Tay Garnett directs Lana Turner, John Garfield and Cecil Kellaway in this classic film noir where a drifter falls for a gas station owner’s wife with murderous consequences.
Both the simplest idea for a plot in the world and the most bonkers treatment of said plot. Anything can happen and often does. Maybe this is more about atmosphere than logic but it makes for a laughably wobbly watch throughout. Cats interrupt, model cars tumble, judge’s have, what can only be described as, a “power saving mode” day. The esoteric title isn’t explained until the final scene, and when it clunkily is you feel like saying “Run that past me again please.” The movie’s strength is three fascinating performances but they all have to prop up a weak central one by Garfield. I’ve seen him be well cast elsewhere but there’s something about the torrid madness of this that swamps him. Cecil Kellaway and Hume Cronyn are really a cut above in their untrustworthy support roles. Yet this is Lana Turner’s BBQ thoughout. She oozes fuckability. Only ever dressed in pure radiant white or deep inky blacks. Iconic, but iconic in a hot mess. James M Cain’s novel has been adapted a surprisingly frequent number of times, this is probably the most famous iteration but also the one least worthy of your two hours.
Perfect Double Bill: Body Heat (1981)
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We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/