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Thursday, March 05, 2015

Expatriating 'Round Euro Hotspots


Tip On A Dead Jockey (1957) Another Cinemascope Minus Color

Ex-combat flyer Robert Taylor at loose ends in Madrid, agrees to fly contraband out of Cairo, trouble ensues. The sort of vehicle Bob and Metro might have teamed on ten years before --- were calendars at Culver going backwards? But wait ... it's adapted by Charles Lederer from a novel by Irwin Shaw, so dialogue is tart and characters believable. Taylor is typically fine making the Lost Generation scene on post-Korean War playgrounds, his languor a better fit than Tyrone Power and a Sun Also Rises cast attempting same during that year for 20th Fox. Jockey borrows further from Hemingway's playbook via elements from The Breaking Point, wherein John Garfield ran risk similar to Taylor's here.


Tip On A Dead Jockey is notable too for being almost directed by Orson Welles, a deal discussed after Touch Of Evil, but scuttled at eleventh hour. Did someone at Universal make a phone call and put the Indian sign on Orson? Richard Thorpe would helm Jockey instead, he of single-takes and some say flat staging. Most of what's today said of Thorpe is derogatory, but there were some good pictures he signed, and Tip On A Dead Jockey is one of them. It's another of those odd ducks in B/W scope ... did this lend cut-rate grandeur or put distance between Jockey and horse that was increasingly television? Said malignant tube was finishing first in any event, a reason among several for Tip On A Dead Jockey losing $818K, despite fairly modest neg cost (for '57) of $1.4 million. Warner Archive's DVD is wide and looks fine.

1 Comments:

Blogger Michael Hinerman said...

I think B&W 'Scope is the greatest format ever invented, offering far more potential for compositional beauty, flexibility, mystery, and dynamism than any other. A talented director and DP could do incredible things with staging, depth, and shadow, while pushing the composition to the edges of the frame. The Japanese achieved greatness with this format, as did Freddie Francis in England. THE INNOCENTS is an obvious example, but look at what Francis achieved with a relatively minor Hammer thriller, NIGHTMARE, which looks even better than THE HAUNTING. Woody Allen and Gordon Willis revived the format to astonishing effect with MANHATTAN. Sam Fuller, Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Martin Ritt, Val Guest, Akira Kurosawa and others all directed incredible work in this format.

1:32 PM  

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