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.
The introductions at TCM Classic Film Festival are often the most revealing portion of the filmgoing experience. So it wasn’t a good sign when, during his pre-screening speech, iconic television host Robert Osborne spoke this fateful line of Robert Florey’s 1943 version ofThe Desert Song, a film that hasn’t seen the light of day for 50 years due to rights issues: “It’s not a great movie, but it’s a fun one.” Well, he was half right. Released during the heart of WWII, this choppy adventure/musical is most interesting when seen as a blatant guilt trip made by Hollywood to remind European pacifists of their indifference during the swelling Nazi threat in the mid-to-late 1930s. As a classic genre film, it’s an inconsistent and inert Casablanca clone.
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.
Legendary B-movie writer/producer/director Andy Sidaris mastered the art of turning picture perfect postcards into sweaty soft-core cinema. His lush widescreen images of natural beauty, mostly filmed on the various islands of Hawaii, are mere backgrounds for busty blondes in swimsuits toting machine guns and grenade launchers. Mixing outlandish violence, smooth sex scenes, and classic one-liners that would make Mr. Schwarzeneger jealous, Sidaris’ genre films cast Playboy Playmates as secret agents and spies caught up in lethal missions, albeit assignments that weren’t too dangerous for a sudden left turn into a night of delirious carnal pleasures. At their best, Sidaris’ films offer one implausible plot twist and seedy scenario after another, a volatile combination that ultimately gives these lowbrow action films a lasting identity…