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Few people may have appreciated what John Fante and co-writers were trying to portray with this vast improvement on Nelson Algren's trashy novel. Ok, perhaps it was not a good idea to use the title for this film as it was a total rewrite, and driven by far higher ideals than Algren possibly knew existed. As it's presented, we have an idealistic love story, played out during the depression – where struggling people are being torn apart by poverty and the difficulty of simply putting bread on the table. If you want trashy Algren, you won't find it here, and that may have been a mistake for the producers of this fine study of lost love. The superbly transferred B/W Columbia DVD uses a catch phrase on the cover; Love is better when kept secret. They miss the point; Love is only better when it comes dressed in goodness and freely given - anything else is a sham that will eventually disappoint. Marvellous noir director Edward Dmytryk (Crossfire'47) works superbly with master veteran director of photography Joe McDonald (‘The Sand Pebbles '66) together they create a mesmerizing visual cinematic treat. While the subject for its era was borderline taboo, its frank situations are handled with measured tastefulness – this did not sit well with the sensation seekers.
The entire cast is as diverse as it is dynamic with international performers matching it with locals. Classically trained Laurence Harvey, while some see as miscast, does well in the role of the son of a Texan minister - on the road searching for his lost love – his character is both honourable and sympathetic. Also excellent are Anne Baxter; a kindly Roadhouse owner, Barbara Stanwyck; as the domineering manager of a New Orleans bordello, Jayne Fonda; as a penniless tramp, Richard Rust; the bordello henchman - along with a string of handpicked professionals and newcomers including Capucine, who is far better than some would have you think, there's even Todd Armstrong (Jason, of the Argonauts). All work well and add sparkle to the indeed dramatic proceedings. Production design & art direction play a big hand in setting the scene for 30's New Orleans with streets lined by vintage cars and trams.
This is one of Elmer Bernstein's big early scores, with themes reflecting the full gamut of life's emotions - the arrangements by legendary orchestrators Leo Shuken and Jack Hayes are sensitive and sparkling. Saul Bass's striking ‘cat' main and end title design is not to be missed (and deserves to be thought about!) Brook Benton's fine vocals and rendition of the title song are truly inspiring. Not many critics seem to get this one right – forget the rest, put it to the test, you may be pleasantly surprised. Thanks, Sony for the crystal clear DVD images and super High-Fi sound reproduction but, no thanks, for not including the terrific theatrical trailer, although, can perhaps understand this as the end disclaimer may have also sold this classic to the wrong audience - as distributor produced trailers often do!
The best movie score ever composed!
Worth 3 1/2 stars for the Elmer Bernstein score alone. The move? Not so much.
A steamy melange of pulped up second-rate Tennessee Williams, veiled queer camp and occasional moments of old-school brilliance (witness that killer opening sequence and Fonda's second half performance). It's a bizarro mess, but I kinda enjoyed it.
The opening music was better than the movie!
This lurid, intense drams is pseudo Tennessee Williams, about a Texas drifer and desperate women in his life, but it shows Stanwyck as a lesbian (one of Hollywood's first) and signs of Jane Fonda's talent
Great cast, intricate storyline, and beautifully shot on location in New Orleans. Had a definite "All About Eve" feel to it right down to Anne Baxter's excellent performance.
Once upon a time, a drifter named Dove (Harvey) travels to New Orleans to find his former girlfriend Hallie (Capucine), and on the way he meets southern prostitute Kitty (Fonda) who is the first of the many women who play major parts in the film. He looks all over for Hallie, and he finally comes across an apartment complex/bar, and finds her. Her home is owned by Jo (Stanwyck), but soon we find out that the apartments belong to a bunch of other women-- all having something mysterious to do with Jo ... Can Hallie pull away from Jo, or is she too weak? I only saw "Walk on the Wild Side" based on its tremendous star power: Laurence Harvey, Capucine, and Jane Fonda were absolutely huge in the '60's, and Anne Baxter and Barbara Stanwyck were both stars during the Hollywood Golden Age. Plus, you get Edward Dmytryk directing, who made classics like "Murder, My Sweet" and "Crossfire". Though I wouldn't say this movie is spectacular, it's sharp, twisted, and strange. The Hays Code was almost to a close, but they still couldn't say Jo was a lesbian or that Hallie was a hooker, but Dmytryk does a nice job of getting his point across. The leads, Laurence Harvey and Capucine are absolutely dull-- Harvey making his character totally flat, and Capucine seems like a wannabe Garbo. It's the support that is the fun. Baxter might be a teeny bit miscasted as the Spanish business owner, but she actually does her accent quite well, and really does look Hispanic. Fonda is great fun as the twisted Kitty, and her southern accent is entertaining to see, and makes her character a lot more fun. However, it's veteran Stanwyck that steals the show. She's ice cold, and is not the sweet old lady like she appears to be. There's so much screaming, crying coming from her, but not one bit is overdone. It shows that even over fifty, she had a ton of power, and could still be one of the most entertaining actressess of our generation. "Walk on the Wild Side" is weird, but good.
Clean and dated, Walk on the Wild Side is a fairly mediocre picture, made watchable due to some lively overacting from a young and beautiful Jane Fonda and some campy melodrama. It isn't classic, and it has nothing to do with the great Lou Reed song, but for a B-picture about prostitution and lust it's a nice lazy afternoon watch.
jane fonda rocks this film as the nubile vagrant turned prostitute in 1930s new orleans. she is in good company with laurence harvey as the gentle yet tough romancer dove, barbara stanwyck as closeted lesbian madam jo and joanna moore as the fragile hooker precious. this film aslo has a great opening sequence by title master saul bass and a fun jazz inflected score by elmer bernstein.