Thursday, December 31, 2009

1956 - BHOWANI JUNCTION, George Cukor makes a David Lean film

A biracial woman of Indian and English descent is assigned to an important railway terminal in India around the period of England's departure from India.  She attempts to come to grips with her racial identity and becomes involved with three different men.

George Cukor directed Bhowani Junction and F.A. Young, David Lean's cinematographer on Lean's super epics is in charge of the photography. The film stars Ava Gardner who does very well as the mixed blood Indian woman.  Stewart Granger is the British officer who falls in love with and he's OK in the traditional Hollywood leading man British soldier type of role.


Cukor's staging of the large scale crowd scenes is very impressive.  For a director primarily known for working with more intimate films he had a complete understanding staging scenes in the wide screen format.  The scenes of a passive resistance rally were very impressive. Cukor was one of the first directors to work with Cinemascope and actually know what he was doing with it.

The photography is carefully considered throughout the film.  Cukor and Young do an excellent job capturing the locale and manage to create an interesting sensuality that runs throughout the film.

Ava Gardner was never considered a great actress and was known more for looking good than anything else she did, but here she seems to be actually working at creating a character.


Unfortunately the script tends to rush her from one situation to another and finally the problem the story runs into is in the last third of the film.  Gardner's jumping from boyfriend to boyfriend happens so quickly that by the time she becomes involved with Granger she seems a little bit like a slut.

For all the work that was put into the look of Bhowani Junction it's unfortunate that more time wasn't spent on working out the structure and story problems in the script.   Bhowani Junction is a disappointment but still a decent film.

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