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#1 cigarjoe

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Posted Today, 07:03 AM

Across the Hall (2009) Noir Hotel

 
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Sleeper Neo Noir that's surprisingly entertaining, well made, and very interesting to look at. Directed competently and stylishly by Alex Merkin who, to quote IMDb is "A New York native hailing from the prestigious Boston University College of Communication, Merkin is noted as being a "talent to watch" by Daily Variety".

The film was written by Alex Merkin, Jesse Mittelstadt, and Julien Schwab and is actually an expanded version of his short film which was written by the same three above with the addition of Kris Johnson. The excellent cinematography was by Andrew Carranza, and the Music was by Bobby Tahouri.

The film stars Mike Vogel as Julian, Danny Pino as Terry, Brittany Murphy as June, Brad Greenquist as The Porter, Arie Verveen as Lucas, Natalie Smyka as Anna, Guillermo Díaz as The Cook, Dov Davidoff as The Bellhop.

The story is told in real time, flashforwards, and flashbacks and takes place in the once ritzy now slowly decaying, past it's prime, Riverview Hotel. A  drunk and very distressed Terry (Pino), who has suspected his fiancée June (Murphy) of infidelity has followed her to The Riverview, where, he suspects she is playing hide the sausage with another guy.  Terry goes to the reluctant night porter (Greenquist) and bribes him to give him room 508 across the hall from June's room 507.

Screenshot%2B%25281467%2529.png The Riverview Hotel Terry waits in the room. He uses his cell phone and calls his best friend Julian (Vogel). Julian is relaxing in a tub with an icepack on his knee. Terry tells him that he broke into his house took Julian's revolver and followed June to the hotel. He plans to gun the lovers down. Julian asks Terry where he is at, and when Terry tells him that he is in the room across the hall Julian freaks.

<spoilers>

He freaks, you see, because it's Julian who is with June in room 507, in the Riverview Hotel, in Noirsville.

Noirsville
 
Screenshot%2B%25281495%2529.png Night Porter (Greenquist)
Screenshot%2B%25281494%2529.png "Out Of The Past" quote
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June (Murphy)
Screenshot%2B%25281478%2529.png the cell phone call to Julian (Vogel)
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Terry (Pino)
 

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The Director Merkin sticks in a few Classic Noir quotes, i.e., June registers as Kathie Moffet, Jane Greer's character from "Out Of The Past," and Terry later walks under a Theater Marquee that's playing "Nightmare Alley," there may be a few more. The four leads are excellent, the cinematography and music a treat. 7/10  Full review with more screencaps here: https://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/07/across-hall-2009-noir-hotel.html


#2 cigarjoe

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 05:44 PM

Rage (El mal) (1966) Mexican Film Soleil Neo Noir

 
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Director Gilberto Gazcón fashions an interesting Neo Noir that feels like a Western, is part InfernoWages of Fear and Guilty Bystander mixed with a bit of the anxiety of both Panic In The Streets and The Killer That Stalked New York.

The screenplay was jointly written by Gilberto Gazcón Teddi Sherman, Fernando Méndez, Guillermano Hernández, and Jesús Velásquez. The cinematography was by Rosalío Solano and the Soundtrack was by Gustavo César Carrión.

The film's vivid color palette gives it a pulp-ish paperback cover look, it's similar in that respect to the color Noir Slightly Scarlet (1956).

The film stars noir vet Glenn Ford (Gilda (1946), Framed (1947), The Undercover Man (1949), The Big Heat (1953), Human Desire (1954), Experiment in Terror (1962)) as Doc Reuben, Stella Stevens (Man-Trap (1961)) as Perla, David Reynoso ( Presage (1974), Que viva Tepito!(1981), El último túnel (1987)) as Pancho, Armando Silvestre ( La Impostora (2014), Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)) as Antonio, Jose Elias Moreno (Santa Claus (1959)) as Fortunato, Dacia Gonzalez (The Shark Hunters (1963)) as Maria, David Silva (Los Fernández de Peralvillo (1954), Campeón sin corona (1946) Espaldas mojadas (1955)) as Bus Driver and Isela Vega (Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)) as a prostitute.

Wages Of Fear quote
 

 
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Doc Reuben (Ford) runs a medical clinic in a small Mexican village. The village is booming with the influx of construction workers who are blasting a new road across the backcountry. Except for practicing medicine, Doc is a bit alienated from normal human contact outside of his medical duties, and obsessed with drinking himself to an early grave. You see, Doc blames himself for not being able to save his young wife and baby during childbirth. He drinks to forget. His main companion is his german shepherd dog.
 
 
Pancho (Reynoso) is a local who got a job on the road crew as a dynamiter. He learned his trade in the mines. Pancho and his wife Maria (Gonzalez) are going to have a baby, and Doc is happy to check Maria's progress, but tells Pancho that she will need a specialist when the time comes because she will need a caesarean section.

Pancho's friend Fortunato (Moreno) is a dozer operator on the road crew. His pet cat Princesa is acting strange. When the crew drives back to town Pancho's cat jumps out of his arms and attacks Doc's dog. The general consensus is that Princesa is pregnant. A few days later Doc gets bit by his own dog.
 

DSCN4346.JPG Dog bites Doc At the end of the week the supply truck brings a load of prostitutes to entertain the road crew. One of
prostitutes is Perla (Stevens), and at the "fiesta" she is very attracted to Doc who is quite drunk. Doc sneaks off to the clinic with a couple of bottles of booze and Perla follows. Doc throws her out and starts to hallucinate in a very graphic noir-ish sequence. In the morning a very hung over Doc finds Perla asleep upon his examination table, she has missed the truck.


DSCN4343.JPG Perla (Stevens) at Docs
The next day Fortunato drug into town by ropes, he is delirious and foaming at the mouth, he has rabies. Perla and Doc get to know each other but Doc is still standoffish. Doc explains about the death of his wife. Ten days later the supply truck arrives and Perla leaves town.


DSCN4400.JPG Rabies
Pancho arrives in town on his donkey cart early the next evening and tells Doc that Maria is contracting, Doc tells Pancho to hurry back and he'll follow in a company jeep. On the way back to his place Pancho runs into Doc's dog, the dog is bloody and foaming at the mouth and snarling at the Donkey's legs. The dog is rabid.

Doc drives up sees the situation and shoots the dog. He now realizes that he was bitten ten days ago and that he is also infected. He counts the days back to when he was bitten and realizes that he has 48 hours to get treated. When Doc tells Pablo that he has to get to the nearest big city to get shots Pablo grabs Docs gun and threatens to kill him. Doc says OK but floors the Jeep leaving Pablo in the dust as he speeds off in the growing darkness to Noirsville.

Noirsville

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Glenn Ford is compelling as the weathered Doc Reuben even though haunted by his failure to save his wife and child and drinking himself to death he can still keep his skills sharp and show compassion and kindness towards Maria. Stella Stevens at 30 is at the height of her beauty, she is the proverbial hooker with a heart of gold looking for a way out of the life. She is sexy, sassy, and sweet. David Reynoso is great as Pancho he holds his own with Ford and displays his acting chops. The rest of the cast is very good and the landscapes around Durango are beautiful. Very entertaining, This film needs a good restoration. Café con leche noir. 7/10

 

Full review with more screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/07/rage-el-mal-1966-mexican-film-soleil.html


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#3 cigarjoe

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 05:36 AM

Some Like It Violent (1968) Comparatively, an Exploitation "Roughie" Masterpiece

 
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When the "B's" went out of production low budget guerrilla Exploitation Grindhouse "C through Z's" took over. I can count probably just using the fingers of both hands how many of them are worth a look. Some Like It Violent is one of them.

"FILM NOIR HAD AN INEVITABLE TRAJECTORY…
THE ECCENTRIC & OFTEN GUTSY STYLE OF FILM NOIR HAD NO WHERE ELSE TO GO… BUT TO REACH FOR EVEN MORE OFF-BEAT, DEVIANT– ENDLESSLY RISKY & TABOO ORIENTED SET OF NARRATIVES FOUND IN THE SUBVERSIVE AND EXPLOITATIVE CULT FILMS OF THE MID TO LATE 50s through the 60s and into the early 70s!"
 
 (The Last Drive In)

Vice Raid. Times Square Area. A two squad cars converge on a West Side flop. It's one of Johnny "Big Daddy" Scaro's many houses of  prostitution scattered around Manhattan. Vice Detective Scott Lehman in charge. Hookers and their Johns/tricks, are caught in the net. Two of  Scaro's goombahs are watching the **** hit the fan from their Chevy sedan across the street.

They should have been inside making the collection. They got lucky goofing off. One of them Frankie Shive has got a ridiculous upside down Groucho Marx-ish moustache, it must have been cool in '68. Frankie is getting nervous, he can't stand the sight of "fuzz." Bruno the Buffalo is the driver. They split.
 

Meanwhile, Big Daddy is up in his apartment enthusiastically showing bad girls what happens when they get "outa" line. He's gleefully, systematically, dismembering a female mannequin with his machete in front of his two terrified personal hookers, Zelda and the Blonde. They are his "private stuff." Their sole purpose is to lounge around the apartment until Johnny gets a itch, and then they'll scratch it, and maybe both at the same time. Johnny's got big needs. They are topless. Their standard uniform. They are being watched by a captive audience of other mannequins. Apparently Johnny is a bit of a wacko.

A misogynist through and through, Johnny treats his women like bitches.

Whacking Mannequins

Screenshot%2B%25281147%2529.png Johnny "Big Daddy Scaro (Bob O'Connell)
 

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The private stuff agrees "Big Daddy" is crazy

Frankie and Bruno get caught in a Mid Town traffic jam. Frankie Shiv hops out of the car and walks to Scaro's Hell's Kitchen apartment house and breaks the bad news. Frankie tells Johnny that he should move to a better dump.

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"I like it here!"

 

Frankie: I was just about the make the collection on the house and the heats crawling all over like roaches out of the woodwork. They got the girls and some customers also.
Johnny: Uuuh, and you say Scott was there. How long ago did this happen?
Frankie: About forty-five minutes, I left Bruno in some traffic. Hey Johnny why don't you get out of this lousy place? It stinks!
Johnny: Ahaa, I like it here, I got business here, I got friends here, and I feel safe here. I was born only two blocks from here. Now you know why I like it here. What are you the D.A. or something?

Johnny, **** off, calls his shyster to see what happened to his protection. He hears the lawyer out and hangs up the phone.

Johnny: A bunch of doofus punks I gotta deal with these days, no class, and no honor. [he looks at the two hookers sitting around like pets taking the proceedings all in] What are you looking at, what is this a zoo or something? Go on, beat it, scram, get outta here. Get the hell outta here you make me sick.

Dapper Dan stops by and gives Johnny information about a computerized dating service. Dapper confirms that he did indeed get the straight dope on its potential from Johnny Basto. Wider Horizons Social Contact Service. He tells Johnny...

Dapper Dan: I never seen anything like it, machines do all the work, and the broads come out of the walls. The broad is really raking it in. You think she's going to go along with the plan?
Johnny: don't worry I'll take care of it.
Dapper Dan: We're gonna need Brinks.
Johnny: That's funny, we're gonna need Brinks, Brinks for Johnny Scaro!

Johnny is now excited. After Johnny's boys "convince" Alma Mae Cookson to let them take over her service,  Detective Scott Lehman is busy recruiting an old acquaintance Delores, the daughter of a cop shot by Scaro's boys to pose as a client of the new operation. Delores fills out the questionnaire with the help of Scott and gets matched up with none other than Johnny Scaro.

The "date" doesn't go well and Johnny rapes Dolores. When Johnny finds out from his mouthpiece's informers that Dolores was working for the police he goes ape. Scott camps out at Dolores' Westchester house expecting trouble Scott and Dolores hit it off.

Johnny and his crew plan an assassination, Johnny wants to make the hit himself. It all goes Noirsville.

Noirsville

Screenshot%2B%25281142%2529.png Times Square

 

Screenshot%2B%25281160%2529.png Frankie Shiv 
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Screenshot%2B%25281237%2529.png Johnny trapped like a rat in the sewer

Directed by Kemal Horulu and well written also by Kemal Horulu.  Camera was by Joe Mangine, Assistant Camera Bill Tobin, Edited by Phil Fitzpatrick, Sound by T.A. Dougher, Production Manager Ian Merrick, Assistant Production Manager Al Lee, Script Girl Kathleen Lee, Negative Cutting Bing Jong, Laboratories  Arta Lab, and Sound Recording by Magno Sound. It was produced by Barry Mahon (Hot Skin, Cold Cash (1965)).

The film stars Bob O'Connell as Johnny Scaro, Sharon Kent (who looks a bit like Kathryn Leigh Scott in a blonde wig) as Dolores, and Natara as prostitute Zelda. Scaro's blonde hooker  uncredited starred in producer Barry Mahon's (Hot Skin, Cold Cash (1965)).  That's it, the rest of the cast is lost to history and they probably didn't use their real names anyway.

O'Connell is a blast to watch, bug-eyed, and channeling Cagney in his his crazed monologues about making on his own it in the streets. The opening sequence of Scaro chopping up the mannequins is reminiscent of  Sam Fuller's intense opening sequence for The Naked Kiss. As with most all of these cheapy productions, the whole range of acting ability and lack of it is apparent and, of course, the requisite T&A is displayed.

These bottom of the barrel exploitation films bridge some of the the gaps between B production Noirs and the Hollywood output of Neo Noirs that picked up again in the 70's. Needs a good restoration, worth seeking out, more than just a "skin flick" 6-7/10.

 

Full review with more NSFW screencaps at Noirsville.



#4 cigarjoe

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 08:09 AM

Give 'em Hell Malone (2009) Hyper Hammer

 


give-em-hell-malone-movie-poster-.jpg
Another great Neo Noir flick that's either written off most lists, or just never made the radar screens of most noiristas and aficio-noirdosThis one I'd heard negative comments about, particularly how it resembles a first person shooter game.

What Give em Hell Malone does is grab you, whether you are into these games or not, with this opening sequence that indeed inserts you a video game-ish scenario, and what it effectively does, is quicken the tempo of Noir. It gets you up to the speed of Mark Hosack's hard boiled dialog, homaging both Chandler, Hammett, and the better parts of Mickey Spillane. It's tongue in cheek picaresque, and a lot of fun.

This film is a great boiling stew of the Classic Hard Boiled Detective, Sergio Leone, Quentin Tarantino, David Lynch, and the Coen Brothers with some homage to true crime. It's so stylish and knowing that it gives a fresh look particularly to the hard boiled detective and noir.

I'ts almost like what a Fistfull Of Dollars does to the Western, this has the blueprint on how to tweak the old school Hard Boiled Detective.

 
Similar to Miller's Sin CityGive 'em Hell Malone takes place in an unspecified time in what star Thomas Jane calls a Noiriverse, Noirsville by another name. It manages to do this with the help of Inland Empire railroad hub, Spokane, Washington, a city that still has a lot of 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s era buildings, grit, and atmosphere. The anti-hero Malone (Jane) strides through bodies like the Man With No Name through the Rojo and Baxter's, making Mike Hammer-esque wisecracks in voice over, nice! It can also boast of a decent convoluted story, many memorable characters, and an ominous, black, exhaust rumbling, souped up, 51 Merc that, compared to 2000s era vehicles looks like a small tank.

And this is another big **** to critics in 2009, this film delivers, especially if you are tuned to noir. If you have been wading through the lists of some of reviewers, and those "hop on the band wagon" shills of basically, what I call, softcore-ish compilations of what they think are Neo Noirs, and are looking for a Noir Fix, this film is mainlining it.

Screenshot%2B%25281105%2529.png Malone (Thomas Jane) Directed stylishly by Russell Mulcahy (Highlander, Resident Evil: Extinction, Razorback) and a bunch of other stuff I've never seen or heard of, but from the merits of this I will check out next years In Like Flynn (filming)). Good noirish cinematography by Jonathan Hall, and music by  David C. Williams, again with both I've not really seen nor heard of anything else they've done.

Screenshot%2B%25281056%2529.png Evelyn (Elsa Pataky) The film stars Thomas Jane (Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), The Punisher (2004),
Dark Country (2009)) as gruff ex P.I. Malone, Ving Rhames (Miami Vice TV series (1984–1990), Pulp Fiction (1994), Kiss of Death (1995) Dark Blue (2002)) as hired gun Boulder, Elsa Pataky as Femme Fatale Evelyn, French Stewart (3rd Rock from the Sun TV Series (1996–2001), Leaving Las Vegas (1995)) as Frankie the Crooner, Leland Orser (Se7en (1995), Baby Face Nelson (1996), Taken (2008)) as Murphy, Chris Yen (Adventures of Johnny Tao (2007)) as Mauler, Gregory Harrison (Razorback (1984)) as mob king Whitmore, Eileen Ryan (The Twilight Zone TV Series (1959–1964), The Detectives TV Series (1959–1962), Magnolia (1999)) as Mother Gloria and David Andriole (Barb Wire (1996), Freeway (1996)) as Pencil Stache.


Screenshot%2B%25281070%2529.png Matchstick ( Gregory Harrison) Malone. Tough. Wisecracker with a Bogart growl. Hard Drinker. Ex-Private Eye. Now Gun For Hire. Hired through his sort of appointment maker Murphy by a dame named Evelyn to retrieve a metal briefcase from a mob headquarter building. A mob territorial war is going on between two factions when Malone arrives.. Playing both ends against the middle he decimates both sides equally. He gets both wounded and the case but knows it was a setup. He just don't know the why yet.

He heads to his mother Gloria's nursing home for assistance. Gloria is a hard drinking ex nurse. She digs out Malone's bullet. While there he breaks open the briefcase and finds it stuffed with newspapers and a small blue elephant that Malone dubbs "the meaning of love."   This cryptic appellation stirs up the interest of a number of underworld figures who are trying to figure out what it is in Noirsville that is worth so much in dead men.

Noirsville

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Screenshot%2B%25281043%2529.png '51 Merc
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Thomas Jane is highly entertaining as mercenary Malone. His quick paced gravelly voice overs punctuate the action, he grumbles wisecracks like gunshots. Jane and equally hard boiled costar Pataky spit sexual banter like two alley cats. It's reminiscent of Bogart and Bacall's banter in The Big Sleep but more believable. 

All the bad guys in the film are fearful of Malone, there are varying stories of the brutal demise of Malone's family (Shown in Black & White flashbacks) and how the experience warped Malone into a cold blooded killing machine.

Pataky is the pieces sharp tongued femme fatale. At times Pataky's foreign inflections of English breaks through, but after all she's supposed to be a European prostitute. In this respect she reminds me of classic femme fatales Faith Domergue, Viveca Lindfors, and Peggy Cummins.

Ving Rhames is Malone's ex partner, Rhames is the heavy, he is imposing. Gregory Harrison the Mob King "goes Capone" on Malone's ****. Chris Yen plays a Crazy 88 type of sadistic assassin Mauler. Doug Hutchison, reminiscent a bit of a combination of Klaus Kinski and Jack Nance, is a bit over the top as wacko pyromaniac Matchstick.

A big shout out to French Stewart as bad lounge act Frankie the Crooner, part of his act is singing Lou Reed's "Good Night Ladies" at dive bars and old folks homes. His other gig is supplying visas for money or sex, to illegal alien prostitutes for Harrison. Stewart kind of reminds me of classic Film Noir bit player Edmond Ryan. Other memorable performances are David Andriole as Pencil Stash, and Eileen Ryan as Ma Gloria.

This film is a real hoot. It's oozing updated hard boiled style, with a tablespoon of Kill Bill from Tarantino, a pinch of Mulholland Drive from Lynch, a bite of Point Blank from Boorman, a cup of Blood Simple from the Coen Brothers, a ladle of Fistfull Of Dollars from Leone, a wallop of The Lady From Shanghai from Welles, the graphic scribble of Sin City from Miller, Rodriguez, and even some of Dick Tracy from Chester Gould, the film borrows from all. Screencaps from the January 26, 2010 DVD. Full review with more screencaps here: https://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/07/give-em-hell-malone-2009-hyper-hammer.html


#5 cigarjoe

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 06:48 AM

All Fall Down (1962) Tis The Season To Be Dysfunctional

 
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The streetcar named Film Noir went off the Crime Genre rails early, basically right at the onset of it's second coming. The Lost Weekend for example, reviewed here a few weeks ago delved into addiction and human frailties, not crime, Noir in its original 1930's use meant any films with subject matter considered immoral and demoralizing.

Director John Frankenheimer's (The Young Savages (1961), The Manchurian Candidate(1962), Seconds (1966)) second feature All Fall Down is about the seriously dysfunctional Willart family of Cleveland, Ohio and their satellite of influence the 30 year old virgin Echo O'Brien. 

"Family love is messy, clinging, and of an annoying and repetitive pattern… like bad wallpaper." Friedrich Nietzsche

The film was based on the novel of the same name by James Leo Herlihy whose mentor was Tennessee Williams, and who would gain fame later from his novel Midnight Cowboy. The screenplay by William Inge (Picnic (1955), Bus Stop (1956), Splendor in the Grass (1961)) deviates quite a bit from the beginning scenarios of the novel.

Screenshot%2B%2528813%2529.png The Overseas Highway, A1A , Florida Keys Regardless though, it's no surprise how intriguingly well gay writers can write about dysfunction. Inge infuses the screenplay with a nagging, overbearing, suffocating, psychopathic mother Annabell Willart (Angela Lansbury) whose devotion, bordering on worship of her seriously **** up, hyper chick magnet son, Berry-Berry (Warren Beatty), hints at incest. Berry-Berry has serious mother issues.

Annabell reigns over the first floor of the house and spends her evenings enthusiastically listening to Guess That Song (Name That Tune) on the radio. All this drives Ralph Willart (Karl Malden) Annabelle's long suffering husband, a closet socialist, real estate broker, to spend his evenings in the shelter of his cosy basement domane in an easy chair with the company of a good bottle of booze and a jigsaw puzzle.

Clinton Willart (Brandon De Wilde), Berry-Berry's younger brother is sort of the audio equivalent of a peeping tom, i.e., an "eavesdropping eddie." He is compulsively listening in on his parents arguments, his mother's phone calls, and on other people's conversations. These he meticulously all writes down in his ever present notebook. Clinton also idolizes his older brother.  When Bernice's daughter come to visit, Clinton is in love at the first sight of Echo."You don't actually see her quiver you just feel it. She's all alive and quivering."

Enter the fifth wheel in this tableau, Echo O'Brien (Eva Marie Saint), the gorgeous, practically old maid daughter of Annabelle's best friend Bernice. In Herlihy's novel Bernice is an obese wheelchair bound clairvoyant who is also interested in phrenology, which, combined with a long taxing relationship she had with an alcoholic (who finally shuts his own lights out by sucking a carbon monoxide cocktail in a garage), offers some explanation of Echo's lack of beaus. There is also a sequence later in the film where she is very upset and we see her open up a bottle and take a spoonful on the contents, is she a closet opioid addict? It's never explained in the film. We'd have to go to the source.

So what we, the viewers/interpreters, of all these films based on these dark "noir" works of Herlihy, Williams, and Inge, are dealing with are at least three layers of obfuscation. The first is what the writer put in the original works, the stories or plays, these men are writing straight male and female characters through gay tinted glasses, or gay characters written as straight characters to pass stringent societal norms, so some of their protagonists and antagonists are in a way, seemingly to me anyway, either overly burlesqued, seriously twisted, or just a tad off base. The second are the changes made, by screenwriters or the authors themselves, in their original works, i.e., expositional scenarios jettisoned, plot points cut or streamlined etc., etc., so the film scripts would be green lighted by the studios. The third layer would be the additional changes made during filming, or changes demanded so that the films would get the approval of the Motion Picture Production Code.

I'm not really familiar enough with any of the authors mentioned above to comment too much on the first layer, or movie savvy enough on the third, but Bosley Crowther's original NY Times review alludes to the second in his review of All Fall Down.

"there is one fatal flaw in the arrangement of elements in this film that makes it implausible, unnatural and extremely hard to take. It is the essential arrangement that everyone in the story is madly in love with a disgusting young man who is virtually a cretin.

The scenes that make me think of Crowther's review are the first meets between Berry-Berry and Mrs. Mandel (Constance Ford) the wealthy yacht owner and the one with the schoolteacher played by (Barbara Baxley) they seem to play out like gay pickups where almost, just over long, knowing glances alone and minimal conversation, Berry-Berry picks up both women. It just seems a tad off, and very decadent, or just maybe I've never met that desperate a woman.

Examples of the second  in this film are the missing dream sequences in the novel that reveal the psychology of Clinton. There are also major changes made in the whole Bonita Key sequence. In the the scenario of the novel, Berry-Berry wires Ralph asking for $200 to buy into a shrimping business and Clinton decides to travel by bus to join his brother. When Clinton gets to Key Bonita he finds Berry-Berry has checked out and left town. Instead of leaving town Clinton goes to the Festival Night Club where he meets a **** named Shirley.  Shirley in the novel is an important figure in Clinton's life as it is with her that he loses his virginity and becomes a man. In the film version of Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Brick's actual relationship to Scooter is greatly obscured and his problems explained away as alcoholism, that makes Maggie The Cat's dedicated devotion to him all the more perplexing. In A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche causes her young husband to commit suicide. after discovering him with an older man, this in turn turns her into an alcoholic roundheels who screws everyone in town. Williams' Suddenly Last SummerThe Fugitive Kind and Inge's Picnic have equally salacious undertones. All these shifts in perspective and obscuring of genders renders these films into dark, sometimes creepy, and as sleazy as your imagination will take them, Noirs.

 Anyway in the film version the entire tale is told from Clinton's point of view. Clinton is sent down by bus to  Key Bonita (Key West) Florida, with the $200 dollars Berry-Berry asked for, to start a shrimping business. When Clinton arrives at the dilapidated Tin Pot Arms looking for Berry-Berry, the desk clerk tells him he's not there, he's in jail, but also points him to a dive called the Festival Bar at the end of the pier. Tells him to ask for Hedy and that maybe she'll tell him why he's where he is.
 

At the Festival Bar there is a stripper doing her bumps and grinds to audience of prostitutes, sailors, and a very bored house band. A blond hooker casts off from the bar, launches herself towards Clinton and ties up to him at his table trying to score a trick. The scarily dyke-ish bar owner/bartender (Madame Spivy) buts in to throw the underage Clinton out of the bar.

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A nice composition, Clinton looking at stripper, Hedy looking at Clinton,

bartender looking at Clinton

Hedy tells Clinton that Berry-Berry threw her across a room and into a TV. She shows him the stitches in her scalp. The Bar Owner throws Clinton out of the bar.

 

Hedy follows Clinton out and tells him to tell Berry-Berry that he can come back to her anytime he wants to.

This is the first inkling we get of Berry-Berry's violent misogynist behaviors and the masochistic women he attracts, the second incident is when he decks a schoolteacher (Barbara Baxley) in Louisville.
 

Screenshot%2B%2528862%2529.png bad boy, our first view The $200 goes to make bail for Berry-Berry, who's told to get out of town and the two of them start hitching their way out of Florida. Their first ride is in a convertible with two women. One yells out "get in stud" and they argue over who saw Berry-Berry first.
 

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At another dive bar Berry-Berry, like a gigolo, gets picked up to do stud service for Mrs. Mandel (Constance Ford) on a yachting jaunt to Bermuda, but not before he gets her to give Clinton a $50 dollar bill for bus fare home to Cleveland.
 

So Clinton returns home. Meets Echo, develops a serious crush, and spends Christmas Eve with three stew bums his tipsy father brings home, and a mother who's hoping for a miracle, that Berry-Berry will be home for Christmas.

In the spring Berry-Berry is practically running a whorehouse at the nearby Happy Valley Orchard, he supplies the owner with secondhand broads and booze, in exchange for room and board. When Berry-Berry finally meets Echo, he too is immediately smitten and Echo is in turn equally attracted. Anabelle gets jealous.She starts nagging Berry-Berry about settling down and jobs. Berry-Berry and Echo make love, a couple of months later she gets pregnant, and everything skids off the road into Noirsville.

Noirsville
 

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Directed with style by John Frankenheimer (The Young Savages (1961), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), The Train (1964), Ronin (1998)),  Music by Alex North (A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), The Rose Tattoo (1955), The Misfits (1961), Goodfellas (1990)), Cinematography by Lionel Lindon (The Blue Dahlia (1946), The Turning Point (1952), I Want to Live! (1958), The Manchurian Candidate (1962)).

All the major cast put in strong performances, Warren Beatty (Splendor in the Grass (1961),Bonnie and Clyde (1967), McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Bugsy (1991)) plays the films twisted narcissistic going with the flow, bad boy, in a "what me worry?" fashion.  Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront (1954), North by Northwest (1959), ), projects a fragile beauty, refinement and vulnerableness with body movements and facial expressions. Angela Lansbury really corners the market on portraying an overbearing character in a very low key fashion. Karl Malden (Boomerang! (1947), Kiss of Death (1947), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), The Sellout (1952), On the Waterfront (1954), Baby Doll (1956)) puts in a good passive supporting performance. Brandon deWilde fits the role of the kid brother perfectly, he blends in with the cast and is very believable.

The bit part players are also quite entertaining, Evans Evans (Bonnie and Clyde (1967)) as the young naive hooker, Madame Spivy (The Fugitive Kind (1960), The Manchurian Candidate(1962), Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), ) is totally believable as the bull dyke bar owner, Constance Ford (A Summer Place (1959)) as the **** yacht wife, and Barbara Baxley (The Savage Eye (1960) No Way to Treat a Lady (1968)) as the desperate schoolteacher. Also watch for the two deputies in Bonita Key, and the three bums who visit the Willart House on Christmas Eve.

The whole Bonita Key sequence is a wonderful time capsule of Key West, Florida circa 1960s, check it out. Screencaps are from the Warner's on demand DVD. 7/10 

 

Full review with more screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/07/all-fall-down-1962-tis-season-to-be.html



#6 cigarjoe

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 06:36 PM

The Late Show (1977) The Screwball L.A. Detective

 
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A surprisingly good Neo Noir bookend to the Classic Hardboiled Detective.

"If you took the whole country and stood it on edge, all the loose nuts would roll to California."
Frank Lloyd Wright's Continental Tilt Theory


Directed and cleverly written by Robert Benton (Bad Company (1972), Still of the Night (1982), Nadine (1987), Billy Bathgate (1991)). Cinematography was by Charles Rosher Jr. (Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971), 3 Women (1977), The Onion Field (1979)), and some excellent moody music by Kenneth Wannberg.

Screenshot%2B%2528700%2529.png Ira Wells (Art Carney) The film stars the great Art Carney (The Honeymooners TV Series (1955–1956), The Jackie Gleason Show TV Series (1952–1959), The Twilight Zone TV Series (1959–1964), Harry and Tonto (1974), Going in Style (1979)) as semi-retired P.I. Ira Wells.

Screenshot%2B%2528810%2529.png Margo (Lily Tomlin) Lily Tomlin (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In TV Series (1967–1973), Nashville (1975), I Heart Huckabees (2004)) as free spirit Margo Sterling, Bill Macy (N.Y.P.D. TV Series (1967–1969), The New Mike Hammer TV Series (1984–1989), Analyze This (1999) as agent/bartender Charlie Hatter, Eugene Roche (Naked City TV Series (1958–1963), Route 66 TV Series (1960-
1964), Slaughterhouse-Five (1972)) as fence Ron Birdwell, Joanna Cassidy (The Outfit (1973), The Laughing Policeman (1973), Blade Runner (1982), Lonely Hearts (1991), Too Late (2015), as Laura Birdwell, John Considine (The Detectives TV Series (1959–1962), The Twilight Zone TV Series (1959–1964), The Outer Limits TV Series (1963–1965), The F.B.I. TV Series (1965–1974), The Rockford Files TV Series (1974–1980)) as sadistic goon Jeff Lamar,  (A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (1945) as Mrs. Schmidt, the quaint landlady, and Classic Noir veteran Howard Duff (Brute Force (1947), The Naked City (1948), Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949), Shakedown (1950), Private Hell 36 (1954), While the City Sleeps (1956)) as Ira's old partner Harry Regan.

Screenshot%2B%2528701%2529.png Harry Regan (Howard Duff) Screenshot%2B%2528811%2529.png Charlie (Bill Macy)
The Late Show is about an out of date gumshoe, small time losers and two bit hustlers in a smoggy, seedy, quick buck, wasteland, L.A.  The Big Orange, La La Land. Ira Wells (Carney) is a washed up 59 year old, honest, old school, hard boiled detective with a bum leg, poor eyesight, and an ulcer. After 31 years in the business he's on the big slide to nowheresville. Ira used to be one of the best in game. He has outlived his milieu. He gets around Tinseltown by public transportation. Ira is a loner. Ira's days are reduced to typing up his memoirs, reading the racing forms, chain drinking alka seltzers, watching TV, taking occasional cases between bouts in a VA hospital, while living and working out of a cheap boarding house.  One night his ex-partner Harry Regan (Duff) shows up with a .45 slug in his belly. Ira gets some cryptic deathbed mutterings about "a lot of dough", out of Harry before he kicks the bucket.

 

At Harry's funeral Ira runs into a former associate, sleazeball Charlie Hatter (Macy), a film/theatrical agent/part time bartender, scam artist and useful flunky. Charlie has a dolly named Maro Sterling in tow who has a cat (Winston) that's been stolen and held for ransom by Brian Hemphill.

Hemphill is a punk who arranges the transportation of stolen goods for a guy named Birdwell. He splits the money with Margo who uses her van. Margo kept the last $500 payment so Hemphill stole her cat. Margo is a slightly wound too tight one time actress, part time dress designer, transporter of stolen goods, talent manager and pot dealer. Margo wants to hire Ira to find her cat. Ira is at first insulted that Charlie is trying to stick him with such a chicken ****, penny ante, job, and wants to blow them both off. Margo showing Ira pictures of Winston pleads frantically for her cat.

Margo Sperling: This little kitty is just a little honey bun. Give this little cat a break!

Later at the shoeshine stand at Charlie's office building Ira gets the skinny from Charlie that Reagan was working for Margo when he stumbled upon a much bigger swindell. At Iras boarding house Margo tells her story while Charlie fills in the details. Harry Regan while looking for Winston stumbled onto the perpetrators of Whiting Case a murder robbery with a big insurance reward for a stolen stamp collection.

Margo: Well, OK, as long as we are going to be working together. Umm you see Brian had this creepy friend, and far be for me to go around passing judgement on people, but Ray Escobar is truly pittsville, and he had some kind of arrangement see a deal going with this guy named Birdwell.
Charlie: Ronny Birdwell?
Margo: Yea
Charlie: He's a fence, new since your day got a setup on Sunset Place.
Ira: Check around the street Charlie, see what you can pick up on Escobar.
Charlie: Can do.

Ira: One more thing, doll, about my fee... My fee. I get paid $25 a day, plus expenses.
Margo Sperling: What's he talking about?
Charlie: Listen, sweetheart, you're talking to Ira Wells.
Ira: Not some low-rent gumshoe. I'm the best, and I get paid like the best.

The facts Ira picks up from Margo leads him to Ron Birdwell (Eugene Roche) who lives in a Sunset Place mansion/warehouse filled with stolen goods instead of furniture. Lamar (John Considine) Birdwell's goon roughs up the unsuspecting Ira when he rings the doorbell. When Birdwell finds out that Ira knows less than he does he sends him on his way, with a stolen shirt, after telling Ira Hemphill's real name Hampton. 

Ira and Margo next go to Escobar's apartment, there they find, along with Laura Birdwell (Joanna Cassidy) hiding in the shower, Escobar dead and stuffed in the fridge, a one way ticket to Noirsville.

Noirsville

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The films highlight is the totally believable way Robert Benton juxtaposed the Hard Boiled 40s & 50s relics Ira and Charlie with the denizens of the Age of Aquarius 70s. The two fossils Ira and to a lesser extent Charlie have a hard time making sense of "enlightened" Margo's tangential mumbo jumbo psycho-babble ramblings.

Ira (to Charlie and Margo): .... if you two clowns would simmer down and tell me what's going on I'd appreciate it.
Margo: OK, you wanted to take a meeting with Brian right? So He called me and I'm listening to him very carefully because I've know him a long time, and Brian's not very evolved in fact he's rather de-evolved, and I was talking to him and I'm very sensitive to the vibrations he's giving out because I know what kind of karma he has....
Ira (to Charlie): What the hell is she talking about?

The film also has a nicely convoluted plot that ranks right up there with the film versions of the works of Chandler and Hammett.

Art Carney's performance in this and in 1974's Harry and Tonto are eye openers.  Just like his comedy partner Jackie Gleason (Requiem For a Heavyweight & The Hustler), he shows his acting chops. He is excellent as Ira the street smart, quick thinking, but a bit rusty and age battered PI. He brings strength to the role and personifies Raymond Chandler's man "who is neither tarnished nor afraid. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it."   

Lily Tomlin shines as the eccentric free spirit, too cool Margo. But she's not dumb, she's quick to pick up that Ira and Charlie are always making her come up with the scratch, when they all got a stake in the reward. 

Margo: You know what I had to go through to hassle up this dough? I laid off four ounces of pure red Colombian for $15 an ounce. I mean, it's disgusting. Some freak over on Pico thinks I'm Santa Claus, I swear to God. $15 an ounce... $15 an ounce. This grass was so great, I can't tell you. There was so much resin in it, it made your lips stick together.

Tomlin's non stop seemingly free association chatterbox palaver is quite humorous, it wouldn't be hard to believe that some of it is ad libbed.

Margo (hanging up the phone and addressing Ira and Charlie): Aaaah, Pit City, I mean Pit City. Not only did I still not get my cat back, thanks to you, not only did I almost get mowed down here tonight, not only did I sit here in the livingroom with yellow socks (Charlie) and perjure myself in front of practically the whole Los Angeles Police Department, but on top of that I promised this singer I managed that I would be there tonight for a very important audition, and of course you can probably tell I am not there, and on top of that I got my period.

Bill Macy is great as the slightly hipper, slightly bent, oldster Charlie. He looks like a seedy used car salesman and drives a two tone 1954 Cadillac Eldorado convertible.

Eugene Roche's Birdwell is a nice piece of work. He's a sort of a big marshmallow. A muppet version of a tough guy. Roche infuses the character with an oddly idiosyncratic compulsive sales pitches, always trying to close a deal on the hot merchandise he has.

The rest of the cast are spot on in their portrayals. Considine as the low IQ mod-ish heavy Lamar, and Ruth Nelson is almost homaging Katie Johnson's old lady Wilberforce from The Ladykillers. Joanna Cassidy is the eye candy of the film. If I had a wish I would have had just a tad bit more of noir vet Howard Duff. It's also great to see the low rent characters getting around by either walking riding on public transportation or driving a few 10 year old junkers , Margo's '64 Dodge A-100 van, and Lamar's '68 Toyota Corona.

Screencaps are from the Warner Archive Collection DVD. Café au lait Noir 7/10. Review with more screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/07/the-late-show-1977-screwball-la.html


#7 cigarjoe

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Posted 30 June 2017 - 06:38 PM

Night Tide (1961) Fringe Noir/Quasi Noir

 
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Night Tide is one of those fringe/quasi noirs. As the Motion Picture Production Code weakened and B unit productions ceased at the major studios independent poverty row and low budget film creators were allowed more artistic freedom.

So those Film Noir that went too far over the line depicting violence started getting classified as HorrorThriller (even though they were just say, showing the effects of a gunshot wound, or dealing with weird serial killers, maniacs, and psychotics, etc.). Those that went too far depicting sexual, drug, torture, etc., situations were being lumped into or classed as various Exploitation flicks, (even though they are relatively tame comparably to today's films). The the noir-ish films that dealt with everything else, except Crime, concerning the human condition were labeled Dramas and Suspense. Those that tried new techniques, lenses, etc., were labeled Experimental. Some films are so so bad in all aspects that they acquire the "so bad it's good" Cult status. What was happening is Classic Noir was beginning to morph into Neo Noir.

Night Tide is a thriller written and directed by Curtis Harrington (What's the Matter with Helen? (1971), Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1972)) and shot in the noir style. Cinematography was by Vilis Lapenieks (The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), Fallguy (1962), and Floyd Crosby (High Noon (1952), Man in the Dark (1953), Shack Out on 101 (1955), I Mobster (1959)). Music was by David Raksin (Laura (1944), Fallen Angel (1945), Force of Evil (1948), Whirlpool (1950), The Big Combo (1955)).

 

The film stars Dennis Hopper (Naked City TV Series (1958–1963), River's Edge (1986), Blue Velvet (1986), Red Rock West (1993), True Romance (1993)) as Johnny, Linda Lawson (Mike Hammer TV Series (1958–1959), Peter Gunn TV Series (1958–1961), 77 Sunset Strip
TV Series (1958–1964)) as Mora, Marjorie Cameron as Madame Romanovitch, Luana Anders as Ellen Sands, (Reform School Girl (1957), Dementia 13 (1963), The Two Jakes (1990)), Gavin Muir (Nightmare (1942), Chicago Deadline (1949))  as Captain Murdock, and Marjorie Eaton as Madame Romanovitch.
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A sailor on shore leave, Johnny Drake (Dennis Hopper) meets Mora (Linda Lawson) in the Blue Grotto a waterfront jazz club. Mora is a mermaid at an amusement pier sideshow. Captain Murdock is the sideshow's owner and barker.

Mora and Johnny hit it off, but all the denizens of the amusement pier wonder if Johnny will be the next victim of Mora's curse. It seems that all her previous boyfriends die. Mora believes that she is a descendant of the Sirens  mythic ocean creatures who lure men to their deaths.

As Mora and Johnny's relationship grows stronger Mora is afraid that on the night of the full moon she will kill Johnny. During a diving trip with Johnny on the day of the full moon Mora cuts Johnny's air line so that he must surface, while she drowns herself. By sacrificing herself Johnny will live.

When Johnny visits the Mermaid sideshow the next night he sees Mora's lifeless body in the tank. A deranged Captain Murdock confronts Johnny with a gun. It was a jealous Murdock who was killing Mora's suiters and who convinced her that she was an actual mermaid. 

Noirsville
 

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The film is shot in the Noir style and again, is a good example of how at the end of the Classic Noir and Motion Picture Production Code era combined with the switch of B unit Film Production into TV Productions, the Noir style began to slowly diffuse/fuse into genres other than pure Crime, though here there is a Crime element linked to sort of a bogus Fantasy/Occult con, in this respect it's similar to Nightmare Alley (1947), and The Amazing Mr. X (1948). Screencaps are from Youtube 6/10. More screencaps here :http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/06/night-tide-1961-fringe-noirquasi-noir.html


#8 cinemaspeak59

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Posted 23 June 2017 - 12:59 PM

 

The Lost Weekend (1945) The Lost Noir

 
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No, not lost as in not available, not seen, or unknown. It's the red-headed stepchild of Classic Film Noir. The Lost Weekend is left off almost all citations of the "discovery" or "recognition of the "new" Film Noir by French Critics in 1946 after the end of WWII.

The term Film Noir was used in the French newspapers and magazines of Paris as far back as the 1930s. It was used as both a right wing political dig at the poetic realist movement that they felt was associated with the leftist Popular Front and a condemnation of the negative trend in films that were considered immoral and demoralizing during the pre-war years.

Two 1946 pieces that are always cited in the canon on post WWII Film Noir are Nino Frank's "A New Kind of Police Drama: the Criminal Adventure" for  L'Écran français, and Jean-Pierre Chartier's "Americans Also Make Noir Films" for La Révue du Cinéma. The four films invariably always mentioned when referring to these two critics are Double IndemnityLauraThe Maltese Falcon, and Murder My Sweet. The film almost always left out in these texts is the third film that Chartier mentions the one that deals with addiction and human frailties The Lost Weekend.

"...the hand of Billy Wilder is clearly evident, particularly in the first person narrative which is used as well in his other ‘noir’ film ‘The Lost Weekend.’” Here we have one of the legendary postwar French critics specifically citing a film as a “noir” and yet this film has been ignored in what is considered “film noir” by the noirists. In the pantheon of American so-called film noirs, “The Lost Weekend” could be known as “The Lost Noir.”

“The Lost Weekend” isn’t listed in Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference of the American Style. In A Panorama of American Film Noir, Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton mention “The Lost Weekend” as “having been classified, somewhat superficially, as belonging to the noir genre, doubtless because of the hospital scenes and the description of delirium tremens. Strangeness and crime, however, were absent from it, and the psychology of the drunk offered one of the most classic examples there are of the all-powerfulness of a rudimentary desire.”

When A Panorama of American Film Noir was published in 1955, the notion that a “film noir” described a crime film, [it] created a gospel from which the form would never recover. Dismissing “The Lost Weekend” as “superficially . . . belonging to the noir genre” doomed the film to be ignored by future writings on “film noir.”

On “The Lost Weekend,” Chartier writes, “The impressions of insanity, of a senseless void, left by the drama of a young man in the grip of singular addiction, makes ‘The Lost Weekend’ one of the most depressing films I have ever seen. Certainly a charming young lady helps our alcoholic hero sober up and permits the film to end with a kiss. But the impression of extreme despair persists despite this upbeat ending.”" (The death Of Film Noir the other Critic (2009) William Ahearn)

Directed by Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity (1944), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Ace in the Hole (1951))  The film was based on Charles R. Jackson's 1944 novel of the same name, the screenplay was by Charles Brackett (Edge of Doom (1950), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Niagara (1953)) and Billy Wilder. The excellent cinematography was by John F. Seitz (Double Indemnity (1944), The Big Clock (1948), Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948), Chicago Deadline (1949), Sunset Boulevard (1950)). The music score by Miklós Rózsa (composer for fourteen Classic Noir) was among the very first to make use of the theremin, it was very effective in creating an eerie leitmotif for creeping addiction of alcoholism.

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay). It also shared the Grand Prix at the first Cannes Film Festival.

Lost%2BWeekend%2B05%2Bhelen.jpg Don and Helen (Wyman)
The film stars Ray Milland (Ministry of Fear (1944), The Big Clock (1948), Alias Nick Beal (1949), Dial M for Murder (1954)) as Don Birnam, Jane Wyman (The Glass Menagerie (1950)) as Helen St. James, Phillip Terry (Born to Kill (1947), Deadline - U.S.A. (1952)) as Wick Birnam
Howard Da Silva (five Classic Noir) as Nat, Doris Dowling (The Blue Dahlia (1946), Bitter Rice (1949)) as Gloria, Frank Faylen (They Drive by Night (1940), The Blue Dahlia (1946), 99 River Street (1953)) as 'Bim' Nolan, and Manhattan, New York City circa 1945.

Thursday. Manhattan. Upper East Side apartment house. A pan to the side of a building reveals a window with a plant and another, out of which hangs a booze bottle on a string. As we zoom into the window we hear the first faint wail of the theremin.

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Lost%2BWeekend%2B04%2Bnoose.jpg  You could say the bottle on the string below the window is like a noose around his neck symbolised by the pull shade cord Don Birman (Milland). Broke. Loser. Wasted word slinger. Alkie for six or so years. His brother Wick (Terry), his keeper. Been watching over Dons periods of lucidity between his binges. They are packing for a four day weekend in the country. Don hasn't touched the "stuff" for ten days. Don has a loyal girlfriend of three years, Helen (Wyman), who is helping to combat his problem. Helen arrives with a book, cigarettes, and chewing gum for Don's trip.

Don anxious. Don conniving. He wants to get at that bottle. He finagles himself out of the picture getting Helen and Wick to go to a concert so that he can drink before getting on the train, but Wick finds his stash and pours it down the sink. Don is irate but Wick and Helen reluctantly leave him alone to stew in the apartment. Wick isn't worried because Don hasn't any money to buy any hooch and He's told all the neighborhood sources not to give him any credit.

Don begins a frantic search of the apartment as the theremin addiction leitmotif kicks into high gear. He's almost defeated until the cleaning lady arrives at the door to get her money. Don finds out from her that Wick has left her a ten spot in the lid of the sugar bowl. He tells her that Wick must have forgot and he pockets the dough. She leaves. Don is ecstatic and on the loose on his "lost weekend."

Lost%2BWeekend%2B14%2Bwhat%2Bbrand.jpg "You know what brand...."

 

He heads to the nearest liquor store.

Don Birman: Two Bottles of rye.
Mr. Brophy: What brand?
Don Birman: You know what brand Mr. Brophy. The cheapest. None of that twelve year old aged in the wood, chi chi, nuts, for me.

With his newly acquired swag he goes to Nats (Da Silva) Bar at 42nd and Third Avenue. He buys a shot and knocks it back. He flirts with B-girl hooker Gloria (Dowling) and five shots later expounds about his boozing to Nat.

Don Birnam: It shrinks my liver, doesn't it, Nat? It pickles my kidneys, yeah. But what it does to the mind? It tosses the sandbags overboard so the balloon can soar. Suddenly I'm above the ordinary. I'm competent. I'm walking a tightrope over Niagara Falls. I'm one of the great ones. I'm Michelangelo, molding the beard of Moses. I'm Van Gogh painting pure sunlight. I'm Horowitz, playing the Emperor Concerto. I'm John Barrymore before movies got him by the throat. I'm Jesse James and his two brothers, all three of them. I'm W. Shakespeare. And out there it's not Third Avenue any longer, it's the Nile. Nat, it's the Nile and down it moves the barge of Cleopatra.

Lost%2BWeekend%2B17%2BMichaelangelo.jpg "I'm Michelangelo, molding the beard of Moses."
Meanwhile back at the apartment Helen and Wick discover Don is gone and probably off on one of his binges. Wick is **** and leaving for the weekend at the farm.

Helen: You know how he gets, he'll get run over by a car, he'll get arrested, a cigarette may fall from his mouth and he'll burn his bed.
Wick Birnam: If it happens, it happens and I hope it does. I've had six years of this. I've had my belly full... Who are we fooling? We've tried everything, haven't we? We've reasoned with him. We've baited him. We've watched him like a hawk. We've tried trusting him. How often have you cried? How often have I beaten him up? Scrape him out of a gutter and pump some kind of self-respect into him and back he falls, back in every time.
Helen St. James: He's a sick person. It's as though there was something wrong with his heart or his lungs. You wouldn't walk out on him if he had an attack. He needs our help.
Wick Birnam: He won't accept our help. Not Don, he hates us. He wants to be alone with that bottle of his. It's all he gives a hang about. Why kid ourselves? He's a hopeless alcoholic.

Don stumbles back to his pad just as Wick and Helen are leaving. He hides at the back of the hallway and then goes up and drinks himself into an alcoholic stupor.

 

Friday morning he's back a Nat's Bar at 11AM just as he's opening up.

Don Birman: Just give me another drink,
Nat: Mr. Birman, this is the morning.
Don Birman: That's when you need it most in the morning, haven't you learned that yet? At night that stuffs to drink, in the morning it's medicine.

Of course under the Motion Picture Production Code it's all in the subtext but Gloria shows up looking for a trick her pimp called her about who is supposed to meet her at the bar, her clients are all "relatives" who come down from Albany. She usually takes them to see "Grant's Tomb."

Nat: It's amazing how many guys come down from Albany just to see Grant's Tomb.
Gloria (to Don while she seductively sticks a chocolate bar in her mouth): Sometimes I wish you came from Albany.
Don Birman: Yea, where would you take me?
Gloria: Lot's of places, the Music Hall, the New Yorker roof maybe...
Don Birman: There is now being presented of 44th Street the uncut version of Hamlet, I could see us setting out for that, do you know Hamlet?
Gloria: I know 44th Street.
Don Birman: I'd like to get your interpretation of Hamlet's character.
Gloria: I'd like to give it to you.

Don and Gloria make a date, but Nat knows Don is full of BS. He chastises Don and tells him that not only is he pulling Gloria's let but he's also treating Helen terribly. When Nat asks how she ever got mixed up with someone who sops up the sauce like him we go into a long flashback sequence that begins when he met Helen at a performance of La Traviata. The opera's opening scene where there is a protracted toast with many goblets being passed among the performers is almost comically very suggestive to poor Don who begins to hallucinate his raincoat and it's bottle of booze that he checked in the lobby. When he can't take it any longer he heads to the lobby and discovers he has the wrong ticket. Helen has his and they meet.

Don Birnam: Love is the hardest thing in the world to write about. It's so simple. You've gotta catch it through details, like the early morning sunlight hitting the gray tin of the rain spout in front of her house, the ringing of a telephone that sounds like Beethoven's Pastorale, a letter scribbled on her office stationery that you carry around in your pocket because it smells like all the lilacs in Ohio.

Don decides to go back to the apartment to start his novel. He gets blocked again and begins to look for the bottle he hid. Frantic he can't remember where he left it. He heads out to Harry & Joe's where he runs out of money. He tries stealing money from a woman's purse. He's caught and thrown out. That night back at his flat he sees the bottle he stashed in the light fixture from it's reflection on the ceiling.  He drinks himself stupid.

 

Saturday. Broke and out of booze. Don decides to pawn his typewriter. He goes on an Odyssey up 3rd Ave. All the pawnshops are closed on Yom Kippur. He desperately goes to Gloria's and begs her for cash. She at first refuses since he stood her up then takes pity. Don relieved, starts to leave but falls down the stairs waking up Sunday in the Bellevue Hospital drunk ward "Hangover Plaza". The male nurse Bim Nolan (Faylen ) tells him that delirium is a disease of the night. That night when a fellow ward patient gets the DT's distracting the nurses he escapes.

Monday. Don steals a bottle of whiskey and drinks himself increasingly into Noirsville.

Noirsville

Lost%2BWeekend%2B52%2BHangover%2BHotel.s

 

Lost%2BWeekend%2B21shot%2Brings..jpg

Lost%2BWeekend%2B41%2BThird%2BAve%2BEl..

 

 

 

 
Lost%2BWeekend%2B63%2BDTs%2Bdelerium.jpg

Ray Milland is excellent, he is a wonderful drunk, he effectively portrays all the nuances of an intelligent man who is keenly aware of his own helpless degradation. Jane Wyman is impressive as the loyal girlfriend who determinedly fights for her man. Phillip Terry is believable as the disgusted and disgruntled brother. Howard Da Silva put in a good show as the disapproving barkeep, and Doris Dowling is great as the hopeful B-girl/hooker.

The film also features some great sequences of Manhattan and the Third Avenue el, sure some of it is  second unit rear projection but other sequences aren't. It's a nice time capsule to 1945.

Will Don make it? Or is this another interlude? He gets the girl in the end but he still has the revolver in his pocket.

Screencaps are from the 2001 Universal DVD. 10/10 Full review with more screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-lost-weekend-1945-lost-noir.html 

 

On Criterion's website, critic Imogen Sara Smith, in her review of THE RED SHOES (1948), makes a strong case for THE RED SHOES being a film noir.  She argues, which I think supports your point, that noir is an amorphous genre.  There's a tendency to apply exacting standards to what passes for noir, and thus missing many important films.


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#9 cigarjoe

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Posted 22 June 2017 - 09:24 PM

The Lost Weekend (1945) The Lost Noir

 
The%2BLost%2BWeekend_poster.jpg

No, not lost as in not available, not seen, or unknown. It's the red-headed stepchild of Classic Film Noir. The Lost Weekend is left off almost all citations of the "discovery" or "recognition of the "new" Film Noir by French Critics in 1946 after the end of WWII.

The term Film Noir was used in the French newspapers and magazines of Paris as far back as the 1930s. It was used as both a right wing political dig at the poetic realist movement that they felt was associated with the leftist Popular Front and a condemnation of the negative trend in films that were considered immoral and demoralizing during the pre-war years.

Two 1946 pieces that are always cited in the canon on post WWII Film Noir are Nino Frank's "A New Kind of Police Drama: the Criminal Adventure" for  L'Écran français, and Jean-Pierre Chartier's "Americans Also Make Noir Films" for La Révue du Cinéma. The four films invariably always mentioned when referring to these two critics are Double IndemnityLauraThe Maltese Falcon, and Murder My Sweet. The film almost always left out in these texts is the third film that Chartier mentions the one that deals with addiction and human frailties The Lost Weekend.

"...the hand of Billy Wilder is clearly evident, particularly in the first person narrative which is used as well in his other ‘noir’ film ‘The Lost Weekend.’” Here we have one of the legendary postwar French critics specifically citing a film as a “noir” and yet this film has been ignored in what is considered “film noir” by the noirists. In the pantheon of American so-called film noirs, “The Lost Weekend” could be known as “The Lost Noir.”

“The Lost Weekend” isn’t listed in Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference of the American Style. In A Panorama of American Film Noir, Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton mention “The Lost Weekend” as “having been classified, somewhat superficially, as belonging to the noir genre, doubtless because of the hospital scenes and the description of delirium tremens. Strangeness and crime, however, were absent from it, and the psychology of the drunk offered one of the most classic examples there are of the all-powerfulness of a rudimentary desire.”

When A Panorama of American Film Noir was published in 1955, the notion that a “film noir” described a crime film, [it] created a gospel from which the form would never recover. Dismissing “The Lost Weekend” as “superficially . . . belonging to the noir genre” doomed the film to be ignored by future writings on “film noir.”

On “The Lost Weekend,” Chartier writes, “The impressions of insanity, of a senseless void, left by the drama of a young man in the grip of singular addiction, makes ‘The Lost Weekend’ one of the most depressing films I have ever seen. Certainly a charming young lady helps our alcoholic hero sober up and permits the film to end with a kiss. But the impression of extreme despair persists despite this upbeat ending.”" (The death Of Film Noir the other Critic (2009) William Ahearn)

Directed by Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity (1944), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Ace in the Hole (1951))  The film was based on Charles R. Jackson's 1944 novel of the same name, the screenplay was by Charles Brackett (Edge of Doom (1950), Sunset Boulevard (1950), Niagara (1953)) and Billy Wilder. The excellent cinematography was by John F. Seitz (Double Indemnity (1944), The Big Clock (1948), Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948), Chicago Deadline (1949), Sunset Boulevard (1950)). The music score by Miklós Rózsa (composer for fourteen Classic Noir) was among the very first to make use of the theremin, it was very effective in creating an eerie leitmotif for creeping addiction of alcoholism.

The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay). It also shared the Grand Prix at the first Cannes Film Festival.

Lost%2BWeekend%2B05%2Bhelen.jpg Don and Helen (Wyman)
The film stars Ray Milland (Ministry of Fear (1944), The Big Clock (1948), Alias Nick Beal (1949), Dial M for Murder (1954)) as Don Birnam, Jane Wyman (The Glass Menagerie (1950)) as Helen St. James, Phillip Terry (Born to Kill (1947), Deadline - U.S.A. (1952)) as Wick Birnam
Howard Da Silva (five Classic Noir) as Nat, Doris Dowling (The Blue Dahlia (1946), Bitter Rice (1949)) as Gloria, Frank Faylen (They Drive by Night (1940), The Blue Dahlia (1946), 99 River Street (1953)) as 'Bim' Nolan, and Manhattan, New York City circa 1945.

Thursday. Manhattan. Upper East Side apartment house. A pan to the side of a building reveals a window with a plant and another, out of which hangs a booze bottle on a string. As we zoom into the window we hear the first faint wail of the theremin.

Lost%2BWeekend%2B03%2Bapt..jpg

Lost%2BWeekend%2B04%2Bnoose.jpg  You could say the bottle on the string below the window is like a noose around his neck symbolised by the pull shade cord Don Birman (Milland). Broke. Loser. Wasted word slinger. Alkie for six or so years. His brother Wick (Terry), his keeper. Been watching over Dons periods of lucidity between his binges. They are packing for a four day weekend in the country. Don hasn't touched the "stuff" for ten days. Don has a loyal girlfriend of three years, Helen (Wyman), who is helping to combat his problem. Helen arrives with a book, cigarettes, and chewing gum for Don's trip.

Don anxious. Don conniving. He wants to get at that bottle. He finagles himself out of the picture getting Helen and Wick to go to a concert so that he can drink before getting on the train, but Wick finds his stash and pours it down the sink. Don is irate but Wick and Helen reluctantly leave him alone to stew in the apartment. Wick isn't worried because Don hasn't any money to buy any hooch and He's told all the neighborhood sources not to give him any credit.

Don begins a frantic search of the apartment as the theremin addiction leitmotif kicks into high gear. He's almost defeated until the cleaning lady arrives at the door to get her money. Don finds out from her that Wick has left her a ten spot in the lid of the sugar bowl. He tells her that Wick must have forgot and he pockets the dough. She leaves. Don is ecstatic and on the loose on his "lost weekend."

Lost%2BWeekend%2B14%2Bwhat%2Bbrand.jpg "You know what brand...."

 

He heads to the nearest liquor store.

Don Birman: Two Bottles of rye.
Mr. Brophy: What brand?
Don Birman: You know what brand Mr. Brophy. The cheapest. None of that twelve year old aged in the wood, chi chi, nuts, for me.

With his newly acquired swag he goes to Nats (Da Silva) Bar at 42nd and Third Avenue. He buys a shot and knocks it back. He flirts with B-girl hooker Gloria (Dowling) and five shots later expounds about his boozing to Nat.

Don Birnam: It shrinks my liver, doesn't it, Nat? It pickles my kidneys, yeah. But what it does to the mind? It tosses the sandbags overboard so the balloon can soar. Suddenly I'm above the ordinary. I'm competent. I'm walking a tightrope over Niagara Falls. I'm one of the great ones. I'm Michelangelo, molding the beard of Moses. I'm Van Gogh painting pure sunlight. I'm Horowitz, playing the Emperor Concerto. I'm John Barrymore before movies got him by the throat. I'm Jesse James and his two brothers, all three of them. I'm W. Shakespeare. And out there it's not Third Avenue any longer, it's the Nile. Nat, it's the Nile and down it moves the barge of Cleopatra.

Lost%2BWeekend%2B17%2BMichaelangelo.jpg "I'm Michelangelo, molding the beard of Moses."
Meanwhile back at the apartment Helen and Wick discover Don is gone and probably off on one of his binges. Wick is **** and leaving for the weekend at the farm.

Helen: You know how he gets, he'll get run over by a car, he'll get arrested, a cigarette may fall from his mouth and he'll burn his bed.
Wick Birnam: If it happens, it happens and I hope it does. I've had six years of this. I've had my belly full... Who are we fooling? We've tried everything, haven't we? We've reasoned with him. We've baited him. We've watched him like a hawk. We've tried trusting him. How often have you cried? How often have I beaten him up? Scrape him out of a gutter and pump some kind of self-respect into him and back he falls, back in every time.
Helen St. James: He's a sick person. It's as though there was something wrong with his heart or his lungs. You wouldn't walk out on him if he had an attack. He needs our help.
Wick Birnam: He won't accept our help. Not Don, he hates us. He wants to be alone with that bottle of his. It's all he gives a hang about. Why kid ourselves? He's a hopeless alcoholic.

Don stumbles back to his pad just as Wick and Helen are leaving. He hides at the back of the hallway and then goes up and drinks himself into an alcoholic stupor.

 

Friday morning he's back a Nat's Bar at 11AM just as he's opening up.

Don Birman: Just give me another drink,
Nat: Mr. Birman, this is the morning.
Don Birman: That's when you need it most in the morning, haven't you learned that yet? At night that stuffs to drink, in the morning it's medicine.

Of course under the Motion Picture Production Code it's all in the subtext but Gloria shows up looking for a trick her pimp called her about who is supposed to meet her at the bar, her clients are all "relatives" who come down from Albany. She usually takes them to see "Grant's Tomb."

Nat: It's amazing how many guys come down from Albany just to see Grant's Tomb.
Gloria (to Don while she seductively sticks a chocolate bar in her mouth): Sometimes I wish you came from Albany.
Don Birman: Yea, where would you take me?
Gloria: Lot's of places, the Music Hall, the New Yorker roof maybe...
Don Birman: There is now being presented of 44th Street the uncut version of Hamlet, I could see us setting out for that, do you know Hamlet?
Gloria: I know 44th Street.
Don Birman: I'd like to get your interpretation of Hamlet's character.
Gloria: I'd like to give it to you.

Don and Gloria make a date, but Nat knows Don is full of BS. He chastises Don and tells him that not only is he pulling Gloria's let but he's also treating Helen terribly. When Nat asks how she ever got mixed up with someone who sops up the sauce like him we go into a long flashback sequence that begins when he met Helen at a performance of La Traviata. The opera's opening scene where there is a protracted toast with many goblets being passed among the performers is almost comically very suggestive to poor Don who begins to hallucinate his raincoat and it's bottle of booze that he checked in the lobby. When he can't take it any longer he heads to the lobby and discovers he has the wrong ticket. Helen has his and they meet.

Don Birnam: Love is the hardest thing in the world to write about. It's so simple. You've gotta catch it through details, like the early morning sunlight hitting the gray tin of the rain spout in front of her house, the ringing of a telephone that sounds like Beethoven's Pastorale, a letter scribbled on her office stationery that you carry around in your pocket because it smells like all the lilacs in Ohio.

Don decides to go back to the apartment to start his novel. He gets blocked again and begins to look for the bottle he hid. Frantic he can't remember where he left it. He heads out to Harry & Joe's where he runs out of money. He tries stealing money from a woman's purse. He's caught and thrown out. That night back at his flat he sees the bottle he stashed in the light fixture from it's reflection on the ceiling.  He drinks himself stupid.

 

Saturday. Broke and out of booze. Don decides to pawn his typewriter. He goes on an Odyssey up 3rd Ave. All the pawnshops are closed on Yom Kippur. He desperately goes to Gloria's and begs her for cash. She at first refuses since he stood her up then takes pity. Don relieved, starts to leave but falls down the stairs waking up Sunday in the Bellevue Hospital drunk ward "Hangover Plaza". The male nurse Bim Nolan (Faylen ) tells him that delirium is a disease of the night. That night when a fellow ward patient gets the DT's distracting the nurses he escapes.

Monday. Don steals a bottle of whiskey and drinks himself increasingly into Noirsville.

Noirsville

Lost%2BWeekend%2B52%2BHangover%2BHotel.s

 

Lost%2BWeekend%2B21shot%2Brings..jpg

Lost%2BWeekend%2B41%2BThird%2BAve%2BEl..

 

 

 

 
Lost%2BWeekend%2B63%2BDTs%2Bdelerium.jpg

Ray Milland is excellent, he is a wonderful drunk, he effectively portrays all the nuances of an intelligent man who is keenly aware of his own helpless degradation. Jane Wyman is impressive as the loyal girlfriend who determinedly fights for her man. Phillip Terry is believable as the disgusted and disgruntled brother. Howard Da Silva put in a good show as the disapproving barkeep, and Doris Dowling is great as the hopeful B-girl/hooker.

The film also features some great sequences of Manhattan and the Third Avenue el, sure some of it is  second unit rear projection but other sequences aren't. It's a nice time capsule to 1945.

Will Don make it? Or is this another interlude? He gets the girl in the end but he still has the revolver in his pocket.

Screencaps are from the 2001 Universal DVD. 10/10 Full review with more screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-lost-weekend-1945-lost-noir.html 

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#10 cigarjoe

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Posted 10 June 2017 - 06:56 AM

Leaving Las Vegas (1995) Blue Valentines

 

lasvegas%2Bposter2.jpg
The downward spiral of a boozer and a hooker in Sin City.

Written and directed by Mike Figgis (Internal Affairs (1990)).  The film was based on the semi-autobiographical novel Leaving Las Vegas by John O'Brien an alcoholic writer who offed himself two weeks after selling the book rights. The beautiful cinematography was by Declan Quinn (The Kill-Off (1989)), and the music was by Mike Figgis.

The film stars Nicolas Cage (The Cotton Club (1984), Moonstruck (1987), Wild at Heart (1990), Red Rock West (1993)) as Ben Sanderson. Elisabeth Shue (Palmetto (1998)) as Sera, Julian Sands (Siesta (1987), Boxing Helena (1993)) as Yuri Butso, Richard Lewis (Curb Your Enthusiasm TV Series (2000– )) as Peter, Steven Weber as Marc Nussbaum, Emily Procter as Debbie, Valeria Golino (Rain Man (1988)) as Terri, Thomas Kopache as Mr. Simpson, Laurie Metcalf as Landlady, Graham Beckel as L.A. bartender, Lou Rawls as the concerned cabbie, and Mariska Hargitay as Hooker at bar.

Screenshot%2B%2528253%2529.png

The film won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Nicolas Cage. It was also nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Director, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.

I re-watched this film the way you'd rubberneck a car wreck. I saw it upon first release, and then basically forgot about it's existence for twenty plus years. It dovetails nicely with the other addiction films some of which are Noirs, The Lost WeekendThe Man With The Golden ArmI'll Cry TomorrowStakeout On Dope StreetThe Days Of Wine And RosesWandaPanic In Needle ParkBarflyRequiem for a Dream.

Most of the story other than Ben's L.A. sequences is told in flashbacks as Sera confides in her analyst, counselor, therapist, we never actually find out which, who, throughout the film remains unseen and off screen.

Screenshot%2B%2528229%2529.png Ben (Cage) on a buying spree
Ben Sanderson: I don't know if I started drinking 'cause my wife left me or my wife left me 'cause I started drinking, but **** it anyway.

Washed up manic depressive screenwriter Ben Sanderson, his marriage on the rocks his boozing out of control, torches all his ties to the past and drives to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. He figures it should take him about four weeks.  Sera a L.A. prostitute since she was sixteen, has fled from her Latvian pimp Yuri to make the Las Vegas casinos and streets her beat. Yuri has tracked her down and has her servicing groups of Eastern European gamblers. She is also turning tricks.

Screenshot%2B%2528255%2529.png Sera (Shue) on the job
 
Ben and Sera first meet when Ben, drinking and driving of course as he blows into town, almost runs Sera down as he  runs a red light.  Ben checks into a dive motel, The Whole Year Inn, which he, in his drunken fog, interprets appropriately as The Hole You're In. Getting familiar with his new "home", driving around the city he spots Sera walking the streets, and offers her $500 for sex. She takes him on and the two of them drive to Ben's flop.  While he sits on the edge of his bed Sera gets down on her knees and begins. Ben though stops her and tells her that he only wants to talk.  Ben calls her his angel.
 
Screenshot%2B%2528286%2529.png

 
Sera is attracted to the loveable lush and the two of them develop a dependent relationship based on both of their needs to combat depression and loneliness. They have a sort of truce, Sera will never ask Ben to stop drinking and Ben will never complain about her hooking.

Ben Sanderson: We both know that I'm a drunk. And I know you are a hooker. I hope you understand that I am a person who is totally at ease with that. Which is not to say that I'm indifferent or I don't care, I do. It simple means that I trust and accept your judgment.

Screenshot%2B%2528324%2529.png

Periods of serenity are juxtaposed with bouts of uncontrollability, usually triggered by the lack or denial of alcohol.  His only drinking problem is when he can't find a drink. At first things go swimmingly but soon Sera begins to get concerned about Ben's deterioration. She begs him to go see a doctor, Ben is agast. When Sera is out turning tricks Ben heads to a casino and is picked up by another hooker. He takes her to Sera's apartment, and she finds them there. Sera throws Ben out.

Things continue to spiral into Noirsville, Sera gets anally gang raped by college football players and then evicted from her apartment. Ben gives her one last call on the phone and then cashes in his chips at a dive motel.

Noirsville

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Sera: I think the thing is, we both realized that we didn't have that much time. And I accepted him for who he was, and I didn't expect him to change, and I think he felt that for me, too. I liked his drama, and he needed me. And I loved him. I really loved him.

Nicholas Gage is excellent, he gives a resourceful credible performance, energetically flying high ecstatically then becoming morose and despondent as he lurches from scene to scene. On a side note nobody could drink as much as depicted and still have a pulse, also, and this is from personal experience, there is no way a man can function sexually being as blitzed out of his gourd as Ben.

Elisabeth Shue is playing the hooker with a heart of gold trope. A working girl would normally steer clear of a prospect like Ben, she gives the impression during her therapy sessions that she is a competent business woman and able to size up the trick and perform on autopilot. She confesses that with Ben it was different, she took to him as one would care for a wounded bird, it was a mutual need that each supplied the other. Her nursing of Ben assuaged her loneliness, and provides her with a modicum of redemption.

Whenever Ben and Sera are together a "Ben And Sera Theme" leitmotif plays it's reminiscent of Clair de Lune. The rest of the bluesy soundtrack consists of  Angel Eyes, It's A Lonesome Old Town, My One and Only Love, performed by Sting.  Lonely Teardrops performed by Michael McDonald. Come Rain Or Come Shine performed by Don Henley. Ridiculous performed by Nicolas Cage. I Won't Be Going South (For A While) performed by The Palladinos, and You Turn Me On courtesy of The Crazy Horse Saloon, Paris 

The performances, the atmospheric cinematography of Las Vegas and vicinity, coupled with the moody music provides a sad noir backdrop that elevates the whole into a memorable work of art. 9/10 Full review with more screencaps at http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/06/leaving-las-vegas-1995-blue-valentines.html


#11 cigarjoe

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 05:13 AM

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) Nuclear Noir - Satiric Masterpiece

 
dr_strangelove-poster3.jpg

"It doesn't get any Noir-er than The Apocalypse."



You had to have been there. The 1960s. I was a kid growing up in NYC. You couldn't help but get the feeling that you were living in the biggest bullseye on the planet. If anyplace was destined for the sobriquet "Ground Zero" it was Manhattan. The Cold War was about to boil over. The Cuban Missile Crisis and reactions to it had a way of focusing anxiety.

I remember doing nuclear attack drills in school. A bell would go off and we'd all hunker down under our desks, as if that was going to be any help. I sure this was the spark that really ignited the counterculture revolution. It got slapped into overdrive. The supposed "grown-up" were totally **** nuts. If we don't shuck off all this institutional bull **** fast we may never enjoy life. If it feels go do it, and if you don't "do it" now you may never get to do it. We who went out, stopped worrying and "did it" all owe a big thanks to all the politico wackos of the world.

You had to have been there. The film can still be enjoyed, but if you were actually there and were exposed to the hysteria it has an extra informed poignancy.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb was directed, produced, and co-written by Stanley Kubrick (Killer's Kiss (1955), The Killing (1956)). The screenplay was written by Kubrick, Terry Southern (uncredited for The Collector (1965)), and Peter George (Fail-Safe (1964)), author of the novel Red Alert.  The film is an obvious spoof of Fail Safe (1964) a thriller about human and computer errors that snowball into a nuclear attack on Moscow by a squadron of American 'Vindicator' bombers.
 

Cinematography was by Gilbert Taylor (Seven Days to Noon (1950), Circle of Danger (1951), High Treason (1951), Stop Me Before I Kill! (1960), The Bedford Incident (1965), The Omen (1976), Flash Gordon (1980)). Music was by Laurie Johnson (The Avengers TV Series (1961–1969)).

The film stars Peter Sellers (Never Let Go (1960)) in three parts, Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, a British RAF exchange officer, President Merkin Muffley, the President of the United States, and Dr. Strangelove, the wheelchair-using nuclear war expert and former Nazi. George C. Scott (Anatomy of a Murder (1959), The Hustler (1961), Naked CityTV Series (1958–1963), Hardcore (1979)) as General Buck Turgidson. Sterling Hayden (Classic Film Noir veteran) as Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper, Keenan Wynn (Song of the Thin Man (1947), Shack Out on 101 (1955), Touch of Evil (1958), Point Blank (1967), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), ) as Colonel Bat Guano. Slim Pickens (The Getaway (1972)) as Major T. J. "King" Kong. Peter Bull (The African Queen (1951)) as Soviet Ambassador Alexei de Sadeski, James Earl Jones as Lieutenant Lothar Zogg, Tracy Reed (A Shot in the Dark (1964)) as Miss Scott, General Turgidson's secretary and mistress, and Shane Rimmer as Capt. Ace Owens, the B-52 co-pilot.

A United States Air Force Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper goes off his nut and orders the Strategic Air Command 843rd Bomb Wing, equipped with B-52 bombers and nuclear bombs to leave their fail safe positions and attack the USSR with "Wing Attack Plan R."

Group Captain Mandrake quickly discovers that no war order has been issued by the President. Ripper tells Mandrake that he personally ordered the attack after he discovered a Communist plot to pollute Americans' "precious bodily fluids." Ripper also tells Mandrake that he believes the Soviets have been using the fluoridation of water supplies to pollute the "precious bodily fluids" of Americans and that he came to this conclusion during "the physical act of love."

When Mandrake decides to order the Bomb Wing back, Ripper shows Mandrake a Colt automatic and locks them both in his office.  Mandrake now realizes that Ripper is insane.

At the Pentagon, USAF General Buck Turgidson briefs President Merkin Muffley and other staff officers about how Plan "R" enables a senior officer to launch a strike against the Soviets if Washington, D.C. is nuked.

Muffley orders a US Army general to order an attack the SAC base and arrest General Ripper. Turgidson then jingoistically tries to persuade President Muffley to order an all out first strike against
the USSR. Muffley instead decides to bring in Soviet ambassador Alexei de Sadeski down into the Top Secret War Room, to telephone Soviet premier Dimitri Kissov on the "hot line" to give him a heads up on the looming catastrophe. Muffley also gives Kissov the list of primary and secondary targets so that the Soviet air defences can shoot them down.

When U.S. Army Colonel Bat Guano finally takes the SAC base he discovers that Ripper has blown his brains out and that Muffley may have discovered the vital three letter code to relay to the Bomb Group to turn them back.

Of the thirty four B52s on attack, thirty are turned back and four are reported shot down, except that one is just damaged, with its communications devices destroyed and leaking fuel. It's under the command of Major King Kong who shows some ingenuity and  heads it for the nearest target of opportunity. If Kong's B52 should successfully bomb that target it will trigger what ambassador de Sadeski calls a "Doomsday Device," an underground nuclear bomb cache consisting of multiple "Cobalt-Thorium G" tipped warheads. The device is connected to a massive computer network that will automatically detonate if any bombs fall on the USSR, and will shroud the Earth in a blanket of radioactive clouds, killing all surface life and making it uninhabitable for 93 years. This device cannot be disconnected it is programmed to explode if tried.

Of course Major King Kong in John Wayne mode displays some good ol' American, can do, hands on,  know how and everything goes apocalyptically Noirsville.

Noirsville
 

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Screenshot%2B%252857%2529.png Major King Kong (Pickins) Major T. J. "King" Kong: Survival kit contents check. In them you'll find: one forty-five caliber automatic; two boxes of ammunition; four days' concentrated emergency rations; one drug issue containing antibiotics, morphine, vitamin pills, pep pills, sleeping pills, tranquilizer pills; one miniature combination Russian phrase book and Bible; one hundred dollars in rubles; one hundred dollars in gold; nine packs of chewing gum; one issue of prophylactics; three lipsticks; three pair of nylon stockings. Shoot, a fella' could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff.

Screenshot%2B%2528116%2529.png Lieutenant Lothar Zogg (Jones)
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General Jack D. Rippe: Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No, I don't think I do, sir, no.
General Jack D. Ripper: He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.
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General "Buck" Turgidson: If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!
 

The film was nominated for Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Director, and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.

Sellers is spot on in his various roles, his inspiration for Mandrake was his spoofs during WWII of his RAF officers, his gifts for mimicry aided his Mid-Western accent for President Muffley and the German accent for Dr. Strangelove. Sterling Hayden should have won an Oscar for the portrayal of the alienated, obsessed, and absolutely mad General Jack D. Ripper. George C. Scott was excellent as enthusiastically morbid Buck Turgidson. I'll also give a loud shout out to Slim Pickens, a real hoot to watch as Major King Kong.

The design of the film is dark and at times very claustrophobic, shots of stark, barren, arctic wastelands juxtaposed against the cramped confines of the B52s cockpit, fuselage, and the mausoleum like "War Room." In other sequences B52s in flight appear to delicately be having sex as they refuel in mid air, while nuclear explosions take on an eerie bizarre beauty.

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The gravity of the story and the absurdity of situations are satirized brilliantly. Hey what's changed, the more things change the more they stay the same, look at the circus in Washington today. Screencaps are from the Columbia Pictures Special Edition 2001 DVD. 10/10

 

Fuller review with more screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/06/dr-strangelove-or-how-i-learned-to-stop.html



#12 cigarjoe

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 07:18 AM

No Country For Old Men (2007) Once Upon A Time In Noirsville

 
 
 
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It's amazing how many people are totally ignorant of the concept of what makes a Film Noir. Corporate Hollywood, with your endless sequels, your formulaic stories, your National Research Group sample demographic audience manipulations, you've done your job well.

A good percentage of certain modern audiences must be spoon fed dumbed down stories that are totally for their meager standards predictable. Just reading through the negative registered user IMDb reviews for this film from 2007-2008 one wonders if we are on an irreversible slide into predictable Blandsville. Some reviewers cannot seem to grasp the concept of any deviation from a nonlinear story, or they miss simple plot points and exclaim "plot hole".  It's discouraging, but I can at least still see an occasional creative flare burning at the end of that Blandsville Tunnel.

No Country For Old Men is a Neo Noir Masterpiece. It won Academy Awards for Best Motion Picture of the Year 2007, Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role for Javier Bardem, Best Achievement in Directing Ethan Coen Joel and Coen, and Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay for Joel Coen and Ethan Coen.

Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen (Blood Simple (1984), Miller's Crossing (1990), Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)), and based on Cormac McCarthy's novel of the same name. The excellent cinematography was by Roger Deakins (1984 (1984), Barton Fink (1991), Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), Blade Runner 2049 (2017)).  What little music in the film (there is an abundance of ambient sound in the film) was by Carter Burwell.

The film stars Tommy Lee Jones (Lonesome Dove TV Mini-Series (1989),The Fugitive (1993), Natural Born Killers (1994), Space Cowboys (2000)) as Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, Josh Brolin (Private Eye TV Series (1987–1988), Gangster Squad (2013)) as Llewelyn Moss, Javier Bardem (El detective y la muerte (1994), Skyfall (2012)) as Anton Chigurh, Kelly Macdonald (Boardwalk Empire TV Series (2010–2014)) as Carla Jean Moss, and Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killers (1994), Palmetto (1998), True Detective TV Series (2014– )) as Carson Wells, and Stephen Root (V.I. Warshawski (1991), Boardwalk Empire TV Series (2010–2014)) as the Houston business man who hires Chigurh, Wells, and the Mexicans. Gene Jones (The Hateful Eight (2015)) as Art the Texaco station owner.
 

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The story, Terrell County, Texas, circa June 1980: We hear wind we hear thunder. We see edges. The edge of earth and sky. The edge of the horizon. The edge of shadows across the prairie. The edge of light and dark, the edge of good and evil and eventually the edge of life and death. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Jones), the son of a son of Texas lawmen sadly laments the increasing violence in West Texas and the crazy world in general.

 
Ed Tom Bell: I was sheriff of this county when I was twenty-five years old. Hard to believe. My grandfather was a lawman; father too. Me and him was sheriffs at the same time; him up in Plano and me out here. I think he's pretty proud of that. I know I was. Some of the old time sheriffs never even wore a gun. A lotta folks find that hard to believe. Jim Scarborough'd never carried one; that's the younger Jim. Gaston Boykins wouldn't wear one up in Comanche County. I always liked to hear about the oldtimers. Never missed a chance to do so. You can't help but compare yourself against the oldtimers. Can't help but wonder how they would have operated these times....

These times..... Over the county line, Anton Chigurh (Bardem), a cold, deadly and seriously demented paid assassin, strangles a deputy sheriff, escapes in his patrol car, and pulls over and kills a passing motorist with a captive bolt pistol. Chigurh then steals his car abandoning the patrol car.

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Screenshot%2B%25289161%2529.png Anton Chigurh (Bardem)
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Chigurh, later stops for gas at a prairie Texaco pitstop, Art's Auto Supplies.  The hayseed owner Art is just a little too noisy for his own good, he notices that Chigurh's car plates are from Dallas, and mentions it in friendly chit chat. Chigurh is immediately on guard and confrontational. Chigurh spares the life of Art, after Art accepts Chigurh's weird challenge and correctly calls heads on Chigurh's coin flip.

If you are a conscientious hunter you'll collect the kill and haul it charitably to, as my old shitkicker buddy JB would call it. "the old folks home" on the Rez, they'll eat it. If you don't give a ****, you'll artistically arrange the carcass to look like it got hung up in a barbed wire fence (to elude the wrath of the game warden) and leave it for the buzzards.
 

Llewelyn drives his outfit out on the prairie, then used his stocking feet to roam about, and his binoculars to glass the countryside. He gets the drop on a herd of pronghorn, and lying over a boulder using his boots as a rest, scopes up his shot on a trophy buck. He makes his shot but it ain't a clean kill. The buck takes off and Llewelyn, after picking up his brass (a sure sign of a reloader) and puttin' on his boots, begins to track the buck's blood trail.

 

When that blood trail crosses the blood trail of, what turns out to be a pit bull, Llewelyn back tracks the dogs trail to the "OK corral", the site of a drug deal gone bad. Poking around the shot full of holes dead bodies and vehicles. in a sort of homage to Tuco's (Eli Wallach's) "Carriage Of The Spirits" sequence in The Good The Bad And The Ugly, he finds one man barely alive. The man asks for "agua" water, Llewelyn tells him he doesn't have any. Llewelyn finds a load of dope but finds no money. He goes back to the dying man who asked for water.

 
 

Llewelyn: You speak English? Where's the last guy? Ultimo hombre, last man standing, there must have been one, where did he go?... I reckon I'll go out the way I came in.

He spirals around and picks up boot tracks and another blood trail. He follows it to a dead man under the shade of a cedar tree and a leather satchel that contains two million dollars.

Llewelyn grabs the satchel and skedaddles. He heads home to the his trailer park, and hides the Heckler & Koch SP89 machine gun he grabbed at the drug deal gone bad in the crawl space under his mobile home. He takes the money and the nickel plated Colt .45 inside.

Ed Tom Bell: ....There was this boy I sent to the 'lectric chair at Huntsville Hill here a while back. My arrest and my testimony. He killt a fourteen-year-old girl. Papers said it was a crime of passion but he told me there wasn't any passion to it. Told me that he'd been planning to kill somebody for about as long as he could remember. Said that if they turned him out he'd do it again. Said he knew he was going to hell. "Be there in about fifteen minutes". I don't know what to make of that. I sure don't. The crime you see now, it's hard to even take its measure. It's not that I'm afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don't want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don't understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He'd have to say, "O.K., I'll be part of this world."

Back at the Moss's mobile home, after a so far sleepless night, Llewelyn decides to go back out to the "OK Corral" and bring that suffering Mexican some water. Here is the classic dumb ****, shoulda knowed better, move that fully plants this into Classic Noir territory.

Of course the Mexican is dead and some of his companeros are hanging around waiting. Llewelyn a Viet Vet uses his wits and barely escapes by jumping into the Rio Grande. Llewelyn sends his wife off to her mother's while he heads West to EL Paso, the nearest airport.

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The Houston businessman/drug lord (Root) hires Chigurh to recover his money and go after Llewelyn.
 
 Night, back at the OK Corral's bloated carcasses, Chigurh, and two of the drug lord associates investigate the carnage.

Mustache: These are some ripe petunias

Chigurh, after picking up an automatic off of one of the dead bodies, breaks rogue killing the two associates, grabs the transponder receiver, and sets out after the cash. The businessman/drug lord then hires another hit man, Carson Wells (Harrelson), to now go after Chigurh, With Chigurh, Wells the Mexican drug cartel and eventually Sheriff Bell all after the stolen loot (which by the way has a transponder hidden in one of the bundles of hundred dollar bills), everything spirals quickly out of control into Noirsville.

Noirsville
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Sheriff Ed Tom Bell
 

 
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Llewelyn (James Brolin)
 
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All performances are spot on. Jones' excellent performance as Bell the a laconic, righteous, good ol' boy sheriff is no doubt informed by his native of San Saba, Texas upbringing. Brolin also has some Texas roots, his mother Jane Cameron (Agee), a Texas-born wildlife activist. He's equally good as the overly optimistic can do cowboy who's bitten a bit more off than he can chew. Bardem is chill inducing as the slow, deliberate, somewhat goofy looking deadpan sociopath. He has an arresting presence, in this performance. I'm reminded again of The Good The Bad And The Ugly and Lee Van Cleef's beady-eyed sneer announcing "Death on a Horse" is here, too bad Bardem hasn't been utilized more in these types of roles. It says in his IMDb bio that he didn't want to be typecast (as a brawny sex symbol in the film Jamón, Jamón (1992) so I'd assume he'd feel the same about being typecast as a "crazier than a **** house rat" sociopath. Harrelson as the cocky, duded up, rival assassin has a smaller part but plays it well as does the rest of the cast.

The cinematography comprises beautiful sequences, one striking one is of a herd of pronghorn and the approaching edge of the shadow of a thunderhead blowing across the prairie. The films extensive use of ambient sound combined with this excellent cinematography heightens your awareness be it either footsteps across the prairie, a pickup tailgate clanking open, ambient sounds in roadside filling station, a truck rattling over the backcountry, a trailer house TV, a creaky floored old hotel, or an eerie surreal awakening on the stone piazza steps at dawn in a Mexican bordertown to the sound of a mariachi band. The editing is masterful.

There's only one false note and it's minor, it a bit of dialog from Bell, when he sees the burning car he exclaims that he "didn't think a car would burn like that", hell, when a car catches fire it, it goes out of control quick, anyone especially law enforcement would have seen one in the course of duty.

No Country For Old Men can take it's place in the Pantheon of Great Film Soleil Western Neo Noirs with Bad Day At Black RockInferno,  In Cold BloodBring Me The Head Of Alfredo GarciaThe Killer Inside MeBlood Simple , Paris, TexasKill Me Again , The Hot Spot , The Wrong Man , and  Mulholland Falls. Screencaps are from the Miramax 2008 DVD, Bravo! 10/10. Fuller review with more screencaps at Noirsville


#13 cigarjoe

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 08:54 PM

Fat City (1972) Skid Row Noir

 
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A beautifully shot lyrical paean to Leonard Gardner's Stockton, California based novel about the lives of two boxers trying to fight their way up from their personal gutters to Fat City. The Good Life, Easy Street, The American Dream, that Big Rock Candy Mountain. 

Classic Film Noir vet John Huston (The Maltese Falcon (1941), The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Key Largo (1948), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The Misfits (1961), The Night of the Iguana (1964), Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)) masterfully directs the screenplay by Leonard Gardner. The cinematography was by Conrad L. Hall (Harper (1966), Cool Hand Luke (1967), In Cold Blood (1967), Electra Glide in Blue (1973)) and the soundtrack credits are Help Me Make It Through the Night Composed and Performed by Kris Kristofferson, The Look of Love Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, Performed by Dusty Springfield, and If  Written by David Gates, Performed by Bread.
 Screenshot%2B%25289140%2529.pngBilly Tully (Keach)

 

Screenshot%2B%25289097%2529.png Eddie Munger (Bridges)
The film stars Stacy Keach (The Killer Inside Me (1976), The New Mike Hammer
Mike Hammer (original title) TV Series (1984–1989), Sunset Grill (1993)) as Billy Tully, Jeff Bridges (The Last Picture Show (1971), 8 Million Ways to Die (1986), The Big Lebowski (1998)) as Ernie Munger, Susan Tyrrell (The Killer Inside Me (1976), Bad (1977)), as Oma Lee Greer, Candy Clark (The Big Sleep (1978)) as Faye, Nicholas Colasanto (The Counterfeit Killer (1968), Family Plot (1976), Raging Bull (1980) Cheers TV series 1982-1990)) as Ruben Luna, Art Aragon as Babe, Curtis Cokes as Earl, Sixto Rodriguez as Lucero, Alfred Avila as Lucero's coach, Billy Walker as Wes, Wayne Mahan as Buford, and Ruben Navarro as Fuentes.
 
Billy Tully (Keach) is sliding down the **** heap into obscurity. A past prime time West End Stockton boxer/onion jobber. Getting the itch to climb back into the ring, he stops by a YMCA  gym to get in shape. He meets a kid Ernie Munger (Bridges), and spars a bit. The kid is impressive has good legs and a good reach, he's a natural. 

Billy tells him to visit his old trainer/manager Ruben Luna (Nicholas Colasanto). During his session with Edie, Billy pulls a muscle, he's **** that he didn't warm up more. Afterwards he goes to a dive bar to cry about it in his beer.

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At this dive he meets a barfly Oma (Tyrell), and her current old man Earl (Curtis Cokes). Billy is in a blue funk ever since his wife split. He also blames Ruben for sending him down to a match in Central America on his own, a match he lost. He drinks too much, can't hold down a steady job, lives in a fleabag residence hotel, and works as a day laborer, picking nuts, fruit, and vegetables in the fields and orchards around Stockton.
 

After Earl is sent to prison, Billy on a bender stumbles into a three sheets to the wind Oma, they're marinated in the same bowl. Billy moves in with her. The two at first are good for each other. Billy gets back in shape, with his bead set on reaching "Fat City." With Eddie shaping up into a good fighter, Ruben has some real contenders.

 

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Eddie loses his first fight, and gets KO'ed in his second. Billy's comeback bout is against a Mexican puncher named Lucero (Sixto Rodriguez). Lucero is tough but not well, he's **** blood from his last fight. Their match-up is pretty even, they knock each other down, but Billy' s body punches are hurting When he gets to Oma's he finds Earl has moved back in and all his possessions are in a box. Billy goes back on a bender becoming a serious contender for the title of Skid Row Bum in Noirsville.

Noirsville

 
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Oma (Susan Trryell)
 

 

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The film is so well realized by John Houston that all the characters come fully to life without any false notes. Life's losers, eccentrics, and misfits are lovingly rendered. Fat City almost makes the life of a stewbum look nobel. Fat City is one of Huston's best films. 10/10

Keach, Tyrell, (nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, 1973) and Bridges are excellent. Nicholas Colasanto, Art Aragon, and Curtis Cokes all put in great performances. Screencaps are from the SPE DVD release 2012. Full review with more screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/05/fat-city-1972-skid-row-noir.html

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#14 cigarjoe

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Posted 22 May 2017 - 10:49 AM

Hot Skin And Cold Cash (1965) - Times Square Hooker Neo Noir
 
"FILM NOIR HAD AN INEVITABLE TRAJECTORY…
THE ECCENTRIC & OFTEN GUTSY STYLE OF FILM NOIR HAD NO WHERE ELSE TO GO… BUT TO REACH FOR EVEN MORE OFF-BEAT, DEVIANT– ENDLESSLY RISKY & TABOO ORIENTED SET OF NARRATIVES FOUND IN THE SUBVERSIVE AND EXPLOITATIVE CULT FILMS OF THE MID TO LATE 50s through the 60s and into the early 70s!" The Last Drive In  
 
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Shelly ((Victoria Astor)) in Times Square
 
A day in the life of Times Square street walker Shelly (Victoria Astor). It's Hooker Noir. We have our PI's our Femme Fatales, our washed up boxers, our amnesia victims, our falsely accused, our hitch-hikers, our small time losers looking to score one last dream, and now we have a lady of the evening as the subject of our tale. It's a clever realistic angle for a quasi sexploitation flick shot on the gritty streets of Manhattan. This diamond in the rough curiously delivers.  Astor is great, there are none of the usual clichés, she just a working girl selling her body for $25 a trick where Broadway and 7th intersect. It's also another great time capsule to the tawdry side of Times Square circa 1965.
 
Directed by Barry Mahon who (believe it or not) was a distinguished fighter pilot during WWII. He was shot down and imprisoned in Stalag Luft III where Mahon worked on the same escape tunnels made famous by the movie The Great Escape (1963). It has been said that the part of Steve McQueen in that film was partially based upon Mahon. He's mainly known for producing a number of Errol Flynn and Gina Lollobrigida pictures Crossed Swords (1954), Cuban Rebel Girls (1959), as well as a considerable amount of children's programs and for the most part quickie, mostly bad sexploitation features. 
 
As Mahon is quoted (explaining his style of low-budget filmmaking), "We have not aimed for the single picture that is going to make us rich. We are looking for the business that's like turning out Ford cars or anything else. If there is a certain profit per picture and we make so many pictures, then we have established a business that is on a basis that's economical." Luckily for us a few of these hit on all cylinders.
 
There are curiously no writing credits on the film proper, though a script girl is listed. The film consists of a series of realistic encounters that a hooker might have on her typical day. It's possible that it's just a rough sketch gleamed from interviews with actual prostitutes, who knows. The cinematography is by Joseph Mangine (The Lords of Flatbush (1974), The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982)) and the effectively cheap sleazy jazz score is by Al Klap.
 
The film stars Victoria Astor (Some Like It Violent (1968)) as Shelly, Charles Howard, John Connant as the lawyer Mr. Stone, Phil Fitzpatrick as the College boy, Michael Garlock as the Weirdo, Allen Joseph (Naked City TV Series (1958–1963), The Fugitive TV Series (1963–1967), Eraserhead (1977), Raging Bull (1980)) as the Priest, Scott Lehman as the Police lieutenant and Dixie Van Cortlandt (as possibly the rival prostitute).
 
The film starts with a shot of  a voluptuously pneumatic sleeping blonde. Shelly. She lives in her 9th Avenue Hotel flop with her pet parakeet Orpheus. A room with a view of a brick air shaft.
 
Shelly: (with a New York accent in a voice over narration) There is no rest for the wicked, I guess I'm pretty lucky to get any sleep at all. I'm a hooker, a prostitute and when I finish my nightly rounds the sun is usually coming up. Between then and when my phone starts to ring is the only chance I have to get any rest. Why did I turn pro? Because my husband, the only man that I ever loved, is in prison. Lawyers don't come cheap, and I've been trying to get him out.
 
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Times Square Noirsville (circa 1965)
 
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Majestic Dancing (a taxi dance ballroom)
 
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Victoria Astor's matter of fact humanizing portrayal of Shelly is what makes this flick so interesting, hooking is her job and she goes about it quite methodically and with no stigmas attached. She turns down offers of pills and weed, she is serious about her business and keeps her wits about her in all situations. It's quite a different take. The usual Hollywood treatment in most films dealing with hookers is to burlesque the role with the usual clichés (i.e. the hooker with the heart of gold, the cinderella hooker that meets her prince charming), make them the butt of eye-rolling jokes, or kill them off violently as plot points.
 
Hot Skin And Cold Cash fits an aspect of the original French definition of Film Noir "the content contains murder or suicide and the other social taboos that are a mainstay of the film noirs." As far as the sexploitation aspect, it's more Titillation & Assignation than actual T&A. One good rule of thumb to keep in mind when reading the reviews of films labeled exploitation/sexploitation; if the sexploitation reviewer rates the film low it's not because it's a bad film it's usually because he/she thinks there is not enough skin/sex shown on the screen. These are the films that may be lost Film Noir, films that went beyond the cultural taboos of the time they were made, (hence their label as exploitation) but now in our current time and, looking back with noir shaded glasses, would be labeled say PG13 or R. Of course being independent and low budget with mostly amateurish actors they aren't going to resemble the Hollywood product but they are still going to entertain despite some excessiveness.
 
Again, what makes these low budget films worthwhile, to quote V. Vale & Andrea Juno in Incredibly Strange Films, is the "unfettered creativity. Often the films are eccentric-even extreme-presentations by individuals freely expressing their imaginations..." To quote Picasso "Ah, good taste! What a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness."
 
Screencaps are from the Something Weird Video DVDr 6.5/10 Fuller review with more screencaps at Noirsville, wink, wink.  B)

Edited by cigarjoe, 24 May 2017 - 06:20 AM.
Link Removed Due to Inappropriate Content

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#15 cigarjoe

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Posted 19 May 2017 - 04:18 PM

The Strangler (1964) Serial Killer Noir

 
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Victor Buono was a real piece of work. I first remember him from his many turns as a TV heavy, and I mean that literally, from Perry Mason, Batman, 77 Sunset Strip, to his recurring turn as Count Carlos Manzeppi in The Wild Wild West. He always struck me as genuinely creepy, a bit off, a bit eccentric, not quite normal. Maybe it was his eyes, his insincere smile, and cherubic paedomorphic face sticking out almost pustule like from an obese rotundity of a body. Think of all the abhorrence you'd experience upon finding a blood engorged tick in some nether region of your body and you'll get an idea of his effect in a performance.

His notable film roles were What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962), The Silencers (1966), and Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), but it really was TV where he really made his lasting mark.

Directed by Burt Topper with a screenplay by Bill S. Ballinger  (Wicked as They Come (1956), Pushover (1954)). The film was inspired by the notorious Boston Strangler, a serial killer of the 1960s and of course Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) . The cinematography was by Jacques R. Marquette (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)), and the music was by Marlin Skiles (Music Department for Gilda (1946), Framed (1947) Sudden Danger (1955)).

Screenshot%2B%25288916%2529.png Leo Kroll (Buono)

 

Besides Buono the film stars David McLean (X-15 (1961), Nevada Smith (1966)) as Lt. Frank Benson, the detective in charge of investigations. Veteran character actress Ellen Corby (Vertigo (1958) and best known as Grandma Walton in The Waltons) played Mrs. Kroll, Jeanne Bates (Vice Raid (1960), Mulholland Drive (2001)) was Clara Thomas, an attending nurse.  Davey Davison (Route 66 TV Series (1960–1964)) as Tally Raymond, the female lead, and Diane Sayer (Kitten with a Whip (1964)) as Barbara Wells, Tally's colleague at the arcade ring toss. Baynes Barron (The Big Combo (1955)) played Sgt. Mack Clyde, Russ Bender (I Bury the Living (1958)) was Dr. Clarence Sanford and Wally Campo (The Little Shop of Horrors (1960), Shock Corridor (1963)) played Eggerton.

Opening Sequence
 

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Leo Kroll (Buono), is a mama's boy who absolutely hates his nagging domineering mother (Corby). Leo has got a serious schoolboy crush on the Odeon Fun Palace arcade ring toss gal Tally (Raymond). He spends his days working as a mild mannered lab tech and most of his nights (when he can't get away to the arcade) at his mother's Park View Hospital bedside. Leo murders nurses (because they keep his mother alive) and collects dolls which he uses as sort of trophy tchotchkes for each of his kills. His usual m.o. is to follow his targets home, break into their apartments and strangle them from behind with their own nylon stockings. He then composes their bodies into a restful pose.

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When Leo gets back to his house, he takes the doll he carries (which somewhat looks like his latest victim) out of his pocket and undresses her. The doll (something along the lines of a Barbie Doll) even has nylon stockings which Leo removes one one by one. When the doll is naked Leo places it in a locked desk drawer along with the others he has collected.

At the start of the film we are well into Leo's serial murder spree. He's been questioned by police in the course of their routine dragnet investigations because of his lab work connections to the various hospitals. His mother suffers from yet another heart attack and is saved by the quick actions of nurse Clara (Bates). When Leo hears from his mother all the praise she bestows upon Carla he positively seethes with resentment. Carla becomes his next victim. However the circumstances of this kill are different. He follows Carla home he knocks on her door and after he is let in (since she knows him as her patient's son) strangles her to death in a struggle with his bare hands. Leo panting looks like he's ecstatically climaxing in his pants. During the struggle a baby doll was knocked from a shelf falling to the floor.  Leo picks up the doll and flings it angrily against the wall and then runs from the apartment.

Screenshot%2B%25288927%2529.png The climax

 

Leo's mother's doctor tells him not to mention the murder of Carla to his mother. The shock might kill her. Of course Leo gleefully does so, inducing another heart attack which kills her.

Because of Carla's connection to his mother Leo is again pulled in for questioning. He passes the lie detector test though, and is again released. Leo goes back to the arcade where he sees Barbara (Sayer), Tally's co-worker, talking to the fuzz. Kroll tails her back to her flat, uses a screwdriver to turn her window latch, pushes the window up, and steps into her apartment. He strangles her as she is coming out of the shower with her own stocking.
 

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Of course this aberration in the m.o. at first throws the police off. With His mother now dead Leo finds his aversion to women abating. He approaches Tally and proposes to her cold turkey. She rejects him. Leo now believes everything his mother told him about the evils of women. This sends Leo into a death spiral towards Noirsville.

Noirsville
 
 
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Buono is excellent as the strangler, he's always halfway there in his looks alone, his performance completes the effect. Ellen Corby is nicely irritating as mother. The rest of the cast is adequate in their various functions putting in good showings, but it's Buono's film.

Burt Topper and cinematographer Jacques R. Marquette display a bit of style, one shot at the beginning of the film is from the POV of the peeping Leo, we see a woman victim undressing through the pupil of his eye, and then not a whole lot else at that level that quite approaches the first six minutes. Too bad, it was a promising start, this film could have used a lot more of the same. Strange Compulsion (1964) did the noir stylistics infinitely better. Had The Strangler gone a bit more into the sexploitation route as Strange Compulsion with the strength of Buono's performance it would be much better regarded. As is it's about a 6.5-7/10.

One more concluding observation, the film prominently displays almost everyone either sucking on tar bars (one shot lingers on an office smoke stand another shows a cigarette machine in the squad room), or curiously drinking milk from rectangular containers. It must have been some product placement deal, lol.

These screencaps are from the Sinister Cinema DVD, there is also a Warner's release available with hopefully a better restoration. It would be worth checking out. Full review with more screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-strangler-1964-serial-killer-noir.html

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#16 cigarjoe

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 04:15 PM

Bad (Andy Warhol's) (1977) Transgressive Underground Neo Noir

 
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Crossing into John Waters territory Bad is a product of some of the various underground film movements that flourished in the early 1970s to the mid 1980s. Cinema of Transgression, was a term coined by Nick Zedd in 1985, to describe a New York City-based underground film movement that employed shock value and black humor in their films.

Working out of  Andy Warhol's Factory, director Jed Johnson (who was editor for Heat (1972), Flesh for Frankenstein (1973), Blood for Dracula (1974), editor and cinematographer for L'Amour (1973), cinematographer for Women in Revolt (1971)), filmed this "bizzaro," one off, Transgressive Neo Noir.

Written by Pat Hackett (Blood for Dracula (1974), Flesh for Frankenstein (1973)) and, George Abagnalo (Women in Revolt (1971) Beautiful Darling (2010)). Cinematography was by Alan Metzger (The Rehearsal (1974), The Baron (1977)) and the music was by Mike Bloomfield (Easy Rider (1969), Medium Cool (1969)).

The Film Stars Carroll Baker (Baby Doll (1956), Something Wild (1961), Ironweed (1987), ) as Hazel Aiken a beautician electrologist who sidelines a New York City, Murder Inc. -ish business for women out of her suburban home. Perry King (Slaughterhouse-Five (1972), Lipstick (1976), ) as L.T. the California hit man who is recommended to Hazel. Susan Tyrrell (Fat City (1972), The Killer Inside Me (1976)) as Hazel's chain smoking daughter Mary Aiken. Stefania Casini (Suspiria (1977), 1900 (1976)) as P.G. the Italian hit woman. Cyrinda  as R.C., Mary Boylan (The Wrong Man (1956), The Night of the Iguana (1964), No Way to Treat a Lady (1968), Midnight Cowboy (1969)) as the Grandmother. Lawrence Tierney (star of Classic Noir, The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947), Born to Kill (1947), The Hoodlum (1951), Reservoir Dogs (1992)) as O'Reilly-O'Crapface. Charles McGregor (The French Connection (1971), Super Fly (1972), Across 110th Street (1972)) as Detective Hughes. Gordon Oas-Heim as Mr. Aiken. Geraldine Smith (Raging Bull (1980)) and Maria Smith (Paradise Alley (1978)) as sisters Glenda and Marsha Montemorano. Barbara Allen as S.F., and Charles Welch as the newsdealer.

Screenshot%2B%25288792%2529.png L.T. (King) lt.  Hazel (Baker)
 
Hazel (Baker) making ends meet, prides herself on employing only women in her efficient murder and mayhem for hire business. Her legit cover is as a Beautician/Electrologist. She boasts of being able to do 650 hairs per hour. She runs her operations out of her Queens home which also doubles as a boarding house for her posse of hit gals. She takes referrals, appointments, and jobs over the phone. She caters only to desperate women. Her assignments run the range as from the relatively benign trashing of candy stores, to murdering men, autistic children, babies, and pets.

Hazel lives with her unemployed husband (Oas-Heim), her ailing mother (Boylan), her whiney daughter in law Mary (Tyrrell) and her child.

Hazel is getting hit on by corrupt Detective Hughes (McGregor) he knows about her operations and gets a cut of the swag. He also is pestering her about setting up one of her operatives so that he can make a collar for murder one.

Into this picture arrives L.T. (Perry King) a referral from C.C. (Hazel's sort of screening agent). She passes him off as her laid back nephew from California to Detective Hughes. He wants to become part of her hit crew, which consist of R.C., a ditsy bleach blond, P.G., an Italian femme fatale professional killer, and the twisted sister act of Glenda and deviant Marsha (the latter is both a pyromaniac and man crazy too boot). With a set up like this and the injection of L.T. into the all women mix, it's only a matter of time before it all goes Noirsville.

Noirsville

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Screenshot%2B%25288848%2529.png O'Reilly-O'Crapface (Lawrence Tierney)
Carroll Baker twenty some odd years down the road from her Baby Doll turn is excellent as the matronly, somewhat heftier, Hazel. Her performance is matter of fact deadpan as she juggles the outlandish, absurd, and at times morbid details of her two jobs efficiently. She even services her hit gals electrolysis needs, deducting the cost from their fees. Susan Tyrrell does a complete 180 from the previous years The Killer Inside Me, in this she is a bewildered, dowdy, mousy, bellyacher, and the mother daughter tête-à-têtes with Hazel are highly amusing.

Perry King in a believable performance provides the beefcake, Stefania Casini is standoffish and deliciously wicked as the cheesecake, and seriously whacked Glenda and Marsha's sisterly bickering will get you chuckling. Watch for Charles Welsh as the blind newsdealer whom Hazel tries scam out of change for a five after handing him a one dollar bill.

A very bizarre film that fits in nicely with Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Seven Beauties (Pasqualino Settebellezze) (1975), Eating Raoul (1982), After Hours (1985) Delicatessen (1991), Fatal Instinct (1993), The Big Lebowski (1998), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), Sin City (2005), Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (2014) the delightfully ludicrous black comedy sub genre of Neo Noir.

Screencaps are from The Cheesy Films DVD (2005) Be forewarned this film can get pretty gross and will definitely not be for everyone 6.5-7/10 Full review with some NSFW screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/05/bad-andy-warhols-1977-transgressive.html


#17 cigarjoe

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 10:44 PM

The Killer Inside Me (1976) Montana Noir

 
 
 
 
 
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Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me was written in 1952 it was called "one of the most blistering and uncompromising crime novels ever written, " in the introduction to the anthology collection, Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s. In this adaptation the story is moved to Montana and instead of a Texas oil patch peckerwood Lou Ford we get a more "westernized" stoic cowboy version of the character.

Directed by Burt Kennedy (The Money Trap (1965), Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969)), and written by Edward Mann (screenplay), Robert Chamblee (screenplay) based on Jim Thompson's novel. The cinematography was by William A. Fraker (Rosemary's Baby (1968), Bullitt (1968)), with Music by Tim McIntire and John Rubinstein.

The film stars Stacy Keach (Fat City (1972), The New Centurions (1972), The New Mike Hammer TV Series (1984–1989), Sunset Grill (1993)) as Lou Ford, Susan Tyrrell (Fat City (1972), Andy Warhol's Bad (1977)) as Joyce Lakeland, Tisha Sterling (Coogan's Bluff (1968), Betrayal (1974)) as Amy Stanton, Keenan Wynn (Shack Out on 101 (1955), Touch of Evil (1958), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Point Blank (1967), ) as Chester Conway, Don Stroud (Madigan (1968), Coogan's Bluff (1968), Taxi Driver (1976), The New Mike Hammer TV Series (1984–1989), Django Unchained (2012)) as Elmer, Charles McGraw (veteran of 10 Classic Film Noir) as Howard Hendricks, John Dehner (Vicki (1953), The Twilight Zone TV Series (1959–1964)) as Bob Maples, Pepe Serna (The New Centurions (1972), Scarface (1983), The Rookie (1990), The Black Dahlia (2006), ) as Johnny Lopez, John Carradine (Fallen Angel (1945), 'C'-Man (1949), Female Jungle (1956)) as Dr. Jason Smith, Royal Dano (Undercover Girl (1950), Hammett (1982)Twin Peaks  TV Series (1990–1991)) as Lou Ford's Father, and Julie Adams (Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957)) as Lou Ford's Mother.

Screenshot%2B%25288716%2529.png Lou Ford (Keach)
Screenshot%2B%25288677%2529.png Joyce Lakeland (Susan Tyrrell)
The story is simple. Lou Ford (Keach) is a deputy sheriff in Central City, Montana. The Silver Bow County Sheriff cars and The Berkeley Pit reveal the true location, Montana's Mile High/Mile Deep City, Butte. Lou is good ol' boy likable, efficient, helpful and outwardly friendly. On the inside is a simmering f-ing nut job. He is a true Freudian sociopath which he manages to hide very effectively from his steady schoolmarm sweetheart Amy (Sterling), his immediate supervisor Sheriff Bob Maples (Dehner) and the Mayor and mine owner Chester Conway (Wynn).

Central City (Butte, Montana)

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  Berkeley  Pit 
 

 

Lou has had a horrendous childhood. The son of a mathematics professor (Dano) whose wife (Adams), Lou's mother, (another educator BTY) liked to sleep around every time the old man was away from the house. Was she a ****? An unsatisfied wife? Was Lou's father impotent? I've never read this particular Thompson novel so for me it's left to the imagination.
 

The inception of Lou's psychosis begins with his peeping upon his mother and the various men she entertained through the windows of his home. This all come to a head when one night Lou awakens hearing the drip, drip, drip, of a faucet in the bathroom. Getting up to shut it off he sees through the open door of his parents bedroom his mother in bed screwing another man. Lou is transfixed and drawn into the room. he watches the proceedings from the foot of the bed. When his mother notices him watching she screams at him to get out. This freaks out the man she is with who runs out the door. His mother now furious begins to slap the **** out of him repeatedly. Lou fights back and pushes his mother back onto the bed falling on top of her. It is in this position that Lou's father finds them in when he bursts through the door. Does his father already know of his wife's infidelities? Does he tolerate it?  Or is this apparent display of deviant incestual behavior between mother and son what really sets him off? It's never explained. We just see Lou's Father severely beating his son. All this is revealed to us in fragmented flashbacks. The flashbacks are initially triggered by Lou having a hallucination of  his father in a diner.

While a mayoral election between Conway and county district attorney Howard Hendricks (McGraw) is pitting organizing miners against businessmen causing small flare ups of violence, Lou is sent five miles out on Derrick Road, to run a ****, Joyce Lakeland (Tyrrell), out of town. Joyce has been diddling with Conway's son Elmer (Stroud).
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When Lou gets to her house Joyce thinks that he is just another trick, but the situation gets out of hand when she finds out that he's a cop. Joyce slaps Lou and that triggers him into a flashback and a violent spree. He beats Joyce up until a vision of his father appears. Lou announces to the vision that he's sorry. To his surprise Joyce is turned on by the beating "don't be sorry, I love it." They have sex.
 
Later after Joyce cooks up a blackmail scheme to bilk Conway out of $50,000 dollars, everything spirals out of Lou's control and into Noirsville.

Noirsville
 
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Keach gives us an excellent performance. His exterior calm and collected demeanor is juxtaposed by a stewing maliciousness just under the surface. At first the way Keach is lit is quite flattering, he looks all American down home handsome, then as things start to spiral out of control he's lit in a more sinister way that highlights his cleft lip (probably why he wears a mustache) and makes him look somewhat grotesque, just through lighting.

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Tyrrell is outstanding as Joyce. Born to play in Noir. Born to play the cheap and tawdry. She seems always off kilter, naturally skewed, with a sleepy bedroom eyes sexuality and a whiskey soaked voice. She's almost as scary sexually as Keach is psychotically.

 
Watching Charles McGraw, Keenan Wynn, and John Dehner do their stuff in this is like slipping into a comfortable old pair cowboy boots. Of the rest of the cast Don Stroud is a real hoot as the slightly goofy Elmer and Pepe Serna is quite compelling as the overly trusting Johnny Lopez.

Screencaps are from the Simitar Entertainment DVD Release 1998. 8-9/10 Full review with more screencaps a (few NSFW) here : http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-killer-inside-me-1976-montana-noir.html 

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#18 cigarjoe

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Posted 09 May 2017 - 05:04 AM

The Lookout (2007) Fargo-esque Christmas Neo Noir

 
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Glory days, well, they'll pass you by
Glory days, in the wink of a young girl's eye
Glory days, glory days

Fly over country. The Great Plains. Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a "Richie $ Rich," Varsity Hockey Star. Got it made. Got the car. 2001 Ford Mustang. Got the babe Kelly. Got the top down. Speeding across a Kansas prairie, with another couple in the backseat, on a two lane highway. Watching the fireflies. He turns off the headlights for better effect. What they see looks like a billion star warp drive on the Starship Enterprise. What they don't see is the New Holland TR86 combine stalled in the middle of the road. Head-on!!!!

Directed and written by Scott Frank ( director: A Walk Among the Tombstones (2014), writer: Dead Again (1991), Get Shorty (1995)). Excellent cinematography was by Alar Kivilo (A Simple Plan (1998)) and the music was by James Newton Howard (Collateral (2004), Falling Down (1993), Night and the City (1992), 8 Million Ways to Die (1986)).
 
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The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Brick (2005)) as Chris Pratt, Jeff Daniels (Something Wild (1986)) as Lewis, Matthew Goode as Gary Spargo, Isla Fisher (Nocturnal Animals (2016)) as Luvlee Lemons, Sergio Di Zio as Deputy Ted, Greg Dunham as Bone, Morgan Kelly as Marty, and Aaron Berg as Cork.

Screenshot%2B%25288562%2529.png Chris Pratt (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) 
Screenshot%2B%25288563%2529.png Lewis (Jeff Daniels (Something Wild) 

Four years later.

When Chris woke up out of his coma he had frontal lobe damage. His girlfriend Kelly has lost her leg and their two friends are dead. Chris has anterograde amnesia, and must keep a notebook to remind himself of his daily routines.
 

As part of his rehabilitation into society the Independent Life Skills Center teams him up with a blind apartment mate Lewis (Jeff Daniels). He also has a job as a night janitor cleaning up at a bank. Besides Lewis his only other friend is Ted (Sergio Di Zio), a goofy sheriff's deputy who brings him a doughnut when he passes by the bank on his night time rounds.

Chris Pratt: I want to be who I was.

Gary Spargo (Matthew Goode) a skell, is planning a bank robbery. After scouting all the banks in the vicinity with his gang, he zeroes in on the bank that Chris works in. Spargo knew Chris from High School, he was a few grades ahead of him, and he knows about Chris' accident and mental impairment. Spargo figures out a plan using his ex stripper girlfriend Luvlee Lemons as the jeune femme fatale bait. Luvlee hit's on Chris, **** him stupid enough to accept the sleazball gang as his new cool friends, and get's him to go along with their plans to crack the bank's safe. Chris will let them in and act as the lookout while they break through the concrete wall and torch the rebar to get inside the safe.

 

Screenshot%2B%25288588%2529.png Bait
When the night of the robbery arrives Chris changes his mind and tells them he doesn't want to go through with it. Too late, sucker, they put a gun to his head and make him go in through the hole they made and help empty the safe. When Ted arrives with his doughnut he bangs on the door but Chris is still inside the safe. Seeing the reflections of the robbers hiding behind the columns Ted reacts and all hell breaks loose. Of course everything goes beautifully Noirsville!

Noirsville

 
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The Lookout is an excellent example of the correct way to create a Neo Noir. All the characters are either everyday schmucks, just getting by survivors, or small time lowlife losers. People you can identify with. No fancy cars or car chases, no explosions, no machinegun firefights, the direction is tight, clean, and simple.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is excellent in his portrayal of the damaged protagonist. Jeff Daniels' Lewis is quite entertaining as the I may be blind but I wasn't born yesterday blindman. He senses that something is way off. Gary Spargo plays the sleazeball card pimping out his girlfriend and cruelly bullshitting Chris into feeling he's an accepted part of the crew. Screencaps are from the Echo Bridge Home Entertainment DVD Release Date: May 3, 2011. A masterpiece 10/10.

 

Full review with more screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-lookout-2007-fargo-esque-christmas.html



#19 cigarjoe

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 05:45 AM

A Hatful Of Rain (1957) Dope & Soap Noir

 
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The Lost Weekend (1945), Guilty Bystander (1950), The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), I'll Cry Tomorrow (1955), Stakeout On Dope Street (1958) Days of Wine and Roses (1962),  all films about addiction of one sort or another. There are probably even more that have drug addicted characters, but under the Motion Picture Production Code in the 1940s they probably just alluded to it very vaguely. Jeff Corey's "Blinky" character in The Killers (1946) was a junkie for one that I can think of, off the top of my head, though it was never mentioned.

Directed by Fred Zinnemann (Act of Violence (1949), High Noon (1952)). Written by Michael V. Gazzo, Alfred Hayes, and Carl Foreman and based on Michael V.Gazzo's play of the same name.  Cinematography was by Joseph MacDonald (The Dark Corner (1946), Call Northside 777 (1948), The Street with No Name (1948), Panic in the Streets (1950), Fourteen Hours (1951), Niagara (1953), Pickup on South Street (1953), House of Bamboo (1955)). Music was by the great Bernard Herrmann (Citizen Kane (1941), Psycho (1960), and Taxi Driver (1976)) among many, many others.

Screenshot%2B%25288537%2529.png Polo (Franciosa)
The film stars Don Murray (Bus Stop (1956), Advise & Consent (1962)) as Johnny Pope, Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront (1954), North by Northwest (1959)), as Celia Pope, Anthony Franciosa (A Face in the Crowd (1957), The Long, Hot Summer (1958), Across 110th Street (1972), The Drowning Pool (1975)) as Polo Pope.  Veteran of seven Classic Film Noir Lloyd Nolan as John Pope, Sr., Henry Silva (The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Johnny Cool (1963), ) as Mother, Gerald S. O'Loughlin (In Cold Blood (1967)) as Chuch, William Hickey (Something Wild (1961), Prizzi's Honor (1985), Sea of Love (1989)) as Apples, and another Classic Noir bit player Paul Kruger (The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), The Killers (1946), High Wall (1947), Call Northside 777 (1948) among others) as the Bartender. The final character of the piece is a gritty wintery lower Manhattan.
 
 
John Pope is up from Florida to visit his two sons and his new daughter-in-law. They live in the Alfred Smith housing project in the Two Bridges neighborhood of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. John has bought an option on a beachside bar in Ft. Lauderdale, he's also up to collect the $2,500 that Polo saved up for him to complete the renovations.

Johnny Polo is a Korean War vet and a hero. Polo Pope is a bouncer in a NYC bar. Celia Pope is pregnant with his grandchild. When John finds out that Polo blew the $2,500 he refuses to speak to him. Polo tells him that he gambled it away but in reality he's been giving to to Johnny who is hooked on heroin. Johnny was wounded in the back and got hooked on morphine while recovering in the VA hospital.

John Pope is one of those fathers who favors one of his sons over the other. Johnny gets all the praise for his military accomplishments and raising a family while he considers Polo a moocher living off his brother. In reality it's Polo's misguided love for his brother that glues the family unit together.

Johnny has lost four jobs due to the monkey on his back. Johnny and Celia are on the skids, he's gone all hours of the night. Celia thinks he is two timing her, but Johnny is out trying to score a fix.  His other problem is that he owes a pusher called "Mother" $500 bucks, who demands payment. Mother and his two goons will seriously mess him up if he doesn't come up with the doe. Mother gives the desperate Johnny an automatic and tells him to mug people for the cash. When Johnny can't bring himself to do it Mother tells Polo to sell his car to cover it.

Noirsville
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 Adding to the soap opera quality of this film is the fact that Polo is getting the hots for Celia and she is responding. 

John Polo comes on very overbearing, his constant nagging of Polo begins to sound like an annoying foghorn. It becomes hard to believe that Polo would be that dumb to let the situation get to the point where he loses all the money he's saved for his dad and has to sell his car to boot to support Johnny's drug habit. It's also hard to accept that Celia was so naive. You'd think she'd notice the track marks on Johnny's body or wonder **** was up with his abrupt mood swings. The film has her living in a bubble.

I guess we're supposed to accept the fact that there was that much of a stigma, at that point in our culture of admitting you're a junkie to everyone his wife, his father, his neighbors that Johnny was able to convince Polo not to spill the beans. Looking back upon it it seems too innocent.

I suppose that at the time this was released it must have been shockingly powerful stuff, Tony Franciosa was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Yet I find The Man With The Golden Arm the grittier of the two films. What this film has going for it are the actual New York locations, Sinatra's film was all shot on a set and it loses something because of that fact.

Don Murray is compelling as a man with a monkey on his back, Lloyd Nolan is doing his regular schtick, and Eva Marie Saint is still in her frumpish looking stage quite a far cry from her **** turn in North By Northwest, it's hard to believe they are the same actress. Henry Silva, Gerald S. O'Loughlin, and William Hickey needed to be utilized a bit more.

It all just seems a bit too talky and not enough showy, the apartment sequences seem to drag a lot betraying the films play source. The film comes alive with the lower East Side NYC location shots and dies in the apartment/housing project sequences. Screen caps from a Youtube stream, 6/10 Full review with more screencaps here : http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/05/a-hatful-of-rain-1957-dope-soap-noir.html

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#20 cigarjoe

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Posted 28 April 2017 - 07:40 AM

The Young Savages (1961) East Harlem Gang Noir

 
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"A lot of people killed your son, Mrs. Escalante."
East Harlem 1961, a time of genuine upheaval. The demise of the 3rd Avenue el and its demolition 1955-56 opened up Yorkville and East Harlem to real estate redevelopment. A roadway reconstruction project widened 3rd Avenue to 70 feet and rows upon rows of tenements on either side were raised for the new highrises to come. This is the tableau vivant, frozen in time, that director John Frankenheimer presents in The Young Savages. The story is based on Evan Hunter's novel "A Matter of Conviction." Evan Hunter was the legally adopted name of Salvatore Albert Lombino who also wrote under the name Ed Mcbain among others. He was born in East Harlem in 1926 and his early life on the streets obviously informed the tale. The screenplay was written by Edward Anhalt and J.P. Miller.


Screenshot%2B%25288403%2529%2B-%2BCopy.p Arthur Reardon (John Davis Chandler), Danny DiPace (Stanley Kristien), and  Anthony "Batman" Aposto (Neil Nephew)
The excellent cinematography was by Lionel Lindon (The Blue Dahlia (1946), Alias Nick Beal (1949), The Turning Point (1952), Hell's Island (1955), The Big Caper (1957) I Want to Live! (1958), The Manchurian Candidate (1962)). The nice jazz and bongo score was by David Amram (Splendor in the Grass (1961), The Manchurian Candidate (1962)).

It looks like a war zone. Wrecking balls are battering brick flophouses and tenements to rubble. Walls left standing are occasionally seen with rectangles of wallpaper or paint denoting the outlines of recently vanished rooms. Piles of salvage, wood, bricks, lead, copper festoon the cityscape.

Three street hoods, Danny DiPace (Stanley Kristien), Arthur Reardon (John Davis Chandler) and Anthony "Batman" Aposto (Neil Nephew) phalanx through the destruction on a mission. They are part of the Thunderbirds gang. They are warring over turf with a gang of Puerto Ricans called the Horsemen who control three blocks.

Screenshot%2B%25288411%2529.png Roberto Escalante (uncredited) Louisa Escalante (Pilar Seurat)
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Danny, Arthur, and "Batman", in broad daylight walk right up to Roberto Escalante a blind member of the Horsemen and stab him to death with switchblades. They run but are cornered by NYPD and caught. They are questioned by assistant district attorney Hank Bell (Burt Lancaster) who discovers that Danny is the son of his old neighborhood flame Mary diPace (Shelley Winters).

Screenshot%2B%25288426%2529.png Hank Bell (Burt Lancaster)
 
They separate out DiPace because he's under sixteen. When Hank tries to question Reardon he gets wiseass ****. From "Batman" he gets a song.

"Batman"(sung to my Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean): My mother sells snow to the snowbirds. My father makes barber shop gin, my sister sells gas for a livin', and that's why the money rolls in.

When he discusses the case with district attorney Dan Cole (Edward Andrews), Hank tells him he knows DiPace's mother and that he is actually from the same neighborhood. Hank's father changed the family surname from Bellini, to fit in better in whatever he was pursuing. Hank went to law school and married Karin (Dina Merrill) a Vassar girl. Karin isn't impressed with Hanks zealotry.

Karin: Oh, by the way, your old girlfriend Mary DiPace called today... twice. I referred her to your office, did you talk to her?
Hank: I don't know what to say to her.
Karin: Oh why don't you just tell her that you're going to burn her son for old times sake.
 
Screenshot%2B%25288434%2529.png "tell her that you're going to burn her son for old times sake." When Hank meets Mary, she tells him that Danny promised he'd never join a gang. Digging into the facts Bell visits the hangouts, the tenements, the families and all that were involved. He gets attacked on a subway, and his wife gets threatened in an elevator.

The film through Hank's investigations, interactions and trial evolves into an indictment of society as a whole. The broken homes, the ethnic discrimination, the high levels of poverty, the squalid conditions, the instability, the lack of education, the low I.Q.s, the gangs and the local political machines are all to blame. Society as a whole is going to Noirsville.

Noirsville
 
Screenshot%2B%25288463%2529.png  Karin (Dina Merrill)
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The film also features Larry Gates as Randolph, Telly Savalas as Detective Gunderson, Pilar Seurat as Louisa Escalante, Roberta Shore as Jenny Bell, Milton Selzer as Dr. Walsh, David J. Stewart as Barton.

All the performances are top notch the film doesn't disappoint.

The Young Savages is a message picture, the old establishment forces marshalled towards capital punishment, against the new science of criminology and sociopathic behavioral studies with their treatments. Basically the law and its technicalities against damaged humanity, and both exposed under by the microscope by news cycle of the times. On the personal level it's Hank the by the book prosecutor vs. Karin the third generation progressive against the political circus of his boss's run for gubernatorial nomination.

Entertaining time capsule of NYC. Screencaps from Youtube 7/10. Full Review with more screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/04/the-young-savages-1961-east-harlem-gang.html

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