Friday, July 31, 2015
Noir Watch: Conflict (1945)
No one is going to accuse Conflict (1945) of being my new favorite movie.
It played a few weeks ago on TCM's Summer of Darkness, and I recorded it as I always like Sydney Greenstreet, but hadn't seen (or heard of) this movie.
As host Eddie Muller explained prior to the film, the movie disappeared in part because it's not a film in which Bogart plays the hero, even if he is the focal character and, in that way, the protagonist. But he's a protagonist who has fallen out of love with his, admittedly not-terribly-fun wife and in love with her sister (played by Alexis Smith).
In order to clear the way to the sister, Bogart works out a pretty good plan to murder his wife (I mean, credit where it's due) while everyone believes he's not even ambulatory thanks to a car wreck. From here, things get messier and messier, despite the fact that the entire movie feels like one long, telegraphed, inevitable conclusion.
Greenstreet actually plays a nice guy, so while I was delighted to see him... you know, it's not going to be anyone's favorite Sydney Greenstreet performance.
Not exactly a forgettable movie, but one that feels well worn, plot wise, and certainly lacking in tension both due to the inevitable ending and because... really... like a lot of movies, they sort of missed the whole element of people acting like people. Though someone's wife and sister is missing, no one grieves, particularly. No one is inconsolable and out of their minds. Instead, they take a jaunty trips to the country and go out for nights on the town. I dunno. I don't need gnashing of teeth, but it almost seems like everything after the action of this movie and the horror Alexis Smith's character will feel upon learning the motives for her sister's murder, should have been included.
It's so weird that grieving rarely shows up on film in any significant way in so many movies, both then and now. But especially in a movie shot during a war.
I do like the windy plotting and Bogart is actually very on point in his acting here (he's so much a presence, sometimes I forget the man actually can act). But, Alexis Smith doesn't do much but look pretty, and everything else just feels like snapped in parts of a build-it-yourself plot and movie.