Movies reviewed this week: Saboteur, The French Connection, and Night and the City.
1/15/2022: Saboteur (1942): ***1/2
Satisfying thriller marred by average performances from the leads. Everyone else in the movie was great, from the uncle to the villains to the carnies, but Robert Cummings didn’t have any of the subtle I wanted and Priscilla Lane was just kind of there.
1/15/2022: The French Connection (1971): ****
Gritty as fuck, like licking a live battery plus the battery is really grimy. Propulsive from the first scene. It doesn’t have the twists I like in a thriller; it’s just full speed ahead with no subtlety, sort of a triumph of style. “Speed and brutality,” as Pauline Kael said.
1/16/2022: Night and the City (1950): ****
Criterion Challenge 2022
Prompt: Watch a film from the 1950s
I wanted to knock this one off before it left the Criterion Channel; I originally chose it because hey, wrestling movie. Also, of course, a classic noir.
It’s a grim movie. Understandable motivations throughout, but all of them lead to damaging decisions. Even Widmark’s almost tragic every time he realizes that his conniving optimism isn’t going to pan out this time.
Stanislaus Zbyszko never objected to wrestling catch wrestling matches, despite his Greco-Roman roots, but it’s true enough that he didn’t love the theatrical trend in pro wrestling. Poetic license!