Movie Diary 12/26/2021

Got a subscription to the Criterion Channel as a Christmas present. This will affect things.

Nightmare Alley (Edmund Goulding, 1947). I stand by my comments in my review of the new Nightmare Alley, although you could say that this version seems to move along faster by comparison to the statelier rhythm of the del Toro version. Good to see it again in the light of the new one, although I don’t feel compelled to re-visit any time soon.

Obsession (Edward Dmytryk, 1949). Robert Newton as a nutso physician who takes his wife’s lover (Phil Brown) hostage, slowly preparing him for death. The reasons for the delay are contrived enough to be maddening, but the extra time means a detective (Naunton Wayne, the delightful partner to Basil Radford in The Lady Vanishes etc.) arrives to fumble around and gradually get wind of the plan. This character might’ve been seen at an early age by William Link and Richard Levinson, because he comes across as a Columbo inspiration. Heckuva role for Newton, despite the utter strangeness of the whole deal. Also known as The Hidden Room.

I Wake Up Screaming (H. Bruce Humberstone, 1941). Hadn’t seen this in a while, either. The grabby photography and Laird Cregar’s presence help distinguish it from the average pre-noir thriller, and the film’s vision of a world full of devouring men is certainly unpleasant, however intended it may be. Betty Grable’s lead performance is a reminder that there were times when audiences favored people whose appeal has not just waned, but become utterly mysterious over the ensuing decades – what were they thinking?