Joan Crawford, Dana Andrews, Henry Fonda. Torn between two men-one, a married attorney, the other, an unmarried veteran-a commercial artist finds herself in the middle of a dangerous love triangle when she does the right thing" and marries the veteran. 1947/b&w/99 min/NR/fullscreen.
Otto Preminger's Daisy Kenyon
is an unsung beauty from Hollywood's golden age, a remarkably good and intelligent movie that's all the more gratifying because it could so easily have come out formulaic and sappy. In 1947 it was regarded (and implicitly shrugged off) as a "women's picture" or, more specifically, a "Joan Crawford picture." But there's more going on here. This was shortly after the Oscar for Mildred Pierce
revived the actress's career, and the nature of a Crawford picture was changing since she had entered her (gasp) 40s. New York careerwoman Daisy (a magazine illustrator) is trying to break off her longtime affair with a high-profile lawyer and family man (Dana Andrews), and tentatively beginning a relationship with an attractive WWII veteran and widower (Henry Fonda). The men's roles are as important as Crawford's, and neither man is entirely what he first seems--Andrews a self-centered manipulator in all arenas, Fonda a poetic New Englander who used to design boats. Enough ambivalence, wounded psyches, and intimate violence surface to make the movie a kissing cousin to film noir... albeit a variation of noir in which no gun is pulled. Noir also leaks in through the gorgeous Fox craftsmanship. Leon Shamroy's lustrous lighting paints the characters and their studio-made, persuasively three-dimensional environs with insinuating shadow, while still serving director Preminger's penchant for fluid camerawork and mise-en-scène that doesn't dictate our attitudes toward the characters. The production is a model of Hollywood professionalism at every level, and the three star performances are each atypical and complex, with Crawford more restrained and thoughtful than we're accustomed to seeing her. And speaking of model performances, plan to rewatch the film while listening to the commentary by Foster Hirsch, author of the excellent critical biography, Otto Preminger: The Man Who Would Be King
; Hirsch is especially sharp on Preminger's stylistic choices and the underappreciated Dana Andrews. --Richard T. Jameson