Kehr Capsule of the Week: Slightly Scarlet (1956)

A major film (1956) by Allan Dwan, who, after Raoul Walsh, was the most expressively kinetic director in American film. The plot is a complicated affair borrowed from the James M. Cain novel Love’s Lovely Counterfeit: a high-ranking mobster is assigned to get some dirt on a reform candidate for mayor but ends up falling in love with the politician’s secretary—which touches off a series of power plays for control of both the city and the syndicate. It’s also that rare item, the color noir, photographed by the great John Alton. With John Payne (who became a first-rate noir performer after shucking his drippy musical-comedy image at Fox), Arlene Dahl, Rhonda Fleming, and lots of other 50s icons.

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The return of the Kehr Capsule of the Week: Brewster’s Millions (1985)

Evidently, Walter Hill woke up one morning, checked his driver’s license, thought it said “Arthur Hiller,” and set about work on this crushingly bland comedy (1985). There isn’t an ounce of his personality in it; what’s more, there’s barely a trace of the personality of its two talented stars, Richard Pryor and John Candy—they drift around as weightlessly as Bill Bixby in a made-for-TV movie. The plot is an update of the old farce (last filmed by Allan Dwan in 1945) about an earnest young man who must spend $30 million in 30 days in order to win an inheritance of $300 million. Some of the money should have been spent on a gag writer, because there’s hardly a laugh line or a funny situation in it. Hill contents himself with a continuous expression of good-natured greed, refusing all the story line’s opportunities for caustic satire or exploration of character. With Lonette McKee, Stephen Collins, Jerry Orbach, Pat Hingle, Tovah Feldshuh, and Hume Cronyn.