FROM JUDY TO FANTINE: RECENTLY VIEWED

First Film

“Introducing Kim Novak” the opening cast credit of Pushover reads.  Her acting is negligible, but she makes you watch her.  Fred MacMurray is not impressive either.  His tough guy falls apart as everything seems to go wrong for him, and one fancies him asking himself what he’s doing in this picture.   But it’s a good picture with several taut scenes, frequent surprises and some handsome black and white.  This is a noir deserving more attention than it has had.  Early E.G. Marshall.  Early Dorothy Malone.  With Phil Carey.  (Pushover, Richard Quine, 1954.  Photography Lester B. White.)

Judy Sings, Fred Dances

The music and the cast are so good in Easter Parade that it took this seventh viewing for me to see that the script is unusually far-fetched and somewhat hastily developed.  But it is joyous and features some of the best and some of the less frequently heard of the Irving Berlin canon.  With “Better Luck Next Time”  Judy Garland give a preview of the torchiness ahead in her “Blue Prelude,” “The Man That Got Away,” and “Stormy Weather.”  With Ann Miller and Jules Munshin.  (Easter Parade, Charles Walters, 1948.)

A 1933 Les Misérables

And a French version, no less.  The famous Harry Baur is excellent as Jean Valjean and Charles Vanel is a good Javert.  But at 281 minutes this is an inflated film narrative of pretentious length.  The characters, especially Fantine and the older Cosette, are not interesting enough to have their every sigh and whine recorded.  There’s little dramatization of events.  The primary pictorial interest is the superb production design, involving elaborate, detailed sets of streets and buildings.  The main feature of the photographic style is the angled camera, never for any observable motive.  Les Misérables, Raymond Bernard, 1933.)

On the Road in French Color

In Feux rouges (Red Lights) a husband and wife quarrel in the car while driving to pick up the kids from camp.  When the wife disappears, suspense mounts.  The camera captures the feel of being on the road, especially at night; and the writing, from the novel by Simenon, grasps the anger and shame of the alcoholic husband.  The husband’s phone calls, in his attempts to trace his wife, demonstrate that long takes can be riveting.  Jean-Pierre Daroussin and Carole Bouquet are excellent as the couple, and Jean-Pierre Goséé is perfect and perfectly French as the detective. ( Feux rouges, Cédic Kahn, 2002.)

NEXT FRIDAY POST NOVEMBER 7.

Until then,
See you at the movies,
Rick

 

 

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