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

Thursday, February 3, 2011


DESERT FURY (1947). Director: Lewis Allen.

"I'd hate to be left alone on a desert road at night."

Fritzie Haller (Mary Astor) is the owner of the Purple Sage gambling den in Nevada. Home from yet another school is her 19-year-old daughter Paula (Lizabeth Scott). Mother and daughter's difficult relationship is further put to the test when Paula falls for bad boy Eddie Bendix (John Hodiak), but the one who's even more upset by this development is Eddie's right hand and major domo, Johnny Ryan (Wendell Corey, in his film debut). Years ago Eddie was essentially picked up by Johnny at an automat at two in the morning, but since then Eddie has been married once to a woman who died in a mysterious accident. This is a "small town with secrets" melodrama with some interesting characters and dialogue. Ryan could be taken merely as the stereotypical tough guy who thinks dames and business don't mix, but the movie seems determined to add a suppressed homoerotic subtext. At times Ryan seems in love with Bendix and at others merely determined to keep a girl away from a scumbag. The psychological underpinnings to the story are intriguing even if they generally don't jell. Burt Lancaster plays a cop that Astor tries to pair off with her daughter. The acting is quite good, especially from Corey and Astor, although Scott and Hodiak are no slouches, and Lancaster is swell. Good score by Miklos Rozsa and an exciting climax.

Verdict: Half-baked and perhaps hollow at the center, and yet ... **1/2.


panavia999 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
panavia999 said...

Wow, this has all the people I love to see, Astor, Hodiak, Scott, Lancaster! And a joint called Purple Sage! A Rosza score is a super bonus.
I see it's on youtube. Many Thanks for the post because I haven't seen this one.

William said...

Thanks for your comment, and I hope you enjoy it. Yes, it's a great cast. Interesting that it's on youtube. Best, Wm.

Colin said...

This is a pretty good colour noir that uses the stars to good effect. I think the subtext you refer to with the Hodiak and Corey characters is quite clear to see. Generally, an enjoyable movie - I featured it on my own blog a year or two back. There are very nice DVDs of it available from both Germany and Australia - using the same transfer I think.

William said...

Thanks for your comments, Colin. I looked up your post on Desert Fury and enjoyed it very much and left a comment.

Your blog's really lookin' good, too!

Best, William

Colin said...

Thanks for the comment William, and for the compliment.