Friday, May 25, 2012

Lady in the Lake

Does Lady in the Lake get any better after the first 20 minutes? TCM showed it yesterday, and I sat down to watch, but I couldn't help but find the movie's technique tedious, disconcerting, and badly handled. For those who don't know anything about the movie, Lady in the Lake is based on a novel of the same title by Raymond Chandler (who also wrote The Big Sleep). Robert Montgomery plays Philip Marlowe, and also directed. The problem is, he decided (or perhaps one of the suits at MGM got the idea) to shoot the movie in a first-person, camera-as-Marlowe style, with the result that we rarely see Montgomery, unless he's looking in a mirror, or in an expository scene at the beginning. There's something about this that I found extremely hard to take: do we really need to see camera pan over to doorbells and down to doorknobs? Humans can see these in their peripheral vision.

I don't think the female lead (Audrey Totter) helped matters either. It was as if she and Montgomery were making two different movies. They certainly didn't have the chemistry that William Powell and Myrna Loy in the Thin Man movies had, although that's a bit unfair since Powell and Loy were playing husband and wife. More fair might be to say they didn't have the chemistry of Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, or even better, Jack Carson and Joan Crawford in Mildred Pierce, where Carson has an unrequited thing for Crawford.

Should I give Lady in the Lake another try? It's gotten a DVD release as part of a noir boxset, but doesn't seem to have an in-print individual release.

No comments: