Playing Sat May 12 at 7:00 at Museum of the Moving Image [Program & Tix]
The annual MOMI “Fashion in Film Festival” regularly dominates our slate of Editor’s Picks. This year’s installment, “If Looks Could Kill,” is no exception. Stahl’s singular and essential Technicolor noir melodrama, “the most frightening film that cinema has given us about the evils of jealousy,” (- Pedro Almodovar), is also part of “See It Big!“.
Guy Maddin for the Pacific Film Archive:
Veteran proto-Sirkian melodramatist extraordinaire Stahl (he had already made solid first versions of both Magnificent Obsession and Imitation of Life by 1935) creates this most propulsive tale of daddy-complex jealousy with the help of flawless snow queen pulchra Gene Tierney and Academy Award–winning Technicolor cinematography by lens god Leon Shamroy (available for gawking in a newly minted print). Has any woman ever looked more awfully gorgeous than when Tierney casts her father’s ashes across her chest in that luridly empurpled and incestuous consecration? A young Vincent Price is fantastic, as always, as the troubled girl’s jilted fiancé.
Matt Bailey sums up the film’s inclusion in the fest, for Not Coming to a Theater Near You :
Though the story is involving enough to make this film a classic, it is perhaps more rightly renowned for its incredible Technicolor cinematography and strikingly original set and costume design. The look of the film is difficult to describe other than to say that every blue in the film matches Gene Tierney’s eyes and every red matches her lipstick and to insist that this is not an exaggeration. This film features one of the most precisely engineered color schemes in the history of color movies and not a flower, book spine, or tchotchke in the frame clashes or distracts from the overall look. For this reason, even though it is firmly rooted in generic conventions, the film remains very much unlike any other ever made.