UNION STATION: Parallel Lines

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This is a nicely-paced crime drama with several noir scenes (and a mountain of coincidences needed to make the plot work). A blind girl is kidnapped and her rich father must pay $100k if he wants her back. William Holden is the cop in charge of security at Union Station, where the kidnappers leave the girl’s bag and thoughtfully have several important meetings take place.

Definitely a way-homer story. (“I just realized that plot was dumb!” he thought on the way home from the theater.) But having said that…

There is a forerunner to the subway-pursuit scene in THE FRENCH CONNECTION, with an unexpected ending.

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It’s not every day you see a cow stampeded in New York. Not just a silly caption, that actually happens in the movie.

William Holden is his usual reliable self. Nancy Olson’s is the textbook example of a Thankless Role, standing around and fretting and waiting for the next coincidence (a scarf hanging out of a quickly-closed piece of luggage is crucial). Barry Fitzgerald plays Barry Fitzgerald in cop mode.

The kidnapper is given enough backstory so we know he’s not just evil but was made that way by going to jail for a petty theft. There’s enough cat-and-mouse stuff to satisfy, but the big attraction is the filming of the climax in the actual locations under Union Station.

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The film noir element is more about the plot than the visuals, though: The more of his henchmen who are picked off, the more dangerous the bad guy is. If he has fewer allies, he has fewer brakes on his need for revenge. By the end he’s scary because he’s probably capable of anything.

Union Station is where train tracks end, but don’t cross, and that’s an unspoken element of the relationship between the hero and villain: They never meet up-close and face-to-face until the very last minutes, when one of them is dead.

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They never get this close in the movie.
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