6 February 2010 | blanche-2
Preminger and Crawford at Fox
Joan Crawford is "Daisy Kenyon" in this 1947 film about a woman torn between two men - one, a married, successful man (Dana Andrews), and the other, a returning soldier and widower (Henry Fonda). Directed by Otto Preminger, it's a good noir, better than "Dark Angel" but nowhere near "Laura." Andrews is married to Ruth Warrick and has two daughters who need him, as their mother, when unhappy, tends to be abusive. He has a long-time relationship with Daisy, who is a successful commercial artist. The situation isn't ideal for her, but she's in love. One night she meets a soldier who wants to build a life with her. Can she break from Andrews - and will he let her?
There are several striking things about this film. One is the casting. In order to play the lead in "Grapes of Wrath" in 1940, Darryl Zanuck forced Henry Fonda to sign a 7-year-contract, for which Fonda never forgave him. One can see an example of why here. In this film, he has to share leading man duties with Dana Andrews in what is, in fact, a Joan Crawford movie. To me, Fonda's role in this seems very inauspicious and one where a lesser star could have been cast. Just an opinion. He's excellent as a lonely, unhappy man who falls for Daisy - Fonda at this point still had some traces of boyishness.
The second striking thing for me was the subtlety of the acting. There is a scene in which Dana Andrews, returning from an 18-day-trip, can't get the usually reliable Daisy on the phone, so he goes to see her. It's a scene that should be shown in acting schools - full of atmosphere and subtext, so little is said in dialogue; so much is what lies beneath the surface. Both Crawford and Andrews give wonderful performances.
The third striking thing is the Greenwich Theater, which I had no idea was torn down until now. There was indeed a restaurant across from it, too. That's also my old neighborhood, and it was a delight to see. I believe I went to the opening day of "Fargo" there.
Throughout the film, the symbolism of a New York cab is used: if you were staying where you were, you let the cab go; if not, you asked it to wait. The theme reinforces the ending of "Daisy Kenyon" very well. A good movie.