I spent a good share of the day watching two movies. I'd been waiting for the Independent Film Channel to run Claude Chabrol's Story of Women (1990 USA) again. Here's a partial review from IMDB:
Abortion in Nazi-occupied France
Author: Dennis Littrell (email@example.com) from SoCal
"Claude Charbrol's stark and unsentimental masterpiece about the last woman to be executed in France--she was guillotined for performing abortions in Nazi-occupied France during World War II--forces us to see a side of war not often depicted. What does a woman with two little children do when her country is occupied by the brute forces of the enemy? How is she to find enough to eat, to buy the increasingly scarce and costly necessities of life? How is she to find joy in life? Women often turn to prostitution during such times, but Maire Latour does not. Instead she aborts the foetuses of the prostitutes and of other women impregnated, often by the Nazis. In a sense this is her "resistence." However she prospers and takes up with a Nazi collaborator. In the process she reduces her husband to frustration and humiliation.
"Isabelle Huppert as Marie Latour is mesmerizing in a role that allows her talent full latitude. She is clear-headed and sly as a business woman, warm and ordinary as a mother, cold and brutal as a wife, childish and careless as an adulteress, resourceful and fearless as an abortionist, and unrepentant as she awaits the executioner (foreshadowed, by the way, by her son, who wants to be an executioner when he grows up). "
The more movies I watch the more I feel drawn to Chabrol and his seminal actress Isabelle Huppert. I know I am in a minority for admiring what the two of them did with Madame Bovary but I think that film will have its day eventually. In terms of both intelligent and sexual beauty I can't think of another actress who comes close to Huppert. I could imagine her face dominating the days of silent films; with her gentle hesitant style given voice she's all the more remarkable. A lesser actor would have donned masks to show us all the different sides of Marie. But somehow Huppert integrates all contradictory aspects of Marie into one believe whole. This is a masterpiece.
------------------Libeled Lady (1936)
IMDB "Warren Haggerty is the chief editor of the New York Evening Star. He keeps on delaying his marriage with Gladys because of problems his newspapers must face. When it is filed a 5 million dollars claim by Connie Allenbury for having printed she is a marriage-breaker, he organizes the unconsummated marriage of Gladys and the don Juan Bill Chandler. The goal is to catch Connie alone with a married man... Written by Yepok"
I laughed all the way through this screwball comedy that could never have been made after the Hayes office took power. Spencer Tracy and Jean Harlow as editor and fiance reminded my of why I never much cared for the Tracy-Hepburn pictures. Too chaste. Harlowe takes the picture for me. This is the best I've ever seen he and I'm a big fan. Funny, sexy, a little bit trashy and cunning in the way she battles Tracy, who keeps breaking his promise to marry her, they dominate the screen in a way the more staid William Powell and Myrna Lowe don't. The latter two are good but predictable. Harlowe and Tracty spill real blood. The last six minutes give us three plot twists.