Archive for November 15th, 2017

This weekend I will be visiting my local cinema to see Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool.  The true story of Oscar winning actress (Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Bad and the Beautiful,1952) Gloria Grahame and her relationship with young actor Peter Turner.  Based on a book by Turner, he is played by BAFTA winning actor (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, Billy Elliot 2000) Jamie Bell; Grahame is played by four time Oscar nominee (how has she never won?) Annette Bening. Quad-Main-AW_31162-Film-Stars-Dont-Die-in-Liverpool-1068x801

Gloria Grahame was about thirty years older than Peter Turner and working in English theatre, her movie star days behind her.  If you have seen the trailer, you will understand the films title.  Listening to the press for the film a few things came out.  Neither the age difference or the different worlds they were from was never an issue between Grahame and Turner.  There was also a suggestion that Grahame, who had been married four times, had not been treated well by the men in her life before meeting turner. This made me think of my favourite of Gloria Grahame’s movies; In a Lonely Place. Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool

Dixon Steele (Humphrey Bogart) is the prime suspect in the murder of a young girl who had visited his apartment shortly before being killed.  His only alibi comes from his neighbour, Laurel Gray (Gloria Grahame) who saw the girl leaving.  Bogart gives an amazing performance as the volatile but vulnerable writer; Grahame is perfect playing opposite him.  The pair have amazing onscreen chemistry resulting in a totally believable relationship. in a lonely place

The film is all about timing, not always good timing; timing is the reason Dixon Steele becomes a suspect, the reason Laurel Gray becomes his alibi but most importantly in the films conclusion Gray spells it out “Yesterday, this would’ve meant so much to us. Now it doesn’t matter… it doesn’t matter at all.” Even the making of the film was a matter of timing; Grahame was married to director Nicholas Ray, a tumultuous relationship filled with separations and reconciliations, they didn’t last long after the film, divorcing within two years.  Perfectly constructed the film gives purpose, direction and a glint of happiness to its characters but never lets you forget it can all be pulled away at any moment.  This in itself is far from unique, but it manages to do it in such a subtle way that it is more disturbing than any bombast could have achieved. Gloria Grahame

Firmly pigeonholed as a film noir, it is very different to, but strangely darker than any detective thriller.  It is for this reason that I wasn’t that impressed when I first saw the film as an 18 year old.  It is also the reason I loved it so much when I watched it again twenty years later.  Director Nicholas Ray went on to make Born to Be Bad, Johnny Guitar and Rebel Without a Cause but never committed anything to film as devastating, as heartbreaking as In a Lonely Place.  Grahame and Bogart both went on to win Oscars but if either gave a better performance during their careers, I didn’t see it.

I am unsure of what to expect from Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, I have avoided reviews, but with Annette Bening involved it is sure to be worth seeing. 

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