Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Bored Burt & Manic Mason

Big Burt Lancaster stars in The Midnight Man, a mid 70's thriller about an ex-con, ex-cop turned night watchman on release. A series of crimes on and off campus twitch the nose of the old investigator and he's soon digging into the lives of students, Senators, hillbillies and religious pervs. This isn't a classic by any means, with the acting, script and cinematography all of a TV movie quality and it's only saving grace being the surprisingly convoluted case. For the curious and/or bored only.

Bigger Than Life is a tight little James Mason flick; a tale of suburban drug abuse with Mason's school teacher getting strung out on new wonder drug Cortisone after collapsing from exhaustion. Mason's descent into megalomania and it's effect on his family life dominates proceedings and it's a tour de force performance from Mason who slowly starts to chew the scenery with much vigor. Beautifully shot and directed by Nicholas Ray my only frustration lies with the films intentions: either it's a simple but well made cautionary tale or the simple plot hides an subtext that's somewhat ambiguous, is it a critique of educational conformity or a proponent, is it a diatribe against the suffocating American dream or a reaction to the sudden, slightly insane proliferation of drug treatments in 50/60's ? Your guess is as good as mine.

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