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Inferno (1953)

After watching this Robert Ryan thriller recently I was left to ponder why Hollywood hadn’t dug up this script and thrown a remake at us. Perhaps it’s because it wouldn’t be rebooting a franchise which is what tinsel town seems to be caught up in these days. Just as well because this Roy (Ward) Baker film still delivers the goods and is worth seeking out if you haven’t seen it before.

inferno2

Originally released in 3-D this is a technicolor release from 20th Century Fox. Serving as the director of photography was Lucien Ballard who would go on to work with leading man Ryan again years later on The Wild Bunch.

The plot is a simple tale. Wealthy Ryan is left stranded in a rocky desert terrain with a broken leg. His wife played by gorgeous Rhonda Fleming and her lover William Lundigan have left him there for dead. They assume the heat and lack of water will be enough to do him in. All they need to do is report him missing and lie about the location he was last seen.

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The biggest mistake they make as they cover their tracks and lie to the police is just how resilient Ryan can be. Broken leg or not he’s going to get off the cliff face he’s stranded on and crawl his way back to populated areas. He’s pieced together what the deadly duo are up to.

Inferno (195

Ryan is first rate here as a man determined to have his revenge but first must fight the elements to stay alive before getting his chance at Fleming and Lundigan. It’s a very physical performance for the actor with a hint of Noir mixed in for one of the genre’s poster boys. There is plenty of voice over narration from our leading man as he continually talks/thinks to himself in order to keep moving.

Fleming was good at these types of roles and to see her in technicolor has to viewed as an added bonus.

RHONDA FLEMING

I have to think this would have been fun to see in it’s original 3-D release as there are plenty of great images coming at the screen. A snake striking, falling rocks and other assorted tricks near the solid climax of this 83 minute film.

Long time character player Henry Hull makes an appearance here as an old time prospector. By this point in his career it’s a made to order role for the veteran.

Roy Ward Baker had an interesting career behind the camera. He gave us an early Marilyn Monroe picture, Don’t Bother to Knock. The Titanic saga A Night To Remember and moved on to the cult films of Hammer Studios. The Vampire Lovers and other assorted horrors.

This was recently released through the MOD MGM releases and is worth grabbing if you get the chance. Glad I did. It also serves as a great reminder of the screen presence Robert Ryan could carry to a film.

inferno dvd

 

15 Comments »

  1. I like this movie a lot, Mike. I’m a big fan of Ryan’s work generally but I think he’s highly impressive in this role where he often has no-one to play off and still commands our attention. Agreed too on Baker – a very talented director.
    BTW, the film has been released on 3D Blu-ray in the UK.

  2. A neat and very useful writeup of a great movie — and that photo of Fleming is to die for. Many thanks!

    Ryan is first rate here

    He was first-rate in just about everything. A shame that today he seems less remembered than some of his contemporaries.

    • Ryan is not alone in the crowd of actors the general public doesn’t know. I am always asking co-workers about actors from the past and many names go right be them. But there are people like us who still appreciate all their efforts!

  3. OH my I enjoyed this immensely last night, thanks so much for the tip. His character fitted the part so well. Is he bad? will he find redemption? Will he survive? Loved all the talking to himself and the little cut scenes from him being thirsty or hungry and it cuts to drinks or food being served. And my oh my that fight scene! Jeez they looked like they smashing seven bells out of each other. Great film.

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