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Commercial artist Daisy Kenyon is involved with married lawyer Dan O'Mara, and hopes someday to marry him, if he ever divorces his wife Lucille. She meets returning veteran Peter, a decent and caring man, whom she does not love, but who offers her love and a more hopeful relationship. She marries him... just as Dan gets a divorce.Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
This film is the latest release in the Fox Film Noir DVD series. Although it is not a noir film at all, but is instead a potent emotional melodrama, this does not matter. We don't complain, do we, when splendid DVDs of classic films are released under any pretext from those perfectly preserved negatives sitting in California archives crying in unison: 'Release me! Release me!' Anything directed by Otto Preminger is welcome. He may have been a nightmare as a person, but his films were terrific. This film is beautifully directed, and the lighting by Ken Shamroy and the sets by art directors George David and Lyle Wheeler all combine to give tremendous atmosphere to a film which could so easily have had none. Shamroy's lighting is not only good because of the shadows, but the subtle ways he picks out the faces and the eyes. Those were the days! Who can do that so well now? The Hollywood stars then knew how to play to their lights in order to deify themselves to still higher celestial orders. In those days, facial surgery took place by lighting methods, and there was no need for the knife. I am far from being a Joan Crawford admirer, but although she was an even worse nightmare than Preminger as a person, she can act with fantastic, mesmeric power when she wants to. And she does so here. The story is about a confused 'independent woman' of the immediate postwar era who is a mistress of a self-absorbed cad and the wife of a perversely self-denying idealist. Which shall she choose? She dithers with all the uncertainty of a woman in love who is not sure with whom. Does she go for the strong and cruel one, or the weak and adoring one? (Animal instinct always urges the former, on the premise that it is a better breeding prospect for the species that the strong, however cruel, should procreate.) Dana Andrews, usually a nice guy in films, here does a very good job of being a real jerk. Henry Fonda always found it easy, with his relaxed, gangly walk of a hillbilly, to be Mr. Nice Guy, since after all, only nice guys walk like that. He doesn't have a lot of acting to do, but what is needed is there. (No need to chew gum or 'baccy' this time.) This love triangle is greatly aided by a spectacular performance in a supporting role by Ruth Warrick as a harridan wife of Dana Andrews, although the fact that she is a child abuser who beats up her own little girl is severely down-played in the film. There are some wonderful small touches: a garrulous taxi driver reciting endless boring statistics about his trade, and a glassy-eyed couple who descend the stairs and do not say hello, the woman surprisingly being former silent film star Mae Marsh! Yes, it is a pity about the Greenwich Theatre being gone, not to mention Pennsylvania Station, of the interior of which we get a glimpse. This is a powerful soap opera story raised to a higher level by the talent involved.
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