A personal diary keeping people abreast of what I am working on writing-wise.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

CRIME & THE CITY SOLUTION: Dangerous Desire, Week 2

It's the second weekend for the NW Film Center's "Dangerous Desires: Film Noir Classics," running Thursday to Sunday this time. It's the Alan Ladd/Veronic Lake weekend, to boot, and you should definitely go out Friday and Saturday for The Glass Key and The Blue Dahlia.

You can still read my festival overview at the Portland Mercury, but below are two mini-reviews I wrote as part of my note-taking process for the piece.

PITFALL (1948), dir. Andre de Toth

A fairly average crime picture, offering a different take on the Double Indemnity scenario. Dick Powell plays the insurance investigator who this time gets involved with the femme fatale after the initial crime that brings her to his intention. Lizbeth Scott is Mona. She's in possession of goods paid for with stolen money by the man Powell has to take down. (The guy is already in jail for having pulled the job, which amounts to robbing his employer.) Powell is a family man who is bored with his life. Raymond Burr plays the heavy, a private dick who was originally hired to find Mona. He's a real creep who fell for her himself, and so he makes trouble when he ends up on the bottom.

Detour could use a little more heat. It's well-acted and nicely constructed, but also a bit conventional. Strangely, it builds to a rather pitiful state. Powell's character does't get much of a showdown; rather, what makes the last 15 minutes interesting is how the women--including Jane Wyatt as the insurance man's wife--rise to the occasion and prove they're tougher than their fellas.

[Screening tonight, September 20, 7pm]

THE WINDOW (1949), dir. Ted Tetzlaff

A "boy who cried wolf" tale based on a Cornell Woolrich short story, with Disney star Bobby Driscoll (soon to be the voice of Peter Pan). Tommy is a kid who likes to tell tall tales, and his lies are well-known enough that, when he spies a murder through the window of his upstairs neighbor, no one believes him. This efficiently paced thriller makes the most of the scenario, with Tommy digging himself deeper the more people he tells. The climactic chase scene in intense, with a great use of space by director Ted Tetzlaff. Driscoll and the rest of the cast are strong, and The Window stands as a testament of how a good storyteller can do a lot with very little.

[Screening September 23, 7pm]

Current Soundtrack: Kanye West & Various Artists, Cruel Summer

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All text (c) 2012 Jamie S. Rich

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