Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Parrish (1961): Tobacco Will Stunt Your Growth

There are LOTS of *SPOILERS* below, so please don't say you haven't been warned...

I suppose that Parrish (1961), a beautiful looking, empty-headed 35mm Technicolor product from Warner Brothers, may be someone's favorite, so don't take offense--but holy cats, what a doozie. This sultry smörgåsbord of a potboiler is bursting with a glut of lust, tobacco lore, class warfare, marriages of convenience, agronomics, illegitimate babies, arson, empire building, and even a trip to the North Pole (honest). I think I am going to have to get a copy of this and place it in a hallowed spot on the shelf next to my earlier "bad movies I love," such as Susan Slade and Rome Adventure. Not only does this movie seem to be the nadir of the talented filmmaker Delmer Daves' career, who was an individual whose better films could be graced by thoughtful, poetic and sensitive moments--but it also contains the worst performance I've ever seen the usually fine Karl Malden give in anything, (Television's The Streets of San Francisco was Shakespeare compared to this).

In a movie that had the tagline "More than a boy...not yet a man!" Troy Donahue, in his first starring role,  gave a stolid, almost embarrassed performance as a young man who moves to tobacco country in Connecticut with his mama (Claudette Colbert, in her last feature film).


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