23 December 2002 | pzanardo
A good film-noir, dominated by Raymond Burr
"Desperate" is a low-budget but fairly good film-noir. The director Anthony Mann, at the beginning of his career, shows his talent, soon to be consecrated in a sequence of splendid western movies.
The story is simple, but has a steady pace and a good suspense. At times the troubles of the cruelly chased hero and heroine are straightforward, not to say boring, but the movie considerably improves whenever the gangsters are on the screen. All along the film we find an excellent, stylish black and white photography. The waving lamp spreading a dire light on the impassive faces of the criminals, while we hear the off-screen noise of an horrible beating, should be a cult-scene in a more celebrated movie. Another remarkable moment is the brutal intrusion of the gangsters into the rural peace of an amiable old couple. A feeling of violation and fear is created, with no use of visual violence. The final scene, though a bit unrealistic, is masterly filmed and provides a satisfactory ending.
Steve Brodie and Aubrey Long make an adequate job as the couple of the good ones. However, the film is physically dominated by Raymond Burr, with his immense shoulders and his scaring poise. What a great villain he is! Of course, we are also delighted by Burr's side-kicks, with their wonderful gangster-faces.
"Desperate" is recommended for film-noir fans and can be a nice view for anyone fond of good, old-style, accurately-made cinema.