Let’s Do This Together: Movie Couples

    I know of a lot of pretty important movie couples.  Not really just “celebrity” couples, but man and wife pairings who are important in the history of movies.  Usually these couples are comprised of the classic “director & leading lady” pairing.  Sometimes it’s a producer.  Here’s a list of some pretty awesome movie couples I can think of (to be old-fashioned, I’ve just included actual married couples):



Irving Thalberg and Norma Shearer:  A true Hollywood power couple!  Thalberg, head of production at the super-studio of Hollywood’s golden age, MGM, was considered a young genius of impeccable taste.  His wife Norma was a very popular actress.  In 1930 she won the Best Actress Oscar for the juicy drama The Divorcee.  She was a bit cross-eyed and not as beautiful as some of the other actresses, but she had talent.  Her detractors would say she got the best parts because her husband was the 2nd most powerful man at the studio (after “King of Hollywood” Louis B. Mayer).  Cynics!  

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Giulietta Masina and Federico Fellini:  My favorite ever!  This husband and wife team combined their talents to make many fantastic movies, including two of the greatest movies of all time:  La Strada (1954) and Nights of Cabiria (1957).  Probably the most beloved and critically lauded movie couple of all time.  

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John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands:  Hollywood’s cutting edge!  If you’re in need of a deeply emotional roller coaster ride, any of the movies these two made together will work.  Faces, Opening Night, and especially A Woman Under the Influence are as full of feeling as any movies ever made.  Cassavetes and Rowlands were married for 35 years until John died in 1989.  I think they’re the coolest of all the movie couples. 

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-Jean-Luc Godard and Anna Karina:  The New Wave couple!  99% of men who become movie directors are doing so in the hopes of marrying somebody exactly like Anna Karina.  She’s as adorable and French as he is annoyingly intellectual and political and French.  Never mind that she was actually born in Denmark and he’s kinda Swiss.  They’re French I think.

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BONUS COUPLE:

Jean-Luc Godard and Anne Wiazemsky: I just found out about this couple the other day, and I was shocked, I even felt betrayed that I had no idea about this.  It’s unbelievable that something like this could escape my attention.  You see, Anne Wiazemsky plays Marie in Au Hasard Balthazar.  The Robert Bresson movie!  I LOVE ROBERT BRESSON MOVIES.  Anne Wiazemsky is a Bresson girl!  I can’t explain how much this stunned me.  How could I not know that Anne Wiazemsky was married to Jean-Luc Godard?  This shook me to my movie couple-loving core.  I think probably it’s because I love Robert Bresson movies so deeply and really believe them.  I can’t imagine that the characters aren’t real, and I REALLY can’t believe that one of his movie stars ended up marrying Godard.  French cinema surprise couple of the century!

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This isn’t a picture of Anne Wiazemsky and Godard, but it is Anne and an ass, which is close enough.  P.S. just affectionate ribbing of JLG; I love him!

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Seeing Red

Red (1994)

    I saw this movie in my first film studies class at UGA.  I love that class, even though the teacher was kind of dismissive of me and said some rude shit to me way out of left field when I visited his office a few years later.  Sometimes needle-necked nerds take issue with my brand of intellectual, tall, dark and handsome suavity.  Cannot be helped.  ANYWAY, this movie was one of the highlights of that first class for me.  I remember being seriously into movies when I was just about to turn 18.  But I don’t think I was ready for all that I was reading and watching until I was 20.  This movie was one of the first “serious” movies I remember being exposed to that was a little deeper in the files than your average Fellini-Godard-Kurosawa-Ford essential type stuff.  It’s also of my time (made while I was alive), which is a bit different for me since most of the time I go over the moon for older movies.  It’s the 1994 Euro-dreamy (a term I invented just now!), art-house movie Red.  

    Red is the final chapter of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three colors trilogy, the first two being Blue and White.  The movies represent the French flag and those virtues liberte, fraternite, egalite.  Loosely, I mean.  Don’t hold Kieslowski to a strict interpretation.  But somehow, this trilogy does cohere in its way, despite each movie telling very different tales of different characters.  I remember Red being my favorite, although I liked them all very much.  

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Adorable Irene Jacob plays a model (not really a stretch)

    Red tells a mysterious story of Valentine, a pretty girl (Irene Jacob, the girl on the banner at the top of my blog!)  living in Geneva.  She hits a dog with her car (don’t worry, only minor bumps and bruises) and meets her (the dog’s) owner, a retired judge who spies on his neighbors.  He is played by French legend Jean-Louis Trintigant.  The movie is about people and relationships and the huge role that chance plays in everything.  A man drops his law book in the street and it falls open.  He picks it up reads the passage over and studies it and is later asked a question about that passage during his exam.  Two young people’s lives are so close but never intersecting, like parallel lines, until a tragic accident brings them together.  Red is a great movie.  The music by Zbigniew Preisner is incredible.  The performances of the actors are very good, especially Trintignant.  It’s an emotional and beautiful movie.

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Irene Jacob and Jean-Louis Trintignant see what the neighbors are up to

    I remember enjoying Red very much as I watched it for the first time, and having a feeling that I was watching something different, not like any movie I’d ever seen.  I was exhilarated by the movie, maybe it was Irene Jacob; I’m sure she moved me very much, but it was also a feeling that the horizon of how movies are was broadened for me.  It’s very hard to describe this excitement, but I knew then that I’d be able to find so many different types of movies to love, some strange, some conventional.  There was an ocean of them, thousands and thousands, more than I could watch in my whole life, and I’d be in love for that long, and the cinema would constantly bring me new discoveries and joys.  I knew this could last forever.  I think this revelation came when I saw Red.

Malick Time Again

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Terrence Malick. That reclusive man from Texas has returned. And so soon! Does the trailer look and feel almost exactly like the Tree of Life trailer? Well, yeah, but I just can’t get enough. Olga Kurylenko crying underwater? Javier Bardem as a priest? I am very excited about these things. I love this trailer because it’s lovely and all but I think the best part is the soothing voice of Javier Bardem. If I could I’d buy an advance ticket for this now, four months in advance.

Sacred Beauty

Nothing Sacred (1937) 

    Carole Lombard is one of my favorite movie stars from my favorite movie era, Hollywood’s golden age of the 1930s and 40s.  Early in her career, because she was so beautiful, she starred as the leading lady in many melodramas, which Hollywood produced by the same assembly line methods perfected by Henry Ford.  In mid 1930s she starred in some very good comedies, and she was probably the best comedic actress of the still young sound era.  Carole Lombard was the perfect comedic hero.  She was dizzy and absurd, pouty and childish, in over her head and head over her heels.  Nobody did it better is an understatement; nobody did it half as good.  In 1942 she had just made To Be or Not to Be, one of the greatest comedies of all time, and was at the very top of her game when she flew to Indiana for a war bond rally.  The flight back to California crashed in Nevada and the world lost its best comedienne.  Carole Lombard was 33 years old when she died.  

    It’s one of the damnedest shames I can think of, and it only makes me treasure Carole Lombard all the more.  She is so great, and her comedies are pure gold.  No matter how good the script is, or who starred opposite her, Carole Lombard is always the highlight.  I cannot choose my favorite of her movies, but one of the best is 1937’s technicolor sensation Nothing Sacred.  

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If you don’t like Carole Lombard in a fireman’s hat, you don’t like anything.

    The movie is screwball zaniness set in New York City and it’s full of the 1930s archetypes I love.  Carole Lombard is Hazel Flagg and Frederic March is newspaper man Wally Cook.  I don’t want to summarize the plot so I’ll just make a little list of things in the movie:  country girl faking sick (radium poisoning!) to get trip out of her sleepy small town and into New York,  newspaper man who breaks the story of very picturesque, very doomed young beauty saying farewell to the world and NYC,  a fake Sultan, a combustible newspaper editor, a wrestling match, hotel suite fisticuffs, a doctor who drinks more than his share, even the Wicked Witch of the West (the actress, anyway).  All these are great, but really, the best thing Nothing Sacred has is Carole Lombard.  And in color!  My goodness she’s just too lovely.  

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The funniest, prettiest lady in the world

    Will there ever be another like her?  Of course not.  Frankly, my head’s spinning over the fact that there was even one Carole Lombard.  Thank goodness.