UnClassic Film Review:The Last Angry Man
One day each week, we at UnClassic Film Review check out what happens to be playing on Turner Classic Movies at 3:00 in the morning that day and review it without having a clue what it is. Our qualification for taking on this task is two-fold: we know nothing about obscure old popular films, and we drink our own urine. We will base our review, which will be thorough and informative, solely on the blurb in the TV listing.
The Last Angry Man (1959)
This week's film is The Last Angry Man, starring Paul Muni, David Wayne and Betsy Palmer. It was made in 1959 and directed by Daniel Mann.
A television journalist decides to profile his uncle's fight to bring medical care to the slums.
Melodramatic and White-washed (probably)
Spare us the melodrama, Mr. Mann. We don't know or care if you are the great-grandfather or whatever of acclaimed actual filmmaker Michael Mann, but can this film be more transparent?
First of all, we have never seen any of his films, but we would guess that Paul Muni has never risen up to the challenge of any role he has ever taken on. And this role is no challenge. It is steeped in maudlin conventions designed to jerk tears from the easily moved. This might be nice for the desperate housewives of the late 1950s, but even today's average filmgoer is sophisticated enough to see through the window dressing of malaise that is most certainly on display here.
The film set, we are certain, looks more like a Disneyland ride than a real slum, and I'm certain if I saw this film, I would feel no connection to the poverty ostensibly being portrayed.
Slums? Sure, they are. Then why is Ms. Palmer's hair probably always perfectly coiffed? I haven't studied the slums of the late 50s, but I'm sure that the hairdressers there weren't Hollywood-chic the way this film probably would appear to claim. And how is it, that with no health care, the kids probably look more like painted clowns than real sick inner-city at-risk youths? Bringing quality health care to the inner city is an important issue in America today, and you do a disservice to it by most likely white-washing the issue with big-eyed beret-wearing ironically erudite and precocious children, all but one of whom actually probably are white. I've seen real inner city kids without healthcare, Mr. Mann, and they don't look like Brentwood Elementary School kids lining up to try out for Annie.
And the dialog. Talk about stilted. Even big-city journalists don't use the kind of quick-witted irony that your characters probably regularly do, especially in the obligatory romance scenes, doubtless full of not-so-subtle innuendo that no one could possibly come up with on-the-spot, like your wooden characters probably do.
The bottom line, Mr. Mann, whoever you are - I'm not bothering with your feel-good piece of cinema trash. The reason you're on TCM at 3:00 in the morning is as a public service for insomniacs. Call me when you have real cinema grit, if ever.