Blowing Wild (1953)
Blowing Hot and Cold
"Blowing Wild" could have been a very good movie, it has an impressive cast and a storyline which mixes drama, action and romance but in the end it's just an average movie. And the reason it ends up just average is because it has too much going on, spinning its wheels for almost the entire first half till eventually the central storyline reveals itself. What is a shame is from early on you know what the storyline will be, the fact that having been reacquainted with his old friend Paco, Jeff finds himself coming face to face with Marina who despite having married Paco still wants Jeff. But "Blowing Wild" takes so long to focus on it delivering what end up a lot of irrelevant scenes that you begin to wonder when it will arrive and all kick off.
After their oil well is blown up by bandits, partners Jeff (Gary Cooper - Springfield Rifle) and Dutch (Ward Bond - The Quiet Man) are desperate for money, so desperate that they accept a dangerous job to transport nitro-glycerine to raise some much needed money. But not only do they get swindled out of the money, Dutch ends up in hospital when their truck is attacked by bandits. With no options left Jeff agrees to work as foreman for his old friend Paco (Anthony Quinn) but finds it awkward due to their being history between him and Paco's wife Marina (Barbara Stanwyck - Roustabout). In fact it's not history to Marina who still carries a torch for him and is desperate for Jeff to tell her that he still loves her despite the fact he has grown fond of Sal (Ruth Roman - Champion), a young woman who works in the nearby town's hotel.
So as already mentioned the first half of "Blowing Wild" feels like it's spinning its wheels as it tries to stretch a simple story into something long enough to be made into a movie. As such we get plenty of back story, plenty of which feels irrelevant as we follow Jeff and Dutch as they encounter bandits firstly at their own oil well and then when transporting nitro-glycerine. And on top of this we also get the storyline of attractive young chancer Sal who appears to keep on cropping up in Jeff's life. It just doesn't feel like it's going anywhere other than establishing that Jeff and Dutch are desperate for money.
That all changes the minute that they become reacquainted with Paco and we immediately realise that there is history between Jeff and Paco's wife Marina. Except it then goes off on a tangent again, delivering more of what appears to be padding before eventually and I do mean eventually it focuses on the issues between Marina, Jeff and Paco as Jeff comes to work for him. It is a shame that "Blowing Wild" takes so long to get to this point because once it reaches this romantic turbulence where the alluring Marina is desperate for Jeff to love her whilst he tries to avoid her advances it becomes entertaining.
I say entertaining because "Blowing Wild" becomes dark and increasingly dramatic as Marina becomes more and more desperate to have Jeff, causing issues with Paco and also with Sal who she confronts over her feelings towards him. If only director Hugo Fregonese had trimmed back some of the back story and elaborated on these romantic troubles "Blowing Wild" could have been much more than just average because his direction especially when focusing on Marina is brilliant.
Now you have to feel for Gary Cooper in "Blowing Wild" because whilst his character Jeff Dawson is central he is also the most boring, the straight guy who goes about his business, trying to keep his nose clean and other than trying to avoid Marina's advances there is nothing to him. It means that Cooper ends up coming across like he's just going through the motions but he isn't he is just playing a very ordinary character which rather strangely is central. It also means that the rest of the cast end up being more memorable be it Ward Bond who brings a touch of humour to things as his partner Dutch or the exuberance of Anthony Quinn as his old friend Paco. And they all steal the scenes from him especially Barbara Stanwyck who from the minute we lay eyes on her as Marina we not only know that she still carries a torch for Jeff but that she is trouble, big trouble. Ironically if the story had focussed more on the romantic trouble then Barbara Stanwyck would have had more to do and it is she who makes "Blowing Wild" exciting.
What this all boils down to is that "Blowing Wild" sadly ends up a very average movie despite having a very good cast and an interesting storyline. It ends up average because it spends far too long to get to the main storyline of Marina still wanting Jeff despite being married to Paco and ends up over crowding things with too many irrelevant sub plots. It is still worth a watch just for the brilliant second half which holds a few decent moments of surprise and drama but it's not going to be a movie that watched once you will go out of your way to watch again.
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