Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Flamingo Road (Michael Curtiz, 1949)

I caught this one off of TCM.  The summary blurb caught my attention: "A small town Florida sheriff frames his political pawn's dancer girlfriend for prostitution."  The blurb doesn't even cover it: the dancer arrives in town as part of a traveling carnival!  My mind was dancing with visions of a sleazy, sweat-drenched low budget noir about crime and corruption in rural Florida.  Well, I was a little off.  The presence of Joan Crawford, at a time when she was still a huge star, should have tipped me off, and the fact that this was directed by Michael Curtiz, just a few years after they had collaborated on Mildred Pierce pretty much cements it.  Flamingo Road is more in line with Mildred Pierce, a hybrid of purist noir and high melodrama, complete with surging, melodramatic score.  The thing I found most interesting was Sidney Greenstreet.  Greenstreet plays a corrupt political boss (think Boss Hogg from The Dukes of Hazard).  Physically, he does a great job.  Looks just like this character should look, moves just like this character should move, sweats just like this character should sweat.  But he doesn't even make an attempt at the Southern accent.  He delivers all his lines--many of which are clearly written in Southern vernacular--as Sidney Greenstreet.  It's a little weird, but hey, I always like watching Sidney Greenstreet.

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