Movie Diary 3/17/2021

Criss Cross (Robert Siodmak, 1949). This week’s title in the ongoing (and online) Scarecrow Academy, which we will talk about on Saturday, 3/20, at 2 p.m. Pacific Time. A good obsessive focus on just a handful of locations, wonderfully realized, especially the nightclub that attracts the characters. Nice feel for l’amour fou playing out in a regular American milieu. And oy, what an ending.

Jigsaw (Fletcher Markle, 1949). Some Proud Boys-like anti-immigrant thugs are killing people, and assistant district attorney Franchot Tone (who also produced) investigates. Super-oddball, with progressive messaging lost in a soupy storyline. Tone’s wife, Jean Wallace (you will recall her from The Big Combo), co-stars, herself super-oddball. There are a couple of unusual directorial flourishes, including Tone’s sudden inner monologue during a party scene, and the novelty of left-leaning celebrities in bit roles: Henry Fonda, John Garfield, Marlene Dietrich, Everett Sloane, Burgess Meredith.

The Inheritance (Ephraim Asili, 2020). A young man inherits his Grandmother’s Philadelphia house, and tries to turn it into a Black collective space, with all the earmarks of past radicalism: free library of Civil Rights classics, Godard posters, poetry readings. The film that results is far more eccentric, and more funny, than you expect. (full review 3/19)

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