***/**** Image A Sound A Extras B
starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Marlene Dietrich
screenplay by Abby Mann
directed by Stanley Kramer
by Walter Chaw By the end of the Fifties, the toll of about two decades of mainstream entertainment steadfast in its studied inoffensiveness catalyzed a movement in film and televison ("The Twilight Zone", one of the most politically-charged TV series in history, launched in 1959) that, fuelled by the twin prods of the death of Louis B. Mayer (the last of the studio moguls) and the discovery of Ed Gein's naughtiness in his wood shed (both in 1957), began to redefine what it meant to be "real." (One freed the artists, the other seemed to inspire them.) The new turks of the New Hollywood were Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, a real jerk and a screen jerk, respectively--self-serving, self-satisfied Old Glory jackanapes-next-door who embodied the theory of the antihero. And they put it in context of the blue-eyed, milk-fed, horse-kicked average Joe, the guy you wanted to be or wanted to bed, not just because they were dead sexy, but also because they were the future. You cast your lot in the Sixties with the rebels and didn't do a lot of apologizing for it.