Monday, September 21, 2009

Meeting "Midnight Mary"

The discussion for today will focus on Midnight Mary.  We were all fascinated to see Loretta Young play a prostitute/gun moll. One is NOT used to her playing anything but the sweet innocent. However, she was excellent in this, a tribute to her abilities as an actress.  Though Midnight Mary IS a traditional woman's picture, it is also a condemnation of the Great Depression, and the conditions that women faced as a result. Mary Martin ends up in reform school, primarily because she is an orphan and has no one to defend her (when it is her friend who is stealing).  When she returns to the community, she is unable to find work, and ultimately turns to prostitution just to pay for food.  We noticed that there are real similarities to the situation facing Myra in Waterloo Bridge (we were discussing the the 1931 version - because it fit our "precode" focus, but this certainly applies to the the 1940 version as well).

Quite a bit of our discussion was about Ricardo Cortez, this time playing Leo, the mobster (who is a really awful human being). He is, of course, so very different in this than his role in Torch Singer.  We found an interesting comparison to Franchot Tone's Tom, who is our hero in the film.  Though he marries another woman after Mary rejects him, we felt that Tone made the character a lot stronger than we would have expected.  We also liked Mary's relationship with him.  Her desire to protect him from her past was lovely; we also felt that he was well aware of her past, and that it made no difference to him.

Here's a scene, featuring Loretta Young and Ricardo Cortez:

Next posting will be about another very interesting William Wellman film: Heroes for Sale.

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