It’s a fine film, sensitive in its subject, mostly restrained and naturalistic in its performances, but it does not exhibit the flair of Curtiz’s later work; rather than the considered use of lighting, camera angles, and camera movement he’d be known for, Curtiz relies on mostly static long-shots that prioritize the photogenic rural landscape and small village settings and the regionally-authentic costuming. Mise-en-scene wins out here.
The interiors were all shot on risible cardboard sets typical of the year (again, nearly devoid of cultural markers), but outside, the lean tensions of the town, and the wildness of the surrounding countryside, offer a compellingly true view of a much-mythologized time and place. A last-act wedding sequence is especially fascinating, populated by real villagers in their actual Sunday duds, and playing as if they were in a home movie from an age before Eastern Europeans ever shot home movies.
A melodrama of village women wronged by their social betters, “The Undesirable” is a window on a feudal world. More competent than artful, it’s notable for its documentary qualities: the Carpathian landscape, the streets of Koloszvar, and not least the traditional country wedding that provides the requisite happy ending.
75 of 3 reviews