Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest • Film Analysis
Original Title: Beyond the Forest Spoken Language(s): English Rating: 6 Release Date: October 21, Primary Year: ONLINE & EMAIL SUPPORT. Rosa Moline is bored with life in a small town. She loves Chicago industrialist Neil Latimer who has a hunting lodge nearby. Rosa squeezes her husband's. Format, Prime Video (streaming online video). Devices . Beyond the forest lies that great encounters with men, in Chicago or any place where the atmospehere .
If I don't get out of here I hope I die! Looking awkward, uncomfortable and unable to get even a remotely credible foothold on the type of bad-to-the-bone vexed vixen Gloria Grahame could play in her sleep; Davis whom director King Vidor seemed intent on molding into a bad copy of Jennifer Jones' Dueling in the Sun hotpot in a peasant blouse relies instead on a mannered read: And while I can fully understand why she campaigned enthusiastically to be replaced by Virginia Mayo in the part—"She's good at these sorts of roles!
When they enhance rather than derail a production, they shine like beacons of inadvertent genius. But in accessing the "Carol Burnett Show parody" level of Bette Davis's unsubtle take on the character of Rosa Moline in Beyond the Forest which bears more than a passing resemblance to a supposed-to-be-awful screen test performance Davis gives in 's The Starit doesn't seem fair to lay all the blame at the actress's ankle-strapped feet.
For example, I'm not sure who came up with Davis' almost goth girl appearance here, but you'd have to look to Joan Crawford's garish getup in Strait-Jacket to find a campier image of toxic sexuality. Another problem is Davis' age. Although only 40, Davis looks at least five years older, the resultant effect being that Rosa's desire to hightail it out of Loyalton comes off as half-hearted at best, at worst, an epic case of foot-dragging.
Coffee, Warners' only woman screenwriter which, perhaps in an effort to undercut audience sympathy and identification who wouldn't want to get out of that hick town?
Though one can imagine any number of good reasons why a vital woman would feel stifled by small town life, the film sees fit to reduce all Rosa's desires to the material and superficial. The only time the movie comes close to granting her recognizably human emotions is when tellingly her spirit is broken by a particularly humiliating visit to Chicago.
Otherwise she's depicted as little more than an overage Sadie Thompson spewing forth an unbroken stream of harsh invectives at anyone unfortunate enough to cross her path. Pregnant, hair restrained, body covered, and God forbid wearing flat shoes; Rosa, now convinced of her ordinariness, is at last brought low.
Is this return to traditional gender roles what people wanted from women in the postwar years? Vidor ratchets up the excess to the point that everything about it feels satirical, even when it's in deadly earnest. The natural performances of the rest of the cast, Joseph Cotten especially, grounds the film just enough to provide Davis' over-the-moon emoting with a solid springboard from which to soar.
Beyond the Forest (1949)
Set up as the film's dramatic centerpiece and given ample buildup by having the Fred Fisher song "Chicago That Toddlin' Town " chime in on the soundtrack every time Rosa gets that faraway look in her eyes; the sequence instead plays out like an early draft of Neil Simon's The Out of Towners.
She's kept waiting in his offices for hours. He finally calls but she's so lost in thought "I'm Rosa Moline!
They meet up and he greets her with wonderful news: She gets kicked out of a bar for soliciting. She gets propositioned by a slob in the middle of a monsoon.
Beyond the Forest - Wikipedia
Has to chase down a cab in her ankle straps. But unlike the myriad male-centric films devised to reassure unexceptional men that the world actually favored them; the women in the film noirs and women's pictures always paid a price for their freedom. The fun we had watching the "bad girls" who always dressed better, had the best lines, and moved the plot forward was always undercut by the knowledge that no matter how much havoc was wreaked, before fade-out, order in the form of gender-role normalcy would be restored to the universe.
Beyond the Forest is too overwrought for me to take seriously, but if well-crafted camp can be considered a legitimate genre and since we all know how difficult it is to pull off, maybe it should be it's one of the best of its kind. It is, perhaps, Molly Haskell who puts it best: And here is Davis, not beautiful, not sexy, not even young, convincing us that she is all these things — by the vividness of her own self-image, by the vision of herself she projects so fiercely that we have no choice but to accept it.
One look at Rosa tells us that her struggle to escape will fail.BEYOND THE FOREST (King VIDOR, 1949) Bette DAVIS & Joseph COTTEN
Her defeat and, finally, her downfall take on an inevitability that tilts Beyond the Forest away from melodrama and towards tragedy. Rosa may be a ham, but she is as irrevocably doomed as The Trojan Women.
Beyond the Forest () - DVD PLANET STORE
With luck, they could fire off their guns simultaneously, and die together. Yet nothing and nobody in Beyond the Forest gives any such hope to Rosa Moline. Joseph Cotten, as her dull-but-decent doctor husband, is a study in just how irrelevant a leading actor can be.
We spy her first — posed on a rock in a river, like some over-the-hill dime store Venus — gazing into a pocket mirror as she idly plucks her eyebrows. A few scenes later, a rich young beauty Ruth Roman arrives from Chicago and promptly sparks her envy. Finally, as the film grinds to its climax, an ailing Rosa dying from a self-induced abortion rises from her bed and makes one last-ditch effort to escape from Hicksville.
She staggers to her bedroom mirror and smears herself, grotesquely, with lipstick and mascara. Or even, and particularly for gay audiences, to Dirk Bogarde at the finale of Death in Venice [Luchino Visconti, ]. It is also, I feel, subversive in a way that few films in a complacent post-World War II Hollywood would ever dare to be.
For the most part, a commercial action movie depends on our ability to accept that distinction — or not to question it, at any rate, for the better part of two hours. Beyond the Forest is one of a very few Hollywood films that invite us to question the forbidden and violent impulses of its lead character — not to mention our own forbidden and violent impulses, should we dare to empathise with her. Not a fashionable thing to do in the US inin a country flush from its victory in World War II — but a thing that needs doing, all the same.