Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Chip on His Shoulder

Moonrise (1948) - Borzage
moonrise 2
moonrise 3
Danny (Dane Clark) has been fighting against a stigma of being a son of a murderer who was hanged- as a child, he was relentlessly bullied and grew up to be a young man with a major chip on his shoulder. He gets into a fight during social dance and ends up killing Jerry, a local rich banker's son (Lloyd Bridges) who's been tormenting him all his life. Danny starts romancing Gilly (Gail Russell), a comely school teacher and Jerry's sweetheart, who's been having feelings for Danny and sees goodness underneath his erratic behavior and moody nature. Soon enough, local sheriff suspects him of foul play and closes in on him. Still struggling with his father's demise, Danny blames the bad blood running in his family for his predicament.

Moonrise starts with an ominous shadowplay and its dark, moody photography never lets up until the very end. Its redemptive plot is nothing to write home about, but there are several beautiful details that makes the film stand out. It's indoor shot southern backwoods has its stagey appeal (with swamps and everything). The foretelling and suggestive dialog/singing reflects Danny's increasing paranoia is quite delicious. It has several poignant moments involving the village idiot (Harry Morgan) Danny projected himself to, animals - coons and bloodhounds, sage black man Mose (Rex Ingram) who has the best lines in the film.

There are several striking scenes in the film that highlights Borzage's skill as a highly visual filmmaker. Most notable ones are the swooping crane shot of Danny and Gilly dancing in a derelict mansion and of course, Danny going crazy on a ferris wheel ride as he jumps off from his seat to the ground. Borzage's sensibility is close to that of Jean Cocteau and Jean Epstein than his Hollywood contemporaries. This could have been a great Farley Granger vehicle. I loved it and looking forward to delve into Frank Borzage's filmography.