Friday, June 06, 2008

Lesser Pairings

One of my favorite movies from the 50s is Sweet Smell Of Success, where Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster trade some of the best dialogue ever written, courtesy of Clifford Odets and Ernest Lehyman. It's a harsh movie about nasty people--just the roles the audience didn't want to see them in. The film flopped. They'd had a real hit the year before, in Trapeze, a romantic triangle about acrobats. It's much more conventional, and from today's standpoint, much more boring. But watching it recently, I noticed something--Burt Lancaster and Gina Lollobrigida did the upside-down kiss 46 years before Spider-Man did.

I also saw Play It As It Lays recently, a Frank Perry film with screenplay by Joan Didion, based on her novel. It's another arty, early 70s American film, this time about anomie in LA. Tuesday Weld has gone to pieces, and so the film presents her life in little pieces, as she contemplates it after the crack-up. The film seems a little too pleased with itself, and it doesn't add up to much more than a Hollywood mix of Godard and Antonioni (whom I don't like that much to begin with). The best thing is the rapport between partners-in-ennui Weld and Tony Perkins. They're much better in their earlier outing, Pretty Poison, which is a 60s take on film noir, and, if nothing else, has a plot to lean on. They do work well together, though both films flopped.

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