Wednesday, November 12, 2008

cinema obscura: Delbert Mann's "The Outsider" (1962)

The young Native American actor Adam Beach was praised for his performance as Ira Hamilton Hayes in Clint Eastwood's recent "Flags of Our Fathers"(2006).

However, Beach was preceded in the role by the equally good Tony Curtis in the Delbert Mann film, "The Outsider," released by Universal in 1962 and yet another title that has not had an official home-entertainment incarnation in any format whatsoever. (There have been bootlegged VHS copies of it floating around, however.)

Hayes was the Puma Indian who attracted unsolicited attention and brief fame because he was one of the men who helped erect the American flag at Iwo Jima, an event that ultimately unraveled his life (if you are to believe the films about him.) William Bradford Huie and Stewart Stern wrote the screenplay for Mann's film, which is a solid little gem worth seeking out.

Note in Passing: Other lost Curtis films from the same era include
Richard Quine's "Sex and the Single Girl" and Vincent Minnelli's "Goodbye, Charlie" (both also from 1964), two lively little sex comedies, with Natalie Wood and Debbie Reynolds as Tony's leading ladies, respectively, and also "40 Pounds of Trouble" (1962), Norman Jewison's charming take on Damon Runyon's "Little Miss Marker," and Michael Anderson's "Wild and Wonderful" (1964), which paired Curtis with his then-wife Christine Kaufmann in a wry story of a jealous pet poodle; and Good luck finding any of them - both of which were covered here on March 7th.

Cinema Obscura is a recurring feature of The Passionate Moviegoer, devoted to those films that have been largely forgotten. Suggestions welcome.

(Artwork: Poster for Universal's "The Outsider")


Rosalie said...

Joe! I found you! When you left the Sacramento Bee, I thought, "Who can I go to for sound advice on the latest movies?" I could always count on you to lead my to the "thinking movies" and keep me away from the duds. Thank you for the well-thought-out and adroitly written reviews including those you hated. Well-turned phrasing and expressively written comments were always fun to read; I read your reviews even when I didn't want to see the movies! And thanks for reminding me of "The Outsider." I'll try to find it.

Tim Russell said...

Was this movie ever released? I never heard of it but would like to see it. Do you think it has a chance of making DVD now that "Flags of Our Fathers" is a hit?

Jeff Tigner said...

Thank you for theinsightful guidance to moviegoers. My late partner and I seldom disagreed with your opinion. I'm glad you're devoting yourself to hard-to-see films. Wish I could track down "The Outsider."

jbryant said...

Someone should do a Curtis box set of these things (assuming rights issues aren't a factor - which I guess they always are). Especially since he's still kicking and has a new memoir out.

I saw Curtis at a screening of The Boston Strangler a few years ago. Director Richard Fleischer did a Q&A, but Tony just stayed in the audience, a couple of rows in front of me, and stood up for a round of applause when introduced.

When Curtis was good, he was great. Thanks to a sort of wack job persona, he still tends to be underrated. But screen acting doesn't get much better than his work in Strangler, Sweet Smell of Success, Some Like it Hot, The Defiant Ones, The Great Imposter, etc. Would love to see The Outsider and the others you mentioned.

John said...

I agree with what you all say. Curtis has been underrated and has yet to be given his due.

I do know that Goodbye Charlie was released on VHS years ago though it is hard to find. I akways enjoyed the film dispite the critics lack or respect. Writer George Axelrod (author of the play it is based on) was a terrific talent.

Great site

Daryl Chin said...

SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL is coming to DVD as part of a Natalie Wood boxset due in February (other films include remastered editions of SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS and GYPSY, as well as INSIDE DAISY CLOVER, BOMBERS B-52, and CASH McCALL.

joe baltake said...

Daryl- That's great news about the Natalie Wood boxed set, especially since it includes Robert Mulligan's "Inside Daily Clover," a hugely quirky film that hasn't been around for some time and that I really admire. Thanks for the info!