Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Going Home

Home is where the heart is.

I watched The Snakepit (1948), staring Olivia de Havilland as a housewife who has a mental breakdown and ends up in an insane asylum, last week for the first time in many years. The first time I saw it I was about thirteen years old and it made a big impact on me. Especially the scene where the inmates are at a dance and actress Jan Clayton starts singing the song Going Home. I cried like a baby as she sang because I knew most of the people listening and singing along were most likely never going to leave the hospital. Watching it this time I still teared up during this scene because I now understand the poignancy of it all even more than I did as a child.

In addition to watching it with older eyes this time I was also watching it with years of movie experience behind me and now have a greater appreciation of the supporting cast. At thirteen I knew who Olivia de Havilland was, recognized Celeste Homes in a small part, and was surprised to see Jan Clayton but did not know she could sing. As for the rest of the cast, well, I didn't even think of them as actors but instead saw them as real inmates in a real hospital.

Below is the scene I've been talking about and it starts with Olivia de Havilland as Virginia Cunningham talking with her Doctor who informs her she is "going to staff" which means she will soon be discharged from the hospital. In the background the melody of Going Home starts playing and then the voice of Jan Clayton is heard.

Jan Clayton (1917-1983) was, for a certain generation of Americans, the first "Lassie's Mom" on television when she played Ellen Miller on TV's Lassie from 1954 to 1957 . She started her career as a singer and was the original Julie Jordan in the Broadway production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel.

At 1:53 and 2:08 you will see a woman in the crowd who is holding her intertwined arms in front of her. That is actress Celia Lovsky (1898-1979). She was born in Vienna and moved to Berlin in 1929 where she met actor Peter Lorre. She married him in 1934 in London after which they both moved to America. She is best know by Star Trek fans for her role as the Vulcan high priestess T'Pau in the 1969 episode titled Amok Time.

The women standing to Lovsky's right is Italian born actress Inez Palange (1889-1962) who is best know for playing gangster Tony Camonte's mother in the original version of Scarface (1932).

At 2:21 there is a close-up of a crying Ruth Donnelley (1896-1982). She shows up in many movies from the 1930s and 1940s including Footlight Parade (1933) with James Cagney, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) with Gary Cooper, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) with James Stewart, and The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) with Bing Crosby and Ingrid Bergman.

Standing just to her left is a man who looks like actor Sterling Holloway. He isn't but he looks like him enough to send me on a search to find out just who he was and what other movies he had been in. He turns out to be an actor named Ashley Cowan (1921-1990) who, according to IMDB, appeared in 76 movies and/or television shows during his acting career.

As the camera pans to the left of Ruth Donnelley you can see actress Angela Clarke (1909-2010) standing on her right. I recognized her because she had small parts in two of my favorite movies from 1953, Houdini and The Wax Museum. Like most of the other actors listed she also did a lot of television work.

At 2:48 is actress Betsy Blair (1923–2009). Technically Blair wasn't a supporting actor as this role was at the beginning of her career. A few years later she would star with Ernest Borgnine in Marty (1955). At that time she was on the Hollywood Blacklist and was only allowed to do the movie when her husband, actor Gene Kelly, intervened. Her work in Marty brought her an Academy Award nomination but did nothing to help her career. In 2003 her autobiography The Memory of All ThatLove and Politics in New York, Hollywood, and Paris was published.

The song has always brought up melancholic feelings for me when ever I've heard it since I connect it to this movie but for the last week the lyrics Going home, going home, I'm a going home have been going through my head or have been sung out loud by me and creating a feeling of joy and happiness.  This is because the lyrics are true.  One of the reasons why I've have been away from blogging so much is because my husband and I have decided to move back to Colorado.  We have been looking at houses along the front range near Fort Collins and if  things work out we will be back there by the middle of December.  I'm going home.

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