Saturday, July 16, 2011

small town blues

'Arthur Penn's first great masterpiece is also one of his darkest works, a portrait of small town America as a festering backwater stagnant with avarice, envy and racism. Marlon Brando is magnificent as the weary sheriff appointed by a small town's corrupt patriarch and reluctantly assigned to capture a misunderstood fugitive, played by Robert Redford. As night descends, debauched house parties boil over into a frenzied carnival of raw violence that tears apart the flimsy fa├žade of cracker barrel hospitality erected by the town elders. With an impressive line-up that includes Angie Dickinson, Jane Fonda, James Fox, Bruce Cabot and Miriam Hopkins, The Chase boasts an ensemble cast that draws from both Old and New Hollywood.'

i re-watched this film last night. i remembered it as being fun due to the marvelous cast but i never thought of it as great. well, shut my mouth! if this film had been made in black and white i most likely would have owned it by now.

the pummeling brando receives in 'on the waterfront' will somewhat prepare you for the one he gets in 1966's 'the chase', but whereas the fight on the docks, filmed in black and white, came off as a painful ballet, in penn's hands the brutality is more realistic. the cast is crazy great. brando's sister is even in it. marlon was fit, fonda was in her full on 'bardot' phase, redford was redford, and lovely james fox has an american accent. angie dickenson beautifully plays the role of the perfect spouse. among all that awesome talent, the big surprise is janice rule as the wanton beauty void of any signs of intelligent life.

photo: marlon and jocelyn brando

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