|In this film Heston plays what he does best: Charlton Heston. But with a mustache.|
This time I hit the theater with our own PaulT, and we stood around for a while pondering the movie, and I think Paul's right: its an odd fit for a straight description as noir. But the more I think about it, if you follow the storyline of Hank Quinlan, played by Welles, its pretty much exactly a noir, its just that the story spends so much time framing the Vargas newlyweds (Heston and Leigh) as the protagonists, Quinlan plays as an antagonist when... Quinlan is a cop trying to do good who does get in over his head thanks to his sins.
|No, that is not me in the coat and hat, but I understand the confusion.|
You can't really talk about the movie without mentioning a few things:
1) The cinematography is just spectacular. Russell Metty is credited as cinematographer, but its hard to imagine Welles as director didn't have some hand in the work, even if Metty does have credentials such as Spartacus. And you have to love the opening sequence.
2) The border issues of Mexico and the US and the statements made sound significantly less xenophobic in a lot of ways than discussions going on today in the US. For all of Welles' intentions to play back and forth across the border and to place a Mexican cop at the forefront of the story, the casting of Heston (and you people know I love Heston) as Mike Vargas greatly complicates the movie.
3) The sound design on the movie is interesting. Dialog is often overlapped, something you don't see in movies much again for about 8 - 10 years, but the overlapping dialog really works, adding to the muddled mess of some scenes as Quinlan and Vargas sort out the circumstances around the crime and thena round each other. Music plays a huge part in Janet Leigh's motel scenes, and the finale scenes with Quinlan and Vargas depend entirely upon audio.
|Marlene Dietrich sees no future for you|
Its an interesting mess of a plot, especially as the crime only sets off a lifetime of other issues for Quinlan, and for viewers expecting a straight crime detective thriller, it doesn't play well by those rules at all, and its not surprising the studio in 1958 may have felt the material needed to be cut to meet code standards and to sell in Topeka.
Welles never lets the audience off easily, even in the final minutes of the film as characters discuss Quinlan and his foibles, and even as our hero and his lovely bride drive off into the sunset. Nobody gets away untouched, or free of contamination, if they didn't start that way to begin with. Its an interesting bit of movie, especially for its era.
Its hard to just label this as a "fun movie", as I feel the movie is a bit intense and can take some seriously dark turns, but its a movie worth watching, if for no other reason than Welles as Quinlan, and the interesting structure that's especially prevalent in the re-cut version I watched. If the title of the post says "horrible" time, its that, well, gee.. its not exactly a cheery movie now, is it?
Definitely looking forward to what else the Paramount rolls our way this summer.