On behalf of myself and Crystal, I would just like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has joined us to celebrate Joseph Cotten.
You’ve all written excellent articles and reviews, and these have all shown me that Joseph is still very much a beloved star today.
I’m still trying to get round everyone and comment on your entries, but I’m afraid that I’m not well at the moment, and I have so much stuff going on right now. I will try and get to your blogs as soon as I can. x
Please be sure to check out Poppity’s post for the blogathon, which was published yesterday. She discusses Joseph’s performance in Under Capricorn.
We are both really looking forward to reading all of your reviews and articles over the next three days. Thanks again for joining us in this celebration of Joseph Cotten and his films. Check back to this post throughout today to see the entries.
Day 1 Entries
Cinematic Scribblings discusses Lo Scopone Scientifico, which is a lesser known film starring Joseph Cotten and Bette Davis.
Moon In Gemini tells us about the time that Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright reunited on screen in The Steel Trap.
Mike’s Take On The Movies reviews Two Flags West, a film set during the American Civil War.
The Midnite Drive-In discusses Joseph’s performance in The Hearse.
This is my entry for the Joseph Cotten blogathon being co-hosted by myself and Crystal in a few days time. I can’t wait to read all of your entries.
Joseph Cotten is a great favourite of mine. I like how he could easily switch between playing very likeable and easy going characters, and characters who were more darker and difficult to understand.
Joseph was one of the most reliable and popular American classic era actors. He was very good friends with Orson Welles, and it is Orson who we have to thank for Joseph becoming a film actor in the first place.It was also Orson Welles who gave Joseph his start in films.
Joseph started out working alongside Orson in the Mercury Theatre. The Mercury Theatre was Orson’s independent theatre, radio, and film company, which he had co-founded with John Houseman in 1937.
Joseph first appeared on screen when he starred in Too Much Johnson(1938), this was a film directed by Orson Wells. This was a film that was considered to be lost for decades, until it was discovered in 2013. Joseph’s next performance was as the best friend in Orson’s classic Citizen Kane. Then he went on to appear in The Magnificent Ambersons and Journey Into Fear. He would go on to become a popular and reliable actor in both film and television.
I’d like to share my three favourite Joseph Cotten film performances with you.
Since You Went Away (1944)
This WW2 drama is my first choice for a favourite Joseph Cotten performance. I love the film a great deal for its story and characters, but Joseph’s performance and the character he plays is what brings me back to this film again and again.
Joseph plays the decent, fun loving, dependable, charming and loveable Tony Willet. He really steals every scene he is in. Joseph plays Tony in such a way that for me he becomes the life and soul of the film.
Tony is the best friend of Anne Hilton(Claudette Colbert)and her husband, who is away fighting in the war.
Tony is in America waiting on his orders from the Navy, when he meets up with Anne and her family and makes it his mission to cheer them all up.
It is clear to us that Tony is in love with Anne, and that she knows it but that neither will act on it. Their relationship could so easily have turned into an affair, but I think their relationship has much more meaning and poignancy precisely because it doesn’t develop into an affair.
Joseph conveys Tony’s love and desire for Anne so well, but he also conveys his love for his friend(Anne’s husband)too and we know that he would never damage their marriage by starting an affair with Anne. We feel sorry for Tony because he can’t get the happy ending he desires in his heart, but we love him all the more for not breaking up his friends marriage. You know he would do anything for Anne and her family and he wouldn’t ask for anything in return. What a guy! What a performance from Joseph!
A Shadow Of A Doubt(1943)
This was the film that forever changed Joseph’s screen image. With this role he went from playing very likeable characters, to playing a cold, manipulative and very scary serial killer.
Joseph plays Charlie, a smooth and charming man visiting his family in a small American town. Charlie’s exterior is a mask hiding his dark true self.
He is actually a serial killer, and he is a cruel, cold and very dangerous man. When his young niece (Teresa Wright) discovers his secret, he plots to kill her too to protect his secret.
Joseph is excellent as the dark and charming Charlie. I like how he effortlessly switches between likeable charmer and deranged and scary monster. His performance is all in his eyes and expressions and he does a terrific job. In my opinion this is Joseph Cotten’s best screen performance.
I’ll Be Seeing You(1944)
Another film set during WW2. I’ll Be Seeing You isn’t just your average romance story, this love story has some stings in the tale. In this film Joseph plays Zachary Morgan, a shell shocked soldier, who has just been released from a military hospital.
Zachary is having a tough time dealing with his symptoms and readjusting to life on the outside. All that changes when he meets the kind Mary (Ginger Rogers).
Zachary is unaware of Mary’s secret that she is a prisoner convicted of manslaughter. Mary has been allowed out of prison for a short time to spend time with her family.
Joseph totally convinces as a traumatised soldier struggling with his symptoms and finding a small degree of peace with the woman he is falling for. Joseph’s performance in this film is both subtle and poignant.
I especially love how Joseph conveys to us Zachary’s anxiety and awkwardness being around people and loud noises. Joseph also really makes you believe that his character is suffering and trying so very hard to get some control over his condition.
What are your views on Joseph’s performances in these three films? What are your favourite Joseph Cotten performances?
Crystal from In the Good Old Days Of Classic Movies has asked me to co-host this blogathon with her. I was delighted to accept her invitation to be co-host. I really hope that you will all be able to join us both as we celebrate the life and career of the hugely talented classic film era actor, Joseph Cotten.
For this blogathon you can write about any of Joseph’s films. You can write about him as an actor. You can write about your favourite Joseph Cotten performances and screen characters. You can write more than one entry if you want to.
We will be accepting two duplicates per screen title, but no more than this as he made so many films, so there is lots for you to choose from.
The blogathon will be held on the 5th, 6th and 7th of September, 2018. There will also be a wrap up post held on the 8th. We picked these dates because September 5th marks the 77th anniversary of the release of Citizen Kane, which is one of Joseph’s most famous films.
I will be hosting on the 5th, and Crystal will be hosting on the 6th and 7th. Let one or both of us know what you would like to write about.
Please check the particiaption list below to see who is writing about what. Please take one of the banners and pop it on your site somewhere to help to promote the event.
In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood: Portrait Of Jennie
Maddy Loves Her Classic Films: My three favourite Joseph Cotten performances
This is my third and final entry for my Hitchcock Blogathon. This time I’m writing about the film that Hitch called his personal favourite from amongst his own films. It’s really not hard to see why he loved this one so much.
Long before David Lynch showed us that small towns hid secrets, and that all was not well behind closed doors; Hitch gave us all of that in just one film. That film is Shadow Of A Doubt, and it is a nightmare depiction of discovering someone you love is not who you thought them to be.This film also shows innocence being lost, and horror and disruption landing in a small American town.
There is also some terrific Hitchcock black humour to be found in this film. Henry Travers and Hume Cronyn play two best friends who meet regularly to discuss (in minute detail) ways in which they could kill one another and not get detected. These bizarre conversations appear throughout the film, at one point even carrying on at the dinner table!
The film is set (and filmed out on location)in Santa Rosa, California. We are shown the positive sides of small town life in this film. You (usually)get good and supportive neighbours, have a strong sense of community, and you feel that your town is the safest place you could be.
Hitch also shows us that living in a place like this shelters the inhabitants from the violence etc that you will be (unfortunately)almost certain to encounter in the big city. The trouble with being sheltered from it is that you never believe anything bad will ever happen to you, or to those living in your community.
This film sees the eyes of the small town community being opened to evil. This evil comes in the form of Charles Oakley (Joseph Cotten). Known to all as Charlie, he is a smooth talking, charming and elegant man.
He is also a serial killer, who targets wealthy widows and is dubbed by the Police and media as ‘The Merry Widow Killer’.
Charlie’s identity is as yet unknown, but the Police have gathered many leads and are beginning to suspect him.
Charlie gets on a train and travels to Santa Rosa. He goes to stay with his beloved elder sister, Emma (Patricia Collinge), and her husband Joseph ( Henry Travers).
Charlie is happy to see them, and they are happy to see him. Charlie is overjoyed to be reunited with his teenage nice and namesake, young Charlie (Teresa Wright).
These two have a fascinating relationship. They have an almost telepathic bond with each other and can read each other like a book. Young Charlie looks up to her uncle and sees him as a breath of fresh air in her life.
When Detective Jack Graham (MacDonald Carey) speaks to young Charlie about her uncle, she soon begins to suspect that her Uncle may well be hiding a dark secret. As she begins to investigate him he become suspicious and soon their relationship becomes one of cat and mouse.
When I first saw this film I was in my mid teens, and I picked up then a strong hint of something that almost seems like sexual tension to me between the two Charlie’s. The more I’ve watched this as I’ve grown older, I can still detect this weird tension between them. The way young Charlie behaves around Uncle Charlie, it is almost like she has a strong crush on him.
There are also several scenes where they seem to act out things like a couple who’ve had a spat would (such as her acting weird around him, or running off and him chasing her and taking her to the bar.) Am I alone in noticing this tension? I find it hard to believe that something like this would be in this by accident. Everything Hitch included (even the smallest things)were included intentionally.
Joseph Cotten is excellent here as a man with a very dark secret indeed, who presents a likeable front to the world. This role showed what a good dramatic actor Cotten could be, it’s a shame he never again got a role quite like this.
His famous speech about pulling back the fronts of houses to find swine is unforgettable. That speech (although chilling)is correct because behind closed doors many unpleasant things go on all the time that we are never privy too.
In most cases neighbours, friends, family etc wouldn’t believe or accept those things as true if they were told, as the people involved come across as nice when they are out and about in public.
The film also focuses on the dual nature of Charlie and on why he is the way he is. It is revealed later that after a childhood head injury his personality changed. That to me suggests that his actions as an adult are down to his personality change caused by this injury. In regards to this, I think that Hitch was quite ahead of his time looking at psychology and other issues causing someone to do something unpleasant. Charlie goes through life with two faces and personalities and switches between them as when it becomes necessary.
Duality as a theme continues in the film with the nature of Charlie and young Charlie. She represents the innocence and joy he had as a child.
He represents the reality of adulthood, innocence dies, and with pressures and responsibilities there is less joy to be had when you are grown, than when you are younger.
Their characters are also almost like twins, and although they are separate they have this connection and outlook that makes them almost like one person.
Teresa Wright is excellent as the young woman who loses her innocence and sheltered nature quicker than she should have done. She captures the horror and disbelief of discovering an unpleasant truth about someone you love. Teresa is a very expressive actress, and in many scenes in this she doesn’t need dialogue as everything we need to know can be seen in her face.
Patricia Collinge is very moving as the devoted elder sister to Uncle Charlie. Emma clearly adores him and worships the ground he walks on, almost to the point of self delusion. You almost don’t want him to get caught for her sake. You know she would break when told the horrific truth.
An excellent film that is one of Hitch’s best in my opinion.It is also a good one to watch if you are after strong performances.
My favourite scenes are the following. The finale on the train. Uncle Charlie chasing Charlie into town and taking her to the bar. Young Charlie trying to get in the Library at closing time.
What are your thoughts on this film? Please share your comments below.
From cinematic classics, to goofy guilty pleasures, and everything in between, join me as I review the best and worst of Hollywood. Grab a slice of pizza, pour some wine, and meet me in the living room: We have movies to discuss.