Saturday, 9 January 2010

Jeopardy (1953)

What would you do if your husband was trapped under a wharf stanchion with the tide coming in and your young son close by about to see his daddy drown? Would you have hot hate-sex with the escaped sociopathic criminal played by Ralph Meeker in order to get him to lend a hand? If the answer is “Jeez, Rod, I’d need to be in that situation before I’d know how I’d act”, then you should take a look at this short and snappy John Sturges film starring Barbara Stanwyck as the wife who faces just that predicament, a contrived situation if ever there was one and yet laid out with such zippy, shameless energy you don’t really care.

Barry Sullivan is the husband in danger, doing a good impression of wood before he's trapped under wood, but Meeker eats up the screen when he appears, and the forceful pace and convincing detail, with the sleazy convict's genuine on-the-fly mechanical cleverness coming in very handy, accumulate to a nail-biting and even rather surprising conclusion. A model of old-school concision, it has beauties lost on most contemporary Hollywood directors.

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