Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Farley Granger Needs an Escape Plan

I have a theory about Farley Granger movies.

While not one of my favorite actors, this swarthy fellow does have a strange sort of appeal. It might because in the five films that I've seen him in, he plays not-to bright characters that end up getting involved in dirty dealings that are way beyond their control, resulting in exciting hijinks. It might also help that these movies range from okay to Amazing Pieces of Cinematic Art (Senso, Strangers on a Train, and They Live By Night tie for the latter).

But back to my previously stated point: I have a theory to present, and it is this: the serious problems that Granger's characters too often found themselves stuck in could be easily solved if they skipped  town and moved to Mexico. I shall support this by using the 5 films I've seen him in as examples.

1. They Live By Night (1948). In this unbelievably gorgeous and sad film, Granger plays an escaped con who, despite the love of his caring girlfriend (the luminous Cathy O'Donnell), is chased to his doom by the law. Partway through the movie, Granger talks of a plan to cross the border into Mexico. However, instead of using his ill-gotten robbery money to find a way to carry this out, he and O'Donnell rent a mountain cabin and give goo-goo eyes to each other on the floor. If only Granger had acted on what he said as soon possible, and skipped town to move to Mexico, he wouldn't have died, and I wouldn't have cried.

2. Rope (1948). In-between 10 minute long takes, Granger and his boyfriend John Dall host a party in their apartment for the friends and relatives of a fellow student, whose strangled corpse is concealed inside a wooden chest that is in full view of everyone. Dall enjoys the situation, while Granger (who did the deed with the rope of the title), gets drunk and breaks under the strain. Now, while I doubt that automatically fleeing the premises after the murder would have allowed him to go scott-free, Granger would at have some sort of chance to escape, and least not have made an ass of himself trying to shot a very disapproving Professor James Stewart; that action could have only added some extra years to his death/and or future prison sentence. At least attempting to skip town and settle in Mexico would have been preferable to that.

3. Side Street (1950). Let loose in NYC, Granger is again married to O'Donnell, this time playing a poor mailman who steals money off some crooks and flees for his life, trying to figure where the money came from while he's doing so. Ignoring the admittedly optimistic ending, our hero does go through plenty of trials (and a pretty sweet car chaise) before he reaches that light at the in end of the tunnel in the last reel. In order to avoid the cops and criminals that jump on his tail, instead of checking into a fleabag motel downtown, he should have kicked up his heels, skipped town, stay in Mexico, and remained there until the heat died down, pregnant wife be damned.

4. Strangers on a Train (1951). If Granger was really sharp, he would have turned down Robert Walker's proposal to exchange murders right away. Heck, as a bonus he could have gotten off that train and took a plane to Mexico! Okay, that would have been a bit much. But even latter in the film, when stalked by Walker in the hope of our "hero" fullfilling his end of the supposed bargain, Granger could have avoided him by skipping town and staying in Mexico for a bit. A final confrontation would have been inevitable, but I doubt that as many lives would be endangered as seen in the movie's ending.

5. Senso (1954). Granger is a real cad in this awesome operatic Italian epic. Long story short, he's a dashing Austrian solider who has an affair with a very clingy and married Alida Valli. When he deserts, he persuades Valli to give him money that would have gone to the very Resistance that he was supposed to be fighting, and to which she is loyal. After getting the dough, does he high-tail it out of the country to live some sort of life in Mexico? Believe it or not, he doesn't! I know that it takes place in the mid-19th century during the Austrian occupation of Italy, but that's no excuse! He just hides out in nearby Venice, and spend the gold on hookers and booze. And what do you know, his girlfriend finds out about it, and she's rather upset about the situation; let's just say that she takes certain actions that make sure Granger pays for his cowardliness.

You would have thought that Farley Granger would have learned his lesson from so many movies, but nope, he has to stay put and allow the plot to go forward. The nerve of him! It makes me so upset that I need to watch something to calm me down...hmmm, I haven't seen Strangers on a Train in while....

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