Wise: Hello, Werth. It’s Stress Awareness Month and I’m trying to bring a little enlightenment and peace into my world. Care for some chamomile tea?
Werth: Only if it’s spiked with vodka. Look, is this a bad time for Film Gab? Because we can do this after you give yourself an oat bran facial or whatever else you have planned.
Wise: No, I’m prepared. Talking to a Friend is one of the Ten Strategies for Stress Reduction.
Werth: I love a good ellipsis.
Wise: Planned as a follow-up to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? the movie originally re-teamed Davis with Joan Crawford until either illness or on-set rivalry forced Crawford to drop out of the picture. A number of replacements were considered, including Katherine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck, Loretta Young, and Vivien Leigh whose legendary response to the offer was: “I can just about stand to look at Joan Crawford at six in the morning on a southern plantation, but I couldn't possibly look at Bette Davis.” Instead, Olivia de Havilland got the role of the poor cousin returning to the ancestral home of Davis’s Charlotte who has lived as a mad recluse ever since her married lover was discovered hacked to bits in the summer house.
Werth: I hate when that happens.
Werth: Moonlight and magnolias mixed with an ax.
Werth: Maybe that’s true, but there’s really nothing like the stress of being a woman of leisure in Edwardian England, and that’s why George Cukor’s 1944 thriller Gaslight really stresses me out.
Wise: Really? I thought it would be the lack of electric lighting.
Werth: Ingrid Bergman plays Paula Alquist, the blushing bride of handsome and romantic pianist Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer.) They have returned from their honeymoon to live in her childhood home, nestled in a picturesque London square complete with crowing flower peddlers.
Wise: I feel the stress washing over me in waves.
Werth: Did I mention that as a child, Paula found her famous opera star aunt strangled to death in that same house, the murder never solved?
Wise: That could make being carried over the threshold a little creepy.
Werth: Soon poor Paula begins to forget and lose things, hear footsteps at night, and imagine that the gas lamps in her bedroom are dimming all because she is, as her husband so gently puts it, “high-strung.”
Wise: I’ve heard about cures for high-strung Edwardian women...
Wise: That sounds like an abandoned Calvin Klein fragrance.
Wise: Talk about out of the fire and into the Nazi espionage ring.
Wise: Whew! I’m not sure if delving into these stress-filled movies made me feel better or worse. Maybe we should put on some Enya and journal about our experiences.
Werth: You do the Orinoco Flow. I’ll think of themes for next week’s Film Gab.