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MATURE & SCOTT HAVING A BALL IN TOURNEUR'S 'EASY LIVING'

Year of Release: 1949
A kind of Sports Noir given that the three main stars and director were staples of that particular mostly black-and-white, dark and shadowy genre...

Victor Mature and Lucille Ball
And who knows, maybe, at that time, fans of director Jacques Tourneur, expecting another CAT PEOPLE, OUT OF THE PAST or even CANYON PASSAGE were letdown, surprised or both that their man...

Who usually thrived on dark subject matters or lavish, energetic Westerns, was behind a seemingly mundane picture about a quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams almost past his prime. But there's a lining in any and every cinematic rainbow if you admire a director enough to find their signature gold in an otherwise vacant mine — thanks especially to Tourneur, who helped a project that might've been a completely dull programmer instead of an entertaining, time-filling programmer that, though taking about fifteen minutes to take shape, flows together smoothly...

Lucille Ball is there for a tanked Victor Mature
From suburban kitchens to high society apartment parties to the locker room and a few brief moments on the practice field, and even less on game night, the camerawork flows from one character to another...

As one person speaks we pan back to show another walk up — as if we're imagining ourselves on set with the actors while centering on each subject concerned. And it's mostly one-shots that last over twenty seconds, which, according to Orson Welles about directing, comparing one-shots to various cuts, separates the men from the boys: As for sports fans, particularly football buffs, they probably feel more cheated than those expecting another Tourneur journey into shadows and darkness — this ain't exactly KNUTE ROCKNE, ALL AMERICAN...

Sexy Lizabeth Scott
Most of the film is tethered to our main character played by Victor Mature, who has the same vulnerable, defeated expression from KISS OF DEATH; only Richard Widmark's lethal threat is mostly transferred to an actress who's one of the signature "dames" of The Dark Film genre: Lizabeth Scott, lithe and edgy, determined and pigheaded, is (arguably) prettier than ever... And she's even more intriguing than the dark cloud over Mature's star quarterback Pete Wilson: Because of a bad heart condition, he holds back on the field and is deemed "The Cripple"by his teammates. Meanwhile, Scott's flirtation with a rich old man (a wonderfully creepy-cool Art Baker) who, had this been a Noir, would be the kind of idyllic, million dollar gangster that pushes the buttons... Well he sure pushes her's...

Easy Living: ****
Through this "relationship," Scott really comes alive, learning the truth about herself — basically, she's a manipulative gold-digging loser (i.e. an interesting character) who's not the talented interior decorator she yearns to be, or thinks she is simply by being married to a star quarterback... This is what initially connected husband and wife, and yet we begin with their relationship already in turmoil. The further down he goes, she follows — and not happily, making for a few zesty arguments where a sort of Bogart slap-into-submission is inevitable.

The scene-stealer is our... let's say, Femme Fatale, in a proverbial sense: And no one really loves Lucille Ball's Anne, the caustic wife of the team's owner's deceased son, sharing initially sparing dialogue with Mature until their heated chemistry surpasses Scott's own semi-heated backstory...

Anne has the most noticeable and interesting character-arc, going from sly to sullen to vulnerable and lovestruck in a Sports film that's loaded with far more wordplay indoors than it works up a sweat outside. But the combination of genuine performances and creative direction provides a sense of either reading an interesting novel or experiencing a fulfilling off-Broadway play,
Cult Film Freak's first favorite director, and this is a good one too
Lizabeth Scott drinks and waits and moans in EASY LIVING which she's just dying for
Victor Mature with future Tonight Show host Jack Paar and Paul Stewart, Easy Living
Lucille Ball and an old boxing arcade game symbolizes a lost battle in EASY LIVING
There's where the DVD cover comes from... Victor Mature and Lizabeth Scott EASY LIVING
Sexy pouting Lizabeth Scott, who's the most beautiful ever here in EASY LIVING
Gordon Jones and Richard Erdman (one's the original Green Hornet; the other's an actor who's STILL alive, and working)
Lizabeth Scott with Art Baker in one of the best scenes in EASY LIVING
Jeff Donnell in EASY LIVING
Real life model turned short-time actress as real life model June Bright as Billy Duane in EASY LIVING June Bright EASY LIVING
Stair at another shot of June Bright in her one real role as Billy Duane in EASY LIVING
How trophy model June Bright winds up in EASY LIVING as viewed by Lizabeth Scott
Lucille Ball is there for a tanked Victor Mature
"Funny how you always hear me when I undress." Lizabeth Scott has never looked hotter than in EASY LIVING
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