30 October 2011 | audiemurph
It looks like a play on film
This is a film of a play, and it looks it. With a couple of exceptions, all of the dialogue is between the two characters played by Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine. To be honest, Mitchum seems badly miscast here. I don't think he was the best choice for a lonely, insecure and lost bachelor in New York City; Mitchum begging for help from a woman who appears to be half his age? To me, it doesn't work. MacLaine surprised me, however, with some very fine acting, much better than I have ever seen her before; she was quite stunning when she was young. And she even does a bit of dancing in this movie.
I am a big Robert Mitchum fan, but he is too old, and the physical mismatch with MacLaine is too distracting.
The sets are static; the action, such as it is, rarely leaves the two protagonists' apartments. There is an interesting application of split screen; M & M are speaking on the phone to each other from their separate apartments. The left half of the shot is MacLaine's home, the right Mitchum's. The two apartments are very distinct in furnishing and style. Suddenly, the camera pans right, to focus on Mitchum, and you realize that it is one set, cleverly made up to look like a standard split screen; that is, it is arranged exactly as if it were on a stage, the left side one apartment, the right the other. Very clever! Another interesting note: during the opening credits, Mitchum is seen to be walking around various parts of Manhattan, apparently all in one day; he states shortly thereafter that he spends his days and nights tramping the streets endlessly. In order, he first appears in the Bowery, feeding pigeons in front of St. Mark's Church, then downtown in front of the landmark Woolworth Building, then in midtown, on what may be 42nd Stret, and finally in front and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He sure got around in one day!
I am not a big fan of movies made to look like plays, but this is beautifully and cleverly photographed. It may be worth a look.