Friday, May 13, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Try and Get Me (1950) - An Olive Films DVD Review

The searing crime drama TRY AND GET ME (1950) has recently been released on DVD and Blu-ray by Olive Films.

I saw a 35mm restoration of this movie twice in 2013, first at the UCLA Festival of Preservation and then again at the Noir City Hollywood festival.

I was informed by Alan K. Rode of the Film Noir Foundation that the Olive Films DVD did not use the Film Noir Foundation restoration. However, the Olive Films DVD I watched looked very good, light years ahead of a bad copy I once saw a bit of on YouTube. Olive has done a great job releasing this film in a really nice-looking print.

Howard Tyler (Frank Lovejoy) is out of work and barely able to support his pregnant wife (Kathleen Ryan) and young son (Donald Smelick). Just putting food on the table is a struggle for Howard, let alone giving his son change to attend a baseball game.

Howard meets the controlling, cocky Jerry (Lloyd Bridges) at a bowling alley. Jerry lures Howard in with the possibility of a job. In a weird scene, the take-charge (and sexually ambiguous) Jerry asserts his dominance over Howard, ordering him to hand him this or that, and Howard, desperate for a job, meekly assents.

It turns out that the "job" is driving a getaway car for Jerry, who knocks over gas stations and stores for a "living." And Howard, once a solid citizen, goes along with it. When he's able to take his family shopping, he tells them he found a night job that pays well.

Soon Jerry has more elaborate plans than stick-ups, ultimately revealing himself to be a sociopath who kills without remorse. Howard, suddenly involved in a murder, has enough remorse for both of them, completely unable to handle what he's become.

In the second half of the movie the story shifts to a cautionary, still-relevant look at the role of the media covering crime. Richard Carlson plays a reporter who initially plays up the murder story to satisfy his publisher (Art Smith). Eventually, however, he comes to regret writing sensationalized stories.

The film gets a bit preachy, particularly with a professor (Renzo Cesana) trying to blame violent behavior on society, but it raises points which still have value over six decades later in this 24/7 "reality TV" world.

Although I'd seen the movie twice before, I think I'd almost pushed out of my mind what an intense, stressful movie it is. It's worth seeing for the excellent performances, thought-provoking issues, and some unforgettable scenes, but it's not exactly relaxing! I was relieved every time Richard Carlson came on screen because it provided a respite from the agony being experienced by Frank Lovejoy's character.

Anyone watching this film is unlikely to look at Lloyd Bridges the same way again; it's fascinating watching him as a slimy crook whose cocky bravado completely falls apart when his own life is on the line.

I've always had some trouble with Frank Lovejoy in this role; he's a real favorite, but as such he's always seemed to me to have too much innate intelligence to be willing to spend more than a couple minutes with Jerry, let alone commit crimes with him. That said, his portrayal of Howard's crumbling under the weight of his guilt is most moving.

Ryan is lovely and moving in her small role as Howard's wife; a scene where she recounts a dream of having a baby girl is especially sweet. She also has a fine scene where she rattles Carlson's reporter into approaching her situation with some humanity.

Carlson plays his role as a nice guy with a slightly smarmy edge (that "smarmy" adjective from the Film Noir Foundation's Eddie Muller has stayed with me!). He's really very good; watch how his eyes shift from embarrassment when he's confronted by Howard's wife, who succeeds in bringing out his decency.

The supporting cast includes Adele Jergens, Katherine Locke, Irene Vernon, and Cliff Clark.

The movie was directed by Cy Endfield and filmed in black and white by Guy Roe.

According to a comment at my site from former child actor Donald Smelick (now Don Ross), the movie was shot in Phoenix and Hollywood. He also shared that "Frank Lovejoy was the nicest guy you'll ever meet."

The movie runs 85 minutes. The screenplay by Jo Pagano was based on his book THE CONDEMNED.

TRY AND GET ME has also been shown under the title THE SOUND OF FURY, hence the poster here with that name.

There are no extras on the DVD.

Thanks to Olive Films for providing a review copy of this DVD.


Blogger Jerry E said...

Hi Laura!
Great review of a gripping, exhausting movie! Lovejoy was never better.
I like the description of Carlson's character as a bit 'smarmy'. That's a word I tend to think of as a British description. Don't associate it as a US-used word at all (could be wrong though).
Lloyd Bridges was good. He could be the warm and likeable hero but, as with any good character actor, he was good at portraying 'grey' aspects such as weakness ('High Noon'). One of his best really nasty roles was as the bullying, cock-sure and ultimately very dangerous climber in 'THE WHITE TOWER' (1950) as it becomes apparent he was an SS man during the recent war. Glenn Ford is the decent American who is reluctant to push himself at first but gradually is forced to become as obsessive as Bridges and take him on.

11:45 PM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Not my favorite film, but Carlson and Lovejoy were reteamed in Retreat, Hell! -- just great.

9:53 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Jerry. Smarmy is a really great word LOL. I've never seen THE WHITE TOWER and will keep it I mind.

I've never seen RETREAT, HELL!, Barrylane, and I sure like both actors. Will also put that one on my "to see" list!

Best wishes,

9:01 PM  

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