Saturday, February 21, 2015
The cinematography is by the great Nicolas Musuraca, who did Out of the Past, and the visuals are great throughout. (Mitchum said it was one of his many films “lit by matches.”) Real noir. The set-up of the concussion allows the director and cinematographer to get in some wonderfully surreal scenes. Very efficient directing by John Farrow, who was, evidently, a sick tyrant on the set – Mitchum’s agent “ran screaming at his throat” at one point, because he kept making Bob fall down a dangerous set of stairs instead of using a stunt man, and after several of these takes, Mitchum finally told Farrow to be fruitful and multiply, but not in those words. The screenplay, piling up one outlandishly extreme scenario after another, is actually by Charles Bennett, Hitchcock’s old screenwriter, who did The 39 Steps, Secret Agent, The Man Who Knew Too Much, Foreign Correspondent, etc. The only real drawback to the film is Faith Domergue, who plays the femme fatale. She does pretty well as a crazy woman, but I would like to have seen another actress in the role. Jane Greer, perhaps, who worked with Mitch on Out of the Past and The Big Steal. Or Gloria Grahame – that would’ve been interesting. All in all, it’s a classic noir, not one of the greatest but interesting and worth watching, with Robert Mitchum out of his head. Relentless is a good word. It gets on a roll, heading downhill fast to “the border” – the mystical line between love and hate, sanity and madness, and darkness and its even darker shadow.