Sunday, November 7, 2010

Short Cuts 7: "Stranglers’ Day"

Short Cuts 7: "Stranglers’ Day" at Fox Movie Channel and Turner Classic Movies (Saturday, November 6, 2010)

Yesterday might have been billed as “Stranglers’ Day” on Fox Movie Channel and Turner Classic Movies as my wife and I first watched The Boston Strangler (again), followed by Dial M for Murder (yet again) and finally Marlon Brando in Lewis Milestone’s Mutiny on the Bounty (never again).

The first had an excellent underplayed performance by Tony Curtis, who oddly does not appear for almost the first hour of the film. It was shot using a plethora of those unusual two, three and four segment split screens, a vogue which was popular in the 1960s and which revisits us sporadically. The Boston Strangler was directed by Richard Fleischer -- rightfully known for his terrific The Narrow Margin. We had not seen The Boston Strangler in some time, but Mr. Curtis was fresh in mind and a phrase Matthew Coniam recently used lingered: “fine work, in a wearily frenetic movie.” Matthew’s comment certainly well describes Curtis’s portrayal as well as that first non-Curtisian hour.

The second film was Hitchcock, but not really Hitchcock, rather a filmed play, rich in color. Both Hitchcock and Truffaut virtually ignore it on the Hitchcock/Truffaut tapes. (See the Charlie Parker site on Hitchcock/Truffaut if you have some 25 hours to spare.) Dial M is not quite a strangle movie, but a beautiful neck does come into play (endangered twice as it turns out), as does a pair of scissors, a Scotland Yard inspector, and some endless business about latchkeys. Truffaut and Hitchcock did not much care for the “too colorful” Inspector – but then again, Hitchcock did not care for Kim Novak in Vertigo either. But my wife and I enjoyed Dial M again none-the-less.

Finally, came Marlon Brando strangling (both on screen and off, reportedly) the oxygen, the warm Tahitian air and the credibility out of a sure-fire property. (The film, at least, looks very good.) I never thought I would feel sorry for Captain Bligh, but soon into the first reel, I was hoping someone would keelhaul Brando somewhere off the Isle of Wight. Never have I appreciated Clark Gable more.

“Strangler’s Day.” Saturday afternoon and evening on Fox Movie Channel and Turner Classic Movies.

Dial M photo by Icône

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