Paul Henreid is back as Turner Classic Movies' Star of the Month of July 2013. TCM will be showing four movies featuring Henreid (Now, Voyager; Deception; The Madwoman of Chaillot; The Spanish Main) and one directed by him (Dead Ringer). (Photo: Paul Henreid lights two cigarettes on the set of Dead Ringer, while Bette Davis remembers the good old days.) (See also: "Paul Henreid Actor.")
Irving Rapper's Now, Voyager (1942) was one of Bette Davis' biggest hits, and it remains one of the best-remembered romantic movies of the studio era -- a favorite among numerous women and some gay men. But why? Personally, I find Now, Voyager a major bore, made (barely) watchable only by a few of the supporting performances (Claude Rains, Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nominee Gladys Cooper), Max Steiner's Academy Award-winning score, and Sol Polito's dreamy black-and-white cinematography.
On the downside, Now, Voyager features the Oscar-nominated Bette Davis at her very worst, playing an ugly duckling who discovers her inner swan. Everything about Davis' performance feels calculated, though some of her longing looks are indelible -- even if for all the wrong reasons. Paul Henreid, for his part, manages to deliver his lines -- credited to Casey Robinson, from a novel by Olive Higgins Prouty -- without cracking up. He also succeeds in lighting two cigarettes at the same time. That takes talent.
Deception, a remake of the 1929 Jeanne Eagels vehicle Jealousy, is, like Now, Voyager, a lush black-and-white romantic melodrama directed by Irving Rapper for Warner Bros. (Both Jealousy and Deception are based on Louis Verneuil's play Monsieur Lamberthier.) The film's production values are outstanding -- music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, cinematography by Ernest Haller, art direction by Anton Grot, set decoration by George James Hopkins -- but the drama itself never quite ignites. Bette Davis, in a role reportedly intended for Barbara Stanwyck, is a tad more restrained in this one, but it's Claude Rains who steals the show, rendering Paul Henreid, stuck in a conventional leading-man role, all but invisible.
The Madwoman of Chaillot, The Spanish Main
Based on Jean Giraudoux's play, The Madwoman of Chaillot (1969) is a dramatic mess, but Katharine Hepburn is excellent in the title role, and the film offers gorgeous color cinematography (Burnett Guffey and Claude Renoir) and a great score (Michael J. Lewis). Paul Henreid is one of the many stars -- Giulietta Masina, Charles Boyer, Yul Brynner, among them -- appearing in what amounts to cameos.
Unfortunately, the troubled The Madwoman of Chaillot -- Bryan Forbes replaced John Huston at the helm -- turned out to be an expensive flop, thus ending Katharine Hepburn's brief run as a box office draw following Guess Who's Coming to Dinner and The Lion in Winter. Screenwriter Edward Anhalt had better luck with his screenplay for Peter Glenville's adaptation of another French play, Jean Anouilh's Becket.
The Spanish Main (1945) is a moderately entertaining swashbuckler, a big success upon its release. Frank Borzage, best known for his romantic melodramas (7th Heaven, Bad Girl), directed this Technicolor romp, with Maureen O'Hara's red hair stealing the show from everybody and everything else. Of note: The Spanish Main features silent era stars Antonio Moreno and, as per the IMDb, James Kirkwood, in bit parts.
Paul Henreid director
Directed by Paul Henreid, Dead Ringer (1964) revolves around his Now, Voyager and Deception co-star, Bette Davis, once again playing twins -- one good, one evil. Davis, of course, had already been there and done that in Curtis Bernhardt's 1946 melo A Stolen Life (as Kate Bosworth and Patricia Bosworth -- no connection to either the actress Kate or the journalist Patricia). Now, Dead Ringer is campy fun, even though the plot and performances don't always work. A curiosity: Dead Ringer features Henreid's daughter, Monika. Also, David Cronenberg's dark 1988 psychological thriller Dead Ringers, starring Jeremy Irons as unbalanced twins, has nothing in common with the Bette Davis flick.
Of note, Paul Henreid directed only a handful of features, but he kept himself busy on television. According to the IMDb, among his directorial TV credits are episodes from dozens of series, including Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Cheyenne, Bonanza, The Third Man, Thriller, The Virginian, and The Big Valley.
Paul Henreid movies (PT)
5:00 PM NOW, VOYAGER (1942). Director: Irving Rapper. Cast: Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper, Bonita Granville, Ilka Chase, Lee Patrick, John Loder, Franklin Pangborn, Katherine Alexander, Mary Wickes, James Rennie, Yola d'Avril, Charles Drake, Claire Du Brey, Elspeth Dudgeon, Lester Matthews, Ian Wolfe. BW-118 mins.
7:00 PM DECEPTION (1946). Director: Irving Rapper. Cast: Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, John Abbott, Benson Fong. BW-112 mins.
9:00 PM DEAD RINGER (1964). Director: Paul Henreid. Cast: Bette Davis, Karl Malden, Peter Lawford, Philip Carey, Jean Hagen, George Macready, Estelle Winwood, George Chandler, Mario Alcalde, Ken Lynch. BW-116 mins. Letterbox Format.
11:00 PM THE MADWOMAN OF CHAILLOT (1969). Director: Bryan Forbes. Cast: Katharine Hepburn, Charles Boyer, Claude Dauphin, John Gavin, Richard Chamberlain, Edith Evans, Giulietta Masina, Yul Brynner, Oskar Homolka, Paul Henreid, Donald Pleasence, Nanette Newman, Danny Kaye, Margaret Leighton, Fernand Gravey, Gerald Sim. C-132 mins. Letterbox Format.
1:15 AM THE SPANISH MAIN (1945). Director: Frank Borzage. Cast: Maureen O'Hara, Paul Henreid, Walter Slezak, Binnie Barnes, John Emery, Barton MacLane, J.M. Kerrigan, Fritz Leiber, Nancy Gates, Jack La Rue, Mike Mazurki, Ian Keith, Curt Bois, Antonio Moreno, Marcelle Corday, John George, James Kirkwood. C-101 mins.