Song of the Day #4,868: ‘No Other Love’ – Jo Stafford

Continuing my look at the filmography of Paul Thomas Anderson…

Anderson took five years to follow up his critically-lauded There Will Be Blood, returning in 2012 with the post-World War II drama The Master. Discussed in the run-up to its release as a “Scientology movie,” the film does take many cues from the life of L. Ron Hubbard in telling a story about Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), founder of a movement called The Cause.

But Dodd is a supporting player here, and the movie isn’t particularly interested in the origins of The Cause. The cult serves as the backdrop for Anderson’s real interest: the relationship between Dodd and Freddie Quell, a World War II vet who stumbles into his life.

Quell, played by Joaquin Phoenix, suffers from PTSD due to his experiences in the war as well as childhood sexual trauma. He bounces between jobs, his violent temper getting him into trouble, before finding refuge in Dodd’s inner circle. Dodd sees a kindred spirit in the tormented man, a lost soul worth saving.

Dodd’s wife, Peggy (Amy Adams), the real power behind the figurehead, is less receptive, fearing Quell’s erratic behavior could bring negative attention to The Cause. This dance between this id/ego/superego triangle forms the spine of the movie’s conflict.

The Master had a tough act to follow in There Will Be Blood, but it nearly matches that film in quality. It is impeccably crafted, with gorgeous 65mm photography capturing the intricate post-war production design, and Jonny Greenwood’s score blending with period songs to evoke the promise and peril of the era. Phoenix, Hoffman and Adams give career-best performances (they were all Oscar-nominated but went home empty-handed).

While the movie’s title refers to Dodd, the charismatic leader of The Cause, or maybe to Peggy, who pulls his strings behind the scenes, it also has a deeper thematic meaning. We are all ruled by something, the film suggests, whether it is Freddie’s addictions and mental illness, Dodd’s thirst for power, or Peggy’s desire for control.

As Dodd says to Freddie late in the film, “If you figure out a way to live without a master, any master, be sure to let the rest of us know, for you would be the first in the history of the world.”

This is Anderson’s middle film in what turned out to be a trio of movies exploring different aspects of 20th century American history. Blood dug into the collision of capitalism and religion in the country’s first two decades, while The Master chronicles the vacuum filled by spiritual movements in the early 1950s.

As we’ll see tomorrow, Anderson’s next film tackled a later decade in very different fashion.

No other love can warm my heart
Now that I’ve known the comfort of your arms
No other love, oh the sweet contentment
That I find with you everytime, everytime

No other lips could want you more
For I was born to glory in your kiss, forever yours

I was blessed with love to love you
Till the stars burn out above you
Till the moon has bought a silver shine
No other love, let no other love know the wonder of your spell

I was blessed with love to love you
Till the stars burn out above you
Till the moon has bought a silver shine
No other love, let no oher love know the wonder of your spell

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #4,868: ‘No Other Love’ – Jo Stafford

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    My recollection is that I saw the preview to this film many times and it did not capture my interest. It seemed exceedingly slow/boring. I don’t recall if I actually ever saw the movie, but, if I did, nothing about the experience changed my initial impression.

  2. Peg says:

    I’m thinking I tried to watch this but it wasn’t working for me. Maybe I need to revisit it to see if my mind can be changed.

  3. Amy says:

    Somehow stopped seeing his films with this one.

    • Clay says:

      I wonder why. A director whose work you had enjoyed, three amazing actors, critical acclaim, multiple Oscar nods. Seems like something you would have been all over.

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