Daisy Kenyon Screen 13 articles

Daisy Kenyon


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  • Otto Preminger, the slightly miscast director, sets the choice up like a murder trial, carefully balancing the arguments on both sides. His sober approach and his fluid camera style do much to redeem the material, for which he has no apparent sympathy. It's a Preminger film purely by accident, but it is a fine example of studio craft.

  • Daisy Kenyon is one of the loneliest films, sitting high in the pantheon no matter how one looks at it (Joan Crawford vehicle, Otto Preminger film, 1940’s Hollywood melodrama), and yet a work overlooked throughout history by enthusiasts and even by its own director, who once told an interviewer he had no memory of this picture. Fair enough, but the film demands recognition. Daisy Kenyon is an enigma, a wholly realized capture of love’s processes.

  • What a wonderful film. I do not think there are ten better in the entire cinema... The last three lines of dialogue in the movie are a key to the structure of the entire drama. DAISY is about war, about a struggle for dominance between two power-oriented men: the more direct, dominating, impulsive Dan, whose joy is in his exercise of power; and the more indirect, passive Peter, who nonetheless has techniques of emerging victorious, or at least unbloodied, from every skirmish.

  • I think the beautiful Daisy Kenyon shows beyond doubt that Preminger was much more than the detached observer he is often tagged as. In the film, he does not make moral judgments, but presents his characters with great delicacy and feeling. (What is often cited as "ambiguousness" regarding the people in Preminger's films derives from the fact that they tend to be so emotionally complex and multi-textured.)

  • Daisy Kenyon is the most bluntly realistic romantic melodrama I've ever seen. At the same time, however, every element of the film is subtly, expressionistically heightened, creating a mesmerizing tension between naturalism and artifice—which, not coincidentally, is the subject of a recent post by Kenyon fanatic Dan Sallitt.

  • It could have wrung every last drop of sentimentality out of its plot, and there's certainly a market for that kind of film, but Preminger wasn't interested. He uses the same approach with Daisy Kenyon that he uses with his other films: long unbroken shots, very few close-ups, and a general avoidance of editorializing effects. It's a terrific movie.

  • Daisy Kenyon, which was generally dismissed as a slick triangle melodrama, has emerged as one of the most adult of all post-war noirs, filled to the brim with subsidiary characters who seem to have their own life and cares... Soap opera is distilled to its real-life essence, until what’s left is nothing less than the ultimate mystery of art.

  • Preminger's movie isn't noir at all, but a shadowy "woman's film," complete with career woman Joan Crawford stuck between men in a muddled and morally ambiguous postwar America. But that's where its shared DNA with other movies ends and its flabbergasting originality begins. Adapted from a bestseller by Elizabeth Janeway, the film has twice the character dimension, poetic maturity of dialogue and performance richness than almost any film of its decade.

  • The studio recreation of a bustling night at the Stork Club is a Minnellian little tour de force, Fonda gazing at the neon-lit Art Greenwich Theater through a diner window is recalled by Resnais in Wild Grass. The unfinished fishing scow and the bottom of the darkened staircase, Ruth Warrick’s aggrieved brittleness and the sad-eyed daughter’s battered ear, shadows as deep as in any noir.

  • Preminger’s close framing and Shamroy‘s shadow-speckled lens confirm this as a noir way before the story does, and the involution of the genre’s standard femme-fatale dynamic gets more potent as the plot closes in on Crawford’s titular illustrator. Here there’s no reveal of obscure conspiracies dependent on the deceitfulness of women, just the everyday horror of two men who won’t take no for an answer, the toll of their persistence elevated into hysterically-pitched horror.

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    Cine-File Chicago: Kathleen Sachs
    April 22, 2016 |

    Even if [Preminger] wasn’t invested (though Fujiwara details his keen involvement in the pre-production phase), his style is effortless—and unmistakable... In one scene, a waiter presumptuously tells Lapham, who’s followed Daisy to the movies in hopes of a second date, that he knows a guy who can trail his ‘wife,’ and in another, Daisy rebuts Lapham’s dramatic monologue. It’s neither noir nor melodrama, but it is a Preminger film. Case closed.

  • Jolting behavioral touches—hard stares and startled retreats, sudden kisses, blows, and tears—thrust the action into the realm of mental disturbance. The city seems steeped in postwar trauma; the very fabric of urban life is torn by the fury of warped and damaged men. As Dan’s marriage breaks up and moves to the tabloid scandal of divorce court, the triangle builds to a fearsome pitch of public conflict and psychic crisis. Rarely have love and madness seemed so fruitfully allied.

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    Sight & Sound: Nick Pinkerton
    February 03, 2017 | March 2017 Issue (p. 98)

    Fonda is never more touching than when playing manic-depressive courtship mode ("The world's dead, everybody in it's dead but you"), but as his Lapham regains his equilibrium he takes up a watch-and-wait tactic. Preminger likewise keeps his distance, and his typically pragmatic approach, as well as choice location shooting, gives potentially overwrought material a surprising earthbound heft – the weight of real places, real people, real desire, real feelings.

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