Movie Diary 4/6/2021

Slightly Scarlet (Allan Dwan, 1956). Daft in its storyline (the plot has many “Why is this happening now?” moments) and smooth in its mise-en-scene, this florid color noir is based on a James M. Cain novel. John Alton photographs the certifiably insane houses on display; the first time we see the home of the humble secretary (Rhonda Fleming) to a politician, we know the film takes place in a completely imaginative realm – and this is before we see “the beach house,” another garishly decorated and impossible-to-live-in space. Arlene Dahl is Fleming’s klepto-nympho sister, who wields a spear gun like a toy – good company in a movie like this – and John Payne is an ambitious “bright boy” gangster who steps into the void when mob boss Ted de Corsia has to leave town. When it’s violent, it’s quite violent. Those who think the Fifties were boring should watch.

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