Tag Archives: Robert Stevenson

The Woman on Pier 13 (1949, Robert Stevenson)

The politics of The Woman on Pier 13 are more interesting than the film itself. While it’s rabidly anti-Communist, the film is pro-Union. It sets up the Communist Party (the USA branch—there’s no mention of Soviet ties) as an unimaginably devious and effective organization. There’s no motive for their activities—except to mess with honest, working Americans… in the Union—but villain Thomas Gomez is still fantastic. He doesn’t fret about motivation.

Also more interesting than the film are its credits. Laraine Day gets top billing, but she doesn’t even need to be present until the last twenty minutes. The film’s pacing is awkward, with most of it following either Day’s new husband, played by Robert Ryan, or his old flame, played by Janis Carter. The billing probably should’ve had Day third after Ryan and Carter.

The only thing motivating Ryan’s character throughout is his desire to hide his old Communist Party membership. Even when it becomes clear Day may be in danger, Ryan hesitates. Worse, Ryan doesn’t show any understanding of the character’s selfishness. Instead of being the complicated story of a coward who looks like Robert Ryan, it’s Ryan behaving nonsensically.

Carter’s got some great moments, but her hysterics are fairly awful. John Agar’s good as Day’s impressionable younger brother.

The film’s best performance is from William Talman as a sociopathic hit man. He’s amazing.

Stevenson’s composition’s okay but Roland Gross’s editing is bad. Leigh Harline’s score is terrible.

The film’s peculiar, but not worthwhile.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Robert Stevenson; screenplay by Charles Grayson and Robert Hardy Andrews, based on a story by George W. George and George F. Slavin; director of photography, Nicholas Musuraca; edited by Roland Gross; music by Leigh Harline; produced by Jack J. Gross; released by RKO Radio Pictures.

Starring Laraine Day (Nan Lowry Collins), Robert Ryan (Bradley Collins), John Agar (Don Lowry), Thomas Gomez (Vanning), Janis Carter (Christine Norman), Richard Rober (Jim Travers), William Talman (Bailey), Paul E. Burns (J.T. Arnold), Paul Guilfoyle (Ralston), G. Pat Collins (Charlie Dover), Fred Graham (Grip Wilson), Harry Cheshire (J. Francis Cornwall) and Jack Stoney (Garth).


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Non-Stop New York (1937, Robert Stevenson)

I’d almost say Non-Stop New York has to be seen to be believed, but it might imply someone else should suffer through the film’s endless seventy-some minute running time. It’s a completely idiotic British attempt at an American proto-noir.

The film opens in New York, so you have a bunch of British actors not really even bothering hiding their accents. The opening introduces James Pirrie, Anna Lee and Francis L. Sullivan. All three are atrocious, but only Sullivan is at all interesting in his bad performance. He plays the portly villain a little like a flaming Adam West “Batman” villain. However, being interesting doesn’t make his performance any less awful.

Luckily, Pirrie dies quickly, then Lee’s off to England to be falsely accused in a related manner and she has to get back to the States to save an innocent man.

The idiocy of the script manifests most prominently in Pirrie’s murder case. Lee is a witness to the crime and the entire world (literally) is looking for her. Except, of course, John Loder’s Scotland Yard inspector, who dismisses her.

Loder’s bad too.

Particularly annoying is Desmond Tester (who appears in the second half, which is Grand Hotel with intrigue, set on a double decker airplane crossing the Atlantic).

The only passable performances are Athene Seyler and, to a lesser extent, Frank Cellier.

In defense of Stevenson’s weak direction, he seems to think he’s directing an absurdist comedy.

Unfortunately, the joke’s on the audience (I couldn’t resist).

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Robert Stevenson; screenplay by J.O.C. Orton, Roland Pertwee, Curt Siodmak and E.V.H. Emmett, based on a novel by Ken Attiwill; director of photography, Mutz Greenbaum; edited by Al Barnes; music by Hubert Bath, Bretton Byrd and Louis Levy; released by Gaumont British Distributors.

Starring John Loder (Inspector Jim Grant), Anna Lee (Jennie Carr), Francis L. Sullivan (Hugo Brant), Frank Cellier (Sam Pryor), Desmond Tester (Arnold James), Athene Seyler (Aunt Veronica), William Dewhurst (Mortimer), Drusilla Wills (Mrs. Carr), Jerry Verno (Steward), James Pirrie (Billy Cooper), Ellen Pollock (Miss Harvey), Arthur Goullet (Abel), Peter Bull (Spurgeon), Tony Quinn (Harrigan) and H.G. Stoker (Captain).


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