penetralia’s review published on Letterboxd:
I've mostly known this as the movie that Rebecca Romijn is watching while she's taking a bath at the beginning of FEMME FATALE. Been seeing it mentioned quite a bit over the past year or so and almost pulled the trigger at home a couple of weeks ago, but noticed that the Music Box had it coming up on 35mm. Glad I waited because the big-screen treatment made for a terrific matinee. It's the only time in my entire life where I found myself sitting in a sold-out theatre and didn't think about killing anyone. Even if some of the dialogue (and presumably some secondary jokes) got drowned out by huge bursts of performative laughter, most of it was appropriate and thus respectful.
The dialogue is fucking SHARP, too. Do we attribute that more to Wilder or Chandler? Or am I just going to have to dig into both? It's by far my favorite aspect (well, tied with Barbara Stanwyck), but everything else is operating at high levels as well. The movie unfolds like clockwork, with no real surprises in this day and age, but I don't care too much about gasping at twists and turns anyway. It's enough for me to just ride along and admire the precise mechanics and by-gone sense of aesthetic refinement (while ogling Stanwyck).
That shot during the murder where her expression shifts in a such a slight but stinging way, with her glimmering eyes cutting like ice-cold razor blades and what at least feels like the faintest trace of a smirk rubbing salt in the wound... fuck me. Fred MacMurray is a great leading man, too. Stiff in all the right ways. Edward G. Robinson is a scene-stealer though. Arguably the most nuanced of the performances, and by far the funniest. I'll have to watch some stuff with him in the lead soon (after more Stanwyck).
Misc notes: I love scenes where guys hide in bushes, waiting to pull something, whether it be an intervention, a murder, or merely a prank (Loomis in HALLOWEEN is classic, Dollarhyde in MANHUNTER is king), so that bit with Neff waiting in the bushes to exact a small act of moral redemption (along with some self-preservation) warmed my heart in more ways than one. Also, Miklos Rozsa's score really got me. That theme music is banefully bad ass.
Anyway, great stuff, and I'm glad that seeing this has given me several new threads to pursue.