George Sanders

Journey to Italy (1954)

Journey to Italy 1954

Alex and Katharine Joyce (George Sanders and Ingrid Bergman) have been married for several years, but their marriage isn’t necessarily a happy one. There’s no romance in their relationship and when they think about it, they don’t really know each other at all. When they make a trip to Naples together to sell a villa that belonged to Alex’s late uncle, the drive is the longest time they’ve spent alone together in their marriage.

Once they arrive in Naples, it becomes clear just how unhappy and distant they are with each other. Katharine prefers to take day long trips to museums and taking in the historic locations while Alex prefers to spend his time in Capri flirting with other women. All of the images of death Katharine sees really resonate with her and all the pregnant women she sees around town make her long for a child of her own. Eventually, Alex and Katharine reach a breaking point and decide to divorce. But is it really too late for them?

Journey to Italy is a movie that’s best to actually watch and experience than it is to write about or read about. It’s a beautiful, haunting film with exquisite performances by Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders. They were absolutely believable as a terribly unhappy, distant couple. It’s all beautifully filmed and very nuanced; very intimate. It’s one of those types of movies that might not seem like it’s going anywhere, which can be frustrating for many people, but it all absolutely does lead somewhere.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1946)

After the death of her husband, Lucy Muir (Gene Tierney) spends a year living with her controlling mother-and-sister-in-law.  Eventually, Lucy decides it would be best if she found a place of her own to raise her daughter Anna (Natalie Wood as a child, Vanessa Brown as an adult).  Her family highly disapproves of this idea, but she’s determined to live on her own.  She finds a place that would be perfect for her and the price seems almost too good to be true.  When she goes to look at the place, she quickly discovers the place is haunted.  Other tenants have been scared off by the ghost, but Lucy is determined to live there.

After she moves in, Lucy realizes the house is haunted by its previous owner, Captain Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison).  Daniel tries to scare her away, but after she stands up to him, the two of them become very fond of each other.  Daniel manages to help Lucy out in many ways.  He helps her stand up to her controlling family and when she falls into financial trouble, he has her write his life story for him, which becomes a big hit.  Eventually,they fall in love with each other, but they know they couldn’t truly be together.

After meeting with her publisher one day, Lucy meets children’s author Miles Fairley (George Sanders) and can’t resist his charms.  The two of them begin a relationship, but Daniel is jealous of their relationship and tries to warn her about Miles, but Lucy won’t listen.  Daniel decides the best thing he can do is step out of Lucy’s life and lets her carry on her relationship with Miles.  Unfortunately, it turns out Daniel was right about Miles and Lucy soon discovers that Miles is already married and has children of his own.  Heartbroken, Lucy goes home to live out her life as a single woman.  As the years go by, Daniel doesn’t come to visit her, but she never forgets him.  One night, as an old woman, Lucy sits down in her room and passes away.  Daniel finally appears, waiting to lead her into the afterlife with him where they can finally be together again.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir is a pretty unique movie.  At first, I thought it might be something along the lines of The Uninvited, but then it became more of a fantasy movie than a horror movie, and then it finally turned into a romance movie.  It can be hard to make a movie with so many shifts in style, but Joseph L. Mankiewicz totally made it work.  I loved Gene Tierney as Lucy and Rex Harrison was spot-on as Captain Daniel Gregg.  This was such a charming and sweet movie with an excellent Bernard Hermann score as the icing on the cake.  This would be the perfect movie to watch on a cool Fall night while having a cup of hot chocolate.

Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Blake (1942)

After the death of his parents, Benjamin Blake (Roddy McDowall as a child, Tyrone Power as an adult) goes to live with his kind grandfather.  His father was the Baronet of Breetholm, but Benjamin doesn’t inherit the estate that is rightfully his.  Because of some debate over whether or not Benjamin was born in wedlock, it goes to his sadistic uncle Sir Arthur Blake (George Sanders) instead.  Arthur takes Benjamin away from his grandfather and forces him to become his bonded servant.  Benjamin considers running away with his grandfather, but decides to stay and lets his uncle’s torment fuel his ambition to reclaim his father’s estate.

Ten years pass and Benjamin is still a servant, but has also fallen in love with his cousin Isabel (Frances Farmer).  They want to get married, but Benjamin wants to wait until after he has proven the estate is his.  Isabel promises to wait for him, but Benjamin soon finds himself on the run from the law after he and Arthur get into a fight.  With some help from his grandfather, Benjamin manages to escape on a boat headed for the South Seas, but his grandfather winds up in jail for helping him.

On the ship, Benjamin proves to be quite the sailor and makes friends with fellow sailor Caleb Green (John Carradine).  Eventually, the two of them head off for an island where they find a fortune by diving for pearls.  Things get even better for Benjamin, who falls in love with a native girl named Eve (Gene Tierney).  He couldn’t be happier living on the island with Eve, but knows he must go home to clear his name and get his grandfather out of jail.

I saw Son of Fury for the first time recently after buying it on a whim.  I hadn’t even heard anything about it before then, but I just had a feeling about it and I’m so glad I took a chance on it.  It’s got adventure, it’s got drama, it’s got romance.  Although I do wish Gene Tierney and Frances Farmer had a little more to do, I loved Tyrone Power in it and George Sanders brought pure villainy to Sir Arthur Blake.  Roddy McDowall and Elsa Lanchester both make their small roles quite memorable.  The cinematography and score were also first-rate.  There’s nothing about it I didn’t thoroughly enjoy.  It’s a good thing I bought this movie because it’s one I’ll definitely want to watch again.