Rex Harrison

The Yellow Rolls-Royce (1964)

The Yellow Rolls Royce 1964

The Yellow Rolls-Royce follows the journey of a single yellow Rolls-Royce as it changes ownership three times and the role it plays in all their lives. The Rolls-Royce is originally purchased by Charles (Rex Harrison), the Marquess of Frinton as an anniversary gift for his wife Eloise (Jeanne Moreau). It’s their tenth anniversary, so he wants to get her something truly special. Unbeknownst to him, Eloise has been having an affair with another man. Charles is enthusiastic about horse racing and dreams of winning a big title, but when the day of the big race comes and his horse comes in first, Charles’ day is tainted by catching Eloise together with her lover in the brand new Rolls-Royce. He isn’t about to divorce her; it wouldn’t look good. However, he does sell her new car.

Next, the Rolls-Royce is bought by gangster Paolo Maltese (George C. Scott) as a gift for his girlfriend Mae (Shirley MacLaine), who are on vacation in Italy. Not long after they buy the car, Paolo has to leave to tend to some “business,” so he has his associate Joey (Art Carney) to take her out and keep an eye on her. Mae is bored of Italy, but her trip gets a little more interesting when she meets photographer Stefano (Alain Delon) and falls in love with him. Joey allows their affair to carry on, but when the news of Paolo’s “business trip” (a brutal murder) makes headlines, he feels the need to remind her of who she’d be dealing with if she left. Although she loves Stefano dearly, she reluctantly decides to leave with Paolo.

The third owner of the Rolls-Royce is Gerda Millett (Ingrid Bergman), a wealthy American woman taking a trip in Europe, who decides to buy the car on a whim. She meets Davich (Omar Sharif), who is looking to get back into Yugoslavia, to avoid a Nazi attack. She reluctantly agrees and isn’t happy about being involved, until she realizes just how serious the situation is. After getting a taste of what the Nazis are capable of, Gerda becomes active in smuggling people to safety. She works very closely with Davich and the two begin to fall in love, but they realize they can do more good for the cause by working apart than they can together.

The Yellow Rolls-Royce has a similar concept to The Earrings of Madame De…, a story about how an object finds its way to different owners. While I really liked The Earrings of Madame De…The Yellow Rolls-Royce didn’t do anything for me. The only story I found interesting was the one with Ingrid Bergman and Omar Sharif, but since that was the last chapter, that wasn’t enough to redeem the movie for me. The first two stories didn’t hold my interest at all. The movie is full of great stars, but none of them are at their best. It’s one of those movies that made it hard for me to muster up any reaction stronger than, “meh.”

Storm in a Teacup (1937)

Storm in a Teacup 1937

Vickie Gow (Vivien Leigh) is the daughter of Provost Willie Gow (Cecil Parker).  Willie is in the midst of campaigning to be nominated for a seat on the Town Council.  When journalist Frank Burdon (Rex Harrison) goes to a meeting to interview Willie, he sits near Vickie and accidentally makes a bad impression on her when he makes some disparaging remarks about her father.  During Frank’s interview with Willie, he witnesses Frank being very cold to Honoria Hegarty (Sara Allgood), a poor woman whose dog the city has taken away because she can’t afford to license it.  Even Vickie thinks Willie’s behavior was uncalled for.

Rather than publish the interview as planned, Frank decides to make his story all about how horribly Willie has treated Honoria.  After the newspaper hits the stands, the town overwhelmingly sides with Honoria and Willie becomes a joke.  When Willie tries to deliver a speech, a riot nearly breaks out and the crowd barks at him until he leaves the stage.  Naturally, Willie isn’t very fond of Frank, which makes things difficult for Frank and Vickie since they have fallen in love with each other.  Willie wants Frank to sign a retraction for his article, but Frank refuses and the whole thing escalates into an all-out war between them.

During an important dinner at Willie’s house, Frank lets a huge bunch of dogs loose into the house, costing Willie his nomination. Willie has Frank arrested, they end up going to court, and it’s expected that Vickie will be called to testify.  Just as her time comes, Vickie announces that she can’t testify because she is married to Frank.  This isn’t true, but Willie has to go along with it or Vickie will be tried for perjury.  Willie puts a stop the whole trial and is able to get back to work in politics while Vickie and Frank actually do get married.

I’m glad I decided to check out Storm in a Teacup.  It’s a very British film, so if you enjoy British humor, it’s a pretty entertaining movie.  It was interesting to see Vivien Leigh and Rex Harrison together, both of them were fairly early in their film careers at the time.  They do a fine job in it and Cecil Parker made a very good adversary for Rex Harrison.  Simply put, it’s a pleasant little movie.  Smart, witty, and worth watching if only to see two stars on their way up in the world.

The Honey Pot (1967)

The Honey Pot PosterAfter catching a performance of the play “Volpone,” Cecil Fox (Rex Harrison) has the idea of playing a prank on some of his former lovers.  He decides to send letters to three of his former lovers — actress Merle McGill (Edie Adams), Princess Dominique (Capucine), and his common law wife Lone Star Crockett Sheridan (Susan Hayward) — telling them he is on his deathbed and his heir has yet to be decided.  Cecil is perfectly healthy, he just wants to see how they react. Cecil hires out of work actor William McFly (Cliff Robertson) to pose as his assistant and help carry out this scheme.

Since Cecil is a very wealthy man, naturally the three women rush to be by his side.  When Lone Star arrives with her personal nurse Sarah Watkins (Maggie Smith) in tow, she is confident that she will inherit his estate since she is his common law wife.  That night, Sarah goes out with William and when she returns, she finds Lone Star dead, looking as though she had overdosed on sleeping pills.  But Sarah knows it couldn’t have been an accidental overdose or suicide.  Even though Lone Star took sleeping pills regularly, Sarah made a point of giving her placebos to take at night so she couldn’t possibly take too many.  Someone else had to have given Lone Star the pills that killed her.

After a police officer pays a visit to question Cecil and his guests, Sarah finds out that Cecil isn’t really dying, it’s all a ridiculous prank.  Since Sarah had told William that Lone Star took sleeping pills, she immediately suspects him of killing her and believes he may be planning to kill Cecil next.  William is innocent, so when Cecil turns up dead, the story only becomes more twisted.

I really enjoyed The Honey Pot.  The entire cast is absolutely wonderful; I positively adored Rex Harrison, Maggie Smith, and Susan Hayward in this. Joesph L. Mankiewicz’s writing and direction is masterful.  The tone of the movie changes sharply from dark comedy to murder mystery, but Mankiewicz was able to make it work. The comedic parts are extremely witty and the murder mystery aspect is loaded with twists to keep you on your toes.  The Honey Pot is one of those movies I’m going to have to watch twice to make sure that I caught all the details.  I’m definitely glad I decided to give this one a chance.

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.