Archive for Richard Fleischer

Haskin For It

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2022 by dcairns

TOO LATE FOR TEARS has an insanely twisty plot — more flips and spins than THE NARROW MARGIN — as that film’s director, Richard Fleischer, put it, “everyone was wearing a different hat.” And it has a great noir cast, starting with Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea, but lesser darklight luminaries Don DeFore and Arthur Kennedy are fine too. The dialogue is unusually zippy — script is by Roy Huggins who also gave us The Fugitive on TV (and therefore, indirectly, The Invaders and The Incredible Hulk), and it’s based on his own novel. Only the gratuitous and dull romantic sub-subplot isn’t up to snuff. In short, it has everything but a director, since Byron Haskin is the man in charge. Someone once said that when a director dies, he becomes a photographer. Haskin started as a photographer and worked his way up to being a dead director.

I’m very fond of Haskin’s scifi movies, even THE POWER, but he had no visual style to speak of (odd, given his career arc — I’ll make an exception for the lambent hues of global destruction in WAR OF THE WORLDS). TLFT isn’t an effects movie, it’s mainly people in rooms talking, and Haskin’s approach is perfectly serviceable, sometimes suave. It might be his best film, in terms of story, performances, visuals. He doesn’t pick up on noir as an excuse to heighten the visuals to fever pitch, but he gets a little atmosphere going.

Also: stripes!

I feel like TREASURE ISLAND should be Exhibit A in making the case against Haskin as a real filmmaker: he makes his choices based on it being a Disney picture rather than on what’s actually happening at any given time. He has a great perf from Robert Newton but an unguided one from Bobby Driscoll. But here, happily, he has Lizabeth Scott at her husky, untrustworthy best/worst, and a lovely character arc for Duryea, sliding from his oily villain mode to his tremulous sap mode as he realises what kind of story he’s in.

A Quick Jolt of Noir

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on January 25, 2021 by dcairns

TRAPPED (1949) is directed by Richard Fleischer and has some striking visuals. It’s one of those how-the-Feds-protect-you procedurals that don’t really partake of noir’s more radical elements, but which frequently stimulate with their single source lightning, especially if John Alton is shooting. TRAPPED is filmed by Guy Roe, whose name rang no bells, but he’d clearly been paying attention. His other credits include RAILROADED! for Mann and ARMOURED CAR ROBBERY for Fleischer again.

The climax in a bus depot is really something, with striking perspective shots but even more brilliant sound: the puffing of a bus engine somewhere which fades up and down, providing a breathless, panting commentary on the action, dropping out to make you feel the quiet, then coming back in to build anticipation. There’s no sound editor credit so we may never know who was responsible.

Thanks to David Bordwell for alerting me to this one. The story is disjointed but Lloyd Bridges, Barbara Payton and John Hoyt are all great presences.

The Shadowcast: Let’s Get Small

Posted in FILM, literature, MUSIC, Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2019 by dcairns

New podcast up!

Fiona and I take a microscopically close look at the TIMELY and IMPORTANT subject of human miniaturization, with a particular focus on THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, FANTASTIC VOYAGE and INNERSPACE. Mike Clelland suggested the middle film, and from there things kind of snowballed. Shout-out to Mike.

Still audibly suffering from slight colds on this one, but the NEXT one was recorded earlier and you’ll hear some seriously bunged-up sinuses on that. Here, we just sound like a sexy, husky couple of Glynis Johnses, than which nothing could be better.

The discussion also encompasses (or brushes past) DOWNSIZING, FIRST PAVILION, BODY TROOPERS, THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING WOMAN, and there are audio extracts from… well, I’ll let that be a surprise (and perhaps a mystery). Momo the podcat offers his views on the miniature human’s potential as snack.

Annoyed with myself for failing to mention the excellent (if slightly racist) miniaturization joke in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slapstick, which demonstrates the virtue of sandwiching virtually a whole novel between set-up and pay-off (more authors should try that). So I’m mentioning it here.

The 30s novelette He Who Shrank which is quoted from is by Henry Hasse and is worth seeking out online. Other literary works referred to are Richard Matheson’s all-important The Shrinking Man, Isaac Asimov’s Fantastic Voyage II: Electric Boogaloo*, Alice in Wonderland and The Arabian Nights.

The audio mixes at the start and end are designed to make genre fans dance around the room in a gleeful sugar rush. Let us know if this happens. Send photographic evidence.Very small people may already be inside all of us. Is there a message you would like passed on?

*Not its actual title.