Thursday, September 5, 2013

King’s Row, wet ink

[Parris Mitchell (Robert Cummings) writes home. Click on any image for a larger view.]

My dad has told me again and again that I should see King’s Row (dir. Sam Wood, 1942). I finally did. It’s a terrific film. That Ronald Reagan is one of its stars was no recommendation to me, but the principal players — Cummings, Betty Field, Claude Rains, Reagan, Ann Sheridan — are uniformly excellent. Another star of this film: James Wong Howe’s cinematography. King’s Row is one of the most luminous films I’ve seen. Look at the glistening ink above.

There’s a moment in King’s Row in which Howe pays tribute to fellow deep-focus stylist Gregg Toland. Here, from Citizen Kane (dir. Orson Welles, 1941), is Susan Alexander’s bedroom, foreground, middle ground, and background all in focus:

And here, from King’s Row , is Parris’s grandmother’s bedroom:

And now I want to see Transatlantic (dir. William K. Howard, 1931), Howe’s early effort in deep focus.

comments: 4

Adair said...

A disturbing film, I find, especially that Dr. Gordon!

Michael Leddy said...

And how. I should have mentioned Charles Coburn.

Paul Harrington said...

That Ronald Reagan was in this kept me from watching it for years. I love the movie, but I thought he was just about the best thing in it. (Betty Field was great, yes, her acting seems ahead of the times - like Freddie Steele, the marine with a mother complex in 'Hail the Conquering Hero'.) The juice went out of Ronald Reagan after the war; his acting was perfunctory (and that includes his role as POTUS).

Michael Leddy said...

I had to admit to my dad: Reagan was a fine actor, at least here. To think of his acting only in terms of Bedtime for Bonzo is, I now know, deeply unfair.

Have you seen Betty Field in Of Mice and Men? She’s also great in several episodes of Route 66.