Thursday, January 7, 2010

Dead Reckoning (1947), Dir: John Cromwell

Because I'm feeling superficial, I'm starting with film stills first. I have to admit that normally when I watch black and white movies I have a completely unimaginative tendency to envision the clothing as simply being black, white or grey. I don't know if it's because I'm still mourning the loss of my painstakingly hand sewn red polka dot dress, but I was swiftly convinced that Scott's head covering is made from some sort of similar fabric. I miss you red polka dot dress with the unfinished hem!

Because cinematography was not one of the highlights of this film, it was difficult getting a shot of this dress, but this one has the design juices flowing. While I've yet to see any yarn apart from some Tilli Tomas stuff that incorporates sequins, I've already got ideas for a 3/4 number in white linen percolating.

I do admit that it would be hard to pull off this entire ensemble (emphasis on the beret) without looking hopelessly costume-y, but I still like it.

As for all non costume-related parts of the film, I’ll admit it. As much as I love Humphrey Bogart, his whole “I think ladies should be pill sized so I can keep them in my pocket and only take them out and make them life-sized when it’s convenient to me” was a teeeeeny bit creepy. Of course, film noir is notorious for its hokey dialogue and that bit definitely falls into that territory.

Ultimately I ended up more thrown because for huge chunks of the movie I couldn’t help but think how much Lizabeth Scott looks like a one-off Lauren Bacall, particularly in her “I’m going to hear Ginsberg read at the coffee house outfit.” This movie is definitely classic film noir, but I didn’t find there to be anything remarkable or memorable about it. Unlike a lot of noir it does benefit from a coherent plot, but with the exception of some of Bogart’s lines, is missing some of the snappy dialogue that can make some noir outstanding. It's really not goofy or over-the-top enough to attain cult status, nor is direction, cinematography or writing skilled enough to land it in the top ten noir for me. Still good cheesy fun even though, compliments of the Hayes Code, the ending is fairly predictable.

Rating: 6/10

Genre: Film Noir

Length: 100 min.


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