Monday, August 29, 2011

Road House (1948)

image Aug. 14, 2011

70. Road House (1948)

Starring Ida Lupino, Cornel Wilde, Celeste Holm, Richard Widmark
Directed by Jean Negulesco

Plot: “A nightclub owner frames a romantic rival for murder.” (from TCMDb)

I can’t remember where it was that I saw this clip (shout out if it was you and I’ll credit your blog),  but when I first saw it a month or so ago it made me want to check out this film. Luckily, I was able to get it through our state inter-library loan system, and I’m so glad I did! This film did not disappoint.


I didn't think I liked film noir, but this was really excellent. (Though I guess some would say that it's not technically noir because **BIG SPOILER** it has a happy ending.)

Speaking of the end, I kind of wonder what is supposed to have happened after the movie ends. Do they go to Canada? Are they acquitted?


Richard Widmark’s performance is one of the best parts of this film. It’s one I could watch over and over, I think, because he’s just so deliciously villainous in it. He manages to be both amusing and frightening at the same time.


Cornel Wilde’s role isn’t quite a showy as some of the other players in this, but he does a good job as the strong and steady man.


There's something about Ida’s character I didn't like. She's too sassy and sure of herself, and I don’t like how she plays up to Pete. Plus, it is rather hard to believe that their relationship is more than passing infatuation. It was difficult for me to really buy the chemistry between these two. It didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the film, though, because there’s so much more going on than just their relationship. Of course, Ida’s performance is top notch. I did have a hard time believing that her singing really drove that much business to the road house, though!


I love how she totally shuts down Cornel's character when he tries to dump her at the depot. One tough dame.


Celeste Holm is great in this as Susie. Even after the man she is kind of interested in falls in love with someone else, she is not vengeful or full of spite. She just does what is right and tries to help the them. She was also not afraid to face Widmark’s character. I did feel a little sorry for her, though, because I think she deserved to end up with Pete (though I know of course that the movie would not have worked out the same that way).


Ida’s face may not be traditionally beautiful, but it is very captivating. I want to see more of her movies (especially if they are all this good). She's just so unique. I don't really 'love' her yet, but I'm definitely intrigued by her. 


I can’t believe I didn’t get any screencaps with people smoking because there is an insane amount of it in this film. I know most old movies include some cigarette use, but this one seemed like it had an extra lot of it! Ida’s character in particular is rarely seen without a cigarette.


This film has a great dark, atmospheric feel.


Definitely see this. The performances, cinematography, plot, and dialogue are all really great.

Yeah, there are improbabilities and contrivances, but I didn’t really notice any of them during the film. I was too caught up in the plot to care about the details.

Oh, and if you have seen this, please recommend any other similar film noirs that you think I would like. I think I may be slowly changing my mind about this genre!


  1. Patricia (Caftan Woman)August 29, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    This moody thriller typifies "noir" for me.  Ida adds to it, and takes away the sense of a happy ending, by the look of pain on her face after doing what she has to do.

    Poor Cornel Wilde - he attracts the friends (Widmark here) and wives (Tierney, Leave Her to Heaven) on the far side of psycho.

  2. Good point about Ida's reaction. That was mentioned in the extras on the DVD.

    I still need to watch *Leave Her to Heaven*. I just keep putting it off because I'm not really sure I want to see Gene Tierney as a psychotic killer.

  3. It took me quite a few tries to warm up to the film noir
    genre, but now I really enjoy it. It seems like there are so many great
    examples to choose from, and I haven’t even scratched the surface yet. I definitely
    recommend that you see Kiss of Death since you liked Richard Widmark in this. When
    he came on the screen in that movie, he made me smile even though his character
    is very evil.

    they’re not all similar to Road House, some of my favorites that I think you might
    like are Double Indemnity (which I get to watch on the big screen in October!),
    Out Of the Past, Laura, Scarlet
    Street, Fallen Angel, and Undercurrent. 

  4. Sorry for the funny format of my last comment! I was having trouble typing in the box so I typed it in Word and copied and pasted. It didn't seem to like that too much. :)

  5. Thank you for the recommendations! I'm definitely going to check some of those out. :)

  6. No problem! Sorry that it was giving you trouble, though.

  7. That's okay. I'm quite sure it had more to do with my old, slow laptop that keeps locking up at the most inopportune times than it did with any kind of problem with your site. Oh, and I thought of another one to add to the list: Mildred Pierce, which I didn't even realize was considered film noir until recently. I hope you like some of my suggestions!

  8. I can certainly relate as our Internet is rather temperamental and gives me trouble with that type of thing all the time. :)


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