Tuesday, June 2, 2009

157) Side Street (1950)

157) Side Street (1950) Dir: Anthony Mann Date Released: March 1950 Date Seen: June 1st, 2009 Rating: 4/5

Thanks to its acute attention to detail, Anthony Mann’s Side Street provides the kind of satisfaction that few noirs are able to. This isn’t just an appraisal of Mann’s stunning visual sensibility, which makes each shot of Manhattan, both interiors and exteriors, a carefully composed and striking image unto itself, but rather on the film’s gimmicky but effective ethos. Being a film not only set in but also about New York City, screenwriter Sidney Boehm makes informs us in the film’s voiceover introduction that everyone has a separate but equal voice. What’s most remarkable about Side Street is that it achieves that small feat thanks to Mann’s masterful direction, an all-round terrific cast and of course the nuance of Boehm’s script.

Whether it’s the Greek waiters with their very Greek tendency to exaggerate or the OTB reject that bums a newspaper off of Joe Norson (Farley Granger), our harried hero, no person is left without a sufficient dollop of character-defining detail. These little establishing bits of dialogue aren’t so overbearing as to distract from the film’s central plot but are rather real enough to make Joe’s search for the bundle of $30,000 he’s stolen and subsequently lost that much more absorbing. Even at the end, when a seemingly inconsequential thug gets gunned down and dies in an uncomfortably close close-up, the scene feels like it could be more than just the end of a one-note, faceless jamook. That kind of specificity makes Side Street feel, dare I say it, authentic, taking on an ambitious, quasi-modernist task of making every POV equal and running with that idea as far as it can.

No comments:

Post a Comment