Monday, June 28, 2010

Once again, location makes the movie

I discussed last week how London makes Night and the City such a good movie. A similar situation, albeit a movie set in a much different location, is Swamp Water, which airs tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM ET on the Fox Movie Channel.

Here, the location is the Okefenokee Swamp of southern Georgia. At the beginning of the movie, young hunter Ben Ragan (Dana Andrews) goes off into the swamp to do some hunting, against the orders of his father (Walter Huston), who points out that it's terribly easy for a man to get lost in the swamp, and dangerous to boot. And indeed, Ben comes across a man who might be lost in the swamp: Tom Keefer (Walter Brennan). Keefer isn't lost though; he's just hiding from the authorities, as he's been scheduled to be executed for a murder he swears he didn't commit. Eventually, Ben is able to convince Keefer that he's not going to turn Keefer in, but instead find out who really committed the murder. It's just as dangerous investigating a murder as it is trying to live in the swamp, however....

Back in town, Ben finds himself beginning to fall in love with Julie, a young woman who everybody knows is the daughter of Tom Keefer, except for seemingly Julie herself. It's another problem, since the townsfolk treat her rather poorly for her kinship, even though she's utterly innocent. The rest of town just wants to move on, especially people like the Dorsons (Ward Bond and Guinn "Big Boy" Williams) who probably know more about the case then they're letting on. Ben is eventually able to get a key piece of information from Jesse Wick (John Carradine), but when Ben goes back into the swamp to tell Tom he can clear his name, Ben finds that there's somebody following him to keep the two from getting back out of the swamp....

As with Night and the City, the story itself isn't anything particularly groundbreaking. It's the location that makes Swamp Water as good as it is. Frankly, the Okefenokee swamp looks almost frightening and forbidding; it's quite easy to understand why Ben's father wouldn't want him going into the swamp, and easy enough to understand why the town thinks Keefer is probably long dead. The only other movie I can think of offhand which uses a swamp to such good effect is Sparrows, but Swamp Water has an advantage in that it's got much better lighting to show the swamp in all its ugly glory.

Swamp Water doesn't seem to be available on DVD, which is a shame; you'll have to catch it when it shows up on the Fox Movie Channel.

Post edited to add the time the movie is airing

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