Jolly Cinema > 11:30


Hugo Fregonese


Thursday 30/06/2022


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

Thrilling and grand, this was Hugo Fregonese’s all-star moment – when the ultimate Hollywood wanderer met another drifter, Gary Cooper, who had chosen to leave the US behind and partially settle and work in Mexico for tax reasons. Also featuring Anthony Quinn and Barbara Stanwyck, this story of a male friendship threatened by an old flame – now married to one of the men but secretly desiring the other – sees Fregonese giving familiar clichés a vigorous treatment.
A patchwork of certain Howard Hawks themes and situations, Philip Yordan’s predictable script – set against the backdrop of oil extraction in an unnamed Latin American country – is elevated by cut-glass dialogue, helping the film stand on its own. More accurate comparisons might be drawn with the work of John Huston, to whom the film owes its sense of empathy for the drifter, in his despair. It also has an uncanny and purely coincidental resemblance to Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Wages of Fear (made at the same time but released earlier) in the subplot, which involves a truckload of nitroglycerin being driven across mountainous terrain.
Fregonese contrasts nature with manmade structures such as oil rigs, barrels and pipes. Sidney Hickox’s fine cinematography (the film was originally announced as a Technicolor production but later shot in black and white to reduce costs) fully supports this calculated invasion of natural space, through the menacing framing of oil-rig components. At the same time Fregonese makes the rigs synonymous with manhood. The sexual metaphor even extends to the rig’s name, which it shares with the leading female character, Marina.
Blowing Wild is a hybrid film; beginning as a semi-western and becoming a semi-noir towards the end. It features some eclectic elements, such as the rather intrusive theme song sung by Frankie Laine – transposed right out of High Noon, for which Cooper won an Oscar as he was shooting with Fregonese down in Mexico. Surprisingly, Quinn also won Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Viva Zapata! during the same ceremony, leading to a certain amount of hype around Blowing. But the film’s ultimate lack of success (it was not by any means a failure, however) pushed Fregonese back into his usual business of making small, unglamorous films with a punch.

Ehsan Khoshbakht

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Philip Yordan. F.: Sid Hickox. M.: Alan Crosland Jr. Scgf.: Alfred Ybarra, Edward Fitzgerald. Mus.: Dimitri Tiomkin. Int.: Gary Cooper (Jeff Dawson), Barbara Stanwyck (Marina Conway), Ruth Roman (Sal Donnelly), Anthony Quinn (Paco Conway), Ward Bond (Dutch Peterson), Ian MacDonald (Jackson), Richard Karlan (Henderson), Juan García (El Gavilan). Prod.: Milton Sperling per United States Pictures, Inc. DCP. D.: 90’. Bn.