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Red River (1948)

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I’ve been largely lukewarm on Westerns. That wasn’t a period in our country’s history that ever grabbed my interest, and a lot of the Westerns that crossed my path seemed to be pretty cliché-driven and all seemed to have a lot of the same details. (New roommate came home from a trip in the middle of this film and went directly to his room to unpack; later he correctly guessed that I had watched a John Wayne Western, and told me that he could tell what I was watching just from overhearing the score.)  Red River, however, had a couple of surprises in store for me.

The film does indeed star John Wayne, as “Thomas Dunson”, who’s part of a wagon train to California at the top of the film. However, as the train is passing through Texas, Dunson’s eyeing the landscape and notices that “the land here seems pretty good, actually,” and announces he’s dropping out to start a ranch right there. His trail hand Mr. Groot (Walter Brennan) comes along, and they spot distant smoke as they make camp that first evening, and guess – correctly – that the wagon train has been surprised by an Indian attack.  But there was one survivor – Matthew Garth, a teenage boy who turns up in their camp the following morning, delirious from shock and leading a single cow.  Dunson calms him down and takes him in – all Dunson has is a bull, and with Garth’s cow, maybe they can get a jump on starting their own herd.

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Fourteen years later, Dunson’s ranch, the “Red River D”, boasts ten thousand head of cattle on prime land near the Rio Grande. But times are still hard – Dunson has been selling cattle throughout the southeast, but the Reconstruction-era economy has tanked that market. Dunson gets the idea to drive the herd north to Missouri – a distance of several hundred miles through land crawling with Indians and other cattle rustlers.  If they make it, though, they stand to strike it rich.  Garth – now a strapping young man, played by Montgomery Clift – says he’s heard of a new stockyard in Abilene, Kansas, which would be closer; but Dunson dismisses this as rumor and rounds up a crew for the long drive north.

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The trip is indeed just as dangerous as everyone fears, with the herd suffering from poor weather and a stampede that kills some of the men.  Food runs short and morale runs low.  And the closer they get, the more rumors they hear of a stockyard in Abilene – and the stricter Dunson gets with his discipline, whipping one man for stealing sugar and shooting two men trying to desert the team. Finally, the men have enough – and as Dunson prepares to hang a couple of deserters, Garth intercedes, injuring Dunson in the process. Garth takes control of the whole business, kicking Dunson out and announcing he’s going to head for Abilene; Dunson warns Garth that he’ll be coming after him for revenge.  The threat looms over the men as they travel on; Abilene may be closer, but it’s still some ways off, and they’ll be crossing through Apache territory on the way. And at any moment, Dunson could be coming up behind…

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A lot of the tropes I’ve come to expect from Westerns were all here – the sweeping scenery, the folksy conversations around campfires, combat with various Native American nations, John Wayne looking grim.  The plot surprised me, though – it’s a sort of Mutiny On The Bounty on horseback, with Dunson going from being the square-jawed hero to being the Bad Guy.  I didn’t notice when I was watching, but another review I’ve read points out that Wayne’s costume even switches over the course of the film – he starts with a white hat, but towards the end, he sports a black one.  Garth is no impulsive Fletcher Christian tempted by ease, though – Garth may start out impulsive in his scenes as a kid, but Clift’s take on Garth is more measured; he knows what he’s talking about and he’s just as good a rancher as Dunson, he’s just more fair to the staff. Dunson sneeringly dismisses Garth as “soft” in one scene, but Garth’s approach seems more like good business management.  And he’s right about Abilene having a stockyard.

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My favorite bit, though, came in the very last scene; I will get into spoilers a bit, so fair warning, but I loved it too much not to share…

While en route to Abilene, Garth’s team rescues a wagon train from an Apache attack, and earns the admiration of a woman named Tess (Joanne Dru). She wants to join Garth, but he turns her down.  Then Dunson and his posse meet up with them a few days later. Tess correctly guesses that Dunson is heading after Garth and convinces him to let her tag along, so she is on hand when Dunson reaches Abilene, and slips away to warn Garth.  And she’s also on hand when Garth and Dunson have their final showdown in the streets.

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What I loved best, though, is that she is also on hand to defuse the showdown – by calling it out as the dick-measuring contest that it is.  She’s spoken to both Garth and Dunson over the past several days, she knows each others’ perspective of their disagreement.  She also has noticed that Dunson doesn’t seem willing to shoot to kill – he only aims between Garth’s feet, while Garth doesn’t even draw.  Soon Dunson gives up his gun and turns to fisticuffs. And after only a few minutes of watching them fight, Tess finally blows up, ranting at both Dunson and Garth that both of them are being completely stupid before storming off, leaving them both blinking in surprise, realizing that she’s right.

The short story on which this film was based ends very differently, and apparently the original author hated this ending – but I was delighted; the feud between Garth and Dunson is the kind of thing that could have been settled by simply talking to each other like grown-ups, and here was someone in the film demanding that they do exactly that.

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Secret Beyond The Door (1948)

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So my guess is that this is the sequence of events that lead to this film existing.

  • Fritz Lang, the film pioneer who gave us such works as Metropolis and Mwas an enormous inspiration to later filmmakers, including Alfred Hitchcock among them.  And Lang knew it.
  • The Second World War cut into Lang’s work a little, giving these younger filmmakers a chance to claim the spotlight, and Hitchcock in particular started to overtake Lang, with works like Rebecca and Spellbound.
  • When the war ended, Lang finally got a chance to catch up – and chose to re-assert himself at the same time, by copying several of Hitchcock’s recent films all in one fell swoop.

At least that’s what this looks like is going on.  And it also looks…pretty darn nuts.

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Plotwise it looks nuts, anyway. Joan Bennett plays Celia Lamphere, the new bride to a brooding architect named Mark (Michael Redgrave) whom she meets while on a vacation in Mexico.  They marry after only a week, and after a starry-eyed honeymoon in a Mexican Villa they head back to the the Lamphere manse in upstate New York.  There, Celia discovers a few things that Mark had forgotten to tell her – like, the fact that he was previously married, and had a teenage son.  Or that his older sister lives with them.  And so does a secretary.

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Celia also learns about one of Mark’s hobbies; during their honeymoon he told her he “collected rooms” where “felicitous things happened”.  No doubt Celia thought, as I did, that Mark either saved pictures of them, or made little scale models in his workroom.  But no – during a baroquely gothic sequence, Mark gives Celia and a bunch of house guests a tour of the huge hall in his basement where he’s recreated the actual rooms, in meticulous detail.  Even more disturbingly – the rooms he’s created were all murder scenes.  And there’s one room that Mark forbids anyone to enter – especially Celia.  Celia’s already on edge after a conversation with  various conversations with the secretary Mrs. Robie, who wears a scarf obscuring the left half of her face at all times and who seems weirdly obsessed with Mark, and with Mark’s son David, who’s convinced that Mark killed his mother…

“Baroquely Gothic” seems a good descriptor for the film overall, more so than “noir”.  So many details about this film – the plot, the sets, the costumes – seem heightened and over-the-top in a way designed to creep you out.  Celia always seems to be poking around through dark rooms and secret doors, half the scenes at the Lamphere mansion show the grounds wreathed in fog, characters’ back stories involve parental cruelty and natural disasters and psychological trauma.

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Visually, however, it all looks amazing. Over the top batcrap, but amazing – Lang still has the same eye for visuals he always did.  I was especially struck at a shot during Celia and Mark’s wedding, when she’s temporarily second-guessing her choice – “I’m marrying a stranger!” she thinks to herself, in a voiceover. And at that moment, Mark takes one step away from the altar towards her – and that step puts Barrymore right into a shadow, hiding his face from us.  All those scenes of Celia exploring the mansion are similarly gorgeous.  Towards the end there’s a scene where Celia is trying to make an escape from the mansion, running through the fog-wreathed grounds – and pauses for a moment to see if she’s being followed.  And when ever-so-slowly a figure emerged from the fog and started towards her, I admit I shivered.

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Most critics seem to be as equally torn on this film as I am – half seem to cleave to the gorgeous cinematography, insisting it carries things, while the other half seem to have been turned off by the outlandishness of the plot.  I’m leaning towards the latter; but have been wondering what it would be like if it were given more of a camp remake.

 

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Force of Evil (1948)

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The new roommate watched this one with me, and when it finished I turned to him and quipped, “I didn’t know there was such a color as ‘infra-purple’.”

A number of the reviews I’ve read describe this as a “noir melodrama”, and boy is that accurate. John Garfield stars as “Joe Morse”, a lawyer who’s the go-to defense attorney for mob boss Ben Tucker (Roy Roberts). Morse is a little bit too chummy with his client, however; Tucker’s turf is running a numbers racket, and Morse is spearheading a campaign to legalize the numbers as a more traditional lottery, which would obviously work well for Tucker.  Behind the scenes, though, Morse is also teaming up with Tucker on a scheme to take over the smaller competing numbers banks – they know lots of players pick the number “776” on July 4th, so they’ll rig the game so that that’s the winning number, causing a run on all the smaller banks and driving them into bankruptcy.  At which point Tucker will swoop in and take over – just in time for Morse’s legalization campaign to pull through.

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There’s just one problem – Morse’s brother Leo (Thomas Gomez) runs one such smaller bank. And Morse knows his big brother will want nothing to do with Tucker’s gang; Leo’s relationship with his baby brother Joe is already strained as it is.  Joe doesn’t want to give away the plan, but still makes repeated visits to Leo to warn him that….something’s gonna go down and maybe Leo should close up shop.  Joe also has his head turned by Leo’s pretty secretary Doris (Beatrice Pearson), and tries to do what he can to spare her as well.  Both Leo and Doris sense that Joe is bad news, and Joe’s struggles to win them over – while trying to keep his criminal dealings under wraps –  make up the bulk of the movie.

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The plot description, as I read it on the DVD package, was intriguing and made this sound like a sort of 1940s version of Wall Street or Goodfellas.  Plus it was a fairly short 78 minutes.  However – then I started the film itself, and started hearing the dialogue.  Ye gods, the writing is overblown and histrionic and cliched and florid, and every one of those 78 minutes dragged.  Several of the reviews I’ve read have tried to spin the writing as being “poetic” and the whole film as a “Marxist allegory”; one review even insists that the whole thing is in blank verse.  ….Maybe it is.  But blank verse doesn’t always translate that well for the average-yutz viewer like me.

And it’s a shame, because there are some really artfully-done shots in this, like Morse turning up at his office after hours and being startled to see that there’s a sliver of light coming from under his office door.

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Then again, a climactic shootout towards the end of the film is a little messy and chaotic, to the point that it was hard to follow the action.  To a certain degree that’s intentional – the ultimate winner of the fight is supposed to be a surprise –  but I still wish I’d had a clearer idea of what actually happened in the fight itself.

This is another one of those films where the critics of today love it, but the audiences at the time hated it.  And I’m inclined to agree with the audiences.

 

(P.S. – I just realized I mentioned a “New Roommate” without clarifying that the magnificent Alex has moved to Los Angeles to seek his fortune in the screenwriting trade.  …Thank you, sir, and when I get to the Marvel films on the list I may want to pick your brain some.)

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The Ghost And Mrs. Muir (1947)

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Well, I didn’t hate this one.

Gene Tierney stars as Lucy Muir, a young widow with a daughter who moves to a small seaside town outside London in the early 1900s. She’s drawn to a small cottage outside town, and the price is a steal, so she immediately moves in, scoffing at her neighbors’ warnings that it’s haunted. But she very quickly discovers her neighbors were right – the ghost of the former owner, a sea captain named Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison), turns up to speak to her on her first night there. Other former tenants had been easily scared off by little poltergeist-y things he’d done, but Lucy…Lucy seemed stubborn, so he appeared to make a personal appeal to ask her to leave.  But Lucy was stubborn, and refused.  The pair strike a truce – Lucy and her family can stay, and Gregg will leave Lucy’s daughter and maid alone, if Lucy takes Gregg’s old bedroom as her own and leaves it exactly the way he had it.  And – if Gregg can hang out with her sometimes.

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Soon Lucy and Gregg are good friends – so much so that when Lucy loses her savings and is facing eviction, Gregg has an idea; he’ll dictate his memoirs to her, and she can publish them as a work of fiction.  The pair work for several weeks on this novel, starting to fall in love as they do.  But Greggs’…er, lack of corporeality is a problem.  When Lucy goes to London to meet with a publisher, she meets another writer, Miles Fairley (George Sanders) who takes an instant shine to her. He’s a bit pompous, though, so Lucy brushes him off – but then realizes that even though Fairley is a bit of a jerk, he is also actually alive….so now what?

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It is a little on the corny and sentimental side.  Parts of this reminded me of a film not on the list, Truly Madly Deeplyin which the ghost of a grieving widow’s husband returns – but he’s on a mission to annoy her, so that she’ll get over him quicker and move on.  There’s a point I thought The Ghost and Mrs. Muir was going to do the same thing, but some twists towards the end – and some time jumps – surprised me.  

The two leads have a bit more nuance than I initially expected as well. Gene Tierney’s Lucy is initially brimful of a kind of pluck that seems expressly tailored for romantic comedies – she’s spunky and independent in ways that seem almost tailor-made to draw male admiration.  And Hamilton’s Captain Gregg is almost straight out of a sea shanty at first. But soon we learn that Gregg is as likely to pepper his speech with quotes from Keats poems as he is to use seagoing slang, and as for Lucy…well, I can’t spoil it, but she ultimately surprised me too.

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While looking into the history of this film, I discovered that it also served as the inspiration for a TV sitcom in the 1970s, with the setting moved from England to Maine and the love story abandoned in favor of what sounds like a wacky odd-couple roommates kind of situation.  To be honest, the sitcom sounds perfectly terrible.

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Bicycle Thieves (1948)

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When I was about 40, someone got into my apartment through a faulty window lock and stole my laptop.  I actually might have surprised them in the act – they’d locked all the locks on the front door to my apartment, and my fumbling with the doorknob lock and the deadbolt and the chain in my efforts to get in were loud and lengthy, and when I finally got in I saw that all of the closets had been opened in both my room and my roommate’s room, and many other drawers and closets were standing open. But my laptop and my roommate’s were the only things we found were missing.  So likely they’d cased the joint, and were figuring out how to get everything out when I started fumbling with the lock and so they grabbed the two laptops and fled.

I was in a shaky financial place, so replacing the laptop itself would be a hardship.  But even worse – this happened before I’d gotten smart and started backing up my hard drive, so not only were they taking my computer, they had taken all of the data on it.  The first photos I ever had of my niece as a baby.  The first draft of a eulogy for my late cat.  Four short stories.  An essay I’d just started working on.  Ten years’ worth of writing, including all the drafts of two plays – gone.  The thieves didn’t know it, but they were taking far more than a laptop.  And it chilled me to know that not only would they never know – they wouldn’t even care.

Fortunately my parents gave me some help with a replacement, and some friends I’d asked to beta-read some of my writing all flooded me with the drafts I’d emailed them in hopes that they could help me restock.  My friend in Ireland even dug through all of our emails to find every single last photo I’d emailed her and sent it all back to me.  But even so the sheer helplessness and despair I felt took a while to fade.  I spent the entire next day prowling all the pawn shops near my neighborhood in hopes I’d find my computer, and thinking over and over – why had this happened?  Who could do this?  Didn’t they know the impact it would have? Didn’t they understand how personal this was, how much of me was tied up in that laptop?  How could I possibly recover from this loss?  Why me?  

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I thought of that a time or two while watching Bicycle Thieves.  Antonio (Lamberto Maggiorani) is an unemployed father in post-War Rome, and finally gets a job wheat-pasting movie posters around the city.  Having a bike is a requirement for the job, however, so Antonio can cover the most ground.  Antonio’s bicycle is in the pawnshop, but the money’s good and his family is desperate, so the family pawns their bedlinen to get his bike out of hock. Still they’re hopeful as Antonio rides off to his first day of work, dropping his eight-year-old son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) off at his own job on the way.  It’s fairly simple work, but pays well, and Antonio turns to it with a will and everything’s going great for the first couple hours, until the moment when Antonio is perched up on a ladder adjusting a poster and someone snatches the bike he’s left unlocked and unguarded.  Antonio tries to chase him, but he’s on foot and soon loses him.

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The next day – and the whole rest of the film – see Antonio and Bruno on a desperate search around Rome for his bicycle.  They search through two separate street markets, poring through both the fleets of bikes as well as the stalls selling just the tires or frames, in case it’s been chopped up. They think they see the crook twice and give chase again.  They see an old man that Antonio thinks the thief talked to, and follow him into a church, interrupting the mass to beg the man for help.  They even visit a psychic.  And at every turn they’re thwarted, either by misremembered serial numbers or a crowd of passersby who interfere or the indifference of the police.   And even when they do get close enough, the thief and his likely accomplice are also both clearly so poor that it’s likely that even if they were guilty, they’ve likely sold the bike for the money.  But Antonio doesn’t want the money – he wants everything made right.  He wants things back the way they were; he just wants his bike back.  Doesn’t the thief know what his bike means?  Doesn’t he care? 

And yet, this neo-realist film also shows us the poverty that the thief also endures, which hints at his own motivation – and foreshadows a desperate move on Antonio’s part later.  No, the thief doesn’t care about Antonio – but that’s more because he has enough to worry about.

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The performances that director Vittorio de Saca are near miraculous – since both his leads were completely untrained actors.  Lamberto Maggiorani was a factory worker de Saca cast as his lead, after spotting the man in the background of a photo someone sent de Saca for their own head shot.  And as for Bruno – Enzo Staiola was just a curious kid de Saco noticed hanging around their set one day watching the excitement.  But they both give utterly flawless performances.  Especially in what is probably my favorite scene – a moment when Antonio realizes that Bruno’s spirits are starting to sag and suggests they take a bit of a meal break.  The smile on Bruno’s face when Antonio asks if he wants pizza made my heart melt.

Bicycle Thieves is on many critics’ best-of-all-time lists. But its fame didn’t translate to fame for its leads, sadly; while the film was a smash success throughout the rest of the world, it was snubbed in Italy, where audiences were looking for more escapist fare (ironically, the posters Antonio puts up throughout Rome are for the movie Gilda).  Maggiorani planned only to take on this one role as a vacation from his factory work, using the proceeds to upgrade his furniture at home. But the factory soon had to lay people off, and Maggiorani was one of the first to go since everyone assumed he was now a “wealthy movie star”, and he was stuck with working odd jobs and the occasional bit part in films.  Enzo Staiola had a bit happier fate; after working in four more films, he grew up and out of his film career and went on to become a math teacher.   And he’s still alive today.  Here’s an interview I found where he recalls how he was cast.

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Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948)

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It seems to be an open question about who this film is about.

I thought it was pretty straightforward, actually. The letter in question is one that Joan Fontaine’s character “Lisa” writes to failed concert pianist Stefan Brand (Louis Jordan) at the top of the film. He’s packing to leave town to escape a duel – the film is set in Vienna in 1900, and duels were still a thing – and pauses to go through his mail quickly.  He sees Lisa’s letter, and starts reading it; and stays up all night.

Because it’s quite a story. Lisa has known him all her life, she says – she was just sixteen when he moved into the apartment across from hers, and she was instantly smitten with him.  But he was older and a bit of a lothario, and didn’t notice her; he had his pick of older and more sexually available women anyway.  Still, Lisa writes, she hung on him, hovering in the background and admiring him from afar.  Until one day – he did notice her, wooing her over the course of a whirlwind evening that swept Lisa completely off her feet. (She was legal, don’t worry.)  He left for a tour shortly thereafter, she writes, telling her he’d be back in just two weeks.

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He wasn’t.  She was pregnant.  She kept the baby, later marrying an understanding man.  Life went on smoothly for years, until she met Stefan again…

We already know Lisa’s story is going to end tragically; she opens her letter with the sentence, “By the time you read this, I may be dead.”  But the nature of that tragedy is an open question.  Stefan is obviously a womanizer, the kind of guy who knows the right things to say to convince a woman to give in; but Lisa is just as obviously a naive innocent who really should know better.  However – is that really her fault?  As a child, most likely not.  But when she’s older, she still is just as naive and besotted with Stefan – and this time the stakes are higher.  And he’s even crueler to her.

Still, Stefan’s cruelty isn’t intentional.  He’s not deliberately setting out to mess up women’s lives.  He’s selfish, sure, but he’s not callous; he loves the many women he woos (or at least thinks he does).  He just plain hasn’t really grown up.  And the very last scene, when he’s finally finished reading the letter, suggests that maybe Lisa’s story has affected him in a lasting way.

And that’s why it’s not as clear who is the “star” of this film.  Is this Stefan’s story, told by Lisa?  He’s the one who grows the most over the course of the full film, even though we see him do very little in real time.  Or, is this Lisa’s story itself, a testimony of a doomed infatuation?  She is the one we follow most closely throughout.  There are good arguments for both sides.

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That’s the story itself.  My biggest nit to pick with this from a film perspective was the casting; Joan Fontaine was 30 when they filmed this, and while she’s lovely, she was a little unbelievable as a teenager.  She tries, mind you; she’s got the mannerisms and the behavior down just fine.  But very few women of 30 are able to look like a teenage girl, and Joan Fontaine was not one of them.

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Odd Man Out (1947)

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Odd Man Out is a film I’m going to be thinking about for a while.

I’ve only just this minute realized how surprising it is that this film exists; it’s a British and Irish collaboration, made only 20 years after the Irish revolutionary war.  That’s like if a Hollywood studio had teamed up with a film company in Saigon in the 1990s (there was a 1993 film set in Vietnam, but that was Hollywood collaborating with France).  Not only that – it was only 20 years after the Irish revolutionary war, and opens with a faction of the IRA robbing a factory’s office as a fundraising move.  True, they all refer to themselves as “our organization” instead of using the name, but you know exactly who they mean.

That raid and the resulting fallout is…well, it’s not the plot, it’s more like the catalyst for the plot.  James Mason plays Johnny McQueen, the head of this particular faction of…”the Organization”.  He insists on leading the current raid, even though he’s been hiding from the law for six months after a prison escape and has started questioning whether diplomacy might be better. The rest of the team thinks he’s not quite ready for action yet, and his girlfriend Kathleen (Kathleen Ryan) would rather the two of them slipped away to the country. But Johnny swears he’s up for the gig and swears to Kathleen that he’ll be fine for just one more job, and then they can take off.  But then things go pear-shaped when Johnny ends up scuffling with a guard during their escape, killing the guard and taking a serious wound himself.  The rest of the team loses him in the shuffle and Johnny’s left a fugitive fending for himself.

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And that’s when the story really gets interesting.  A title card at the top of the film primly insists that this story is “not concerned with the struggle between the law and an illegal organisation, but only with the conflict in the hearts of the people when they become unexpectedly involved.”  James Mason is ostensibly the star, but he actually doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot aside from wander from one encounter to another, then collapse into a corner and look weak; the people Johnny meets in his travels are who this film is ultimately really about, as Johnny makes his way around the city searching for shelter and safety.

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Everyone else in the film Johnny meets is confronted with a choice – he’s a fugitive member of an illegal organization (one which some quietly support), but he’s also a human being bleeding out from a gunshot.  Everyone finds their own way to square that circle; try to help Johnny while keeping their own hands as clean as they can, from the fussy matrons who bandage his arm before sending him back outside, to the barkeep (played by a pre-TARDIS William Hartnell) who sees him stagger into a snug and lets him nap there before sending him along after closing, to the cabbie who smuggles him to an out-of-the-way junkyard and leaves him there, telling him to “make sure your mates know I helped you”.  There are also those who prey on Johnny’s desperation – the drifter who sees Johnny in one of his hiding places and then tells Kathleen he’ll let her know where he is if she pays him, or the drunken painter who drags him into his studio to sit for a portrait (Johnny’s being near death gives his eyes the exact kind of haunted look the artist favors).  And it’s these characters’ choices, and what those choices say about them, that is the real meat of this story – where everyone sees themselves in the miasma of politics that was post-war Northern Ireland, and how far they’re willing to risk their own safety to help another human being.

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When it comes to stories about Ireland and The Troubles, I tend to be a little more critical than most; one of my good friends is Irish, and we’ve had a few conversations about that region’s history and the exact nature of the IRA.   Here in the United States, your average person doesn’t know much about Ireland’s history, which left a gap for the IRA to shift the narrative on this side of the Atlantic; in Ireland itself, though, the IRA of the 1970s and 80s was treated as a terrorist organization.  A lot of the films I’ve seen that deal with “The Troubles” have been disappointingly one-note in their politics; prior to this film, the only time I’ve seen anything like a nuanced response was in the U2 concert film Rattle And Hum, in the sequence when the band does “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. That bit was filmed on the same day as an IRA attack on a veteran’s parade in the Northern Irish town of Enniskillen, and Bono stops mid-song to deliver an absolutely blistering condemnation of both the IRA’s violence and of the rest of the world’s ignorance of the politics involved.  This film is a quieter statement – a reminder that whereever your politics fall, in the end we’re all people, all trying to make the best choices we can.