Review: The Bribe

Five great stars in a daring drama of love and adventure! Well that tag line does sum up this film with an amazing cast. We have Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Vincent Price, Charles Laughton and John Hodiak in a film noir from 1949 directed by Robert Z. Leonard. The Bribe is based on a short story by Frederick Nebel and maybe the film should have been a bit shorter also.

This story starts with Robert Taylor’s character sent to a Central America to find out who is selling plane engines on the black market. He is told who his suspects are and he must find who is behind the illegal sales. The main suspect is Ava Gardner’s husband played by John Hodiak. To get closer to Hodiak it makes sense to get close to Gardner. Then of course Taylor falls for Gardner and Gardner soon starts to feel something for Taylor. Vincent Price plays a wealthy fisherman that Taylor also starts to suspect. Laughton plays the ruffled and uncomfortable odd ball that always seems to be around the motel, another suspect for Taylor. The plot twists and turns as Taylor don’t know who to believe or trust as alliances change throughout the film. Can he trust Gardner or is she a femme fatale? Will Taylor find who is selling the plane engines?

This film is 98 minutes long and drags a bit in the middle. I think this would have been a lot better film if it was edited down a few minutes to keep the tension high. I do have to say the film is worth watching for the last scene, it is pretty incredible. I also enjoy Gardner, Laughton, and Price, who have a presence that is always entertaining.

This is worth watching if you are a big fan of any of the 5 stars, but I think this cast was wasted in this film. It just seems to be missing something. It is still an entertaining film if you are a film noir fan.

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Re-watching the Classics: Laura

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What movie does Vincent Price say was his best movie?  Laura is the answer.  It’s February so it’s Oscar season and TCM is showing a lot of movies that won awards.  Laura  was nominated for 4 awards and won one award.  We have Best Writing for a Screen Play, Best Director for Otto Preminger, Best Supporting Actor for Clifton Webb and a win for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White for Joseph LaShelle.  I watched this movie years ago and took another look at it tonight.  It defiantly deserved its Best Cinematography Award, I didn’t realize how cool this movie looks, and almost all the scenes are interior shots which makes it more impressive.  Clifton Webb had only played a few parts in film before this and was a stage actor at the time.  Preminger wanted him in this film and declined the studios choice for the part.  This launched a resurgence in Webb’s career and even lead to a couple more nominations.  Dana Andrews plays our hardboiled detective assigned to the case.  We get his prospective and version of the story through out this movie.  Vincent Price shows his great film presence in this movie, I love Price’s voice and way of talking in almost everything he does.  He is hard to ignore in any scene he is in.  All though all these performances are great,lets face it, the real star is Gene Tierney.  Tierney is Laura and the love obsession of just about everybody in this film.  This is not hard to believe, she is a beautiful, smart women with the most adorable overbite ever.  Even her portrait in this film is one of the all time great film props.  It is how our hero falls in love with our femme fatale and it even appears in 2 more movies after this.  I will not get into much of the story because telling any of it will ruin the twists in the story.  The source material is from a book by Vera Caspary.  I have not read the book but it is told in 5 parts, each part is a different character’s version of what happened.  The original screenplay told the story from 3 character’s versions of events, this was still to hard to do in a 2 hour film from the 1940’s.  So the screenplay was reduced to one character’s version, our police detective played by Andrews.  This film is required viewing for any film noir buff.  It’s not on my top 10 list of all time, but it is one of the greats.

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