The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, May 13-19

05/13/2015 8:50 AM |


No Down Payment (1957)
Directed by Martin Ritt
A filled-in bingo card of postwar subdivision malaise, with booze, infidelity, gossip, PTSD, racial prejudice, class difference, status-consciousness, tv-zombie children divvied up among four couples living backyard-to-backyard in sprawling “Sunrise Hills,” California. Bluntly bitter about the link between easy credit and American dreaming, Ritt tends to on-topic one-on-one dialogue scenes in conspicuously similar ranch-home interiors, a soap opera mise-en-scene appropriate for a drama of “mass middle class” consumer culture. Best in show is Joanne Woodward, doing a broad Southern accent and Method-y curlicues as a po-white-trash GI Bill wife—open, spontaneous, magic, with an amazing drunk scene. Some sources have credited screenwriter Philip Yordan acting as a front for blacklisted Ben Maddow; Yordan claimed he commissioned John McPartland to write the novel which he then adapted, dictating the outline. The conscientiously lurid film splits the difference. Mark Asch (May 17, 6:45pm; May 23, 9pm at Anthology Film Archives’s “‘Written’ By Philip Yordan”)