I’ve been meaning to write something about this little-known but powerful melodrama directed by King Vidor, which was made under the Hays Code, but feels like a pre-Code in its sympathetic portrayal of an adulterous passion. Unfortunately I’ve left it a little too long since watching it and my memories are starting to fade, but I do want to write a brief review and post the lovely stills that I’ve collected together from this production. Gary Cooper stars as a hard-drinking and debt-ridden author suffering from writer’s block, a character said to have been based on F Scott Fitzgerald, with Anna Sten as a Polish farm girl who he falls for. Gregg Toland’s atmospheric black and white photography helps to create a feeling of unbearable tension, especially in the later scenes.
It might be included in the Warner Gangsters Collection 3 box set – but the James Cagney movie Picture Snatcher, directed by Lloyd Bacon, is really only a gangster movie in the loosest sense. In fact, I’m starting to wonder if there are any true gangster movies in this collection, since none of those I’ve seen so far really fit the bill. Not that I’m complaining, as they are all fascinating to watch anyway.
This film is a very slight offering and I don’t have all that much to say about it, but, as I’d eventually like to write at least something on this blog about all of Cagney’s movies, here are a few thoughts on this one.
When reviewing the Howard Hawks movie Ceiling Zero for the early Howard Hawks blog-a-thon, I completely forgot that I had a copy of the Lux Radio Theater adaptation of this film, based on Frank Wead’s play. I’ve now remembered and listened to it – and found there were a few interesting differences from the film. Here’s a link to a site where anyone who wants to hear this production can download it – along with any other episodes of the Lux series which appeal to you.
From all the OTR shows I’ve heard, I’m impressed by what powerful performances the actors give – they were usually performing in front of a live audience, which gives an extra excitement, and makes it perhaps the nearest we can come to knowing what it would have been like to see many of these actors on stage.