Monday, June 14, 2010

I Still Wake Up Dreaming Redux

I was able to catch all the films I missed from the Roxie's noir program, I Still Wake Up Dreaming.

The Roxie ran four days of encore presentations during which I saw

99 River Street starring John Payne and Evelyn Keyes; directed by Phil Karlson; (1953)
High Tide starring Don Castle; (1947)
Jealousy; (1945)

At the PFA, I also saw

Power of the Whistler starring Richard Dix and Janis Carter; (1945)

I had missed Power of the Whistler during I Still Wake Up Dreaming.


Brad Dexter & Evelyn Keyes in 99 River StreetPredictably, 99 River Street was my favorite. Evelyn Keyes gives a remarkable performance. Intentionally drawing attention to her acting, her portrayal of an actress pretending to be something else is pitch perfect for the time. Two scenes stand out. First, she convinces Joe Palooka/cabbie John Payne that she has committed murder during an acting audition. It's all an elaborate ruse to convince the theatrical producers that's she right for the role. Keyes plays the scene like she is on stage during a play. Her gestures and facial expressions fall just short of extravagant; appreciable within the context of film acting but not quite grandiose enough to ruin the scene.

The second scene is towards the end of the film. Keyes plays a tipsy round-heel (she's not really drunk or loose) looking to delay bad guy Brad Dexter by using her feminine charms. With slurred words, a tight sweater and an extremely effective bra, Keyes finds the holy grail for actresses - sexy & the same time. Using unmistakeably phallic imagery (unbelievable it wasn't censored), Keyes hilariously lights her cigarette using the lit end of the cigarette dangling from Dexter's mouth. All the while, she leads with her two best assets.


The other films were less than stellar. Power of the Whistler was one of my least favorite of the series although I have to admit to snoozing for a portion of the film. It's the ageless "chicken or egg" question. Did I fall asleep because it was boring or did I not enjoy the film because I fell asleep? The latter has occurred but the former was likely the case in this instance.

High Tide wasn't too bad. I saw it on the first day of the festival but the soundtrack was horrible. I couldn't make out the dialogue. Ultimately, I couldn't find much in the film to distinguish it.

Jealousy was slightly better with Nils Asther playing a suicidal European expatriate; suicidal until he begins to suspect his wife is having an affair. Then he becomes homicidal. A telegraphed ending ruins the film but a solid plot keeps the film going for the most part.

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