Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Dirk Bogarde and Alexis Smith
THE SLEEPING TIGER (1954) Producer/Director: Victor Hanbury [Joseph Losey].

"A cheap hoodlum -- flipping me away like a cigarette!"

Dr. Clive Esmond (Alexander Knox) is held up at gunpoint by a thug, Frank (Dirk Bogarde), whom he later invites into his home for treatment instead of sending to jail. Knox is an incredible bleeding heart -- he blames all of Bogarde's actions [which might seem tame by today's standards] on his childhood, and can't see what's happening under his nose: an attraction between Frank and Esmond's beautiful wife, Glenda (Alexis Smith), which eventually blossoms into an affair -- and leads to a lot of melodramatic complications. Bogarde is, as usual, quite good, but he seems a little too old and intelligent to be this dysfunctional youth, although if he had played it like a complete lowlife it would have been hard to see Glenda as having romantic feelings for him as well as sexual ones. Knox is fine as the clueless cold fish who can't see this sexy younger guy as a threat to his marriage [there doesn't seem to be any real indication that he himself is attracted to Frank -- aside from his covering up and excusing his criminal actions -- although a modern-day remake might explore this a bit more]. Smith is sexy and not bad as Glenda, although she isn't quite up to the demands of the more challenging sections of the script, although one could argue that this film is not exactly a serious drama and melodramatic emoting was the order of the day. Whatever its flaws -- including an especially pretentious ending and dubious character reversals --  The Sleeping Tiger holds the attention and is entertaining.

Verdict: A good picture that could have been a great one. ***.

No comments: