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Violent Saturday & Fallen Angel

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Violent Saturday & Fallen Angel

Postby ChiO » January 28th, 2009, 11:14 am

These two noirs are on FMC tomorrow 7:30am and 10am EST, respectively.

For those who enjoy Ernest Borgnine, catch VIOLENT SATURDAY for the role he was born to play: an Amish farmer. I think that Lee Marvin plays a bad guy in this one.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
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Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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moira finnie
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Violent Saturday (1955)

Postby moira finnie » February 15th, 2009, 3:11 pm

Violent Saturday (1955) is, I suspect, one of those movies best seen in a theater, but if you missed it on Fox (or don't get it), you can see this visually dazzling movie online here for free. It is also showing again on Fox Movie Channel on Fri, Feb 20th, 2009 at 10:00 AM.
I just finished reading director Richard Fleischer's endearing autobiography, "Just Tell Me When to Cry", but he barely mentions it, except to say that it was the film's promising screenplay that began his longterm contract at 20th Century Fox (which was good and bad for Fleischer's career). I'm not normally a big fan of Cinemascope, but the Charles G. Clarke cinematography of Bisbee, Arizona's copper mining town milieu and the use of color throughout this movie is truly compelling, as are the various archetypes who populate what a visiting salesman calls "the three horse town" atmosphere, which is a mixture of Kraft-Ebbing meets The Human Comedy.

While it's easy to see how this "well-planned, can't-go-wrong" heist movie is going to pan out, I love the actual use of banks, streets, railroads and other settings throughout the movie with the elongated pov of the cinemascopic screen underlining the psychological separation between all of the people. One other thing about the visual look of this movie: there is a scene when Mature and McNally are in the car together that is a direct homage or quote from Joseph Lewis' Gun Crazy (1950). If you've seen both films you'll see how influential that earlier movie must have been on filmmakers afterward.

Some highlights:
The Amish family led by coiled spring Ernest Borgnine, Sylvia Sidney as a klepto-librarian and, of course, Stephen McNally looking sinister yet respectable at the same time. Victor Mature doesn't quite pull off his role as Mr. Nice-Guy Normal, but he tries. Btw, in Ernie B.'s autobiography, he mentions that Victor Mature wouldn't do stunts that he thought were unnecessary, like throwing himself under a burning, rolling car, (in part perhaps because he had been previously hurt trying to make a director happy by doing a stunt). Ernie the workhorse didn't understand that 'tude. Richard Egan, an actor I sort of like, even if he doe's mumble, is also on hand to learn a few hard lessons in the pitfalls of social drinking and being a pampered heir.
Egan & Leith in Violent Saturday.

Virginia Leith, who was an interesting actress, whose ladylike appearance and breathy voice send some distinctly conflicting messages is also on hand, as is Margaret Hayes, as an almost interchangeable other female. One interesting aspect of the interactions of the people in this film, is that WWII, after a decade, is still an everyday part of the lives of the townspeople, whether they recognize it or not. Victor Mature has an interesting scene musing about the longterm after effects of the war on himself and his family. Fifties fixture Tommy Noonan (can you believe he was John Ireland's half-brother?), plays a nebbish who may be a bit too observant...

Also, in one scene when he crushes a kid's hand on the sidewalk you might "enjoy" seeing Lee Marvin proving--for the umpteenth time--that no one is bad the way he was bad. Marvin is also very funny in his usual sarcastic way. A nearly unrecognizable J. Carrol Naish is also on hand as an overly fastidious nogoodnik.
Amish farmer Ernest Borgnine "welcomes" new neighbor Lee Marvin to his community.

Someday, I'd love to read a film scholar's analysis of Hollywood's love-hate relationship with small towns. Having grown up in one, much of this is familiar, though it always amuses me to see what the filmmakers have decided: is the town a stopover on the road to heaven or hell?
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