Friday, December 21, 2012

No Coffee Movie

Woke up early and turned on TCM before coffee. Right away, before I could tell anything about the plot, the movie gave off an automatic Cold War paranoia vibe, one of my favorite flavors. And then - still without the benefit of coffee - I started noticing how the camera liked to rise over narrow pathways that bisected the screen, as one lone figure or another (a guard dog in a razor-wire enclosure, for example, or our Rat Pack-ish protagonist striding down the pier on the way to his houseboat - was it a houseboat? It should have been a houseboat) moved into the distance. A visual motif! It was a poor print, maybe, and people were sometimes bathed in a pale pink or green light that, decaffeinated as I was, I found mesmerizing. It was like the light in Jerry Lewis's THREE ON A COUCH, except nothing in Jerry is ever washed-out or faded. Pinks and greens were anomalous in a film made up mostly of men in gray sweaters, gray tweed jackets, or gray suits (only one woman in the cast while I was watching) sitting around on cream-colored furniture. Many times the palette verged on black-and-white, with a blue bowl or some reddish-brown tiles or such providing the only variety. At one point a scientist said something like, "Yes, we found an ugly but fitting name for this virus... we call it........ THE SATAN BUG." The way he said it (however he said it), the title of the movie could have only been THE SATAN BUG and indeed that is what it turned out to be. (I hadn't even thought to check, because the great thing was that I was barely awake and didn't care if the movie was "good" or not and I still don't know if it was "good" or not and I'm okay.) The hero wasn't really Rat Pack-ish, probably, except in his personal life. On the job, he became a deadpan Jason Bourne type, I guess. I don't know. I was just looking at the movie and not thinking about plot or characters. For extra credit, contrast the lab scene above, in which colors are almost monastically isolated, with the vibrant, explosive opening of Lewis's THE NUTTY PROFESSOR. At the left of the frame, a guy in a gray suit, standing under a sickly green light, just like I said. (See also.)