I’ll get the review part out of the way first: this is a nice, taut, snappy little movie with excellent actors, chiaroscuro, good direction, and so forth. I wonder if it’s a genre effect that noir actors tended to be good in Westerns: Dana Andrews was in the extremely good Canyon Passage and in Where the Sidewalk Ends. Linda Darnell was in the slightly too dedicated to its concept The Dakota Incident (3 stars). Bruce Cabot was in just about everything. My point? Uh, I guess that being good in either of the best film genres from the best 20-year time period in Hollywood’s extremely tarnished history, then you’re good. Or something like that.
What’s it about?
“Ok, so I was just watching this kind of funny movie last night. I mean, weird funny, not humorous. So there’s this guy drifts into town one night, and he has precisely one dollar in his pocket. This is like, in 1945, 1950s.”
“Is it black and white?”
“It is chiaroscuro. It’s noir. It’s classic.”
“Oh, so it’s black and white.”
“–Also the version I got had Greek subtitles ‘cuz I got it off Youtube. So, anyway, he goes into the diner to get a cup of coffee and he meets this waitress girl who is really hot stuff. She’s got basically every guy in town lusting after her and she knows it.
“So the guy falls for her really hard, and he goes up to her and says, ‘let’s get it on.’
“And she says, ‘Not unless you put a ring on it.'”
“Oh, so she’s smart!”
“Mostly she’s just mercenary. But she is also kind of smart. So he says, ‘ITS A DEAL.’
“She says, ‘Dude, you have exactly .95 cents in your pockets now, it’s not gonna happen.’
“And then he says, ‘You just wait here.’ So he comes up with a cunning plan. To get the money to marry her, he’s going to go seduce and marry this other girl, who is rich, steal all her money, and get divorced, and then marry the first girl.”
“Yeah…and that’s when you realize why this guy has got one dollar in his pocket to begin with. So, he marries the other girl, but she’s a really nice girl, and he skips out on the wedding night to go check on the first girl,”
“He ain’t going to be divorcing her, she’s going to be divorcing him.”
“–No, she really likes him, and she knows he’s not good, but she thinks he’s a good person underneath and maybe he’ll change.”
“No. No, that is not a good idea! What is she thinking!”
“She thinking she LUUUUVES him.”
“So he comes back late that night and that morning, you know, when he wakes up in his wife’s house, the police come by to tell them that the other girl has been murdered.”
“And he thinks he’s going to be the main suspect.”
“But he isn’t? Then who is?”
“Gotta watch it to find out.”
One thing I really also liked about the film was the portrayal of the women. Despite that the entire story revolves around Man Wants Woman, Woman Wants Man, no one comes across as entirely either a sap or a pushover.
Stella might agree to not see anyone but Eric–but it’s because she’s decided he’s a good candidate to back, not because she’s cowed by him.
June might not answer back when Stanton (in the wrongly accused caught-in-a-rat-trap way of a badly frustrated man) snarls at her, but her calm comes from a reserve of inner strength that he is forced to recognize, and comes to respect.
One thing I didn’t like was the slightly abrupt last third of the movie. After Stella’s murder, it’s barely half an hour to resolving the love triangle, solving the mystery, with about a twenty-second denouement that, although quite sweet, is still only about twenty seconds long. Still.
‘s a good movie.
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