The Angry Hills


If I were to offer the choice of a movie with a thin plot stretched beyond the point of endurance or one so crowded and packed with incident that breathing space is at a premium, which one would you choose? Well, the wise viewer would most likely pick neither and instead plump for something more balanced. As one whose curiosity typically allows wisdom to be elbowed aside, I would probably try the overloaded option. I mean, that one ought to be pacier and potentially more exciting, right? Not necessarily. The Angry Hills (1959) is a movie that has some weighty themes baked into it, but there is frankly too much going on, too many plot developments and too many characters drifting in and out of proceedings. In the end, it loses focus, simultaneously reducing the entertainment value and blurring or trivializing the more serious points it might have made.

The Angry Hills takes place in 1941, on the eve of and then in the period just following the German invasion of Greece. It starts with the arrival in Athens of  journalist Mike Morrison.The situation in the city could charitably be described as fluid and he’s keen to move on as soon as possible, or as soon as he’s had the opportunity to clean up and sample some of the local night life at least. Journalists get to know all kinds of people in the course of their work and an old acquaintance of Morrison’s passes on a list of Greeks who will be able to filter information through to British Intelligence in the months and years ahead. The idea is that a pressman will be in a better position to smuggle such a list out of the country before the city is occupied. Morrison frankly wants no part of this but he gets stuck with the list nonetheless. As a result, the movie develops into what is essentially a long chase back and forth across the country with the Germans, and those who would collaborate with them, in hot pursuit of the reluctant courier. As Morrison tries to dodge the Gestapo commanded by the enigmatic Conrad Heisler (Stanley Baker), he is plunged into the interior of the country where he becomes involved with the fledgling partisans trying to organize resistance and has a brief and tragic romance with a peasant girl (Gia Scala). By the by, he ends up back in Athens, still hunted by Heisler and his local stooge Dimitrios Tassos (Theodore Bikel), still looking for a way out and still endangering all those who cross his path.

Director Robert Aldrich was apparently unhappy with the film being recut by producer Raymond Stross, losing 10 minutes or more of footage. He felt it unbalanced the movie, which may be so but I’m not sure it really needed additional scenes. While I can’t claim to know exactly what was trimmed, I suspect it was material that related to Morrison’s first exit from Athens, a section that is papered over somewhat via a voiceover and a few brief shots indicating a longer journey. I do think the film is a little disjointed and there is a clumsiness to the narrative, but more footage in that sequence wouldn’t fix any of those problems. I’d actually go so far as to say the entire in country section with Gia Scala and the partisans could have been excised and not have really harmed the movie. In fact, it might have tightened it up considerably. There are themes touching on betrayal and trust, on the lengths people will go to for the sake of those they love which appear at various points, indeed the whole climactic sequence hangs on just this premise. However, a movie that uses the mechanism of the chase to power its narrative needs to keep moving, and preferably in one direction. What happens in The Angry Hills is that Morrison flees Athens with his enemies in hot pursuit, gets chased through the mountains, and then doubles back to the capital to essentially finish up where he started. It’s all too circular and means that too much happens to too many people for too long and to increasingly little effect. The story is an adaptation, by A I Bezzerides, of a Leon Uris novel; I’ve never read any of the man’s work so I can’t say if that contributes to the general muddle and torpor of it all, but I do know that screen versions of his books tended to be pretty lengthy affairs. Exodus is worthy but that running time of three and a half hours is incredibly taxing, while Topaz remains, in my opinion, by far the dullest and least involving of Alfred Hitchcock’s movies.

While there is no escaping the fact that there are problems with the scripting and structure, the movie does have positives. A glance at the cast list alone ought to attest to that. Robert Mitchum tops the bill as the newsman who claims to believe in little, to have seen too much, yet who experiences something of a spiritual or ethical reawakening. The seeds of a compelling character arc are certainly present but, once again, it’s never given the attention it ought to have received. Mitchum only seems truly involved emotionally in the latter stages, when the effects of the relationship with Gia Scala and the subsequent turn of events become clear. It arrives late and I’m not convinced it’s fully earned. While Gia Scala herself is fine as the village girl who gets under his skin, the romance that grows up between them is a half-hearted one at best. That entire section of the movie should provide the emotional core that supports the final act but the combination of the slowing down of the plot and that slightly lackluster romance weakens it.

A starring role for Mitchum is always a draw, even when it’s not all it could be. Something similar could be said for Stanley Baker, who gets a nice meaty part as the conflicted Gestapo chief. It is the type of role that one would expect to be pretty one-dimensional yet it is far from that. Baker had great presence and he could add layers of menace with the most subtle of glances and gestures, but he could also use that finely modulated voice to inject a quiet authority, a hint of warped civility in this case that makes his character all the more fascinating. His Heisler is easily the most interesting character on show, a potentially cartoonish villain invested with much needed depth. Elizabeth Muller is the woman who connects Mitchum and Baker and as such it’s a pivotal role, but neither the writing nor the performance really exploits that. In support, Theodore Bikel is marvelously sinister and corrupt, willing even to use the charms of his sister to further his aims. As that sister, Jocelyn Lane is stunningly attractive and it’s a pity her part wasn’t expanded. Marius Goring flits in and out of the picture  as an effete but dangerous German officer. There are small parts too for both Sebastian Cabot and the recently departed Leslie Phillips, the latter clearly enjoying his view of a surprising (taking into account the era in which the movie was made) and earthily energetic topless cabaret performance by Marita Constantinou.

The Angry Hills has been released on DVD via the Warner Archives in a very  attractive anamorphic ‘Scope transfer. Both the cast and the setting caught my attention initially and, as someone who has lived for many years in Athens, I welcomed the fact that the location shooting offered a glimpse of the changes that have occurred to the look of the city over time. The movie overall is a decidedly mixed bag, an odd blend of overcrowded plot with too much incident yet not enough character development to allow the viewer to properly engage or empathize. In short, the cast and location work ensure it remains watchable despite the structural flaws.

86 thoughts on “The Angry Hills

  1. I’m interested to read your review of this film, Colin, as it is a film I have never seen, possibly because I have read negative things about it over the years. My own connection with Greece is not much more than 3 years’ old when my son married his Greek fiancee in 2019, moving to live in Thessaloniki shortly after. (I presume the chase never reaches that city??)

    The cast is certainly an enticing one. Mitchum is usually very good, Marius Goring never gave a bad performance and Stanley Baker was one of the most interesting and compelling screen actors ever to come out of Britain.

    Sounds OK-ish but not a must-see maybe.

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  2. It’s a while since I’ve seen the movie, as a bad copy too, so I’d like to rewatch. The cabaret scene was a bit surprising for 1959 and I’m sure very welcome!

    I liked the movie probably better than you, which has a lot to do with the cast. I’m a fan of Gia Scala, but mostly I was just so absolutely giddy and excited to see my two favorite men in one movie together! Be still my beating heart. Unfortunately they don’t even share a scene together.
    In this case probably Baker wins the contest. He oozes sex appeal.

    Marcus Goring is always good. I just saw him in a very good movie, Circle of Danger (1951). His screen persona was so often effete, however in Circle there is a twist for his character I didn’t see coming. This movie is well worth seeking out, if you haven’t seen it.

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    • Yes, I’ve seen Circle of Danger and agree that it is a good movie worth seeking out. Actually, I’ve meant to feature it here in the past, and then other stuff came up. I may get back to it yet though.

      I enjoyed this movie in parts I suppose, and I do like pretty much all of those involved. I usually enjoy Gia Scala as it happens but that whole section of the story where she featured, even though it has some well done moments such as the botched raid and its aftermath, acts as a drag on the narrative’s impetus for me. In a sense, this film has elements in common with Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps – the man forced on the run, in possession of MacGuffin-style info, going in country, unexpected romance, the cyclical sense of a story starting and ending in essentially the same place – the forward thrust is absent. Hannay’s flight into the Highlands and subsequent return to London make sense in a way the events here do not. Sure I understand how the story had other layers it wished to explore, but that central chase structure has to be more successfully or deftly handled. It’s the dynamo that powers the film after all.

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    • It has plenty going for it on paper and there are sections that certainly succeed. I just feel there is too much story in there, and too much ambition for such a densely plotted piece to handle comfortably.

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  3. Thanks for this Colin, fascinating. Never seen it, mainly as I am always a bit torn by Aldrich – for every film of his I really rate there is another that I find undone by a sledgehammer approach to storytelling. Equally, it is now hard to understand why Uris was rated so highly as all his books are too often trite and sunk by their own self-importance. On the other hand, this sounds like an interesting counterpart to GUNS OF NAVARONE.

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    • I’d say I enjoy Aldrich’s work as a whole, but I do understand how he can be a bit hit and miss, and some of his movies obviously work far better than others.
      Stanley Baker and Gia Scala provide a link to The Guns of Navarone, as does the Greek setting of course. They’re quite different movies though in terms of aims and execution. MacLean was another much adapted writer but I think his books translated more successfully to the screen. Perhaps the fact MacLean was writing straightforward thrillers and adventure yarns which made no apology for being just that was part of that.

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      • MacLean was another much adapted writer but I think his books translated more successfully to the screen.

        It’s really hard to make a mess of an Alistair MacLean adaptation. And of course he wrote the screenplays himself in some cases.

        It’s not just that his books are straightforward thrillers. Some are surprisingly complex. He was quite fond of using unreliable narrators. But he had a knack for writing novels that were inherently cinematic. If you stuck with his basic structure and pacing you had the basis for a good movie.

        There is one exception, The Secret Ways (1961). They made wholesale changes to the story and made a total mess of it.

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          • I have not read it either. Must admit, I prefer the movies to the books usually as I find his style a bit dull though I know he has a massive fanbase. I think in later years, probably from WHERE EAGLES DARE onwards, he wrote the screenplay first and then the prose version.

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            • I think the earlier books, up to say the mid-60s, were better written. To be fair to him though, I don’t believe he was ever striving to create great literature – he knew the type of stories he wanted to tell and the way he wanted to tel them, and then did so.

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              • I think FEAR IS THE KEY is the last I read of his, a fairly early book. I preferred the more streamlined movie myself but I take your point. I wonder if HMS ULYSSES, his debut, isn’t his best and most personal overall though.

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                  • I think HMS ULYSSES was easily MacLean’s best work. His later books in particular were rather predictable. I always preferred Hammond Innes.

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                    • I came to Innes later on, after I’d read most of MacLean’s books. I liked what I read well enough – I still have a fair few unread and boxed up in my parents’ place. He did have a bit more variety to his stories, and probably a bit more depth too. A few of his stories were adapted for the screen too, I keep meaning to feature one of them, and must try to get around to it.

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                    • There have been several decent Hammond Innes film adaptations. Snowbound (which I watched not that long ago because it’s in one of the British Noir boxed sets even though it’s not noir) is quite good. Especially if you’re a Dennis Price fan (which I am).

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                    • I have not seen Snowbound yet, but I have read the book it is based on, The Lonely Skier, and thought it was quite good. I must say I have trouble imagining Price in the lead in that one based on my reading of the novel.

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          • The failure of the movie was mostly Richard Widmark’s fault. He was producer as well as star and insisted that his wife be given the job of writing the screenplay. It’s her only writing credit and it’s easy to see why. She did make major changes but I don’t think she had the slightest idea what she was doing.

            Not content with the damage he’d already done Widmark took over as director. I am not a Richard Widmark fan.

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            • Widmark is one of my favorites, someone whose name alone will get me watching a movie regardless of genre, setting or story. I haven’t seen all of his movies but I have seen the vast majority, maybe 90% of them. Between his debut in Kiss of Death in 1947 and, say, the end of the 1960s I rarely find a poor performance, and some frankly great ones. Of the films themselves, of course some are better than others, but I don’t think I’ve ever found Widmark’s work to blame for the weaker ones.

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              • I agree with you about Widmark, and will just add that I believe you would modify one part of this (“…say the end of the 1960s…”) if you will see “When The Legends Die” (1972, Stuart Millar). Widmark is stunning in that contemporary-set Western as the rough, alcoholic mentor to an Indian (Frederic Forrest) whose odyssey through the white man’s world takes him into Widmark’s rodeo world. If I cared about Academy Awards (I absolutely do not!) and could choose them, this would have been his second one, “Night and the City” in 1950 being the other where he would have had it hands down.

                That said, dfordoom may be right about “The Secret Ways”–a rare movie with Widmark that didn’t work that well for me (I don’t know the source novel by McLean). Apparently as producer Widmark was at odds with director Phil Karlson, and that’s just not good for a film.
                Phil Karlson always comes up here in a positive way–and for good reason. If a producer engages him, they should trust him.

                Along those lines, I’ve expressed my long-held, deeply considered views about auteur theory before here, so won’t do it again.

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                • Following up, I refreshed what I knew about “The Secret Ways” from Karlson interview I was familiar with, so want to add something. And sorry I misspelled author MacLean’s name–I don’t know his work except for some of these movies.

                  Maybe it would have worked better if Widmark, with his own ideas about the project, had hired someone else. Karlson maintained that he wanted to do it “tongue-in-cheek” (kind of a pre-James Bond kind of thriller). But that’s strange. Nothing about Karlson’s estimable body of work tells me that “tongue-in-cheek” would be a strength for him. I could be wrong about that–I just never saw him do it.

                  It makes sense if Widmark wanted something realistic and gripping that he would have looked to Karlson, but if the director did not feel that way about this film and they were at odds, maybe they should not have even tried to work together.

                  I want to add that I saw it once on TV, and that’s all. As I wrote before, it didn’t work that well for me, but I didn’t hate it and I would give it another chance sometime. I love Widmark almost always, and his other films as a producer are excellent and he cast himself well and is his usual superb self, especially in “The Bedford Incident” (a memorable movie, directed by James B. Harris, better known as a producer) but the earlier “Time Limit” too (actor Karl Malden stepping in as director). Both directors did very well.

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                • Fair enough, I haven’t seen the 1972 film so was just applying a somewhat random cutoff point as Widmark’s films from the 1970s and beyond, at least those I have watched, were less interesting for me.

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    • I have to say that I have a real problem with Robert Aldrich as a director. Even in his interesting movies there always seems to be something that I dislike.

      And he made some movies that I dislike intensely. Such as The Big Knife. I even dislike Kiss Me, Deadly which everyone else seems to love.

      There’s something awkward and clumsy about Aldrich’s movies.

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      • I sometimes think of Aldrich in the same way as Jerry Lewis – the style can be really overbearing and yet there is real brilliance there, while the sheer will power required to go against the grain in Hollywood is not to be under-estimated. Me, I now love the nihilistic KISS ME DEADLY but it took several viewings to get there. His pair of Burt Reynolds pictures, THE LONGEST YARD (aka MEAN MACHINE) and HUSTLE are a bit special too.

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        • Yes, but they are as you have labeled them, Burt Reynolds pictures, not authored by Robert Aldrich. My theory, which aggravates many, is that each project has someone who is most important to the the execution, and that person is the auteur if such a thing exists outside the mini minds of the pseudo-intellectual bookish.

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          • That raises the question of who an auteur is. Isn’t it usual to see that person as a director or producer? Of course in a more modern sense it could be a star, I suppose, if it’s someone with the power to shape the picture.

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            • You are onto something, and I agree. The producer, if a powerful creative type and many were, qualifies, but not the auteurist crowd. Great example, on the Randy Scott pictures, Budd gets the auteurist nod, but …how many of his films without Randy are their equal? Bankable stars are always of significance, sometimes coming down to nothing more than a few lines. Gable in The Hucksters refused to hammer Edward Arnold’s character for being Jewish. The director Jack Conway and screenwriter Luther Davis, said collectively, ‘what do you want us to do?'”Find another way.’ Luther changed the character of an ex-convict. Gable played it with these words, directly from Luther to me: ‘The first way was better dramatically, but I will play this.”

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          • My theory, which aggravates many, is that each project has someone who is most important to the the execution, and that person is the auteur

            The auteur theory was invented to make film criticism seem intellectually respectable. We’re not writing about movies. We’re writing about Cinema. And Cinema is Art.

            Very few American directors have been auteurs. Mostly they’ve been low-budget film-makers. Ed Wood Jr and Russ Meyer were auteurs. Radley Metzger was an auteur. He ran Audobon Films. Roger Corman was an auteur.

            Hitchcock was an employee. When he was told to change the ending of SUSPICION, when he was told to make wholesale changes to NOTORIOUS, he did what he was told. He was a skilled craftsman. A skilled craftsman can to a limited degree put a personal stamp on a project. If I hire a guy to build a garden shed for me, he can put some personal touches into it. But he can’t build whatever he wants. It’s my money. I call the shots. If he comes up with a plan for a shed and it won’t have room to store the lawn mower I fire him and hire someone else.

            OK, that’s the extreme version of my theory.

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            • Teensy weensy bit extreme 😁 I have always thought that the stories about the SUSPICION ending a tad bogus- the Production Code would never have passed the original Iles ending, no matter what. And I’m not sure you’re right about NOTORIOUS – not aware there was ant serious re-shooting of any sort and Selznick always had a heavy hand. After that Hitchcock became his own producer, like Aldrich, and ROPE, REAR WINDOW, VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST and PSYCHO, et al, were made exactly as he wanted, the studios gambling that he understood his audiences. I don’t think Cecil B. De Miille had any trouble getting his “vision” approved, for example. Not that he made an even halfway decent movie after about 1934 anyway …

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              • There was no reshooting but Hitchcock meekly accepted huge script changes with which he disagreed.

                Of course the Production Code was a problem. Which raises the question – was it really possible for any director to be an auteur while working within the straitjacket of the Production Code? The Production Code Authority didn’t just cut scenes the way the British censors did. It mandated storylines. It told producers/directors/writers how their stories would have to be told.

                I don’t see how the auteur theory can be applied to anyone working under those conditions. Unless you accept Joe Breen as the auteur.

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                • If you see it as a way of equating a director with a novelist (which was the intention), well you have editors and publishers and censors in publishing making their presence too. But there’s a reason why a film by Howard Hawks or Preston Sturges or Frank Capra is identifiable not matter who starred or produced or for which studio it was made for. But sure, it has a lot more merit outside of Hollywood. Bergman, Bunuel, Fellini, Kubrick, Wajda et al are clearly auteurs, surely. Once you get to the 1950s and the studio era was basically over, the directors really come to the fore.

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                  • Yes, the auteur theory works OK for European art films, and in the post-studio era for a small number of American and British directors who were also producers, assuming they were able to make financing deals which don’t give the financiers the real power. And it works for low-budget and exploitation film-makers.

                    So you’re left with a theory that is valid for a small minority of movies. That’s like discovering a new law of physics, but unfortunately it only works on Tuesdays and Thursdays and only when where’s an “R” in the month. You have to ask if such a theory is useful.

                    For contemporary movies you could argue that the auteur is the guy who controls the purse strings. He may not know anything about making movies but he knows what he wants. He wants a safe investment, with zero risk. So he wants a movie that is exactly like every other movie in that genre. For government-subsidised movies (such as Australian movies) the auteur is some government functionary who makes sure the movie will be politically acceptable.

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              • Suspicion and Notorious, are a pair of brilliant pictures, with the exception of the last three or four minutes in the first. Notorious is pitch-perfect, from start to finish, and by far Hitchcok’s best picture.

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                • Gosh! I would struggle to name Hitchcock’s best movie. A director who made many top-notch films but I wouldn’t argue with “NOTORIOUS “. Close or equal for me would be “NORTH BY NORTHWEST”, “SHADOW OF A DOUBT”, “STRANGERS ON A TRAIN”. I also love “THE 39 STEPS”, “YOUNG AND INNOCENT” & “FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT”. Oh, and “SABOTEUR”. How to choose? Impossible.

                  I feel sure others have their own favourites by a master of his craft who never got an Oscar. Not that that matters to me.

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                  • I’m sure I’ve said before that I don’t actually dislike anything Hitchcock made in the roughly 30 year period spanning The 39 Steps and Marnie. I don’t dislike Torn Curtain for that matter, even if it is deeply flawed and only works in fits and starts.
                    His best? I like everything he made with Grant and Stewart, although I find Rope hamstrung by its experimental nature and the virtual absence of any sympathetic character. However, I think it’s hard to look beyond Vertigo, despite the fact it appears to have fallen slightly out of favor again.

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            • But cinema is undoubtedly art, which is itself merely an extension or expression of human experience. Cinema or the movies, or whatever term we use, is the creation of something which says something to the viewer, something which has a meaning to them beyond the immediate circumstances surrounding its making. That’s why we continue to watch and appreciate movies made long ago – those visions and ideas committed to film long ago continue to communicate something to us that we still appreciate or which still makes us think, some aspect of our universal human experience is addressed. That, to me, is art.

              Anyway though, is it necessary to view filmmaking in absolutist terms? The fact that a filmmaker did not retain, or perhaps never even sought, total creative control over a movie is not something I see as refutation of the auteur concept. If viewers can look at a movie or group of movies and recognize certain themes, motifs, or a sensibility running through those of a given filmmaker, then that seems like proof enough of the existence of the auteur. Absolute control is never going to be a possibility in any collaborative effort, much less under something like the classic era studio setup, so trying to define the notion of the auteur using absolutist arguments feels counterproductive.

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              • Absolute control is never going to be a possibility in any collaborative effort, much less under something like the classic era studio setup, so trying to define the notion of the auteur using absolutist arguments feels counterproductive.

                Yes. It’s not even a matter of control as such. Some movies really are happy collaborations between two or three creative people. Take Cat People. I think of that movie as a Val Lewton-Jacques Tourneur-Nick Musuraca picture. Take any of those three people out of the equation and you’d have had a different movie.

                My main problem with the auteur theory is that it’s become something that we take for granted. Sometimes it’s useful, but it needs to be questioned more often.

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        • Strangely enough I liked Kiss Me, Deadly the first time I saw it, and I’ve disliked it more with each subsequent viewing. That’s been my experience with other Aldrich movies.

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      • I think in the films you mention, there are a lot of unpleasant things going on and some highly unpleasant characters doing them. Kiss Me Deadly has a relentlessly grim and nihilistic tone that can turn people off – I found myself shifting position on it over the years, finding it all a bit perplexing and disorientating when I first saw it, then it appealed much more on a subsequent viewing only to later find myself chilled (and not in a good way) by that harsh pessimistic core. When I picked up the Criterion Blu-ray and watched it al over again I discovered that it all seemed to “click” once more – so a bit of a roller-coaster reaction from this viewer! I guess that any movie capable of sparking that type of response from me must be doing something right.

        Generally though, Aldrich is somewhat enigmatic as a director. His reputation is for toughness, and indeed bleakness, while some of his better films display great sensitivity. Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte is a fine movie and I feel Autumn Leaves is superb.

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  4. I thought the movie picked up steam when Sidney Greenstreet, woops Sebastian Cabot entered. Cabot emulated the dialogue and delivery of Greenstreet perfectly.

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    • I hadn’t though of that, but he does indeed give off a strong Greenstreet vibe in his scenes.
      Yet he is one of those characters who pop up seemingly out of nowhere in the movie – which is not to say I don’t like what he does, just that the script has a habit of producing characters we’ve never heard of before and assigning them important roles. The overall effect, for me, is a distancing one, if any of that makes sense…

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  5. With regard to the question of the auteur, if we’re talking about the age of classic filmmaking, then it’s hard to see far beyond the producer or director as auteur. The producer arguably held more sway in the heyday of the studio system, with the power of the director growing bit by bit as the industry started to change and the clout of the studios began to shrink. Later, the actor/producer naturally gained significantly more control, but a strong director with a recognizable vision and sensibility tended always to leave their mark on their work whatever the era.
    Of course, none of that is meant to nullify the influence others may have had on the process. After all, it is a collaborative effort and I think certain working relationships did encourage some people to bring out the best in each other and thus inspired the production of more memorable or worthwhile films.

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    • Yes, thinking of the Ranown films, it is clear to me that the best of them were those with the combination of Scott, Brown, Boetticher and Kennedy and the meshing of their talents together. When one of those was missing the results were good but not up with the very best. The one exception to that though is “SEVEN MEN FROM NOW” which didn’t have those four but was as terrific as the best of the Ranowns.

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      • Scott’s pictures are his, beginning with Last of Teh Mohicans, and certainly Western Union, despite the high profile director. His presence alone dominates and pulls you in, even though the scenarios are variable. Harry Joe Brown is not an auteur, he executes the production-distribution deals. Kennedy is a good screenwriter, but none of his other films stand up to Ride Lonesome, ComancheSstation, The Tall T, or Seven Men From Now.

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  6. Colin, showing up on Talking Pictures TV over the past day or two was the first showing of the 1954 ‘film noir’ “THE LONG WAIT” starring Anthony Quinn. I imagine our chum John Knight will have also watched it by now although he may have seen it before. I never had and I do not believe it has ever been shown on TV in the UK before. It is not showing up anywhere as a DVD for sale on any of the usual sites.
    I have been wanting to see this film for a while now and was not disappointed. Being sourced from Mickey Spillane it is both violent and bad in its treatment of women, which is a hard watch at times, but Quinn is excellent as the rough amnesiac (a not unfamiliar ‘noir’ trope).

    Hope you don’t mind my getting ‘off-piste’ but it is the type of film to appeal to many of your readers, I feel sure.

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  7. Colin, a while back you did a very good review of Edgar G. Ulmer’s 1948 ‘noir’ “RUTHLESS”. It was a film about which I had reservations based on my first viewing some years ago but your review and the consequent comments from your other readers made me decide to buy a copy. It is a Spanish release and the print is very good.
    Quite an ambitious project, I would have said, for both Ulmer and Eagle-Lion Films, a company that made some terrific films in a relatively short period. I note that the screenplay was by Alvah Bessie and the overriding theme was an indictment of American capitalism. This may well have contributed to Bessie ending up as one of the HUAC Hollywood Ten I guess.
    Anyway I am happy to report having enjoyed and found a lot more substance in the film this time around. So thanks, Colin, and all others that spurred me to it!

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        • Other than in storybooks, who is actually greed personified? Success is admirable, as in a high achiever, certainly not a negative. In my experience, the most successful men and women are the smartest, and kindest. Not necessarily so in politics.

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          • Is success defined by money though, or is it something that, on occasion, brings money as one of its rewards? Ruthless seemed to me to be an examination of a character who existed purely to feed his own ambition, who loved and yearned only that which belonged to others simply because it was not his, who wanted merely because he understood want. It acts as a cautionary tale warning of the perils of making ambition a goal in itself, pointing out that striving to achieve material rewards alone, without grasping the fact that success which is not measured in human terms or which ignores essential humanity is both empty and ultimately destructive. As such, I wouldn’t say the movie is an attack on success, rather it’s an attempt to point out the chasm that exists between greed masquerading as success and the authentic variety that actually leads to fulfillment.

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            • Success is defined as achievement, and money follows. It is not unjust to be well
              compensated, quite the opposite. We do not pay the dunderheads at a similar rate.

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