Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Great cast and locations, but lackluster direction

The Green Glove (aka "The Gauntlet") (1952)
Starring: Glenn Ford, Geraldine Brooks, and George Macready
Director: Rudolph Mate
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

A down-on-his-luck US Army veteran (Ford) returns to France in the years following WW2 to retrieve a gem-encrusted relic he left behind in a villa on D-Day. But he is soon framed for murder by an unscrupulous art dealer (Macready) who is also trying to recover the artifact, and treasure becomes secondary to dodging police pursuit.

"The Green Glove" should have been much better than it is, given the great cast (which, in addition to the stars listed above include such genre-picture stalwarts as Cedrick Hardwicke and Gaby Andre) and the spectacular settings it was filmed in... and that doesn't even take into account the smorgasbord of thriller conventions that are crammed into the story, what with it being a man wrongfully accused on a treasure hunt with a good-hearted woman while being pursued by mysterious forces.

But, despite all the potential here, the director seems incapable of generating any real suspense, squandering almost every build-up with a confrontation that is either badly staged, too abrupt, or both. In fact, the part of the film that works best is a comic relief sequence where Glenn Ford and Geraldine Brooks' characters spend the night at an isolated country inn. But I think that part of the movie shines mostly because you've got two good actors doing their thing without clumsy staging getting in the way... and because everything else around them is lackluster.

The director's insecurity with his subject matter (or maybe the producers recognizing the dog they had on their hands) is made painfully evident right up front, with an over-use of narration, setting a stage that the film itself was setting far more effectively as it unfolded.

Although... the "insta-romance" that develops between Ford and Brooks isn't as hard to swallow as it is in several other films of this kind. This is both because there seems to be real chemistry between the two performers, but also because everything else around them is so unconvincing that the you'll find you'll want something to hand onto as the film unfolds.

For this kind of story done right, you should check out "The 39 Steps" or "Young and Innocent" from Alfred Hitchcock.

Note: One of the things that attracted me to this movie was a half-remembered comic book series that I read as a kid. I think it, too, was called "The Green Glove" (or maybe just "The Glove") and it was a quirky horror strip about a cursed, jewel-encrusted gauntlet that entered the lives of the characters and caused some even of poetic justice or transformation before being lost again until the next episode. From the art style, I think the series must have originally been English or Spanish in origin, even though I was reading them in Danish translations.

Does anyone else remember these comics?

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