Hot Blood (Ray, 1956)

A colorful slice of gypsy lore, Nicholas Ray’s Hot Blood resonates a steamy lust for passion and heat. Shot in wide-screen technicolor, every fame bursts with reds, browns, and oranges, producing a vibrancy which often overwhelms the somewhat tiresome characters. Marco (Luther Adler), the leader of a gypsy clan, wants his dance instructor brother Stephano (Cornell Wilde) to marry and take his place. He sets up an arranged hitch to Annie (the ravishing Jane Russell), and all hell breaks loose. Epic dance numbers often parallel the personal lives playing out and Ray lets the camera stay wide for the audience to relish these hypnotic moments. A few scenes raise the temp especially, like Wilde using a whip to entangle Russell during their beautiful wedding dance, and a cat fight for the ages between a pissed Russell and her blond, anglo competition. While the ending is somewhat unsatisfying – a far too easy conclusion to the spicy proceedings – Ray’s obsession with conflicting partners and ideologies comes into a new light, one filled with instinct and unrequited, hidden love. Hot Blood lives up to it’s title, a rousing entertainment infected with dance and melodrama.

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