Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Man in the Shadow (1958)

Featuring: Jeff Chandler, Orson Welles. Director: Jack Arnold.

Warning: This movie is only supposed to be available for streaming until Jan. 1st. Act fast!

Orson Welles is probably the most interesting figure in the history of the silver screen. He directed what is widely considered the greatest movie of all time and is also acclaimed by many as one of the best actors of all time. He was larger than life and the legacy he left behind was even greater. I think it is perfectly fair to consider him a genius.

The trouble with geniuses, however, is that they see things before the rest of us do. Insert your favorite "ahead of his time" cliche here. Today, directors like Scorsese can produce some of their best work late in their careers. When Welles got started, the term "filmmaker" wasn't something that carries the weight that it does now. The movie going-public today (or at least a segment of it) is more educated and interested in risk taking in the cinema. Sadly, Welles' failures at the box office left much of his career's potential untapped. Instead of crafting masterpieces, he was relegated to acting in b-movies such as this one. That makes me sad, but such is life.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad movie. It features Welles as a plantation owner out west who is the lord over all of the migrant workers at his establishment. Welles character is charming and slimey all at once and the protagonist (Chandler) does a good job playing a straight arrow of a sheriff who is determined to get to the truth no matter how powerful the toes that he is stepping on may be. This is a decent movie with political undertones that are very relevant today, but it still makes me sad. Mostly because instead of directing his version of The Departed, he was acting in a b-movie with a predictable plot. Such is the curse of genius.

According to Netflix this movie will stop streaming on 1/1/12. Of course, sometimes they lie.

The Standard 5:

Why is it in your queue? Pretty much anything with Orson Welles is in my queue.

Is it artsy? No.

What stood out the most to you? That conditions for Mexican immigrants have only marginally improved in the last 60 years.

What mood should I be in to watch this movie? You should be an Orson Welles aficionado. It isn't his best work, but he's still interesting.

What rating did you give it on Netflix? 3 Stars.

Sorry, couldn't find a trailer for this one. 

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SPOILER ALERT: Talking about the movie is encouraged in the comment section. Read at your own risk.

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