Blind Tuesday: Mother of Tears

vlcsnap-2015-09-29-08h15m29s43

The return of our occasional series of Tuesday thrillers about people who don’t see too good. We’ll get around to WAIT UNTIL DARK one day, I swear.

But for now, let’s stay Argentinian, with Carlos Hugo Christensen’s NO ABRAS NUNCA ESA PUERTA (DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR), his 1952 Cornell Woolrich compendium. We might also consider this Cornell Woolrich Week Revisited.

The first story in the film is graced with spectacular, exotic production design, but takes a while to get going and is a little unsatisfactory, at least for me, in narrative terms — which is fine, because I want to talk about the second half, which deals with a blind woman and her son, who has been away for years but returns as part of a gang of armed robbers on the run from police but already planning their next heist. All this poor woman’s hopes have been wrapped up in the idea of her prodigal’s eventual return, and now she realizes, via a tune he whistles, that he’s a dreadful criminal. The conjunction of blindness with recognition via a tune recalls Lang’s M, which was also referenced in Christensen’s other Woolrich adaptation, IF I SHOULD DIE BEFORE I WAKE. The idea of the giveaway melody also recalls CLOCKWORK ORANGE and makes me wonder if M was an influence on that? Bear in mind that Alex’s spirited if misguided rendition of Singin’ in the Rain does not occur in the Burgess source novel and was an inspiration of star Malcolm McDowell…

The story makes free use of all the traditional superpowers of blind people — the mother has acute hearing, and can easily find her way about her home due to her perfect recall of furniture placement. Like Edward Arnold in EYES IN THE DARK and Audrey Hepburn in WAIT UNTIL DARK, she renders her enemies helpless by disabling the lights. She also has to fumble about as they sleep, locating their sidearms and removing them — the film’s most suspenseful scene. Watch out for that bottle!

vlcsnap-2015-09-29-08h16m23s78

vlcsnap-2015-09-29-08h16m54s132

Christensen again proves himself a master of suspense — this half hour entertainment, with its thoroughly satisfying and tragic twist, would stand out as a perfect episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It’s real yell-at-the-screen tension.

vlcsnap-2015-09-29-08h17m13s64

Yaaah!

Delightfully and heroically, Eddie Muller’s Film Noir Foundation has rescued the film just before its negative decayed — what we need now is a DVD release so the rest of the world can enjoy it in something better than a scuzzy off-air recording.

Advertisements

6 Responses to “Blind Tuesday: Mother of Tears”

  1. I recently saw this in 35mm–all three Woolrich stories as one feature, with intermission–presented by Eddie Muller at a Noir City festival. This was also my favorite of the three. And Muller promises more obscure gems from Argentinian vaults.

  2. Fantastic! Seems like a treasure trove. I’m keen to see what I can dig up in my own small way.

  3. Oh my God you had me at the opening pic!! Thank you for a great review of a movie I was not familiar with until now!!

  4. Always exciting to discover something like this, which seems to open up a whole different national cinema in a different period. As a fan of old Hollywood, I’ms thrilled to find noir taking root elsewhere.

  5. henryholland666 Says:

    One of the channels on my cable system runs episodes of “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and the subsequent hour-long version. Based on seeing about 100 episodes, I much prefer the 30 minute version as the hour long version can often seem padded. However, my favorite one I’ve seen so far is this episode from 1965, during the last season of the show:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0394034/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_149

  6. Never seen that one! Love the idea of Carradine as an ageing ham. Seems well within his range. When JC’s good, he’s very good.

    I agree that the half hours usually worked better.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: