Fade Out/Fade In

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My final home video column for the New York Times is here. I get to go out on the greatest, John Ford, thanks to a five-film box set from TCM and Sony featuring Ford’s work at Columbia: “The Whole Town’s Talking,” “The Long Gray Line,” “Gideon’s Day,” “The Last Hurrah” and “Two Rode Together.” Let’s hope the last one, at least, makes it to Blu-ray.

I’ve heard from some members of our little community who are working on setting up an equivalent discussion space, and I’ll pass along the appropriate information when that becomes a reality. In the meantime, I won’t be updating this blog very often, but I have placed a toe in the turbulent waters of Twitter, where those so inclined can follow me at @dave_kehr.

The new job begins at MoMA on Dec. 2. Curating, I hope, will be an extension of criticism by other means. It’s a big change, but after a few decades of daily journalism, a welcome and reinvigorating one.

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134 comments to Fade Out/Fade In

  • Thanks very much for your typically thoughtful and sensitive comments on Ford, Blake. I couldn’t agree with you more about the amazing changes in tone in “Two Rode Together” — alas, no real space to do justice to that or really any of the other films in the set — and how those shifts reflect the divisions within the Stewart character, who at one moment seems like a Hawksian boon companion and at another a repugnant cynic. I don’t generally like biographical interpretations of movies, but I wonder if Ford wasn’t looking inward at that point, contemplating the contradictions in his own character that could make him at once an impossibly difficult human being and an artist attuned to the most delicate of emotions.

  • James Stewart’s performance ranges from broad farce till expressions of profound pain like in the most harrowing moments with Mann and Hitchcock. We realize he has seen it all.

  • alex

    Stewart’s great range is indisputable; yet I suspect that his popular image was alwsys very much that of a kind of idealic American everyman –if that’s not an oxymoron– competent in in a traditionaly manly sort of way yet ever to the conventional wisdom somewhat childishly innocent and lovable as well. Like Wayne and — moving out of Ford territory, the eventually Americanized Grant — a great American icon as well as an accomplished actor.

    Has anyone ever done a work on the great American stars/icons as national cultural expressions -say something like Paglia did with eh great poets in Sexual Persona?

  • alex

    Stewart’s great range is indisputable; yet I suspect that his popular image was alwsys very much that of a kind of idealic American everyman –if that’s not an oxymoron– competent in in a traditionaly manly sort of way yet ever to the conventional wisdom somewhat childishly innocent and lovable as well. Like Wayne and — moving out of Ford territory, the soon Americanized Grant — a great American icon as well as an accomplished actor.

    Has anyone ever done a work on the great American stars/icons as national cultural expressions -say something like Paglia did with eh great poets in Sexual Persona?

  • My favorite Jacques Tourneur films so far:

    Features: Nick Carter, Master Detective; I Walked With a Zombie, Experiment Perilous, Canyon Passage, Out of the Past, Berlin Express, Stars in My Crown, The Flame and the Arrow, Appointment in Honduras, Stranger on Horseback, Wichita, Great Day in the Morning, Nightfall, Night of the Demon; The Fearmakers.

    Short films: The Magic Alphabet, The Romance of Radium, The Grand Bounce, The Jonker Diamond, Harnessed Rhythm, Killer-Dog, Cool and Lam.

  • Robert Garrick

    Tourneur directed two of the Nick Carter B-movies, and I thought the second one, “Phantom Raiders” (1940), showed greater passion and talent. Certainly it was more noirish, and contained more evidence of the style that Tourneur would use to glorious advantage later in the decade. There are, for example, several indoor scenes with elaborate blocking, fairly long takes, and delicate lighting. “Phantom Raiders” is not nearly as accomplished as the later, more famous films directed by Tourneur, but it’s much more of a Tourneur film than the well-made but James Bondish “Nick Carter, Master Detective” (1939).

    “Phantom Raiders” is set in Panama. Joseph Schildkraut, sporting the Latino name of Al Taurez, is frighteningly cold as the villain, yet he has a bit of style. You won’t forget Dwight Frye in this film either, though his role is small (as Frye’s roles invariably are). The normal B-movie set pieces are there, but this movie gets under your skin a bit more than the standard Saturday matinee entertainment. I haven’t seen Tourneur’s next film, “Doctors Don’t Tell” (1941), but the one after that was the great “Cat People” (1942), with more haunting sequences and influential moments than some directors produce in a full career. If Tourneur had stopped directing after “Cat People,” we would still be talking about him today. But his best days were ahead of him.

    “Phantom Raiders” was based on a story by Jonathan Latimer, who went on to write John Farrow’s best films–”The Big Clock” (1948), “Night Has a Thousand Eyes” (1948), and “Alias Nick Beal” (1949).

    I don’t have it handy right now, but as I recall Robin Wood’s article on Tourneur disparages most of his films. Wood began his study of Tourneur by watching “I Walked With a Zombie” and “Out of the Past,” and thought he had unearthed a new pantheon director. But then Wood watched some of Tourneur’s other films and concluded that they were largely pedestrian. Most of us here give Tourneur a little more credit than that.

  • alex

    Wood’s pedestrian sure sounds tough Tournuer. However, I wasn’t think of mobiloity to the Pantheon so much as “The Far Side of Paradise” when I directed attention to “Easy Living.”

    Foir “Far Side” status, “I Walked With a “Zombie” and “Out of the Past,” plus a top-koych film or three more –say, “Cat People,” Canyon Passage” and “Essy Living” would seem to me a enough to outrank the likes of the, alas, erratic La Cava.

    Still, anyone have any candidates for pre-Lewton film directed by Tourneur that approach the excellence of “Out of the Past” or “Cat People” (or “Stage Door” or “My Man Godfrey”)?

  • Alex,
    Chris Fujiwara’s book “Jacques Tourneur, the Cinema of Nightfall” is insistent that Tourneur’s early short films are just as good and just as stylized as his later work in features. From the shorts I’ve managed to see (courtesy TCM), am in whole-hearted agreement.

    The Magic Alphabet, The Romance of Radium, The Grand Bounce, The Jonker Diamond, Harnessed Rhythm, Killer-Dog are especially good.

    I personally like the “science documentary” aspect of many of these shorts. Then again, I subscribe to the “scientific world view”, and am intensely pro-science.

    Wish Tourneur were alive and making a film on Global Warming. Flowing water is a key Tourneur image. He could make an astonishing film about New York flooded by Superstorm Sandy.
    ***
    Some Early Gregory La Cava liked here: the silent Womanhandled, Smart Woman, Symphony of Six Million, The Half Naked Truth, Bed of Roses, What Every Woman Knows. His body of work is richer than is sometimes acknowledged.

  • Mike,

    Interesting news of JT shorts snd interesting list of films to try to catch. (Might have seen one or two if the latter but La Cava ‘s I’ve caught have been literally unmemorable for me.)

    Generally, I ‘m not too keen on doc films because the heavy reading I do in social sciences and history (& journalism) for my day job leaves me gen feeling the docs are shallow.

    Loved INSIDE JOB and CLIENT 9, though. Like lots of Novas ’cause I don’t read much natural science.

    Like narrative docs and docudramas like BATTLE OF CHILE and BATTLE OF ALGIERS and stylistically adventuresome ones like NIGHT AND FOG and (essayistic) SAN SOLEIL (but not post-68 Godard, which I find garbled as commentary and poetry as well as fiction.)

  • alex

    Does anyone provide a broad overll –sustantive as well as stylistic– assessment of post-WEEKEND Godard, complete with detailedana,lyses of some key later films?

  • Late Godard and the Possibilities of Cinema by Daniel Morgan might be what you are looking for … you can get a preview of it at Amazon.

  • David Cohen

    Spotlighting EASY LIVING also calls attention to the relative paucity of decent football movies. (Tourneur had the able assistance of a really able Los Angeles Rams team, though I don’t know how much that actually helped him.) … Anyway, don’t know why football has always seemed so difficult to capture – especially given that the real thing plays so well on TV, week after week – but it has managed to be.

  • alex

    Thanks, D.K.

    Re Football movies, Stone’s Any Given Sunday is a good movies and Aldrich’s The Longest Yard at least that (if acceptable as a football movies).

    But, hey, might it be toime for Best !o letsts for the years, despite all the stuff not yet much available if at all (American Hustle, Wolf of Wall Streett, Wlater Mitty, The Great Buety)

    Here’s one with films in no particular order)

    Frances Ha
    The Company We keep
    Après Mai
    All is Lost
    Gravity
    Nebraska
    Dallas Buyers Club
    Mud
    No!

  • alex

    Oooopps, (editor isn’t working for me Re the likes of “Buety” as “Beauty” and “toime” as “time.”

    Plus, to complete that top 10, 12 Years a Slave.

  • Robert Garrick

    Apparently Tourneur had never seen a football game when he began work on “Easy Living,” but he handles the scenes with the teammates effortlessly. Remember that the Los Angeles Rams quarterback in 1949 was Bob Waterfield, a future Hall-of-Famer who had married Jane Russell in 1943, the year “The Outlaw” was released. They would stay married until 1968, one year after Russell made her last important film appearance, in Tom Laughlin’s excellent “Born Losers.”

    By all accounts the Waterfield/Russell marriage had its rough moments. There are stories that Russell appeared at a press conference in the 1950s covered with bruises on her face, leftovers from a marital discussion the night before. But by celebrity marriage standards the union was a long one.

    David Cohen got me thinking about football movies. There have been quite a few, including the second-best Marx Brothers film, “Horse Feathers” (1932). I think my favorite one is probably Michael Ritchie’s “Semi-Tough” (1977), which used its football platform to spoof self-actualization programs like Est, which was a really big deal for about ten minutes back in the 1970s. There’s a great line in the film about pyramid power, and I remember Andrew Sarris singling out that line as particularly hilarious in his favorable review of the film.

    There’s also “Brian’s Song” (1971), directed by Buzz Kulik. For a long time “Brian’s Song” was considered the best-ever made-for-TV movie, but I prefer “The Junction Boys” (2002), directed by someone named Mike Robe. It’s a little bit like “Fort Apache,” but with a less apocalyptic ending. Mike Robe is no John Ford, but “The Junction Boys” is given distinction by Tom Berenger’s remarkable performance as Bear Bryant.

  • Robert Garrick

    PS–By the sheerest of coincidences, TCM will be showing nine straight football movies on Wednesday, December 11, starting with Sam Wood’s “Huddle” (1932), starring Ramon Novarro, and ending with Michael Curtiz’s “Trouble Along the Way” (1953), starring John Wayne and Donna Reed. “Easy Living” is in there too, and so is a rare Wellman, “College Coach” (1933), with Dick Powell.

  • David Cohen

    Waterfield used to alternate at QB with Norm Van Brocklin – a fellow Hall of Famer. There’s never been anything quite like that in the NFL, before or after. … EASY LIVING also offers Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch, who later got to play himself in a film biography (back when that seemed like a good thing for athletes to do) and also performed in ZERO HOUR! in a role so wonderfully parodied in AIRPLANE.

    About SEMI-TOUGH: The self-actualization angle was grafted on to the original story; it was quite disconcerting to those who loved Dan Jenkins’ book because it really didn’t seem to have anything to do with the book itself. I also remember reading that at one point, there was thought of making SEMI-TOUGH as a musical. That struck me as a pretty fascinating notion, and there was at least one song title that was totally unprintable.

  • Lawrence Chadbourne

    Mr Garrick: North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, not 1949.
    Two other major Hollywood films from 1949, though, that deal with the subject of
    troubled marriages, but from a comic standpoint, are Cukor’s Adam’s Rib and
    Mankiewicz’s A Letter To Three Wives.

  • Junko Yasutani

    “North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950, not 1949.”

    Not so simple to say that. I hate DPRK regime, but history of Korean War is more complicated. From 1949 ROK was provoking DPRK. Rhee Syngman was wanting war with ROK.

  • Joe Dante

    “By all accounts the Waterfield/Russell marriage had its rough moments. There are stories that Russell appeared at a press conference in the 1950s covered with bruises on her face, leftovers from a marital discussion the night before.”

    Maybe this followed Bob getting a first gander at his peformance as a thinly veiled version of himself getting rescued from stock footage of dinosaurs by Jungle Jim in “Jungle Manhunt”, his one and only “introducing” vehicle.

  • David Cohen

    One of Bob Waterfield’s Rams teammates in 1946 was someone known to us all here, Woody Strode. He joined Kenny Washington in breaking the NFL’s color line that year. Both had been big stars at UCLA, playing with a back named Jackie Robinson, and the two broke the NFL’s color line a season before Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.

    Years later, when I interviewed Strode for my football book RUGGED AND ENDURING, he told me that Laurence Olivier came up to him during the filming of SPARTACUS and told him he was a big fan of Strode when he played at UCLA. Strode was still in awe of Olivier when I interviewed him.

  • In memoriam Susan Dalton, a great personality of international film culture.

  • Robert Garrick

    Woody Strode’s first screen appearance, uncredited, was in “Stagecoach” (1939). He was only 24 years old, but as David Cohen states he was already a heralded athlete at UCLA in football and in the decathlon. Strode didn’t work again with John Ford until he took the title role in “Sergeant Rutledge” (1960). Strode stayed close to Ford after that, both personally and professionally. He appeared in “Two Rode Together” (1961); in Ford’s last, great film “7 Women” (1966); and most memorably for me in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” (1962), where Strode stood loyally by the side of the greatest football player-turned-actor of them all, Marion Morrison, aka John Wayne.

    Strode had played in the backfield at UCLA. Fourteen years earlier, John Wayne had been a tackle on USC’s varsity football team, where he played for two years on a football scholarship. Wayne was born in Iowa, but he went to high school in Glendale, just outside downtown Los Angeles, where in addition to being a star football player he was a good student and president of the senior class. That got him the scholarship to USC, but he lost it when he broke his collarbone while surfing. Without financial assistance, Wayne was forced to leave school in his junior year.

    Dozens of ex-football players have had acting careers, but the two most important ones (as actors) are probably Burt Reynolds, who played halfback at Florida State, and Jim Brown. Brown might be the greatest athlete in American history–he’d get my vote–and his film career, which spanned 45 years, included titles like “The Dirty Dozen” (1967), “Ice Station Zebra” (1968), “Fingers” (1978), and “Mars Attacks” (1996).

  • Barry Putterman

    Well, as long as this site has not yet been officially closed down, I will return to let interested parties know that the good folks at McFarland have sent me two copies of the collection of TV comedy essays I wrote twenty plus years ago with a new cover (that isn’t me on the cover by the way—thank God) and a new price (actually cheaper than the book that you never heard of in 1995, now retailing at a mere twenty five dollars!). And they inform me that they are now prepared to deal with the onslaught of orders which will no doubt ensue.

    Naturally, I have no base commercial motives in imparting this news, but rather feel it is my duty to keep responsible people informed regarding current events in the publishing world. Of course, the accompanying letter from McFarland did ask me to let them know if I had any promotional ideas related to this event. So this might be said to serve yet another noble purpose in lending that fine establishment the assistance they have requested of me….

    And don’t forget the ice crusher, folks!!

  • David Cohen

    Look forward to reading, Barry.

  • Steve elworth

    I picked it up a while ago for a little cheaper. It is a fine book and it makes an excellent holiday present.

  • Robert Garrick

    I have Barry’s book and it’s terrific, and I can’t imagine that anyone here would want to be without it, especially since McFarland is charging a reasonable price for it and not their customary $485. It’s scholarly and amusing in equal measures, with a heading quote from the guy who wrote “The Squaw Man.” Putterman says that John Byner deserves the “Most Underrated Comedian” Lifetime Achievement Award and I agree. For me Byner’s impressions of long-forgotten characters like George Jessel and Wallace Beery were a feature, not a bug. And Byner absolutely did the funniest impression of John Wayne.

    Putterman’s book can be seen (and bought) here.

    http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-7741-8

    There’s a link to the Table of Contents, so you can see what’s within. I don’t think that’s Barry on the cover, but I’ve never seen him in a brown suit so I can’t be sure.

  • x359594

    “Strode didn’t work again with John Ford until he took the title role in “Sergeant Rutledge” (1960).”

    I had the great pleasure of chatting with Strode in 1990 when I spotted him at the Hollywood Collector’s Show at the Beverly Garland Hotel (sic) in North Hollywood. He was sitting quietly apart from the autograph tables so I went over and told him how much I enjoyed his work. Strode told me that although he’d been in other pictures and TV shows before “Sergeant Rutledge” he didn’t really learn how to act until he appeared in that picture. He also said that Stanley Kubrick made him listen to a piece of classical music for the scene in “Spartacus” where he’s sitting opposite Kirk Douglas in the cage shortly before their fight so that the right mood would register on his face during the wordless long take.

  • x359594

    Good for you Barry!

    Do you cover “The Phil Silvers Show” at all? If not, would like to get your take on it here if you have time.

  • Barry Putterman

    x, the Nat Hiken shows (“Phil Silvers” and “Car 54″) are not covered in this volume. However, I am counting on the massive sales generated by the Dave Kehr web site faithful to persuade McFarland to ask me to produce a sequel.

    By the way, Phil Silvers comes out of the same burlesque tradition as did Abbott & Costello. So, if you wander back to wherever that fairly recent discussion took place, you would have a sense of what the starting point would be for an analysis of that show.

  • Barry,
    Congratulations!
    This looks like a really interesting book.

    “Putterman says that John Byner deserves the “Most Underrated Comedian” Lifetime Achievement Award . Byner absolutely did the funniest impression of John Wayne.”

    This auteurist has fond memories of Byner’s version of RIO BRAVO, with Byner doing impressions of all the performers.

  • jbryant

    I still remember a specific instance of John Byner doing his Duke impression on some show many years ago (quite possibly The John Byner Comedy Hour). It involved the Duke walking up to a bartender and saying “I’ll have a cold glass of milk and a chocolate ladyfinger.”

  • Robert Garrick

    Byner, astonishingly, still lives and is only 75 years old, though I associate him with the 1960s and to a lesser degree the 1970s. He was a fixture on the Ed Sullivan show, and nobody has ever done a better impression of Sullivan.

    Byner used to do a bit that involved John Wayne crying, saying “Do I really have to circle the wagons again”? Putterman points out in his book (page 150) that Byner’s schtick often involved putting a unique celebrity in an inappropriate spot. Thus Rod Steiger would be a stand-up comedian, and John Wayne would be an altar boy.

    I always thought that Byner was a lot funnier, and a lot more uncannily perfect in his impressions, than Rich Little or Frank Gorshin or certainly Fred Travalena. And in a way, it’s a shame that this blog has survived long enough to allow someone to mention Fred Travlena.

    The most underrated impressionist? Sammy Davis, Jr. It’s his Billy Ekstine that puts me on the floor:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nQfL2s0Zx8

  • jbryant

    Yes, to this ’60s kid, Byner seemed older than he was, I guess, and I would’ve pegged him for older than 75 today. I completely agree with you about his prowess in comparison to various of his contemporaries, and his Sullivan was famously celebrated by George Carlin on his FM and AM album.

    I also grew up loving Sammy Davis, Jr. I think I pretty much idolized him when I was a kid, probably from his talk show, and can remember trying to “tap dance” (in stocking feet on a rug) while watching him. And yes, his impressions were great.

  • Dave Kehr recently tweeted about the Library of Congress’ “American Silent Feature Film Survival Database”. This tells where and if silent films survive in archives.

    I added a link to this at the reference section of my film home page.
    It is one of many links there to reference, educational and information materials:
    http://mikegrost.com/film.htm#Reference

    “Favorite film lists” are there too.

  • jbryant

    Has it been mentioned here yet that J. Hoberman is going to be the Times’ new Dave?

  • Robert Garrick

    Eleanor Parker just died, at age 91. She worked with Minnelli, Preminger, Capra, Wyler, Curtiz, Daves, George Sidney, and George Sherman (in “Panic Button,” with Jayne Mansfield), but somehow never in their most memorable films or best projects. Her two best-remembered roles are in “Caged” (John Cromwell, 1950) and “The Sound of Music” (Robert Wise, 1965).

    It’s interesting to compare her to people like Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, and Kim Novak. She was easily as attractive as those women (all of whom were great beauties), and she was a fine actress, but she doesn’t register like them; everything about her seems to be understated. And obviously, as noted above, she didn’t have the luck they did with roles and films. Parker shares with Kim Novak an innate sadness. Both actresses seem, at all times, to be on the verge of breaking into tears. That quality serves Parker well in “Caged,” but it probably kept her from greater stardom.

  • Barry Lane

    Regarding Eleanor Parker and Robert Garrick’s essay. All valid points, but I think Scaramouche and The Very Thought of You, in entirely different ways were career defining. Film memory not only plays tricks on the individual but is variable as tastes evolve.

  • alex

    I recall Eleanor Parker as a very strikenly beautiful, rather more so than Janet Leigh, Vera Miles or Kim Novak –at least in an angular, long legged, high fashion, 1950s Voque-ish,and rather impersonal sort of way.

    None of hee roles, standout in my memory except that of the iconishly beautiful Leonore of the diverting Scaramouche. But, whatever the dullness of her preformaces or roles, poor projects may not be the culprit with films as fine as Wyler’s Detective Story, Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm and Minelli’s Home from the Hill –all perhaps short of great but each memorable engaging and well done– on her resume.

  • alex

    One might say that Parker nicely matches Sarris’ polemical charicature of Wyler and his ilk, that she is a “less than meets the eye” actress of a sort whose “personal signatures …were written in invisible ink.”

    But this is not to tar Parker with the stigma of a Wyler suffered in 1968 to stand in for those quality directors — analogos to French auteurists directors “de qualité” — who did not fit Sarris’ model of the deeply personal auteur auteur. Indeed, it is (by association) to lend her a bit of the dignity of Sarris’ 1990′s “objet d’art” director.

  • jbryant

    SCARAMOUCHE is possibly my favorite Sidney and definitely my favorite Eleanor Parker performance. It just seemed like a refreshing change of pace from the earnest melodrama mode in which she tended to toil. I also thought she was at her most attractive in it. RIP

  • Another very entertaining swashbuckler come down upon us without the intercession of an auteur is Thorpe ‘s PRISONER OF ZENDA (plus, if spears may substitute for swords, his KING SOLOMON’S MINES)

    As for SCARAMOUCHE, what director familiar with the source could not be inspired to excel by the most memorable opening line in swashbuckler literature? Namely, “He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. “

  • Barry Lane

    Richard Thorpe was competent and possibly has been underrated, but King Solomon’s Mines is signed by Andrew Marton and Compton Bennett. I understand Stewart Granger had his hand in there as well.

  • Doesn’t “t look like the swahbucker quality correlates very well with autuer status in. Sarris after the silent ers (Walsh, Dwan) in which Curtiz– a mere “Lightly Likable” though stylistically praised by our transitioning host– reigns supreme. But there are, of course, sucessful sound era swahbuvklet directors besides Curtiz who are more blessed by Sarris than Thorpe and Sidney. If less then Walsh and Tourneur– e.g., Tourneur, Preminger, Cromwell.

    Ingram and Curtiz arr my favorites, but miscellany comes out strong with the likes of Sidney ‘s. Scaramouche and Thorpe “s. Zenda.

  • Caught King ‘s Tol”able David. A worthy classic. Not quite some viewers ‘ supreme pastoral. Not as prestine a Pastoral as True Heart Susie –less credible and too encumbered by Manichean melodrama. Not as great as Way Down East for combination of pastoral and melodrama. But beatuful and enthralling, albeit in a vehemently simplistic way consistent with King ‘s subsequent celebration of Curtis LeMay in 12 O’Clock Noon and and his complete abdication to the spell of the Lourds coolaid in Song of B.

  • Robert Garrick

    Now Audrey Totter has died. For six or seven years it seemed like she was in every other important noir out of Hollywood, starting with “The Postman Always Rings Twice” (Garnett, 1946). Totter is in that film only briefly, but for me she’s vastly more interesting and attractive than Lana Turner, whose supposed bombshell looks drive the entire plot. Totter wasn’t your typical Hollywood beauty. She had odd features to go with a great figure, and she was smart and willing to mess around. She always seemed a little more mature, too–in years as well as in experience.

    The obits say she often played the “bad girl,” but I remember her more as savvy, capable, tough, sarcastic, and ultimately warm and wise–sort of a female Robert Mitchum. She was bad indeed in John Berry’s “Tension” from 1949, but she was more of an angel in Robert Wise’s superior “The Set-Up” from the same year. Totter made three major noirs in 1947: “The Unsuspected,” for Michael Curtiz; “The High Wall,” for Curtis Bernhardt, and “The Lady in the Lake,” for Robert Montgomery. In the last film, Totter is mostly seen in speaking close-ups, which provide the viewer with a unique opportunity to scrutinize her singular face.

    Totter’s career began in 1945 with two films from the redoubtable Edward L. Cahn–”Main Street After Dark” and “Dangerous Partners.” I’ve seen neither one. Other major roles for her included “Alias Nick Beal” (John Farrow, 1949) and “Woman They Almost Lynched” (Allan Dwan, 1953). Ann Savage co-starred with Totter in the Dwan film. The two actresses vaguely resembled one another, and as they got older they became good friends. Totter was much the greater star, but Savage’s one crucial role (in “Detour,” of course) is better remembered now than anything Totter ever did. And by the time she made “Woman They Almost Lynched,” Totter’s major film career was effectively finished, along with the classic noir era that had sustained her.

    When Ann Savage died, five years ago, Dave Kehr devoted a thread to her. (Link below.) The least we can do is briefly remember Audrey Totter now.

    http://www.davekehr.com/?p=203

  • Barry Lane

    Sorry to learn of Audrey Totter’s death. I recommend her fine, if smallish part in Any Number Can Play. A brilliant, in my opinion, film of 1949 based on actual incidents that occurred in Milwaukee and are reflected in both the film and the reminiscences of Edward Harris Heth’s biographical journey detailing the relationship of a young gay man with a father who just happens to be Clark Gable.

  • Barry Lane

    Follow up. In the film, and in life the Gable character has angina. Which Gable may not have had, but something along those lines.

    Re Lana Turner. She wasn’t a star for no reason, and good looks amount to just a small part. She exuded warmth and empathy. I personally did not like her work, but thought her performance in Postman just about perfect. Thought her later films, even the successful Imitation of Life, just about unwatchable. A friend of mine worked with her on The Survivors. He could not stand her.

  • David Cohen

    anyone know much about Charles Brabin? TCM is showing 9 films he directed on Jan. 2 …