(Nicholas Ray, 1957)Dictated by ses
I tried to force myself to love this, just because I appreciated ses' dictation of it, but it was somewhat of a struggle. Then I looked back and realized that ses didn't necessarily love it either
but was in the middle of a Nicholas Ray marathon and wanted to keep the discussion going. So the fact that it took me seven years to get to this dictation kind of defeats the purpose, lol.
My initial reaction to Bitter Victory
mirrors ses' in most every way. It's a very good-looking film, the kind I would normally curate a series of screenshots from, but I'm pressed for time at the moment. Michel Kelber's camera turns the vastness of the desert into a claustrophobic crucible. Richard Burton, meanwhile, pops from the screen like an action star. It's almost regrettable that the story doesn't allow him to go full Indiana Jones or Rambo. Curd Jürgens is good as well, moment to moment. His character didn't fully cohere for me by the end, but I fault the script more than his performance.
What kept me from loving this movie is that is has too much subtext as text. Everything drives headlong towards character and theme, resulting in a very forced setup (with an unnecessary love triangle) and blinding the film from the details of its action sequences, which as a result lack strategy, spatial orientation, and stakes. They're all secondary to the morality play.
ses, I don't know if your appreciation of this film has deepened in the last few years, but for now I agree with your initial take: "I thought this film was decent, but not great."Grade:
Up next: Daguerréotypes
(dictated by FifthCityMuse)