Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Quest to See the 1000 Greatest:
Some Came Running (1958)

Some Came Running is #579 in  
My Quest to watch the 1000 Greatest Films

Screened 01/31/11 on DVD

Ranked #412 on TSPDT

*There be spoilers ahead for those who care about such things.

Besides being historically noteworthy as being the first film to put Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin together on film, Vincente Minnelli's Some Came Running is a swirling, decadent masterpiece of Cinemascope moviemaking.  And I am not alone on this, as Martin Scorsese, in his doc My Personal Journey Through American Cinema, calls the final carnival scene one of the best uses of Cinemascope he has ever seen.   I concur Mr. Scorsese (in case you needed my validation).

I got a copy of this film on DVD well over a year ago, but kept putting it off and putting it off and putting it off, deciding instead to watch many other movies in the meantime (probably a good 500 in the interim).  I know at least one of my critical compatriots, Glenn Kenny, whose great blog is named after the Minnelli film and whom I must assume likes said film quite a bit, would probably be disappointed by my procrastination on this movie (if he actually knew I had procrastinated) but I do believe the wait was, as they say, well worth the wait.

Coming across as subtly as can be at first glance (beautiful but quietly disarming) and climbing higher and higher as the film progresses, like the crescendo of Bolero or White Rabbit (to use two vastly different yet surprising similar cultural references), finally leading to the aforementioned Scorsese-liked Cinemascopic finale, where are the intricate threads and weaving microcosms of the plot come crashing together in a heady, metrocolor boom.  A scene homaged by (of course) Brian De Palma in Blow Out.
And as for the acting, we already knew Sinatra could act (his performance in both From Here to Eternity and The Man With the Golden Arm proved that) but this was the one that proved it about his Rat Pack pal Dino as well.  With this and his followup, Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo (one of this critic's favourite films), Martin proved how good of an actor he could be.  Unfortunately he never - to my knowledge - did any other great acting work.  This performance, and the character's insistence on never removing his hat, was enough to inspire Godard's similar take in Le Mepris.

Then there is Shirley MacLaine.  One of her first films (just two years before her standout turn in Billy Wilder's The Apartment) MacLaine would garner her first Oscar nomination for the role, but only after Sinatra (and here be the spoilers and hence your final warning of such) told Minnelli to "Let the kid take the bullet.  Maybe she'll get an Oscar out of it."  She would have to wait another twenty-five years to finally win that Oscar (for a much lesser film btw), but it did draw her the first of her eventual five Best Actress nominations.

A film well worth my completely happenstance wait, Some Came Running is a wonder to behold, both for its visual succulence and classic storytelling - and for that remarkable crash boom bang ending.

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