Movie Diary 7/12/2020

Not Wanted (Elmer Clifton, Ida Lupino, 1949). Apparently Clifton died early in the shoot, and Lupino directed most of it, but didn’t take onscreen credit. It’s a good film, with hints of a low-budget exploitation picture (the subject is an unmarried small-town girl who has a child) but made interesting throughout by Lupino’s approach. Sally Forrest plays the neurotic central character, whose troubles seem to go well beyond unwanted pregnancy; Leo Penn (Sean’s dad) is the brooding piano player who can’t be tied down; and Keefe Brasselle is the cheerful doofus who manages a Gaseteria and loves Forrest for reasons of his own, I guess. Many stock scenes have a different coloring here, like a man starting to kiss a woman who doesn’t want to be kissed, and realizing it halfway through the lean-in. The ending is nearly operatic, without ceasing to exist in a grungy, real-location series of streets and highway overpasses.

The Man Who Cheated Himself (Felix E. Feist, 1950). Lee J. Cobb as a tough San Francisco cop with a fancy girlfriend, Jane Wyatt; when she shoots her rotten husband, more or less in self-defense, Cobb goes into cover-up mode, but underestimates the doggedness of his younger brother (John Dall), newly promoted to detective. A serviceable crime pic, close enough to noir to count. It climaxes at Fort Point, by the Golden Gate Bridge, which puts it in the vicinity of Vertigo and Point Blank. John Dall always seems to be auditioning for the road show of The Music Man; the concept of him being Lee Cobb’s brother is a head-spinning idea that somehow fits this movie.