Movie Diary 2/17/2009

Movies watched over a few days.

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (Frank Tashlin, 1957). Popcorn in the pocket, good topical stuff — even though at times this seems like one of those movies that doesn’t so much satirize the mores of the era as it embodies them.

daisyk3Daisy Kenyon (Otto Preminger, 1947). This “woman’s picture” looks even better with age, as an otherwise rock-steady Joan Crawford wobbles between married man Dana Andrews and nervous vet Henry Fonda. The attitude overall is very European and very Preminger.

The Unsuspected (Michael Curtiz, 1947). There’s a film noir festival in town. This little gem has a fine Claude Rains turn and some good Curtiz touches — the little things that don’t add up to anything much, but let you know that somebody is paying attention. Also an amazing bit where a rear-projection in the back of the shot turns into the shot itself — wild.

Desperate (Anthony Mann, 1947). Despite an irritating plot requirement, a hard-driving noir from just before Mann got really good. Has a touch of Detour about it, but without going all the way.

Cry of the Hunted (Joseph H. Lewis, 1953). Begins in Los Angeles and ends in the swamps of Louisiana, where cop Barry Sullivan hunts down escaped con Vittorio Gassman. All the main characters seem to have a wry, sardonic view of everything, and the relationship between Sullivan and his wife (especially their first, long-take conversation) is saucy. Polly Bergen is the wife, William Conrad (very spry here) another cop.

The Loves of Jeanne Ney (G.W. Pabst, 1927). Potboiler plot with some extremely flavorful atmosphere, both studio-created and filmed-in-the-streets. Great collection of faces: post-robot Brigitte Helm included. Pabst’s talent for lower-depths details and desperation is strong — this is before his films with Louise Brooks.

Ballast (Lance Hammer, 2008). A real beauty, with multiple heart-stopping tableaux. I notice that of the non-actors, Tarra Riggs is getting some more movie work — deservedly so. (full review 2/20)

Medicine for Melancholy (Barry Jenkins, 2008). If only I could convince myself that the hero’s diatribes really were just trying to get a woman into bed. Nope. (full review 2/20)

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