The phrase “a friend in need is a friend indeed” takes on a darkly cynical meaning in Cy Endfield’s harrowing film noir, Try and Get Me. To trust anyone and anything is to be inherently deceived. This applies to Endfield’s treatment of individual relationships, public institutions like the print media, and even the most basic considerations of modern “civilized” society. Fittingly, the film envisions small town America as an ideologically hollow place deprived of economic confidence and brimming with repressed anger. Here, the facade of camaraderie and masculinity can be ripped away in an instant causing irreparable physical and emotional damage. This is Fritz Lang territory, and not surprisingly Try and Get Me is based on the same actual event that inspired the director’s masterpiece, Fury.
Texas cattle baron Bick Benedict and Maryland debutante Leslie Lynnton fall in love during their first quarrel. The disagreement revolves around nothing less than the historical and cultural sanctity of the Lone Star State itself, specifically its troubling origins involving the prolonged and violent displacement of Mexicans in favor of white settlers. Heavy subject matter for two doe-eyed young characters who’ve been shooting knowing glances at each other for an entire day. What’s most interesting about their frank war of words is that Leslie’s thunderclap of criticism stems not from Eastern judgement or resentment, but her seemingly organic attraction to the tall and studly rancher visiting her family’s expansive rural abode to purchase a prized black stallion. It’s a form of flirting that also acts as progressivism, challenging Bick to consider his own social identity and personal values while also arousing his romantic interest. Needless to say, the dude is knocked out cold, simultaneously head over and heels and enraged.
In anticipation of a one night screening at the 92YTribeca earlier this month, I wrote up an appreciation of Anthony Mann’s last great western, Man of the West for The L Magazine.
More Chabrol is always a good thing. I review the French master director’s debut feature, Le Beau Serge, for its Blu-ray release over at Slant.
Nuns, fires, revenge, bastard children, reversals, floods, and deathbed confessions: Matarazzo’s breakneck poems of suffering have it all. Call it MeloDrama with a capital D. Review.
Look at that smirk, that shifty posture, that atomic glare. Noir’s don’t come much meaner than Kiss Me Deadly. Review.