Sunday, July 14, 2013

1957 - NO DOWN PAYMENT, life in the suburbs circa the 1950's

That era of American conformity the 1950's is dramatized in this soap opera of a film about life in a housing development where four couples are probably a little too neighborly for their own good.

Since this is a film about the 1950's shot at 20th Century Fox during the 1950's the cast is a bunch of the studio's contract players.  The director is Martin Ritt a guy who was skilled at handling actors.  The screenwriter was Phillip Yordan a writer known more for large scale films like 55 Days at Peking or Fall of the Roman Empire than an intimate drama like this.

The film sets up some interesting situations the alcoholic used car salesman who's life is slowly coming apart, the World War II veteran who is suffering from what is now called PTSD, the manager of a hardware store dealing with racism and a husband who works as an engineer but acts like a wimp even after the veteran rapes his wife.  However it all descends into conventional soap opera histrionics.

This is definitely a missed opportunity to look at suburban life, the various plots are too easily resolved and while the actors give it their best shot, the need to wrap things up in under two hours hurts the effectiveness of the film.  Probably the best things in the film are the art and production design.  The homes and back yards had a nice burb vibe to them.

105 minutes

No comments: