Saturday, July 2, 2011


World for Ransom(1954) / Robert Aldrich
Like Aldrich films go, World for Ransom is seen best on a faded print, which seems to enhance, somehow, the foggy, almost vapour-ridden nature of the universe inside which the film is set. The film resembles, at best, a state of exhausted delirium, a night in the winter of a north-Indian small town, and while a lot of ‘action’ takes place, it is never inexorable – each scene of a major ‘event’ is followed by one where two characters or more settle down and discuss the progress of the plot thus far. Made on the sidelines of the television show China Smith (1952), World for Ransom combines aesthetics of an action-film (continuous action, evolving plot) with that of television (the most major surprises to be revealed during simple conversation).  The location for the film is peculiar – it is set in Singapore (rather generic too, the Asian guys are called Wong and Chan) – the villain remarks: ‘What I am doing must be done along the Iron Curtain”; such fantastic alignment of verb with noun, geography with politics, a definite purpose with an abstract idea, is typical of the film. 

Similar to Kiss Me Deadly that he made a year later, the bomb is only an allegory, any of the two power blocs may secure the secret of the hydrogen bomb just like the shifty heroine cannot make up her mind between her former lover and her shady husband.

The wife, the lover and the husband as the looming presence.
She is a 60s Fuller-protagonist, and controls the entire plot of the film from inside her household, even as the foolish noir-hero goes about getting implicated for murders, beaten up by thugs and getting involved in firefights that involve grenades and sten-guns, only to impress her – the larger idea is obvious : you can solve a massive diplomatic row, rescue a major scientist, kill a number of trained soldiers and save the world from certain nuclear holocaust, but if the girl rejects you, what is the point?

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