Sunday, March 23, 2008
cinema obscura: Joseph Pevney's "Cash McCall" (1960)
There's little that fascinates me more than a lost early film starring two major screen presences.
A case in point: Joseph Pevney's "Cash McCall," a 1960 title that paired Natalie Wood and James Garner, both active in the Warner Bros. stable and clearly honoring their respective contracts here.
Garner was fresh from television, having made a major impact as "Maverick" and moved into films with two military films, William A. Wellman's "Darby's Rangers" (1958) and Gordon Douglas's "Up Peiscope" (1959). He also supported Marlon Brando to good effect in Joshua Logan's "Sayonara" (1957).
Wood, of course, had starred as a teen in two studio classics, "The Searchers" and "Rebel Without a Cause," and would move on to iconic turns in "Splendor in the Grass" (1961), "Gypsy" (1962) and "Inside Daisy Clover" (1965), all for Warners.
There's no argument that "Cash McCall" is a decidedly minor, but undeniably engaging film about big business and romance. Based on Cameron Hawley's book, the movie casts Garner in the title role of a ruthless businessman whose lovelorn crush on his partner's enticing young daughter, played by Wood, could lead to his financial undoing.
In a way, this work is a distant cousin to the two business-oriented Universal romances, "Pillow Talk" (1959) and "Lover Come Back" (1961), that Doris Day would make with Rock Hudson - a trend that, for some bizarre reason, Warners failed to capitalize on.
The ace supporting cast, incidentally, includes the wonderful Nina Foch, the uniquitous Dean Jagger, E.G. Marshall, Henry Jones, Otto Kruger, Edward Platt, Roland Winter, Linda Watkins and Parley Baer.
Director Pevney was largely a TV hand, but he did some likable work in such varied films as Martin and Lewis' "3 Ring Circus" (1954), "Tammy and the Bachelor" and the James Cagney biopic about Lon Chaney, "The Man of a Thousand Faces" (both 1957) and "Twlight of the Gods" (1958).
Cinema Obscura is a recurring feature of The Passionate Moviegoer, devoted to those films that have been largely forgotten. Suggestions welcome.
(Artwork: Garner and Wood fulfill their Warner contracts in "Cash McCall")