Written by / 10/07/2020 / No comments / , , ,

RICHARD WIDMARK SCORNED IN THE FILM NOIR ROAD HOUSE

YEAR OF RELEASE: 1948
No this doesn't star Patrick Swayze... ROAD HOUSE was originally a Noir title 
 the third of Richard Widmark's sleazy villain roles igniting with the staircase-shoving Tommy Udo in KISS OF DEATH followed by a nervous and edgy gang-boss in THE STREET WITH NO NAME...

Widmark is the guy who, in these early roles, is far from pretty, or even manly, but does have either power or money, or both, and here he's just the rich part, owner of the title location where bowling is the forefront till he brings Ida Lupino to sing in the lounge: starting out, me mostly see her from the perspective of hero Cornel Wilde as Peter, the manager and bouncer who does all the work: one scene taking down a large and lusty drunk equalling two of Patrick Swayze's rowdy opponents. So Peter has the least amount of fun. That is, until Lupino begins to shun the man who hired her... And like in many a Noir, the rich guy practically hands a woman, his woman (in this case, only in his mind) into the arms of the younger, handsome stud, and seems completely puzzled when they turn out falling in love... Although at one point, when Lupino describes her scary boss to Pete, he responds: "You don't understand  Jefty just needs to have somebody around." And how!

Not too Wilde about Widmark's mark on Lupino
Instead of the bragging KISS OF DEATH shyster or THE STREET WITH NO NAME cautious kingpin, he plays a desperate, spoiled rich kid for the first half as Lupino, who has a mediocre voice for a crooner, brings to light much better features that draw crowds into the smoky, dingy barroom...

During the final act, the passive/aggressive Jefty transforms into a cloaked, mysterious, menacing bully, although the film's middle is far more intriguing than this woodsy finale that winds up a bit too long: channelled from a twisted "Wrong Man" situation where Widmark holds the cards in this, the last his first three roles, epitomizing the Film Noir villain like no one's done better  while laughing like a madman and completely stealing the show.  
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