Three plainclothes navy officers sit propped up at a bar, their cigarettes lit, and bourbon poured before them, aggressively chased by more bourbon. Light pours in from the oversized window, illuminating our central figures, fresh from combat. The bar top divides our characters by the waist, represented as merely half men, emasculated and alienated from the war. In the corner, a uniformed soldier dances to the horns of a jazz record playing on a jukebox. We see him erect, standing not as a man, but a soldier, stitched into his stripes like a battle wound. Represented here aren’t the heroes America has read about, but the fractured fatalities of the post-war masculinity. It’s a scene married to Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, our protagonist Johnny Moore (Alan Ladd) symbolizing the frayed effeminacy represented with the woman in red.
Tag: George Marshall
Destry Rides Again – 1939 – dir. George Marshall
Marlene Dietrich acted with her eyes. Yes, she possessed one of the most beautifully and deliberately sculpted faces in film history. Yes, she could be a crackerjack actress, easily overcoming her good looks when she wanted to, giving strong, memorable performances in classics such as “Stage Fright”, “Witness for the Prosecution”, “Morocco”. And yes! She had a body-and-a-half that oozed a glamorous and alarming sexuality that still has yet to be defined or matched. Woe to whatever actor had to share the stage or screen with her because when she was “on”, you couldn’t really see anybody else, such a beam of light was La Dietrich. But it was her eyes that made her. Entities unto themselves, lidded by light, lace curtains of flesh, fluttering butterflies running up and down like little elevators, they darted, they flew, they geisha-ed their way into your personal space, invading you, capturing you, making of you a happy prisoner of their multiple seductions. When she first appears in “Destry Rides Again”, her eyes give out so many varied and conflicting emotions at once, if you pay good attention, you cannot help but be slayed out of your seat by the sheer range of shyness, deceit, cuteness, shrewdness and sassy-assed lust they aim at you. They are true guns of seduction and better duck fast before they fire and you die in the happy blast of their embrace. Ah, those eyes. Those eyes are able to bring together the most disparate elements into one, single, glorious being; to wit — Marlene Dietrich!!