I’ve been aware of not really saying anything to you about coffee – I write in the morning, early before the rest of the house is up and I enjoy my first cup of coffee while I think and begin to commit to the idea of the column. This week its a blessing to have my favorite bean from Detroit Bold aptly named, “Woodward Ave”, a quiet, reserved but slick coffee with just the right amount of darkness and a smooth quality. Which does in turn remind me of our topic for today, Mr. George Sanders.
Often the right bad boy. You can’t call him just bad because there is no leather jacket and certainly he is not a criminal type or a hooligan. So endearingly smooth and pretty while at the same time around the edges he is dark and mysterious. His words are never the truth but not actually a lie.
The first time I was aware of him I admit I didn’t pay close attention, I was too busy wondering who the beautiful girl was in the scene…..she was there only moments and then …well….I was caught up in the brilliance of Bette Davis in “All About Eve” (1950) so both George Sanders and Marilyn Monroe were swept aside.
It was later when I was on a Daphne Du Maurier (The Birds, Don’t Look Now) kick that I saw him in “Rebecca” (1940)
and it hit me…this was the same actor in my all time favorite bad film, “Psychomania” (1973, UK 1971).
What a thrilling chore it was trying to stay awake for late night horror fests from the GHOUL show (1970’s tv host) which is even funnier now when you realize television went off at 1am. What a masterpiece of bad horror film making …just delightful! Motorcycle riding, leather jacket punks with loud hip music, witches, and frogs. The editing is terrible, the film somewhat disjointed but what a fun and exciting story. Mr. Sanders added just the right ouch of upper crust English backbone to an otherwise silly movie.
Now yes, I do also have to include that Mr. Sanders was indeed in “Batman” (TV 1966) as Mr. Freeze, what 50s and 60’s working actor could resist that offer?
I offer you three highly recommended George Sanders films that you might not have seen and every film connoisseur must watch:
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz – An interesting juxtaposition to put Rex Harrison and George Sanders as competition for the heart of a woman in roles that are basically identical except that one rouge is alive and very slick but the other is dead while being both loud and rough. How does a woman choose between these two potential lovers? Well, the safer path is most definitely with the dead one.
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) -dir. Albert Lewin – Such a wonderful adaptation of the Oscar Wilde novel. They do a superb job of creating mood and spirit for the idea of light, easy lifestyle of the spoiled rich and keeping a dark horrid secret.
The Black Swan (1942) – dir. Henry King – Must watch for so many reasons, Tyrone Power of course and Maureen O’Hara, but also notably the work of cinematographer Leon Shamroy (Cleopatra, 1963) who provides an elegant tone to a fairly common pirate sword fighting story…one of those films you read the joy of going to work through the performances.