Monday, August 8, 2016

Cobra Woman

Robert Siodmak
Hollywood CA 1944 
starring Maria Montez, Jon Hall, 
Sabu and Lon Chaney Jr

For Robert Siodmak’s one hundred sixteenth birthday I thought it appropriate to present frames from one of his more festive films.  I figured it was either this, his first big Hollywood hit, or the Crimson Pirate, which was shot in Europe but made primarily for the American market and was essentially his farewell to Hollywood film making.  Cobra Woman is by far the sillier of the two, but it has its virtues and was greatly loved by various later film makers, most prominently by Jack Smith.  Among the virtues are its pictorial qualities: the color photography, camera movement, framing and movement within the frame; and the bold designs.  As for the performances, it depends on one’s taste.  The supporting players are thoroughly professional in their efforts and Sabu is as charming, athletic and graceful as ever.  Siodmak said of Montez: “she couldn’t act from here to there, but she was a great personality and she believed completely in her roles.“  It was this belief which fascinated Jack Smith and caused him to use her performances as one of the foundations for his aesthetic.

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