Thursday, April 24, 2014

Film Capsule: Anthony Mann's Side Street (1950)

Side Street (1950)
Directed by Anthony Mann

Though primarily remembered today for his Westerns, Mann had an almost equally notable career as a director of crime pictures. Yet his major themes—namely, masculine struggle against societal strictures and the volatile environments such attitudes reinforce—are present throughout. This initial phase of the director’s development arguably culminated with this mid-century noir concerning advantageous father-to-be, Joe (Farley Granger), who unwittingly falls into an extortionist plot when he harmlessly decides to steal a couple hundred dollars from a lawyer’s office. As Joe attempts to right his wrong only to get pulled further into an elaborate underworld plot, questions of morality and loyalty rise like steam from the surface of the character’s dank urban surroundings. Shot mostly on location in New York City, the film stands as both nostalgic timepiece and aesthetic watershed, proving a seamless transition for its director’s move out West. (Apr 26 at Moving Image, part of its Anthony Mann series)

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