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November 16, 2021



Robert Siodmak - 1950
KL Studio Classics BD Region A

Deported falls outside of Robert Siodmak's series of classic films noir, and really can not be defined as such. The director's hand is still evident in a couple of scenes. Robert Buckner, producer and screenwriter, was a credited writer on several Warner Brothers classics from the Thirties and Forties, and imagining Deported as a Warner Brothers vehicle with their contract players is no stretch. The film was almost entirely filmed on location in Italy with only stars Marta Toren, Jeff Chandler and Richard Rober as the only Hollywood cast members.

The story may or may not have been inspired by one of several stories of Italian born gangsters deported from the United States. Vic Smith, born Vittorio Sparducci, is forced to return to his birthplace, the fictional Marbella in Tuscany for his first month of probation. First, on his way to catch a train, a "meet cute" encounter at a Neopolitan cab with a young woman turns out to be a ploy to have Vic meet with his former partner in crime. There is a dispute regarding $100,000 that the pair stole. Vic took the five year rap and claims the full loot, currently hidden in New York City. Proving he does not have the money with him, Vic goes on to Marbella. Welcomed by his uncle, he is taken in by his relatives where he spots the richest woman in town, a countess. Vic has his eye on the countess and also a way of retrieving his money using her humanitarian organization.

While not as flashy as the scene with Elisha Cook, Jr.'s mad drumming in Phantom Lady, there is a nice moment with Toren dancing with several men at the town's celebration. The camera tilts up at each pairing with Toren, moving with them in medium close-up, the lightbulbs of the tent seen above them. Rather than using hard cuts with the change of dance partners, Siodmak uses dissolves between each shot without cutting the waltz played in the background. Siodmak's film noir experience is most visible in the final sequence taking place in a warehouse, dim lights and shadows, as Chandler fights off a gang of black market truck drivers and has a final encounter with his ex-partner.

Marta Toren, top billed, was a Swedish actress whose brief Hollywood stardom lasted from 1948 through 1952. This was at a time when the studios were still looking for the next Ingrid Bergman or other European actress thought to supply some kind of exoticism that the home grown girls lacked. Like her peers and those before her, Toren would play a woman from any number of European countries. Toren had stage training in Sweden and returned to the stage, along with making films primarily in Italy through 1957. She dies of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1957 at age 31. Jeff Chandler's career was just on the ascent at the time he made Deported. Chandler's previous performance, Oscar nominated for Broken Arrow, elevated the actor from supporting roles to Universal's top contracted star for much of the Fifties. Premature death also affected Jeff Chandler in 1961, while Richard Rober died following a car accident in 1952 that eerily was similar to a similar scene in Siodmak's File on Thelma Jordan.

Eddy Von Mueller provides the commentary track. Aside from the usual overviews of the main cast and crew, Von Mueller helps put Deported into both the political context of the time, as well as how it reflects the post-War changes in Hollywood filmmaking.

Posted by Peter Nellhaus at November 16, 2021 05:02 AM