Bonus: Bitter Harvest

Watched: May 25 2019

Director: Peter Graham Scott

Starring: Janet Munro, John Stride, Terence Alexander, Anne Cunningham, Alan Badel

Year: 1963

Runtime: 1h 36min

bitter

Source

Jennie (Munro) is a small town girl living in a lonely world. She takes the midnight train going anywhere. Well, actually, she gets a drunken ride with a couple of older men to their apartment in London and is raped and abandoned. But that doesn’t sound as nice.

bitter2
“What do you mean, raped? A beautiful young ginger girl who deliberately drank champagne in the company of strange men cannot possibly be raped.”

Source

Her whole life she has dreamed of the luxury and fame she’s been sold in commercials and movies, but when she tries to pursue it, she is brutally punished by every man she meets. After the rape, she meets barman Bob (Stride) who invites her to stay with him, and the two start a relationship. However, Jennie is not satisfied with just staying at home and being a girlfriend – she wants a career of her own, which Bob sees as a threat to their relationship. Actually, he sees everyone as a threat to their relationship, and would rather have Jennie stay at home and never talk to anyone but him ever again. When she meets abusive producer Karl Denny (Badel), she immediately (and completely out of character) surrenders to him and leaves Bob.

bitter3
“Well, I just figured one abusive asshole is as good as the next. At least he can make me famous.”

Source

Now, Bitter Harvest is an interesting one. Everything we’ve read about this movie (which, granted, isn’t a lot, but still) seems to suggest Jennie is a manipulative, selfish young woman who will do anything to get ahead, and who doesn’t appreciate what she has. But this is not how we read it at all.

bitter 4
Even her obliviousness to the attempted seduction when she’s caught in the bathtub seemed genuine and not manipulative

Source

What we saw was a young, sweet and naïve, though willful, girl who stood up for herself and dreamed of a more exciting life. When she told “nice guy” Bob she was pregnant at their first meeting, she wasn’t lying but thought she told him the truth – she had had sex (read: had been raped) and thus she must be pregnant.

bitter5
It’s bad enough waking up naked in a strange man’s bed without having to worry about pregnancy

Source

Also, she never lies to Bob about what she needs money for, or where she’s going. She just (rightfully) assumes that this is her choice to make, and that if he loves her, he will support her choices. However, despite his kindness in taking her in when they both think she’s pregnant with another man’s child, Bob is a controlling and condescending asshole who resorts to threats and violence when Jennie makes her own choices. When she refuses to leave with him, he tries to strangle her, suggesting he’s not really the nice guy he is painted to be.

Bitter6
A girl who doesn’t do what you tell her and goes out to see people to further her career even though you told her not to? And then has the audacity to talk back to you, the good guy, when you stalk her to drag her back home? Better strangle that bitch!

Source

Jennie’s willful and autonomous side is also what makes her complete surrender at Denny’s slap seem out of character. Personally, we feel that in order to control her like that, he needed to build up to it, not slap her on the first night. However, perhaps her hope of a better life blinds her.

bitter8
We’re just saying, the Jennie from the first part of the movie would never let herself be slapped into submission. At least not on the first date.

Source

Finally, just a couple of words about the popular interpretation of her “little black book” that the police find in her apartment: we didn’t interpret that as evidence of her “promiscuity” as many suggest, but as evidence of Denny prostituting her. However, none of us has read the book the movie is based on – our interpretation is based solely on the movie we watched. And in that, we think Jennie has been unfairly treated by several viewers.

bitter7
Unfair or not, she gets her punishment in the end, as all willful and ambitious girls must.

Source

As mentioned, there are some similarities between Jennie and Patsy from The Small World of Sammy Lee, made especially clear to us as we watched them as a double feature. The difference is that Patsy stumbles into the sex trade because of her love for a man, while Jennie falls into it due to ambition and a hope for a better life for herself. Thus, Patsy makes it out while Jennie must be punished. Really – give us time and money and we can probably write a thesis on this. Although we suspect this has already been done many times over…

So, how do we feel about Bitter Harvest? We think it’s an interesting film to watch, but it’s problematic enough that we can see how it has been removed from the list.

What we learned: Apparently, girls should be satisfied with what they have, whether it’s an uneventful life in a small, dead town or as a spouse to a man prone to violence whenever he doesn’t get his way.

Next time: Bonus: X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963)

Advertisements

#219 Vivre sa Vie

Watched: January 22 2019

Director: Jean-Luc Godard

Starring: Anna Karina, Sady Rebbot, André S. Labarthe, Guylaine Schlumberger, Monique Messine

Year: 1962

Runtime: 1h 20min

Vivre

Source

Vivre sa Vie. A blog post in 12 scenes.

Vie1
Scene I: The backs of people’s heads are fascinating

Source

vie2
Scene II: Nana becomes the world’s slowest shop attendant

Source

vie3
Scene III: Nana has excellent taste in movies, and makes terrible decisions about men

Source

vie4
Scene IV: Nana is interrogated

Source

vie5
Scene V: Nana becomes an entrepreneur

Source

vie6
Scene VI: Nana is responsible

Source

 

vie7
Scene VII: Nana slowly writes a letter and finds out how tall she is

Source

vie8
Scene VIII: Nana learns the rules of prostitution. But apparently not the function of a pimp…

Source

vie9
Scene IX: Nana needs attention

Source

vie10
Scene X: Nana is ignored in a threesome

Source

vie11
Scene XI: Nana meets a philosopher and is treated like a person

Source

vie12
Scene XII: Nana learns that you cannot just leave this business…

Source

Engaging and visually interesting, Vivre sa Vie is a must for all fans of French new wave cinema. For hardcore fans, we may also recommend two classic shorts: one here, and the other here. Enjoy!

What we learned: In France, the lion is DEAD tonight.

Next time: What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)