Sabtu, 28 Mei 2011

Phil Karlson - 99 River Street (1953)

Author: bmacv from Western New York

The underrated John Payne -- an ideal Everyman -- teamed with director Phil Karlson in a number of 50s thrillers. All bear viewing, but maybe the pick of the crop is 99 River Street. Payne plays a washed-up boxer now driving a hack, and the movie opens in a frame-within-a-frame of his watching himself in an old bout on TV. Trying to win back the affections of his couldn't-care-less wife (Peggie Castle), he discovers that she's two-timing him. Meanwhile an old gal-pal with theatrical yearnings (Evelyn Keyes, and maybe her finest hour) tries to enlist him in a scheme of her own, which backfires. Next, his wife turns up dead....Karlson keeps the tension high but well-modulated while managing to strike most of the images and motifs on the noir keyboard (including some evocative night footage of the Jersey waterfront). Overall, this installment in the cycle (which has never appeared on commercial videotape) remains one of the most satisfying and characteristic examples of noir in the early Eisenhower era -- slightly less spooky than its 40s predecessors, but a bit more brutal, too.

99 River Street is one of director Phil Karlson's brutal, sweaty excursions into film noir, and it has as many detractors as it has admirers. Certainly, there's a lot to applaud in River, starting with the economical way in which Karlson tells this complicated story. Karlson, as usual, is in love with close-ups, and there's a reason for it: they force the audience to concentrate on the character at hand, to experience his experience in a direct and no-nonsense manner. But cinematographer Franz Planer isn't content to pack everything into the close-ups; he provides some stunning, evocative shots and angles that compliment and enhance the action and the storytelling. Planer and Karlson are especially good with the climactic sequence, which is expertly handled. And the cast, especially John Payne, is in top form. And yet all of this talent and expertise is in pursuit of what is, at base, a rather ordinary story -- and one that, despite Karlson's skill, is still more than a little convoluted. In addition, Karlson's world view may come across as too cynical and/or simplistic for some. Not for every taste, 99 River Street still packs an undeniable wallop. ~ Craig Butler, All Movie Guide

no pass

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