Customer Review

6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie, great commentary!, November 10, 2008
This review is from: Road House (Fox Film Noir) (DVD)
Let me first say that this is an extremely enjoyable film. Ida Lupino is perfect as the hard-bitten nightclub singer, and dominates the early part of the film. But it's watching Richard Widmark's character Jeffty's smoldering jealousy slowly build, finally erupting into full-fledged psychosis at the end of the film that makes this a movie worth re-watching, and owning.

But the reason I'm writing this review is as a kind of counter-weight to a prissy pseudo-intellectual response to the commentary another viewer has posted. Eddie Muller and Kim Morgan know and give a lot of insightful back-story on the production of Road House, and the life and careers of the cast and crew. The problem this Stellhorn character seems to be having is simple: they're actually watching and enjoying the film! And yes, they'll be telling a story about Widmark or Lupino, and stop to say something like, "Oh, look at THAT!"

To me, the biggest sin one can commit while doing a commentary is simply not watching the movie. And, unfortunately, noir has been subjected to an endless parade of academics sitting there and reading from their long-winded notes, and just never looking up at the screen. They're more interested in their own Theories and Opinions about why the film is important to "the noir cycle" than they are in the movie. I suspect most of them would never have become interested in the films themselves in the first place if the French hadn't legitimized them.

Noir Directors and actors are notoriously cynical about these critics and their pet theories. More often than not, these critics were busilly taking notes the first time they saw the films. There are a number of levels to most noirs, and Road House is no exception. Far from creepy, Muller is just enjoying Lupino's performance on exactly the level that it was meant to be taken on. And both he and Kim Morgan are not above savoring the deliciousness of the film's innuendo.

In fact, I would say Eddie Muller's excellent 1998 book, Dark City, The Lost World of Film Noir spearheaded a renewed interest in these films that is much more legitimate than the dissecting the genre was subjected to in the late 60s and 70s. A lot of pompous windbags achieved tenure by unsuccessfully trying to emasculate what has always been an intelligently made, but essentially visceral genre. I highly recommend both the commentary and the documentary on this disc to anyone who is actually capable of enjoying the film itself.

And I also recommend Eddie Muller's books, especially these two...

Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir

Art of Noir: The Posters And Graphics From The Classic Era Of Film Noir
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 15, 2008 10:50:47 AM PST
..and I'm the prissy one? Take a hard look in the mirror, and don't get your panties in a twist when someone criticizes an author you happened to read, or at the very least bring an idea to the table the next time you feel bitchy.

Posted on Apr 14, 2009 10:10:03 PM PDT
Johnny Clay says:

Thanks for the kind words. I am gratified that you appreciate what I've tried to do, liberating noir films from the academics and making them acceptable again to the "regular" folks. Mr. Stellhorn is certainly entitled to his opinion (and I can assure him that Kim Morgan and I did NOT "discover sex" in the recording studio), but the only thing I take exception to in his review is the notion that "we know what these things are supposed to be..." In fact, I have done more than two dozen DVD commentaries and can attest to the fact that the producers NEVER know quite what they want, and that there are absolutely no rules. They just hope you won't be boring... but obviously, if you are, they don't have time for a re-do (as you have no doubt experienced). Kim and I felt that having fun with a movie that was meant to be fun was the right approach to take. I would not be this irreverant with "Force of Evil" or "In a Lonely Place," for example. Just because a film is labeled "noir" (50 years later) doesn't make it deadly serious.

Posted on Aug 19, 2010 6:40:54 PM PDT
THANKS for your review and especially for rising to defend the excellent commentary accompanying "Roadhouse". Both (commentators) Muller & Morgan love the movie, its stars, all film noir, and they provide a wealth of insight & backstory. Since when is it a crime to ENJOY the movie along with the audience and sprinkle in a few personal memories relevant to their appreciation of "Roadhouse" & noir movies? Generally I LIKE commentaries, but some are definitely better than others and to me, the "Roadhouse" commentary was one of the best yet. This wasn't just dry scholarly ruminations! I would welcome more commentaries like this. As some of the other comments remind us, you sure can't please everybody, but especially here in the USA getting flamed by some malcontent is a sure thing. GREAT movie and commentary, well done by all concerned, and thanks again for your two cents.
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