Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Tonight's Movie: The Sleeping Tiger (1954) at the Noir City Film Festival

Sunday night's "British marital noir" double bill at the 17th Annual Noir City Film Festival started off with the thriller THE HIDDEN ROOM (1949). That film was followed by THE SLEEPING TIGER (1954).

THE SLEEPING TIGER concerns a British psychologist, Dr. Clive Esmond (Alexander Knox) who takes a young man, Frank (Dirk Bogarde), into his home after Frank tries to rob him.

Clive wants to see if he can uncover Frank's motivations for a life of crime and help him turn things around. Never mind that Clive could be putting at risk the safety of his wife Glenda (Alexis Smith) or members of his staff; indeed, Clive is quite sanguine about Frank's presence, even when he has to pay off a maid (Patricia McCarron) who has been terrorized by Frank.

As it happens, Glenda is quite taken with Frank, and they begin a torrid affair. But as Frank's therapy continues, he genuinely starts to reform, including breaking things off with Glenda. This does not sit well with Glenda at all, and ironically, as Frank's mental health improves, Glenda's declines precipitously.

THE SLEEPING TIGER was an entertaining enough 89 minutes, holding my attention throughout, but in the end I found it all rather silly, starting with the premise that Knox's physical training was such that he could disarm young Bogarde. I had a hard time buying the story in general, and though I'm a fan of Alexis Smith, she really chews the scenery in this one. Knox, on the other hand, is so complacent, no matter what happens under his nose, that one comes to feel he's book smart but not very wise.

I don't think I'd seen Bogarde in any films previous to this; he was a popular actor but he didn't make any particular impression on me in this.

THE SLEEPING TIGER is worth catching if one is a fan of the actors or likes the '50s British crime films with American lead actors -- or Canadian, in Knox's case -- but there are other films of its type which are better.

THE SLEEPING TIGER was directed by Joseph Losey, who also directed the 1951 version of M, seen at last year's Noir City festival. The black and white cinematography was by Harry Waxman.

The screenplay was by Carl Foreman and Harold Buchman, writing under the pseudonym Derek Frye; it was based on a novel by Maurice Moiseiwitsch.

THE SLEEPING TIGER is available on Region 2 DVD in Europe. It can also be streamed on Amazon Instant Video.


Blogger john k said...

Hi Laura,

Never seen THE SLEEPING TIGER,but always wanted to purely because
of Smith's and Losey's involvement.
I enjoyed your fine review even though you did not care for the
film too much.
Very interested in your Dirk Bogarde comments.
Interestingly one of his more accessible films/roles has just
been released on Blu-Ray by Network in the UK.
CAMPBELL'S KINGDOM is a sort of "British Western" with Bogarde
having to cope with nasty Stanley Baker in the Canadian Rockies.
I understand the picture was actually filmed in Italy though.
If you feel like giving Bogarde another chance I think that you
will really enjoy CAMPBELL'S KINGDOM

6:12 AM  

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