Easier to ignore when it looked but OK on
freevee, Keeper Of The Flame leaps to life thanks to current-streaming HD, a
visual knockout and close as Tracy-Hepburn got to doing a horror movie, or at
the least, gutsy noir. Keeper Of The Flame is further argument for library
titles as reborn thanks to High-Def, giving us chance at
long last to see them in something like visualintegrity they had when new. Now
that more and more are emerging like this, it's maybe time to fresh appraise the lot. I put Keeper Of The
Flame among chief beneficiaries of the upgrade; what grabs to start is a whole
thing shot indoors, sound stage forest not so petrified since Universal dressed
Son Of Frankenstein with dead trees, and boy, does HD show how moodily Flame was
designed and lit. When Tracy
walks this simulated earth, you expect monsters to hop out. The pic burns
would-be intense, but Metro's adapt of a heavy-theme novel was hobbled by
censors and a message muddled by, among others, K. Hepburn interfering more
than usual along creative line.
The big reveal for a third act is plain fromopening, a Great Man lately gone being exposed as Fascist and on verge of US
and newshounds, of which he's supposed to be most perceptive, should see it
coming from youth stood like Bund ralliers in a first scene. ST plays loftier
spin on hotshot scribes he did lighter at Fox Film Corp or even MGM in
contract beginner days (see The Murder Man); here he speechifies to little
Daryl Hickman about enslavement threatening us all. Wartime urgency, of course,
made all this more palatable then than now. Like much of Metro on "A"
setting, Flame burns twenty minutes longer than needed; let's say it's a bit scorched
at the end, what with Spence/Kate trapped in a cabin fire set by a male Mrs.
Danvers (Richard Whorf) ... it was '42-suggested that Keeper's third act had
gone off rails.
That cabin, by the by, isconvenient repository
for evidence needed to defame the departed Robert Forrest, him unseen thanks to
plunge off a bridge in opener scene. Radio transmitters and world maps in plain
sight indicate nationwide siege, and Hepburn's confession confirms an organized
Fascist network waiting in wings --- so what happens to all them now that
homegrown Mabuse is gone? I saw the face of fascism in my own home, she says,
hatred, arrogance, cruelty. That's a sort of dialogue you cope with for
watching, but never it mind, Keeper Of The Flame is a looker and well off
expected path of Tracy-Hepburn; they never even get together romantically, a
good thing as it's all that indoor-for-outdoor artifice and gothic milieu we're
here to enjoy. In stunning HD, it's gracious plenty, especially now that TCM is
serving that way in addition to high-def glimpse streamers supply.