Today is Alan Ladd's birthday, so you know what that means! It's time for 93 screencaps and a lengthy, heart-eyed movie review.
So, let's get to it!
"Does a guy have to trust a girl to fall for her?"
That's the central question in Calcutta (1947). Neale Gordon (Alan Ladd) asks it aloud almost three-quarters of the way through the movie, but it's really the core of the whole story. And it's what his character arc revolves around, too.
Pedro and Neale are not amused. Neale in particular likes women only on a temporary basis. He reminds his pal, "You've combed enough dames outta your hair to know what they want: stability. Settling down." And settling down is NOT Neale's idea of a good life. He has no use for any of this stick-to-one-woman-forever nonsense.
Bill gets in a fight about two seconds later, and Pedro and Neale happily fend off his assailants and put him back on his plane to head back to Calcutta. They'll be following as soon as their plane is fixed.
Neale grins at that. "Maybe, but I'm still alive," he purrs before leaving.
Neale is still contemplating everything he doesn't know about who killed Bill when the Friendly Neighborhood Desk Clerk (Milton Parsons) calls to say that Neale should come up to Virginia's room right away. It's been ransacked, and Virginia is nowhere to be found.
We get treated to this sly little exchange that I can't believe got past the censors:
Neale: Has the bed been slept in?
Desk Clerk: No.
Marina: Well, I'm glad you asked that question.
Does Marina know that Neale sleeps with other women? Yes, she's known that all along. Is she okay with that? Not as okay as he's assumed she is. And she's getting less okay with it all the time. Marina's attitude toward Neale is changing from resigned to protective, and Neale hasn't quite noticed yet. He also hasn't noticed that he's started appreciating how steady and dependable Marina is, especially compared to the other leading lady in the story.
(If you were avoiding spoilers, you're safe now.)
Is this movie family friendly? Well, yeah. All the love scenes fade to black a few seconds after they begin. Neale's philandering is obliquely referred to, and you could just view him as someone who goes around kissing a lot of girls if you want to. The death scenes are bloodless. There's no cussing. Lots and lots of cigarettes get smoked, though, and people drink various alcoholic beverages.
I find it very interesting that Alan Ladd made so many movies about three wartime buddies, one of whom gets in terrible trouble and has to be protected, helped, or avenged by the other two. This, The Blue Dahlia (1946), and Saigon (1947) all kind of use that basic set-up. I'm not really going anywhere with this observation, I just noticed it and thought I'd mention it. The three-wartime-buddies motif gets used in lots of other movies too -- Anchors Aweigh (1945), On the Town (1949), and It's Always Fair Weather (1955) come to mind.
Anyway, happy birthday, my dear Alan Ladd :-) Thanks for making all these delicious movies!