This is my contribution to the Symbiotic Collaborations blogathon, being hosted by CineMaven’s Essays from the Couch. Please take a look at the other postings, which all focus on collaborations between a director and star.
Both Raoul Walsh and James Cagney are known for their quality of toughness, so it’s no surprise that two of the four movies they made together are famous gangster films. But both director and actor were also interested in focusing on character and, beyond the action sequences, their films also contain equally powerful scenes bringing out the vulnerability of the heroes/villains played by Cagney. I can’t look at every aspect of all four films here, so am concentrating on this theme. I’ve also put a separate bit about some of the films’ endings at the end, including pictures.
I came across this movie included on a DVD bringing together three strangely-assorted films under the title Leading Ladies of the Silver Screen. However, despite Joan Fontaine getting top billing, the lead character is definitely fourth-billed Edmond O’Brien, who stars as lonely travelling salesman Harry, torn between two wives and two lifestyles.
Today, though, the film is mainly remembered because it was directed by Ida Lupino, a rare woman director in 1950s Hollywood, who also stars as Harry’s second wife. It was the only time she directed and starred in the same movie. (Oddly enough, the screenwriter and producer, Collier Young, was Lupino’s real-life ex-husband and had recently married Fontaine.)