Screen: 'The Rack'; Paul Newman Stars in Film at Normandie

Publié le par Los Angeles Times by Bosely Crowther

A BRILLIANTLY detailed performance by Paul Newman in the role of an American Army captain on trial for collaborating with the enemy while a prisoner during the Korean conflict gives a much more disturbing emotional impact to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's film, "The Rack," than is actually compounded in the drama unfolded yesterday on the Normandie's screen.

Screen: 'The Rack'; Paul Newman Stars in Film at Normandie
Screen: 'The Rack'; Paul Newman Stars in Film at Normandie

Weighed in the intellectual balance, the dramatic material contained in this film version of a television play by Rod Serling is a bit on the insufficient side. All that it offers us, really, is this captain as the central figure in a military court-martial at which the charges against him are patiently reviewed.

Witnesses are presented in the usual courtroom-drama way and a bulk of damaging evidence is arrayed against the accused. The fact that he finally cracked under the torture of his captors and gave in to their demands that he "collaborate" with them is frankly admitted by him. A pitiful plea of his awful loneliness is the only excuse he can give. After the agonizing ordeal, he is convicted and the picture ends.

On the periphery ??? action are his fathe ??? stern career officer, and his sister-in-law whose husband, his younger brother, has been killed in the war. There are also the prosecuting lawyer, who has an obvious distaste for his job, and the counsel assigned to defend him, who makes eloquent and sympathetic pleas.

All in all, Mr. Serling's drama put its conflicts within a narrow frame and that is the way it has been maintained by script-writer Stewart Stern and director Arnold Laven on the theatrical screen. The representation is mainly the flow of torment through one man.

For the job of showing this man's feelings and suggesting the strain and agony he went through in the unseen prelude, Mr. Newman is finely qualified. He truly achieves in this picture a remarkable tour de force. In his facial expressions, his gestures, his pauses and his use of his voice, he makes apparent in one figure a singular personal tragedy.

Walter Pidgeon as the father, Anne Francis as the girl, Wendell Corey as the prosecuting lawyer and Edmond O'Brien as the defense counsel play their supporting roles crisply, and the whole film is done with smooth dispatch. It is a smart piece of documentation. But it is dramatically thin.

 

The Cast

  • THE RACK, screen play by Stewart Stern; based on the television play by Rod Serling; directed by Arnold Laven; produced by Arthur M. Loew for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. At the Normandie.
  • Capt. Edward W. Hall Jr . . . . . Paul Newman
  • Maj. Sam Moulton . . . . . Wendell Corey
  • Col. Edward W. Hall Sr . . . . . Walter Pidgeon
  • Lieut. Col. Frank Wasnick . . . . . Edmond O'Brien
  • Aggie Hall . . . . . Anne Francis
  • Capt. John R. Miller . . . . . Lee Marvin
  • Caroline . . . . . Cloris Leachman
  • Col. Ira Hansen . . . . . Robert Burton
  • Law Officer . . . . . Robert Simon
  • Court President . . . . . Trevor Bardette
  • Sgt. Otto Pahnke . . . . . Adam Williams
  • Millard Chilson Cassidy . . . . . James Best
  • Col. Dudley Smith . . . . . Fay Roope
  • Maj. Byron Phillips . . . . . Barry Atwater

Publié dans Articles de Presse

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