Then Playing — Krane’s Confectionery; Freaky; The Bride Came C.O.D.

Krane’s Confectionery (Astrid Henning-Jensen, 1951). Writer-director Astrid Henning-Jensen convincingly conveys the numbing misery of a provincial seamstress (Rønnaug Alten) who’s relied upon and disrespected by nearly everyone in her personal sphere, including her terminally ungrateful teenaged children (Toralv Maurstad and Randi Korstad). She tries to step away from her responsibilities, goaded in her drift into independence by a sailor (Erik Hell), and the film follows her sullen progression. With a level of patience that’s aligned with broader European film trends at the time, Henning-Jensen constructs the narrative with riveting psychological acuity. She’s especially well attuned to the busybody fuss of the other townspeople, who sate their boredom, and their own personal dissatisfaction, by keying in on the soap-opera doings as the seamstress’s interpersonal complications mount. Krane’s Confectionery is quietly gripping.

Freaky (Christopher Landon, 2020). Although not officially credited as such, Freaky obviously takes its inspiration from Freaky Friday, up to and including its title. Instead of an exasperated mother and daughter, the mystical body swap takes place between a serial killer (Vince Vaughn) and a teenaged girl (Millie Kessler) who would usually be — and nearly was — one of his victims. Director Christopher Landon tries to slalom between satire and horror, but he winds up handling neither tone particularly well. The glancing attempts at addressing the offhand misogyny often threaded through horror movies come across as clumsy riffs on the foundational turnabout upon which the whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer premise was built. Kessler comes the closest to redeeming the film, investing real personality into her portrayal, regardless of which psyche she’s called upon to play.

The Bride Came C.O.D. (William Keighley, 1941). Bette Davis plays Joan Winfield, an heiress who’s impulsively gotten engaged to a caddish crooner (Jack Carson), much to the consternation of her father (Eugene Pallette). The patriarch, guarding his fortune as much as his offspring, accepts the offer of pilot Steve Collins (James Cagney) to snatch her up and smuggle her home. The sidetracks have sidetracks as Joan and Steve banter snappily, their antagonism merry-go-rounding around to adoration before the last reel hits. Director William Keighley keeps the proceedings moving briskly, taking full advantage of the snappy script by Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein. Davis and Cagney are a joy to watch together. They bring their well-honed intensity and innate screen presence to the bright, light material. Neither of them was particularly fond of The Bride Came C.O.D., dismissing it as fluff. But they manage to give the fluff weight.

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