Vessel of Wrath

Pommer’s rhythm prefigures Huston’s early work, and points toward Beat the Devil. The general technique probably derives from Hitchcock, with very fast cutting and prodigious trackwork. Pommer understands that cinema is movement, and he never shows you a picture without action. Still more, by virtue of the forces at his disposal (great actors, expert cinematography, beautiful locations, fine studio lighting), he perceives the comic possibilities of cinema in following the affair, which he does with the most minute sense of detail before Sydney Pollack.

Huston finally paid homage to Vessel of Wrath in The African Queen. Here you can see the legendary actor Tyrone Guthrie as a sort of Shavian high comedian, Robert Newton in a beautifully polished performance, Elsa Lanchester in a distinguished piece of madness, and Charles Laughton at his subtle roundest. It is a uniquely virtuosic masterpiece by a producer of genius miles ahead of many a director then and now.