Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|East Side West Side|
Actors: Mimi Aguglia, Ernest Anderson, Jean Andren, Louis Austin, Ferike Boros
New Yorker's mistress drives wife to war hero.
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"I'll call him and he'll come running"
SJC | 11/03/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jessie (Barbara Stanwyck) is the wife of Brandon Bourne (James Mason). Brandon had an affair with Isabel Lorrison (Ava Gardner) in the past, but she went to Europe and Jessie and Brandon reconciled. Jessie loves Brandon terribly, but when she hears that Isabel is back in town, she's afraid. Her fears are confirmed as Brandon and Isabel continue their relationship. Meanwhile, Mark Dwyer (Van Heflin), an agent for the government, falls in love with Jessie. Jessie likes Mark but only wants to be friends with him because she loves her husband, even though he cheats on her. One day, Isabel calls Jessie and tells her to come to her apartment. Jessie comes and they get into an argument. Jessie leaves with Mark and two hours later, Brandon goes to Isabel's apartment, finding her dead. Who killed her?
This typical melodrama is saved by its all-star cast and good performances from all stars, but Stanwyck and Gardner give the best performances by far. Gardner is excellent as the self-proclaimed "cheap" harlot who knows how to make a man want her and keep on wanting her and Stanwyck shines in her wronged-wife character. Incidentally, Gardner and Robert Taylor, Stanwyck's husband at the time, had just had an affair during the filming of "The Bribe". I detect a hint of art imitates life here, especially in the scene where Isabel and Jessie have their little talk in Isabel's apartment, perhaps the most powerful scene in the film.
Fans of Stanwyck or Gardner should like this movie, even though it's not the best of the former nor the latter. But it's rather enjoyable, somewhat predictable, and overall good."
One of the best women's melodramas (spoiler)
Tonio Gas | 12/08/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
""East Side, West Side" is definitely not an intellectual picture, but it is so skillfully written and performed that it seems to be "better than it is" (Jerry Vermilye). The classical love triangle is worth watching, because it analyses an all-day marriage crisis with sometimes allegoric and witty dialogue which deals with the situation of a woman in her forties, married to an allegedly gentle, charming, but desperately weak husband who is attracted by a much younger - sorry - bitch (Ava Gardner). The movie shows the suffering beyond an all-day couples' life, and despite its banality, it is somehow feminist, because it demonstrates that a woman in her forties has much to lose and few to win. Having cared for his husband whom she desperately loves, she is neglected and betrayed for younger, exciting flesh. In a Hollywood picture of 1949, adultery has to be punished, but the ending of the film is nevertheless a consequent one, because this is a film about a weak, sexually and emotionally immature husband (James Mason) and a typical upper-class American housewife (Barbara Stanwyck) who is right in closing the door behind him. But there is no kind of triumph or women's lib in this attitude, for it is clear that Stanwyck's character has no alternative in life. She is an intelligent woman who gave up her ambitions long ago, and society will not allow her to come together with a sympathetic policeman (Van Heflin) who would be a perfect friend or husband for her. All this married life is full of constraint and hypocrisy. We see Mason and Stanwyck passing from ritual to ritual, from façade to façade, they have their weekly meetings with Stanwycks parents, their cocktail bars, etc., but apart from this, their life is empty. For a long time, Stanwyck is not complaining on it, but tries to save her marriage motivated by a deep love for her husband. She is not the tough lady we have seen in so many Stanwyck pictures, but she fights a nevertheless intense struggle with much - dignity. Yes, it is her dignity she tries to keep. This may not be the best movie ever, it is sometimes a bit soapy, but this is one of the best performances of Barbara Stanwyck. Her dignity and anxiousness are never hysterical, but emotionally touching and acted with a certain understatement which reveals her intense struggle to keep up the façade. The most remarkable scene she has is a conversation with her good friend (Nancy Davis, the later Mrs. Nancy Reagan). She predicts not to be afraid at all, but in some minutes, it is revealed that she is more afraid than ever. You don't remark any acting when her face, her voice and her self-consciousness change step by step, minute by minute, very slowly, but inevitably. And when you finally realize what happens with her, you will remark that Stanwyck herself has not realized it before and is mostly shocked about herself and the life she lives.
Ava Gardner is good in the "bitchy" part, although her part lacks any ambiguity. But it is remarkable how openly she plays the vamp card. "Cheap, that's what you like", she says to Mason, knowing she's right. Therefore, this allegedly soapy tearjerker is also a deconstruction of masculinity. And it's the proof that Hollywood should not neglect actresses beyond the 40th birthday. In a film released in 1949, we have remarkable confrontations between Stanwyck (* 1907) and Gardner (* 1922) in which the former deliberately searches the direct duel, knowing that it will be very difficult for her to win. But there is no doubt that she's the lead in this picture, which unfortunately was difficult for women older than forty. They were offered minor parts, Bette Davis (whom I adore) made the campy "Beyond the Forest" in the same year, playing a too old vamp with a silly wig, but Stanwyck got that wonderful part and played it so skillfully and touching. This is why I love this movie, despite some obvious mistakes. For example, a murder and its solution in the last twenty minutes are rather abrupt, silly and nothing more than a plot device in order to reveal that Mason didn't keep his promise not to see Gardner again. But as I tried to explain, the essential is elsewhere.
The picture has an outstanding cast (Stanwyck, Mason, Van Heflin, Cid Charisse, Nancy Davis, and Gale Sondergaard) and is directed by MGM veteran Melvyn LeRoy. The DVD quality is good, but there is some background noise during the dialogue. Unfortunately there is no audio commentary, but a funny Tex Avery Cartoon as additional material."
Better than most soaps
Operafilly | Fallbrook, Ca United States | 08/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The story isn't much, but the performances and direction make it well worth watching. And Stanwyck for a change plays an almost timid gal. Gardner is at her slutty best with a very meaty part as the other woman, Isabel. And my favorite role is Sondergard's, masterfully portraying Stanwyck's mother. Mason's part is pretty weak. You wonder why any woman would want him........in fact, as Stanwyck says at the end......Isabel used to be between us....but now she's dead and now there's nothing between us."