Wednesday, October 22, 2008

East Side, West Side (1949)

Entertaining little melodrama about love and adultry that veered nicely into noir with an unexpected murder... and then about-faced before it could go anywhere truly fun. Rats. That murder posed such delicious possibilities too. Instead, it's used merely as a device to resolve the characters' romantic problems. Pfffft. I hate it when movies remove obstacles the easy way. Despite that, it was still a pretty good film and I enjoyed it a lot.

This film's elevated quite a bit by its cast. Barbara Stanwyck and Ava Gardner, who could swap their character roles with ease (and I have to admit I spent a fair bit of time imagining them playing the opposite character, just because). James Mason, who is dark and broody and unfaithful. Van Heflin, who is all grins and smarts and integrity. Sigh. And the ever-lovely Cyd Charisse, who you particularly gotta love when she refers to the other women in the movie as "dames." Hee. Actually, thinking about it, she's got most of the sassy, snappy lines. She says it like it is, and she cracked me up.

And this film has some really fun scenes, such as when James Mason, seeking to reconcile with his wife, Barbara Stanwyck, goes to her mother (Gale Sondergaard!) for assistance, and she most viciously and delightfully cuts him down to size, never losing her wickedly charming smile. Never mess with Gale Sondergaard! (She and Judith Anderson both quite intimidate me.) And then there's Van Heflin's reaction after a six-foot tall blonde tries to beat him up in his car. Priceless!

Most disappointing moment was finding out the policeman in charge was one Lt. Jacoby -- but not played by Hershel Bernardi. Of course not. This isn't Peter Gunn, but darn it all, I wanted my Lt. Jacoby.


  1. This one's also in my Netflix queue...all part of my upcoming Van Heflin study. I didn't know about the rest of the cast, though! I love James Mason and Cyd Charisse. :)

  2. Hah! Knew you'd seen it. And yes, I think I liked Cyd Carisse best of all the chicks -- maybe as much as Van! She needed more screen time.