For Reel

Ride the Pink Horse (1947)
November 16, 2015, 8:03 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Robert Montgomery
4 Stars
Ride the Pink HorseActor-turned-director Robert Montgomery released Ride the Pink Horse in the same year as his highly experimental point of view noir Lady in the Lake. This later film shows a similar interest in fairly radical filmic techniques, albeit with a more refined taste. The opening shot at a bus station plays out in a long, unbroken take, as cinematographer Russell Metty meticulously follows each of Lucky Gagin’s (Montgomery) gestures in the process of hiding a significant piece of evidence. While Montgomery is eager to allow audiences in on every little movement in this opening scene, he later plays games with perspective, creating a relationship between what the audience does and does not see. Gagin is often filmed from behind as a shadow while the villains appear fully lit and facing toward the camera, and in one remarkable scene only glimpses of violence are witnessed as children pass by on a carousel. The cumulative effect of said techniques creates a remarkably specific sense of tone–the film forgoes the plot mechanics of a typical noir structure for something more ambling, dreamy. Late in the film, a concussed Gagin begins his whole journey over again, seeming to sleepwalk through the steps that lead him to the man he wishes to blackmail (Fred Clark). This repetition doesn’t serve so much as a contrast to what came before, but as a physical manifestation of the burrowed sense of catatonia.