(Phil Karlson, 1955)
I'm really glad I chose to watch these Noirvember films in chronological order so that I could notice the development of trends, deviations from previous films, and so on. Perhaps the greatest reward, though, is how it allowed me to fully appreciate the excitement generated by the advent of widescreen cinematography. After spending twenty-films trapped (happily) in the Academy ratio, the expanded frame of Tight Spot
was a blast to the senses. I love, too, the film's awareness of its ratio especially in relation to television, as evidence by the cut from this shot
to this shot
. I found that sly wink especially gratifying.
This might be the first time I've seen Ginger Rogers in a film made after 1942, and it's like discovering a whole new actress. She's extremely likable, despite her role remaining rather bland and even rote for long stretches. It's not a great performance, but it oscillates between good and very good, with plenty of nice moments that make me want to track down some of her other post-war performances.
Despite a good setup, Tight Spot
's story is somewhat shockingly empty. I can't imagine it working on stage at all. The film's style is also weirdly genial and bland. There are a few exceptions — like a confrontation in a garage with young Vito Corleone
— that become super exciting by comparison, in an "aw, there's the Karlson I was hoping for" way. The film reaches a decent conclusion, buoyed by a good, unexpected turn, but that middle act is a real drag.
I actually like Brian Keith more than Edward G. Robinson here, mostly because the latter's character is awful — just a mouthpiece for propaganda. Even Suddenly
's script handled better the theme of an American's duty in dire circumstance. Comparing Robinson's role here to his somewhat similar role in The Stranger
makes me sad — unless it was an intentional choice for his character to come across as a Fascist asshole; then that's fascinating.Grade:
Up next: The Ship That Died of Shame