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At-A-Glance Film Reviews

Road House (1948)



Reviews and Comments

Road House is a great film noir about a tangle of love and obsession in the setting of a nightclub. When Darryl F. Zanuck hired the director, Jean Negulesco, he said, "This is a bad script. Three directors have refused it. They don't know what they're doing, because basically it's quite good. Remember those pictures we used to make at Warner Bros., with Pat O'Brien and Jimmy Cagney, in which every time the action flagged we staged a fight and every time a man passed a girl she'd adjust her stocking or something, trying to be sexy? That's the kind of picture we have to have with Road House."

It's exactly the kind of picture Negulesco delivered, though the fights and stocking adjustments never feel like they were thrown in just because the action was flagging. Everything the characters do in this movie -- whether good, bad, or seemingly inconsequential -- feels motivated out of a desperate, tortured need. These are strong characters, and when they clash, the fireworks are riveting. Great performances all around, in particular from Ida Lupino and Richard Widmark, who get a chance to cut loose and go for broke.