"What's rational about prejudice?"
This question, asked by "Pinky's" titular character to her fiancé summarizes the conflict, internal and external, of this excellent message film.
In honor of such a ground breaking film, I wish I had more ground breaking commentary, but suffice to say this is a wonderful film dealing with such a negative repulsive subject and still worthy of consideration today. Now, many if not most of the technical aspects of Pinky would be different if filmed in this era, but those do not detract from the film's powerful message.
As for messages, Pinky's tagline, "The poignant story of a girl who fell desperately in love," doesn't encapsulate the film at all.
At its core, "Pinky'"s message concerns being true to who you are and standing up to bigotry no matter the consequences. The title character returns to the rural south in search of her true identity, despite a marriage proposal from a white doctor and the promise of a cushy life. In the end though, she becomes a tragic figure who regains her racial pride but loses the man she loves, who cannot understand Pinky's internal struggle.
Its racial theme is treated in a fairly milquetoast manner by today's standards, but 1949 Hollywood was much more squeamish. I admit, though this go may far as any studio could go in 1949-so kudos to Daryl F. Zanuck.
The choice of Jeanne Crain to play the title role is questionable to me, but the studio had to calculate white audience's attitudes. Dorothy Dandridge and Lena Horne, more authentic choices for the role of the mulatto Pinky, auditioned for the role. Both Ethel Barrymore as the aged white dowager and Oscar-nominated Ethel Waters, as Pinky's grandmother and conscience, are outstanding.
DVD reviews must necessarily comment on the transfer's quality, and I assess this one to be very good. Many of the movie's sets will appear cheap to today's audience, but that standard of quality was acceptable in 1949 and does not detract from the film's message.
In the final analysis Pinky deserves a 5 for its message and a 4 for casting and production values. It doesn't have the impact that "To Kill a Mockingbird" does, nor in my humble opinion does it quite measure up to "Gentlemen's Agreement" or "Crossfire" for 40s films depicting the evils of prejudice. It must have struck a chord with moviegoers; Pinky was Fox's top box office draw of 1949 and second-highest grossing film of that year.
This may be MGM's best film noir.
The movie's title mystifies me; it isn't appropriate or descriptive for this particular film. The title appears generic, yet the violence exists primarily internal to the two leading men.
This tense tale of betrayal and obsession gallops along at a torrid pace for all of its 82 minutes, refusing to let go.
Van Heflin's character is running from his past, a very noir-ish plotline. Robert Ryan often played the heavy but had the acting chops to take on the hero roles also. His character, Parkland, both physically and psychologically wounded, seemingly insane and bent on revenge at any cost, is ahead of its time cinematically. Neither leading man is who he seems to be in the film's introduction.
This is earliest role I've seen from Janet Leigh, maybe best described as "cute as a button" in her crucial role as Heflin's character's wife. Her great acting chops are on display
This film shares elements with the outstanding drama Cape Fear, the 1991 Scorsese version more than the original 1962 film. It's on the nature of true guilt and innocence, as well the more obvious betrayal and revenge motives.
The contrast between small town-bright lighting and big city-dark, shadowy, moody, for which noir is well-known is critical here. It reminds me, as does the film in a way, of Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. The contrast of opposites between Ryan and Heflin's characters and their transformations during the film is the key to understanding the film's message.
Act of Violence's breathless climax neatly wraps up the issues of honor and guilt, but I won't give it all away because you must experience it unadulterated. Suffice to sum it up as the elements of social justice, realism, and suspense are perfectly realized in the B-film noir genre by Fred Zinneman.
MGM low-budget film noir Mystery Street is years ahead of its time and will be an unexpected delight to fans of TV shows like the CSI franchise and especially, "Bones." It's a procedural whodunit shot on location in Boston starring Ricardo Montalban as a police lieutenant who enlists the help of Harvard medical scientists to identify a body and solve the crime.
The wrongly-accused- man theme will interest any film noir fan.
Other reviewers highlight Elsa Lancaster, famous as the Bride of Frankenstein, who hilariously steals every scene she's in. However I'm more interested in the youthful Montalban, and for other viewers who know him as Mr. Roark from TV's Fantasy Island or Khan from star Trek II, this film is a surprising treat. Considering his ethnicity, Montalban's character is ahead of its time also.
I don't consider this a negative criticism per se, however this film is not a "film noir," as advertised. It's a crime drama but not noir-ish at all. That being said, check out this engaging whodunit.
This is a drama about an Italian-American family centered on the complex dynamics within the family, especially the relationships between the ambitious, domineering father and the sons. Sound familiar? I'd never heard of this film, buying it because it's a Fox Film Noir, but surprisingly enjoyed it immensely. Why this film's banker Monetti family even earns the scorn of the government, which seeks to crush it as in Godfather II. This conflict between love and revenge will satisfy any Godfather fan.
The story and acting are powerful, and while Edward G. Robinson's performance didn't receive the acclaim of Brando's, he did win Best Actor at Cannes for the performance. Richard Conte shines equally as favored-son Max, loyal to his father and sworn to revenge against his brothers, and Susan Hayward eclipses Diane Keaton as the son's love interest who just wants to get away.
For those interested in Richard Conte's career or just movie trivia, he appears as Don Barzini, rival to Don Corleone in "The Godfather." Also, he must have been in the Rat Pack or at least been a friend of Sinatra's because he appears not only in this quintessential "Ocean's 11," but also in the Chairman of the Board's "Tony Rome" and "Lady in Cement."
Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz's films are uniformly excellent, with House of Strangers no exception. If you're a fan of either the Godfather saga or any Martin Scorsese/Robert Deniro films such as Goodfellas, check this one out.
I bought this socially conscious crime thriller based on the packaging and the actors. I had never heard of it, and that's a crying shame because this film deserves a wide audience, even today. It should be re-made with a more contemporary script because its message, regarding anti-Semitism and prejudice is more relevant than ever.
Crossfire was adapted from the Richard Brooks novel The Brick Foxhole, in which the murder concerns a homosexual, whereas the film dropped the book's sub-theme of homophobia to focus on the more cinematically "acceptable" topic of anti-Semitism. That being said, I am surprised the original idea hasn't been filmed in the post-censorship era.
I love the way the murder is filmed in shadows and thus the audience is "in the dark" as to the identity of the murderer until the climax. Although the killer's body language is instantly recognizable and the film has its characters drift to the same conclusion before the halfway point, the tension comes from proving it and saving the police's initial target, an innocent soldier.
I could not imagine a better cast for the topic. I love Gloria Grahame in every noir she's been in, Mitchum is his usual laconic best, and Robert Young is the epitome of trustworthiness. It's tough seeing Robert Ryan, who I like in heroic roles, as the bigoted villain in this film.
Crossfire didn't win any of the 5 Academy Awards for which it was nominated, which is a shame. Even though the similar Gentlemen's Agreement won Best Picture, Crossfire is superior due to its operating on two levels: an excellent murder mystery manhunt and a "message picture."
Director Edward Dmytryk's stark, hard-hitting examination of a hate crime was way ahead of its time in 1947, and has lost neither its topicality nor its punch in the years since.