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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

36 HOURS (1964)


After his atypically stylish work on THE COUNTERFEIT TRAITOR/’62, writer/director George Seaton returned to WWII with this jerry-built espionage tale. Unfortunately, it also returned Seaton to his typically flat dramatic & visual style. (No doubt, shooting TRAITOR in Europe with lenser Jean Bourgoin shook Seaton out of his usual form.) James Garner is awfully subdued as a kidnapped American spy who is tricked into believing that he’s got a bad case of amnesia & the war is long over. Why not chat with his doctor (Rod Taylor) and tell him everything he knows about D-Day and the Normandy invasion? The idea is too goofy to take seriously, but under Seaton’s tired hand, there’s not much tension and not much fun to be had. Patient viewers can relish a lively turn from the great Sig Rumann who shows up as a delightfully venal border patrolman toward the end, and also scratch their collective heads when composer Dmitri Tiomkin rolls out a faux-Rachmaninoff piano concerto as background score.

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