It's getting hard to keep up with the Bologna Cinema Ritrovato menu so some edited highlights.
Introduced by Edgardo Cozarinsky, the co-curator of the remarkable selection dubbed as an alternate history of Argentinian cinema, the point was made that this may be the only time ever that the author of a novel had taken the lead, (here playing a version of himself) in a movie adaptation of his book. (Bologna's rampant cinephilia soon had that matter resolved when from the floor it was mentioned that Mickey Spillane had performed a similar task in The Girl Hunters sometime in the early 60s.)
Chenal's film is quite a show in its settings in the back blocks of the down at heel black areas of Chicago. The sets, a touch of expressionism in both setting and lighting, emphasise the grim reality of Afro-American youth with no prospects except criminal endeavour. Bigger escapes this for awhile when he gets a job as a chauffeur to a liberal white couple (she's blind!) but then gets into trouble trying to manage the daughter of the household played by US import Jean Wallace. Accidental death sends Bigger on the run and the inevitable contretemps with the police.
Then the film goes on to his trial and the complications that ensue as white justice tries to deal with him fairly...
Wright proves most adept as an actor. Chenal's mise-en-scene is quite superb and the effort made by the restorers has paid off handsomely. You would like to think that the film, which re-premiered at Mar Del Plata FF back in 2015 might now finally have a popular life of its own and that festival directors especially will be knocking on the door.
|An earlier DVD cover|