cotten

Classic Hollywood Birthdays


Anna Maria Alberghetti, operatic singer & actress (1936- )

Stanley Lupino, actor, dancer, singer, librettist, director & writer (1893-1942)
Joseph Cotten, actor (1905-1994)
Lee Powell, actor (1908-1944)
James Mason, actor (1909-1984)
Constance Cummings, actress (1910-2005)
André De Toth, director (1912-2002)
Bill Williams, actor (1915-1992)
Adriana Caselotti, actress & singer (1916-1997)
Joseph Wiseman, actor (1918-2009)
Trini Lopez, singer, guitarist & actor (1937- )
Nicholas Hammond, actor (1950- )
Arletty, actress, singer & fashion model (1898-1992)

Classic Hollywood Birthdays


Ingrid Bergman, actress (1915-1982)
See Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight (1944) at 3:00PM (ET) on August 29th as part of TCM’s Summer Under the Stars with a day of films devoted to Joseph Cotten.

John Ince, actor & director (1878-1947)
Preston Sturges, playwright, screenwriter & director (1898-1959)
Barry Sullivan, actor (1912-1994)
Sylvia Fine, lyricist, composer & producer (1913-1991)
Richard Attenborough, actor, director & producer (1923- )
Jackie ‘Butch’ Jenkins, actor (1937-2001)

Classic Hollywood Birthdays


Charles Boyer, actor (1899-1978)
See Charles Boyer in Gaslight (1944) at 3:00PM (ET) on August 29th as part of TCM’s Summer Under the Stars with a day of films devoted to Joseph Cotten.

E.E. Clive, actor (1879-1940)
James Wong Howe, cinematographer (1899-1976)
Donald O’Connor, dancer, singer & actor (1925-2003)
Ben Gazzara, actor & director (1930-2012)

Classic Movie Night Recommendation:

The Third Man (1949)


SPOILER ALERT: if you’ve never seen this film, you read the rest of this article at your own risk…

The Third Man_8

The Third Man_1

Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) and Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli)

A broke Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) arrives in post World War II allied-occupied Vienna, to meet his friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles).  Lime has offered his friend and writer a job with his charity.  However, upon arrival Martins finds that Lime was killed the day before, falling dead at his doorway after being hit by a car.  Martins quickly attracts the attention of British Major Calloway (Trevor Howard) who ties to usher him out of town due to his association with Lime.  Calloway has been working to rid Vienna of the likes of Lime and his associates.  Using his background as a writer, Martins finds a sponsor to extend his stay in Vienna as the guest of Crabbin (Wilfred Hyde-White) the head of the Cultural Reeducation Section.  This allows Martins the extra time to prove Lime’s innocence.  Through his pursuits he finds himself surrounded by shady characters and a beautiful femme fatale.  He learns that the circumstances surrounding Lime’s death are not adding up.  Aside from the usual suspects, a third man witnessed Lime’s accident.  Martins also learns that Lime was a truly despicable human being, and his lowest act was avoiding punishment for his crimes by faking his death.

The Third Man_2

Orson Welles in his “star role” as Harry Lime.

Orson Welles would tell Peter Bogdanovich that the role of Harry Lime was a “star role.”  The most of the film centers around talking about Harry Lime, when Lime finally appears in the film it’s as if the other characters have built up the character so much that a minimal performance will end up being a great performance to be talked about.  Welles appearance in the film is dramatic though brief, however he had no direct influence over the film aside from his “cuckoo clock” speech.  However, it is evident the influence Welles had on director Carol Reed.  Much of the film is reminiscent of Welles’ films Citizen Kane (1941) and Lady from Shanghai (1947).

The Third Man_3Noir films are typically thought as strictly an American style of film.  However, The Third Man ranks on many lists as one of the best noir films, though it is a British production.  This particular noir focuses on amateur detective Martins maneuvering to solve the crime of his best friend’s death rather than focusing on the criminal mind.  We are given some insight into Lime and his crimes when we listen to his soliloquy on the ferris wheel.  However, Reed’s stylistic approach is very reminiscent of the American noir, with the use of light and shadow and gritty streets.  to the stories in American noir, Vienna becomes another character in the film.  Post war Vienna with it’s beautiful buildings that housed great works amongst the ravages of war.  This post war Vienna is occupied by the allied victors of the war.  This occupation creates more drama for the film.  Not only does Lime have to navigate pulling the wool over the eyes of one set of officials, but there are four different countries that control Vienna.  As the big cities of Los Angeles and New York are central Reed would also use obscure camera angels reminiscent of Welles’ work and the work of German expressionists to further his dark atmosphere of confusion and mistrust.

The Third Man_7Nothing can be written about this film without mentioning the zither score written by Anton Karas.  Karas at the time was known locally in Vienna for playing the zither at wine-gardens.  Reed wanted a sound for his film that Viennese in origin, but different from the typical Viennese waltz.  One night while taking in some of the local flavor of Vienna he heard the music of Karas.




Follow the link for more images from The Third Man.  Pinterest Board: Classic Movie Night Recommendation

Images from: The Third Man Dir. Carol Reed.  British Lion Films, 1949.  DVD.


Notorious (1946)


Notorious (1946)


Classic Movie Night Recommendation: Gaslight (1944)



Classic Movie Night Recommendation: Gaslight

Gaslight (1944)



“Paula, I hope you’re not starting to imagine things again.  You’re not, are you, Paula?”  –Gregory Anton

“Paula, I hope you’re not starting to imagine things again. You’re not, are you, Paula?” –Gregory Anton

After a whirlwind romance, Paula Alquist (Ingrid Bergman) marries pianist and composer Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer).  The two decide to settle in London on Thornton Square number 9, a home left to her by her aunt, Alice Alquist, who was murdered in the house.  Paula had lived in the house as a child with her aunt who was a great opera singer.  After her mysterious death, Paula was sent to Italy to study with Maestro Guardi who had been her aunt’s vocal teacher.  Now having returned to the house, Paula is overcome with memories of her aunt and that terrible night.  However, memories aren’t the only thing tormenting Paula.  She is slowly being driven mad by bouts of forgetfulness and kleptomania.  However, it appears that it is her new husband who is manipulating her into believing that she is going insane.  Paula does find an ally and friend in Scotland Yard detective, Brian Cameron (Joseph Cotten).  As a child he had been a great admirer of Alice Alquist, and initially mistakes Paula for her aunt.  Over a short period of time, Brian takes an interest in the unhappy and isolated Paula.  He reignites interest in the unsolved murder of Alice Alquist and is determined to figure out what is plaguing her beautiful niece.


Though this is the most famous film version of the 1938 Patrick Hamilton play Gas Light an earlier film version was produced in 1940 in England.  Having purchased the film rights, MGM attempted to halt and even destroy the negatives of this earlier film.  However, this film could not compete with the highly publicized MGM version and its stars Bergman, Boyer, and Cotten.  This version was adapted twice for radio starring Charles Boyer & Susan Hayward for The Screen Guild Theater on February 3, 1947 and then again starring Charles Boyer & Ingrid Bergman for the Lux Radio Theater on April 29, 1946.

“There, do you see, I swear on the Bible I did not take that picture down.”  – Paula Alquist

“There, do you see, I swear on the Bible I did not take that picture down.” – Paula Alquist

At this point in her career, Ingrid Bergman was under personal contract to David O. Selznick.  She begged for him to purchase the film rights to the play.  However, he refused to purchase the play unless Bergman would agree to changes in her contract, changes to which Bergman refused.  Selznick also refused to loan out Bergman for the role to MGM unless she received top-billing.  It is said that she went crying and begging to Selznick to allow her to do the role, a battle which paid off, Bergman would receive her first Academy Award for best actress.  Selznick would also loan Joseph Cotton to MGM for this production.  The role of the detective was enhanced to entice a larger star, but was still considered a supporting role.  Despite the smaller role, Cotten would receive above title billing along with Bergman and Boyer, probably due to Selznick’s insistence.


Gaslight marks the acting debut of Angela Lansbury.  Lansbury would receive her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress playing the slutty housemaid, Nancy.  After this, she would go on to supporting roles in National Velvet (1944) and A Picture of Dorian Gray (1945); the later brought her a second Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actress.  In 1962 she played a sinister mother in The Manchurian Candidate, which brought her a third nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Follow the link for more images from Gaslight.  Pinterest Board: Classic Movie Night Recommendation

Images from: Gaslight Dir. George Cukor.  MGM, 1944.  DVD.

Classic Hollywood Birthdays


Joseph Cotten, actor (1905-1994)
TCM will be showing several films featuring Joseph Cotten in honor of his birthday today:
Lydia (1941) 6:30AM (ET)
Journey into Fear (1943) 8:15AM (ET)
The Third Man (1949) 9:30AM (ET)
Walk Softly, Stranger (1950) 11:30AM (ET)
The Man with a Cloak (1951) 1:00PM (ET)
The Steel Trap (1952) 2:30PM (ET)
The Angel Wore Red (1960) 4:00PM (ET)
Jack of Diamonds (1967) 6:00PM (ET)

Stanley Lupino, actor, dancer, singer, librettist, director & writer (1893-1942)
Lee Powell, actor (1908-1944)
James Mason, actor (1909-1984)
Constance Cummings, actress (1910-2005)
André De Toth, director (1912-2002)
Bill Williams, actor (1915-1992)
Adriana Caselotti, actress & singer (1916-1997)
Joseph Wiseman, actor (1918-2009)
Anna Maria Alberghetti, operatic singer & actress (1936- )
Trini Lopez, singer, guitarist & actor (1937- )
Nicholas Hammond, actor (1950- )
Arletty, actressm singer & fashion model (1898-1992)

Classic Movie Night Recommendation:

Spellbound (1945)

Wednesday, May 15th  

10:00PM (ET)


“People read about love as one thing and experience it as another.”  –Constance Peterson

“People read about love as one thing and experience it as another.” –Constance Peterson

Constance Peterson (Ingrid Bergman) is a renowned psychiatrist at Green Manors hospital in Vermont.  She approaches her patient’s problems through textbooks methods.  She is constantly wrapped up in her work and her research and her colleagues view her at detached and emotionless.  That is, until the new director of the hospital arrives, Dr. Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck).  However, Dr. Edwardes is not everything he appears to be.  That first night at diner Constance draws lines with her fork on the table linen, causing Edwardes to become agitated.  The next day, Edwardes and Constance go hiking around the hospital and have a picnic.  For the first time in her life, Constance is beginning to open up, laugh, and act on impulse.

That night she goes to Edwardes’s room to discuss his book that she is now reading for the second time, Labyrinth of the Guilt Complex.  They both realize that they have feelings for each other and they can both help each other.  Literally Constance and Edwardes are opening up to each other.

“It’s quite remarkable to discover that one isn’t what one thought one was.”  –Constance Peterson

“It’s quite remarkable to discover that one isn’t what one thought one was.” –Constance Peterson

“It’s like looking into a mirror and seeing nothing but the mirror.”  –J.B.

“It’s like looking into a mirror and seeing nothing but the mirror.” –J.B.

But, then Edwardes’s nerves are struck by seeing the dark lines on Constance robe.  They are interrupted by a call that one of the patients has slit his throat; this patient had been suffering from a guilt complex.  The patient thinks nothing is wrong with him, but he knows that he killed his father.  This fact is not true; the patient has made himself believe it.  These thoughts often go back to childhood either caused by a bad thought or dream that the child had that now the adult manifests the guilt.  In the operating room, Edwardes has a breakdown.  While at his bedside, Constance compares the signature on a note that Edwardes had written her earlier in the day to the signature with the inscription in his book.  The signatures are obviously different.  Who is this man who is calling himself Dr. Edwardes?  All he can remember is that the real Dr. Edwardes is dead and he believes he killed him.  In his possession is a cigarette case engraved with the initials J.B.  Constance truly believes that he is admitting to the murder because of the guilt complex, and if she can unlock the reasons behind the complex he will get better.

PhotoFancie2013_05_12_13_20_525That night J.B. leaves the hospital to go to New York, he leaves Constance a note.  Edwardes’s secretary shows up at the hospital with investigators, she has not heard from Edwardes and is worried.  Now it is believed that he killed Edwardes to take his place.  Reading the note, Constance follows J.B. to New York.  Investigators are now looking for both of them and the incredible story about the man taking Dr. Edwardes place has reached the newspapers.  The two love birds are on the run and Constance is trying to push J.B. and his memories to unlock his past and the truth about Dr. Edwards.

Producer David O. Selznick pushed for Alfred Hitchcock to make a “psychiatric” story, Selznick was a proponent of psychoanalysis having been through it himself.  His own psychoanalysis, Dr. May Romm, worked as a technical advisor on the film.  Selznick had been having a difficult time dealing with the death of his brother, Myron Selznick; he had been a Hollywood agent and died of alcoholism.  Selznick had also just separated from his wife, Irene Mayer Selznick, the daughter of Louie B. Mayer.  His second wife, Jennifer Jones, would to enter psychoanalysis and praised it with saving her life.


PhotoFancie2013_05_12_13_24_328The story for Spellbound is based on the novel The House of Dr. Edwards (1927) by Hilary A Saunders and John Palmer.  David O. Selznick purchased the rights for $40,000 planning on the film being a vehicle for Joseph Cotten.  However, Gregory Peck was chosen to play the role of John Ballantyne (J.B.).  Joseph Cotten would play J.B. in the Lux Radio Theater Broadcast on March 8, 1948 with Alida Valli.  Hitchcock would often use psychosis as the motivation for many of his characters, but with Spellbound psychosis would now become the forefront of the story.

Spellbound like other Hitchcock films follows the theme of the wrongly accused or identified man, often forcing the character to go on the “run” to prove their own innocence.  The character often is unable to trust someone with the circumstances of their situation, and this includes law enforcement.  This theme heightens the suspense and keeps the characters moving throughout the film.

PhotoFancie2013_05_12_13_42_2710With the dream sequences later on in the film, Hitchcock wanted a different look than what had previously been done in Hollywood.  He was looking for sharp visuals rather than the hazy look that dreams had previously been filmed.  Hitchcock looked to the surrealist painter Salvador Dalí to produce a series of images that could tell the story of the troubled unconscious.  Dalí had been interested in the film process, and had studied different film methods.  As a surrealist, Dalí would paint his dreams and then interrupt his subconscious based on the painting.  Therefore, Dalí was a perfect choice to design the dream scenes.  Selznick on the other hand was not pleased with the scenes, but he did feel that Dalí’s involvement in the movie would only benefit the film for publicity purposes.  Selznick would bring in William Menzies to reshoot the dream sequence with Dalí, shorting the length of the entire sequence.  It is this footage that is in the film.

TCM will be showing Spellbound along with other films on Wednesday as part of a spotlight they have titled “Movies for Grown-ups”:
Forbidden Planet (1956) 8:00PM (ET)
Spellbound (1945) 10:00PM (ET)
Rome, Open City (1946) 12:00AM (ET)
Pennies from Heaven (1981) 2:00AM (ET)

Note: Rome, Open City was directed by Roberto Rossellini, he and Bergman would marry in 1950.
Follow the link for more images from Spellbound.  Pinterest Board: Classic Movie Night Recommendation

Images from: Spellbound. Dir. Alfred Hitchcock.  United Artists, 1945.  DVD.

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