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Jefty, owner of a roadhouse in a backwoods town, hires sultry, tough-talking torch singer Lily Stevens against the advice of his manager Pete Morgan. Jefty is smitten with Lily, who in turn exerts her charms on the more resistant Pete. When Pete finally falls for her and she turns down Jefty's marriage proposal, they must face Jefty's murderous jealousy and his twisted plots to "punish" the two. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The main attraction here are the amazing performances by Ida Lupino, and Richard Widmark. Jean Negulesco was able to capture it all in this tale of passion gone wrong.
Lily Stevens arrives at Jefty's Road House to entertain in the lounge area. Jefty, has offered her 250 a week, a sum that in Pete Morgan's estimation is a lot more than the place can afford. Pete offers money to send Lily back to Chicago because he senses she will bring chaos between him and Jefty, the man who has been generous to him and who, he feels, will fall again for this chanteuse of mysterious origins.
Thus begins one of the best films of that era. It's a noir because of the elements, but actually it might be considered a semi-noir since it's not an obvious one.
Ida Lupino had a way for 'talking' her songs at the Road House. She had a style that got to the lounge patrons that heard her sing. Her interpretation of "It's a quarter to three" is done faultlessly. Her voice, a combination of alcohol and the cigarettes she positions at the piano's lid while singing, contribute to create a portrait of the sultry woman she is. She sings "Again" twice; her rendition of that song makes it impossible for anyone else to sing it without comparing it to what Ms. Lupino did with it, much better!
Richard Widmark was the favorite looney in the 40s. His acting was always an exercise on intensity. He always played the weird roles on the screen. In "Road House" he appears almost normal until he realizes that Lily will never love him. He has to get his revenge on Pete who has stolen Lily's affection away from him. Jefty will stop at nothing in order to get her back. Thus he accuses Pete Morgan, his loyal friend, of stealing the week's receipts.
Cornel Wilde plays a passive role as Pete. He too falls for the charms of Lily, but at the same time, Lily wants him because she sees in him her own salvation from joints and a ticket to a normal life. Celeste Holm is the other principal. Her role is not as well defined. She should be resentful of Lily, but she is a kind soul who accepts the fact that Pete never loved her. Ultimately, she is the one who solves the puzzle of the missing money.
"Road House" should be seen more often.
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