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Monday, 15 August 2011

Box Set Monday #7: Ava Gardner (guest post by Clara)

This week I am honoured to have the wonderful Clara from Via Margutta 51 writing the guest post for "Box Set Monday". If you aren't already following her blog, go over there and do so immediately! I'm always in awe of how beautifully she writes, combining humour with a deep understanding of all aspects of classic film. So, without further ado, I will hand you over into her very capable hands!
Hi Sophie's readers!  I tried to make the complete homework and did watch 8 movies from Ava I hadn't seen before. Even when some of them were bad; I found two new films I really liked and added them to the list. That's why movies like The Killers and On the beach were left out (sorry). My final selection is varied in genre, so you can pick your favorite.

One touch of Venus, 1948
East Side, West Side, 1949
The Bribe, 1949
Mogambo, 1953
The barefoot contessa, 1954
The night of the iguana, 1964

One touch of Venus (1948): I included this film because is one of the few comedies Ava did. Plus it has a lot of funny moments. I love the idea of the movie: Robert Walker kisses the expensive statue of goddess Venus owned by his boss, and all of the sudden she comes to life. I personally like fantasy movies; this one is light and very entertaining plus you also had Eve Arden being hilarious as always and a magic song, Speak Low (http://youtu.be/DiXAWU_FQvo) . Ava's Venus is playful, relaxed, funny and cool.

East Side, West Side (1949): Interesting movie starring Barbara Stanwyck, Ava Gardner, James Mason, Van Heflin and Cyd Charisse. Drama, romance, crime, all together. Barbara is worried because the ex lover of her husband (Mason), Ava Gardner, is back in town. She had forgiven his affair, but now she's not sure if her hubby will remain faithful. Ava is great as the seductive bad gal, recognizing she only has her good looks to triumph in life. Stanwyck, and a new supportive male friend (Heflin) have great chemistry.

The Bribe (1949): I hadn't seen this movie before and I really liked it. Ava Gardner and Robert Taylor made three movies together and this one is the best. It tells the story of an American agent investigating a case in some hot Caribbean country. Soon, he falls in love with the wife of one his targets. Ava is innocent: she doesn't know what her husband is up too, but as the movie develops you learn she's also desperate because her hubby is ill and may commit a crime for him. Charles Laughton brilliantly plays the sick and sweaty assistant of the leader of the criminal group, boss Vincent Price. Believe me, Laughton steals the movie with his performance. "The bribe" is entertaining and keeps you intrigued. Ava's acting is believable and measured, according to her role of a long-suffering and young housewife.

Mogambo (1953): I must confess I don't like the complete movie. But if this is an Ava's Box Set I think it should be included only because Ava is hilarious in it. This is a love triangle (the other two involved are Clark Gable and Grace Kelly) that takes place in Africa. Ava's character is a showgirl from New York, an honest gal that doesn't stand social conventions and just lives her life the best she can. The problem is that she falls in love with Clark Gable, while he falls in love with a dull (and married) scientist. In that tense situation, Ava's lines become sharper than an African spear and so hilarious (http://youtu.be/Dli6k6IqSwA) you keep waiting for the next one. Her acting is playful and natural, very memorable.

The barefoot contessa (1954): One of my favorite directors, Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About EveA letter to three wives, etc) is in charge of this movie. It tells the story of a poor Spanish dancer Maria Vargas (Ava) that's is spotted by a millionaire who wants to transform her in an international actress/star and another object in his collection. In the very first moment we learn that Maria has died, so different characters recount the story in flashbacks. One of them, the most important and Ava's best friend, is Humphrey Bogart, a movie director.His iconic voice describes most of the facts, which is pleasing to the ear. Because we know the ending, the tone of the movie is always hopeless; the pace, moderate, giving you time to detect everyone's motivations. Ava's acting is my second favorite, transmitting the grief of her character, like a wild animal in a cage.

The night of the iguana (1964): A classic. Ava at her best. Director John Huston tells the story of an ex priest, now a touristic guide (Richard Burton), that gets involved with one of the girls he's guiding in Mexico, causing the criticism and shock of their teacher. The group stops at Ava's inn, where also arrives a poor artist (Deborah Kerr) and her old poetic uncle. The movie (and novel) is based in everyone's passions, in human relationships, in the things that are unsaid. The clash of these different people provokes a dramatic implosion, but at the end everyone manages to solve their issues. Here Ava is ironic because she's tired of her life; passionate, because she knows that previous fact. And by portraying that in such natural way, Ava looks more alive than ever.

Well, that's it. Hope you enjoyed!
Thank you so much for writing such a great "Box Set Monday" post, Clara! :)

As always, if you would like to write a guest post for "Box Set Monday", just leave me a comment (please leave me some way of contacting you though), drop me an email, tweet me etc. and we'll work something out! :D

P.S. I participated in the first part of a new series over on Clara's blog on Friday, you can check it out here. :)


  1. Thanks for having me, Sophie! So sorry I didn't get more reactions/participation for your blog, maybe I talked too much...Anyway, I had a blast discovering more movies from Ava :)

  2. Great list and wonderful article, Clara! I can't believe I have not seen a lot of these, especially her lighter movies. Some of my favorites are mostly her dramas, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, The Sun Also Rises (just did an article on my blog about this one!), Night of the Iguana...I'm going to have to take a look at some of the ones you talk about!

    Sophie, I love these kind of series, and if you are interested, I would be a happy participant. Just let me know. Clara knows how to get hold of me. I love blogs done by really young people who love classic movies. They will live forever with people like you keeping them in the public eye.

  3. Hi Sophie,
    I'm Rianna and I write a classic movie blog (franklymydear-blog.blogspot.com) called "Frankly, My Dear." I was passed on the Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award and since your blog is so wonderful, and one of the first classic movie blogs I started to read, I had to give it to you, too. You can see my blog for the details...

  4. Hey, Sophie! I've given your blog an award. You can view it here:



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