Thursday, September 15, 2016

MOOM PITCHER REVIEW! NO DOWN PAYMENT starring Joanne Woodward, Jeffrey Hunter, Tony Randall, Cameron Mitchell, Sheree North and Pat Hingle! (20th Century Fox, 1957)

 I remember catching the last third of this li'l flick on AFTERNOON THEATER during some mid-seventies Christmas break, and all I could think about it was sheesh, they even had them sick side o' suburbia moom pitchers back inna fifties! Now that I'm older (not exactly wiser) and have seen the film in its entirety all I can say is that NO DOWN PAYMENT is a snappy moom that really does capture the gross underbelly of SoCal existence, and it's such a good encapsulation of a whole lotta the sin and depravity that's goin' on that it makes PEYTON PLACE look like LITTLE MISS MARKER with a few episodes of THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW thrown in.

Jeffrey Hunter and Sheree North play young marrieds who are more'n anxious to move into their new suburban digs and meet the neighbors. The Flaggs seem pretty neat what with Jerry being a fun-loving if sometimes tipsy used car dealer, while the Kreitzers are an equally stoic bunch even if the mister never does pop up at the local modern-architectural construction known as the neighborhood church. And the Boones from Tennessee seem easy going what with their Southern charm 'n all, but as we all know there's a whole lotta seethin' loathin' tragedy rumblin' underneath the shiny exterior that's naturally gonna ALL COME OUT sorta like that red pimple that was festerin' on your nostril until ka-SPLAT it bursts all over the bathroom mirror with a whole lotta bloody pus an' water dribblin' down your finger making ya reach for the rubbing alcohol which stings like the dickens!

Everybody plays their role to the hilt and they really do a fine job of it to the point where you kinda wonder why this 'un didn't get out more'n it should. Hokay, the rape scene where a horny Cameron Mitchell (who can go from Southern Gentleman to redneck with the drop of a hat) rapes North is kinda bizarroid (it kinda reminds me of those z-films from the thirties where the murder victim just stares at the offscreen assailant saying "no...not you!" without putting up any sorta resistance) but he and Joanne Woodward as wife Leola do pack the pathos into their roles to the point where even snobbish Southern-hating New England snoots can empathize with 'em. Hunter and North are good 'nuff as the young neophytes itching to get a start in late-fities fun and jamz while a pre-nose job Tony Randall as the alcoholic flop of a car salesman is brilliant especially when you consider all of the comparatively dippy comedy and family moom pitcher roles he is best known for. However, even at this height in his dramatic acting career I can see Randall's perennial Felix Unger peskiness seeping through more than it perhaps shoulda.

Hingle and Barbara Rush (who, come to think of it, was part of the cast of the tee-vee version of PEYTON PLACE!) as the Kreitzers don't quite stir the ol' pathos up quite as much as the others but I ain't gonna let that stop me from liking NO DOWN PAYMENT. However, I sure gotta admit that I didn't like the teeny weeny subplot regarding one of Hingle's underlings, a Japanese, who wants to move with his fambly to the estates only Hingle doesn't exactly wanna push for him because of values and World War II and all that. (Of course it has to be interjected into the script that said Japanese fought on "our" side so it ain't like he's Tojo'r anything.)  Sheesh, stuff like this should've been kept on old Sunday morning religious tee-vee dramas like THIS IS THE LIFE and steered clear away from big budget mooms, but back then I guess it was the noble thing to stick these little racial hoo-hahs into pictures.

Rumor has it this was David Bowie's favorite moom which surprises me since I thought that woulda been GAY GUYS IN BONDAGE 'r somethin' like that. But anyway if this is in fact true it was a good call on Bowie's part so maybe the ol' chameleon did have some interesting tastes after all. No more AFTERNOON THEATER to watch this one on, so if you can eyeball it via tee-vee or disque I suggest you do just that!

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