(DEADLY IS THE FEMALE)
D: Joseph H. Lewis C: John Dall, Peggy Cummins, Berry Kroeger
In the classic era of the cinema, before the eighties, or even before the made-for-television movies of the seventies, producers had a strange respect for the audience, which has long since been lost. Some of them even considered themselves to be educators! The movie might not have much of a budget, but the directors often saw this as a challenge rather that an impediment. You had to be inventive back in those days. You couldn’t just copy the “script” of the last blockbuster, and then let the boys from Industrial Light and Magic take over. The result would be solid craftsmanship, in some cases a small masterpiece. This is such a movie. It simply doesn’t miss a trick! As usual with movies from this period, in medias res is anathema – ab ovo is de rigore, sometimes even with a narrator. Today of course, with no plot, the only mystery is what the hell is going on. Bart (spot teenage Russ Tamblyn) just has to have a gun, so he steals one and is sent to reform school. There’s a fairy-tale quality to this prologue that pervades the movie. His later nemesis is no femme fatale in the traditional sense of the Noir. She wears the costume of a cowboy girl as part of her Annie Oakley act at the carnival, where Bart meets her, which she retains, when they team up, even during a heist! Bart has acquired a playmate (in the Playboy sense) becoming as much an obsession to him as his gun fetish. Where the sex seems a mere postulate in movies like DOUBLE INDEMNITY and THE POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE, this one virtually oozes it. Laurie isn’t dangerous, because she’s a calculating bitch, but because she’s a child in a woman’s body (and some woman and some body!) She “only kills, when she’s frightened”. It’s also a romance, as witnessed by the scene, where the two lovers are rushing back to each other, just moments after having agreed for safety’s sake to part for a while – Cathy and Heathcliff in cars! And so they die in each other’s arms in the fairy-tale conclusion. Compared to this classic, Arthur Penn’s BONNIE AND CLYDE must seem rather lame. Also, Alfred might well have eaten his heart out over the three and a half minute single-take bank robbery that really works (which ROPE doesn’t). Of course, it’s typical for this genre that so much time is spent in cars that half the movie seems to be background projection. In this case, the director mounted a camera on the backseat of the car, thereby achieving a stunningly realistic effect. And this in 1950!
HORROR AND SCIENCE FICTION IN THE CINEMA BEFORE 1980 II kan nu købes (uden forudbestilling) fra d. 18. oktober 2021!
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