Archive for Lloyd Bridges

Lone Wolf and Blore

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 31, 2020 by dcairns

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A classic Langian image — the phantom technological interrogator!

Since our friend Marvelous Mary is perhaps the western world’s most passionate fan of Eric Blore, but depends for her supply entirely upon us, I thought it was time we all tried the LONE WOLF series, in which EB co-stars as Jamison, faithful valet to the Lone Wolf himself, Michael Lanyard, played by Warren William and later Gerald Mohr.

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Naturally, we started not at the beginning, with THE LONE WOLF SPY HUNT (though WW’s first Wolf movie is rumoured to be the best, Blore does not appear, so it CAN’T BE) but with sort-of the end, WW’s final entry, PASSPORT TO SUEZ. Apart from the two movies directed by Edward Dmytryk, which we’ll definitely watch out for, it’s the only entry in the series with a top-notch (or second-from-top-notch) director (OK, the very first film treatment of Louis Joseph Vance’s detective hero, in 1917, was directed by Herbert Brenon, kind of a major figure, and Roy William Neill, before he tackled Sherlock Holmes, directed THE LONE WOLF RETURNS in 1935 with Melvyn Douglas, who did not return). But this one is the work of that cyclopean pirate, Andre de Toth.

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Mr. Veronica Lake the bullet-headed Hungarian directs nimbly, and the breathless comings and goings of the plot — a new eccentric character actor introduced and despatched every ten minutes — kept our attention glued. Warren William, always more a Starving Lion than a Lone Wolf, is suitably suave and unflappable. And, best of all, flapping enough for two, there’s abundant Blore, as Lanyard’s timorous, ovine accomplice, continually abducted and trussed up, delivering himself of several of the lines he was born to say:

“I hope you don’t think this is my favourite form of recreation, sir.”

“This is the very rope he tied me up with. Lovely lovely! There are moments when a man’s felicity reaches its zenith.”

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The script throws in characters called Rembrandt, Cezanne and Whistler, just for a laugh, waiting for somebody to notice.

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Memorable scene where a grinning man comes out of a wall. He continues to grin until shot, a couple of scenes later, and he’s very arresting, but I didn’t recognise him as Jay Novello, so good as the drunken mayor in WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR, DADDY?

The support includes Ann Savage, Lloyd Bridges (as a Nazi called Fritz!) and Sig Arno. Or, put another way…

PASSPORT TO SUEZ stars Perry Mason; Mother; Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith; J. Edgar Hoover; Steve McCroskey; Phillip Musgrave; Geoffrey Musgrave; Jake Bjornsen; Mayor Romano; Smoke; Frances Chan; Carrefour; and Toto.

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.