Archive for the ‘Lloyd Bridges’ Category

Trapped [1949]

08 Mar

Trapped [1949] — directed by Richard Fleischer. Crime Drama. T-Men use a con to round up those $20 counterfeit bill plates, but he cons the cons and they con him and he cons them back, and con and con and con. 78 minutes Black And White 1949.


Another film listed as noir that is not. But good anyhow. It’s a police procedural of sorts, with sexy Lloyd Bridges (father of  the Fabulous Baker Boys) as the gum-snapping con. The director was to go on to direct many big pictures of his era, and even though this is a B-flick, it shows a strong hand and good story-telling instincts. Barbara Payton, as Meg Dixon, plays his loyal moll and she is very good. She’s a sort of poor man’s Virginia Mayo (although so was Virginia Mayo), and she, because she loves him so much, provides a realistic sympathy for the crook, which the audience would not share without her – not as easy to do as it looks. A secondary character played by John Hoyt carries a lot of the story, and supplies a certain necessary coldness of intent to it. He was to go on until old age, as an actor on TV, with a huge career there and in films as a supporting and sub-supporting player – an honorable profession. This is what it means to be a born actor. It means that God gives you a call, and casting directors give you one too. The film is shot noir-dark, and is good to look at, and the story keeps hopping. It’s a nifty movie, but it has none of the post-War depth noir captured, no sense of the lost soldier, the home-front betrayal. Never mind. It’s just fine like it is. Check it out.



Canyon Passage

05 May

Canyon Passage. Directed by Jacques Tourneur. Gold-rush Western. A successful entrepreneur defends his friend against all odds. 92 minutes Color 1946.

* * * * *

What a gorgeous picture! It is the result of the Technicolor process which was tricky to film with and required the services of  Natalie Kalmus who ran the always-rented cumbersome Technicolor camera. But the results are phenomenal here, rich, deep, and satisfying. The outdoor sequences are done in the Gold Country of the California Sierras, in view of lakes and rivers and forests of supernal beauty. And the film itself unfolds with all this casually moved through, in unemphatic episodes, which seem barely to constitute a story but hold one’s attention for that very reason. Its woodland mountain setting is going to prohibit the big action scenes of open-plains Westerns, and in this it’s going to be similar to Allan Dwan’s later film Tennessee’s Partner with John Payne and Ronald Reagan, that is to say, it’s going to be a homo-bonding story. In this, the far more interesting one, the male romance is between Dana Andrews and Brian Donlevy. Donlevy is a funny actor, short, build square, with a large handsome head and a big masculinity to throw around, he nonetheless is curiously sympathetic as the banker who steals deposits. His morning ritual upon arriving on the set: 1) insert dentures; 2) don hairpiece; 3) strap on corset; 4) lace up “elevator” shoes. This may have given him the stuffed look he always possessed, that of a little lunk who did not move well, but moved impressively, and it also probably formally framed a character who is going to be weak and yet sympathetic. One of the great shots in the movie is taken from below in profile, his left eye gleaming with doubt as to whether he should go and murder someone. In both pictures, that someone is a drunken prospector. Another similarity circles around two females and the hero’s resistance to marriage. In both instances, the females are red heads, here Susan Hayward in her leading lady days. She has marvelous carriage and a bold attitude in every scene, which makes her monotonously redoubtable, but effective. The star is Dana Andrews who moves through the picture, here, as always, retaining his secrets. His naturalness on screen is remarkable. The quietude he carries and the interesting timbre of his voice when he speaks and the mobility of his face when he responds make him a fine film actor, one of a few who look okay in suit-roles, as here, where he plays a merchant prince in the making. Andy Devine and his actual sons are in the picture as is a young, sexy actor doing good work, Lloyd Bridges, but the astonishing performance is that of Ward Bond as the bully ogre. What with his pre-fab performances in John Ford films, we never imagine he could act, but see him here (and also in On Dangerous Ground), and you will be moved and amazed by the way he seizes the opportunities provided by the script — which is a really quite good and eccentric one. In brief: a richly visual, beautifully directed, and unusual Western entertainment.


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