Wed 25 Apr 2007
FRAMED. Columbia, 1947. Glenn Ford, Janis Carter, Barry Sullivan, Edgar Buchanan. Director: Richard Wallace.
More than a B-movie, but not quite an “A,” Framed is generally considered to fall into the noir style of filmmaking. One definition I found online (Encyclopædia Britannica) is that noir is “a film genre that offers dark or fatalistic interpretations of reality. The term is applied to U.S. films of the late 1940s and early ’50s that often portrayed a seamy or criminal underworld and cynical characters. The films were noted for their use of stark, expressionistic lighting and stylized camera work, often employed in urban settings.”
I’ll tell you the general plot line, then you tell me. An unemployed mining engineer named Mike Lambert (Glenn Ford) comes into a cheap bar where a beautiful girl named Paula (Janis Carter) is a waitress.
Bad luck seems to follow Lambert, even getting him into trouble almost as soon as he hits town (literally), but – good luck at last? – Paula is there to bail him out of jail. Of course she has ulterior motives, and Lambert almost realizes it, but he can’t quite make a break from her.
One of Paula’s bedtime buddies is a local banker named Steve Price (Barry Sullivan), and their plans for Mike Lambert are both sinister and obvious. Of course we, the viewer, know full well that plans of this nature do not always work out the way they’re expected to, and in this movie, no exception is made.
Noir? I thought you’d say so, and I’d agree, but I don’t think it fits the definition above, unless it’s expanded to include “… dark or fatalistic interpretations of reality, often involving unexpected twists of fate, against which the participants feel helpless to react.” Well, maybe the phrasing needs some work, but work on it I will.
Glenn Ford’s sometimes goofy-faced grin serves him well in this film, but the chemistry between Paula and him doesn’t quite seem to work. She’s also a little too glamorous – especially to be a waitress in a cheap bar – and not quite vampish or seductive or dangerous enough. (If I include enough words here, maybe the point I’m making will also make itself clear.)
As Jeff Cunningham, though, the genial old prospector whom Lambert hopes to work for, and who – completely bewildered – ends up in jail, Edgar Buchanan is in a role made expressly for him. All in all, while you may find the plot line a little too familiar, if this is the kind of movie you like, then you won’t mind seeing yet another variation on the same theme, one more time, with just enough gusto to get by.