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Friday, November 22, 2013

Greenbriar Gone Raft-ing Again


George Raft Onstage and In A Dangerous Profession (1949)

Ella Raines is past flame to George Raft's bail bondsmen in this thicket of an RKO nearly-noir. She was an actress whose appeal I don't quite fathom. Word is that girlfriend-ing Howard Hawks and later his (super) agent Charles K. Feldman got Raines entree. Couch-casting played greater part in Gold Age starmaking than even candid biographers (let along autobiographers) care to admit. Raft was headed for shoals by 1949, A Dangerous Profession the second of his for RKO that lost money. The star would play tough customers till cows came home, but seldom outright crooks, that getting too close to real-life bone. George wasn't tall, had a thick middle, and ears that needed only winged accompany to qualify him for Disney work, but there was, for a long time, happy expectation among patronage as to what a Raft vehicle entailed, that being fist-work, a little gunplay, and double crosser dames for salt. GR, while no thesp, was wise to it all, his an authentic whiff of the pavement. The ad at left was for a Cleveland personal appearance circa 1940. Raft would have put on a good show, what with dancing capability demonstrated in pre-stardom and from earliest film work, competing with Cagney in Taxi!, followed by the Bolero/Rumba pair with Carole Lombard. There was not need for this performer to fall back on a tough-guy's limited repertoire when on stage.

2 Comments:

Blogger Michael said...

This is in reference to the masthead.

I remember 16mm Cinemascope with MISERY. Utter misery. Partly I'm sure the projectionists simply didn't try very hard. And my own lack of training showed in not really understanding the optics of the lens. But honestly, you cannot blow up 16mm that big, AND spread its grain out to 3 times its width, and not producing a blurry image on a 30 foot wide screen.

The only time I was really happy with it was one time we got kicked out of our main theater for some college event and had to use the auditorium in the natural history museum next door. Whose screen was maybe 12 feet wide, not 30. And it was an unusually good print (Dr. Zhivago). All that looked pretty good, really. Maybe a few other times when somebody made really superior 16mm prints (New Yorker Films usually did, for instance, and for some reason I remember Kagemusha being stunning).

But honestly, if we'd had a way to mask our screen, I would have masked it down from 30 feet wide to more like 20. (As long as it was wider than the usual 1.33 ratio, who'd have noticed?) Would have been a far better picture than blurry blobs with too little light.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Lou Lumenick said...

One Raft I'd love to see again is BROADWAY (1942), a very loose remake of the early-sound gangster musical retrofitted as a faux biography of GR, relating "his" 1920s adventures for the benefit of reporters.

7:40 AM  

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