THE SLEEPING TIGER (Joseph Losey, 1954)

In every woman there’s a sleeping tiger. What happens when it is aroused?
     With this lurid promotion thus began blacklisted Joseph Losey’s excellent British career, in this instance, to fool its way into distribution back home, under the pseudonym Victor Hanbury. (Blacklisted scenarists Harold Buchman and Carl Foreman wrote the script under the pseudonym Derek Frye.) For the rest of his long career, which included the top prize at Cannes (for 1971’s The Go-Between), Losey remained in this foreign country or some other on the Continent. He did things differently there.
     The Sleeping Tiger, he felt, was an inauspicious launch. It’s a bit whacked-out, if you know what I mean, but it’s a marvelously moody melodrama. Tall, lovely Alexis Smith combustibly plays the Hedda Gablerish wife of a psychiatrist who takes a shine to her husband’s young criminal patient behind his back. The bourgeois institution of marriage takes a hellish beating, to an overblown jazzy accompaniment, in swooning black and white.
     Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde, better known as Dirk Bogarde, plays the troubled boy; Losey taught the matinee idol-turned-serious actor how to use his unctuousness to good effect. President Woodrow Wilson—er, Alexander Knox—is the otherwise savvy shrink in a marital blind spot.
     Most entertaining, even with an unhappy ending that goes to show that the self-exiles took an internalized Hays Office along with them.

B(U)Y THE BOOK

MY BOOK, A Short Chronology of World Cinema, IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM THE SANDS FILMS CINEMA CLUB IN LONDON. USING EITHER OF THE LINKS BELOW, ACCESS THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THIS BOOK, FROM WHICH YOU CAN ORDER ONE OR MORE COPIES OF IT. THANKS.

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