The Long Wait (1954): Tie Me Up And Kiss Me Deadly

The Long Wait (1954)

Anthony Quinn as an amnesiac who is wanted for murder? You got him in The Long Wait, and not one but four femmes noir. Three blondes and a brunette. All leggy and not backward in coming forward.
This violent and brutal flick has Mickey Spillane all over it. The second Spillane novel to be filmed in Hollywood – after I, The Jury (1953) – The Long Wait takes pulp fiction down to a new level. A preposterous plot with more holes than a pair of fishnet nylons itches a perversely compelling pastiche of noir tropes: amnesia, corruption in high places, crooked cops, frame-ups, violence, duplicitous dames, and sex. But no Mike Hammer. Our protagonist is strictly an amateur. But that doesn’t make him any less able to dizzy the dames nor prove his innocence – even if the key to the frame is patently absurd.

Quinn is a hunk and knows it. His kisses and clinches are not for the faint-hearted. He beds the first girl to show an interest. In fact, she picks him up. A frank come-on and cut to her apartment, where after a shower she is ready for the bout naked under her wrap. You get the picture.

Despite a strange incoherence and lackadaisical direction from Brit Victor Saville, the talented lensing of Franz Planer sustains visual interest, with suitably dark lighting and expressionist flourishes.

This brings us to the climax which melds sex and violent entrapment into an amazing expressionist sequence involving a spot-light and deft crane shots. Quinn is tied-up in a chair and a girl called Venus trussed on the floor is being goaded by the bad guy to crawl to Quinn for one last kiss. The resolution is neat and unexpected. One of those rare moments when you are left open-mouthed before the craft and audacity of what you have just seen. Totally weird.

 

7 thoughts on “The Long Wait (1954): Tie Me Up And Kiss Me Deadly”

  1. “Despite a strange incoherence and lackadaisical direction from Brit Victor Saville, the talented lensing of Franz Planer sustains visual interest, with suitably dark lighting and expressionist flourishes.”

    Sounds like this is one of those films where the narrative is either cryptic or convoluted, but the visual scheme is arresting. To be sure I have not seen it, but as always am dazzled by the excellent prose that frames it. Planer has a distinguished filmography with CRISS CROSS as a particularly notable achievement. In any case ‘Anthony Quinn as an amnesiac will always hold some sway with film fans. Great presentation here Tony!

    Like

  2. Thanks Ray and Sam.

    Ray, I too had the same thought about the Hay’s Office. Though the low-end b’s did not get the same attention as the major studio output, and then again may be the producer ignored any re-write directives, like Joseph H. Lewis when he stuck with that notorious scene with Richard Conte and Jean Wallace in The Big Combo a few years later.

    Yes Sam, Planer’s work in The Chase and 99 River Street pulled those movies into a higher category.

    Like

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