Just saw the promo The Narrow Margin (1952) Monday at 10:00AM (EST)
"Sunburn wear off..... on the way out?"
The majority of the film takes place upon the RKO "Golden West Limited" set as it rattles and rolls through movie magic very believably towards Los Angeles. It's a work of Studio/Stage/Special Effects Art, the great design of the various rail car sets, the lighting effects, plus an all immersive sound design. This is all intercut with second unit exterior location material and stock footage that convey the illusion of " the jornada", a road picture on rails. There are not many road pictures as tight as this one just judging it visually and audibly alone. One of my favorites 10/10
Ok, I like Narrow Margin a lot, too. And I agree, it has to be one of the best movies (in any genre, not just noir) set almost entirely on a train. Ya gotta love the tough-talking interplay between cynical street-hardened Charles McGraw and equally flinty Marie Windsor (I love this noir lady - and as for toughness,she could give Anne Savage a run for her money...)
There are all kinds of fun little details in the film...the big fat guy who keeps blocking off the narrow train passageway from everybody, the ultra-noir dialogue (how can you not love a line like "She's the sixty cent special. Cheap. Flashy. Strictly poison under the gravy."?) , and damn, how about that loud trashy swing music Marie keeps playing in her train compartment? And why does she keep drawing attention to herself in this way? Just to prove she's trashy, the kind of woman who plays cheap popular music at full blast ? and how come she's brought a record player onto a train? ( or is it a radio?) Even back then, when train accommodation was roomier than it is now, that would have been kind of awkward. But I enjoy the loud swing music thing, and the implication that anyone who plays that kind of music is trash. ( A common device in old movies, especially noirs - show the person's shallow character by letting them listen to loud popular swing music. It always makes me laugh...)
Anyway, I'm digressing a bit. What I really wanted to say was - SPOILER - of course we find out that the trashy fast-talking Marie Windsor is a police officer, set up as a decoy to confuse the would-be assassin and derail ( pun intended) him from killing the real gangster's wife. What bothers me, a lot, actually, is that when poor old Marie is killed, Charles McGraw, even after he finds out who she really was, doesn't bat an eye. This woman risked her life - and lost it - in the line of duty, protecting a key witness, knowing that the odds of getting killed herself were high.
Yet does McGraw say one word in her favour? Does he express any regret for the nasty assumptions he made about her, and the rude way her treated her? Nah. He's too busy trying to curry favour with the real gangster's wife - who of course is everything poor old Marie Windsor was not ( decorous, quiet, "decent"...)
Every time I see this film, I want him to give a speech about how wrong he was, how fine a person Windsor was for giving up her life so the wheels of justice McGraw claims to respect so much can keep turning. But nope, he just doesn't care.