Monday, July 21, 2008

Movie: Tight Spot (1955)

In a conversation at work the other day, I made a passing reference to “script geeks” as a subset of “film geeks.” As if that’s not what I am. A writer’s name on a movie is all the excuse I need to watch.

Take, for example, William Bowers. He was responsible for any number of terrific westerns (The Gunfighter, The Sheepman, Support Your Local Sheriff!) as well as crime dramas like Cry Danger.

Tight Spot is a lesser effort; Bowers couldn’t get the movie past its stage origins. Ginger Rogers is a brassy dame released from prison by ambitious D.A. Edward G. Robinson and his hard-nosed investigator Brian Keith. They’re prosecuting a ruthless crime boss (Lorne Greene) who’s just killed the primary witness against him. Robinson’s only hope to send the capo packing is for Ginger to testify in open court.

There are some good late twists, and the single setting of a hotel room becomes nicely claustrophobic. Best of all is Ginger’s performance as the not-so-tough girl who can’t believe that the law or a man like Keith could be genuinely interested in her.

Tight Spot was directed by Phil Karlson, a name that keeps coming up around here. At Mystery*File, Steve Lewis considers another Karlson movie.

Movies: All Supered Out

Over the weekend I saw and enjoyed both Hellboy 2: The Golden Army and The Dark Knight. Don’t let anyone tell you that Christopher Nolan doesn’t have a sense of humor. Anyone who casts The Tick’s Batmanuel as mayor of Gotham City is a joker in his own way.

This makes me sound like an easy date, but I’ve liked all of this summer’s superhero ‘stravaganzas. Made by people who take the form seriously, they feature a range of tones and textures. None more so than Hancock, which while not perfect plays with the genre in some very interesting ways.

That said, I don’t need to see another of these movies for a good long while. Five in one summer is enough. Stop with the beautiful freaks and the billionaire crime fighters. I want suspenseful movies with more human dimensions. I want amnesiac assassins, obsessed Secret Service agents, hapless saps caught up in global conspiracies. You know, stuff we can relate to.

Where is this season’s version of The Bourne Ultimatum? OK, there’s Tell No One, a French adaptation of Harlan Coben’s novel that improves on the book. But that’s nowhere near big enough.

Am I the only person who recalls the halcyon summer of 1993? The Firm. In the Line of Fire. The Fugitive. Three crowd-pleasers. Three Oscar nominees. Three smash hits. And not a steel suit or a cursed scroll in the bunch.

So it’s agreed. No more superhero movies for the foreseeable future.

Or until Watchmen comes out. Because that looks friggin’ awesome.