Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Daisy Kenyon (1947)


“It's a funny thing about being in love. Sometimes it's easier to tell when you are than when you aren't”

            I am not even sure how to begin this post about the Noir film Daisy Kenyon. This is one film that I am really on the fence about.
            The two main things I look for when watching a film are the story and the acting. With Daisy Kenyon I felt the story was not that good and that it dragged but the acting was some of the best I have ever seen in a film.
            Daisy Kenyon (Joan Crawford) is a commercial artist who works for a magazine. She is seeing a man named Dan O’Mara (Dana Andrews). Dan is a big lawyer who is married with two girls. Daisy and Dan often fight but they never stay angry at each other long. Daisy is also seeing another man a soldier named Peter Lapham (Henry Fonda). Peter fought in Europe during WWII. He is also a widower who lost his wife in a car accident.
            Both men offer a life Daisy must choose between. Dan promises he will divorce his wife but she does not want him to do that especially because of his girls. Peter does not have any strings attached and she sees he is a better guy than Dan.
            Daisy marries Peter but they both realize they still have to get over their former loves. Until they can work out their feelings there is no real love between them. Peter even admits that he moved into Daisy’s life when she was vulnerable and he took advantage.
            One day Dan calls Daisy from his home office. His wife, Lucille, picks up the phone to see who he is talking to. Dan is telling Daisy that he loves her. Lucille cannot take anymore and she yells into the phone at the other woman. Lucille wants a divorce and she wants to make it nasty by claiming Daisy as the reason for it.
            The story is a bit better than I described but I really could not get into. The film is labeled as a Noir but the only way I found it to be a Noir was because of the lighting and Otto Preminger directed it. Preminger is one of my favorite directors. I like how he was able to get down to the grittier aspects of life and portray things other directors were unwilling to portray. In the film there were issues of abuse from Lucille against her youngest daughter; Daisy was the “other woman” but she was the one we felt bad for not the other way around, and many other aspects. I am always in awe whenever I watch a Preminger film in how he brilliantly captured shadows. The cinematography in his films always amaze me. The cinematography I noticed really created a great amount of sympathy and compassion for Daisy.
            The story to me was just not that strong. Joan Crawford commented “If Otto Preminger hadn’t directed it, the picture would have been a mess. It came off. Sort of.” I have to agree with Crawford. Preminger turned a melodrama into something with a bit of intrigue.
            Crawford, Dana Andrews, and Henry Fonda worked very well together. Crawford gave a great performance for not really thinking anything of the film. I found she handled her character very well. I have not seen Crawford in many films so I was very impressed with her acting. Andrews I have only seen in Laura and Where the Sidewalk Ends where he is the nice guy with a little bit of toughness and sarcasm to him. Here I found myself wanting to punch him in some scenes. Dan was the kind of guy who just wanted everything. Since I am so used to him being a nice guy I liked Andrews being a bit of a slim. He pulled of this role very well. Fonda is just amazing in whatever film he is in but I was not liking his character. I found his loneliness and want to be really annoying in some scenes. I got a kick out of seeing Peggy Ann Gardner as Dan’s oldest daughter Rosamund. I am so used to seeing her in Black Widow when she was twenty-two years old it was interesting seeing her at fifteen.
            Daisy Kenyon has an alright plot but after a while it started to get on my nerves a bit. I only really kept watching the film because I was enjoying the acting. I am not going to completely write off Daisy Kenyon it is not an awful film but the story is not one of the greatest.
            I say give Daisy Kenyon a try. You may like it more than I did.