An insufferable movie snob wanders off the beaten track, comes back and talks about what he has seen.
My Week of Movie Watching
April 13, 2015
Rififi – One of the truly great Film Noirs. Jules Dassin made Rififi in France while he was blacklisted from Hollywood, and would seem to be an unlikely candidate for greatness. There are no stars and the budget was next to nothing but the film never looks anything but authentic. Jean Servais plays Tony the Stephanois, a tubercular career crook who has just gotten out of prison, and comes to hook up with his girl and his gang again. The girl is now with a high-level gangster, and the gang are planning a jewel heist, which Tony nixes in order to go for a really big score -The safe. Tony is a character who is getting close to the end, and just doesn’t give a shit anymore. He gives his ex a savage beating, which he must know will get back to him, and he initiates the bold robbery because he really doesn’t have any other prospects. What makes this film so good, however, isn’t the caper itself (although it is beautifully presented), but rather what the characters do after they have their prize. Highly recommended.
The Man With the Golden Arm – Frank Sinatra as a recovered heroin addict who is thrust back into his old lifestyle and struggles to stay clean. This Otto Preminger film from 1955 was a stark look at drug addiction and is really interesting to look at with modern eyes. Sinatra’s Frankie unwisely goes right back to his old haunts and old friends including his old dealer (a terrific Darren McGavin). He also has a wife (Eleanor Parker) who he believes that he crippled in an accident who is keeping a cruel secret from him in order to keep him with her. This role was a big stretch for Sinatra, and he does a good job with it. Recommended.