Humoresque (1946)

December is dedicated to Romanian born (in my hometown, Craiova) director Jean Negulesco.

by guest writer

Having as literary source the novel by the same name by Fannie Hurst, Clifford Odets and Zachary Gold reworked the material for Humoresque, adding an insatiable, wealthy and neurotic patroness of arts, Helen Wright (Joan Crawford). Paul Boray (John Garfield) is torn between ambition and art, all being skilfully pursued by Negulesco through the relationship between Helen and Paul.

The director uses the classical music of Dvořák and Wagner to emphasize and create suspense. The tension reaches its climax when Helen takes a walk on the beach with Paul’s interpretation of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde in the background, playing on the radio. The chiaroscuro cinematography outlines the drama and Joan Crawford’s passionate performance elevates it to an even higher level. Jean Negulesco’s movies are filled with in depth character follow-ups, trying to extract good even out of the worst situations.

photo: theatrical poster


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