Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Trailer Trash: Miss Mellie Goes to Hell

We've had a run of fluff and low-budget wonders (not that there's anything wrong with that) the last few weeks, so I thought this time around we'd go with a little prestige. When do you suppose was the last time a film - pardon me, a "filmization" - was given enhanced credibility by its status as a "Book of the Month Club See-lection" and appearance in the Reader's Digest?

This may not be the very start of actresses seeking validation by deglamorizing themselves, but it's pretty close. It didn't work as well as it could have (Olivia didn't pick up her second Best Actress Oscar until the next year, for deglamorization of a different kind in The Heiress), but all involved seem pretty thoroughly de-glammed.

For a clearly "A" and generally well-remembered film, The Snake Pit has suffered a curious Case of the Disappearing Male Leads. Mark Stevens, Leo Genn, Glenn Langan - what's up with that? Of them all, only Leif Erickson has a certain éclat, if you're willing to stretch things a tad. You look at the women in the cast and it's notables right down to the bits - Olivia and Celeste, of course, but then Beulah Bondi, Natalie Schafer, Lee Patrick, Isabel Jewell; veterans Minna Gombell and Minerva Urecal; and even silents-survivor Mae Marsh.

Sometimes I wish I could have been a studio-era scriptwriter. I imagine myself beneath a whirling fan, the long white curtains at the open office window moving in a languid southern California breeze while a parade of extras dressed as centurions and saloon gals drift by outside, and I tap away at my black enamelled Underwood, coming up with lines like "My head hurts! There's something the matter with my head!"


  1. Ruth and Gar in the next office.

    Lunch at the counter at Schwab's.

    Drinks with Ida Lupino at the Grove.

    Wishing I was Ben Hecht.

    ..yeah, I've been there.

  2. a curious Case of the Disappearing Male Leads. Mark Stevens, Leo Genn, Glenn Langan

    Perhaps they fell through the cushions on Daryl F. Zanuck’s casting couch.