Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Patterns (1956)

Fred Staples (Van Heflin) is the executive in a New York company. In this cut-throat, white-collared business world, he has to deal with a morally unscrupulous boss, Walter Ramsey (Evertt Sloane), in addition to his own conflicting ambitions.
        I never thought that a movie about office politics could be this interesting (sorry Executive Suite, but you did have your slow parts, despite arriving earlier), well-made, and creative. Of course, it helps to have an interesting and well written script by Rod Serling, and some first-rate performances.
        Though Mr. Heflin an effective low-key lead, Mr. Sloane steals the show as a dozy of a mean boss, Toward the few employers that he likes, he puts on the appearance of congeniality, and acts, to quote a female character, "simple and childlike". However, most of the time, especially at board meetings, he is a ruthless, heartless, and just plain cruel Boss from Hell. It is an amazing performance, and Sloane was completely up to it.
        Though I have already praised, Serling's script, I will do so again. His writing was sharp and memorable. You know a script is good when the monologues have you on the edge of your seat (sorry, Stanley Krammer....).
        Some of the staging are simple, but highly effective: for example, there is a scene showing a character overhearing other characters talking; however the camera is completing focused on the former. Techniques like this were borrowed from the film's original incarnation as a made-for-TV movie, but work just as well on the big screen. Additionally, there are some nice lighting effects, and a few on location exteriors shot in NYC which further add flavors of authenticity in the production.
        A further thing that is very impressive about Patterns is that how little it has aged over time. There are still problems with keeping ones morals in a competitive job market, and there are still bosses that are cruel and mean. Overall, I highly recommend this film: its lack of comic relief my turn off some views, but it is an effective and intense drama.

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