Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Where Danger Lives / Tension |
Film Noir Double Feature
Actors: Robert Mitchum, Claude Rains, Richard Basehart, Audrey Totter, Faith Domergue
Directors: John Berry, John Farrow
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
No Description Available. Genre: Feature Film-Drama Rating: NR Release Date: 31-JUL-2007 Media Type: DVD
"Nobody pities me!"
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 01/18/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Made largely to showcase Howard Hughes' latest inamoratas Faith Domergue, Where Danger Lives starts off a little slow and more than somewhat unintentionally amusing, laying on nice young doctor Robert Mitchum's nice guy credentials with a trowel (he even tells a bedtime story about Elmer the Elephant to a little girl in an iron lung). Things don't immediately improve once he meets Domergue's suicidal femme fatale, but once Claude Rains turns up for his one scene as her `father,' it starts getting better and better and heads straight for near-classic status as they find themselves on the run, Mitch nursing a surprisingly medically accurate serious concussion ("I may talk rationally but my decisions may not make much sense.") and Domergue manifesting some pretty unpleasant symptoms of her own ("Nobody pities me!"]). Of course, we know he must be having problems even before he takes that bump on the head since no-one in possession of a full set of marbles would pass over nurse Maureen O'Sullivan for Faith Domergue even if she doesn't take off her surgical mask to answer the phone - O'Sullivan may have been the director's wife but she's barely seen without it. As their bolt for the border goes increasingly badly, the eternally underrated John Farrow mirrors his condition with a more surreal set of characters and situations - not least a truly bizarre plot development during `Whiskers Week.' The great Nicolas Musuraca does his usual wonders with the black and white cinematography and Farrow throws in one of the longest of his uninterrupted single takes, a key seven-minute hotel room scene that's so fluid and cinematic despite consisting of only two people in a small, dingy room that you don't even notice there are no cuts.
DVD supporting feature Tension is an okay MGM noir from 1949, but, despite a bizarre opening with Barry Sullivan's homicide cop explaining to camera the principles of tension with the aid of a rubber band, it's noticeably anything but tense. Richard Basehart's the downtrodden druggist who comes up with the perfect plan to kill sluttish wife Audrey Totter's new `big man' Lloyd Gough only to decide not to go through with it (understandable since in the meantime he's fallen for Cyd Charisse, which is a definite trade up). Unfortunately for him, someone does the job for him and the false identity he has created to take the blame becomes the prime suspect...
If the pitch is similar to Henri-Georges Clouzot's Quai des Orfevres, made two years earlier, the execution couldn't be more different, with the first half focussing on Basehart's preparations and the second on Sullivan and William Conrad's investigation as the lead cop decides the best way to solve the case is to hit on Totter. The absence of suspects is a bit of a problem (the motive for the killing is never discovered), but it ticks over efficiently enough even if it could have benefited from a tighter running time and a sharper script.
Two Very Different Femmes Fatales: One Crazy & One Pulpy, bu
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 09/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Where Danger Lives" and "Tension" were both released in 1950 with archetypal femme fatale scenarios. "Where Danger Lives" was made at RKO during Howard Hughes' tenure. It is a more expensive film, with A-list star Robert Mitchum and an upscale femme fatale, while "Tension" was made at MGM with very middle class characters and a middle budget.. "Where Danger Lives" also qualifies as a "fugitive couple" film and "Tension" has a "wrongly accused" subplot, so there are a lot of noir staples packed into these two movies. They are not the most outstanding film noir I've seen but both are strong, enjoyable films, and Faith Domergue's performance in "Where Danger Lives" is a highlight.
The danger in "Where Danger Lives" begins with a gesture of kindness. Dr. Jeff Cameron (Robert Mitchum) happens to be on duty at a hospital when a woman who has attempted suicide is brought in. The handsome doctor saves her life and she invites him to her home on the pretense that she owes him an explanation for giving a false name. Her real name is Margo Lannington (Faith Domergue). She's rich and glamorous and dolefully lonely. Jeff falls head over heels for her, in spite of having a rather more down-to-earth girlfriend at the hospital. But Margo says her father (Claude Rains) disapproves of the relationship, so Jeff pays him a visit to clearly state his intentions. And the couple end up on the run from the law.
Even before Margo's situation becomes clear, "Where Danger Lives" invites comparison with another RKO film in which Robert Mitchum played a man hoodwinked by a mentally unstable woman: "Angel Face", made 3 years later. Both Margo and Jeff are stronger, smarter characters than those in "Angel Face", and that makes this a better film. Margo is unstable and motivated by perverse emotional needs, not ambition, in contrast to a typical femme fatale. But she is also conniving and possessed of an instinct for seduction. The way the film explains Jeff's gullibility is a little amusing: He has a concussion and can't think straight. The fugitive couple's misadventures in small towns could also be comical, but their desperation and outsider status make Jeff's anxiety quite palpable, to unnerving effect.
Lieutenant Bonnabel (Barry Sullivan) of the Los Angeles police department introduces "Tension" with a menacing explanation of how he solves crimes: He stretches suspects to their breaking point. Tension. Bonnabel narrates the story of how a mild-mannered pharmacist named Warren Quimby (Richard Basehart) was driven to contemplate murder by his flirtatious wife Claire (Audrey Totter). Warren works the night shift, manages the drug store, scrimps and saves, all to make Claire happy. But a dissatisfied Claire leaves him for more monied and fun-loving Barney Deager (Lloyd Gough). Warren's anger leads him to conceive the perfect murder. He plans to create an alternate identity and simply murder Barney as someone else, someone who doesn't exist.
Claire is a curvaceous but uncomplicated femme fatale, a middle class woman unsatisfied with her lot and dismissive of her husband's hard work. She wouldn't be very interesting if Audrey Totter didn't play her with snide gusto. Thanks to Totter, we can delight in her callousness. Beside all the Los Angeles locations, the striking aspect of "Tension" is Lt. Bonnabel's methodology. He sizes Claire up right away and turns the tables on her by seducing her. He becomes an homme fatal. I guess it never occurred to Claire that a man could play her the same way she plays men. It's a lot of fun to watch.
The DVD (Warner 2007): Both films have a theatrical trailer, a featurette, and an audio commentary. There are no scene selection menus, which makes it difficult to study the films from this disc. "Where Danger Lives: White Rose for Julie" (6 min) interviews film noir historians and critics about John Farrow's direction, Howard Hughes' role, cinematography, and characters. "Tension: Who's Guilty Now?" (6 min) interviews film noir historians and critics about John Berry's direction, the cast, and the femme fatale archetype. The audio commentary for "Where Danger Lives" is by Alain Silver and James Ursini. As always, they talk a lot about the cast, including bit players, structure, style, characters, themes. The commentary for "Tension" by Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward, with some prerecorded commentary by Audrey Totter, discusses the cast, locations, themes, behavior, and scene analysis. Subtitles are available for both films in English SDH and French."
Femmes Fatales........but not alike
Operafilly | Fallbrook, Ca United States | 08/04/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Totter is a totally rational femme fatale, whereas Domergue is not all there. She shoots from the hip......Totter coldly calculates which makes her much more interesting. Both movies are well worth watching, but Tension I like to see again and again. Totter is just so deliciously bad.
Both are a must for film noir fans."