Genre Pictures II

film 2 of 4


Draft Review by Dean Duncan Jun 2, 2015

My attention’s 1st caught by the electrifying prologue: flashing spurs & the Habañera rhythm (as crafty & compelling as in Vertigo), the superb disappearing man black-framed in the doorway; this is world-class stuff, a primal scene, a traumatic touchstone, a nightmare to haunt everything that follows, an interesting example of H-wood’s semi-successful/semi-substantial appropriations of Freud etc. during the 1940s;

My attention’s maintained by Max Steiner’s continuingly effective music & by James Wong Howe’s glistening photography; the score makes effective use of standardized situation-motifs, though it steps up into the spotlight, as it were, for the very moving scene in which Mitchum’s main character & his adopted brother harmonize so beautifully on the Londonderry Air—there’s H-wood for you; really obvious, & utterly getting away w’ it—all rendered through a series of stable compositions, with Ma, & Sis, & presumably God in his heaven, looking on & listening in lovingly;

This is a counter & a balance to the opening w’ the departing father, they’re 2 superb sequences providing fuel & tension throughout the remainder of the picture; typically, Classically even, the Danny Boy theme will return during moments of crisis & conflict, in minor keys or otherwise modulated, putting us in mind of past harmonies, considering them in light of present disunities;

You don’t even need dialogue!

Outstanding location work; Judith Anderson’s (Mrs. Danvers!) nuanced rounded role contrasts very powerfully w’ the menace that Dean Jagger’s patriarch generates, resulting in both decent balance & compelling disequlibrium; Pursued is a bit like if John Ford’s The Searchers had been narrated by the character of Debbie, meaning that the witholding of motives and histories, the use of a most un-omniscient narrator, are very successful ways to maintain our interest & sympathy …