Richard and John: Superb Leads, Solid Supports
Tonight’s double bill of restored 35mm print screenings during the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s 2017 four-week Festival of Preservation showcases hard-hitting 1948 works starring two favorite actors in these precincts. The first of many signature screen roles for Richard Basehart (1914-1984) came in the taut and terrific He Walked by Night, which the program notes pitch-perfectly capture: “This superbly crafted documentary-style noir thriller shot by John Alton tells the converging narratives of a psychotically-cunning cop killer [Basehart] and the methodical detectives hunting him through – and under – the streets of Los Angeles.” Twilight Time claims another hallmark Basehart role for the label, that of the stalwart seaman Ishamel, in co-writer/director John Huston’s beloved adaptation of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick (1956), a performance that earned Basehart the National Board of Review Best Supporting Actor Award. Basehart also surfaces briefly but memorably as stable owner Nye Buell, a member of the ill-fated posse pursuing fugitive Apache Charles Bronson in Chato’s Land (1972, directed by Michael Winner). Joining He Walked by Night on the double-barreled noir program is the rarely-seen Open Secret, which top-bills the great John Ireland (1914-1992) in a shadowy thriller that “confronts postwar anti-Semitism, couched in the language of film noir, when a newly married couple [Ireland and Jane Randolph] stumbles upon a secretive hate group in Norman Rockwell’s America.” Following his tough supporting performance later that year in Howard Hawks’s Red River, Ireland would strike it big with his Oscar®-nominated supporting role in All the King’s Men (1949), writer-producer-director Robert Rossen’s tale of the rise and fall of a once idealistic but soon power-corrupted Southern politician (Broderick Crawford) and the tarnishing effect he has on the people supporting and resisting him, with Ireland’s reporter Jack Burden perhaps the most negatively compromised of all. For the showings of He Walked by Night and Open Secret, be at the Hammer Museum’s Billy Wilder Theater in Los Angeles this evening at 7:30 PM. If home viewing is more to your preference or geographic convenience, the solid supporting turns of Basehart in Moby Dick and Chato’s Land (each available at, respectively, 33% and 50% off list for a limited time only in our current MGM March Madness Promotion) and Ireland in All the King’s Men are sharply etched in terrific 1080p on readily available TT hi-def Blu-rays.