High Wall, 1947, Is Playing on TCM on July 3 (USA)

High Wall (1947) is playing on Turner Classic Movies on Fri, July 03, 2015 12:45 AM est.  Closed captioned.  *NOTE*:A TCM programming day begins at 6:00am EST on the calendar day listed and runs to 5:59am EST in the morning on the next day. Hours listed at 12:00am to 5:59am EST will be shown on the NEXT calendar day.

This one of my two favorite Robert Taylor .films. The part of a brain injured veteran is just so different for him and he plays vulnerability so convincingly.  The same actor who could play Ivanhoe, Marcus Vinicius, Johnny Eager, Lancelot and many more dominant roles can also play the underdog with great skill.

Steven Kenet has been committed to the County Asylum.

High Wall is a departure for Robert Taylor. In the 30’s he portrayed mostly handsome society boys. In 1941 he toughened up his image with Johnny Eager. This is an entirely different path. The lead character, Steven Kenet, has returned from a job flying freight in Asia after his service in WW II. He’s eager to see his wife and displeased to find out she has a job. Kenet is even more displeased when he discovers she is having an affair with her boss. To complicate matters, he has a brain injury and is suffering blackouts and other symptoms. Seeing his wife in her lover’s apartment triggers rage and violence. The wife is dead and Kenet is the only suspect. He confesses and is committed to a mental institution for psychiatric evaluation. The unique thing about the film to me is Taylor’s ability to play vulnerability. Kenet is neither a pretty boy nor a villain. He is a man in torment.

Taylor uses his shoulders beautifully to portray hopelessness. They droop in the scenes where the character is locked in solitary confinement. After his operation they are straight. The confusion on his face when he’s offered an opportunity to see his son at the hospital is masterful as he passes through a range of emotions moving from delight to doubt to anger to confusion. There is a remarkable sequence in which Kenet is dragged off after attacking a visitor. Taylor’s body positions change constantly–this is hardly the “wooden” acting for which he is so often condemned. Another great sequence is his walk up the stairs at the end to see his son. Kenet’s face radiates joy. The camera work is stylish and the chiaroscuro is masterful. This movie was apparently not well received in its time probably because it isn’t the “Robert Taylor” people expected and it is largely forgotten now. It deserves to be remembered. Review by me for the IMDb.

 

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About giraffe44

I became a Robert Taylor fan at the age of 15 when his TV show, "The Detectives" premiered. My mother wanted to watch it because she remembered Mr. Taylor from the thirties. I took one look and that was it. I spent the rest of my high school career watching Robert Taylor movies on late night TV, buying photos of him, making scrapbooks and being a typical teenager. College, marriage and career intervened. I remember being sad when Mr. Taylor died. I mailed two huge scrapbooks to Ursula Thiess. I hope she got them. Time passed, retirement, moving to Florida. Then in 2012 my husband Fred pointed that there were two Robert Taylor movies that evening on Turner Classic Movies--"Ivanhoe" and "Quentin Durward." I watched both and it happened all over again. I started this blog both for fans and for people who didn't know about Robert Taylor. As the blog passes 200,000 views I'm delighted that so many people have come by and hope it will help preserve the legacy of this fine actor and equally good man.
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2 Responses to High Wall, 1947, Is Playing on TCM on July 3 (USA)

  1. dianne345 says:

    Movie was unchanged but commentator could not have been snarkier in his remarks about RT, bringing up the HUAC testimony & saying writer Lester Cole served a year in prison for Contempt of Congress for refusing to testify as a result of RT’s “naming” him as a Communist, “a bitter reward for giving Taylor one of the best roles of his career.” He also attributed Taylor’s popularity solely to his work in romantic roles but said he gave “an anguished performance” (couldn’t bring himself to say “good”) in “High Wall.” Guess he never saw “Johnny Eager” or “Bataan.” Also said that the bit player who played the drunk Pinky was more interesting to watch than Taylor or Totter.The Taylor haters never give up, do they?

    • giraffe44 says:

      No, Dianne, they never give up. They have a few limited ideas and everything has to fit them. I did wonder if the film has been remastered. I know noir films are dark but I’ve seen one or two versions of this that were just plain murky. This version was much better. It’s good to hear from you. Judith

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