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|63 reviews in total|
This is a minor entry in Bunuel's Mexican period. It's a farce of sorts, that starts as a melodrama and ends up like a screwball comedy. There are some little Bunuel touches here and there, especially in the first half of the picture, but all in all this can't account among Don Luis' most personal films. Technically it is as usual superb. There's one elegant 20 year transition that takes place in the dark between the closing and opening of a cupboard and a puzzling breaking of the fourth wall at the end, when Don Quintin approaches the camera and talks to the audience before going back to the happy ending. I liked the idea of a cabaret called El Infierno decorated with flames and big puppet devils hanging from the roof. Only a man like Bunuel could come with such stuff.
A standard western with something of a Greek Tragedy, "Lawless Breed"
romanticizes the life and exploits of one of the most legendary gunmen
of the far west.
The film has some fine moments, notably the scene where Rock Hudson shoots Lee Van Cleef down amid a wind storm.
The events are quite predictable and the film becomes eventually formulaic. Veteran Raoul Walsh shows his craftsmanship solving scenes with great economy and pace.
Hudson is less obscure than many of the heroes of his films, and that makes me think what kind of picture this could have been with a less likable actor.
A sublime film. Probably one of the most melancholic pictures ever made in the classic period. It is one of the earliest and strongest portraits of the tragic hero, so recurrent in Walsh's filmography. Bogart's character, a mournful, resigned old-timer who witnesses the gradual downfall of the world as he knows it, dresses in black all through the film, like the mute and only assistant to his own funeral. As other Walsh anti-heroes notably White Heat's Cody- he must reach the heights before him dies. One wonders what would have been of the Bogart, Cagney, Flynn or Raft persona without their significant roles in the Raoul Walsh films. It's remake, Colorado Territory, is even better.
This early Hawks' film has many of the themes that will frequently appear in all his filmography, like friendship between men or the professional skill as a mean of survival in dangerous situations. After a weak start the movie takes off during the plane and boat attacks, when Joan Crawford's character is somehow left aside. All in all, her character appears more like a nuisance than anything else. Her first appearance during the tea scene is promising but from there on she'll lack the mannish qualities of other Hawks' females. It is clear that the love interests all through the film are between Cooper, Tone and Young. Claude's blindness reminds other physical impediments of Hawksian heroes. This film, however, closes with a display of self sacrifice and heroism seldom seen in the director's universe. There's also some unusual appearance of religious elements. Although a film "d'epoque", Hawks cannot help turning the material into a modern piece. Some fine scenes, like the aviator instructing the neophyte gunman about the dangers of throwing up, or the wake of the dead cockroach are a true landmark of the director's imaginary, and a clear proof of his ability to turn any material into his own.
A wonderful picture that shows how early in his career Ophuls mastered melodrama. As melodrama indicates, it's drama with music, and from the start Ophuls sets in motion an operistic, artificial mood. Every performance is self-conscious, aware of being representing; all sets are shown thoroughly, characters leave the scene and the camera remains a few seconds in the empty decor; even the way the snows falls from the sky appears to be fake. Still the film has an admirable freshness and engages the audience in an almost hypnotic trip, to which Ophuls' floating camera and his modern, dramatic use of the score contribute big time. Max Ophuls can be paralleled with Douglas Sirk as a director that purposely breaks up with any trace of reality in order to convey a truth that is purely cinematic.
This is not a film for everyone. The slow pacing can easily get to the nerve of the toughest film watcher. The tale of a released convict and his voyage to reunite with his family is completely ascetic and deprived of embellishments of any kind. Still, the images are hypnotic and set the viewer in a trance-like experience. Vargas' dryness is much more interesting that the dullness of many other protagonists of the so-called 'new argentine cinema'. It is everything that he conceals us what makes us interested in him. The narrative evokes the literature of Horacio Quiroga, an Uruguayan writer who frequently used the Mesopotamian jungle as his main character. Every inch of that jungle breathes, and compared to it, every human being in the picture is the dead referred by the title. Alonso has created a fascinating piece of machinery that flow quiet and slowly like that ever-present river, despite some pointless 'contemplative' scenes that might have been included to fill screen-time. Alonso's virtue is his ability to tell a story visually this is more silent than a Murnau film-, and his film-making makes full sense in the viewer's mind. He's miles away from the pretentiousness of the director that made 'Japón', a film with which it shares a number of elements. One admires his ability to walk over successfully that thin line that divides cinema from poetic arty trash.
Possibly Romero's best film, 'Isabelita' is the perfection of Romero's
narrative. As many other of his films, the basic drama is built around the
crossing of multi-class archetypes that dislike each other but are forced to
coexist in an urban setting that prophetically foresees the Argentina of the
Peronism movement; with a number of songs masterfully integrated into the
mise-en-scene of the film. Romero's beloved ensemble of characters, which
reappear constantly in his extensive filmography, move comfortably between
the grotesque inherited from the theatrical tradition of his country, and a
natural freshness that seems almost documentary. The director's style,
funded on an economy surrendered to action, has nothing to envy of the
contemporary masters of the American screwball comedy (McCarey, Hawks,
LaCava, Lubitsch). Romero had in addition a quality of populism deprived of
propaganda, which allows to fully enjoy his films regardless if one agrees
or not with the particular model of Argentina he supports. Coherent and
personal, Romero has perfected one single film over and over again, where
plots and fables are easily exchangeable. He's justly regarded as the first
author and formal architect of the Argentine cinema.
Otto Preminger takes the noir/ femme fatale genre a step beyond in his usual pessimism. This world of shady mansions, sad piano-playing and lonely boulevards perpetually driven, suits well Jean Simmons's calm insanity and Mitchum's stoic acceptance of his tragic destiny. Mitchum uses the same discontent tone to order a beer and to refuse to be part of a murder. He smokes, empty-minded, staring out of the window, too tired to get his way out of the schemes of his employers. He may take the most important decision of his life, but after the cigarette's over he'll be doing the total opposite. On the other hand one has the feeling that the film wouldn't worked as well with one more conventional noir leading lady, like Lana Turner. Simmons' charming and weak aspect makes her character irresistible. To top it all there's a masterful score by Dimitri Tiomkin and the most surprising of endings.
It's not the first attempt of a crime tale told in a documentary style.
Howard Hawks did it some fifteen years before with `Criminal Code' and
`Scarface', though he was more interested in the racket as a social
phenomenon. `He walked by night' is a very crafted mixture of stylized noir
and journalistic document, told both as a police procedural and from the
viewpoint of the cold murderer on the run. It precedes a type of film
explored later by Samuel Fuller (`Pick up on South Street'), Fritz Lang
(`The big heat') and Joseph H. Lewis (`Gun crazy', `The big combo'). There's
something stripped in the urban setting of this picture, a nakedness that is
also conveyed by the acting of the performers. That's the best of the film.
It's modern without being avant-gard (Nicholas Ray's pessimism was yet to
come). The worst is the school-masterish intrusions upon the audience,
especially during the first half. We feel the director at our elbow
explaining, interpreting, interfering with our impressions. The mockery tone
of the voice over that narrates eases this up a bit and at the end one
wonders if the whole thing is nothing but a big joke, since our sympathy is
with Basehart all the time, despite the cops' noble attempts.
It's unfair that Raoul Walsh's name is labeled by the books as a
second-level filmmaker in relation with, say, a Ford or a Hawks. He was an
extraordinary crafted and prolific director, capable of incorporating
standard studio material into his own personal worldview. `Captain Horatio
Hornblower' is full of little moments that exceed any genre limitation.
These `sparkles of Truth' may be the tracking shot along the empty room
while Peck reads the letter of his deceased wife, or when Virginia Mayo
kisses the youngster the way his mother used to did. So the adventure film
becomes something bigger than life, just as `White Heat' used of the
conventions of the gangster film to turn into metaphysics, or `Colorado
Territory' departed the western into the depths of existentialism. This film
is enjoyable from beginning to end, and it's a clear predecessor of Peter
Weir's `Master and Commander', with which it shares a few tone, character
and plot elements.
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