1. Sam Juliano

    “But what director Delbert Mann and cameraman Fredericks have done is created a memorable portrait of a great city with both its grandeur and its desolation, together with a cavalcade of worthy denizens that give a real flavour of the zeitgeist. There is certainly also a high degree of elegance and craft in the intelligent use of close-ups, tracking, aerial, and low-angle shots that command and sustain visual interest.”

    Tony, you should be proud of this review. It’s one of your very best, and will remain a textbook example of how to shed the padding, and make riveting use of every observation and every vital component that frames this films exceptionally well. As it is I have not seen this film (neither has my site colleague Allan Fish in fact), but I do know quite well the neo-realism of American cinema in the 50’s and the work of Delbert Mann, whose affecting study of a butcher and his first love, MARTY, is a benchmark in this type of slice-of-life chronicling. I know the locations here of course quite well, living right outside the city, and the ethic-social milieu you so compellingly describe. And I know the kinds of people who frequent these areas. Sorry to hear that Garner, a usually reliable actor, is not exceptional, but I am not at all surprised that Pleshette gives a great performance in some of the films most unforgettable scenes. The subject did make me think of D.O.A., as well as the films you rightly recall in your final sentence. I am also thinking here of the location-dominated LITTLE FUGITIVE, set in and around Coney Island in Brooklyn. Kenyon Hopkins’ jazz score does have me excited alone to see it, as well as the deep focus “dreamy” camerawork of Ellesworth Fredericks. I also applaud Cigar Joe for his sharp-eyed attention to the Warner Archives releases, which I normally keep close watch on. It’s clear enough this is an essential acquisition for all kinds of reasons.

  2. cigar joe

    More folks should try and catch it, TCM shows it occasionally, but its great that it’s now available on DVD, and it really is a film that needs multiple viewings to fully comprehend.

    Its one of those films on the cusp between Classic Noir and Neo Noir with similar elements that I get a gut feeling for that seem to be sui generis.

    Other candidates could possibly be (I’d have to watch them again):

    “Requiem For a Heavyweight”
    “A Streetcar Named Desire”
    “The Fugitive Kind”
    “On The Waterfront”
    “The Hustler”
    “Walk on the Wild Side”
    “Anatomy of a Murder”
    “Le salaire de la peur”
    “The Pawnbroker”
    “Cape Fear”
    “The Manchurian Candidate”
    “I Want to Live!”
    “A Face in the Crowd ”
    “Carnival Of Souls”

  3. Thanks Sam! Don’t know how I didn’t recall D.O.A. I will have to check out LITTLE FUGITIVE – never heard of it?
    I may be a bit hard on Garner. He has an earnest goofiness, which just may be how the character should work.

    Thank Cigar Joe for the list, which includes some titles I need to investigate.

  4. Niel Rishoi

    Glad to see the appreciation for this vastly underrated movie.

    The one element many have missed is that Garner’s “amnesia” is caused by severe PTSD. Two people I know with the condition happened to be with me when it played on TCM. They recognized Buddwing’s confusion and mind paranoias right away. The depiction, they said, was right on target. And Garner’s portrayal on point.

    I think that this against-type casting is what put people off: Garner, notoriously private, and who trademarked a wisecracking persona in the majority of his roles, is more different here than in any other character he played.

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