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Saturday, August 12, 2017

HE RAN ALL THE WAY (1951)

Gray-listed star John Garfield and soon-to-be blacklisted ‘Hollywood Ten’ director John Berry pulled an impressive line-up of top tech talent in for this modestly budgeted indie. James Wong Howe, Harry Horner, Franz Waxman (cinematography, design, score), none of them phoning it in. (Waxman’s music is cousin to his SUNSET BLVD of the same year and Wong enjoys a lack of studio oversight/control with some extreme lens choices.) If only the script were equal to the execution. It certainly starts well as a botched payroll robbery leaves a cop & Garfield’s partner dead. Now on the run, Garfield hides at a public swimming pool where he (literally) picks up Shelley Winters under the guise of an impromptu swimming lesson. But the film has trouble figuring out just what Winters sees in Garfield’s hot-and-cold act and childish tantrums. Then, once he gets her home & takes her family hostage, a need for dramatic & logistical constriction defeat Berry’s limited technique. It runs out of steam just when it needs to build tension. There’s a nifty squaring-of-the-circle ending, and the short running time helps, but it’s minor stuff.

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: Garfield looks fine, but he was a sick man under a lot of pressure, dying of a heart attack the following year at 39.

DOUBLE-BILL/SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: With its man-on-the-run plot and shadowy look, RAN is usually tossed in the film noir bin, but it’s really closer to the French ‘poetic realism’ school, or rather, an American remake of same, as with LE JOUR SE LEVE/’39 becoming THE LONG NIGHT/’47.

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