Friday, 31 May 2013

Daisy Kenyon (1947)

When I first saw "Daisy Kenyon" I was absolutely taken aback. I thought it was one of the most emotionally true and adult films Hollywood produced in the 1940s. On a second viewing, while I still agree with that, particularly during the film's second half, I was much less taken aback and start noticing things I missed or forgot from the first time around.

Otto Preminger's "Daisy Kenyon" is among many things a film about how good timing is an essential part of relationships. Daisy Kenyon (Joan Crawford) is a designer desiluded with her affair with a married man (Dana Andrews) when she meets war veteran (Henry Fonda) who proposes to her.

Among the things I liked about the film is Preminger usual pushing the envelope. The film touches subjects such as post-traumatic stress disorder; a mother using children at instruments to get back at their father; the plight of Japanese-Americans after World War II; and in a sense the maturity of the affair (Fonda's character acts like a normal human being). The cast is excellent. Joan Crawford gives one of her best performances, rid of some of her mannerisms, and Dana Andrews surprised  me tremendously. There a few moments who keep coming to mind, particularly his last scene. But the best, I think, is his reaction when Crawford tells him she has married Fonda. It is very subtle and really well done.

Yet, the film is unbalanced with something not quite right. Sometimes this is obvious: towards the end, Joan Crawford uses the most innapropriate shoes to get into the snow. Unrealistic touches like this are usually more evident in an otherwise realistic film. Sometimes it takes a bit of thinking to figure it out - while on the surface, the film seems to question till the end which man will end with Daisy, it's actually obvious, not just by the rules of the Hays Code but in more less obvious ways (there is a lot of rain whenever one of them is on screen).

No comments: