11.10.2007

Tension




Barry Sullivan in Tension (dir. John Berry, 1950).



Lloyd Gough and Audrey Totter.



Richard Basehart.



William Conrad with coffee and doughnuts.



Cyd Charisse and Audrey Totter.

There are some films where all the right ingredients--actors, crew, dialogue, etc.--are in place, and yet the cake fails to rise. This is not one of those films. This is one of those films where a bunch of the right ingredients are in place, plus some that are just adequate, and then some that have no business going into the recipe in the first place, and they all wind up baking into something that might not be a proper cake, but you still eat it and you're glad you did.

Wimp pharmacist Richard Basehart has a hot wife (Audrey Totter, about whom I would say that I hope eventually to meet her in the afterlife, but it would be a little weird to say that, as she's still alive, last I heard). The wife is bad. Wife dumps wimp for rude furry burly rich guy who lives on beach and kicks sand in wimp's face. Wimp gets fitted for contact lenses and assumes double life as part of his elaborate plan to murder hairy competitor. Along the way, wimp meets the beautiful and good Cyd Charisse. Things get complicated.

There are innumerable gaps in logic and taste, and it's all totally wonderful. I feel like I could watch this movie over and over. Almost every frame contains some trivial miracle: the drug store where Basehart works, the equipment and advertisements at the optometrist's office, the barbecue fork that Lloyd Gough wields like Neptune's trident, the decor in Basehart's alter ego's apartment, William Conrad as a coffee-and-doughnut snarfing cop, and every move that Audrey Totter makes.

1 comment:

AlexG said...

this is one of my favorite Totter performances.

altho she's still alive I've heard she suffers from Alzeheimers.