Road House

1948, Movie, NR, 95 mins


A stylish and perverse film noir which stars Widmark as the owner of a roadhouse near the Canadian border and Wilde as his best friend and manager. When they hire Lupino as the joint's singer and piano player, the friendship takes a strange turn. Widmark becomes obsessed with Lupino, who in turn finds herself attracted to Wilde. Wilde, however, also the object of cashier Holm's desires, remains aloof. When Widmark goes away on a hunting trip, Wilde finally gives in to Lupino and the two become lovers. When Widmark returns and is told by Wilde of the new situation, Widmark's dark side comes to light. He stages a robbery which points to Wilde as the guilty party. Rather than watch the framed Wilde go to jail, however, he persuades the judge to release the "criminal" into his custody. Widmark's form of imprisonment is a psychological one--forcing Wilde to stay on at the roadhouse but keeping him from Lupino and, ultimately, his freedom. To further torment him, Widmark arranges for a trip to a lodge nestled in the woods, placing Wilde even closer to the border than before. Widmark hopes that his "prisoner" will make an attempt to escape across the border, thereby giving Widmark the chance to shoot him. Meantime, Holm, who has come along to the lodge, is still silently in love with Wilde. A chance finally comes to escape, and Wilde and Lupino run off into the woods. Holm tries to warn them that Widmark is on their trail, hunting them with a psychotic vengeance, but in the process she is wounded by the crazed hunter. A battle follows between Widmark and Wilde. Lupino, determined to fight for her man, intervenes and guns down Widmark for the animal he is. A strong movie scattered with land mines of psychotic characters, ROAD HOUSE has a disturbing quality of psychological torture to it--a quality magnified by the claustrophobic atmosphere of the stylized diner and the false outdoors of the studio's sound stage. Wilde does fine as the victimized lover, Widmark plays his archetypal villain with his usual intensity, and Lupino is remarkable in her raw toughness. Holm, however, is the one who keeps ROAD HOUSE from going over the edge by playing a normal girl with a foothold on reality. Adding to the film's atmosphere is Lupino's delivery of a few bluesy numbers including "Again," (Dorcas Cochran, Lionel Newman), "One for My Baby" (Johnny Mercer, Harold Arlen), and "The Right Time." leave a comment

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