Saturday, October 03, 2015
Better than Ambien
The only John Gavin movie I knew was Psycho. His part is really just a plot device and very little was required of him. I've read that Hitch thought him "wooden," but I never put much stock in that. After all, Hitchcock was dismissive of Paul Newman and Montgomery Clift, two actors who can break your heart with a glance and a line.
He plays the heir to department store fortune, a man with a promising future and a high profile, and a drunk for a wife. Every time he tries to leave her, she tries to kill herself. He can't bring shame to his family, can't deprive his kids of their mother. So, when he falls desperately in love with Susan Hayward, they have to carry on their affair in the shadows.
Oh. My. God. He is awful. I know movies like this aren't high art, but with the right cast they can be fun. Rock Hudson would have been terrific, he owned these roles. I've also seen John Forsythe carry off such a part with panache. But John Gavin is unutterably bad. He's so low energy that, while watching his big death scene, I wondered whether the nurses would notice he had expired.
I kept falling asleep during Back Street. It took me three viewings to get all the way through it.
So what have we learned? Hitchcock was right, and we should never let first grade girls cast movies.