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Thursday, February 17, 2011

KINGS GO FORTH (1958)


Frank Sinatra & Tony Curtis are rivals in love & war in this bifurcated WWII drama. When the boys aren’t pushing Germans out of France, they’re pulling R&R in the Riviera where they vie over Natalie Wood, an American who’s lived her whole life in France. Everybody seems to be working very hard to honestly sell this thing (Wood works up a tremendous French ‘r’ for her so-so-accent), but there’s a gimmicky feeling they just can’t shake. (We're really not so far removed from WHAT PRICE GLORY/'26 and dozens of other WWI buddy/buddy tales.) Most of this comes from the big character revelations, put on display for us like a waiter doing tableside service, ‘Would you care for some guilt with your salade scandale?’ But an equal share goes to helmer Delmer Daves & lensman Daniel Fapp who lose visual consistency every time they cut from a lively location exterior to a flat studio mock-up. Things start to come together at the action climax, where the rivalry threatens a military mission, but the resolutions are far too neat. Especially, Frank’s symbolic emasculation. Uneven as it is, it’s worth watching just for Curtis who was on some kind of roll at the time. (SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS/’57 and SOME LIKE IT HOT/’59 surround this.) As a rich scapegrace with few morals & a knack for the ladies, he’s the PAL JOEY/’57 Sinatra only toyed at playing.

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