Jean Negulesco

  • Jean Negulesco – Humoresque [+Extras] (1946)

    A moment of personal tragedy prompts concert violinist Paul Boray (John Garfield) to re-evaluate his life. He recalls happier times when, as a small boy, his mother gave him a violin for his birthday. After years of dedicated study, Paul becomes an accomplished violinist, but he finds it impossible to work so he can pay his way. One day, his pianist friend Sid Jeffers (Oscar Levant) takes him along to a party hosted by the wealthy socialite Helen Wright (Joan Crawford). The latter is trapped in a loveless marriage with an older man and finds the headstrong young violin player a tempting proposition. She decides to act as Paul’s patron, financing his debut concert and providing him with a manager. Through Helen’s money and contacts, Paul soon becomes an established musician, and he shows his gratitutde in just the way Helen hoped he might. But just when Helen thinks she has won her man, she realizes that she will never be able to compete with his one true love: his music…Read More »

  • Jean Negulesco – Three Strangers (1946)

    Synopsis:
    According to a legend, if three strangers gather before an idol of Kwan Yin (the Chinese goddess of fortune and destiny) on the night of the Chinese New Year and make a common wish, Kwan Yin will open her eyes and her heart and grant the wish. In London 1938 on the Chinese New Year, Crystal Shackleford has such an idol and decides to put the legend to the test. She picks two random strangers off the street, and puts the proposition to them. They decide that an ideal wish would be for a sweepstakes ticket they buy equal shares in to be a winner. After all, everyone needs money and a pot is very easy to divide equally, right?Read More »

  • Jean Negulesco – The Gift of Love (1958)

    The Gift of Love is a remake of 1946’s Sentimental Journey, with Lauren Bacall in the role originated by Maureen O’Hara. Upon learning that she hasn’t long to live, Bacall, the devoted wife of Robert Stack, adopts young Evelyn Rudie so that her husband will never be lonely. After his wife’s death, however, the pragmatic Stack grows weary of little Evelyn, who prefers a “fantasy world” to real life. Stack returns the girl to the orphanage, whereupon Bacall’s spirit intervenes to set things right. The material was maudlin back in 1946, and even more so in 1958; still, it’s nice to see that Lauren Bacall could play a sweet, benign role when given the opportunity.Read More »

  • Jean Negulesco – Nobody Lives Forever (1946)

    G.I. Nick Blake, a never charged con man in his pre-military life, has just received an honorable discharge from the army on medical reasons. Rather than return to his old life, he plans to settle down in New York, his hometown, with his girlfriend Toni Blackburn and the small cache of money he amassed prior to the war: $50,000. When that plan does not pan out, he decides to head to Los Angeles with his con man friend Al Doyle and live it up until he decides on a more permanent course for his life. He is informed by Pop Gruber, an aging mentor doing solely penny-ante street cons now in L.A., of a potential big mark. Doc Ganson, a former con associate, found the mark, lonely widow Gladys Halvorsen worth $2 million, but does not have either the bankroll or the charms to carry out the con on Gladys himself.Read More »

  • Jean Negulesco – The Mudlark (1950)

    Synopsis:
    In 1875 London, young Wheeler (who lives by scavenging) finds a cameo of Queen Victoria, which he thinks so beautiful, he risks his life to save it. Possessed of a desire to see the Queen, he slips past the Beefeaters and wanders about Windsor Castle, just when a state dinner is in preparation. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli is struggling hard to persuade the Queen to end her long seclusion.Read More »

  • Jean Negulesco – Titanic (1953)

    Synopsis:
    Unhappily married and uncomfortable with life among the British upper crust, Julia Sturges takes her two children and boards the Titanic for America. Her husband Richard also arranges passage on the doomed luxury liner in order to let him have custody of their two children. Their problems soon seem minor when the ship hits an iceberg.Read More »

  • Jean Negulesco – How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)

    Synopsis:
    Three New York models, Shatze, Pola and Loco set up in an exclusive apartment with a plan….tired of cheap men and a lack of money, they intend to use all their talents to trap and marry three millionaires. The trouble is that it’s not so easy to tell the rich men from the hucksters – and even when they can, is the money really worth it?Read More »

  • Otto Preminger & Jean Negulesco – River of No Return (1954)

    Synopsis:
    Matt Calder, who lives on a remote farm with his young son Mark, helps two unexpected visitors who lose control of their raft on the nearby river. Harry Weston is a gambler by profession and he is racing to the nearest town to register a mining claim he has won in a poker game. His attractive wife Kay, a former saloon hall girl, is with him. When Calder refuses to let Weston have his only rifle and horse, he simply takes them leaving his wife behind. Unable to defend themselves against a likely Indian attack, Calder, his son and Kay Weston begin the treacherous journey down the river on the raft Weston left behind.Read More »

  • Jean Negulesco – Humoresque (1946)

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    Plot Synopsis [AMG]
    Fannie Hurst’s novel Humoresque is the lachrymose tale of a famed Jewish-American violinist who forgets all about his friends and family in his rise to fame. Screenwriters Clifford Odets and Zachary Gold refashioned this timeworn material into a first-class, big-budget soap opera, completely dominated by the high-octane talents of Joan Crawford and John Garfield. A gifted musician, Garfield rises from the slums to the upper echelons of society, thanks to the patronage of wealthy, alcoholic Crawford. Virtually ignored by her husband Paul Cavanaugh, Crawford adopts Garfield as her lover as well as her protégé. He is only mildly offended by the setup; she, on the other hand, becomes jealous and possessive. It is not a woman who comes between Crawford and Garfield: it the intensity of his talent, not to mention the spectre of the great composers whose works he interprets so brilliantly. Garfield’s virago of a mother (Ruth Nelson) feeds upon Crawford’s jealousy, planting the seeds of guilt for (allegedly) holding her son back. Finally, Crawford is driven to suicide; in a brilliantly directed and photographed sequence, she walks into the ocean, as Garfield is heard over the radio, playing “Liebstod” from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde with full orchestral accompaniment. The ultrastylish suffering of Joan Crawford and the street-punk insouciance of John Garfield (who looks like a “Dead End Kid” even while wearing a tux) is counterpointed by the phlegmatic comedy relief of Oscar Levant. Together with Mildred Pierce, Humoresque is the best of the Warner Bros. Joan Crawford vehicles.Read More »

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