Friday, February 19, 2010

Farley & Crisises, of Marie's

So the other night I watched Side Street, a sort of companion movie to They Live By Night. Companion movie in that both star Farley Granger & Cathy O'Donnell, both are tragic noir love stories, and both are made by directors I adore - TLbN by Nicholas Ray (Johnny Guitar) and Side Street by Anthony Mann (Winchester '73).

In his memoir Farley talks about being excited to make Side Street because he got to reunite with O'Donnell, and the location shoot in New York gave him a reason to leave LA for a while, where he was smarting over Shelley Winters cheating on him with Burt Lancaster.

I appreciated the usual film noir things in Side Street; shadows, femme fatale (Jean Hagen, singing here but not in the rain). I also appreciated all the location shots - many of which were apparently filmed around the Third Avenue El, which doesn't exist so much anymore. It also features one of the best of the early car chase scenes, impressive overall and certainly in light of the limitations in cinematography at the time.

I liked knowing, also from Farley's book, that during the filming he was rebounding from Shelley by having an affair with Leonard Bernstein. Excellent.

Anyway, this quick scene caught my eye towards the end. He's hunting down Jean Hagen, a cabaret singer, and goes in and out of a bunch of dive bars in the village. This one still stands, and sure is popular with the gays who like to sing around a piano.

God Bless you, Farley Granger. You are the gift that keeps on giving.

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