Monday, March 7, 2011

Joan Gets Arrested

Flamingo Road (1949) features Joan Crawford as Lane Bellamy, a carnival dancer who gets bored with the constant running from creditors, and decides to settle down in the town of Boldon City.  Boldon City is run, in every negative context of that word, by its malevolent sheriff, Titus Semple (Sydney Greenstreet).  His assistant, Fielding Carlisle (Zachary Scott) is enchanted by Lane, much to the chagrin of Semple, who has other plans for her personable aide - he plans to use him as a political stooge, a body and a voice that will allow Semple to create his own political machine. Lane, of course, will put those ambitions in jeopardy - too strong to be manipulated, too common to be an attractive political wife, she becomes an obstacle for Semple to get out of the way.

While Crawford is a bit old to play Lane, her power as an actress is still well used.  You can well appreciate her character's ability to land on her feet despite any obstacle, and her tenacity in going head-to-head with Sheriff Semple.  But, good as she is, it is Sydney Greenstreet who steals the movie.  He is so amazingly EVIL - you cannot take your eyes from him the minute he walks into a scene.  Poor Zachary Scott is faced with the unenviable task of playing a weakling. There isn't ANYONE that can't push this man around, from his idiotic, daddy-obsessed wife (Virginia Hudson) to Lane to Semple. We did especially enjoy the scenes between Lane and Dan Reynolds (David Brian). Again, we get to see another side of Lane, as she begins to love the man she had only hoped to use. 

Flamingo Road is a surprisingly enjoyable movie.  We hope you'll give it a try one day.  Here's a trailer: