Our May theme of the month, Defiance, continues with The Lawless (1950).
PAUSE IT: What do you see? Here are four stills from director Joseph Losey’s starkly depicted The Lawless (1950). A story about the long-standing political unrest of a Mexican-American farming community and its struggles for both racial and economic justice, The Lawless is notable because of Losey’s decision to blend what is ostensibly an Old Hollywood film noir style with an almost Italian Neorealist or documentary-like approach. Shot on location using many non-actors, the result is as startling as it is visceral as the film pushes towards its climactic peak. The influence that both documentary and Neorealism had on the Hollywood directors of the post-war era was vast and here Losey proves that he was no exception. In the years following the war, directors sought to escape escapism and find a new, more realistic mode in which to tell their stories. In The Lawless, Losey’s use of real people and locations lends the film an added veracity. The effect then is not solely to entertain as much as it is to also inform the viewer and to draw similarities between their own real-world experiences and the lives of the characters depicted upon the screen.
The Lawless (1950)
Director: Joseph Losey
Cast: Macdonald Carey, Gail Russell, Johnny Sands
Cinematography by: J. Roy Hunt
Available From Olive Films on DVD.
May 10, 2017