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#1 clydefro

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 03:56 PM

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"[T]he '50s were Nick Ray's. No other director working in Hollywood was able to place America on the screen like Ray did. Our postwar fears, the veneer of happiness when disenchantment lurks barely beneath the surface, the basic decency we all struggle to maintain and the mistakes we're doomed to make - these subjects fascinated Ray and they reveal themselves in the subtext of all his best efforts."

- from On Dangerous Ground at Noir of the Week

Especially recommended:

In a Lonely Place (1950)
On Dangerous Ground (1952)
The Lusty Men (1952)
Johnny Guitar (1954)
Bitter Victory (1957)

#2 clydefro

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 04:03 PM

Quick excerpts:

They Live by Night - "Though Ray’s film is frequently classified as a film noir, it’s really more of a love story set against the backdrop of a life of crime. Bowie and Keechie find each other after short lives without emotional affection. Ray crafts a beautifully moving romance between his two lost souls, as he would frequently do throughout his career, even if the viewer knows things will end tragically." [link]

In a Lonely Place - "It’s that reason, through the film’s brilliant portrayal of the pangs of loneliness, that the relationship between Dix and Laurel surfaces as the most compelling aspect of Ray’s film. Rarely has Hollywood been able to expose with such painful truth the rollercoaster realities of finding someone to heal our innermost pain. As Dix slices open a grapefruit and tenderly exposes part of his soul to Laurel, whose own feelings have begun to ebb, his words about how Hollywood is always getting love wrong become poignantly ironic. The film’s title thus works simultaneously as a literal description of the place where Mildred Atkinson’s body was discarded and the painful, metaphoric emotional state shared by the two main characters. The common denominator, since Dix is a screenwriter and Laurel a struggling actress, is the equally lonely setting of Hollywood." [link]

On Dangerous Ground - "... a quintessential Nicholas Ray film, one that allows for playing within the margins while still doing so at his own rhythms. It's structured into two entirely different story segments and comes complete with a bold score by Bernard Herrmann that disorients as much as it thrills. The film's top-billed lead, Ida Lupino, doesn't appear until over half an hour has passed, and that initial portion has no determinate structure or plot. Lean yet unhurried at just under 82 minutes, the film noir doesn't always adhere to convention, doesn't worry itself with backstory, and can't be bothered to explain much. And we should be thankful." [link]
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#3 sexy rancheros

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 04:03 PM

"There was theater (Griffith), poetry (Murnau), painting (Rossellini), dance (Eisenstein), music (Renoir). Henceforth there is cinema. And the cinema is Nicholas Ray."
- Jean-Luc Godard
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#4 sexy rancheros

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Posted 08 April 2009 - 07:23 PM

Bigger Than Life is up on Hulu:
http://www.hulu.com/...igger-than-life
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#5 clydefro

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Posted 05 May 2009 - 10:59 PM

Film Forum in New York is showing In a Lonely Place for a week and then has two more weeks of various Ray films. Looks like I'll finally get to see Wind Across the Everglades.

#6 hal0000

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Posted 11 May 2009 - 01:21 PM

On Dangerous Ground: What a lean, interesting movie. I watched it twice this weekend. Jim Wilson is a fascinating character, and he seems to have both the temperament of Dixon Steele, and the ideals of Jim Stark. The first half is immersed in the noir atmosphere and is very prototypical of the style. As with Steele, it's kind of scary watching him. There's that calm demeanor that can disappear in an instant, only to be replaced by menace. The second half of the movie almost feels like a western, and there seem to be some similarities to The Searchers (and I'm not talking about Ward Bond :D ) in this desire to save the innocent from corruption. I also see similarities to Out of the Past.

This would be the second Robert Ryan picture I've seen, and I'd say his performance here is as equally (?) impressive as in The Set-Up, a lean, efficient film I really admire. Bernard Hermann's score (my second favourite composer) is among his best in my book, and I think there are few other composers that can evoke tenderness, exhilaration, and loneliness as well as he can.

I think after seeing this, I'm going to try and revisit In a Lonely Place tonight.

#7 hal0000

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Posted 11 May 2009 - 11:41 PM

^ Is it okay if I move that to the Nicholas Ray thread? It'll get buried here.


That's fine by me (and I guess this reply too).

In a Lonely Place: This is indeed a great film, and the fact that it only improves on a second viewing proves that. It's kind of interesting how three of the best films about the destructive nature of show business (Sunset Blvd., In a Lonely Place, and All About Eve) have come from 1950. The acting here, by Gloria Grahame and Humphrey Bogart (in one of his finest 1.5 hours) is simply tremendous. It's of the highest calibre. Bogie, again, doesn't take an easy role, and his Dixon Steele is one of the great figures of loneliness and male folly in cinema. It's scary watching him, and I am still shocked by his explosive temperament (I think I compared him to Jake LaMotta the first time I saw this), made all the more terrifying when contrasted with his calm, expressionless demeanor in placid moments. Gloria Grahame too, must not be forgotten. She brings a poignancy to the role borne out of her conflicted and uncertain feelings for Dixon.

There is a scene that gains a heightened sense of foreboding (and self-awareness) when Mildred Atkinson is discussing the book and looks directly into the camera. It's a creepy touch, and while I haven't plumbed the full depths of meaning to that scene (or any other), I don't think it's too hard to see that as indicative of the self-destructive nature of working in Hollywood. It also has an element of voyeurism to it, like when Raymond Burr looks directly at the camera in Rear Window.

I also like the set designs, like the contrast between Brub Nicholai's and Dixon Steele's homes. Nicholai's is, of course, open and by the coast. Dixon's is like a fortress, complete with a cast-iron gate and interiors within interiors.

#8 clydefro

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 09:44 PM

I really wanted to post a few things related to the current run of In a Lonely Place and subsequent Nick Ray retrospective at New York's Film Forum. I caught the new print today and felt like a teenage girl at a Beatles concert. All of the people snickering and giggling in the audience at every half-opportunity are off my Christmas card list. Seriously, there's humor here but it's not a comedy. Few films allow such real emotion as In a Lonely Place and hearing people laugh was a bit disheartening.

Here's a beautiful image from the Film Forum site:

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Links to J. Hoberman's Village Voice piece, A.O. Scott's Times article and a video essay by Matt Zoller Seitz and Kim Morgan.

There's also an amazing (and huge!) French poster for In a Lonely Place in the FF lobby which is being displayed courtesy of the Ray family. I want to go back and take a good picture of it, but here's a link to the FF twitter photo. And if you'd like to hear Ray's widow Susan speak before a screening of the film, there's a short podcast available.

#9 sexy rancheros

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 02:46 PM

Here's an interesting comment about On Dangerous Ground on Glenn Kenny's blog by commenter Arthur S.:
"Ray was actually okay with the ending of ON DANGEROUS GROUND, contrary to popular views on the film. What he wasn't okay with was Howard Hughes, in his infinite wisdom, wrecking the structure of his film. The film's first half is a kind of documentary on police life and it climaxes in the death of that girl and Robert Ryan's breakdown in that alley to his friend. Well THAT scene was intended to be at the climax of the film. After that it supposed to be the ending of his return to Ida Lupino. But alas, that was not to be."
I don't know if that is true, but it is certainly something to think about in regards to the structure of the film. While I'm a big fan of the film, I think that sort of structure would have made it an even better one.

P.S.
Anybody that laughs at In a Lonely Place for no good reason should go to Hell.
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#10 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 10:56 AM

Finally Roger Ebert wrote a Great Movie Review for In A Lonely Place
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My Criterion Collection (408; I Own and Have Watched):
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#11 clydefro

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 07:39 PM

How nice to see Nicholas Ray (a passport photo complete with his eyepatch worn later in life) on the front of today's New York Times Arts section. Here's a link to the article about his widow's efforts to finally put together a finished version of sorts of We Can't Go Home Again.

#12 Izo

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Posted 03 September 2010 - 06:04 PM

Anyone with OnDemand. TCM is presenting the MIA-on-Region 1 Johnny Guitar OnDemand (for free, no less). It's been a long-desired title for me, so I'll be watching it very soon.

#13 clydefro

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Posted 07 September 2010 - 10:37 PM

If you (or anyone else) end up watching Johnny Guitar lzo I'd love to read your thoughts on it. People seem to attach this camp or even gay reading to the film that I think is unfair. There is a homosexual element to the tension between Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge but I don't necessarily think that in any way lends itself to the film being preoccupied by that. And the camp factor is far overblown. I can see the points where viewers might snicker now but my view is more of Ray having blown everything out into an operatic explosion of drama and romantic loss and most all of his auteurial obsessions. Again, I'm just on a different page than those who insist on assigning modern takes to a film that was made well over half a century ago. There are books' worth of interpretations and thoughts to be gleaned from Johnny Guitar but, going by Ray's work in the aggregate, I think the dominant concern has to be the relationship between Vienna and Johnny. In that regard, it must be one of my favorite depictions of the complicated intricacies of male-female relationships ever in film.

Also compare this to Ray's other "difficult" love stories like In a Lonely Place, On Dangerous Ground, Party Girl, and so on. It was his preoccupation and for the longest time I've been enamored with how he presented a man and a woman trying to deal with each other and their respective pasts.

#14 masterofoneinchpunch

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Posted 09 September 2010 - 12:35 PM

I saw Flying Leathernecks this weekend. I was wondering what you Ray fans thought of this film (everything from the direction to Robert Ryan's performance and of course John Wayne's and how it fits in his ouerve as well). I have some older friends that are big fans of this, though I'm a bit more ambivelent.

Apparently that film is Ray's first film in color. I thought the film overused the real battle footage. Apparently some of the air footage was from the Korean war. This film has a very typical Wayne performance (can't really distinguish it from say Back to Bataan (1945).

Any good source material on this film? I'm not quite trusting the IMDB's trivia on this as some of it seems to contradict each other (Robert Ryan overacting because of acting opposite Wayne and then states that he was put in there purposfully because he could kick Wayne's ass etc...)

So far out of the Ray films I have seen In a Lonely Place is by far my favorite (I've seen four They Live By Night, In A Lonely Place, Flying Leathernecks and Rebel Without a Cause).
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1-16, 18, 19, 20, 21(2nd), 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51(1st & 2nd), 52, 52, 53, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 61, 62, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86. 87, 88, 90, 91, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101, 102, 103, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130, 131, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 143, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151(1st), 157, 158, 159, 160, 161, 164, 165, 167, 168, 169, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 177, 180, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, 201, 202, 204, 205, 206, 208, 209, 210, 211, 212, 213, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 220, 221, 222, 224, 226, 227, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 237, 239, 239, 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 260, 263, 266, 267, 268, 271, 273, 274, 275, 276, 277, 280, 281, 282, 283, 284, 285, 286, 288, 289, 290, 291, 292, 293, 294, 297, 298, 300(2D), 301, 302, 304, 305, 306, 308, 309, 310, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 335, 336, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 344, 345, 346, 347, 348, 349, 351, 352, 353, 354, 357, 358, 359, 362, 363, 364, 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 370, 371, 372, 373, 374, 375, 376, 378, 379, 380, 383, 385, 386, 387, 388, 391, 392, 393, 394, 395, 396, 397, 398, 399, 402, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 412, 413, 414, 415, 416, 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 424, 425, 427, 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, 433, 434, 435, 437, 439, 441, 445, 446, 447, 448, 451, 453, 455, 456, 457, 459, 460, 461, 462, 465, 470, 475, 476, 478, 481, 482, 487, 490, 497, 498, 499, 500, 501, 503, 505, 512, 524, 525, 526, 528, 529, 530, 531, 539, 540, 543, 556, 565, 572, 578, 579, 580, 586, 596, 650, 664, 677

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Eclipse: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 23, 26, 33

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#15 clydefro

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Posted 10 September 2010 - 09:26 PM

Flying Leathernecks is the worst film credited to Nicholas Ray that I've seen (and I'm only short two of them at this point). It's his least personal work, made as something of a quid pro quo for Howard Hughes who seemingly protected Ray from HUAC and the blacklist. Utterly ordinary. Only two things really stand out, and both are somewhat questionable. One is Robert Ryan, who was Ray's go-to actor having worked with him for a total of, I think, 5 pictures including The Racket (which Ray only directed a little of and which is also pretty lackluster). The other thing of interest is a small stretch but it involves positioning John Wayne as the villain of the film. If memory serves, Wayne is particularly unsympathetic in the first half or so, basically until he goes home to visit his wife. I felt like Ray was cognizant of this and gently spinning Wayne's hero persona. Otherwise, though, too jingoistic and by the book. I think it's the only Ray film on DVD that I don't own.

If you have the Film Noir Vol. 3 set mastero, watch On Dangerous Ground as soon as possible. It's the stuff. I did this thing where I ranked all of the Ray films I'd seen (link here) and I put, of course, In a Lonely Place first and then Johnny Guitar, with On Dangerous Ground third.

#16 Izo

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Posted 13 September 2010 - 05:26 PM

If you (or anyone else) end up watching Johnny Guitar lzo I'd love to read your thoughts on it. People seem to attach this camp or even gay reading to the film that I think is unfair. There is a homosexual element to the tension between Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge but I don't necessarily think that in any way lends itself to the film being preoccupied by that. And the camp factor is far overblown. I can see the points where viewers might snicker now but my view is more of Ray having blown everything out into an operatic explosion of drama and romantic loss and most all of his auteurial obsessions. Again, I'm just on a different page than those who insist on assigning modern takes to a film that was made well over half a century ago. There are books' worth of interpretations and thoughts to be gleaned from Johnny Guitar but, going by Ray's work in the aggregate, I think the dominant concern has to be the relationship between Vienna and Johnny. In that regard, it must be one of my favorite depictions of the complicated intricacies of male-female relationships ever in film.

Also compare this to Ray's other "difficult" love stories like In a Lonely Place, On Dangerous Ground, Party Girl, and so on. It was his preoccupation and for the longest time I've been enamored with how he presented a man and a woman trying to deal with each other and their respective pasts.


It's a fascinating, truly great film. I didn't get any sort of camp from it at all, though admittedly I've never been all that interested in looking for it. The other thing that I felt was way blown out of proportion is the gay subtext. Yeah, it's there to be sure, just look at the way Emma stares at Vienna, and look at the fetishistic costumes that both women wear. Still, this doesn't seem to me to be a huge point of the picture, and it's barely of note, hardly the secret focus of the film that many reviews I've read have made it out to be. Is it impossible for viewers to see a strong-willed, tomboyish female character without automatically making the assumption that she's a closet lesbian or rather, I suppose, bisexual? More than homosexual subtext, I simply see sexual subtext. Vienna instantly reduces every man she comes into contact with into, for lack of a better term, her bitch. Take the scene where the character named "Turkey" insists on proving that he's not a boy. Without spoiling the scene, I'll just say that he doesn't succeed.

Mostly, what I loved about this film was that it was one great scene after another. The first scene is like something out of Godard, it's about 45 minutes long and consists of seemingly real-time encounters, one after another, in Vienna's bar. My favorite scene takes place between Johnny and Vienna late at night. Listen to the dialogue and it's all very standard vaguely pulpy love-story stuff, "Lie to me. Tell me all these years you've waited..." What's so brilliant about the scene is that the sexual roles are reversed. It's Sterling Hayden's Johnny Guitar who delivers the lines that in any other film would be delivered by a helpless female character, and it's Joan Crawford's Vienna who contemptuously tells Johnny that she's never loved another like him. This is so simple that I can't believe I've never seen it done before, and it's also extremely powerful as a simple troubled-love scene, like something in a Douglas Sirk film.

Sergio Leone had definitely committed the movie to memory, it seems. He borrowed liberally from the film, particularly for Once Upon a Time in the West. I also was reminded of the equally strange westerns of Jacques Tourneur, which I am also recently discovering, but that has more to do with the general tone of the film more than anything else. My new favorite Nicholas Ray movie, not that up until now I've been a huge fan of his work, but now I'm convinced that he was every bit as good as they all say.

#17 clydefro

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 12:19 AM

^ It sounds like we're on the same page. I can say that Johnny Guitar improves with each viewing. It's a rich film experience that has burrowed its way, like In a Lonely Place, deep into my heart. I'm not ashamed to admit that I welled up a little upon seeing the film theatrically last summer when Johnny and Vienna finally confront each other about their past while trying to promise a shared future. Really, that's why I watch movies, for scenes like that much more than for long, ponderous shots across empty fields.

#18 Izo

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 10:47 AM

The camp label is really baffling, though. I think that has more to do with Crawford than anything else, everything she ever did gets that dubious label. Look at Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, a truly harrowing horror film, and one that inexplicably elicits giggles from the hip crowd.

#19 Lawrence

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 12:21 PM

My tuppence on In a Lonely Place.

Bit of strange one this, it's noir but not as we know it. There's no guns, gangsters, running from the cops, heists, no huge shadows even, in fact it's none of the things we come to expect from a noir flick. But then this isn't just a film noir, it's got touches of melodrama and has a murder mystery running through the background to boot. At it's heart though it's a guy meets gal film, romantic in a dark smokey twisted sort of way.

Bogart plays screenwriter (see I told you it wasn't your run of the mill noir, didn't I), Dixon Steele. Dix has a temper on him, the opening scene alone see's Bogie offering to lamp someone when he stops his car at a traffic light, he ends giving just about every person that he runs into a slap at some point or other in the film. He's not a likable guy, yet played by Bogart you can't help but feel for him. Those hangdog features, the sad eyes, the downcast looks they almost make you forget just what a heel the guy is, almost. Gloria Grahame is Laurel Gray, newly moved in across the courtyard from Dix. You know those women that only seem to exist in American films from the 50's, all pointy bras and sassy in a way that no person on earth could be? Well that's Gloria. She's no dumb broad, she's independent and a great foil for Bogart. You wouldn't call her a dame, not to her face at any rate. Well of course Dix falls for her and that's really what the film is about. There is a murder in there but that's kind of secondary (it happens off screen), it pushes our lovers together and then pulls them back apart. It keeps the pressure on the relationship, since both the cops and the audience are uncertain whether Dix did the bad deed or not. Gloria first meets Dix when she provides him with an alibi. It's one of the many great scenes in the film between the two leads, not great in the way it's lit, directed or edited, great in the way the dialogue is delivered by Grahame and Bogart. The two policemen in the room with them melt into the background, I think it's around here that it becomes obvious that Ray is going to focus on the relationship between these two, and not the murder that had been the focal point up to now.

Any film that is going to put a screenwriter under a microscope had better be well written, and In a Lonely Place is just that, and then some. The plot is as tight as a seventies footballers perm, the dialogue is the sort that you wished you'd said, yet know that if you cribbed it people would think you a right wally. 'I was born when she kissed me. I died when she left me. I lived a few weeks while she loved me.' Wonderful stuff, Bogart does this kind of thing in his sleep. The timbre of his voice is perfect for these kind of lines, he really sells them. He even makes smoking seem cool, you can see why a generation took him to their hearts. He may have only had three expressions when acting, but he uses them so devastatingly. I really don't know what more to say about this film, since I don't want to give away any plot. It really is one of those films that deserves to be praised to the heavens. Put it this way, from now on if I read a list of great films from the 50's and this isn't on it, then I'll know just how clueless said list is. Convinced yet? What is the lonely place that the title eludes to? Is it the the site of the murder, Hollywood itself or Dixon's heart? I know what I think, I'll be surprised if you can guess how it all pans out, now there's something you can't write about every film.

I've seen this twice, this time the way God intended (at the cinema) and the print was beautiful. There are a couple of great lighting moments when Bogart's eyes are highlighted as he goes into a frenzy telling a story, which are the sort of touches I adore in these older films. I'm not really all that au fait with Nicholas Ray (hey that rhymes, maybe I should make a hipster T with that on it), but that's all going to change this year. He's someone who I'm determined to see a few films by before 2011 becomes 2012.

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#20 clydefro

clydefro

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Posted 25 February 2011 - 08:43 PM

^ I really liked reading that. Bogart and Grahame are both against type somewhat in this film. He's usually blessed with an aura of cool that Dix doesn't have here while she gets a more well-rounded character, someone who's an equal rather than an ornament, than in many of her pictures.

The title can relate to Laurel also, I think. She's found herself at a major crossroads and her relationship with Dix initially seems beneficial to both of them. What happens is nearly as disappointing for her as for him because it signals a potential loss of the brief independence she was enjoying.




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