The Charismatic Rita Hayworth In “The Loves of Carmen”

Capriciousness can become cruelty.  It does with Carmen in Charles Vidor’s The Loves of Carmen (1948) based, like the opera, on the Prosper Merimee story.

The gypsies in the film, of whom beautiful Carmen is one, are truly thieves.  Carmen’s Spanish lover, who finds out too late that Carmen is married, becomes one too, after the husband’s death.  Will Carmen stay with the man?

This pretty-looking but often cornball and obvious period piece is rescued by the charisma and fire and gorgeousness of Rita Hayworth (Carmen).  Glenn Ford is miscast as the Spanish lover, Don Jose, but Hayworth makes doggone sure she isn’t miscast.  She’s even good in a fight scene with another woman, and her general energy complements the suitably staged physical conflicts between men.  Artificial as it is, the movie confirms what it means for an actress to be a star in a way Jane Fonda or Debra Winger or Michelle Pfeiffer never was.

Carmen itself is flawed if rather entertaining.  In any case, it offers something better than the fake spirituality of another Hayworth film, Salome.

Cover of "The Loves of Carmen"

Cover of The Loves of Carmen

Another Friendly Response To TV’s “Jane the Virgin”

The second episode of Jane the Virgin (on Monday, Oct. 20) was as well-written as the first.  This CW series is the new Desperate Housewives—i.e. the new plebeian, seriocomic soap—but so far it’s better than Housewives.  It’s livelier and more amusing and, well, somehow a little less plebeian.  Too, it’s moving (in the second episode), notwithstanding the gimmicky tear falling in slow-mo from the eye of Yael Grobglas’s Petra.

Gina Rodriguez is appealingly fine as Jane, resourceful and not as conventional as she could be.  Yara Martinez also impresses as a doctor named Luisa, strikingly subdued in pain and fear.  Among the men, Jaime Camil never overdoes his comic vigor as a telenovela star.

The ratings for Jane have been decent.  Let’s hope the show remains decent.

On The Downey Jr. Vehicle, “The Judge”

judgeI don’t know much about defense attorneys, but I don’t completely buy the depiction of them, or of one of the prosecutors (David Krumholtz), in David Dobkin’s new film, The Judge (2014).  There’s something utterly specious here.  Still, although this legal drama is not terribly good, it isn’t terribly bad—or even plain bad—either.  It has Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall (as convincing as ever), Vincent D’Onofrio (full of depth), and Billy Bob Thornton.  Critic David Edelstein is right about its “picturesque” outdoor shots.  It has a story of very limited strength, but at least some strength is there.

That said, allow me to comment also that I like old movies (significantly old) because they were prohibited from showing the kind of gross vomiting and diarrheal excreting that The Judge gives us.  Ugh!

English: Actor Robert Downey Jr. promoting the...

English: Actor Robert Downey Jr. promoting the film “Iron Man” in Mexico City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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