Recently watched Noir
Posted 17 February 2017 - 07:52 AM
Posted 16 February 2017 - 01:44 PM
Stark Fear (1962) Hokie Okie Oil Patch Noir
Directed by Ned Hockman his only film. Written by Dwight V. Swain. The absolutely horrible music was by Lawrence V. Fisher and John Williams (Valley of the Dolls (1967), Images (1972), Star Wars (1977)). Cinematography was by Robert Bethar.
The film stars Beverly Garland (D.O.A. (1950), The Glass Web (1953), New Orleans Uncensored (1955), The Desperate Hours (1955), Sudden Danger (1955)) as Ellen Winslow, Skip Homeier (Black Widow (1954), Cry Vengeance (1954)) as Gerald Winslow, Kenneth Tobey (He Walked by Night (1948), The File on Thelma Jordon (1950), Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950), Angel Face (1953), Cry Terror! (1958), Marlowe (1969) ) as Cliff Kane Hannah Stone as Ruth, and George Clow, Paul Scovil, Edna Newman, John Arville, Cortez Ewing, Barbara Freeman, Darlene Dana Reno.
Oklahoma City. Ellen Winslow (Garland) is unhappily married to abusive, sadistic, alcoholic, possible latent ****, momma's boy, total wacko, husband Gerry (Homeier). It's Gerry's birthday and Ellen has bought him a birthday cake and a new lace bra to spice up their relationship. Gerry is extremely ticked off that Ellen agreed to work for for is past business rival Cliff Kane (Tobey). Cliff develops oil fields with his senior business partner Joe Vincent. When Gerry sees the new bra he assumes she bought to to flirt with Cliff. Gerry makes Ellen call Cliff to tell him she's quitting her job.
Ellen (Beverly Garland)
Gerry (Skip Homeier) Gerry and Ellen then engage in some makeup sex only Gerry stops, coitus interruptus. Has he got "plumbing" problems? He announces to Ellen that he's getting a divorce for his birthday accusing her of being a tramp. After Ellen runs out of the house Gerry disappears. When Ellen inquires at Gerry's office as to his whereabouts, she discovers from his boss that he has taken a month’s unpaid vacation.
Ellen, trying to find Gerry before he gets himself fired traces, through their mutual friend Ruth, Gerry's old girlfriend Elizabeth "Liz" Cromwell. Liz Cromwell apparently operates what looks like a cat house for roughnecks. Liz gives Ellen the first big shock when she tells her that Gerry is not from Pennsylvania as he told her but from Quada, Oklahoma. Ellen also finds out that Gerry's best friend is Harvey Suggett. So now she has a place to look and a contact.
Unfortunately, Ellen, is taken for "new talent" by the leering Johns at Liz's Cat House. A fight breaks out and Chief, a half Cherokee, half Polack roughneck is the victor and Ellen becomes the spoils. Ellen is about to be "plowed" but resourcefully she breaks a handy bottle of booze in Chief's face and makes her escape.
fleeing the whorehouse
Ellen heads off to Quada hoping to find either Gerry or Harvey. She's a fish out of water in Quadda, a bit too sophisticated for the backwater flyspeck. She finds Harvey who, though married, is a drunk and a notorious womanizer. Harvey takes Ellen to the town graveyard to supposedly "show her something". He tries to seduce her.
That evening Ellen is surprised by an angry Gerry who again calls her a tramp and threatens her. She jumps out of her car and is chased by both Gerry and Harvey. It's Harvey who catches her. He forces her into his truck and takes her to a Cherokee Pow Wow, a "stomp dance" he calls it. Ellen escapes but is again caught in the nearby town graveyard and raped brutally by Harvey, while Gerry looks on from his mother's grave.
Harvey **** Ellen on a grave Ellen overcomes this traumatic experience by going full bore into her work for Cliff. This brings them very close together and a mutual attraction is very much evident when they take a break to visit Cliff's home town the resort /tourist trap Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Ellen however, cools the emotional embers down because she still feels that it's her fault that her marriage to Gerry failed.
Cliff (Tobey) and Ellen Everything of course all goes to Noirsville, when Gerry arranges a bit of deadly mischief at the El Nora Motel.
Gerry (Homeier) watching the rape of Ellen from his mother's tombstone
Beverly Garland is very convincing as the confused, and conflicted wife who takes all the blame on herself for her failed marriage. Probably part of the confusion can be attributed to director Ned Hockman working on his first and only feature. Skip Homeier, to me anyway, in every thing I've ever seen him in, looks like a complete nut case, much like Lee Van Cleef always had an aura of evil in his beady eyed stare, Homeire emits a radiation of lethal lunacy. Kenneth Tobey's Cliff is decent as Ellen's paramour. He always played a second fiddle in "A" pictures, he's not really leading man material but with the whole film being set in Oklahoma we are not Hollywood after all, Dorothy, we are in "B" and "C" wood. Hannah Stone as Ruth also nails your typical homely MidWest busybody girlfriend, you could run into her type, typically as a waitress, in any beanery in the 50s, 60s and 70s. some of her lines are unintentionally hilarious.
Stark Fear is also unique in that it may be the only noir to ever feature a Native American Pow Wow in it's plot. The score sounds like it should be the background music for a travelog of some Bavarian Oktoberfest. The film is a curiosity, a guilty pleasure, worth a watch but nothing essential 6/10.
Screencaps above are from thre Oldies.Com video, its part of a double bill with Fright. It is also available from Something Weird Video's Six Weird Noir DVD. Full review with screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/02/stark-fear-1962-hokie-okie-oil-patch.html
Posted 09 February 2017 - 03:03 PM
We can call it a Psychological Noir, a Fringe Noir, a Tail Fin Noir "C" movie cheapo. Shot in Hunters Point and Long Island City, New York. It's a film mistakenly dumped into the horror genre, probably because it's director, (who BTW is the brother of director Billy Wilder), finished his career making SiFi and Creature Features.
Directed by W. Lee Wilder (The Glass Alibi (1946), The Pretender (1947), Once a Thief (1950), The Big Bluff (1955)) and written by his son Myles Wilder. Music was by Lew Davies, cinematography was by J. Burgi Contner.
The film stars Eric Fleming (Rawhide TV Series (1959–1965) as Dr. James Hamilton, Nancy Malone as Ann Summers, Frank Marth (Telefon (1977)) as George Morley, Norman McKay as Inspector Blackburn, Humphrey Davis as Prof. Charles Gore, and and Ned Glass (The Damned Don't Cry (1950), Storm Warning (1951)) as the Taxi Driver.
The tale starts with the escape of a mass murderer George Morley (Marth) from a Welfare (Roosevelt) Island mental hospital. Morley is able to evade the cops and gets across the small bridge to Long Island City.
Welfare (Roosevelt) Island escape
Making his way South along the East River he eventually gets to the Pennsylvania Railroad Powerhouse on 2nd Street and 50th Avenue in Hunters Point.
50th Avenue with Pennsylvania RR Powerhouse, Hunters Point, NY He runs East up to Vernon Blvd., then he backtracks North to the Queensboro Bridge. He's spotted, caught in a searchlight. Morley is cornered on the pedestrian walkway at night by NYPD. Police activity causes a massive traffic jam and a crowd of rubberneckers. In a standoff Morley threatens to jump. Police Inspector Blackburn (McKay) with a bullhorn tries to talk him out of it.
The corner of 50th Avenue and Vernon Blvd.
Into this scene walks Dr. James Hamilton (Fleming), a Park Avenue psychiatrist (who apparently was stuck in traffic). Hamilton offers to see if he can talk Morley down. Using the police spotlight shining in Morley's eyes and the power of suggestion Hamilton is able to diffuse the situation. While this is all going on a young woman Ann Summers (Malone) caught in a taxi finds herself equally affected by Hamilton's authoritative voice and the power of suggestion.
Ann Summers (Malone) lt.
Summers begins to stalk Hamilton, wanting him to take her case. She has frequent blackouts, not remembering where she goes during those periods. Hamilton, who finds himself attracted to her is reluctant at first. He caves. Under hypnosis he discovers that Ann has a split personality, her other self being the German speaking Austrian Baroness Mary Vetsera, who was involved in the Mayerling Incident. The Mayerling Incident was the apparent murder–suicide of Rudolf, Crown Prince of Austria and Vetsera. However, from a recording of his hypnosis session with Ann, Hamilton's friend and colleague European historian Prof. Charles Gore, who speaks fluent German tells Hamilton that she is speaking imperfect German, hardly what a reincarnation of the Baroness would speak.
Interestingly the whole Mayerling angle storyline is no doubt injected into the film through the Wilder family's Austrian roots.
When Ann disappears again Hamilton tracks down her guardian, who tells him that as a child Ann was taken care of by an Austrian governess. This governess related the story of the Mayerling Incident to an impressionable Ann.
In order to bait Baroness Vetsera/Ann back to reality, Hamilton feeds the tabloids the story that mass murderer Morley is the reincarnation of Crown Prince Rudolf. He hypnotizes Morley into believing he is Prince Rudolf with the cooperation of the NYPD .
Other Noirs that dealt with hypnotism, Fear in the Night (1947), and Whirlpool (1950), are better known but Fright, fits in nicely with them in a low budget sort of way. Another film that I just recently watched The Hypnotic Eye (1960), is also very noir-ish but it actually does cross over line into the horror genre, whereas Fright does not. Fright is part of a double bill DVD from Alpha Home Entertainment, worth a watch for real New York City location Noir aficionados. 6/10
Review with more screencaps here: http://noirsville.bl...-lost-noir.html
Posted 04 February 2017 - 06:08 PM
The film stars Ralph Richardson (Our Man in Havana (1959)) as Baines, Michèle Morgan (Port of Shadows (1938) Le quai des brumes (original title)) as Julie, Sonia Dresdel (The Clouded Yellow (1950)) as Mrs. Baines, Bobby Henrey as Philippe, Denis O'Dea (Odd Man Out (1947), Niagara (1953)), as Chief Inspector Crowe, and Jack Hawkins (The Cruel Sea (1953)), as Detective Ames.
Philippe (Henrey) The Fallen Idol tells its story through Philippe, the nine year old son of a French diplomat. His mother has been very sick and with his father's diplomatic duties keeping him often away, Philippe has the run of a huge diplomatic embassy in the off hours. His fantasy world consists of a pet snake named MacGregor, which he carries with him in the private living area above the palatial great rooms.
His playhouse is the whole of the embassy with its many levels, rooms, and passageways. Philippe spies down upon all, from behind shadowy staircase banisters, through room high windows, and the private resident balconies. Secrets are learned from bits of conversations eavesdropped on phone calls and staying up past his bedtime.
Philippe idolizes Baines his father's butler. Baines keeps the boy entertained with tall tales of his harrowing exploits in Africa, shooting lions in hunting safaris, quelling restless natives, etc., etc. However, Baines is just a fanciful story teller who is unhappily married to a shrew of a wife who keeps the embassy household staff terrorised.
Julie (Morgan ) and Baines (Richardson)
Baines is in love with Julie another member of the embassy staff, and when Philippe follows Baines to a cafe after work and finds Baines and Julie together, Baines tells him that Julie is his niece. After Baines has a fight with his wife over Julie, she accidentally falls two stories to her death from a window sill at the end of a landing where she went to spy on Baines and Julie. Her body lays near the bottom of a staircase. Philippe witnessed the beginning of the fight at the top of the stairs, and assumes that Baines has murdered her by pushing her down the stairway. Philippe runs off into Noirsville
Mrs. Baines (Dredsel)
When the police investigations begin, Baines tries to keep Julie out of it, and Philippe attempts to help Baines, but all these clumsy evasions and lies only get Baines into hot water with Scotland Yard. It looks like murder.
Richardson's Baine is great as the likeable, efficient, head of the household staff, and he's sort of a surrogate father figure for Philippe. Dresdel as the jealous sourpuss wife is truly vile. Morgan plays Julie both sweet and weepy. Henrey plays the impressionable Philippe to perfection, he is both innocent and trusting, there are no false notes. The rest of the cast are equally enjoyable to watch, the two washer women of the household staff, a London bobby, a lady of the night, and the detectives of Scotland Yard.
The cinematography of the flee in the night through the cobblestone streets of London will remind you of similar sequences in Vienna in The Third Man.
The only other Kids Noir that readily comes to mind is The Window (1949), these two films would make great introductions to children to the Noir style. 8/10
Review with more screencaps from the Criterion DVD here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-fallen-idol-1948-kid-noir.html
Posted 29 January 2017 - 06:17 AM
So begins White Sands a Film Soleil Noir directed by Roger Donaldson (The Getaway (1994)) and written by Daniel Pyne (Miami Vice (TV Series)1984 - 1986)). Cinematography was by Peter Menzies Jr. (The Getaway (1994)), and music by Patrick O'Hearn.
The film stars Willem Dafoe (To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), Wild at Heart (1990)) as Ray Dolezal, Mickey Rourke (Body Heat (1981), Angel Heart (1987), Barfly (1987), Sin City (2005), Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)), as Gorman Lennox, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Scarface (1983), Slam Dance (1987)) as Lane Bodine, Samuel L. Jackson (Ragtime (1981), Sea of Love (1989), Goodfellas (1990), True Romance (1993), Pulp Fiction (1994), Hard Eight (1996), Jackie Brown (1997), ) as Greg Meeker, M. Emmet Walsh (Midnight Cowboy (1969), Serpico (1973), Blade Runner (1982), Blood Simple (1984)) as Bert Gibson, with James Rebhorn as Agent Flynn, Maura Tierney as Noreen, Beth Grant as Roz Kincaid, and Mimi Rogers as Molly Dolezal.
The film is initially captivating, the body, discovered by an Apache helicopter pilot hauling two amateur archaeologists, is lying in an adobe ruin, with his brains blown out. Coroner Bert Gibson declares "It's a suicide," made even more probable with the discovery of a half million dollars in an attache case. The banter between Gibson and Dolezal about Dolezal's new cowboy hat is amusing. This reprises later at the autopsy where a phone number is discovered on a piece of wax paper as part of the undigested stomach contents. The dead man is named Spencer.
Dolezal (Dafoe) and Gibson (Walsh)
Arms Dealer, (Fred Thompson) lt.
Dolezal, posing as Spenser, calls variations of surrounding area codes plus the number and when he finally gets a connection he is instructed to go to a meeting set up at a motel. So what does he do?
He leaves his wife and son and drives off in his highly conspicuous blue 1966 Chevrolet Corvette, with a half million bucks without any backup to the meeting, implausibility number 1.
At the motel he is robbed by two women and instructed to meet a man named Gorman Lennox at a restaurant. FBI agent Greg Meeker intercepts Dolezal and informs him that Spenser was an undercover agent, an FBI mule carrying money for a payment. Since Dolezal has carelessly lost the money, Meeker tells Dolezal to posing as Spenser to recover the money or help arrest Lennox.
Dolezal meets Lennox (Rourke in a "That's one fine coat you're wearing" long coat) and his deal broker Lane Bodine. Since Lane knew Spencer she knows that Dolezal is an imposter, but since she gets a percentage of the deal she lets him slide implausibility number 2.
The money is for illegal arms. Needing more money when the arms merchants renege on the original deal, Dolezal has to romance Lane so she will attract rich humanitarian donors to fund the increase asking price on the deal implausibility number 3.
Willem Dafoe puts in a good performance but there is a lot of hesitation evident in which way the director wanted to go. M. Emmet Walsh's character is built up nicely then disappears entirely from the rest of the film, Dolezal's wife and son are treated likewise. Later two apparent lesbian goons assault Dolezal in a motel room then also are never really part of the film except as background. There are a lot of dead ends. Expectations are dangled in front of us but never followed through. White Sands, New Mexico, BTW, makes a very brief appearance in the last 5 minutes, what's up
It probably would have worked better if it would stayed a bit simpler. The sum is not as good as it's parts, there was a good film in there someplace. 6.5/10 Full review with more screen caps here http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/01/white-sands-1992-andy-of-mayberry-meets.html
Posted 20 January 2017 - 06:38 PM
Private Property (1960) Psychological California Smog Noir
Private Property was long thought lost. It is a lurid psychological noir thriller, based on a sleazy pulp fiction type premise.
It is the first feature written and directed by Leslie Stevens (writer and director of The Outer Limits TV series (1963-1964). The cinematography was by Ted D. McCord (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Flamingo Road (1949), The Damned Don't Cry (1950), The Breaking Point (1950) and, I Died a Thousand Times (1955)). The films music was by Pete Rugolo (whose credits range from Richard Diamond, Private Detective TV Series (1957–1960), to This World, Then the Fireworks (1997)).
The film revolves around two down and out creepy and twisted drifters, hitchhiking their way to The Sunset Strip. The two become sexually obsessed over a hawt "California Girl" blond housewife driving a white corvette who casually stops for directions at a Pacific Coast Highway Veltex filling station near Malibu. (BTW the Veltex Gas is going for 8 cents a gallon in 1960).
Duke and Boots with "The Rock" in the background Boots (Oates)
Duke (Allen) One of these losers is a smart sociopath, a sexual predator called Duke, played by Corey Allen (The Night of the Hunter (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), The Shadow on the Window (1957), The Big Caper (1957)). The other is the sexually dysfunctional dimmer bulb Boots, a mama's boy, played by Warren Oates (The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960), The Outer Limits TV Series (1963–1965), In the Heat of the Night (1967), Dillinger (1973), Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)).
Ann (Manx) The blond housewife Ann is played by Kate Manx the then wife of the director. She's sort of a mix of Stella Stevens and Barbara Eden. Another stock film noir veteran Jerome Cowan (The Maltese Falcon (1941), Moontide (1942), Street of Chance (1942), Deadline at Dawn (1946), The Unfaithful (1947), Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948), Scene of the Crime (1949)) plays a schlub salesman Ed who stops for gas at the filling station. Robert Wark plays Roger, Ann's husband and Jules Maitland plays the filling station owner.
Ed (Cowan) We first spot Duke and Boots when they are climbing up a small bluff from a foggy beach onto the blacktop. “The Rock” a distinct road cut into the California Coast Range at the edge of Malibu rises as a hazy backdrop. Waves ominously break against the shore. The two either spent the night sleeping on the beach or where taking a midday dip. They cross the traffic to the Veltex station and bum some pop and cigarettes from the attendant (Maitland).
When Boots tells Duke about a wall calendar he saw in the station with a scantily clad girl wearing just a cowboy hat, Duke asks him if he's getting ready for a woman yet. Boots whines that Duke always steals the girl he wants, the last one being that redhead in the orange grove, so Duke promises to get him a woman, but not after questioning his manhood with the taunt "what are you waiting for a rich sugar daddy?"
An appliance salesman from Sacramento, Ed Hogate, drives up in his '54 Buick Skylark for gas. Boots and Duke begin to wash his windows and pump him for a ride into The City Of Angels. While so engaged with Ed, Ann drives up. Ann is curvaceous and cute. Duke asks Boots if she'll do for a woman. Boots says yes. Duke and Boots convince Ed to not only give them a ride but to tail Ann as she drives towards her home. When Ed wants to end the game and make his turn for Wilshire Blvd., Duke and Boots convince him to keep following the blond. They do this by threatening him with a switchblade that Boots pulls out of his pocket.
Duke begins a plan to seduce Ann pretending to be an on the skids landscaper, who lives in his truck while looking for work. He shows up at her door whenever her husband leaves on his various business trips.
Duke slowly wears Ann's defences down by preying on her sympathies. Working in Duke's favor is the fact that her workaholic husband fails to appreciate her "ribbons and her bows". He shuns her advances, as she tries to get him to pay more attention to her sexual needs. This makes her ripe for plucking. Ann's frustrations in the film are semiotically depicted, at one point while speaking to her husband she strokes a burning (phallic) candlestick, later aroused by Duke she repeats the deed with the round stem of a plant. Other images also repeat, her husband's doffed tie she places around her neck as later she does the same with Dukes's belt. Is she subconsciously signifying that she is property?
Dukes plan is to get her hopelessly defenceless, sexually aroused, and liquored up enough to take her next door to empty house drop her on a mattress and let Boots rape her. At 79 min Private Property speeds along quickly down the highway to Noirsville.
Corey Allen's silver tongued devil Duke, is easily convincing as a womanizer, but you don't have to wonder why he never gained traction after this performance, the film opened without Code approval, was condemned by the Legion Of Decency and got slim to none distribution. Warren Oates underplays the malleable simple minded sexual neophyte Boots. Oates specialized most of his career in playing hopeless lowlifes doomed to wallow in eternal misery, always getting the poop end of the stick. Kate Manx excels as Ann with her portrayal ranging from "I Dream Of Jeannie" perky to that of sweet quiet desperation for the attention of her husband. Again one wonders how her career may have went if the film had had a regular release. Four years later she committed suicide, a waste.
So, does the title refer to trophy wife Ann, the house and pool, or the whole gaudy tinseltown world that only the others, the "elites" can inhabit?
Images are digital camera caps of the newly restored Cinelicious Pictures from a TCM premiere. 7/10
Full review with more caps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/01/private-property-1960-psychological.html
Posted 16 January 2017 - 06:25 AM
The film was based on the novel Celle qui n'était plus (She Who Was No More) by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac. The screenplay was by Henri-Georges Clouzot, Jérôme Géronimi, René Masson and Frédéric Grende.
Cinematography was by Armand Thirard (Quai des Orfèvres (1947), Le salaire de la peur (1953)), and music was by Georges Van Parys (Casque d'Or (1952)).
Nichole (Simone Signoret)
Michel (Paul Meurisse)
Christina (Vera Clouzot)
Inspector Fichet (Charles Vanel)
A cheap boarding school near Paris is run by tightwad headmaster Michel Delassalle (Meurisse). The school is owned by Delassalle's sickly wife Christina, who is also a teacher. Christina has a heart condition which prevents her from performing her wifely duties, so Michel has taken to banging the blonde Nicole Horner (Signoret), another teacher at the school. The prospect of Nicole becoming Michel's mistress has no effect between the two women since Michel is verbally abusive to both of them and woman beater to boot. They both despise him.
Nichole concocts a plan to off Michel. Christina, is indecisive at first, but after more rounds of abuse from Michel agrees to the plan. Threatening divorce, Christina leaves the school, drives with
Nichole to Nichole's hometown Niort and stays at her apartment. This lures Michel away from the school in pursuit of his meal ticket. Using a sedative mixed into a bottle of Johnnie Walker scotch she gets Michel to drink it. Michel passes out. Nichole and Christina carry him into the bathroom and drown him in the bath tub. Hiding his body in a large wicker basket Nichole and Christina drive back to the school and dump Michel into a disused swimming pool. They figure that once the body floats up to the top it will look like an accident.
Of course the body never floats to the top and everything goes exquisitely Noirsville.
Vera Clouzot, is a delight as the pious, frail, nervous, stepped on one to many times, wife. Simone Signoret seems almost butch in comparison. She is a big full figured woman and she towers over Christina both physically and mentally. There have been some critiques that state that Nicole may have lesbian designs on Christina, I got the same faint vibe. Paul Meurisse comes off like a French Jack Webb, and Charles Vanel's Inspector Fichet I hear is the original prototype of Colombo.
One of the best French Noir, screencaps are from the Criterion DVD. 10/10
Full review with more screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/01/les-diaboliques-diabolique-1955.html
Posted 12 January 2017 - 02:24 PM
The film stars Gene Hackman (Naked City TV Series (1958–1963), Night Moves (1975)) as Harry Caul, John Cazale (The Godfather (1972)) as Stan, Allen Garfield (The Cotton Club (1984)) as William P. "Bernie" Moran, Cindy Williams as Ann Frederic Forrest (Hammett (1982), The Two Jakes (1990)), as Mark, Harrison Ford (Blade Runner (1982)) as Martin Stett, Elizabeth MacRae (Naked City TV Series (1958–1963), Route 66 (1960–1964), as Meredith, and Teri Garr (After Hours (1985)) as Amy Fredericks.
The film is about a Surveillance P. I., Harry Caul (Hackman) an electronics nerd who incrementally becomes paranoid, alienated, and obsessed. Caul is "tops" in his field on the West Coast, a thorough and meticulous, snoop. His headquarters is in a chain link cage in the corner of an empty warehouse floor, at the edge of the rail freight yards of San Francisco. His workbench holds an array of audio equipment. He makes his office calls from various random payphones.
His standoffishness is manifest in the lack of details in his barren relationship with his girlfriend Amy (Garr). Harry has told her nothing of his past, he remains a stranger. When he calls on her, he sneaks to her flop door, putting his key quietly into the lock then flinging open the door as if to catch her doing something. He's a friendless, secretive, overly cautious schlub who wears a cheap plastic raincoat on sunny days, has installed four separate locks on his flat door, and gets anxious flashbacks to the young couple his work has put in jeopardy during a momentary power interruption on a streetcar. His only two release/retreats seem to be the confessional at his church and his saxophone, which he plays to the accompaniment of Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Lady spinning on his turntable.
Anne (Williams) and Mark (Forrest)
Caul (Hackman) lt. Stan (Caszal) rt.
During a big and intricately involved high tech eavesdropping surveillance job on a target couple Ann (Williams) and Mark (Forrest) in Union Square, San Francisco, Caul neglects the first rule of surveillance and begins to get personally involved. His past nagging guilt about previous assignments begins to gnaw on his conscience. As he works on the recordings and transcripts he begins to ponder if this job going to physically hurt or possibly kill the couple under surveillance as happened to others in another job in a similar situation.
Caul's paranoid condition amplifies, he's miffed when his landlord leaves a bottle of wine in his "Fortress of Solitude" apartment, chagrined that his bank has sent him a birthday card, and then later he freaks out after his ominous client "the director" contacts him through his henchman Martin Stett (Ford) who calls him on his private phone that he's never given out the number to.
Caul begins to slowly lose his mind as he descends into Noirsville.... do we see actual events or his guilty by association hallucinations.
Hackman gives a great performance as the wound a bit too tight, idiosyncratic loner. The cast comprising Caul's peers are equally eccentric and nerdy. The rest of the players are more peripheral with only Harrison Ford standing out as an ominous flunkie of the nameless "director." The soundtrack is excellent. Screencaps are from the 2010 DVD. 9/10 Review with more screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-conversation-1974-surveillance-noir.html
Posted 05 January 2017 - 09:56 AM
- jamesjazzguitar and cinemaspeak59 like this
Posted 23 December 2016 - 06:28 AM
Road Movie (1974) Road Noir
Road Movie, a Neo Noir no one has heard of, was directed by Joseph Strick (one of the directors of The Savage Eye (1959), and director of The Big Break (1953),Tropic of Cancer (1970)). Strick was a Braddock Pennsylvania native, who has had a successful career primarily as a documentary filmmaker. The Savage Eye which won 1960 BAFTA Flaherty Documentary Award is often considered to be part of the cinema vérité movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
The film was credited as being written by Judith Rascoe (Who'll Stop the Rain (1978)), and by Joseph Strick (story). Cinematography by was by Don Lenzer (Woodstock (1970), Street Scenes (1970)). The excellent melange of blues and country music was by Stanley Myers (The Deer Hunter (1978).
The film stars Regina Baff (Escape from Alcatraz (1979)), Robert Drivas (Cool Hand Luke (1967), Route 66 (TV Series)), Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)), David Bauer (Dark of the Sun (1968), Diamonds Are Forever (1971)), David Challis, Rodney Cleghorn, Beatrice Colen, Rik Colitti, Eileen Dietz, Laura Esterman and the great American road.
Janice (Baff) is a ****. Started young.A born ****. Teeny Bopper with hot pants. Arcade photo booth. Janice nude under her coat. Taking nudie shots of her pink canoe. Prints sell to perves. Caught! Taken to the office. Owner threats to call the cops. Janice tells him "I got one good reason why we shouldn't go to the cops" and she opened her coat giving the owner an eye full and Janice does it with the creep, does it all right in the office. A new career launched.
Road Movie has an opening credit sequence that beautifully captures vignettes along the transient mileposts in the lives of modern teamsters. The film begins with a tearied eye Janice. She's arguing in a car with a john or her pimp. He kicks her out at the Arena Diner Truckstop. He tells her she'll have to work trucks. A highway hooker.
dumped at the diner
Rolling out of the lot in their Peterbilt with a reefer load of beef, are veteran driver Gill (Robert Drivas) jaded, divorced, woman beater, and Hank (Barry Bostwick) greenhorn trying to follow in his trucker father's wheel tracks, two independent truckers. Gill spots Janice and tells her they are headed to Chicago. Janice says a hundred, Gill counters fifty.
Road Movie is a great primer on independent truckers, on all the crapola they steer around and all the hoops they drive through. It's also a depressing 1974 ride through the decaying industrial neighborhoods and the sign polluted retail strips of American cities. We get drive bys of the strip mines of coal country, the refineries, junk strewn lots, auto salvage graveyards, chain link fences netting windrows of trash and desperate roadside attractions. The film evokes both the Classic Noirs Detour (1945) and The Hitch-Hiker (1953).
Road Movie is a nice Noir slice of the 70's, the cinematography, music, the sound design, even the diegetic sound of holy roller radio preachers shucking bleeding heart of Jesus statues that actually squirt blood, while the ephemera of cast off americana kitsch constantly rolls past our view is both depressingly bleak and amusingly entertaining. Screenshots are from the Image Entertainment DVD. 7/10.
Fuller review with more ( and some NSFW)screenshots here http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/12/road-movie-1974-road-noir.html
Posted 16 December 2016 - 11:34 AM
A nice discovery, right before Christmas, Too Late was actually first brought to my attention by a review in The New York Times. A review that I stumbled upon while doing a search online for something else almost a half year ago. It was well after Too Late left the few theaters it was screened at. I just discovered it's available to watch now on Netflix streaming. Neo Noir is alive and doing well.
Too Late is a surprisingly brilliant addition to the Private Eye & Neo Noir Pantheon. This film passed well under practically everyone's "noir-dar" when it was debuted on March 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California, followed on the 25th in New York City. With all the current zeitgeist going towards blockbusters, "celebrities" and oscar bait, and this having an extremely limited release, hardly anyone has seen much less heard of this fantastic modern take on Noir.
The film was directed and sharpley written by Dennis Hauck, the cinematography was by Bill Fernandez, and has an eclectic smorgasbord of music by Robert Allaire. Upon first viewing you'll see obvious nods to Sergio Leone's narrative style from Once Upon A Time In America that Tarantino homaged in Pulp Fiction. This is coupled with some intelligent and, if you pay attention, clue filled dialog vis-à-vis again, Tarantino. It also uses split screen in some sequences (Marlowe (1969)) and is loaded with other subtle noir and film references, i.e., an interesting off beat quote from Altman's Short Cuts (1993). There are probably more. The film was shot not only in 35mm Techniscope, but also in five Acts, twenty-two minute individual takes, with no hidden cuts or other editing.
Dorothy (Crystal Reed) and Neo Bunker Hill in the b.g.
Too Late stars John Hawkes (D.O.A. (1988), Winter's Bone (2010), The Pardon (2013)) as a damaged, pushing 60, hawk-nosed, rough, weary, stringbean freelance Private Detective Mel Sampson, he's also a smoker, a toker, and a boozer. Crystal Reed (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (TV Series 2010)) as Dorothy, Vail Bloom (Angel of Death (2009)) as ex stripper, femme fatale Janet Lyons, Jeff Fahey (Impulse (1990), Planet Terror (2007), Machete (2010)), as "Cowboy" Roger Fontaine, Gordy's muscle, Robert Forster (Jackie Brown (1997), Mulholland Drive (2001), Hotel Noir (2012)) as Gordy Lyons mobbed up strip club owner, Joanna Cassidy (The Outfit (1973), The Laughing Policeman (1973), Blade Runner (1982) ) as Eleanor Mahler, Natalie Zea () Brett Jacobsen as "Skippy" Fontaine, Dichen Lachman as Jilly Bean, Dash Mihok as Jesse, Sydney Tamiia Poitier as Veronica, and Rider Strong as Matthew.
Mel Sampson (John Hawkes )
Janet (Vail Bloom)
Gordy Lyons (Robert Forster)
Eleanor Mahler (Joanna Cassidy)
Jilly Bean (Dichen Lachman)
Mary (Natalie Zea) L.A., 2015. In some perverse joke of the gods, Bunker Hill rises in its skyscraper reincarnation, dwarfing the stubby spike of the Los Angeles City Hall. The view is from Radio Hill, and down across a yellowish, smog shrouded Chinatown. A woman, Dorothy, calls Mel Sampson P.I. for help. He's Too Late. She's dead.
What follows, time jumps between the present, seven years in the past, and five days ago, and is wondrously Noirsville.
A bizarre confrontation on a hilltop patio between Sampson, Gordy, Fontaine, and Fontaine's and Gordy's less than classy ex stripper wives, Veronica, and the half naked Janet.
A stripbar cute meet between Sampson, Dorothy, and Sampson's future gal pal Jilly Bean, followed by a late night nightcap at a C&W bar.
The reveal in an L.A. hotel room between Sampson, and Mary and Eleanor Mahler.
The botched attempted murder of a witness.
Neo Noir vet Robert Forster is a nasty piece of work as the hard barked stripclub owner. Jeff Fahey is teddy bear-ish, good ol' boy enforcer with a broken leg. Vail Bloom is touching as the wound a bit too tight, ex stripper beauty, who crumbles disastrously, when her world comes tumbling down. Natalie Zea is heartbreaking in the part of Mary.
Too Late is at the moment available on Netflix streaming. If I have to point out any minuses I would say it could have used a bit more outdoor location footage, but that's me. A thinking man's Noir 9/10.
Full review with NSFW screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/12/too-late-2015-tarantinian-neo-noir.html
Posted 14 December 2016 - 05:55 AM
- cinemaspeak59 likes this
Posted 09 December 2016 - 06:14 AM
Posted 07 December 2016 - 07:07 AM
- jamesjazzguitar and cinemaspeak59 like this
Posted 30 November 2016 - 02:51 PM
I love Blood Simple, Joe. I like it more each time that I see it. I recently purchased the Criterion Blu-Ray edition, and I'm looking forward to seeing the movie again.
I didn't realize there was a new edition, I may have to double dip.
Posted 30 November 2016 - 12:50 PM
I love Blood Simple, Joe. I like it more each time that I see it. I recently purchased the Criterion Blu-Ray edition, and I'm looking forward to seeing the movie again.
Posted 30 November 2016 - 08:46 AM
- cinemaspeak59 likes this
Posted 21 November 2016 - 07:30 AM
Posted 19 November 2016 - 09:29 PM
Posted 19 November 2016 - 07:46 AM
Thank you for your response, which raises more questions. How did you arrive at your numbers? Is "neo-noir" the term for color films noir? I didn't know that was what the term meant; I thought it simply referred to films after the late 50's that shared some of the film noir characteristics. I've not read any books on film noir, guess it's time that I did.
The general consensus is that Neo Noir (i.e. new noir) are those Film Noir made post studio noir which like I mentioned is that 1941-1958-59 time period, any noir made after 1958-59 are called Neo Noir. The studio production numbers are from Spencer Selby's Dark City : The Film Noir.
What I'm saying is going against that convention and that maybe a better way to look at it is to say that Color Film Noir starting with Leave Her to Heaven (1945) was actually the first of the Neo Noir, and that Neo Noir and Noir existed side by side sharing most of film noir characteristics until the final B&W productions. It makes sense that the major studios would be able to switch to color earlier and that independants/poverty row studios would hang on to B&W.
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