FILM / On Cinema

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A pseudo-mystical question: does Clear and Present Danger owe its straightforwardness and sense of brooding calm to the Tom Clancy novel from whence it came, or are these qualities supplied less by genre conventions, and more by Harrison Ford (right) and the emanations from his star persona?

What am I wittering on about? This: something beyond the fact that scripts are tailored to what a star does best or to a certain image, real or manufactured, that a star projects. The forthcoming The Shadow was reworked from head to heel to accommodate Alec Baldwin, but the movie says less than zero about Baldwin; the camera does not reveal anything about the man's ego, id, or (let's be silly) soul. He does not infuse each frame of film the way, say, even the infinitely untalented Lana Turner does in Imitation of Life, a thing of almost glutinous glamour apparently torn from the most intimate recesses of La Lana's tiny sequinned mind, so compelling is its ineffable blend of tiaras and tears. Lana is the film and the film is Lana, and damn the auteur theory and the 'cinema is a collaborative art' bullshit.

Clear and Present is everything the prying camera says the essential Harrison Ford is. Controlled. Rigid. Tense. The hectic action sequences, few and far between, even echo Ford's momentary lapses into rage, when emotion gets the better of man who radiates cool reason. Ford is the film and the film is Ford. Which is interesting if certainly not as potent as Miss Turner letting the world know that deep down she was just. . .lipstick and a squirt of Jungle Gardenia.

(Photograph omitted)