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Desert Fury (1947)

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Desert Fury (1947)

Postby moira finnie » June 23rd, 2009, 5:51 pm

Desert Fury (1947), directed by Lewis Allen, with a screenplay by Robert Rossen and A.I. Bezzerides is a rarely seen film noir (in now faded color, photographed by Edward Cronjager and Charles Lang).

Burt Lancaster, Lizabeth Scott and Wendell Corey were the rank newcomers when this was being made, but there's something about Mary Astor and John Hodiak (playing what one commentator described as a "male-fatale") and that air of desert decay that really lingers in my memory. There are tons of character actors in this one too, I hope that you'll enjoy this one if you've never caught it. It isn't available commercially at all (there was a Region 2 DVD) as far as I know and is very seldom broadcast. Despite the flaws in this print, as Fritzi (Mary Astor) says, "you look good to me, baby."...especially Burt Lancaster, who never looked younger on film, which you can see in its entirety beginning below:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kvoug8xadOE&feature=PlayList&p=C8AD44C6EA9F5CC4&index=0&playnext=1[/youtube]
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Re: Desert Fury (1947)

Postby vallo » June 24th, 2009, 9:42 am

Thanks Moira for bringing this film into the spotlight. I been waiting for a DVD of this for years (also add “I Walk Alone” with Lancaster & Scott)
Lancaster did look good in this one; maybe after the gritty roles in “The Killers and Brute Force" and the fact that this was his first film in Color with his plaid shirt and uniform on. He had a kind of naïve about him in this role. And from what I remember the scene on the bridge (that was filmed in Arizona) was in gorgeous color. John Hodiak was great as Eddie and was a perfect match for the bossy Mary Astor. Wendell Cory’s relationship with Hodiak is a little strange but makes the film interesting. Hopefully someone will release this movie. But with Columbia owing the rights, it may never happen. There are some DVD-R’s out there for sale. But I’ll continue to wait for the real-deal.


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Re: Desert Fury (1947)

Postby moira finnie » June 24th, 2009, 10:23 am

vallo wrote:Thanks Moira for bringing this film into the spotlight. I been waiting for a DVD of this for years (also add “I Walk Alone” with Lancaster & Scott)
Lancaster did look good in this one; maybe after the gritty roles in “The Killers and Brute Force" and the fact that this was his first film in Color with his plaid shirt and uniform on. He had a kind of naïve about him in this role. And from what I remember the scene on the bridge (that was filmed in Arizona) was in gorgeous color. John Hodiak was great as Eddie and was a perfect match for the bossy Mary Astor. Wendell Cory’s relationship with Hodiak is a little strange but makes the film interesting. Hopefully someone will release this movie. But with Columbia owing the rights, it may never happen. There are some DVD-R’s out there for sale. But I’ll continue to wait for the real-deal.


Bill

Image
Hi Bill!

You nailed it, pal. It's that plaid shirt and naïveté that Burt exudes here that appeals to me. Btw, I found some images of the Region 2 dvd on dvdbeaver (reproduced below) that give a better idea of the intense clarity of the color in Desert Fury.
Image
I guess lots of people look at this as a Lizabeth Scott vehicle first! Hodiak's "strangeness" was always present in his movies, don't you think--which is one of the things that made him interesting at times?
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I also like Mary Astor enormously as Fritzi, the gambling house owner who is faced with the fact that there are some things that are uncontrollable, such as her daughter, Father Time, and her own feelings, especially regarding Hodiak's presence.
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I'm sure it could not have been easy for Astor at the time, but she always seemed to be a much greater character actress than she ever was as a leading lady, though she did that well too. I sort of think of this part and her bedraggled streetwalker in Act of Violence as the real beginning of that interesting phase in her career.
Image
We haven't even discussed the other odd couple in this brightly colored movie full of secrets: Wendell Corey & John Hodiak!

I haven't been able to unearth I Walk Alone (1947) anywhere just yet, but I did come across a nifty tribute to Lizabeth Scott which features some moments from that movie in scenes with both Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster. She even changes expression! I actually like her manner of acting, though I kid.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBPxDQQMcOY[/youtube]
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Re: Desert Fury (1947)

Postby klondike » June 24th, 2009, 2:55 pm

Thanks for the insights!
This is the film I always think of as the fourth piece in Burt's "Early Noir Quintet" (starting w/ The Killers, Brute Force, & I Walk Alone, ending with Criss Cross) and it's the only one thereof that I've never been able to track down!
(And what was up with all the Wendell Corey roles - were they grooming him for a Lancaster mascot, or was he just a cheap & easy favorite for post-war noirs?)
Don't you worry, though, one of these days I'll corner this rough piece o' work in-between dark alleys :evil: . . and then it'll teach me something! :twisted:

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Re: Desert Fury (1947)

Postby jdb1 » June 25th, 2009, 9:07 am

To my mind, Wendell Corey had the kind of face that was meant to get slapped around onscreen. He was one of Hollywood's best patsies in the guise of a leading man.

When I was younger, I didn't like him, and I think it was because of the characters he played -- tough leading ladies were always making a fool of him. Now I realize that he played those parts so well, I sort of believed that's who he was. His performance as the shy, passive, laconic and commitment-phobic deputy sheriff quietly in love with K. Kepburn in The Rainmaker is really aces. When he finally says to her "Don't go," it's a really anguished and embarrassed epiphany for the character. It's the best scene in the movie, in terms of "romance."

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Re: Desert Fury (1947)

Postby moira finnie » June 25th, 2009, 9:28 am

You know, Judith, I used to feel like slapping ol' Wendell around myself--especially when he played the alternative to Burt Lancaster in "The Rainmaker". Then I started to catch some of his better, lesser known films, such as the one that is on TCM now, June 25th at 10am EDT, The Killer Is Loose (1956).
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He plays, believe it or not, a sympathetic psycho escaped from the pen who wears coke bottle glasses and wreaks havoc across Southern California while harassing Joseph Cotten and his wife, Rhonda Fleming. Yeah, you read that correctly. Rhonda & Joe as a couple is really stretching it, but Wendell as a lethal sort really has a field day in this nifty, low budget Budd Boetticher movie. Here's a good article about Wendell Corey's display of his acting chops in that movie.

I also liked Corey as the sap who is Stanwyck's plaything in The File on Thelma Jordon (1950), the nice, dim hubby in No Sad Songs for Me (1950) and in The Wild North (1951), as a Canadian Mountie who's in shock after a wolf attack, (he uses those startled blue eyes to good effect there). This latter movie is on Jul 14, at 11:45PM.

I've come across long, scholarly articles extolling the gay subtext of Desert Fury, but, you know, to me Corey's character in this movie will always be the loyal, jealous lieutenant, trying to protect his self-destructive boss from those Manichean devil-women in the desert with a few well-chosen snarky remarks. Call me a blind fool.
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Re: Desert Fury (1947)

Postby ChiO » June 25th, 2009, 10:50 am

And as the Yes-Man in THE BIG KNIFE (but around Jack Palance and Rod Steiger, he had little choice, I suppose).
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Re: Desert Fury (1947)

Postby Ollie » June 25th, 2009, 3:51 pm

Wendell doesn't just have a face to be slapped, he has one that takes it, too. He's often such a 'nothing' character, almost like a burr under the saddle - an irritant, not a contributor. And not a vicious character (a la Strother Martin in LIBERTY VALANCE), but just a pusher-character, like he does outstandingly in REAR WINDOW. It's amazing to look up the films he's done and see that his 2nd and 3rd banana role continues in so many of my favorites.

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Re: Desert Fury (1947)

Postby CineMaven » August 5th, 2009, 4:42 pm

How the heck did I miss THIS thread???!!! I think I might have something to contribute. Let me go through all of your comments thoroughly and carefully. This is one of my favorite movies and I'm a big-time fan of Lizabeth Scott fan.

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Re: Desert Fury (1947)

Postby moira finnie » August 5th, 2009, 4:56 pm

CineMaven wrote:How the heck did I miss THIS thread???!!!


Well, it is summertime, Ciney! You do have a life. Until that make-your-own-clone-at-home kit arrives in the mail, one must get out and about from time to time. Still, I am really looking forward to reading your thoughts on this movie and Lizabeth Scott in general. And it is a joy to see you and the many others stopping by this week!
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Re: Desert Fury (1947)

Postby CineMaven » August 7th, 2009, 6:04 am

Thanxxx Moira for giving me a "pass" on that with the summertime alibi. At least this time it's not me being lazy.

There's a summer school class LZCutter's running over at TCM City that I'm attending. We're talking about the ol' Grey Fox himself: Howard Hawks. Then there's a fast and furious (mock) battle in a thread about "HIGH NOON" in the Gary Cooper thread. We are extolling the differences between Grace Kelly and Katy Jurado. I know we don't see you around those parts anymore Moira, but would you take a gander at least...pay us a little visit in those threads?

"DESERT FURY" is truly one of my favorite films. Is Mary Astor the bees knees? Is Hodiak and Corey a couple in all its sub-text glory? Is Lizabeth Scott a technicolor babe or what? And Burt...well not so much for him to do but g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s to look at. Am I right or am I right?

I promise to get back over here. Oh, and on TCM today with Glenn Ford the focus of today's Summer Under the Stars theme "FRAMED" will be shown at 4:45PM. Janis Carter interests me though I'll have to get through Glenn Ford to see her. And then there is the towering "GILDA" on at 8:00PM.

Moira, visit the Gary Cooper thread and weigh in? Many would love to read ya.

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