Daisy Kenyon (1947)

Daisy Kenyon (Joan Crawford) is a successful commercial artist in love with the high-powered (and very married) attorney Dan O’Mara (Dana Andrews), the kind of smooth operator that charms everyone but his beleaguered wife (Ruth Warrick). At an uncertain point in their affair, Daisy meets the sensitive war veteran Peter Lapham (Henry Fonda), a widower who may be unstable but is also very kind. In an attempt to get away from her toxic relationship with Dan, Daisy marries Peter and they try to build a life together. Complications ensue — would there be a movie if they didn’t? Director Otto Preminger’s Daisy Kenyon (1947) treats its titular character in a comparatively realistic, morally way, especially in its portrayal of a love triangle that goes completely and unsurprisingly wrong. It’s fascinating to see so many critics and fans, both now and then, consider Dan to be the quintessential “great guy,” someone gregarious and successful and handsome and everything a woman could want. To me, Dan has always come across as a parody of the cinematic perfect man, a mash-up of an old pre-Code ruthless businessman with the current (for 1947) hard-boiled private dick. He shows his contempt for people by constantly calling them “honey bunch” or, for variety, “sugar plum,” which has lead many to consider Dan a hard-boiled character and the film, by extension, a film noir, but I don’t think it is, not strictly anyway. Dan may fight for the rights of the disenfranchised, but he can’t be arsed … Continue reading

Gas-s-s-s (1970)

Gas-s-s-s investigates the hippie generation’s fear of aging and responsibilities as the 1970s begin, as they got older and life started to seem less in their control. All of the “youths” of the film look 25 or older; they’re definitely old enough to know better… and to be worrying about whether the gas would still be around on their 25th birthdays, if we’re taking the plot literally, which we probably shouldn’t. Yet amidst the Edgar Allan Poe parodies and doofy football players is a very real sense of people hoping for one last fling before they have to cut their hair and turn into yuppies, as God and Greyhound intended. Continue reading