THE WELL- Gripping, tense, powerful, exhilarating, and even surprising are all words that can be leveled at this unfortunately virtually unknown film, released in 1951 to general acclaim.
While film classes teach of Fritz Lang’s FURY and William Wellman’s THE OX-BOW INCIDENT, the film THE WELL by co-directors (and co-writers) Leo C. Popkin and Russell Rouse (of DOA fame) doesn’t even register on the radar of most (even classic) movie fans, which is a shame, because it’s every bit as good as those heralded classics.
It’s filmed in a wonderful experimental manner that veers from cinema verite to stylish crane shots, and filled with engaging performances by both seasoned and first time actors. And another strength is its large cast filled with many fine actors of color, in non-stereotypical roles, something rare in the 1950s, and unfortunately and shamefully, only more rare in 2011.
But thankfully through the magic of DVD, a new generation gets to view this exemplary film, which is beyond its fiction, a great historical record, snapshot, of the times and the tempests of an America of over 60 years ago. A great portrait of the things we’ve gained and the things we’ve lost in the fire, in those 60 years from then to now.
It’s a great film about mob rule, and how thin the veneer of civilization is, and touches on topics of bigotry, perversion, sex crimes, suspicion, violence, and the loss of reason… and the finding of it.
It would unfortunately be Leo C. Popkin’s last film as Director, but what a one to end on.
A great movie that everyone should have in their collection. Grade: B+.
This review is brought to you by the boycott KFC (KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN)/TACO BELL campaign.
The food chain company has its corporate headquarters in an aggressively maintained, completely segregated town. And considering the bulk of their revenue comes from people of color, that’s just not kosher.
So do your part and spread the word, and boycott KFC and TACO BELL. I know there are times when you’re on the road and they may be the only game in town, so of course do what you have to do. But make that the exception and not the rule. The rules should be to avoid doing business with companies that denigrate you.
To avoid doing business with companies that have not learned the lesson… of the Well.