Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Vincent Price Movie of the Week | The Whales of August (1987)

The Screen's Immortals...
A movie you'll never forget. 

Here's something to pencil into your diaries. On Monday 14 March, the BFI Southbank has a matinee screening in NFT1 of Lindsay Anderson's final feature, 1987's The Whales of August, which not only featured a dream cast (Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, Vincent Price and Ann Sothern) but also a story with a passionate heart that allowed these veteran talents to shine one last time. A talk on filmmaker Lindsay Anderson will also take place at 11am. Both events are FREE if you are over-60 (otherwise normal NFT prices apply). Click on the link to buy tickets http://bit.ly/1nRy2Xy

• But don't worry if you can't make the screening as we've got the entire film for you to watch here. Check it out below.
Photographs fade. Memories live forever. 
The Whales of August tells the story of two elderly widowed sisters near the end of their lives, spending a summer in a seaside house in Maine (the real-life Pitkin Point House on Cliff Island, off Casco Bay in Portland). The surroundings cause them to recall their relationship as young women, and the summers they had enjoyed there in the past. They reflect on the passage of time, and the bitterness, jealousies and misunderstandings that slowly festered over the years and kept them from establishing a true closeness in their relationship.

Libby, played by Bette Davis, is the more infirm of the two sisters, and her nature has become bitter and cold as a result. Sarah, played by Lillian Gish, is a softer and more tolerant character, intent on nursing her sister through her discomfort and trying to breach the gulf that has grown between them. The resentment that Libby so clearly displays to her stifles Sarah's every attempt at making a friendly overture towards her, and Sarah cautiously retreats from her.

Mr Maranov (Vincent Price) is a Russian emigré who provides a romantic interest for Sarah, and helps her to recall the happiness of her youth, while also reminding her of the marriage and husband that she has lost. Tisha (Ann Sothern) is the vivacious lifelong friend who provides common sense, fun and laughter, and is the catalyst for some of the sisters' conversations and revelations. In flashbacks, actresses Margaret Ladd, Mary Steenburgen and Tisha Sterling (Sothern's real-life daughter) play respectively Libby, Sarah, and Tisha as young women.

Now here's something I'd like to share with you all (well, almost). It's a postcard I received from Vincent on 3 July  1987 which mentions him appearing in The Whales of August. I love this card as it hits straight at Vinnie's passion for the arts. Its on a repro of Piero della Francesca's La Vittoria di Costantino su Massenzio from the Basilica di S Francesco in Srezzo, Toscana, which he must have collected during his travels in Italy during his lifetime. Mind you, Vinnie had just returned from a cruise with Coral in China and Japan when he wrote this card - and in the same week he dined with Dali, Plummer and Roddy McDowell and on Saturday 38 June attended a wedding. Sorry, but I've blacked out some personal bits.

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