Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Circle of Danger, Jacques Tourneur, 1951

It's not surprising that Circle of Danger is generally regarded as minor Tourneur because, at first glance, it's hardly more than an elongated, but not very elaborate, and finally rather pointless practical joke about a dull guy failing to avenge his brother despite trying terribly hard; and at the same time winning over a woman despite basically not even really trying.
Still, I'm completely in love with this strange little film. Ray Milland's dullness undermines the mystery plot from the start, yes, but this works for the film's advantage, because it allows for a not really disinterested, but in a way touristy gaze on all the odd details Tourneur assembles. Every character Milland meets carries his own little world around with him/herself, and although the stubborn protagonist doesn't notice this, remaining stuck in the past instead, Tourneur's camera is always attentive, in a quiet, controlled way. And when Milland finally gets together with Patricia Roc in the last scene (after the mystery plot, and with it the last gasps of the agency of the hero, vanishes in pure geometry), it's made clear that this isn't about him conquering her, but about her choosing him.

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