Suspicion! Guilt! Murder! Blackmail! A Double Feature Must-H
Forrest C. Hopson | Burnsville, NC USA | 11/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Portrait in Black" (1960) San Francisco cargo ship czar, Matthew Cabot (Lloyd Nolan- Peyton Place as Dr Swain) finds himself bedfast and slowly dying as his beautiful and ultra-glamorous wife Sheila (Lana Turner) becomes more and more desperate to rid herself of a husband, due to his illness, can no longer satisfy her needs! Enter suave and sophisticated Dr. David Rivera (Anthony Quinn), who is overseeing Mr. Cabot's care, as well as his wife's desires! "Portrait in Black" is one of those delicious over-the-top glamour-soap-opera's that you just can't help indulging yourself in! Co-starring `60's teen queen, Sandra Dee as Lana and Lloyd's daughter, and handsome John Saxon as Sandra's boyfriend, the cast is pleasant to watch as this romantic drama soon becomes a clever murder mystery! You know from the moment that the movie begins, with it's glossy and glamorous color that it's a Ross Hunter production! Every detail in this film shouts "Ross Hunter glamour!" From Lana's gorgeous Oriental inspired wardrobe to the beautifully decorated homes, it's Mr. Hunter all the way! With classic romantic dramas such as, "Back Street," "Midnight Lace," and this film's double feature "Madame X," to his credit, Ross excelled with this kind of material and made some really entertaining features!
Madame X (1966) Aristocratic heiress Estelle Anderson (Constance Bennett) is more than a little disappointed with her son, Clayton Anderson's (John Forsythe) choice for a bride in common girl-next-door Holly Parker (Lana Turner, looking no where near common!) so the wheels begin to be placed in motion to get rid of her! Successful rising political star, Clayton Anderson is rising to the top of the politcal arena and the toil of his success is beginning to weigh heavily on his marriage. Despairing of the lonliness of her husband's long absences, Holly finds comfort in playboy, Phil Benton, (Ricardo Montalban) who falls deeply in love with her! Holly's mother-in-law discovers the adultrous relationship and begins to plan a way to rid herself of Holly once and for all! Holly and Clayton's young son, Clayton Jr., is in the middle of the battle and is soon without a mother as Estelle cunningly blackmails Holly into disappaearing from all of their lives forever! Burgess Meredith also stars as a down on his luck con artist that tries to use Holly's past to blackmail her! Keir Dullea stars as the young adult Clayton Jr in the later scenes who has become a successful lawyer, and unknowingly represents and defends his own mother! The courtroom scene near the end of the movie is one that will have you reaching for a hankie! A Ross Hunter glamour flick all the way! With gorgeous homes, beautiful fashions, and over-the-top dramatics! A first `class' production all the way!
I highly recommend adding this great double feature of "Portrait in Black" and "Madame X" to any dvd collector's library! Never was there a more entertaining glamour queen, than Lana Turner, and she makes the roles in these films so believable and so much fun to watch! I only wish the films could have been made available on single disc dvd editions with some nice commentaries and "behind the scenes" information and entertaining stories or gossip! I've long awaited both of these films appearance on dvd, and am glad to finally have them! Now, how about adding Lana's "By Love Possessed,"(1961) "Love Has Many Faces," (1965) and "Who's Got The Action?" (1962) to dvd?! "
SO LONG overdue!!!
Jennifer Cole | Dallas Texas | 01/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Portrait in Black on DVD at last! Finally we can see this textbook lush Ross Hunter soaper in its correct widescreen format. It's about flippin' time!!! A Universal home video VHS of this film that was released about twelve years ago has been out of production for several years now. It had excellent picture and sound quality, but it was not, of course, presented in the correct widescreen (VHS tapes never are). Can't wait for this.
Murder Cover Up Murder Cover Up Murder Cover Up...Murder
J. Earles | Mooresville, INDIANA United States | 02/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Coming to this DVD double feature with a little history will add to your enjoyment of it - so first a DVD extra.
There was a time when a STAR on the marquee meant money in the bank for the movie studios. Lana Turner was under contract to M-G-M for nearly twenty years. Her films had been of varying quality. The quality she most often projected was S-E-X.
After leaving the studio, Turner still made big films with important co-stars, but most of her publicity centered on her private life. She got a big break when producer Jerry Wald offered her the starring role in his film version of the hot, hot bestseller of the day "Peyton Place" in 1957. Turner ended up with an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her role.
On the night of the ceremony, Lana argued with her then boyfriend, Johnny Stompanato - later that evening, he was stabbed and killed in her home. The publicity was tremendous. In "Peyton Place", Lana's character has a long scene on the witness stand talking about her failure as a mother. At the time the scene was playing to packed houses across the United States, Turner was playing the scene in real life in the inquest on Stompanato's demise. Her daughter Cheryl had been arrested for the crime. Turner's inquest testimony is on film and is always used in television biographies on her life.
Would her career survive? Enter producer Ross Hunter, then allied with Universal-International Studios. He offered Lana the leading role in his remake of "Imitation of Life." He didn't have money for a large salary and offered her fifty percent of the profits. Lana took it. A supporting player in the film has said that everyone on the set was very aware that this film was make or break for Turner. If the audiences rejected her, it would be over.
Bottom line: big hit for Hunter, U-I, and Turner, who made so much money from the film that she was set for life.
That was 1959, and Hunter and Turner teamed again the next year for the first of the films included in this DVD double feature: "Portrait in Black." Written by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts and based on their play, this was a movie about murder and coverup.
Lana's stylish Sheila Cabot is married to a bedridden crank played by Lloyd Nolan. On the side, she is in love with Dr. David Rivera (Anthony Quinn.) Within ten minutes of the movie, a murder plot is hatched by the lovers, and the rest of the movie is taken up with red herrings and unlikely cover ups.
The young lovers Sandra Dee and John Saxon get caught up in the shenanigans (Dee plays Turner's stepdaughter). Anna May Wong and Ray Walston play servants in the Cabot household, and suspicion of blackmail by one or the other of them is heavy.
The costumes and settings are DeLuxe and beautiful. Jewels are by David Webb and costumes by Jean Louis. There is some location filming in San Francisco. The Chrysler cars are sleek with fins defining the Forward Look. That the ending is contrived and unlikely only adds to the berserk joy of "Portrait in Black."
Five years later, Turner is five years older, and this brings us to the jewel in this set: "Madame X." By 1965, this property had been filmed at least four times. That producer Hunter and star Turner took it on is a testament to their faith in the story. It was filmed by Ross Hunter Productions and Eltee (as in L.T.) Productions. Money is not quite as in evidence as in their two previous films, but every dollar spent shows on the screen. There are beautiful costumes again by Jean Louis, more jewels by David Webb, and Furs by Ben Kahn.
Holly Parker (Turner) marries wealthy Clay Anderson (John Forsythe) and is whisked off the be part of his life in upper crust Connecticut. There she meets his mother Estelle (Constance Bennett). The politically ambitious Clay leaves Holly alone for extended periods of time, and she eventually takes up with Phil Benton (Ricardo Montalban). When the affair is discovered, Benton ends up dead - of course. And Estelle sends Holly on her way to avoid a scandal.
That Holly's life eventually turns to alcohol and grief (despite an interlude with a musician played by John Van Dreelan) - is a given. In fact she is eventually tried for the murder (her second, though her first INTENTIONAL one), and is defended by her own son. She has given her name as Madame X, not wishing to cause embarrassment to her family.
Turner is great in this role. She looks great, and her moment of realization in the courtroom that the man defending her is HER SON is beautifully played. Careers are made on such moments, unless you are Lana Turner known only as a commodity and not an actress.
There are problems of course. Forsythe has that annoying wart on his forehead, Bennett's recent face lift makes her look as if she were wearing a mask, and the hamming of Burgess Meredith is tough to watch. But it's a Turner show, and she is (almost) always worth watching.
These films have not always been easy to find, although both were released for a short time years ago on video. They are presented in Widescreen and have the original trailer included. It is a two-disc set and not the expected one-disc two-sided presentation. The color is not much improved over the video and could have been corrected a bit.
But, folks, at least we have them. Get some popcorn, invite some friends over, and watch how they used to make movies. It's a lot more fun than reality television. Turner and Hunter create their own reality - and now and then there can be nothing more entertaining.
There is a God! Madame X on DVD FINALLY!!!
Todd L. | Orange County, CA | 02/05/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Madame X is Lana Turners large production leading lady swan song and it is finally on DVD. I saw this movie as a double feature back in 1967 with of all things Disney's Jungle Book! I remember that after the film ended the audience was weeping so that they didn't turn up the house lights. I was all of 3 years old and I remember that clearly! Years later I so the movie again and I wept at the ending too. It totally manipulates the viewer but it is worth it. A Ross Hunter production at its best. Gloss, glamour and Lana! Portrait in Black is in the same league with all of the same gloss and glamour but doen't have as rich and juciy of a story as Madame X. Now if we can only get Back Street on DVD. My VHS copy is almost worn out."
GLAMOUROUS LANA AT HER BEST!!!
Carpes, RJ, Brazil | 01/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Can't believe my two most awaited movies from the queen of glamour, the beautiful LANA TURNER will be available at once in one dvd!!!! "PORTRAIT IN BLACK" has everything a good movie from the sixties must have: suspense, glamour, great technicolor picture, simply great! "MADAME X" is the movie I always thought Lana should win an Oscar nomination for..She's much better than in "PEYTON PLACE", her only nomination. It's impossible not to be impressed how she changes her looks from the begginning of the picture when she is a newly-wed socialite lovely to look at to the second part when she becomes a drunker, with proper makeup to make her look bad..I mean bad! The court final scenes makes the stronger, coldest people on earth have tears in their eyes, no doubt about it ! Congratulations Universal for this wonderful gift.. I recommend it highly!! Jorge Carpes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil"