All Fall Down | MGM | John Frankenheimer | 1962
Tomorrow my ITBS pals and I record a podcast on the first five features of John Frankenheimer, as a pretext for which I checked out this unsung Frankenheimeric classic last night. It concerns Brandon de Wilde’s anguished innocence, first dented by the Cold War neuroses of his fucked-up parents and then impaled on the phallic stake of his older brother’s feral misogyny. We have a drab medley of competing tones, with Malden and Lansbury play-acting a shrill comedy of suburbanite anxiety (prefiguring The Manchurian Candidate in more ways than one) that ebbs and flows with the fever pitch of Warren Beatty’s Method agony — his Southern-accented, soft-lipped boyishness prefacing fits of convulsive, cock-eyed violence. And Eva Marie Saint gives one the best performances I’ve ever seen from her, as s a fragile beauty at the onset of spinsterhood (can you believe she’s a year older than Lansbury in this?) who puts on a show of sunny sweetness that only faintly eclipses a mellow vulnerability, so distinctly that of a mature woman too…she’s not a patronized cliche, folks!!! (On top of which, this was one of her favorite films!)
Can’t wait to talk about this killer flick in greater depth tomorrow!