Monday, September 23, 2013

The Hatchet Man

1932, US, directed by William Wellman

The sexual and drug themes were presumably what would have made The Hatchet Man fall foul of the Production Code from 1934, but the more startling aspect to the modern viewer is the sight of Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young and others made up to look like Chinese characters: the actual characters themselves are a good deal more free of stereotype than you might expect, and a story that takes place entirely within the Chinese community of San Francisco is quite intriguing as an idea, but the almost complete failure to give any parts to actual Asian actors makes for a major distraction in 2013. I
do wonder whether the original audience was bothered by the rather obvious eye makeup or whether these kinds of exclusions and appropriations were so routine that they went unremarked. Despite all that, Edward G. Robinson is very good in the titular role: there's not a million miles between the character and some of the American gangland roles he played, and his intensity near the conclusion gives the film a real jolt of conviction.

No comments:


List of all movies

Most of the images here are either studio publicity stills or screen captures I've made myself; if I've taken your image without giving you credit, please let me know.

About Me

Boston, Massachusetts, United States