Archive for September 24, 2009

Put on The Mask!

Posted in FILM with tags , , , on September 24, 2009 by dcairns

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Over at The Auteurs’ Notebook, in this week’s FORGOTTEN, all that can be explained, will be explained.

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Lost in Space

Posted in FILM, Television with tags , , , , , , on September 24, 2009 by dcairns

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I think this one is a pretty good example of the merits of watching minor, or even bad films. THE GLASS WEB is a Jack Arnold noir made right after IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE and featuring Kathleen Hughes, who had played a telephone repairman’s slutty girlfriend in that film (“George always has a healthy appetite,”), as a blackmailing vixen.

The plot is a retread of THE BIG CLOCK, mixed up in various ways that don’t constitute improvements, but might just about pass muster, and the whole thing is set in the world of TV.  Edward G Robinson kills Hughes and tries to frame everybody in sight, while also producing a TV play for his Crime of the Week show, recreating the murder. None of it’s exactly inspired, and the moment I lost faith was when William John Forsythe, having gone over his relationship with Hughes as she puts the bite on him, has a flashback in which he revisits all the events we’ve just heard about, learning nothing new…

But then there’s this scene. Forsythe goes for a walk, panic-stricken after discovering Hughes dead. Arnold, who has restrained himself on the 3D shock effects, suddenly cuts loose and throws object after object into our faces, like an angry chimpanzee operating a tennis serve machine. It’s goofy and fun, but also effective at showing Forsythe’s sudden disorientation and vulnerability. And it’s the only time I’ve seen a filmmaker hold back on the 3D all through a film, and then go NUTS.

Too bad the film’s not better. Hughes, completely venal and without sympathetic traits, nevertheless emerges as the most appealing character because she shows signs of life. Robinson’s activities as an office sneak, maneuvering against Forsythe to boost his own career, are more compelling than his actions as murderer, suggesting that the film might have made a good NETWORK-style assault on television culture and the workplace, rather than a pallid noir imitation. Weirdly, it’s more shocking to see Robinson hinting darkly that his colleague is having marital problems, undercutting his boss’s confidence in the guy, than it is to see him dispose of his mistress (because let’s face it, Eddie was ALWAYS doing THAT).