Tuesday, May 01, 2012


Frankenheimer's early film The Young Savages ('61), not without its merits, exemplifies one of the weird problems of the period's social problem cinema.  A lot of directors coming into commercial filmmaking during this period cut their teeth in television (in some cases live television), and when some of them wanted to utilize the space available in the wider, larger film screen, there is still a mannered patina to otherwise realist or naturalistic blocking and performance.  (Which is why some pockets of cinephiles still poke Frankenheimer, Lumet, et al., for a stagey or televisual aesthetic.  Can't say I always disagree.)  What seems incongruous in The Young Savages is how its concern for "social problems" on the streets of New York nevertheless give way to eloquent, monologue-like cathartic expressions of self: from the era of Morris Engel and John Cassavetes, such a hybrid of realism and performative conventions seems full of holes ... one wonders where the sincerity of pauses, stutters, and silence has gone?  Hollywood cinema in the 1930s, compared to the 1950s, seems to have a much better pictorial and sonic range of effects for expressing the "problem" class, the underclasses, etc.  Just a feeling ...

1 comment:

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