Daisy Kenyon

Daisy Kenyon is a delirious melodrama, tipping toward noir. Joan Crawford-with Mildred Pierce just behind her-takes on determined Daisy, a successful illustrator living solo in New York who has grown weary of her affair with Dan O'Mara (Dana Andrews), an arrogant Park Avenue attorney. Henry Fonda's damaged war vet, Peter Lapham, soon appears and whisks her away to wifery. From this stock-sounding threesome, Preminger builds an off-kilter “women's film” that stumbles like a broken high heel. The staggering truth is that Daisy, strong-willed and deliberate, is just as vulnerable as her lurching lovers, equally undone by circumstance. To sway things further, Preminger permeates the plot with unexpected social crises: a high-society wife who beats her children, Fonda's unbalanced vet with PTSD, and a court case defending a Japanese American as the war recedes. An emotionally turbulent film built on surprising detail-if you can only see one early Preminger, pick Daisy.

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