Thoughts on This Property is Condemned

Monday, June 28, 2010 9:30 PM By Simon

-Based off the play of the same name, the movie takes place as a frame story, from the unkempt squatter Willie (Mary Badham, Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird, except old and in a tattered dress) to a boy skipping school, on the train tracks that become a centerpiece for the story. This is about Willie's older sister, the flirt of their small Southern town, Alva, and her eventual affair with the stoic Owen (Robert Redford), who is in town to lay off several of the employees of the railroad (the main source of income for the town).

-Natalie Wood is very good here, I think. I mean, I hate Southern Belle-bored-with-life-and-fool-around thing on anyone but Faye Dunaway, but she did it rather well, at times both selfish and sweet, naive and weary, bitter and hopeful in the same scene. Alva is pretty, has the attention of all the boarders at her mother's place, and knows it, but she longs for excitement and change, to get out of the town and all her forceful admirers.

-Charles Bronson, meanwhile, is the mom's skeevy boyfriend who leaves no room for subtly in his pursuit of Alva. The mom, I can't remember the actress, she's rather uncaring, all but pimping her daughter out to attract attention to her boarding house, promising her to a lonely, rich man named Mr. Johnson.

-Willie is, in a stretch, an older, slightly girlier Scout, with a shittier life (we first and last see her walking along the abandoned town train tracks, in her sister's inherited garb, including the reoccurring dress and the jewelery, with her broken china doll, mentioning that she no longer goes to school, and squats in the abandoned boarding house, her mother running off with a man to Arkansas, she thinks. This might be the most understated, saddest thing in the whole movie).

-I find it interesting that, in the play, the frame story is the entire Alva and co. story told through narration, and you never actually meet her.

-Good night.


Andrew K. said...

Oddly I remember hating Redford in this when I saw it so very long ago. I should probably revisit it, but glad you liked Wood.

June 29, 2010 at 12:18 AM
Heather said...

I just shrieked like a schoolgirl.

This is one of my favorite movies ever. Sure it's a little busy on the melodrama but it suited me as a pre-teen girl and I fell in love with two of my favorite actors ever in this movie. Natalie Wood is still my utter favorite and Robert Redford, well we all know what he's contributed to film.

June 29, 2010 at 1:06 PM