Thumbing Rides

On the last day of Il Cinema Ritrovato there’s only one show on at a time, and apart from the big outdoors event in the Piazza Maggiore, it’s all films that have previously screened. Gives you a chance to catch up on things you’ve missed during the overstuffed phantasmagoria of the previous week-and-change.

Thanks to Charlie Cockey’s recommendation I slipped into Djibril Diop Mambety’s THE LITTLE GIRL WHO SOLD THE SUN, which was indeed lovely. This Senegalese short feature combines elements of realism with a fable-like simplicity — the technical standards and the performances are touched with a similar naivety but they get the job done: the measured pace of the action really makes you feel the distances the disabled protagonist has to cover, and Moussa Balde in the role has an uncertain way with dialogue but a wonderfully natural and forthright approach to her interactions with other characters. You love her.

Nobody in THE DEVIL THUMBS A RIDE inspired that kind of affection. Fiona had seen it earlier but didn’t at all mind seeing it again. Lawrence Tierney is scary as hell, a totally convincing psychopath, maybe within touching distance of his real self by most accounts. Though Tarantino’s treatment of him on RESERVOIR DOGS shows who the real bastard was.

The plot has an unexpected “boiling-a-frog” quality, where Tierney doesn’t reveal his badness to the other characters for ages — this does make the hero seem pretty foolish, because the clues are right there, and we’re made wise from the opening shot. But the suspense of waiting for the penny, or the other shoe, or the gallows trapdoor, to drop, is considerable. Lots of wildly enthusiastic supporting players too, including Betty Lawford as a memorable bad girl.

I’ll have to watch more Feist — THE THREAT and TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY also screened but I wasn’t able to see them here. I don’t think he’s a major talent but he’s very efficient and he sometimes pulls off surprises.

7 Responses to “Thumbing Rides”

  1. ehrenstein47 Says:

  2. Feist doesn’t get enough respect. The revised and expanded edition of Silver and Ward’s Film Noir, An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style doesn’t even include Feist in it’s list of directors, even though does list Feist’s THE MAN WHO CHEATED HIMSELF, recently restored by the Film Noir Foundation. The three films you cite, THE DEVIL THUMBS A RIDE, THE THREAT, and TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY did not make the cut.

  3. Oo, how did Tarantino treat Tierney?

  4. The Seinfeld team said that Tierney worked well on the show but they wouldn’t bring him back because he was “too psycho.”

    The Man Who Cheated Himself was EXCELLENT.

  5. Apparently — I haven’t heard this commentary track, only been told of it — when Tierney got the role in RD, the word was “Whatever you do, don’t let him drink.”

    So Tarantino and Bender immediately bought him a drink. A very short time later he was out in the middle of the road, directing traffic with his pants down.

  6. ehrenstein47 Says:

    Speaking of Ride-Thumbing

  7. […] David Cairns was blogging brilliantly at Bologna as ever – work backwards from here, maybe. […]

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