Unfortunately the crux of a melodrama is that it will break your heart, toy with your emotions, crush your soul, and force you to question all that you truly know about humanity. Fortunately Winifred allows comedies (classic, of course) to soothe my fragile emotional state.
We started with Leave Her to Heaven, 1945 technicolor classic that is part of my personal collection. (It's beneficial to alphabetize your VHS and DVD collections! Who knew?) Delightfully over-the-top, Leave Her to Heaven is based on a novel of the same name by Ben Ames Williams. The trailer:
During the movie I tried to compile a short list of films for us to watch as the summer continues. We usually go to Charlotte, who holds a Masters in film criticism, but the truth is that we never get to the movies, and then we hurt her feelings, and we don't like letting her down. (Moreover, the films on the list have been reccomended by Charlotte before.) It was several years before we watched The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and if only we'd rented when she told us to we wouldn't have waited years for our lives to change forever.
In Alphabetical Order:
All That Heaven Allows (allegedly part of the inspiration for another family favorite, Far From Heaven)
Back Street (1961)
Rules of the Game (1939)
Touch of Evil
Wings of Desire
We're watching Back Street again, though it will most certainly kill me. IMDB alludes to three versions of the Fannie Hurst tragedy, which seems unfathomable that the ultimate heartbreaking film could be re-made and re-made. With that much dedication over the centuries you'd think someone would have stepped up in the 90s and made another. I'd work on getting it financed but I feel too conflicted. First, if a Fannie Hurst movie is going to be made into a movie for wide release in our modern world, I'd nominate Imitation of Life first. (It's marginally less emotionally devastating.) Second, I feel conflicted over Back Street. Our heroine is a feminist icon yet she sacrifices her personal life for her career--not a message I'm willing to promote--and then suffers again and again at the hands of the man who loves her--but is unable to shrug his wife (a character who demeans the image of women everywhere) and her prize for her undying love is some other dude's kids! Oh, GAWD, WHERE ARE THE TISSUES, I CAN'T HANDLE THIS.
My retribution for the intense pain I've agreed to again withstand is forcing--if I can--Winifred to watch Rules of the Game. It's not really a melodrama, instead it's a strong, passionate film exploring social class, war, impending doom, government...a movie that leaves me empty yet full of dispair. It's probably an unhealthy obsession, yet on par with Winifred's love for all-things-Fannie Hurst which seems, ya know, fair:
Didya see that trailer? Mystery! Intrigue! That comes pretty close to the sensationalism of a melodrama, no? Post-script: a big part of a melodrama are indiscretions and adulterous affairs built on True Love, which just happens to be a major plot point of Rules of the Game. (I WIN.)
We could watch melodramas intermittenly through the year, too, but it's not nearly as much fun. (When I had the flu Winifred and I watched Martian Child and under the influence of medication it was as emotionally destructive as a melodrama, so we can win with that, right?)
As for Touch of Evil, any film the Coen brothers call "disturbing" sounds like a great idea to me. Wouldya look at that typeface? It screams drama! Plus the trailer includes explosions with its mystery, intrigue, and hysterical screaming. I think it's a tease to show an introdcutory film class the opening of the film and not the rest of the film, but I'll willingly do the same to you:
I know that's a lot of videos I've forced you to watch but it's still June and I think we can do it. There are other movies too, and we've promised Charlotte to wait for her. (But I can't find those few movies right now.)