I have pretty much the same feelings as you, although by this point I've become a bit immune to Stanwyck's charms. I first saw it the same night as The Lady Eve, and both films floored me and seduced me to Stanwyck. Since then, I've seen quite a number of other Stanwyck films, both later and earlier and Double Indemnity just doesn't do it much for me anymore. Given that I agree that he's in a bit over his head, I can't help but see the whole noir side of the film (as opposed to Eddie G.'s buddy movie side) as sort of a send-up, not of noir, obviously, but of this sort of middle-class fantasy of crime (which is not an original thought. Unfortunately I can't recall where I first read this). So, yeah, MacMurray's a dope who only can redeem himself by playing father to Lola. What gives me pause is that most of Neff's lines are earnestly framed, and the narrative itself plays fairly sincerely (the actual murder/cover-up is still very strong). And that ending. Oh boy, what an ending. For Wilder, it's pretty irony-free.Black Hat wrote: ↑Fri Mar 15, 2019 1:46 pmI think I agree with this, the first time I saw it I was completely enamored with Stanwyck, but by the third time MacMurray corniness was a bit cringeworthy. The question I'd ask tho, isn't he supposed to be seen that way? A total patsy? I think the way he's presented initially as the do right golden boy prodigal son would speak to that, but therein lies in another small quibble I have with the film, his turn from that into evil. I've always wondered how much of that was earned, especially since he's celebrated as a ladies man so it's not like the first time a woman's paid attention to him.
I also thought that it was interesting to compare the final showdown between Stanwyck and MacMurray with the one between Bogey and Bergman in Casablanca––that whole, "let me make it easier for you to shoot me" bit.
They Made Me a Fugitive
Cold Bishop'll be happy to hear that I absolutely loved this one. I'd seen Went the Day Well? a while back and was astonished by that as well. There's something about British films of this 30s-40s period that I just love for the physical presence of the world. The 39 Steps, Young and Innocent, Odd Man Out all have it too, in addition to these Cavalcantis. I don't quite know how to describe it, although when I'm watching them, it sort of seems to me the ideal existence of the world: the architecture, the way light hits bricks and cobblestone, the little knick-knacks and props. There's just a weight to everything, a corporeality, a sense that I'm driving through these quaint country roads, watching antiquated trucks, my hand sliding down bannisters.
I lamented when watching T-Men the relative absence of women, and this was a welcome change! I actually wasn't expecting women to be a very large part of the narrative at all, and so when the story (however briefly) follows Sally, I was very pleased. Between Sally, Cora, Aggie, and the uncanny episode with the insidious housewife, there's a complexity to women in this that distinguishes it from many other noirs.
And then the ending. A cookie full of arsenic, to quote JJ Hunsecker. You can sort of feel Cavalcanti bitterly chuckling as it takes the sort of silly sentimentality of Sally and smothers it cold. Of course someone like Narcy would never change his mind. That "well in that case" he putters out is so perfectly delivered you almost believe it could have been another way.
She Wore a Yellow Ribbon!
Disclaimer: I'm perfectly aware that one of the major points of cinematic contention is the Hawks versus Ford debate, not only because of their westerns, but also how they work humor. I love both, but I seem to be one of the few who actively loves Ford's comedy as much as Hawks's. Most complain about Ford's rambunctious, digressive, "ill-timed" bawdy humor, at worst finding it not funny at all. I can understand that viewpoint, but, at the same time, I think that Victor McLaglen beating the shit out of seven other soldiers while wearing a monkey suit, trying to enjoy a drink, is one of the great pieces of cinematic comedy. McLaglen in general I find to be enormously funny. Watching him trying to be von Sternberg's disaffected, suave romantic antagonist in Dishonored is rather unpleasant, in all honesty, but what Ford gives him in the late 40s, not only here but also in Fort Apache, leaves me in stitches. Another instance: when he sees a dog laying lazily in front of his troop, and hollers belligerently asking whose dog it is? to no response, and then leaning down and patting it, cooing affectionately what a good dog it is: a summation of what I love most about him.
That moment sums up in general what I love so much about this Ford film in particular. I used to hold it as perhaps my favorite of his non-Stagecoach westerns, although it seems to me now that Fort Apache is stronger in general, not least because of its more precise goals, but Yellow Ribbon is such a wonderful hangout movie. Its pace so leisurely, its drama so undercut at every moment. Back to that moment: Ford's films are a whiplash of moods. He inherits this, I think, from Shakespeare, and from a drunken temperament. A disregard for unity, to simplify it. In both this and in Fort Apache there is a scene where Wayne goes to talk with a Native American chief. In Apache, it's a very serious scene. In this, the Chief, channeling his inner Victor McLaglen, asks Brittles to go with him to hunt buffalo and get drunk together. That's the sort of ideal, I think, for Ford. It also typifies all the problematics of Ford, as it veers dangerously close to a sort of stereotype about drunken Native Americans, that is only barely offset by the fact McLaglen's been there through the whole movie taking his medicine.
Thank you Swo and Domino for this recommendation. This was quite a pleasure to watch simply because of the actors alone: Ella Raines is one of my favorite actresses of the 40s as anyone could probably guess from my love for Phantom Lady and, of course, Hail the Conquering Hero (I also quite enjoy The Suspect and encourage others to seek that out as well!) Domino's favorite William Bendix pops in from time to time to be a hardass (quite an effectively menacing one, too!) to everyone's favorites Edmond O'Brien and Vincent Price. There's some very elegant camerawork here, and a plot that works like a well-tied knot: looks convoluted, is actually very simple, but tightens the more you tug at it. It won't make my list, but, I sure am glad I watched it, and I wouldn't mind it getting a quality release!
All Through the Night
I don't have much to say about this, except, wow, what a zany mess. Makes you appreciate Powell & Pressburger propaganda. Rarely funny, although it's consistently amusing to watch all these wonderful character actors spout some of the most groanworthy dialogue (and I say this after defending Victor McLaglen's comedy chops!). Sherman directs it with energy, and it's worth watching at least once, maybe even twice if you caught it one late night and wanted to see William Demarest give Hitler the axe.