The protagonist of Jean-Luc Godard's CONTEMPT won't remove his hat, even in the bathtub, because he wants to look like Dean Martin in SOME CAME RUNNING--a nice index of the reverence with which Vincente Minnelli's eloquent, passionate melodramas were regarded by French New Wave critics,
who saw in them an ironic encapsulization of American culture. Expertly condensed by studio hacks Sheekman and Patrick from a massive, windy best-seller by James Jones (From Here To Eternity), this film captures the disillusionment of returning WWII vets, and brilliantly addresses itself to many
of the director's characteristic concerns--masculine fear of domestication and attendant resentment of women; the tensions of masculine friendship; women's complicity in their own oppression; the compromises demanded of artists functioning under capitalism.
As the film opens, unsuccessful novelist and WWII vet Sinatra returns to his home town of Parkman, Illinois, with a new manuscript under one arm and a charming floozy, MacLaine, draped over the other. Their appearance creates a minor sensation in the small town, in which, of course, superficial
respectability masks a hotbed of corruption and sexual intrigue. Sinatra's brother is Kennedy, a rigid businessman married to Dana but having an affair with his assistant, Nancy Gates. Hyer teaches at the local college and finds Sinatra intriguing, but the jaded Sinatra is impatient with her
refusal to sleep with him. He befriends Martin, an easygoing, superstitious gambler with whom he enjoys endless card games and drinking bouts. The two are casually contemptuous of MacLaine, who is sexually available and thus, to their minds, less desirable than the icy Hyer; MacLaine endures many
cruelties out of love for Sinatra. Eventually, Sinatra's frustration with the town's ubiquitous hypocrisy boils over; his subsequent recklessness leads to tragedy.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The protagonist of Jean-Luc Godard's CONTEMPT won't remove his hat, even in the bathtub, because he wants to look like Dean Martin in SOME CAME RUNNING--a nice index of the reverence with which Vincente Minnelli's eloquent, passionate melodramas were regar… (more)