Flick Clique: July 22-28
Remorques (1941), Lumiere d’ete (1943) and Le Ciel Est La Vous (1944). We watched all three films from the Criterion set Eclipse Series 34: Jean Gremillon During the Occupation, which covers the work of an overlooked French director’s output during World War II. These three heated melodramas are all well played and thoughtfully crafted. Remorques, with Jean Gabin and Michele Morgan as world-weary would-be lovers who meet during a treacherous sea storm, was my personal fave of the three. The others have their good points, however, making this set well worth seeking out. My completed review has been posted at DVD Talk. Hopefully I will be getting more Criterions to review in the future (Lonesome looks like a gem!).
Sea Racketeers (1937). An odd seafaring action-adventure with musical sequences. I purchased this DVD, another cheapie from Alpha Home Video, off Oldies.com because my fave Joyce Compton is listed in the credits. She is indeed in this, playing the flirty girlfriend of one of the lead characters – alas it is only her voice heard on the soundtrack. It’s pretty strange for her to receive credit for voice work, but it doesn’t count as the strangest aspect of this film, which concerns an illegal fur distribution racket operated by shady J. Carroll Naish aboard a gambling ship. Doughy Weldon Heyburn is the earnest Coast Guard officer who aims to take Naish and his entire operation down. Pretty bland and forgettable, overall, but I enjoyed the aforementioned odd musical numbers, which are performed with panache by a pre-Blondie Penny Singleton and a bevy of chorines. My Joycie obviously should have been seen somewhere in there, too (perhaps her scenes were cut?). I’m still mulling whether or not to sell the disc. The film is a fun watch in a very low-rent way.
Strapped (2010). Surprisingly subtle and nicely made gay drama about a hustler (Ben Bonenfant) who finds that the apartment complex that he serviced a trick in apparently has no exit. During the ensuing night, the men that he comes across turn out to be gay/bisexual and in need of company. Despite the soft core-ish promise in the central premise, this is a more sober look at gay male identity and how men identify as certain types even as they regret the labels that accompany them. At least, that’s how I interpreted it. The film drags at times, but the interactions between the refreshingly natural Bonenfant and a closeted Russian emigré, a wise older man, and a lovestruck young writer seeking his muse make the film worthwhile.
Tags: jean gabin