Saturday, May 15, 2021

Saturday double feature

Railroaded! [1947]

One of the user comments:
An almost amazing movie, well made, beautifully photographed, held back by a stiff script but still it manages. And it has a dark current that makes it both creepy and contemporary. Director Anthony Mann seems to have made a dozen great films that are just under the radar, noirs and westerns that have some edge to them to keep them from falling into the abyss of their genres.

This is Mann at his mature earliest. He had made a few films in the earlier 40s, but this, along with "Desperate," marks his coming into his own. Yes, you might find too much of a formula at work here, but it's not derivative, just a little stilted in the dialog. And yes, you might ask, near the beginning, why the cops couldn't see how easy the frame up would be (anyone could have stolen the truck and committed the crime), but remember, this one fact was supported by several others, including an eyewitness confirmation. So, once over these humps, you are for a good ride.


Who to watch for amongst these relative unknowns? John Ireland, most of all, for his bad guy personification, all charm and heartlessness, simultaneously. His girlfriend, played by Sheila Ryan, is his match, in a sharp performance also dripping with selfish cruelty, but tempered, critically, by doubt and remorse.

The third star is the little known cinematographer Guy Roe, who must have been inspired by the young, rising director. The filming right from the opening, subtle crane shot of the beauty parlor facade is artfully gorgeous without becoming baroque the way Orson Welles had become (beautifully) by 1947 with "The Lady from Shanghai." Both are great examples of where the movies were just after the war, both with a dark, brooding, searching uncertainty. And both showing off the amazing movie-making machinery of post-War Hollywood. I say this because both films were smaller budget affairs, and yet they have uncompromised production.

Give this a serious look. It's imperfect, for sure, but it has such high points, including some dark dark filming that is so kinetic and scary it surprised even an old film noir fan like me, you'll be glad.
The Phantom Planet [1961]

Some user comments:
#  This movie obviously isn't Oscar-worthy or one that will change your life. Heck, it's pretty cheap and silly as well. However, despite this, the movie is entertaining and despite many technical problems, it managed to keep my attention. The film begins in the future ... 1980! There are moon bases and interplanetary travel is the norm. 
The plot has a star pilot captain crashing into an asteroid and:
Oddly, he is shrunk by the artificial atmosphere until he is itty-bitty just like the rest of the inhabitants. [H]e has many adventures--a fight to the death, a sexy mute girlfriend and some silly looking bug-eyed aliens. While the sets and costumes are a bit silly, the film has so much action and plot devices that it does manage to entertain. 
#  Forgetting the weird asteroid-planet and Richard 'Jaws' Kiel in the monster suit, the cast performed credibly via a sound and at times quite good, in fact intelligent, script. The tight direction and excellent B/W photography, coupled with a number of extremely attractive girls, made the viewing experience worthwhile.
#  This is the luckiest dude in the cosmos; he meets raven haired beauty Delores Faith and if I were him, I'd stay on the asteroid with her. Meanwhile, there's some interesting sub-plot action going on--jealous rivals, invaders closing in, court trials and what not. A captured Solarite breaks loose, attacks Delores, but then can't decide if he'll kill her or not, and wanders around carrying her for a while.
And so on.  

1 comment:

  1. Steve

    Look at the dead eyes on this one, pure evil..

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