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TomJH

A Tribute To Slimy Dan

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Ah yes. Mary Anderson, she of the slight lisp and often pouting face. I know of her well, Tom. 

 

She's also in one of my all-time favorite tearjerkers, TO EACH HIS OWN, in which she plays the somewhat vindictive and resentful adopting mother of Olivia de Havilland's baby born out of wedlock. She's good in that role too.

 

As I too was adopted as an infant, this movie has held a special meaning for me since I first ran across it as a teenager on a local L.A. matinee movie TV program, but thank providence my adoptive mother wasn't much like the character Mary Anderson played in it.

 

(...and yeah, I also remember reading the thread a while back about her being miscast in UNDERWORLD STORY, and due to that reason)

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Ah yes. Mary Anderson, she of the slight lisp and often pouting face. I know of her well, Tom. 

 

She's also in one of my all-time favorite tearjerkers, TO EACH HIS OWN, in which she plays the somewhat vindictive and resentful adopting mother of Olivia de Havilland's baby born out of wedlock. She's good in that role too.

 

As I too was adopted as an infant, this movie has held a special meaning for me since I first ran across it as a teenager on a local L.A. matinee movie TV program, but thank providence my adoptive mother wasn't much like the character Mary Anderson played in it.

 

(...and yeah, I also remember reading the thread a while back about her being miscast in UNDERWORLD STORY, and due to that reason)

My mother didn't find out until she was about 16 or 17 that the "parents" raising her were not her natural parents. Her real mother was, in fact, her aunt (the sister of her adoptive "mother"). This was all due to the "shame" in those days of being born out of wedlock.

 

Before finding this out, my mother had travelled back to England and met her "aunt" (her real mother). They got along fabulously but she never told my mother the truth. In fact, my mother never did get along that well with her adoptive mother (Grandma to me). Is this getting confusing?

 

Fortunately, her adoptive father ("Grandpa" to me) was a great, fantastic guy. She always spoke of Grandpa with great affection. It's a shame she never got to know her real mother, outside of that one visit with her.

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My mother didn't find out until she was about 16 or 17 that the "parents" raising her were not her natural parents. Her real mother was, in fact, her aunt (the sister of her adoptive "mother"). This was all due to the "shame" in those days of being born out of wedlock.

 

Before finding this out, my mother had travelled back to England and met her "aunt" (her real mother). They got along fabulously but she never told my mother the truth. In fact, my mother never did get along that well with her adoptive mother (Grandma to me). Is this getting confusing?

 

Fortunately, her adoptive father ("Grandpa" to me) was a great, fantastic guy. She always spoke of Grandpa with great affection. It's a shame she never got to know her real mother, outside of that one visit with her.

 

Wow, interesting story there, Tom. Your mother's story sounds a little like Bobby Darin's personal history, though of course he was even older and in his thirties before he would discover the truth.

 

In my case it was a completely different matter, as one of the very first things I remember as a small child was my Mom and Dad sitting me down to tell me I was adopted, and by saying something to the effect that I was so wanted by them that they adopted me, and thus making me an "extra special child", and kind of instilling the thought in my head that being adopted was "a badge of honor to be proud of."

 

(...I've always thought that THIS might have been one the key reasons I would go on to be quite the egoist during my formative years and beyond...'cause I was always "special", ya see!) LOL

 

;)

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Wow, interesting story there, Tom. Your mother's story sounds a little like Bobby Darin's personal history, though of course he was even older and in his thirties before he would discover the truth.

 

In my case it was a completely different matter, as one of the very first things I remember as a small child was my Mom and Dad sitting me down to tell me I was adopted, and by saying something to the effect that I was so wanted by them that they adopted me, and thus making me an "extra special child", and kind of instilling the thought in my head that being adopted was "a badge of honor to be proud of."

 

(...I've always thought that THIS might have been one the key reasons I would go on to be quite the egoist during my formative years and beyond...'cause I was always "special", ya see!) LOL

 

;)

You would have wondered why your father didn't look like a game-show host.

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You would have wondered why your father didn't look like a game-show host.

 

LOL

 

Actually DGF, you may remember me telling the story of my wife, via the use of the Internet, finding by birth mother in Kelowna British Columbia a few years back, and a few years after my Mom and Dad had died.

 

I've since visited her and my new found "family" a few times since that time, and "Ma" as I call her(I told her I didn't feel quite comfortable calling her "Mom", as I already had a "Mom"...she completely understood) is a wonderful lady who like my Mom did, seems to act as if I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread!

 

And while up there visiting, I've learned a little something about and have seen photographs of my biological father also, but who unfortunately died the same year as my Dad, and so I never got to meet him.

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Dargo, you were very fortunate to have adoptive parents with that kind of honesty and sensitivity.

 

 

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Okay, and now back to Slimy Dan. Enough about Yours Truly here.

 

(...I mean, even egoists can sometimes get bored talkin' about themselves, ya know) ;)

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I just watched a western now available as a Warners Archive, THE MARAUDERS. It's a 1955 MGM production, clearly made on a lower budget, dealing with a homesteader living in a canyon who tries to hold off a landowner determined to oust him off this tiny end of his Arizona range in 1875. The landlord has a collection of western roughnecks and scallywags with him recruited for the task.

 

It's a minor affair but not without interest. And wouldn't you just know it that perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film comes from top billed Dan Duryea in one of his more bizarre characterizations. He played the bookkeeper (yes, I said bookkeeper) of the landowner who insists upon tagging along.

 

But Duryea, whose character is frequently coughing, a la Doc Holiday, I suppose, is wearing a Confederate uniform, with illusions of grandeur that he never received from being a real Civil War soldier, and, once the landlord is killed, decides to take over the ragtag group of ruffians himself to continue the quest of evicting the stubborn homesteader. As the film progresses it becomes apparent that Duryea's character is increasingly delusional, not to mention fanatical and ruthless.

 

When the group of roughnecks no longer think that the price of ousting the homesteader is worth it, Dan uses his six shooters to drill a few holes through their water barrels. Now they have to pursue the quest, if only to get to the water on the homesteader's property before they bake to death themselves in this western set in a hostile arid territory.

 

This is one of Dan's more over-the-top performances and he's fun to watch, while Keenan Wynn also scores well as one of the low life band accompanying him. Wynn's called "Hook" because that's what he's got in place of one hand, something that comes in handy, if you'll pardon the expression, when Duryea wants it put to use during the interrogation of a prisoner.

 

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The Archive Technicolor print, by the way, is quite nice for this okay western effort. But it's the performance of  bizarre bad guy Dan that represents the loudest roar from the MGM lion in this production.

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I finally caught up with a Dan Duryea western I was long curious to see (and a difficult film to find), Al Jennings of Oklahoma. It's a 1951 Technicolor affair that was released by Columbia. Jennings was a western outlaw (of whom I know very little) and I'm always interested in seeing Duryea play a bad guy.

 

The first clue I had that this pedestrian oater would not allow Dan to be flamboyant as a baddie the way he had been the year before in Winchester 73 was during the opening titles when I saw that the film was based on a book co-authored by Jennings himself. "Oh, oh," I thought, "whitewash time."

 

And that's pretty well the way that things worked out here. Jennings, a lawyer, is presented as a man "forced by circumstances" into becoming an outlaw because of the death of his brother. And Dan, who has top billing in the film, for a change, plays it pretty straight as a noble, if hot tempered type, indulging in a few robberies (including trains) here and there, but, underneath it all, a good sort who would never harm anyone if he could help it.

 

The real Jennings was apparently not above doing a little whitewashing of his own outlawry and he was very much still alive when this film was in production. (He would die at age 98 in 1961). Perhaps he was even involved in the making of this film, to a degree. I don't know about that one way or the other, but the film sure plays like it wants to have Jennings' approval (fear of lawsuits a motivation, as well?).

 

Duryea, as we know, was a lot of fun to watch when he played a smiling rattlesnake type. It probably appealed to him as an actor to play a Jesse James type of bad man here who is supposed to have audience sympathy, for a change. But it sure handcuffed him as a performer, I'm afraid, and Dan is as close to boring in this film, due to the screenplay, as I have ever seen him.

 

It's the kind of film in which, after having a briefly initially antagonist meeting with pretty but bland Gale Storm, the two of them are soon in love. Whoa, I thought, where did this match in heaven suddenly come from?

 

The one scene in the film that mildly perked my interest was when Duryea and his brother (Dick Foran) are on horseback and encounter an affable burly man riding a buggy. The man is played by Guinn "Big Boy" Williams, wearing a suit jacket and derby hat yet. He makes extremely polite, courteous conversation with the two brothers before suddenly producing a long barreled six shooter in order to hold them up.

 

An outlaw in a buggy! Now that's original! He plans on taking their horses, too, in a getaway, until quick draw Dan shoots the gun out of his hand. But Williams, even in defeat, still continues to talk affably to them (he says it's right neighbourly of Duryea to not hand him over to the law, or words to that effect), and remains an engaging rogue, to a limited degree.

 

I wish the rest of the film had had more of the gentle humour that this scene had provided.

 

Al_Jennings_de_Oklahoma-714699013-large.

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I caught up with JOHNNY STOOL PIGEON for the first time recently, one of those T Men versus the criminal underground dramas so popular in the later ‘40s. This 1949 effort from Universal International features Howard Duff as a federal agent who goes undercover after narcotics dealers, with the assistance of a criminal recruited from prison, the Johnny Stool Pigeon of the title.

 

The latter role is played by Dan Duryea, third billed but, far and away, the most interesting character in this drama. In spite of his initial protestations of staying in prison forever rather than help a cop (he hates all “coppers,” a word he uses with contempt) he finally agrees to play the stoolie after being shown the body of his wife, dead unbeknownst to him after being turned into a junkie by the criminal element Duff wants to imprison.

 

This is a fairly standard film of its type, yet remains quite interesting, for the most part. Fans of the film noir tough guy school will probably like this one.  It is efficiently directed by William Castle, later to be the well known gimmicky schlock master of late ‘50s-early ‘60s horror films. There is no credited musical composer. Rather Universal utilizes a lot of stock music from a few different composers. The score under the opening titles sounds decidedly like the work of Miklos Rosza.

 

Duff and Duryea’s undercover work takes them to Canadian narcotics dealers working in Vancouver who, in turn, send them to an Arizona dude ranch which is a cover for illicit activity. Part of the tension of the film is in regard to the increasingly strained relationship between Duff and Duryea, and whether or not Duryea, who seems to increasingly dislike the federal agent for his seeming cold bloodedness, will betray him or not.

 

Duryea is a criminal but he shows signs of decency. Still, his dislike of all “coppers” makes the ambiguity of his character towards the law enforcer with whom he works all the more intriguing. Shelley Winters also pops up in Vancouver as a sympathetic gang moll, eager to get away from the goons who surround her, hoping that Duff might be her ticket to get away from them.

 

Billed fourth in the opening credits as “Anthony,” Tony Curtis appears as a hit man. While he has virtually no dialogue in the film, since he is portrayed as being a mute, Curtis is still fairly effective as a potentially threatening presence.

 

Johnny20Stool20Pigeon20061_zpsmxysnpgy.j

 

It’s our man Dan, though, who has some of the best dialogue in the film.

 

“You think you can get me on the outside and I will get a taste of it and I will go crazy,” he tells Duff early in the film while still in prison, “Well, let me tell you something . . . I’ll rot in this place before I’ll be a stool pigeon for a copper.”

 

Later, in explaining his allegiance to Winters, with whom he seems to sympathize in her desire for a new life, he explodes at Duff, “I brought her because she’s a decent kid, and I didn’t want to see her end up on a slab, too.  Because I thought when you saw how she felt about you, you’d at least give her a break, try to help her.  Because I was chump enough to think that you really cared about what happened to people!  Well, you’re not kiddin’ me any more.  You don’t care about people!  To you, it’s nothing but a game!  Hide and seek!  Cops ‘n’ robbers!  Anything goes as long as you come in the winner!”

 

The federal agents in these kind of late ‘40s films tend to be real straight arrow types, brave, devoted to the cause of the law, no shadings of any kind in their characterizations. These portrayals undoubtedly had J. Edgar Hoover’s personal stamp of approval upon them. Howard Duff is quite adequate in his role as the undercover T Man, even, though, as an actor, he has always struck me as being a bit of a stiff.

 

It’s Duryea’s cop hating criminal helping the feds that remains the most intriguing character in the film because you’re never quite certain if he might turn on Duff. Dan is understated, for the most part, in this film but he does have a few scenes in which he has an emotional outburst, one of them while drunk, and the actor makes those scenes count as among the best in the film.

 

I’m happy to report that, although third billed, Duryea has a fair amount of screen time in Johnny Stool Pigeon (after all, he’s the title character), probably second only to Howard Duff. I wish the screenplay had allowed him a few more opportunities than it does, but, for the most part, I’m quite satisfied with our man Dan’s contribution to the film. The more that I see of Duryea in the movies, the more my admiration for his craft as an actor grows.

 

One of the main problems with Johnny Stool Pigeon is in regard to the quality of the prints of this film in existence today. This appears to be one of those films badly in need of restoration, based on the largely washed out image that I saw of it taken off a German television station. I’m not at all certain that better images than this are around either, since I read an internet review of this film which also complained about the quality of the image taken off the same German TV station as my print (it has a channel logo of WGR in the upper right hand corner). We undoubtedly saw the same washed out print of the film. My only compensation is that I’ve seen worse looking prints of other PD quality movies.

 

Johnny Stool Pigeon may not rank as an outstanding film crime gem but it’s a decent enough effort, with a solid performance by noir icon Dan Duryea that clearly deserves better treatment than this.

 

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I must have the same bootleg of JOHNNY STOOL PIGEON and I was so appalled at the quality that I couldn't finish the film. I did get a copy of AL JENNINGS OF OKLAHOMA the other day. I've not seen it since high school which means that it was on a B&W set. Hopefully I will catch up to it this week.

 

 

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Clore, here's a link to a quite remarkable website where you can get a lot of FREE downloads of hundreds of rare films:

 

[..]

 

At this site I got both the mediocre copy of Johnny Stool Pigeon, as well as a beautiful Techicolor image of Al Jennings of Oklahoma. A couple of other tough-to-find Duryea films that I also got off that website were Sky Commando and Taggart.

Edited by TCMModerator1
link removed due to copyright conerns

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I viewed another crime drama in which Dan Duryea appeared, ONE WAY STREET, a 1950 Universal International release. Duryea gets third billing in this one, below James Mason and Marta Toren.

 

The film starts promisingly, very promisingly, in fact. Three thieves are sitting around a table, their $200,000 prize from a robbery sitting beside them waiting to be divided. Duryea sits, silent, still, but with the air of a cobra that could suddenly strike, as the gang boss snapping at his two underlings (King Donovan, William Conrad) to quiet down as they will wait for the arrival of two other gang members that have yet to return from the heist.

 

Duryea's moll, Marta Toren, stands nearby, as outside the sounds of police sirens wail in the darkened city streets below. Duryea nods to Toren to get someone. She leaves and we are taken to another apartment down the hall. That person turns out to be James Mason, a doctor who accompanies the gang to patch up any members that may get injured.

 

Mason and Toren return to the gang's apartment, and Mason treats a bullet wound of Conrad's. Duryea is laid back, feeling in control, so much so that he turns out to be over confident about the fear that his reputation instills in others.

 

Mason picks up the brief case with the money and Duryea, mildly amused, asked if he's a bit confused, offering him to help him out with some money if he wants to leave the gang and go legit. But Mason has no such intention. He wants all the money and is leaving with it. Toren suddenly announces that she's going with him, and Duryea is on his feet with his gun drawn.

 

A very cool Mason informs him that the pill he had just given him a minute before for his headache was, in fact, a poison, and he will be dead within ninety minutes if he doesn't get the antidote.

 

Mason tells him that he will be leaving with the money and phone him back with the information about the antidote's location. Duryea has little choice but to acquiesce but, of course, swears a vengeance upon Mason when he finds him again.

 

Yet there's a certain sympathy here for Duryea as Toren and Mason are about to leave. He speaks of how he had known Toren's old man and taken care of her since she was 14 to make her into the kind of woman he wanted her to be. Dan's performance hints that, beneath the tough facade, her betrayal really hurts him, bothers him even more than the money being taken from him. Even cool Mason's face briefly registers the fact that Toren may, indeed, owe something to Duryea, who has, apparently, been good to her. Toren's last words before departing are to apologize to Duryea.

 

All of this is within the first ten minutes of the film and, as I said, the film is off to a good start. Most of what follows, however, deals with Mason and Toren in a small Mexican village, she wanting to settle there, he wanting to leave, and the considerable interest (as well as tension) of the opening scene begins to rapidly evaporate.

 

Duryea's characterization in the film is somewhat reminiscent of his turn as Slim, the gang boss in Criss Cross who is also double crossed by his girl and an underling for a stolen booty. His effectively understated performance will have a few moments in which he suddenly erupts. Unfortunately, Dan is not in this film that much, and, while, again, he's quite good in his few scenes, he simply doesn't have enough of them in this film, and I think the film suffers for it.

 

The film is primarily a vehicle for James Mason, in one of his earliest efforts since arriving in America, as well as a promotion for the charms of newcomer Marta Toren. One Way Street is a middling quality crime drama, worthwhile seeing for Duryea's few scenes, but not much more than that, from my perspective.

 

one-way-street-movie-poster-1950-1010668

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OH NO, Slimy Dan is back! Lock your doors and windows . Call out the Posse! :D

Somehow I thought bringing this old post up to the present was called for.  This guy Dan just keeps returning to create more mischief.

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I find that some threads are occasionally worth going back and reviewing from the start. This one is now 14 pages but its still worth investing a few minutes to review. 

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I find that some threads are occasionally worth going back and reviewing from the start. This one is now 14 pages but its still worth investing a few minutes to review. 

 

Dan is always worth a read.    I haven't seen One Way Street but I have added it to my bucket list.   Thanks to Tom for highlighting this film.  Even Dan in a minor part is better then no Dan at all.

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I watched a DVD release from Olive Films of WORLD FOR RANSOM, a 1954 noirish thriller with Dan Duryea top billed as a private eye investigating the kidnapping of a nuclear scientist in Shanghai. There are threats to the British authorities that the kidnappers will consider handing the scientist over to the Communists if their financial demands are not met.

 

This is a pretty tired affair done on an economy budget. Duryea is a conventional hard boiled shamus of integrity, with a continuing soft spot for a former girlfriend who threw him over for a two timing louse who gets mixed up in the kidnapping.

 

On the positive side the film at least has a veteran cast of stars mixed in with the tedium of the screenplay - Gene Lockhart, Patric Knowles, Douglass Dumbrille, Reginald Denny and Nigel Bruce among them.

 

The film was directed by Robert Aldrich, and the back cover of the DVD states that this film, generally dismissed at the time of its release, is now considered a trial run for Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly. What, inasmuch Aldrich asked this cast to enunciate their lines clearly as he would in the upcoming one? Not much comparison between this clearly second rate vehicle and a dark noir masterpiece like Kiss Me Deadly.

 

Duryea is okay as the detective but he is largely sunk by the pedestrian screenplay and production values. Nice try, Dan, but not one of your better efforts, I'm afraid.

 

220px-World_for_Ransom_movie_poster.jpg

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About 2 weeks ago I recorded an episode of Zane Grey Theatre that was supposed to be starring our man Dan, only the guide listed the wrong episode, the episode aired wasn't the one with Dan. Only discovered the error a few days ago, and I was all set to watch and review it for this thread, oh well. Any way I have never seen this film WORLD FOR RANSOM. When I saw the 1954 date and Nigel Bruce being in the cast I thought "poor old Watson was dead by 1954". IMdB confirmed this, this was apparently  Bruce's last film, he died late 53 and the film came out early 54.  The IMdB  also comments that this film was closely related to the "China Smith" tv series that Dan Duryea was starring in at the time. They used the same production company and much of the same casting as the tv shows.  That may explain the somewhat low level "feel" of this film that Tom describes.  By the way I have to be more attentive to the old episodes of tv series like "Naked City" , "Route 66", etc that are being shown currently.  Good old Dan did a lot of these shows in the late 50's into the 60's, making several appearances on  some shows (playing different characters in each episode). Dan was a steady worker  in film and tv, there's a lot to take in.  We know we can  always count on Dan to give a good performance,  but there's only so much a guy can do to save a sinking ship, eh? ;)

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About 2 weeks ago I recorded an episode of Zane Grey Theatre that was supposed to be starring our man Dan, only the guide listed the wrong episode, the episode aired wasn't the one with Dan. Only discovered the error a few days ago, and I was all set to watch and review it for this thread, oh well. Any way I have never seen this film WORLD FOR RANSOM. When I saw the 1954 date and Nigel Bruce being in the cast I thought "poor old Watson was dead by 1954". IMdB confirmed this, this was apparently  Bruce's last film, he died late 53 and the film came out early 54.  The IMdB  also comments that this film was closely related to the "China Smith" tv series that Dan Duryea was starring in at the time. They used the same production company and much of the same casting as the tv shows.  That may explain the somewhat low level "feel" of this film that Tom describes.  By the way I have to be more attentive to the old episodes of tv series like "Naked City" , "Route 66", etc that are being shown currently.  Good old Dan did a lot of these shows in the late 50's into the 60's, making several appearances on  some shows (playing different characters in each episode). Dan was a steady worker  in film and tv, there's a lot to take in.  We know we can  always count on Dan to give a good performance,  but there's only so much a guy can do to save a sinking ship, eh? ;)

 

You're certainly correct, mrroberts, about the abundance of TV work that Dan Duryea did during the '50s and '60s, including, as you mentioned, his own television series, China Smith. There is a strong tendency for television shows this old to get lost, certainly in preference to films (I'm certainly guilty of that on this thread myself). Mind you, his films are, for the most part, easier to find.

 

You Tube is currently showing an episode of a 1955 TV show The Star and the Story featuring our man Dan. It's a tale of vengeance called "The Lie."

 

Dan Duryea introduces himself by name at the beginning of the show and, much to my surprise, he pronounces his last name differently than I ever have. He pronounces it with THREE syllables, not two, as 

 

"Dur-yee-eh."

 

I have always pronounced it simply as "Dur-yea."

 

I know this is a petty point, but I thought I'd pass it along anyway for all those other two syllable pronouncers out there of the actor's last name.

 

The Lie, by the way, is a story that Duryea selected for filming and I can well understand why. It's a fine showcase for him, a tale of bitterness and revenge, with a surprisingly affecting ending. In fact, this little half hour Four Star Production shows Duryea to better advantage as an actor than some of his films, and I would certainly recommend viewing it over World for Ransom, the film I just reviewed.

 

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I thought I posted on this thread awhile, maybe a couple of years ago. But in scanning through here, I see I hadn't. Anyway, it was around the time I bought the dvd for THIS IS MY LOVE (1954), a noirish melodrama I had not seen in decades. I got the film because of Linda Darnell, in one of her last good roles, but it also has Duryea, Faith Domergue, and newcomer Rick Jason.

 

Darnell plays a frustrated spinster, living with her sister and brother-in-law, Domergue and Duryea. The couple had been champion ballroom dancers, but Dan is now crippled and in a wheelchair. He vents his frustration on Linda, taunting her for being repressed sexually. She has a fiance, but is not convinced he's the "one". Apparently, Dan had once also dated her, but switched to more the more friendly and accomodating Domergue. Darnell is a writer, and types stories connected to a fantasy world of hers.

 

Both sisters work as.waitresses at a diner, and Darnell meets Jason, an old friend of her fiance's. He is taken with her, and she with him, but only pushes him away. He meets Domergue, and goes after her; she reciprocates his affections.

 

When Linda realizes.her sister has snagged another man away from her, she loses it. Duryea finds out, and makes fun of her that she couldn't hold on to this new guy, even though his wife has; he thinks it's funny she been able to get another man away from Darnell. I won't spoil the ending, but it's tragic for all involved.

 

This is not a major film, but is quite engrossing. Although an RKO production, it was apparently filmed in soundstages rented at Republic. Directed by Stuart Heisler, it was filmed in (Pathe?)color. Unfortunately, I read somewhere that Heisler would rip out page after page of dialogue when he didn't understand things. Despite this, there are very good performances from Darnell, with some of her best scenes.ever, and Duryea, who is really exhasperating and repulsive, raging at Darnell for his situation. I found the dvd online, and while a bit washed out, it is actually above average in quality for public domain films.

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