Darling (1965)

August 26, 2009

On a quest to watch every Dirk Bogarde film at my disposal, I realized that I had recorded the film "Darling" in Februrary during 31 Days of Oscar. I'm a fan of Julie Christie, and she won the Oscar as best actress of 1965 for her performance in this film, the same year that she starred as Lara in one of my favorite epics, Doctor Zhivago.

As further evidence of my complete ignorance as to who Dirk Bogarde was, I chose Laurence Harvey as the co-star when scribbling down the stars of the film on my DVD. I am not a big Laurence Harvey fan (I am dreadfully sorry if anyone is a fan! Please don't hate me!) but I apparently thought he was more important than Dirk.

I can't really put into words just how much I liked Dirk Bogarde in So Long at the Fair -- there was really something about him that said "Kate, I am going to be one of your favorite actors in about a week's time. Really, I am!" I just knew from watching that one picture that I would enjoy anything with the name Dirk Bogarde above the title. Yesterday I spent (some would say wasted..) the better part of my day searching for Dirk Bogarde movies on Amazon, Ebay and YouTube. If you're as interested as I am in Dirk, you'll want to check out this great link that I received in an email about my previous Dirk Bogarde post -- Click here to visit the official Dick Bogarde site, which contains so much information you won't know what to do with yourself! The audio from an album he recorded in the 60's, illustrations and watercolors (he was a great artist!) anecdotes about his films and loads of fun stuff to sift through.

I capped off my day (albeit at 2:30AM!!!) with Darling. Robert Osborne introduced the film by saying that it portrayed the characters with such detail you'd almost think this was a documentary, not a fictional story. And he was completely right. Julie Christie and Dirk Bogarde gave such depth to their characters, I was actually starting to believe that they were real.

The film is about a young married woman (Diana, or "Darling") who falls in love with a slightly older married man. (Dirk Bogarde as Robert) Diana is superficial, young and slightly kooky while Robert is fun, intellectual and painfully handsome. (Sorry, I had to say it again.) Also, I was literally turning green with envy over how many books he had. I'm a sucker for a big library.

All of the advertisements and reviews I read before seeing the film seemed to indicate that this was a film very similar to Barbara Stanwyck's Baby Face. An unscrupulous woman who will bed any man if it gets her more fame or more money. But I think this is a really shallow interpretation of the film -- Julie Christie's character was actually a lot deeper than you would think. Her jumps from man to man aren't rooted in an insatiable hunger for power but in an insatiable hunger for happiness. Her quest for serenity with life takes her through two marriages and two beaus. One of those beaus, unfortunately, is Laurence Harvey.

All of the scenes with Harvey were a little too much for me, and seemed kind of out of place. At first he seems like a narcissistic cad with a relatively boring, square life. The next thing you know he's taking Julie Christie to a strange 1960's style party in Paris where really, really bizarre things happen. I don't even know how to describe them! I'm not opposed to swingin' 60's scenes in the movies, but up until this point the film had seemed to me to be a very deep character study, with amazing insight into human behavior and love.

Or maybe I was just upset that Dirk Bogarde wasn't onscreen as much at this point....

Anyway, despite the little segue into the psychedelic Paris of the sixties, I ended up enjoying the film immensely. In fact, I think it's one of my favorite movies now. I swear, Dirk Bogarde's character will just break your heart in pieces. And, despite what any of the reviews may lead you to believe, your heart will ache for Julie Christie's character, too.

There were just too many things about this film that I loved to list them all. The film also dealt brilliantly with the hypocrisies of the idle rich, the definition of what true happiness really is, sacrifice, and the public misconceptions about celebrity.

I highly recommend seeing it -- I do think it's on DVD (hint hint!) As for me, I'm going to go add some Dirk Bogarde movies to my Amazon cart and hope they get here very quickly. Move over grapefruit juice, I've got a new obsession!


Juliette. said...

Ooh, Dirk Bogarde, huh? I'm guessing on your Amazon quest you came across I Could Go On Singing? I quite like that one...Judy Garland and all that. Anyhow, if you've not seen it (and I'm guessing you have), the Servant is great, and The Night Porter..once you get over the creepiness. :)

Love Darling. Aren't bits of it about Grace Kelly, or is that just a myth?

Nicole Newcomb said...

I have Darling on my DVR and I'm always going back and forth on whether to watch it or not. Based on your review, I'll give it a try. By the way, I too am not a huge fan of Laurence Harvey but I gotta admit I loved him in The Manchurian Candidate, Butterfield 8 not so much.

KC said...

I've always found Laurence Harvey to be too arrogant, but Dirk Bogarde I can stand behind. I liked him best in The Servant, but he is definitely one of those actors that is great to watch no matter what the movie. I feel that way about Julie Christies as well! Anyway, it's nice to hear stories of new movie loves. It's amazing how there is always seems to be someone new to be found from the past.

SP said...

That's a smart poster. Is that from your own collection or found on the web?

Anonymous said...

Juliette- Yes, Dirk Bogarde indeed! :D I have The Servant on my netflix list, I caught a few minutes of it on TCM and I really want to see the rest! Hmm.. I guess the marrying a Prince part of Darling could be considered like Grace Kelly, but I doubt the rest was based on her, lol!

Nicole- Watch it! Watch it! Oh I can't stand Laurence Harvey in Butterfield 8, he's such a cad!

KC- I know, I've been watching classic films for almost 10 years now, I can't believe I JUST discovered Dirk Bogarde. It's a relief to know that after all this time I still haven't seen it all :)

SP- I wish that was my poster! Unfortunately I just found a picture on google... but if there's an affordable version for sale somewhere I'll surely snatch it up!

Terence Towles Canote said...

Well, you already know that Swinging London is my favourite time and place, so naturally I have seen Darling. I do think you are right that Julie Christie's character is a lot deeper. I think she was basically a very unhappy person who is desperately seeking happiness. Like Blowup it is certainly different from the usual Swinging London that comes to people's mind. Swinging London did have a dark side!

Anonymous said...

It's surprising how misinterpreted this film is- even the movie posters make Julie Christie seem like a nasty power hungry wench. I really think she just wanted to be happy.

It's amazing how much I read into fictional stories..