Saturday, April 5, 2008

Please release me, Vol. 2

William Lundigan showed up on the Fox Movie Channel this morning, in Elopement, in which he tries to elope with Clifton Webb's daughter, played by Anne Francis. No, I'm not pointing this one out as a movie that ought to be released on DVD. I probably should do a post some time on Clifton Webb; but seeing Elopement reminded me of a different Lundigan movie I'd like to recommend: Inferno.

The plot is a simple one: Robert Ryan plays a wealthy businessman married to the lovely Rhonda Fleming. (The fact that she's in Technicolor here makes her even lovelier.) The only thing is, she's no longer in love with him, but with the aforementioned Lundigan. So she and Lundigan plot to kill Ryan by getting him liquored up on a business trip in the desert, having him "accidentally" fall off his horse, and leaving him to die. The only problem is that when Ryan regains consciousness, he, like any other sane person, decides he'd really rather not die. (For once, we have a plot device that Hollywood doesn't need to make up.) So, Ryan tries to set his leg, and crawl off to someplace -- anywhere that he thinks might get him out of that lousy stinking desert.

Inferno was made when the Production Code was still being fairly rigorously enforced, so you can make a good guess as to what's going to happen. But it's a fun enough movie, with adequate suspense to keep your attention, and fine acting, if you can call it that: since our hero is stuck in a desert, the situtation doesn't really call for acting, but action instead. Any reasonably fit man of an appropriate age to be plausibly married to Rhonda Fleming could have played the role.

What makes Inferno really interesting, however, is the fact that it was originally filmed in 3-D. Most of the 3-D movies of the day were designed so that they'd have a scene or two where something appeared to be coming out of the screen towards the audience, and Inferno does have a few of these shots: rocks falling down a hill, something being thrown at the camera during a fire, and the like. But for the most part, Inferno uses its 3-D differently. Instead of having stuff pop out of the screen, it's used to make the desert extend into the screen, making it appear deeper, vaster, and more forbidding than they could have gotten in plain old 2-D. Unfortunately, I haven't actually seen the effect, since the special presentations of such movies are limited to places like Los Angeles and not my middle-of-nowhere neck of the woods. But the reports I've read from people who have seen the 3-D print imply that Inferno was fairly successful in its intention.

Fox really need to release this to DVD, preferably with a 3-D option and 3-D glasses, too.

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