The making and unmaking of this 1951 film were described in painful detail in Lillian Ross‘s book Picture, which was for years the definitive document on Hollywood philistinism. Certainly writer-director John Huston‘s original version would be preferable to the mangled remains (it was cut to 70 minutes during a power struggle between Louis B. Mayer and Dore Schary), though the sequences that survive suggest that Huston’s vision was not particularly compelling to begin with. It’s the earliest example of Huston’s propensity for sacrificing the humanity of his characters to artsy camera angles and distended compositions—what he gains in graphic power he loses in emotional force. With Audie Murphy, Bill Mauldin, Royal Dano, and Andy Devine.
A good example of the kind of soporific nonsense that won rave reviews and armloads of Academy Awards back in the 50s, while the finest work of Ford, Hawks, and Hitchcock was being ignored. George Stevens, a tireless moralizer and part-time embalmer of American myths (Shane), directed this melodramatic adaptation of Dreiser‘s An American Tragedy, and what does not seem facile in it seems overwrought. Curiously, this 1951 film now seems hopelessly dated, while Josef von Sternberg‘s 1931 treatment of the material, filmed under the original title, seems breathtakingly modern. With Montgomery Clift, Elizabeth Taylor, and Shelley Winters.
A superb, too-seldom-seen film noir from 1951. Director Robert Parrish junks the expressionist shadow play that usually goes with the genre, substituting a keen eye for gritty Los Angeles locations and a sharp handling of dialogue. Dick Powell is sent to prison on a trumped-up charge; finally released, he goes looking for the gang boss who set him up. With Rhonda Fleming and Richard Erdman.