nacque in Canada da genitori ucraini. Al cinema giunse attraverso una serie di
lavori umili a Hollywood.
Fino alla guerra diresse soltanto film di secondo piano.
Confessions of Boston Blackie (1941) is about a thief who needs to solve
a crime of art theft in order to save himself from murder.
The Devil Commands (1941), loosely adapted from
William Sloane's novel "The Edge of Running Water", is a very short
On a stormy night
a female narrating voice talks of her father's house and what happened there.
Julian was a famous scientist and one night gave a spectacular demonstration
of how to record the electrical activity of the brain. Each brain produces
a different kind of brain wave. The show was interrupted
when his wife came to grab him to go and welcome their daughter Ann
who was arriving at the train station. It was raining and on the way to the
station a terrible accident killed his wife.
Back at the laboratory Julian notices that the machine detects the brain wave
of his dead wife. Julian believes there is a way to reach his wife in the
otherworld. His fellow scientists derive the idea. His daughter is worried
that he is becoming obsessed. Only one friend, Karl, believes in him because he
routinely talks to his mother: he is the gullable customer of a medium.
Julian easily unmasks the trivial tricks used by the medium but then realizes
that the medium does release an unusual dose of electricty. Therefore he invites
her to his lab, convinced that a person with such strong brain waves can help
him decipher the language of the brain.
His daughter Ann and his assistant Richard warn him that the scientific
community scorns his theory. When Karl is injured in an experiment, Julian
decides to move to a secluded house with the medium and Karl, who has been
turned into a mute slave. One night the sheriff of the town comes to interrogate
the odd couple (scientist and medium) about five corpses that have disappeared
since they moved in. The medium, who now seems as obsessed as Julian, refuses
to cooperate. The sheriff asks the house's maid to help him get into the lab.
He is concerned that the town folks might take justice into their hands and
torch the house. One night the maid enters the lab and sees that the five
corpses have been connected to electrical wires via some astronaut suits.
She gets accidentally electrocuted and Julian finds her dead.
The medium is now the dominating personality. She convinces Julian to use
the woman's body like the others, and to fake an accident by the cliff.
The sheriff, though, decides that enough is enough. He calls Richard and Ann
and then breaks into the house just when Julian has finally managed to
hear the voice of his dead wife. The effort, though, has cost the life
of the medium. The sheriff leaves Julian in the hands of his daughter.
Ann tells him that she has sent him countless letters, and Julian realizes
that the medium was destroying them to keep him focused on their work.
But Julian's obsession is not diminished. He has just realized that the
presence of his daughter is essential to the success of his experiment
because her brain waves are similar to those of her mother. Julian is ready
to sacrifice his own daughter in order to communicate with his dead wife..
In the meantime the town folks have assembled and are marching on the house
determined to lynch the mad scientist. The house explodes and Ann is saved.
Ann ends the flashback.
Sweetheart of the Campus (1941) is a musical comedy with a rather
implausible plot and a rather implausible cast (mostly middle-aged actors
playing college students).
Jazz bandleader Ozzie and his tap dancer Betty are rehearsing in front of
the producer and a devoted young fan when the old college's chairwoman shows
up with the sheriff ordering that the show be canceled because of an ancient law
forbidding night clubs near schools. When the board meets to discuss
the terrible financial situation of the all-male college, the chairwoman,
and only heiress, announces that the college will have to close because
students don't enroll anymore. A young lady, Harriet, the daughter of the dean,
stands up and tells what everybody knows: the chairwoman is deliberately
causing the ruin of the college because she doesn't agree with the
dean's modern methods.
The band, in the meantime, has decided to self-promote their entertainment
by parading on campus. Arrested, they keep performing even in jail.
The passionate although nerdy Harriet visits them in jail and offers them a job:
enroll in the college in order to boost the number of students and make it
more appealing for students to study there. The band's manager, Terry, realizes
that Betty has just become the only female student of the college, and can
become the dream girl of all male students in the country.
Harriet turns the college's gym into the equivalent of a night club disguised
as a student meeting place, thus circumventing the law.
The band's performances are broadcast live by the college's television station.
Newspapers around the country make the college popular.
Crowds flock to the college (both young men and young women).
But the chairwoman devises a new way to destroy Harriet's plan: tough
examinations. All the band players and new students fail. They will be expelled
and the college will have to close. As the tragedy unfolds, Betty sees Ozzie
kiss Harriet and decides to accept a contract from a Broadway producer.
Harriet is promoted singer of the band. They give the last concert, but just
when the college is about to officially shut down Betty shows up with a whole
bunch of new recruits. Betty saves the college and kisses Terry, who has always
Seven Miles From Alcatraz (1942) is a patriotic movie that mixes
themes from the spy movie and the convict movie, with mediocre results.
Champ and Jimbo are two convicts at the maximum-security penitentiary of
Alcatraz. They read in the newspaper that the Japanese have attacked Hawaii
and the war has started. They don't want to remain in jail while the war is
going on and the jail could be bombed, so they escape.
They swim away to a tiny island where a lighthouse is located. Only four people
live there: a captain, his daughter Anne, the lively assistant Stormy and
the sinister radio operator Paul. The convicts take them hostage.
When a message arrives, Paul pretends that he does not understand it.
Unbeknownst to the convicts, the sender is a German submarine, and later
Paul deciphers it for himself. In another building a sexy baroness talks
about the mission of the submarine with his high-society nazi friends.
The two convicts are not too bad with their hostages.
Champ is even romancing Anne. When the radio sends an alarm, Jimbo convinces
Champ that it is the right time to elope on the lighthouse's boat, and Champ
figures he can take the girl with them. But Paul puts up a desperate fight
(he needs the boat for his secret mission) and Jimbo has to kill him.
They don't know that they just disrupted the plan of the nazi ring.
The other hostages are horrified. The convicts decide to stay.
The baroness and her two aristocratic friends realize that something went
wrong and decide to take a boat to the lighthouse. When they get there,
they mistake Champ for Paul and reveal their true identities of nazi spies.
At the same time Jimbo deciphers one of the radio messages: Paul was supposed
to escort the three on the lighthouse's boat to the German submarine.
Champ finds out that they are carrying maps that would help the German
bombers. The nazis offer money to the convicts if they will help them reach
the submarine. The convicts accept, but then the three hostages (who have
not heard the conversation) manage to trap them. The nazi spies seize the
arms and capture the hostages as well, but the convicts fight back, free
the hostages and capture the thugs. After the submarine is bombed, they
are rewarded with a shorter sentence at the penitentiary.
A portarlo alla ribalta fu
la voga per il film-noir, di cui diede un buon esempio con
Murder My Sweet (1944), tratto da Raymond Chandler.
Il film bellico-propagandistico, con Back To Bataan (1945) resta
ligio agli stereotipi dell'intrepido ufficiale americano (John Wayne) e
dei truci giapponesi.
During the war in the Philippines against the Japanese, a daring Filipino
captain (Anthony Quinn), the grandson of a national hero,
leads a company of scouts through Japanese territory
in order to rescue some prisoners. His superior, colonel (John Wayne), is
secretely pleased but has to reproach him for risking the lives of so many
men. The situation is desperate because the Japanese are superior in
number and equipment. To make things worse, they keep playing the record
of a sweet woman who in English invited the USA soldiers to surrender.
The captain is ordered to leave his soldiers and organize the Filipino
guerrilla. His superior also makes a startling revelation: the woman
used by the Japanese to broadcast that disturbing propaganda, Dolisai,
is actually working for the USA, providing valuable intelligence.
The colonel reaches the rebels on the hills. When the Japanese troops occupy
a nearby town, the Filipino schoolmaster, who is strongly pro-USA, refuses
to pull down the USA flag and is hanged by the Japanese.
The colonel runs into the USA teacher of that school and learns what happened.
He also learns that his Filipino captain has been captured and motivates the
Filipino rebels to fight on, despite being armed only with machetes. They do
manage to free the captain and to retake the town, and the Japanese commander
is hanged. The captain is in love with Dolisai, and is happy to learn that
she is not a traitor. The Japanese decide to stage a fake independence
celebration for the Philippines. When Dolisai lifts the flag, hell breaks
loose: the Filipino guerrillas kill scores of Japanese, and Dolisai grabs
the microphone and tells the whole country the truth. The guerrillas then
take to the jungle again. The Japanese colonel captures a kid and tortures
him until he accepts to collaborate, but then the kid derails the truck
full of Japanese soldiers and dies with all of them. Finally, a USA emissary
brings the new that the USA have finally decided to launch a massive campaign
to regain the Philippines.
The patriotic tone is a bit annoying, and the plot is fragmentary.
Cornered (1945) e` un thriller politico che ripercorre ancora una
volta gli stereotipi del film-noir.
Gerard is a veteran pilot who fought in France in World War II and, at the end
of the war, was released from a prison camp.
He is determined to find the French collaborators whom he blames for the
killing of the French woman he had just married.
Gerard finds out that the French collaborator, Marcel, is officially dead,
and the witnesses who certified his death are also dead.
Gerard finds one man who could still have information about Marcel living in
Argentina, but too late: the man is dead and some compromising papers have
been almost completely burned. Nonetheless, Gerard flies to Argentina in search
for Marcel's widow, who is now friend of a distinguished Argentinian business
His arrival does not go unnoticed. He is immediately escorted by a fat, sleazy
thug, Incza, who introduces him to the community of nazist expatriates.
At a party
Gerard meets the widow, her protector Camargo and his attractive and
sophisticated wife, besides a sinister crowd of lawyers and businessmen.
Gerard follows the widow, Madeleine, a young woman who appears to be scared
and insecure, not the cynical war criminal he envisioned.
Gerard, who has taken a room in the same hotel with the Camargos, uses
Incza as a way to get to Marcel, by having Incza deliver him the only readable
page saved from the fire as evidence that Gerard has compromising documents
Gerard receives a phone call from Madeleine and meets her in the suway.
She tells him that she never even met her husband: marrying him was simply
an expedient to get out of France. Now all she wants is to leave, but Gerard
refuses to help her.
Gerard's bluff works. He is invited in the Camargo suite, but finds
the wife alone, trying to seduce him. In the meantime, Incza, clearly a
doublecrosser, robs the safe of the hotel but can't find the papers. Then
Incza breaks into Gerard's room and steals the envelop, but has to kill a
valet who catches him in the act. When Gerard returns to his room, he finds
the police waiting to arrest him for the murder.
At the police, Gerard finds out that the lawyer and his associate are actually
members of an anti-Fascist association who are trying to build a case against
the collaborator and his gang. They despise his impulsive methods and advise
him restraint. However, they intervene with the police chief to release him.
Back at the hotel, Gerard finds Incza waiting for him. Incza now knows that
the papers are worthless, but is willing to help him track down the French
because he has his own blackmailing interests.
It turns out the thug has doublecrossed him again, in order to find out
Madeleine's whereabouts on behalf of Marcel.
Gerard is captured by Marcel and witnesses Incza's execution by Marcel, who
does not trust him anymore (Incza had made Marcel believe that there were
indeed some compromising papers).
Gerard seizes the moment and attacks the gangsters. As everybody runs,
Gerard beats Marcel to death.
The friendly anti-Fascists arrive, alerted by Madeleine. They find that this
time Incza had told Marcel the truth: he did have some compromising papers
with him, much more compromising than anything Gerard had found so far.
The anti-Fascists, happy that they can finally nail down the network of
war criminals, are willing to take the blame for the murder of Marcel and
invite Gerard to flee, but Gerard decides to stay.
The police arrive.
Till The End Of Time (1946) e' un resoconto naturalista delle
difficolta' di reinserimento dei reduci di guerra: inquieti, arrabbiati,
delusi. Il nuovo nemico e' piu' forte di quello appena sconfitto.
Marines return home at the end of World War II. Among them are three friends:
Cliff, Bill and Perry.
Cliff returns to his hometown and is immediately welcome by the talkative and flirty teenager who lives next door, Helen, but later, through his friend Pinky,
meets a mature and melancholy war widow, Pat, in a bar and is immediately fascinated by her. His parents overwhelm him with attentions.
Helen neglects her high-school sweetheart Tony to go skating with Cliff, Pat
and Pinky. Cliff and Pat meet a soldier who is afflicted with a form of
uncontrolled shaking and is afraid to go back home.
Bill (Robert Mitchum) drops by, dressed like a gentleman cowboy, on his way
to buy a ranch for himself.
Helen follows them to visit Perry, who lost both his legs and is confined
Cliff's parents are disappointed that Cliff doesn't seem to settle down, and
don't approve that he hangs out with loose people like Bill.
Cliff is hurt when he sees Pat kiss a captain after a date and insults her,
but then comes back and sympathizes with her.
Cliff and Pat begin a real romance. Helen sees them together and, angry, finally
kisses her faithful Tony.
Cliff finds Bill in a strange mood: Bill admits that he has painful headaches
but refuses to go to the hospital. Bill drinks and confesses that he
gambled and lost the money for his ranch.
Bill and Cliff decide to buy a ranch together and invite Perry to join them.
Bill calls Pat and tries to convince her. Pat thinks they are just drunk.
She tries to bring back Cliff, but Cliff chooses his army buddy Bill.
The three are approached by a group of racists who want them to join their
shadowy organization: no Jews, no Catholics, no Negroes. Bill spits in the
face of one of them, and a big fight ensues. Perry himself takes part in it.
Perry recovers self-confidence. Cliff's father is proud of his son, who promises
to look for a job and runs to Pat.
Fondendo i due generi Dmytryk giunse al suo primo noir politico, il film noir
Crossfire (1947), loosely based on Richard Brooks' novel "The Brick Foxhole" (1937),
sulle angosce e alienazioni dei reduci di guerra,
un film che ha per protagonisi il crimine, l'anti-semitismo, l'omosessualita'.
La struttura e' quella di un thriller: un ebreo viene ucciso e si sospetta un
gruppo di reduci, ma le indagini rivelano che l'omicida e' un soldato, il quale,
ancora ossessionato dal sadismo della guerra, si sfoga attraverso
un folle anti-semitismo.
Two people fight in the dark. One dies. We don't see the face of the killer,
except that he seems to be dressed like a soldier,
who leaves carrying another soldier who seems to be drunk.
The film is entirely shot at night. The ending is too verbose and elaborate,
and the political message detracts from the plot.
The detective in charge of the case interrogates the dead man's girl, who
testifies that she saw him talking with a soldier. They found a wallet on
the couch that belongs to a soldier named Mitch. While the detective is
talking to the lady, a former soldier, Monty, shows up at the apartment.
He is looking for his two buddies, Floyd and... Mitch.
Five men are playing cards in a bare room. The military police comes in
and tells Peter (Robert Mitchum) that Mitch killed someone.
Peter is taken to talk to the detective. He's another former soldier,
unemployed and melancholy. He tells the detective that Mitch was
sad too. He encouraged Mitch's wife to come and cheer him up.
Then Monty walks into the detective's office and starts telling
in a flashback how the three of them (Monty, Floyd, Mitch) had met
Sam (the victim) and his girl at the bar, and how Mitch had started talking
to Sam at another table. At the end of his story Monty makes disparaging
comments about people who did not fight in the war, such as Sam, who have
"funny" names (Jews). The detective lets him go. After he leaves, Peter
tells the detective that Monty is a liar and that Mitch must be innocent.
When Peter returns to the four buddies who were playing cards with him,
he tells them that they have to find Mitch before the police does, and sends
them out searching for him.
They protect him from the police. Then Mitch takes him into a movie theater
to hear his story. Mitch's version is told in a flashback through distorted,
blurred images, because he was drunk. He remembers going to the apartment
with Sam and his girl, and then Monty and Floyd joining them, and then
Monty starting an argument with Sam. Mitch left the apartment and went
for a walk, ending up in a club with a blonde Ginny, who works there till
late and complained about her loneliness. She gave him the key to her
apartment so he could rest, probably hoping to seduce him. In the apartment
he met a strange man who says he's Ginny's husband. Mitch remembered
that Peter had given him an appointment at midnight and left the man.
Peter believes Mitch. His men have found out where Floyd is hiding.
Monty got there before Peter. MOnty is trying to make sure that Floyd will
not tell the truth: that Monty killed the Jew simply because he was a Jew.
Floyd is still shaken. Monty hides in the back when Peter walks in.
Floyd does what Monty told him to do: he claims that they left the apartment
shortly after Mitch did. When Peter leaves, Monty realizes that he cannot trust
the fearful Floyd and hangs him, faking a suicide. The police find the body
and think it could be Mitch's second victim. Peter accepts to deliver the
friend who is still hiding in the movie theater. Now it's Mitch's wife, just
arrived from her home town, who takes over the investigation. After hearing
her husband's story she takes the detective to Ginny's apartment. But Ginny
cannot prove Mitch's innocence because she was not in the apartment, and
her husband can only prove that Mitch was there much later than the time when
the murder was committed.
However, the detective has figured out that the only possible motive for the
first murder was racial hate, and he is convinced that Monty is the hater.
Now he needs to prove it. He asks a soldier to tell Monty that Floyd is still
alive, and to give him the address where Floyd is. Monty does not resist
the temptation and shows up at the apartment where he killed Floyd. Except
that the address he was given was not that one: the detective had deliberately
written down the address of the house next door. The fact that Monty found the
right place proves that he knew where Floyd was hiding.
Monty runs down the stairs and into the street but the detective shoots
him from the window.
So Well Remembered (1947), based on the 1942 James Hilton novel
and realistically filmed in a small mill town, is the portrait of an
ambitious and selfish woman, but relies on a pathetic plot and is spoiled
by a tedious narrative voice that is basically reading the novel.
seorge, mayor of a town, watches as the town folks celebrate the victory in
World War II and remembers what he went through.
He was a young newspaper editor and council man when he defended Olivia,
the daughter of a disgraced mill-owner who is responsible for the appalling
the town's slums. George is kind, generous and naive.
When Olivia tells him that they are broke, he offers to marry her.
After a heated argument between father and daughter, her father dies in a car
accident. Left alone, she accepts George's marriage proposal.
Elected to parliament, George makes it his mission to fight for better housing
for poor people. When a diphteria epidemics breaks out in the town, George
is bitter about the poor housing conditions created by Olivia's own father
and his friends. He and the doctor try to convince all the parents to send
their children to the clinic, and George tells Olivia that they should be
the first ones to set the example.
He quits parliament, disgusted with the powerful friends
who helped his career, causing Olivia's anger. Then their
child dies of the disease. Olivia bitterly tells George that she was never
happy and leaves him. His only friend is the alcoholic doctor who helped
him fight the epidemics. Unmarried, he has decided to raise a little baby
Twenty years go by. George remains faithful to his political ideals and
helps the doctor raise Julie. Olivia marries again and has another child,
Charles, but her husband dies. At the beginning of World War II the son of
Olivia, Charles, now a soldier, meets George and falls in love with Julie.
Olivia, now rich, moves back to her father's mansion and reopens the mill.
When one of her workers is injured, the town rises up against the greedy
woman who shows the same neglect for her workers' safety that her father
had. George is sent to negotiate with her. Just then she receives a phone call:
Charles has been seriously wounded. Julie becomes his nurse at the clinic
and still wants to marry him, despite his permanent injury and the opposition
of the possessive Olivia. Olivia eventually takes Charles home. Julia despairs.
The doctor reveals to George that Olivia caused her father's deadly accident
(she knew that the road had been washed out)
because her father knew how evil she was and wanted to warn him, George,
against marrying her. Olivia also caused their son's death because she did
not take the child to the doctor's clinic as George had told her to do.
George confront Charles, who is hiding in his mother's house because he is
afraid, and Charles finds the courage to marry Julie. George takes his revenge
over Olivia when he tells her that her son has run away from her.
Just then the sirens announce that the war is over, and we are back to the
Five Us This Day (1949) descrive con altrettanta accuratezza e amarezza
la vita degli immigrati italiani: un muratore sposa una ragazza promettendole
una casa tutta loro; in seguito, padre di quattro figli, rischiera'
quotidianamente la vita per guadagnare i soldi necessari. Soltanto dopo la
morte della moglie, riscuotendo i soldi dell'assicurazione, potra' comprare
L'impegno civile, il brutale realismo, le atmosfere depresse, ne fecero un
esponente di primo piano del naturalismo americano, anche se talvolta enfatico.
The Sniper (1952) is a thriller in which the audience knows from the
beginning who the killer is. He is not even trying to avoid being arrested.
Eddie is a disturbed young man, who has just been released from a mental
hospital after hitting a girl. He is now obsessed with a neighbor, Jean.
He even aims his gun at her. He calls the prison's doctor, ready to ask
for help, but the doctor has left. He burns his right hand on the stove
to be admitted in a hospital, but the hospital sends him home, despite
a doctor guesses that the wound was self-inflicted. He knows he needs help,
but everybody is too busy to help him. Eddie is a delivery boy for a
dry-cleaning business. A sexy customer invites him in and offers him a beer,
but only because she needs a favor. At night Eddie follows his neighbor Jean
to the night club where she plays the piano, waits patienty for her to leave,
aims his gun and this time pulls the trigger. Jean is killed on the spot.
Curious by-passers watch as the police investigate (a woman holds her
child right in front of the corpse). Eddie writes a note to the police
begging for them to find him before he does it again. He does it again:
another woman is found murdered the same way. A psychologist feels that the maniac
must be someone who has a grudge against women and has had it for a long time.
They screen the files of hundreds of sex offenders. At one point they also
pull out Eddie's file, convicted of hitting a girl with a baseball.
In the meantime Eddie kills again. The politicians
demand quick action because the city is terrorized. The psychologist accuses
them: this maniacs are free because the system is flawed.
The fourth victim is killed in a park, but this time the sniper leaves behind
the bandage. Eddie comes to the attention of
the police when he seems morbidly obsessed with playing a game at an amusement
park in which hitting a target with a baseball sends a girl diving into a tub.
He does it repeatedly, as if he wanted to humiliate her, and then just start
throwing the ball at the girl. The police detective relates this incident to
the crime that Eddie was convicted of. At the same time they find the name
of the gentleman who had his hand bandaged: the same name. The newspapers
report that the police are looking for a man whose right hand was bandaged
recently. Eddie's boss at the cleaners, who happens to be a woman, calls them.
They are ready to arrest him at the cleaners but he does not show up:
he is preparing his gun for another murder. At the last minute he does not
shoot the girl he was aiming at, but a worker who is climbing a tower sees him
with a gun and starts shouting. Eddie kills him and then runs home.
His landlady heard on the radio the description of the sniper and now knows.
In a few minutes the house is surrounded by the police. Eddie does not
surrender. The police break into his room and find him with the gun in his
hand. We don't find out what happened next (does he shoot himself? does he
resist the police? does he surrender peacefully?) because the film ends
Ex-comunista, venne processato condannato a sei mesi di carcere. Fece
autocritica e promise di collaborare con le indagini (ovvero di denunciare
compagni). Pote` cosi` tornare a lavorare, ma con il morale a pezzi.
Da quel momento preferi`, non a caso, personaggi insicuri e nevrotici:
Caine Mutiny (1954), in cui il codardo capitano del romanzo di Wouk
viene trasformato in eroe;
il western Broken Lance (1954), su un patriarca tiranno e i suoi figli;
Soldier Of Fortune (1955), esotico melodramma d'avventure e amori in
The Last Hand Of God (1955), di nuovo ambientato in Cina, racconta le
avventure melodrammatiche di unaviatore americano rincorso da un generale
Durante un temporale Bogart arriva a una missione e si presenta come il
prete cattolico che stanno aspettando. Bogart si conquista la stima del
villaggio e una ragazza americana, molto religiosa, si invaghisce di lui.
Bogart non e` pero` felice, e finalmente confessa la verita` all' unico
Americano che lo puo` aiutare: non e` un prete, e` un pilota che ha disertato.
Quando il suo aereo precipito`, venne salvato dagli uomini di un ambizioso
e crudele generale cinese, che lo prese al suo servizio.
Bogart divenne il suo consigliere e condusse le sue armate di vittoria in
vittoria, ma presto si stanco` della vita di prigioniero nel monastero buddista
che il generale usa come bunker. Approfitto` dell'omicidio di un prete
per fuggire, assumendo la sua identita`. Adesso, colto da scrupoli, ha deciso
di andarsene. Ha paura che i cinesi, alla sua ricerca, piombino sul villaggio.
Ma e` troppo tardi: giunge la notizia che l'esercito del generale cinese e` in
marcia verso il villaggio e sta seminando morte lungo la via.
Gli uomini del villaggio sono pronti a combattere, ma lui sa che quei contadini
non potranno nulla contro i mercenari del generale. Si presenta dal generale
e chiede clemenza. Il generale accetta di giocare ai dadi il destino del
villaggio e quello di Bogart. Bogart vince, il generale accetta il verdetto
e nel villaggio si sparge la leggenda di come la fede di Bogart ebbe la
meglio del barbaro. Bogart confessa anche alla ragazza la verita`. Lei
gli confessa il suo amore, lui confessa di ricambiarlo. Ma prima deve
sottostare alle richieste della Chiesa: che continui a pretendere di essere
Raintree County (1957) e` un lunghissimo melodramma sulla guerra di secessione di scarso valore.
In 1859 young people graduate from a boarding school set in a dreamy rural
landscape. Two of them, John (Montgomery Clift) and
Nell (Eva Marie Saint) love each other.
Their teacher tells them the legend of the golden raintree that has never been
found again, and that would give greatness to the one who finds it.
John shows his ambition by immediately embarking on a mission to find the
tree. He is ridiculed by the other boys, in particular his rival for the
heart of Nell. His teacher puts him up against the fastest runner in the
county, a drinking and womanizer scoundrel called Flash (Lee Marvin).
John wins and the teacher, who has bet all his money on him, becomes rich.
But then the teacher tries to seduce the young gorgeous wife of an old and
obnoxious man, and has to leave town before the husband kills him.
John's father tells him that he is the illegitimate son of a famous British
John is slowly seduced by Susanna (Elizabeth Taylor), a rich lady from the
South. He leaves Nell for Susanna, but hardly fits in her crowd of Southerners
because he opposes slavery.
Once married, John realizes that Susanna is psychologically unstable.
He learns that her mother was insane, that her father died in a mysterious
fire, and that the only one who knows that really happened is Susanna herself.
John feels uncomfortable in the South and decide that they should move back
to Raintree County.
Nell is still John's best friend. John is a faithful and devoted husband,
despite Susanna's odd behavior. They have a child, Jimmy, the very day that
war breaks out between the North and the South.
She later tells him the true story of
the fire that killed his father: her mother did it, because she was jalous of
another woman, the one who raised Susanna, and Susanna herself had stirred that
jealousy with an anonymous letter. The sense of guilt contributes to driving her crazy.
One day she disappears with the child: she has decided to cross the lines
and return to her hometown in the South.
John is determined to find her. The only way he can cross the lines is to
join the army. When he leave for war, Nell is there to bid him farewell.
She confesses that she never stopped loving him.
At the front he meets again his old teacher and Flash.
Flash and John make it to Susanna's mansion, where they find Jimmy taken care
by Susanna's old black maid. SUsanna has been taken to a mental hospital.
Flash dies to protect John and Jimmy as they return to their camp. The war ends.
John travels back to the south to rescue Susanna from the mental hospital.
She is now convinced that the raintree truly exists.
Back home the people who love him, and Nell above all, want John to get into
politics. John refuses and Susanna understands that it's because she is sick
that he cannot,
Susanna tells her son that she is going to find the raintree, and then leaves
the house. The child runs after her in his pajama.
John leads the search for the two. They find Susanna dead in the woods.
However, later John and Nell find Jimmy.
Il ritorno a un cinema di qualita' e' segnato da Young Lions (1958)
un bellico tratto dal bestseller di Irwin Shaw, filmato come due vicende parallele
(quella dei due americani e quella del tedesco)
che si ricongiungono soltanto alla fine (il tedesco, disgustato dalla guerra,
si lascia uccidere dai due americani).
Film lungo e tedioso.
Marlon Brando is a German ski instructor who is in love with Hitler's ideas
and joins the German army.
Dean Martin is an American entertainer who is drafted against his
will. He is assigned to the same unit as Montgomery Clift, a shy Jew, a store clerk, who is harassed by his fellow soldiers.
Martin is a coward ashamed of his own cowardice, who gets drunk and beats his
girlfriend (the one who convinced him to join the army).
Clift is a sensitive boy who falls in love with a good girl.
The three stories proceed in parallel.
As the war drags on and the German leadership shows its true face,
Brando grows disillusioned.
Eventually, the three men meet in the last scene, when Brando lets the two
Americans kill him.
Warlock (1959) e' un western psicanaliticoche tratta lo stesso tema:
l'individuo stanco di violenza e sangue.
I cittadini del villaggio assoldano un pistolero per proteggersi dai desperados, i
quali hanno cacciato a fucilate lo sceriffo senza che nessuno abbia avuto il coraggio di aiutarlo. Fonda
arriva con il fido Quinn: e' freddo e maturo, e' il primo a sapere che oggi quegli uomini lo accolgono come
un salvatore, ma domani lo scacceranno intimoriti da suo potere. E' malinconicamente prigioniero del suo
destino. Con polso e senza minimamente scomporsi, Fonda sgomina parte della banda, senza risparmiare
neppure il fratello testardo di quello (Windmark) che si e' convertito ed e' diventato vice-sceriffo.
Windmark decide di garantire l'ordine contro la banda e proibisce loro di entrare in paese. Il boss lo sfida
a duello e muore; Windmark ha fatto trionfare la legge senza l'aiuto di Fonda. Nel frattempo i rapporti tra
Fonda e Quinn si guastano: Quinn ama Fonda, suo unico amico, ma Fonda non capisce fino a che punto
Quinn sia stato fondamentale per i suoi trionfi. Quinn si ubriaca e va a sfidare Windmark, ma fonda si
incarica di fermarlo e di espellerlo dal paese. Ma Quinn vuol prima far vedere a tutti di essere piu' veloce
del celebre pistolero e lo sfida: riesce infatti a sparare per primo, ma sbaglia volontariamente la mira ,
mentre Fonda lo centra e lo uccide. La gente non lo vuole piu', Winmdmark lo espelle. Fonda accetta il
verdetto della legge e se ne va solo.
La psicologia e' morbida e sottile, l'impianto e' da tragedia greca. Il film smitizza
i miti del western e mostra la torbida relazione tra la comunita' e l'uomo d'ordine (non piu' giustiziere, ma
elemento sovversivo). La morale ne esce ribaltata; molte sotto-trame.
Nei film successivi si dedico' all'inquietudine morale dei tempi degli
Walk On The Wild Side (1962) is a long and complex melodrama that
features an unusually morbid analysis of odd characters and shady milieus.
A loner is hitch-hiking along a highway in the middle of nowhere. As it gets
dark, he loos for a place to sleep and finds two big pipes. He is about to
make his bed inside one of them, when a hungry, dirty, wild, young runaway,
Kitty (Jane Fonda), attacks him. Dove offers her food and she lets him sleep
inside her pipe. He is headed for New Orleans, and she decides to follow him.
They jump on a train. He is the taciturn type. At the first stop, she changes
into decent clothes and reveals her sexy body and her sexual needs.
But he is not attracted: he is on his way to rescue his fiance',
Hallie, a sculptress, whom he
believes might be in New Orleans. Kitty is jealous. She also doesn't know
what is good and what is bad: she is a liar, a cheater and a thief, and the
first person to be hurt is the kind owner of a humble cafe', who gets
accused of poisoning the food and then robbed of her rosary. When he finds
out, Dove ditches Kitty and walks back to the cafe' to return the loot. He likes
the honest hard-working woman, Teresina, and she likes the honest kind
gentleman. Teresina decides to help him find his woman, and, to start with,
gives him a job to pay for an ad in the paper.
In the meantime, in New Orleans a leg-less man walks (or, better, rolls)
into the mansion of an icy middle-aged matron Jo (Barbara Stanwyck), his wife.
in the mansion are gentlemen and well-dressed girls. It is a brothel, and
Hallie works for Jo, besides being her lover.
In the cafe' outside New Orleans, Dove breaks down: nobody has answered his
ad, and he is beginning to realize that the problem is inside him.
Teresina, who is a widow, sees her ideal man in her, and the love story she
never had, and spurs him to keep hope alive.
And sure enough a phone call (probably Kitty) tells him where Hallie is.
He runs to the mansion, and confronts her. He is too naive to understand
what Hallie is now. He proposes, but she refuses without telling him why.
In the meantime, Kitty is enrolling in Jo's brothel, after she bailed her
out of jail. Dove is unstoppable: he has already rented a place for him
and Hallie. Hallie doesn't know how to break the news that she is a
prostitute: she hopes he will forgive her, and she dreams of the life
he could live with him. He finally understands the truth when he sees
her "at work".
Dove is ready to leave town. Teresina begs him to stay and marry her.
Dove is still in love with Hallie. He walks into the brothel and meets
Kitty, who has become one of Jo's girls. He finds the courage to forgive
Hallie and to ask her to leave with him. But Jo has been spying on them,
and can't let her leave. She breaks into tears in front of her leg-less husband.
She finds a way to stop the lovers: Kitty is a minor, and Jo accuses Dove
of having abused a minor when he was traveling with her. And an attorney is
ready to press charges against him and ruin him. Hallie takes the decision,
and ditches Dove for his own good. But, as soon as he leaves, he is seized by
Jo's gangsters and beaten, and the leg-less husband is the most ferocious in
Kitty, who has seen everything, brings him help and takes him to Teresina's.
He is unconscious but keeps asking for Hallie. Teresina begs Kitty to
bring Hallie there. Kitty walks back to the brothel and tells Hallie what
happened. Then Kitty creates a diversion to allow Hallie to leave the brothel
unseen. But Kitty lets it slip that Hallie is at Teresina's, and soon Jo
and her men break into the cafe'. Dove fights for his life, an accidental shot
kills Hallie. Both Jo and Dove are devastated.
The Carpetbaggers (1964) was adapted from a Harold Robbins novel and loosely based on the real life of tycoon Hughes.
Cosi' anche When Love Is Gone (1964), dramma familiare in cui una donna
lascia marito e figlia, si trova un amante e prende a bere; sua figlia viene sedotta dall'amante, lo uccide e
finisce in carcere.
Mirage (1965) e` un film fanta-morale:
uno scienziato scopre la formula che protegge dalla
neutralita', ma la distrugge per scrupoli morali; perde la memoria e il cinico padre tenta di guarirlo per
avere la formula.
Alvarez Kelly (1966) is a Civil War western with an unusually amoral
and cynical message. The protagonist is neither a galiant hero nor a despicable
monster but something in the middle, a mediocre greedy merchant who scorns
values and glory. The chivalric ideals of the Far West are represented by
his rival. He represents the exact opposite: the world to come, more interested
in money, sex and entertainment than in patriotism and self-sacrifice.
The moral twist is also evident in the way the two armies are presented.
Initially, it looks like the Southerners are bandits. By the end, the leader
of the bandits is the real gentleman in that world, not to mention the
most intrepid and creative one, a veritable force of nature,
while the Northerners are reduced to the role of dumb machines.
During the Civil War,
Alvarez (William Holden) is a rancher who sells cattle to the Northern troops.
The major complains that he is late, but Alvarez explains that it took 30
long grueling days to bring the cattle to that town.
The major tells him that he has to bring the cattle further south, where
the troops moved.
Alvarez asks for more money: he is only interested in the money, not
in who wins the war.
The journey ends at the mansion owned by an elegant and haughtly lady,
She is fascinated by his frank, cynical manners. Seconds after telling him
that her husband has been away for three years she falls into his arms.
It turns out it's a trap: a group of Southerners, led by the one-eyed
Tom (Richard Widmark), who have been following the Northerners, steals his
money and kidnaps him. She doublecrossed him, and then she plays innocent
when the major interrogates her.
Alvarez is taken to the headquarters of the Southerners where they explain
that they need cattle because the people and the troops are starving. They
want his help to steal them from the Northern army. Alvarez refuses and he is
jailed. He proves to Tom that his able horsemen don't know how to steer a
cow, and therefore are useless. Tom gives him ten days to train them, and
threatens to shoot one of his fingers for every day of delay.
Alvarez loses one finger and then accepts the deal. He is readmitted to
society ad invited to a party where he meets the gorgeous Liz, who is
engaged to Tom.
At night he finds a way to elude his bodyguard and returns to Liz's
mansion. An old flame of Tom's, who didn't want to marry her out of a noble
sense of responsibility, she welcomes the first non-honorable man she met,
and is ready to elope with him. She confesses that she is broke and wants
him to help her get out of there. He confesses that he wanted her mainly
to hurt the colonel. They toast and make love all night long. Amoral and
selfish, they were made for each other.
Tom, who appeared to be a bandit and a brute, turns out to be a gentleman
full of principles. Later Alvarez buys a passage for Liz on a ship, but
not for himself.
A Northern spy reports back to the Northern headquarters about Tom's and
Alvarez's movements. The major suspects that they are out to steal his cows,
but his superior laughs it out.
On the eve of the action, Alvarez tells Tom that he shipped Liz away after
"pleasing" her. Alvarez almost kills him on the spot but it is time to attack.
With a daring manouvre, Tom leads his men around the Northern troops and
straight into the place where the cattle is kept, with Charity providing key
information. However, an apple betrays Tom and Alvarez who are captured by
the Northern major. But the major is in turn surrounded by Tom's men.
He manages to escape, though, and give the alarm at headquarters.
While the Northerners are dispatching the cavalry to protect the bridge,
the Southerners are slowed down by the cattle.
Tom orders to drown the cattle rather than let the Northerners regain it,
and is ready to then attack the Northern cavalry, led by the major,
with inferior means and die in battle.
But Alvarez is appalled by his suicidal nobility and offers to help them out.
Tom surrenders his command to Alvarez hoping that he, who is an expert in
cattle, can find a way to cross the bridge with the cattle despite the
overwhelming Northern firepower.
The cattle overruns the Northern artillery. Alvarez risks his life to save
a Southern officer. Then one of the Southerners shoots him while they are
about to blow up the bridge. Then Tom risks his own life (and catches a bullet)
to kill his own man who is about to finish Alvarez. Alvarez has time to jump
from the bridge before it blows up. The Southerners won the battle.
Tom and Alvarez finally respect each other. Alvarez rides away, a wanted
man by the Northerners.
Shalako (1958), adapted from a Louis L'Amour novel,
is another unusual western: a melodrama pitting native Americans and European nobles.
Bosky is leading a party of European aristocrats on a hunting trip across
the American wilderness. The cute blonde countess Inna (Brigitte Bardot) kills
a mountain lion who has been cornered by the party. The butler serves
champagne in the middle of nowhere. But later the same cutie is almost killed
by the Indians. She is saved by Shalako (Sean Connery), a lonely gunfighter.
They cannot save her companion, whom the Indian impaled.
Shalako escorts the blonde back to the camp of the aristocrats. On the way
they are met by hundreds of Indians. The chief would like to skin them, but
Shalako talks his way out by promising to lead the hunting party out of the
Indian reservation. The aristocrats are having a fancy dinner by the wagons.
They are a bunch of arrogant idiots, led by a racist baron who is totally
indifferent to treaties signed by the USA government. They don't seem to
understand that the army is not allowed to enter the reservation to defend
them. The baron laughs at Shalako's warnings. He is in love with the countess,
but she is now much more fascinated by Shalako's cowboy manners than by
the fascist manners of the baron. Shalako leaves. The Indians attack, stealing
most of the horses and burning most of the wagons. When the Indians retreat,
the party finally decides to head for the fort, as Shalako had suggested.
But Bosky and his men don't take any chances: they rob the surviving aristocrats
of everything (jewelry, supplies, horses and a nice coach) and leave them to the Indians.
The lady of a ruined British lord offers herself to Bosky and takes off with
them. Shalako rides back to save the surviving aristocrats, who are now much
more reasonable. They have to walk because the horses are gone. Shalako fools
the Indians who are looking for them. The Indians instead find Bosky's men
and the coach. The evil Bosky hides while they kill them all and last the lady
(by making her swallow a necklace).
In the meantim Shalako has taken his party to the top of a hill, from there
they can defend themselves. Bosky joins them. The Indians attack. The whites
survive. The lord and Bosky (who stole his wife) kill each other. The son of
the Indian chief challenges Shalako. Shalako wins. They are free. Shalako can
take off with the countess.
Bluebird (1972) rievoca in chiave di commedia grottesca la perversa carriera di
un grande aviatore tedesco che vive in un castello, afflitto da complessi edipici (conserva la mummia della
madre), sadico e impotente, che seduce, sposa e uccide sette mogli (Welch, Lisi, Delon, etc.), prima di
essere incastrato dall'ottava.
Human Factor (1975) narra la vendetta personale di un giustiziere privato: un
americano che vive a Napoli, la cui famiglia viene massacrata da terroristi americani, riesce ad eliminare
gli sporchi comunisti uno per uno, fino alla colossale sparatoria finale nel supermercato dove hanno preso
in ostaggio degli innocenti. Convertendosi al filone fascista del cittadino giustiziere anti-comunista,
Dmytryk ha completato la parabola dell'auto-critica.
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