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Desert Fury, Amour Fou

At long last! Years in the making! Now it can be revealed!

I have finally written about Desert Fury -- a movie I've been obsessed with since first reading this description on IMDb:

Back in the forties, when movies touched on matters not yet admissible in "polite" society, they resorted to codes which supposedly floated over the heads of most of the audience while alerting those in the know to just what was up. Probably no film of the decade was so freighted with innuendo as the oddly obscure Desert Fury, set in a small gambling oasis called Chuckawalla somewhere in the California desert. Proprietress of the Purple Sage saloon and casino is the astonishing Mary Astor, in slacks and sporting a cigarette holder; into town drives her handful-of-a-daughter, Lizabeth Scott, looking, in Technicolor, like 20-million bucks. But listen to the dialogue between them, which suggests an older Lesbian and her young, restless companion (one can only wonder if A.I. Bezzerides' original script made this relationship explicit). Even more blatant are John Hodiak as a gangster and Wendell Corey as his insanely jealous torpedo. Add Burt Lancaster as the town sheriff, stir, and sit back. Both Lancaster and (surprisingly) Hodiak fall for Scott. It seems, however, that Hodiak not only has a past with Astor, but had a wife who died under suspicious circumstances. The desert sun heats these ingredients up to a hard boil, with face-slappings aplenty and empurpled exchanges. Don't pass up this hothouse melodrama, chock full of creepily exotic blooms, if it comes your way; it's a remarkable movie.

My first chance to see it was at SIFF Theater in 2007, but I've since watched it multiple times on an Australian DVD that I acquired courtesy of smofbabe. And now, finally, I've managed to write something about it.

Well, the screencaps might be of interest anyway.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 22nd, 2012 10:51 pm (UTC)
Glad I could help.

This was a really fascinating look at a complicated film, and I really appreciate your explanations of the framing shots, most of which would probably have blown right past me (like the windshield framing). I also like the dueling moustaches screencap - you just don't see that Ronald Colman style any more :-> I don't think I've seen John Hodiak in anything other than The Harvey Girls.
Apr. 22nd, 2012 11:15 pm (UTC)
The only other thing I've seen Hodiak in is another noir called Somewhere in the Night, where he plays an amnesiac vet. IMDb says he's in Hitchcock's Lifeboat, but it's been so long since I saw that that I don't remember a thing about it.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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