Allan Dwan’s The River’s Edge (1957)

May 13, 2019 | By

Allan Dwan really likes his job.

Just posted is a heavily updated review of The River’s Edge (1957), the weird but engaging ‘colour noir’ by Allan Dwan, a prolific filmmaker (and Toronto-born!) who moved to the U.S., worked his way up through assorted Hollywood productions in multiple departments before settling as writer, director, and producer from 1911-1961.

I caught the film on TV decades ago, and loved the Fox DVD which came with a fine commentary by noir historians James Ursini and Alain Silver. The cast is perfect – Ray Milland as a murderous crook, Anthony Quinn as a maybe cuckolded husband, and Debra Paget as the babe forced to trek with the men to Mexico. Each has a dark past, but only Quinn and Paget are hungry to start new clean lives – if only such a miracle could happen.

River’s Edge is also one of many films produced by Benedict Bogeaus, a name that frequently popped up on B and B+ productions which were packaged and distributed by major studios. Silver and Ursini say Bogeaus lured aging stars with decent paycheques and kept the budgets tight – his films certainly contain some solid stars – but being indie productions, they’d sometimes appear as grey market public domain works on LP-recorded VHS, and sold in budget racks in variety and department stores.

That’s how I snagged a tape of From the Earth to the Moon (1958), an intriguing film hobbled by the sudden shutdown of doomed major studio RKO. I wish that film would get the Blu-ray treatment, but The River’s Edge is among the few Dwan and Bogeaus films to make it to Blu.

Twilight Time’s disc is gorgeous – the image is so crisp, you can see the seam in a background cyclorama through a shack window – and Paget is unsurprisingly stunning. The booklet has some classic production stills that infer steamy sex & violence & improvised surgery, but they’re cheats that misdirect and probably help feed the imaginations of the artist who inked the ridiculous poster art.

 

This fight does NOT happen at cliffside!

 

Film fans have their own strange fixations. I’m game for anything RKO, anything in CinemaScope, anything directed by Milland, anything produced by Bogeaus, and maybe anything directed by Dwan. I swear I saw an interview with him on TVOntario eons ago, but I might be wrong; host and Saturday Night at the Movies series creator Elwy Yost supported his themed evenings with rare filmmaker interviews, and it’s not impossible that he programmed one of Dwan’s films, and perhaps chatted with the filmmaker after he retired at 76, and before he passed in 1981 at 96. Amazing career.

Coming next: Eric Friedler’s second documentary at TJFF 2019, the zippy It Must Schwing! The Blue Note Story (2018), Rouben Mamoulian’s Becky Sharp (1935); and The Cohens and Kellys (1926), a restored silent comedy classic that also screened at TJFF yesterday, with live music. I hope to pair it with a faux sequel which co-starred C&K actress Olive Hasbrouck.

Thanks for reading,

 

 

Mark R. Hasan, Editor
KQEK.com

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Category: EDITOR'S BLOG

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