Thursday, August 13, 2020

#2020PopCultureResolution - Humoresque


Director: Jean Negulesco

Length:  123 minutes

Cast: Joan Crawford, John Garfield

Release Date:  December 251953

Synopsis: A wealthy women falls for an ambitious violinist, but their love affair may be more than she can afford.


Wikipedia describes humoresque as 'a genre of Romantic music characterized by pieces with fanciful humor in the sense of mood rather than wit.' which makes it a perfect title for a romantic melodrama revolving around the romance between a violinist and his wealthy patroness (even if there is not much humour in the movie itself).

Joan Crawford is known for movies like this. It is a decent fit for her acting skills and makes use of her glamour and star quality in a way that works for both the character and the movie.

John Garfield also gives a decent performance as a gifted violinist who falls for his married patroness. The entanglements that this causes are the crux of the story and his character. There is a bit of an age gape between the two (with Joan's character being older) and his casting also works in this regard.

The music is the centerpiece of the film. Beautiful and lush at times, it offers a perfect backdrop to the troubled romance. The music drives even the romance in a lot of ways. The scene in which Paul and Helen first meet is driven by music with her coolly watching him perform while smoking a cigarette. We can sense her interest and through her outward cool detachment. 

The movie ends up being fairly predictable but still rather enjoyable. It is the performances that managed to make this one for me in the end.

Much can be said about the ending and the viewers opinion on it. I have seen it touted as both the greatest ending in history and the worst. I think it is a ending that fits the story arc even if it perhaps not the ending you want. You understand why Joan Crawford's character might think she is (allegedly) holding John Garfield's Paul back even if you don't agree.

This ended up being a fairly straight forward melodrama. It is not one that will make my best of list but it is a solid watch and certainly a must see for those who are interested in Joan Crawford's work.

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