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Preminger villains (Was: Anatomy of a Murder vs. Notorious)

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  • Dan Sallitt
    ... There s no doubt in my mind that the Preminger never takes sides line, which Movie magazine hit so hard, is overstated. There are villains all over the
    Message 1 of 22 , Aug 18, 2006
      > Although I'm no fan of Anatomy, I'm a great fan of Preminger, and I
      > wonder what you make of a flagrant villain like Andrews in Harm's Way.
      > We aren't ever invited to reconsider how we see him, but the "gray"
      > ambiance - and of course Andrews' understated performance - create an
      > effect that we'd never get with a Hitchcock villain, however
      > unsympathetic. He's just sort of "there," screwing things up.

      There's no doubt in my mind that the "Preminger never takes sides" line,
      which Movie magazine hit so hard, is overstated. There are villains all
      over the place in Preminger, and how we are to feel about them is made
      clear enough for all normal purposes.

      To my mind, Preminger is about creating a sense of connection between
      things that the mind wants to separate. Depending on what he's trying to
      do, he may find it convenient to balance our sympathies; but I don't think
      that's an essential part of how he works. Even in ANATOMY, which is
      explictly about "grayness," I don't feel that Preminger is primarily
      concerned with fuzzing our sympathies: even though Stewart's methods are
      not movie-hero irreproachable, I think we basically maintain affection for
      him, and never really acquire any for Gazzara or Scott.

      In that late-50s-to-late-60s period, Preminger often seemed to opt for a
      realistic, multivalent ambience, with emphasis on natural sound and
      multiple perspectives. The naturalism that went with this ambience does
      mute the villainy of characters like Andrews a bit. Earlier on, you can
      find instance of Preminger turning on the juice with his villains - I'm
      thinking of Emile Meyer in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM, or Gary Merrill in
      WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS. In DAISY KENYON, Andrews' father-in-law is a
      stock villain, of no particular interest one way or another. - Dan
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