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Friday, June 6, 2008

UNDER MY SKIN (1950)

Though helmer Jean Negulesco was at his best making mid-budgeted films @ Warners in the ‘40s, he’s mostly remembered for his travel-happy CinemaScope pics @ Fox in the ‘50s. (They’re tremendous fun when properly seen on a ‘really big’ screen.) But his pre-'Scope work for Fox gets lost in the shuffle, including this awkward version of an Ernest Hemingway story made with fellow Warner emigres, writer/producer Casey Robinson and a haggard looking john Garfield. It’s an interesting film that doesn’t quite come off about an expatriate jockey (Garfield) and his unhappy son who barely manage to keep ahead of the gamblers & ‘fixers’ on the racing circuit. With neither the kid nor ‘la femme’ (a Paris café owner with a chip on her shoulder) supplying the expected warmth & interpersonal chemistry, the film can’t decide whether it wants to play tough or sentimental, which gives the film a sec quality you hardly expect from a set-up that’s not too far from THE CHAMP. As a threatening mob type, Luther Adler steals all his scenes, just as he did three decades on doing similar duty in ABSENCE OF MALICE. And dig those crazy extras in the night club scenes. What’s ‘Daddy-O’ in French?

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