Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Road House 1948

 This is a sultry and smooth semi film noir with the great Ida Lupino playing torch singer Lily Stevens who gets hired by Richard Widmark out of Chicago to sing for her supper in Jefty’s his googie styled road house sprawl of a joint ( there is even a bowling alley) that is plopped down in some backwoods place near the U...S Canadian border. Besides Ida and Widmark the cast includes the lavishly luscious Cornell Wilde and the sparkling Celeste Holm as the gal assistant to Widmark. Celeste did this film right off of her Oscar win for Gentleman’s Agreement and again plays stoic and hopelessly in love with the male lead ( Wilde) who hardly notices her. So Ida is this tough been around the block a few times broad who looks great in her starched wigs and late 40’s clothes, and a special placard should be held up for this film, because Ida does her own singing that Celeste says sounds like gravel, and “She does more without a voice than anybody I've ever heard!” True her voice is like gravel but its well worn gravel, and when she sings "One for My Baby" attention must be paid. Ida who Smokes wildly and intensely as she performs leaves many cigarette burns on her white piano (this is a nice touch to show time passing) and Widmark somewhat Psycho once more has the hots for her but she has no interest in him other than the nice paycheck that he gives her. Ida only has hot thighs for Cornell, who at first is not so nice and friendly to Ida’s Lily Stevens, but soon they are all over each other, kissing and what not, and when Widmark finds out watch out. This was only Widmark’s 3rd film and he was desperate to drop the sick giggle and psycho ways that became almost a trademark after his startling debut Oscar nominated performance in Kiss Of Death and finally after 3 nasty man roles he started to appear as good guys in many of his films. As you might surmise things don’t end so nice, but that’s the way of Noir. Beautifully directed by Jean Negulesco who did some good and not so good films in the 40’s and 50's and great cinematography by Joseph LaShelle who did his best work at 20th Century Fox which produced this reclusive little gem. .


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