In the 1930's, a First World War flying ace named Roger Schumann is reduced to making appearances on the crash-and-burn circuit of stunt aerobatics. His family are forced to live like dogs while Shumann pursues his only true love, the airplane. When Burke Devlin, a reporter, shows up on the scene to do a "whatever happened to" story on Shumann, he is repulsed by the war hero's diminished circumstances and, conversely, drawn to his stunning wife, LaVerne. Written by
Despite the fact that the story is taking place in the early 1930s, all of Dorothy Malone's clothing, hairstyles and make-up are strictly 1957, the year the picture was filmed. See more »
On the level, what'd you do last night?
Nothing much:just sat up half the night discussing literature and life with a beautiful, half naked blonde.
You better change bootleggers.
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The Forgotten Sirk Film...Still Watchable for His Familiar Touch
This is the forgotten Douglas Sirk film from his golden period in the 1950's when he made such classic Baroque-style women's pictures as "Magnificent Obsession", "All That Heaven Allows", "Written on the Wind" and "Imitation of Life". The black-and-white 1958 film doesn't have the saturated color palette of Sirk's frequent cinematographer, Russell Metty (who did lens those other films), nor does the story, based on William Faulkner's novel "Pylon", have as strong an orientation toward a female protagonist as the others. Yet, the film has many of the filmmaker's trademark melodramatic flourishes and some superb shot compositions, this time photographed by Irving Glassberg. The result is quite worthwhile and sadly not available yet on DVD.
Set in 1932 New Orleans (though you can hardly tell from the anachronistic 1950's-era wardrobe and sets), the plot focuses on Roger Shumann, a former WWI flying ace who has been relegated to racing around pylons in air shows for prize money. He's married to LaVerne, so in love with Roger that she became a parachute jumper to please him, while raising their son Jack, who worships the ground on which Roger walks. Speaking of hero worship, there is also the dim-witted Jiggs, Roger's loyal mechanic, who holds a torch for LaVerne. Into this dysfunctional band comes local newspaperman Burke Devlin, who smells a good story in reporting on this transient family living hand to mouth to fulfill Roger's intractable need to fly. A lot of emotional gut-punches are thrown among these characters, especially between Roger and LaVerne, until a late moment of clarity seems to arrive too late. The last fifteen minutes contain come far-fetched plot convolutions, but they are in the spirit of the piece.
Sirk reunited three of his stars from 1956's "Written on the Wind" - Rock Hudson, Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone - to play the three principals, so they know how to maintain conviction with more than a touch of Sirk's often maddening soap opera excess. Hudson, in particular, really shines in this sort of material as Devlin, even in a hilariously conceived drunken speech at the end. Stack is his typical jaw-clenching self though with a morbid sense of self-loathing only Sirk could serve up, and Malone is surprisingly sensual as LaVerne, whether fighting off her impulses about Devlin or hanging on to a trapeze bar as she floats off her parachute with her skirt billowing up (a classic shot). Jack Carson plays Jiggs as the pathetically smitten man he is, while Christopher Olsen has a heartbreaking scene where he is stuck on an amusement park ride watching fate deal its hand (trivia
Olsen is Cindy Brady's real-life brother). This isn't an out-and-out
great film but still a very watchable entry in the Sirk canon.
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