Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: RARA-AVIS The Fallen Sparrow MOVIE

From: Jim Beaver (
Date: 16 May 2001

> Dorothy B. Hughes and The Fallen Sparrow. I just saw the movie, and was
> disappointed. John Garfield seems to be sleepwalking through the role,
> when he's doing some "are those footsteps?!! I hear footsteps!!!" number.
> Walter Slezak is around, and always worth watching, but even marvelous
> Maureen O'Hara can't liven this one up. It's not quite a "B," down on the
> level of the Michael Shayne pics coming out around this time, but it's a
> potboiler, and I wouldn't call this a notable noir.

I don't completely disagree, but here's the New York Times critic Theodore Strauss at the time of the film's release: "By virtue of a taut performance by John Garfield in the central role, and the singular skill with which director Richard Wallace has highlighted the significant climaxes, "The Fallen Sparrow" emerges as one of the uncommon and provocatively handled melodramas of recent months... Through these scenes Mr. Garfield remains almost constantly convincing and without his sure and responsive performance in a difficult role Mr. Wallace's effects would have been lost entirely."
(Quoted in "John Garfield: His Life and Films" by--ahem--Jim Beaver.)

Despite being a Garfield fan, I'm actually a bit closer to your camp than Strauss's, though it's the film and not Garfield I find slightly soporific.

Jim Beaver

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