Classic movie site with rare images, original ads, and behind-the-scenes photos, with informative and insightful commentary. We like to have fun with movies!
Archive and Links
grbrpix@aol.com
Search Index Here




Friday, March 22, 2019

The Team That Could Do No Wrong


Greenstreet-Lorre Together For A Last Time in The Verdict (1946)

A masterpiece if your thing is Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre framed in gaslight. I'd watch them read table menus for the ninety minutes involved, which at times seems extent of action in The Verdict, a leisure stride fans would want no other way. Greenstreet/Lorre were about byplay and contrast of style/appearance, a triumph of character men bending a star system to their unique measure. Greenstreet in an Inverness cape looks like three guys walking astride, his voice an instrument that plays pure pleasure. Lorre too, of course, who was always best when bent, even if slightly. Their teamings were like Burbank doing Karloff/Lugosi on bigger budget terms, the pair fortunate they weren't typed to horror subjects and so able to reach mainstream patronage. "Mystery" could be creepy, but not horrific, with always a rational explanation for what happens. That was firm foundation of thrillers WB did with Greenstreet/Lorre.




You could turn off sound and derive scares off fog-bound setting, The Verdict not unlike Fox's The Lodger for tension the equal of chillers done elsewhere. New-to-directing-features Don Siegel was given The Verdict for Warner initiation. He said in a fine memoir that the script was weak and the picture dull, both of which you could reasonably argue, but Siegel was assessing The Verdict from '46 perspective, not in rose-hue terms on which we now approach it. Production was against backdrop of a violent studio strike that required Siegel to literally fight his way into daily work, a struggle to duck chicanery by J.L. and underlings always after something for nothing from creative staff. A Siegel Film, published in 1996, gives vivid recall to harsh reality of studio life during what we call a Golden Era. Read this book and understand why Siegel was unsentimental about The Verdict and other shows we treasure. He had to live through making them.

3 Comments:

Blogger DBenson said...

I enjoyed "The Verdict", in large part for how the two stars mess with your expectations. Greenstreet is a brilliant police inspector, his career ruined by the execution of an innocent man. Lorre, playing younger than usual, is an artist who reveres him as a father figure. Lorre's character is almost a romantic juvenile, struggling to emulate his hardened idol while turning boyish with a pretty suspect.

The plot centers on a locked-room murder, but the real mystery is whether Greenstreet and Lorre are really playing against type, or whether one or both is going to suddenly unmask. A decade earlier they might have tweaked a few things and made them Warner's edgy answer to Rathbone and Bruce.

I liked this a lot better than "Mask of Dimitrios", where out-of-his-depth writer Lorre traces an international criminal and falls in with Greenstreet, a one-time accomplice of the man. The story felt watery, perhaps the victim of Production Code edicts.

2:41 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

That rational explanation business ruins the otherwise superb Lorre film THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS. Thanks again. I will be taking a look at this one.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Emery Christoph said...

Count me as a HUGE fan of the Greenstreet-Lorre pairings. I especially like those films – like The Verdict, Three Strangers and Mask of Demetrious – where they are the stars, and not subordinate to a more traditional star player. What I love about them is that the are such an anomaly to the studio system; as you say, outside of horror films, character men rarely carry the day. It’s one of the things I like the most about Warners in the Forties (like Paramount in the Thirties) – they were willing to go quirky and see how it played.

I miss actors like Greenstreet and Lorre. We are impoverished by our vanilla, interchangeable “stars” of today….

2:08 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

grbrpix@aol.com
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • July 2006
  • August 2006
  • September 2006
  • October 2006
  • November 2006
  • December 2006
  • January 2007
  • February 2007
  • March 2007
  • April 2007
  • May 2007
  • June 2007
  • July 2007
  • August 2007
  • September 2007
  • October 2007
  • November 2007
  • December 2007
  • January 2008
  • February 2008
  • March 2008
  • April 2008
  • May 2008
  • June 2008
  • July 2008
  • August 2008
  • September 2008
  • October 2008
  • November 2008
  • December 2008
  • January 2009
  • February 2009
  • March 2009
  • April 2009
  • May 2009
  • June 2009
  • July 2009
  • August 2009
  • September 2009
  • October 2009
  • November 2009
  • December 2009
  • January 2010
  • February 2010
  • March 2010
  • April 2010
  • May 2010
  • June 2010
  • July 2010
  • August 2010
  • September 2010
  • October 2010
  • November 2010
  • December 2010
  • January 2011
  • February 2011
  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011
  • June 2011
  • July 2011
  • August 2011
  • September 2011
  • October 2011
  • November 2011
  • December 2011
  • January 2012
  • February 2012
  • March 2012
  • April 2012
  • May 2012
  • June 2012
  • July 2012
  • August 2012
  • September 2012
  • October 2012
  • November 2012
  • December 2012
  • January 2013
  • February 2013
  • March 2013
  • April 2013
  • May 2013
  • June 2013
  • July 2013
  • August 2013
  • September 2013
  • October 2013
  • November 2013
  • December 2013
  • January 2014
  • February 2014
  • March 2014
  • April 2014
  • May 2014
  • June 2014
  • July 2014
  • August 2014
  • September 2014
  • October 2014
  • November 2014
  • December 2014
  • January 2015
  • February 2015
  • March 2015
  • April 2015
  • May 2015
  • June 2015
  • July 2015
  • August 2015
  • September 2015
  • October 2015
  • November 2015
  • December 2015
  • January 2016
  • February 2016
  • March 2016
  • April 2016
  • May 2016
  • June 2016
  • July 2016
  • August 2016
  • September 2016
  • October 2016
  • November 2016
  • December 2016
  • January 2017
  • February 2017
  • March 2017
  • April 2017
  • May 2017
  • June 2017
  • July 2017
  • August 2017
  • September 2017
  • October 2017
  • November 2017
  • December 2017
  • January 2018
  • February 2018
  • March 2018
  • April 2018
  • May 2018
  • June 2018
  • July 2018
  • August 2018
  • September 2018
  • October 2018
  • November 2018
  • December 2018
  • January 2019
  • February 2019
  • March 2019
  • April 2019
  • May 2019
  • June 2019
  • July 2019
  • August 2019
  • September 2019
  • October 2019
  • November 2019
  • December 2019
  • January 2020
  • February 2020
  • March 2020
  • April 2020
  • May 2020
  • June 2020