4 Comments

  1. “Taylor and Turner, who are inspired to break-out of their corn-fed roles with the able assistance of Heflin and a motley crew of craven hoods, deliver a mesmerising operatic finale, closed by a wonderfully ironic final frame that is pure cinema.”

    Tony, I completely agree that Van Heflin’s electrifying performance as Taylor’s colleague, filled with bouts of crying, self-loathing and dramatic intensity, was one of Oscar’s finest hours. It’s a complex portrayal, which is remarkably modern, and as you note it contains some very clear homo erotic attraction and Freudian undertones. The rap on the film from some over the years is that it doesn’t make much sense, but as always such a charge is the lazy way out. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but the cast is quite impressive (Taylor is no Robert Mitchum, but he hits the mark as a soulless thug who will use everyone he has to, and Turner exudes a sexy demeanor) and Harold Rossen’s masterful lighting gives the film noirish distinction. The contrivances you speak of are there in the plot which doesn’t offer anything new, but all in all I’d say it’s a pretty strong work. Your review is beautifully concise and a real please to read with the poetic passages. Your final sentence is a knockout. Terrific stuff!

  2. Dave Campbell

    It is infinitely odd to see MGM at this point attempting to get down and dirty, and even weirder to have a man so obviously in love with another man as a leading character, though disguising his real obsession with fancy literary quotes and booze; one would have expected this sort of thing from Warner’s perhaps, but then one wouldn’t have the strange but effective pairing of Turner and Taylor, the latter with some incredibly hair styling, hardly the sort for a demure student.
    It’s a good romp loaded with worthwhile character actors filling the frames and I never found it dull.
    Thanks for giving this MGM treat some exposure!

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