Archive for Lloyd Bridges

Limp

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on February 17, 2011 by dcairns

I saw THE LIMPING MAN a couple of years ago, didn’t think I had much to say about it, and let it lie. But since For the Love of Film (Noir), the Film Preservation Blogathon is dedicated to raising funds for Cy Endfield’s previous noir effort, the excoriating SOUND OF FURY, which also starred Lloyd Bridges, I thought it might just be worth mentioning the follow-up effort, a minor affair to be sure, sort of a cinematic afterbirth, but still perhaps of some slight interest.

Unlike his fellow blacklistees John Berry, Jules Dassin and Joseph Losey, Endflied never really got up a head of steam in exile. The triumph of ZULU, regarded as a popular classic in Britain, never led to greater things. And the earlier films are mostly B-grade affairs. THE LIMPING MAN sure is.

Apparently Bridges himself was briefly blacklisted, and he may have made this movie during that period. At any rate, I admire his loyalty in working with Endfield again — he must have known that his previous work for the director was his very best.

THE LIMPING MAN is a sort of paraphrase of THE THIRD MAN, with Bridges flying into the UK and getting embroiled in a cheesy thriller plot. It’s perfectly watchable, and there are a few amusing moments, such as a chase which sees Bridges ducking through somebody’s home, unobserved by the large family who are all glued to their TV. Bridges sits down to join the oblivious gawkers and the bad guys pass through, assuming he must be one of the clan.

Young Leslie (left).

The cast also includes a young Rachel Roberts and a young, impossibly young Leslie Phillips. Best known as a farceur, and for his uniquely honeyed, randy way with the word “Hell-o!”, Phillips is something of a British instiution, loved for his work in several of the CARRY ON and DOCTOR series of cheapjack comedies, and several less worthy works (but he recently costarred in VENUS with Peter O’Toole and has worked with Spielberg, Rafelson, Pollack, Cukor). He’s astonishingly svelte here, and his light comedy touch adds a welcome fresh flavour to the shadowy proceedings.

Endfield shoots his routine material well, shoving Bridges at  his wide lens as often as possible to create an overpowering physicality. It’s not enough to overcome the banality and thinness of the material, but it counts for something, and it means the more promising moments never slip by the director without being fully exploited.

Most remarkable is the ending, which gleefully trashes everything that’s come before it, but it such a strikingly dumb-ass way that it’s almost worth ruining the movie just to deliver such a brazenly bizarre moment. The whole scheme turns out to be a dream Bridges is having on the flight over. As he gets off the plane, looking perplexed, the whole rest of the cast walk by, laughing.

It’s kind of a WIZARD OF OZ moment. “But you were there — and you — and you!” It has no place in a modest little thriller. But it’s BETTER than a modest little thriller.

Endfield’s far superior SOUND OF FURY needs your help! For the Love of Film (Noir): The Film Preservation Blogathon, hosted by Ferdy on Films and The Self-Styled Siren,  is raising money to restore this important and neglected movie. Donate by clicking below (which ought to WORK now) ~

“Looks like I picked the wrong week to give up sniffing glue…”

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , on September 30, 2010 by dcairns

Lloyd Bridges in THIRD PARTY RISK.

A very middling thriller: two-fisted lyricist Lloyd is distracted from recording Spanish folk tunes by a plot involving compromising showgirl letters, industrial secrets, and Finlay Currie as the world’s least convincing Hungarian. The whole thing is goofily enjoyable like an episode of The Saint accidentally inflated to feature length. Ferdy Mayne and Roger Delgado add swarthiness and suavity.

Director Daniel Birt seems quite bored with it all, adding to my half-baked theory about British cinema — there were periods, notably the late forties and mid-sixties, when the quality produced by the best filmmakers was so high, it raised the overall standard. Moderately gifted directors couldn’t help but be inspired by the startling stuff around them, and raised their game accordingly. Birt’s films in 1948 (the climactic year of that boom), co-written by Dylan Thomas, are almost startlingly good. THE THREE WEIRD SISTERS (his first film, Nova Pilbeam’s last) and NO ROOM AT THE INN have Gothic panache and very modern flourishes, as well as controversial church-bashing and subversive morbidity, but just six years later he’s directing with one eye on oblivion. What happened to him, or rather, what happened to British filmmaking?

The question is raised over at The Daily Notebook in this week’s The Forgotten.

The Funny Papers

Posted in Comics, FILM with tags , , , , , , , on January 26, 2009 by dcairns

Been reading Vol.3 of the collected Popeye, which is fantastic stuff. Reputation had it that this is the point where E.C. Segar’s newspaper strip really hit the heights, but I wouldn’t quite agree — for me, the stuff really started to work on me partway through voulme 1, and since then everything I’ve read of Popeye, Olive Oyle, Castor Oyle and Wimpy’s adventures has been simply terrific. I particularly enjoy the evolving portrayal of depression-era slang — the phrases used by the characters go through distinct phases, reflecting either the lingo of the day, or Segar’s exposure to it. Partway through volume 1, the word “punk” took hold: “This is a punk country,” “You punk wife!” etc. The exclamation “Good night!” an expression of alarm or dismay, was popular from day one, but has become less common recently. The dismissive “Ah, be yourself!” just made it’s first appearance in Vol. 3, and looks set to be around awhile.

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Meanwhile, I also picked up The Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics (unwieldy title!) edited by Paul Gravett, which reproduces a chunk of Secret Agent X-9, a detective yarn illustrated by Alex Raymond (before he created Flash Gordon, I think) and written by Dashiell Hammett. Fun stuff (although the pages are printed out of order in my library edition).

Initially, the shock is how clunkily written it is, considering it’s Hammett. Some of the dialogue is pithy and slangy, but a lot of it is comically bald exposition. The plotting is helter-skelter and action-packed, following the traditional pulp dictum that if you get stuck, have a man come through the door with a gun.

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The second shock is how good it is regardless of the sloppiness. Hammett must have been writing fast, and probably without a game plan. But his convoluted scenario is suspenseful and engaging, some of his characters are very winning (there’s a good vamp, and a verbose fat man somewhat in the Greenstreet vein), and there are occasional bon mots: “This is jolly!” remarks X-9 sourly, while balancing on a plank between two tall buildings, one of which is one fire, supporting two falling persons (the accident-prone heroine and her insane father) and being shot at by an army of gangsters disguised as cops.

Also, it appealed to me that the gang boss X-9 is trailing is known as “the Top”.

I’m thinking of getting the movie serial version of this, in hopes that it might have the same naive charm and frenetic brio.

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Lloyd Bridges again!