Review: ‘Road House’

Framed within a realistically intimate roadhouse setting, yarn [by Margaret Gruen and Oscar Saul] reconstructs the triangle with an arrestingly psychotic twist supplied by Richard Widmark. For most of the way, director Jean Negulesco hurdles the script's over-length and internal weaknesses by building up conflict out of character studies of the principals. But the film finally bogs down in a lack of incident until a climatic shot-in-the-arm revives interest.

Framed within a realistically intimate roadhouse setting, yarn [by Margaret Gruen and Oscar Saul] reconstructs the triangle with an arrestingly psychotic twist supplied by Richard Widmark. For most of the way, director Jean Negulesco hurdles the script’s over-length and internal weaknesses by building up conflict out of character studies of the principals. But the film finally bogs down in a lack of incident until a climatic shot-in-the-arm revives interest.

At the center of the story, turning in one of the best performances of her career, is Ida Lupino, playing a lowdown blues warbler who finds herself in the middle between Widmark and Cornel Wilde. Widmark, the roadhouse operator, has a powerful yen for the singer but she prefers his general manager, Wilde.

Lupino’s standout performance is highlighted by her firstrate handling of a brace of blues numbers. Her graveltoned voice lacks range but has the more essential quality of style, along the lines of a femme Hoagy Carmichael.

Road House

Production

20th Century-Fox. Director Jean Negulesco; Producer Edward Chodorov; Screenplay Edward Chodorov; Camera Joseph LaShelle; Editor James B. Clark; Music Cyril J. Mockridge; Art Director Lyle R. Wheeler, Maurice Ransford

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1948. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Ida Lupino Cornel Wilde Celeste Holm Richard Widmark O. Z. Whitehead Robert Karnes
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