Sunday 1 January 2012

Quicksand [1950]

What better way to resume my journey with Cinemascope in the new year than with this darn interesting, albeit criminally overlooked, film noir. Mickey Rooney, who had been hitherto typecast mostly in sugar-coated feel-good movies, went for a total overhaul of his on-screen persona with this compact and fatalistic film. Rooney played the role of Dan Brady, a not-too-bright working class guy stuck in a dead-end job as a car mechanic. He’s also a bit of a charmer and a ladies’ man, and this trait of his leads him to make a small error in judgement while raising 20 dollars in cash in order to take a broad for a date. Unfortunately for him, Murphy’s Law takes full effect on his life as covering for each misstep leads him to commit bigger and bigger crimes – from hold-ups to robbery to murder, as a result of which his life takes one hell of a downward spiral before he’s even realized the kind of trouble he’s getting himself into. As the title so succinctly suggests, the more he tries to get out of the mess of his own making, the deeper he sinks into the quagmire with ever-so decreasing chances of retribution. Rooney was cast against his type as the amoral schnook whose life takes a harrowing turn sparked by one stupid decision, and he did a fine job in ensuring that his character is thoroughly believable with all his flaws. One could always say that more time ought to have been invested in taking the mood and atmosphere to their crescendo. Further, the optimistic finale reduced the impact of the nightmarish tone maintained till then. But, these missteps apart, this breezy, roller-coaster ride was a competent work in the blind-alley subgenre of noirs.

Director: Irving Pichel
Genre: Film Noir/Crime Drama
Language: English
Country: US


Sam Juliano said...

Shubhajit, you stumped here on New Year's Day with this one. I have not seen it, and have never really looked to do so until now. Rooney of course is a national treasure for all sorts of reasons, but his work in this overlooked noir seems rather special. Great writing and hope to be able to see this at some point.

Happy New Year my friend!!!

Shubhajit said...

Thanks a lot Sam. And wish you too a very Happy New Year!!!

Yeah, this movie remains quite underwatched despite the legendary status that Mickey Rooney enjoys among American film lovers. Do watch it - this is a pretty interesting and engaging work in the field of film noirs.