Sunday, January 06, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Foxfire (1955) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

FOXFIRE (1955), a marital drama starring Jeff Chandler and Jane Russell, has been released on a beautiful Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

I first saw this film nearly seven years ago, and I think I liked it even more this time around. It's a thoroughly enjoyable watch, starting from the opening credits, with Jeff Chandler singing the title song, which he cowrote with Henry Mancini. How cool is that?!

(For the record, Chandler was a fantastic singer and I have a number of the songs he recorded. It's another reason his far-too-early death in 1961 was such a loss.)

Russell plays Amanda Lawrence, who's vacationing in the desert when a tire blows on her car. She's given a lift by mining engineer Jonathan Dartland (Chandler) and his friend, an alcoholic doctor named Hugh Slater (Dan Duryea).

Amanda and "Dart" fall in love -- or lust -- almost at first sight and quickly marry. Amanda may be a fish out of water in Dart's tiny mining town, but she's friendly and eager to fit in. She and Dart are happy, but she struggles to understand her insecure husband's darker moods and emotional reserve, finally understanding him better when she visits an Indian reservation and meets the mother (Celia Lovsky) who abandoned him.

Russell is very appealing as Amanda, who's determined to make a success of her marriage despite the one step forward, two steps back nature of their relationship. She's initially baffled as he frequently backs away emotionally and particularly concerned when he shows a lack of enthusiasm for children, given she's become pregnant almost immediately. Coping with local racial prejudices, as Dart is half-Indian, adds to the challenges she faces.

Russell and Chandler have terrific chemistry. Although Chandler is given a more frustrating character to play, the back story explains his personality well as it's gradually revealed, and their final scenes are moving as his defenses begin to crumble.

Duryea plays somewhat of an odd character, who carries a torch for Amanda, despite the fact that she only sees him as a friend -- and despite the fact his beautiful nurse (Mara Corday) clearly loves him. Although he can be charming when sober, it's never made clear just why she's hung up on him.

The screenplay was by Ketti Frings, based on a story by Anya Seton (DRAGONWYCK). The last time I saw the film the print was 87 minutes, and I commented it felt truncated; this print ran 92 minutes, but even so I would have liked a somewhat longer film which delved more deeply into the characters and their relationships. Among other things, the relationship between Duryea and Corday is left unresolved at the end.

Much of the film was shot on location, with the resort scenes filmed at the scenic Apple Valley Inn, also seen in HIGHWAY DRAGNET (1954). The hole-in-the-wall town where Dart lives is wonderfully atmospheric; those scenes were shot in Arizona.

The film was directed by Joseph Pevney and filmed by William Daniels. The supporting cast includes Barton MacLane and Frieda Inescort.

Extras include a commentary track by Kat Ellinger, which I look forward to hearing this week, a trailer for the movie, and three additional trailers for Kino Lorber releases.

Kino Lorber has also just released another film in which Pevney directed Chandler, FEMALE ON THE BEACH (1955). It's a wonderfully fun movie, also starring Joan Crawford, which I first saw in 2011; I'll be reviewing Kino Lorber's new Blu-ray here in the near future.

FOXFIRE is yet another great example of the colorful and entertaining films released by Universal Pictures in the '50s, and it's sure to be enjoyed by anyone who loves the studio's releases of that era or the lead actors. I look forward to watching it again in the future.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

My to-see list for this year keeps getting longer. Now with a Pevney/Chandler double bill.

5:29 AM  
Blogger Jerry Entract said...

A film I've not yet seen. Chandler is another of those actors whose stock rises with me the more I see him.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

A Pevney/Chandler double bill would be great! I'll be writing about the next one very soon.

I agree, Jerry, Chandler grows on me more and more as time goes on. And I love listening to his recordings. :)

Best wishes,

2:45 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older