Tough guys

Amazon had a special on Born to Kill so I broke down and bought it. Lawrence Tierney is a psychotic tough guy who ends up killing his girlfriend and the guy she was stepping out with. Claire Trevor plays a newly minted divorcee who happens to be boarding at the house in Reno where the aforementioned victims buy it. We know she’s morally ambiguous because she can’t be bothered to report finding the bodies (she has a train to catch on her way back to hook Wealthy Husband #2). Tierney and Trevor meet and there’s an instant and fatal attraction. Add in Trevor’s wealthy sister Audrey Long and you have the makings of a nice little noir.

The DVD transfer is quite nice. The only extra of note is the commentary track, which turned out to be well worth my time. Generally speaking I haven’t enjoyed the commentaries on classic films. Either the principal actors are dead or they can’t really remember all the details. Usually, they get some film historian and the results are dull. Not so with this one. First of all, the expert, a man named Eddie Muller knows his stuff. Secondly, he’s got some great stories about his experiences with Tierney–an actor who was as tough off screen as the men he portrayed on screen.

Also finally had the chance to see all of Written on the Wind. I have seen the last half of it about a dozen times. It’s one of Douglas Sirk’s best films. Very melodramatic, but so worth watching. Based loosely on the Reynolds/Libby Holman scandal, it’s about two rather damaged wealthy siblings (Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone) and the people they love (Lauren Bacall and Rock Hudson).

Robert Stack has money to burn and falls quickly for Lauren Bacall, who falls quickly for him. He drinks an awful lot, but goes on the wagon because he’s so happy. Of course, that can’t last (or we’d have no picture). Meanwhile, Malone is running around wild, but what she really really wants is Rock Hudson, who in turn wants Lauren Bacall. It all goes sour very quickly and there’s lots and lots of drama. I have to say Robert Stack and Dorothy Malone steal the film. I’ve never been terribly impressed with Stack’s acting; normally for me it falls into the category of “pleasant.” Here, though, he portrays a positively tortured man in a rather believable manner. And Malone is just fun. She won an Oscar for her role and it was well deserved.


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