Raoul Walsh was a good director of women and often obtained vivid portrayals from his actresses. It is notable that two Hollywood stars who were never taken seriously as actresses - Jane Russell and Virginia Mayo - surprised many people with their work in Raoul Walsh movies.
I agree, Robin - Russell was absolutely fantastic in the movie. Her performance and the CinemaScope photography are probably the two things I found most striking about this particular film. She just owns the screen every moment she's on it.
When I write these reviews, I first do them in a word processing software, and then copy and paste them into the HTF form for publication. But I've noticed that my word processor is over aggressive with the auto correct, and I did have to fight it a couple times - it wanted to make exactly that change!
I had always wanted to see this film. I first knew about it from a book about films shot in Hawaii, but for years I couldn't find it anywhere, so I read the novel it's based on. The title character is most likely based on an actual woman who lived in Hawaii during those years, Jean O'Hara. I don't know if it's available anywhere, but there was an excellent program first aired as a 3 part segment on the History Channel program "The XY Factor" focusing on the role sex played in WWII on three fronts: the Pacific, Europe and the Home Front. I believe it was also aired on A&E as Sex in World War II.
The "Pacific" episode corresponded to the novel quite a bit and was really fascinating. Two of the interviewees on the program had written a book about how so many different people and races were mixing in Hawaii during the war years. So, not being able to find the film anywhere, I bought and read that book, too. It's called "The First Strange Place: Race and Sex in World War II Hawaii by Beth Bailey and David Farber."
So, I had a lot of historical research in my head after the Hawaii film book, novel, documentary and history book, before I ever saw the film. On a cloudy Saturday, November 12, 2005, I was looking at movie listings, probably in the L.A. Weekly, and I happened to see that at the Egyptian Theater (American Cinematheque) that very evening, only a short time from when I saw the notice, they were airing a double feature of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes AND The Revolt of Mamie Stover!
The only question for me was, did I want to see Gentlemen Prefer Blondes again? I'd seen it so many times. But it's not a long movie and it's very enjoyable and I had never seen it in a theater, so I hurried to make my way there for this unexpected double feature. I was going to see The Revolt of Mamie Stover at last!
What I did not know until the Cinematheque host told us right before the Blondes screening was that JANE RUSSELL herself was in the house! She'd be doing a Q&A between the films, but was introduced beforehand...and she looked just like you'd want a noted Hollywood Movie Star to look like. She was made up to the nines and had on a sparkly green sequined dress and was greeted with a long standing ovation as she was escorted to her seat where she stayed to watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes!
So, after the film and the Q&A, I'd say 75% of the audience left! So I got to move to a really great seat and enjoy my first viewing of Mamie Stover. It was a gorgeous looking film and I couldn't have been introduced to it in a sudden and more glorious fashion.
So, a few notes and impressions about the film and screening: (So probably a spoiler or two for those who've not seen it.)
--First, I was really excited about the widescreen and the cinematography. It was superb.
--I happen to think, as an actor, Richard Egan is kinda dull. He was appropriate for his role, and part of his character is to distance himself from "Mamie," but there should've been more chemistry between them.
--All the chemistry in the film is with Jane Russell and the audience...a good thing!
Jane sings "Keep Your Eyes on the Hands!"
--I only learned recently that this was the last film Joan Leslie made in her career.
--From all that I knew about the Hotel Street life and brothels beforehand, some of the film's treatment of that was really quite comical to me. I mean, I knew the film was made in 1957 and wouldn't deal with it explicitly, but the brothel depicted in this film was more of a bar/nightclub and the girls who work there all "hostesses" whose primary mission was to get the guys to buy more drinks. When individual guys were escorted to a room with their "girl of choice" it seems they were there to talk, play cards, drink more, or maybe write a letter back home...LOL! There was no sign of a bed or even a cot anywhere for the real purpose of these places. In actuality hundreds of servicemen lined up at these places daily to spend three minutes having sex with a female. I was wondering...did most people in the audiences at the time not realize what was really going on there? It all semed so wholesome!
--Though I had known about the movie, I hadn't researched it much and so it was a surprise to me that Agnes Moorehead, a blonde Agnes Moorehead, was in it and she's a favorite. She played the house Madame, with a mundane title in the film, and she was quite excellent. There's one scene where she fires an employee and on his way out he starts to call her "an old..." and I'm pretty sure in the context of the scene he was going to say "dyke," but she interrupts him with "...don't say it."
--I really love the musical score to this film and am glad it's a separate extra on the release.
--The Time Tunnel is a favorite 60's program and I knew that some footage used for historical purposes in many episodes came from Fox films set in those periods, but I had not known what film the Pearl Harbor footage they used came from until seeing it in this film.
--Years later Fox Movie Channel aired the film and I got a copy of it then. The running time is 89 minutes, but all other film sources list the original running time as 92 minutes. Does anyone know what the extra three minutes of footage is, or perhaps the film was sped up to eliminate three minutes?
After viewing, I hope others share some thoughts about the film! Hope this was interesting to some of you.
Martin, thank you for contributing your memories and experiences with this film to the thread! That must've been wonderful, to see the movie for the first time on the big screen and with Jane Russell there. Sounds unforgettable!
Thank you, Josh, I'm glad it was of interest! Yes, that whole experience was probably why I have even more of an affection for the film...first it was unattainable and I kept finding out more about the story etc. and then all of a sudden there it is. With the star of it to boot! And now a Blu-ray!
Even after all the years reading about this book and film etc., only TODAY did I discover that William Bradford Huie wrote a sequel to his novel The Revolt of Mamie Stover called HOTEL MAMIE STOVER.
Actually: The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1951) is the first novel in a trilogy. It was followed by The Americanization of Emily (1959) and Hotel Mamie Stover (1963). Each novel has the same narrator, the Richard Egan character in the film. In the first and third books, he is primarily present in order to observe and report, while in the second he relates his experiences in the late stages of World War II.
By the way, Jean O'Hara aka Jean Norager, the real life woman Mamie Stover was assuredly based on, disappeared sometime after the war when she left Hawaii and no one has ever been able to find out what happened to her. There are some sources like wikipedia and some online posts about her that indicate she lived until 1973, but the historical documentary and history book I cited in a previous post, which were produced and/or written 20 - 30 years from then, don't cite that as fact. (Neither does wikipedia, nor any of the other online articles/posts I read so they might have gotten that date from wikipedia, though wikipedia does cite a source for her birthdate.) The Hawaiian historian DeSoto Brown also cites that no one knows her history after leaving Hawaii.
I know that this is likely to be controversial subject, but can someone explain to me why so many of the Fox CinemaScope restorations have a blue push to the color scheme? Is this grading how Deluxe color was supposed to look?
White shirts and snow should be....well, white. In the HOUSE OF BAMBOO transfer, the snow has a very noticeable blue hue. That's only one example of what I'm talking about. I remember others upset with the "blue push" to the KING AND I transfer in the R&H set.
Again, the blue push in these transfers just doesn't look right to me and I do color gradings on my own film scans. Possible white balance issue? I am equally aware that this may be an artistic choice on the part of the colorist. I never saw 1950s CinemaScope films in theaters myself. Is there any documentation to show that these films should be graded in this manner?
I'm not trying to be a smart aleck here.....I truly want to know more about these color grades. I haven't seen this in any other studios' transfers; it seems to be unique to Fox CinemaScope transfers done in the last 5 years or so.