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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

CLOAK AND DAGGER (1946)


In the last & least of Fritz Lang’s WWII thrillers, Gary Cooper plays a professor who’s recruited by the O.S.S. to get a nuclear scientist out of Italy. There are some startling set pieces in here (a brutally quick assassination in the dark; a messy & shockingly violent hallway fight that’s ‘covered’ by street singers just a few feet away; Coop chattering away in German), but the film as a whole is awkwardly played and unconvincing. Lang’s previous WWII fare (MAN HUNT/’41, HANGMEN ALSO DIE/’43, MINISTRY OF FEAR/’44) may be uneven, but their unconventional narratives are fascinating and they share a visual grammar as ‘Langian’ as a MABUSE pic. Even better were the two masterful films that came just before this, WOMAN IN THE WINDOW/’44 and that unrivaled gem SCARLET STREET/’45. But this formulaic tale comes off as both flat & far-fetched.

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