blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

The Last Ride (1944, D. Ross Lederman)

I’m a fan of Warner Bros.’s old hour-long b-movies, so I found The Last Ride particularly distressing. It’s not poorly directed–Lederman even has one or two really good shots–and the writing, at least scenically, isn’t bad. There are some funny moments and the teaser is excellent. It all falls apart pretty quickly, however (it is only fifty-six minutes). The film’s continuity editing is real sloppy, like they shot scenes based on one script, didn’t shoot the rest of the scenes, and let everything sort of clash. The first time, it’s annoying, but by the second… it’s a significant strike against the film.

There’s also the problem with the script in terms of the characters’ stupidity. They’re real dumb, missing the most obvious things. Makes it real hard to care about them. There’s also the case of the disappearing character–Eleanor Parker disappears after two scenes, Mary Gordon is gone by the twenty minute mark (she has the really good comedic scene)–and these aren’t characters the movie, given how the story develops, can do without. They’re needed to react and to interact and they’re gone (probably off shooting other Warner Bros. pictures, but whatever). Richard Travis manages to hold the film up on his own longer than I thought one person could, but even he buckles under the poor handling of the script’s developments.

Besides Travis (and Tod Andrews in a small role), most of the performances are wobbly. Cy Kendall is good in parts, too much in others. Same with Charles Lang. Parker’s barely in it, Gordon’s expositional introduction of her doing more to establish the character than Parker has time to do. The opening setup is better acted than the rest of the film, by actors who don’t stick around long, only because their story is more interesting–if a lot more sensational–than what follows.

My favorite part is the end, when there are all these leftover lines from when The Last Ride was going to run ninety minutes. The way it ends, it’s like at least fifteen was lopped off… it just stops at the earliest convenient point.

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