George as the “Consummate Cad”, Part II

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George played the role of various types of cads in many of his movies as I mentioned in my last post, “George as the ‘Consummate Cad’, Part I “.  I will discuss only two of the better-known ones here. All of them are certainly worth seeing.

In 1942 George filmed the George Cukor movie Her Cardboard Lover with Norma Shearer and Robert Taylor. In this comedy Shearer is in love with George (of course) but he makes her miserable because he takes her for granted and treats her badly,  but she cannot resist him (naturally). She decides to discourage George from contacting her because she always goes to him when he calls (who wouldn’t!). To this end she hires Robert Taylor, who is in love with her, to pretend to be her secretary and keep her from being alone with George and tempted to return to his arms. However, when George shows up she falls for him again and tries to get rid of Taylor so she can go to George on his boat. After many comedy scenes, one involving a hilarious fight between George and Taylor, Shearer falls in love with Taylor (I can’t understand how). This is a fun film to watch but hard to find. Incidentally, it is one of the two movies, the other being Rage In Heaven (1941), that caused Louie B. Mayer to decide that George would be a fine romantic leading man, which he would have. To this end Mayer invited George to lunch to discuss the prospect.  However, George wasn’t interested so he didn’t show up for lunch. George said that romantic stars must continually be concerned about maintaining their looks as they age and that they frequently fall from stardom fast.  Whereas, to quote George “a good character actor is virtually indestructable”.

Another movie which George filmed in 1942, in which he was the leading man and which brought him much critical acclaim, was The Moon and Sixpence . This is the film version of the book of the same title written by W. Somerset Maugham . The  film is loosely based on the life of the artist Paul Gauguin. George plays Charles Strickland, a staid London broker who in the pursuit of  his dream of becoming a painter deserts his wife and family and betrays his friends and associates.  The film take us through Strickland’s life in Paris and finallly to Tahiti where, after living a life devoted to painting and the pleasures of the senses, Strickland is forced to confront himself as he dies of leprosy.  In the film George has a beard and although he is undeniably drop-dead gorgeous still I prefer to see his entire face unadorned by any facial hair.

 I am quoting now from of a review of the movie which I found at Answers.com:

“Nobody played a cad better than the supercilious George Sanders, and rarely did he have a better showcase role than that in The Moon and Sixpence. Sanders was born to play W. Somerset Maugham‘s Charles Strickland; no other actor could have conveyed the intelligence, the cruelty, the disdain, and the selfishness and yet so effectively laced it with a tortured melancholy, an inner sadness, and a fiercely guarded vulnerability. Misogynistic and often unpleasant, Sanders’ Strickland is nonetheless fascinating and appealing, a complex character that is brought fully to life in Sanders’ sure hands. The star gets fine support from the likes of Herbert Marshall, Florence Bates, and Eric Blore — but Sanders remains in control throughout. Albert Lewins screenplay is also of great help for Sanders, even if portions are a bit stilted. Lewin’s direction is tasteful and captures the feel of the original book, even if it is a bit slow and labored in places. Lewin’s encroaching use of color as Strickland comes into his own as a genius painter is an especially nice touch. The Moon and Sixpence is a small gem, one that allows its star to shine brightly. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi” 
 You can read more at : http://www.answers.com/topic/the-moon-and-sixpence-film-1#ixzz1YtARycDZ
Certainly, the phrase ‘fiercely guarded vulnerability” describes George…
 

George as the “Consummate Cad”, Part I

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In many of George’s 110 films he played the role for which he is best known–that of “The Cad”. Of course this was just a role he played but he incorporated it into his personal image because of the publicity this engendered. As I have written earlier in the post “George Loved Women, Really..”, George frequently elaborated on his screen images for the notoriety it brought.

George played many types of cads, from the “real rotter”  in Rebecca (1940)   which I discuss in this post, to  a “woman manipulating” cad as in Her Cardboard Lover (1942), to a cad using women’s love for professional advancement as in The Private Affairs of Bel Ami (1947), to the gentle, womanizing cad in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947).

Although not George”s first cad role, which was Lloyd’s of London (1936),      probably his best known and most “caddish” role was that of a “real rotter” in the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film Rebecca. His portrayal of Jack Favell was masterful. He was such a blackguard that you want to slap him but at the same time want to kiss him because he is so handsome and sexy. His performance completely outshown  that of Olivier.  One aspect of his performance that I found intriguing is that he pitched his voice a tiny bit higher than his usual voice and that he talked with just the slightest drawl.  It is very effective.  One scene which I found particularly amusing is the one in which Olivier hits George in the chin and knocks him down.   As if  THAT  could happen! George must have been hard pressed not to laugh!

In Rebecca George plays the favorite cousin of Olivier’s first wife, the beautiful Rebecca, with whom George had an affair. George THINKS that Rebecca was pregnant and Olivier found out, and knowing that the child was George’s, killed Rebecca. I don’t want to go into the plot any further and spoil it for you. It is the usual marvellous Hitchcock production and I know you would enjoy seeing it.  Of course, the movie is set in England

His performance as Favell earned George much critical acclaim and, I believe is what got him his role in a second Hitchcock movie that year, Foreign Correspondent  . In this film he got to play a “good chap”, which, after all, he really was. I was planning to discuss the other films mentioned above but I will save them for another post.  🙂