|Fire Danger: CATASTROPHIC (delete)
One day each week, we at UnClassic Film Review check out what happens to be playing on Turner Classic Movies at 3:00 in the morning that day and review it without having a clue what it is. Our qualification for taking on this task is two-fold: we know nothing about obscure old popular films, and we drink our own urine. We will base our review, which will be thorough and informative, solely on the blurb in the TV listing.
The Southerner (1945)
This week's film is The Southerner, starring Zachary Scott, Betty Field, J. Carroll Naish, Buelah Bondi. It was made in 1945 and directed by Jean Renoir.
A sharecropper fights the elements to start his own farm.
Can a French impressionist save a no-star, ex-president cast? Unlikely
OK, first of all, Jean Renoir - that name sounds very familiar. I have no sense of art history to speak of, but wasn't he one of those French impressionist painters? If so, that sounds kind of interesting.
But then we see the cast list. Um... not exactly all-star. Zachary Scott? Wasn't he a president? I know ex-presidents today are really good on Saturday Night Live, but this is a French impressionist drama, right?
And who are those other stiffs? IMDB probably doesn't have squat on them. I bet you can't even Google any of those names and get anything but genealogy sites. Buelah Bondi? J. Carroll Naish? Who? Are we serious? This is a cast that wouldn't keep anyone awake in the wee hours of a dark night.
But let's look at the story. Who is the antagonist here? The weather? Do I really want to sit around for ninety minutes watching a guy wonder if it's going to rain on his turnips? I don't think so. And 1945 isn't exactly a great year for movies. I saw Citizen Kane from around that era - I don't think I like the whole motif where they tell their entire story with spinning newspapers. Come on, old movie makers, haven't you heard of showing and not telling?
Look, I've never seen this or any other movie by any French guys, but what could they possibly know about Southerners and their farms and bad weather that could hold my attentnion at 3:00 am? This is iffy at best to me. I have the "impression" that I'm in for a rather dull night with my Swanson's TV dinner and carton of ice cream.
I think this night I might be better off sticking with pixelated boobs on some SpikeTV program, but I'll give this three out of five stars, just for the novelty of seeing an ex-president speaking French in the old south. But if it turns out to suck as much as I think it will, I'm switching.