Salient.The Newspaper of Victoria University College. Vol. 19, No. 4. April 6, 1955
Clouzot's "The Wages of Fear": (disturbing): is a film of the type that is dangerous. In many ways a brilliant film, and probably the most gripping I have seen. It Is nevertheless deceiving. We have a picture of human nature carefully prepared by the director in the early sequences—filthy dogs making false love in the drink-sodden and smoky atmosphere of a dirty and depressing town. But later during the truck ride the climaxes which should have added significance to the early sequences are thwarted by the directors desire to get the most suspense possible out of the moments. All the director has done is to present an unpleasant view of human life by piling squalid detail upon squalid detail. Brilliant technique may deceive some, but the few fatal lapses revealed that that director really had no deep feeling for human nature—whether pleasant or unpleasant. Are other directors going to deceive future audiences in the same way?
John Huston's "Beat The Devil": (disturbing and reassuring). John Huston has made a name for himself as a producer of "tough" films. But "Beat the Devil"—a holiday film and a parody—shows that Huston knows that such films are made up of key tricks and devices and this film is Huston's declaration that he will not be mastered by such tricks and cliches. Huston's is a fresh talent, and after seeing "Beat the Devil" we may be reassured that he has not settled into an artistic groove. But the slap-dash method of his narrative and the lack of control shown in this film and also In "Moulin Rouge" Is disturbing. In his future films are we to miss the terseness and concise construction of "The Maltese Falcon" and "The Asphalt Jungle"? Let "Moby Dick" give us the verdict.
Sir Carol Reed's "The Man Between" (disturbing): is alas as unlike "Beat The Devil" as it is similar to "The Third Man." Following the old theme, began in "Odd Man Out." of the outcast in society "The Man Between" shows how hampered Reed is by a weak script. This time the director was forced to impose a strong technique to make the film entertaining. Tricks became obvious tricks, and the details pointing to atmosphere became obvious details pointing to obviously cinematic atmosphere. The characters and situations consequently became larger than life and the finale forced and theatrical. "The Man Between" was just a poor shadow of "The Third Man" and most of us feared that Reed was becoming stagnant all washed up. Where would he turn next? Had his talent dried up or would he have the courage to try new fields of expression? Apparently Reed does not lack courage. He has just recently finished "A Kid for Two Farthings," a story of East End children. It is a fantasy; and fantasy needs different treatment from the melodrama of "The Third Man" and "Odd Man Out."