misswonderly3

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About misswonderly3

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    old film-noirish buildings

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  1. Noir Alley

    Cry Danger ! ! All right ! Yes, noir fans, if you haven't already seen this cool film, try to watch or record it this weekend. It's got Dick Powell in full noir mode (shirley everyone likes Dick Powell as tough guy), along with Rhonda Fleming, also in full femme noir mode. These two factors alone would make it worth the watch. But ! It's also got Richard Erdman ( he of "The Blue Gardenia" and "Stalag 17", just to name a few) as Dick's booze-sodden sidekick, dispensing wit and cynicism in equal measure, William Conrad as the brains behind the bad guys (surprise !), and a perky Jean Porter as a sweet, although perhaps not-so-innocent "muffin" (or "mouse" or "doll"). All this, plus location shooting in Los Angeles' Bunker Hill neighbourhood, AND a trailer park ! Ok, it probably wouldn't have been fun to live in a trailer park, but it's definitely fun to watch other people living in a trailer park, at least in a film noir from 1951. Set your DVRs, or cancel your church-going plans, or do whatever it takes to catch this one.
  2. Noir Alley

    I wish I knew. Despite my being an Elsa fan, I haven't seen nearly as many of her films as I'd like. I do know she was in "The Big Clock", where she played another of her hilarious quirky characters. In "TBC" she's an eccentric artist, who plays some kind of key role in Ray Milland's quest to establish his innocence. She's not in this film nearly as much as she's in "Mystery Street". but she makes the most of the time she does appear in it. However, I don't believe she comes to a bad end in "The Big Clock". Which, by the way, I'd love it if Eddie decided to show on Noir Alley. Also, speaking of Elsa Lanchester, I'm down for her being Star of the Month some time.
  3. Noir Alley

    Back to "Mystery Street". A fun movie by any name smells as sweet - noir, procedural, drama - whatever you call it, "Mystery Street" is well-made, well-done, and thoroughly enjoyable. I remember the first time I saw it (I think yesterday was the 4th time around), I loved it - and that was on a sketchy old cheapo video that was a pretty bad copy. So, "Mystery Street" is one of those noirs ( or quasi-noirs, whatever) that I would cite if I were to ever start that thread I mentioned a long time ago, a thread about how many noirs are funny, some of them are almost comedies. I know many will vigourously disagree with me, but I can't help it, there are quite a few noirs that make me laugh, and "Mystery Street" is one of them. I mean, look at that crazy landlady ! Oh, Elsa Lanchester, thank you for your many delicious and hilarious performances, any movie you are in is automatically more entertaining. Elsa's greedy, sneaky, ever-dissembling Mrs. Smerrling ("Mrs. Smerrling" ? ! What kind of a name is that?) is a treat to watch. In a way, she steals every scene she's in, and almost the entire movie. You gotta love her blatant unashamed hypocrisy; she's always presenting herself as a respectable morally pure citizen, when in fact she's so greedy and dishonest and scheming, it's almost endearing. Just one example of how funny Elsa makes her: When Vivian's murderer comes to Mrs. Smerrling's parlour (I want to call it a parlour) to retrieve his gun, he asks her if her husband lives there, too. "Not exactly", Mrs. Smerrling purrs. So then he asks her if she's even married, and she again purrs back, "Not exactly". There's something about the way she says "Not exactly" twice like that, that's just hilarious. I vote this character into the Top Twenty Noir Hall of Fame Most Memorable Characters (a non-existent Hall of Fame at this point, but still....) Another really fun bit in this film: Detective Morales goes to interview a funeral parlour director ( is that what they were called back then?) whose name appeared in the little black book. The guy is so pious, butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. And there's this funereal organ music playing in the background ! Really ? ! The actor who plays this character makes the most of his five minutes; he fairly reeks of hypocrisy and self-interest .Plus, when he finds out Vivian has died, he actually asks, "Will there be any need for services?" or some such question. Hey, when you find out your former B-girl has "passed on", why not see if you can make a little money out of her passing? Other things I love about "Mystery Street" : Jan Sterling's trampy but somehow likable "toe dancer". Too bad she's only around for the first twenty minutes or so - I can always use a few more minutes of Jan Sterling, an exceptionally pretty and talented actress who always kicks azz in everything she's been in. And she's not afraid to play trashy characters ( look at "Ace in the Hole"). And how 'bout those weird Harvard Medical School scenes? That bit where they're matching up faces to the skeleton head is eerie, to say the least. I do have to wonder, though, if a body tossed into the bushes on a beach would be so completely stripped of any, uh, decomposing matter, in just three months. I don't know how long it takes for a dead body to become a skeleton, just a set of bones, but I was surprised that poor Vivian's body had become just that in 12 weeks or so. Maybe - - yuck ! -- her bones had been picked clean by wild beach creatures. Oh well, it's a detail that doesn't really matter. There are loads of other fun details about "Mystery Street", but I'll just wind up by saying the final chase scene on the railway tracks is satisfyingly exciting. I always say, you can't go wrong with train track scenes, especially in film noir (or even "procedurals".)
  4. I Just Watched...

    Oh, ok, Lawrence. I hadn't realized that - although come to think of it, there was "The Mortal Storm", probably the only other anti-war film from that period I'm familiar with (well, there was a lot more going on in that film than anti-war sentiment....) I guess I was thinking of all the jingoistic pro-military American movies that came from Hollywood - but, as you say, not so much in the early 1930s. Interesting post, thank you.
  5. Noir Alley

    Aw, I think that's kind of sweet, Lorna. Although I suppose I had some idea, if I were to think about it at all, that you don't usually attend church, at least not on Sunday mornings, since I've been under the impression that you watch a lot of Eddy's noirs in real time - on Sunday morning. While we're on the topic of church-going: I do not frequent any place of worship, but my husband, born and raised a Catholic, attends Mass every Sunday morning without fail. He does mind missing Noir Alley, although this is now somewhat alleviated by the new Saturday night screening time. Anyway, what I wanted to say was, the Roman Catholic Church, at least here in Ontario, offers several masses, including a Saturday afternoon one, for those who might want to sleep in (or watch Noir Alley). Not that I care, but it's always struck me as somewhat cheating somehow, going to mass on Saturday when it's supposed to be Sunday. However, I am not familiar enough with the finer points of Christian theology to dispute the matter. Plus, I don't really care.
  6. Noir Alley

    Good points, all of them, cmovieviewer. I thought of all those things too.But I bolded the ones you made that really struck me. I, too, thought that it was significant that the accused guy's name was not in Vivian's little black book. That in itself would not prove his innocence , but you'd think it would go some way towards at least giving the detectives an idea of the possibility that he might not be guilty. However, I can see why they still made a connection between the two: there were witnesses testifying that they saw Henry Shanway leaving the bar with Vivian the last time she was seen alive. Your comment about the phone number on the wall was exactly along the same lines I was thinking...I kept waiting for Lieutenant Morales to see it there - it drove me crazy, waiting for him to notice it, especially as I think at least twice he uses that very phone, the same phone Vivian used the night she called her erstwhile lover (and soon-to-be murderer), with the killer's phone number jotted down on the wall right beside where Morales was speaking ! ! Of course director Sturges must have done the non-observance of the damning phone number on purpose, to make us all go "Look ! Ricardo, look at that phone number! Right there on the wall next to that strange flowery wall paper ! !" And yes, the missing of the phone number on the wall was somewhat compensated by the fact that Morales noticed the fateful baggage ticket in the bird cage - - a nicely suspenseful scene, since he nearly missed that too. As for what you said about blackmailers thinking they can safely be alone with the ones they are trying to blackmail - at least if the blackmailing is about murder - I've often thought that. I can't remember how many movies I've seen where the would-be blackmailer, blissfully demanding a huge amount of money from someone they know is a murderer, is promptly murdered in turn by the furious blackmailee (is there such a word as "blackmailee"?) By the way, when the murderer- a nasty piece of goods, "respected for hundreds of years" or no - - asks that venal landlady "Do you know the penalty for blackmail?" I wanted her to reply "Do you know the penalty for murder?"
  7. I Just Watched...

    Nice write-up, kingrat. I'd never heard of this film either, but thought I'd give it a shot (no pun intended.) I liked it, although, "that said", it's probably just as well that the film is only 70 (?) or so minutes long. In his intro to The Eagle and the Hawk, Ben mentions that it can be construed as an anti-war movie, and I think he is right. Pretty unusual for 1933, especially for an American film. Fredric March's character's loathing for what he has to do, every day - - which is basically to kill Germans in planes - - really comes across. There's an interesting scene where he's asked by some superior officer to give a speech, a kind of pep talk, to the new young recruits who've just arrived at the air force base. March is regarded as a hero by everyone except himself, because of all the enemy planes he's shot down (and also all the enemies he's killed.) At first he tries to beg off the pep talk, but the officer won't take no for an answer. So March's character (his name's Jerry Young), conflicted as he is, says what the authorities want him to say to the young newcomers - his talk is all about how the enemy is bad, and their cause is just, etc. War-time platitudes, and Young knows it. March does a fine job of giving lip-service to the ideals of the "right side", yet showing he has no pride in what he does. I've always liked Fredric March. Don't ask me to explain what I mean by this, but to me there's something noble about him. I like his serious - looking face, and how he always seems principled and decent (well, except maybe when he's turned into Mr. Hyde). I saw him recently in "I Married a Witch", and thoroughly enjoyed it.
  8. I Just Watched...

    Oh, thank you, Lorna, I'm so glad you posted about this unusual little movie. I just watched it tonight too, like you, in "real time" (my sympathies about the out-of-sync sound problem. I hate that, it's very distracting.) I love "On Dangerous Ground". Shall I count the ways? Well, first, I love the way it's hard-core classic noir for the first third or so, and then morphs into a strange little drama /love story. Most noirs start out bleak and end up bleaker (although not all), but "On Dangerous Ground" starts out bleak and ends up redemptive. And it somehow manages to be redemptive without being in the least bit preachy or sentimental. So, genre-wise, I enjoy its surprises and the way it doesn't easily fit into any cinematic category, really. Second: as Lorna pointed out, the film's score fits the movie so well, it's beautiful and haunting. Of course that's not surprising, given it's composed by the great Bernard Herrmann. There's one point in the film where the music reminds me of the score for "Vertigo" - - it strikes the same felicitous combination of suspense and mystery. And then there are the performances. Ah, Robert Ryan...he's got to be one of the best classic Hollywood actors ever. No one can get across psychological conflict and pain like Mr. Ryan - it's all in the eyes. And in "On Dangerous Ground", he handles Wilson's transition from bitter angry messed-up vicious city cop to compassionate gentle helper with absolute believability; it's a tall order, that kind of character transition effected within 90 minutes, not everyone could do it. As for Ida Lupino, I don't think I've ever seen her in a sweeter, more sympathetic role. Ida is so lovely and so versatile - it's sad that her name is not more well-known today. I've read that Nicholas Ray was not happy with this film; I don't know why. I'm a fan of Ray's, and off-hand I'd say I like all his movies. But "On Dangerous Ground" is exceptional even for him; its blend of toughness and compassion, of despair and hope, makes it a uniquely moving film. When Ryan holds out his hand to Ida as she's tentatively feeling her way down those stairs, and she clasps it, I'm almost moved to tears. Wonder if Eddie will ever show this one ?
  9. Noir Alley

    Yes, Sterling just towers over skinny little Frank. Although maybe that's supposed to be tempered by the fact that he's sustained a severe (?) bullet wound to his arm, so he's handicapped and in pain. Also, one of the interesting chunks of dialogue in "Suddenly" is when Frank /John Baron starts going on about the power of the gun, and how it renders its possessor god-like in its capacity to take life. And all the time he's waving his gun around. And in the end, when he's shot (by the gun that Gramps was hiding in the hanky drawer) and disarmed of his own beloved gun, he whimpers and whines before he dies (making the point that without his gun he's a childish coward.) This is all by way of saying that Sterling's character had to contend with a seriously injured arm plus the awareness that Baron had a gun and he did not. But for sure, I can see James Whitmore in the sheriff role. But then, would Ellen have succumbed to his charms the same way? "If I'd been the sheriff I'd have counselled that nasty hit man. I was good at that."
  10. Noir Alley

    Yes, you're both right about the way Frank's supposedly tough hit-man character talks too much. My extensive experience with hit men is the most effective ones tend to say very little. Still, I enjoyed Frank's blathering. Obviously this is a hit-man who's given to self-reflection. Maybe under different circumstances he'd have been a philosopher or a Buddhist. If he hadn't yapped on so much it would have been a less interesting movie. By the way, apropos of nothing, I loved all the little household details, like the pictures on the wall and the hankies in the drawer, the frilly kitchen curtains, etc. It's something I always look for in old movies, how the place is decorated. There's something fun about that stuff.
  11. Noir Alley

    Well,we're in agreement about Sinatra's acting - this guy was good. I always enjoy watching him act, whether it's in one of those silly light-weight musicals ( which I do like), or the dramatic stuff like this film or, say "The Man with the Golden Arm". But what do you mean when you talk about resenting the "effortless quality of Sinatra's vocals"? Much as I love my rock n roll and all the great music of the latter half of the 20th century, Sinatra was the greatest singer of that century. One of them, anyway, for sure. Nobody could interpret a song, could nail what it was about, the way Frank could. Shirley you weren't saying that you don't like Frank Sinatra's singing, I must be getting something wrong.
  12. Noir Alley

    I noticed the smoking hot tv repairman too. I looked up James O'Hara, and was interested to find out that he was the brother of Maureen O'Hara ! Which actually, isn't surprising - obviously pulchritude runs in the family.
  13. Noir Alley

    Yeah, I noticed that. Interesting, the introduction of certain words that you just know were never said in movies before. Like ( and I think you pointed this one out at the time) the use of the word "pregnant" in "Tomorrow Is Another Day". And along the same lines - this is kind of trivial, but also kind of funny - at one point the kid says "I have to go to the bathroom", maybe one of the first times in film you see such an acknowledgement that bodily functions exist. I suspect that previously that line of dialogue might have been "I need a drink of water", a euphemism for "going to the bathroom".
  14. Noir Alley

    Sorry to take up two posts talking about "No Questions Asked", but the drag thing deserved its own post. SPOILERAMA That (the drag "twist") was the delicious icing on this well-baked noir cake (sorry, I'm in a silly mood), but the whole film is hugely entertaining from beginning to end. I'm not the biggest fan of Barry Sullivan, but I have to say he's pretty darn good in this. As is Arlene Dahl (she really had me guessing for a while, whose side she was on). But, as I think Eddie pointed out in his commentary, it's Jean Hagen who's the real star of the picture. I love Jean, everything she did was interesting and fun ; in fact, she's an actress who always looks like she's having a good time in whatever she's in. This is not to say that she doesn't look convincingly sad when sadness is required. For instance, when Barry/Steve dumps her (and he doesn't even have to dump her, she knows as soon as he walks into the restaurant where they're supposed to have a date), she gets drunk. But she gets drunk in style, with a little cake and candle, plenty of champagne (I think it's champagne), and a torch song she sings in accompaniment to the jukebox (it's "I've Got You Under My Skin", and since we all know Jean can really sing, I was kind of disappointed when she was interrupted after only two lines....) How come Steve can't see that she's the girl for him, not that scheming false-hearted Ellen? A few other things in "No Questions Asked" that delighted me: you just know that there's a reason for that pool scene where the gangster, Franko, is practicing holding his breath under water. But it's still fun. Franko -played by a gleeful Howard Petrie - comes across as so mild-mannered and goofy, it's hard to imagine him as a threat. But don't let the speech about "beating the Olympic record" and his slightly nerdy demeanour fool you, he's a mean one. Like, for instance, later in the film, he doesn't hesitate to consider using steam to scald the perfidious Ellen into telling where the jewels are. I've never seen scalding used as a method of torture before, and for some reason I had to laugh at the ingeniousness of the idea. (I'm not a sadist -- you don't actually see or even hear anyone being scalded, and in fact I think they don't actually do it -- it's just the originality of the idea that amused me.) Anyway, lots of neat little details like that in this film to enjoy. Thank you, Eddie, for bringing "No Questions Asked" to TCM, and to at least one noir fan who got a fresh dose of noir today. Honestly - no question about it.
  15. Noir Alley

    I haven't had a chance to post about "No Questions Asked" til now. I had something else to do today, but I still managed to watch it. I'm so glad I did ! When you've seen a ton of noirs, as I have ( along with most of those who post on this thread, I'm sure), it's a real treat to catch one you haven't already seen. Not only had I never seen this great little noir, I'd never even heard of it. And boy, was it fun ! Loved every minute of it. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER I don't know where to begin. First, I guess I will say that I saw the "twist" - if it's what I think Eddie meant by a "twist" - immediately. In fact, it was so obvious I didn't really see it as a twist. So yeah, we're talking about that powder room scene where two "good looking dames" hold up the entire group of jewelry - clad ladies. As soon as the scene began, while Jean was indeed powdering her nose (and looking rueful about the sudden appearance of Steve's "ghost"), I noticed someone exceptionally tall for a woman walking into the place. I thought, "who's that? That's a pretty tall woman, and there must be some reason why the camera's showing her in the background." Sure enough, the tall "dame", along with another odd-looking woman, a blonde, whip out ..... -whip out their guns, you didn't think I was going to say something else did you? (sorry, in these "MeToo" days I couldn't resist) - and demand everyone hand over their jewelry. Well, geez, don't those two dames look kind of like - like a couple of guys in drag? I don't want to sound smart-azz, but shirley everyone spotted this right away. ?? Anyway, I loved this kinky little "twist", or whatever you want to call it. It was especially fun that everyone - including the few male witnesses who spotted them before they made their getaway - described our two robbers in drag as "really good-looking" dames. And I got a big kick out of Steve figuring it out when he went to talk to the mastermind behind the stick-up, and noticed the hideaway was right next to a "Wigs and Make-up" emporium, and behind a dance instruction studio. Steve walks through this studio, where someone's playing some crazy tune on the piano and about a dozen different dancers, both male, female, and ,uh, variations in-between, are all dancing to this same tune, but in all different genres of dance - ballet, jazz, and some bizarre same-sex Harlequin number. By the time Steve reaches the door to the gangster's office, he's figured out what he already suspected: the "very good-looking" powder room thieves were men ! And you get the feeling that these guys weren't just posing as women to throw off the police (though that sure helped.) There's some dialogue that indicates they're drag "artistes", they do it all the time (although maybe not always to pull off a heist), and that they are in fact gay, and probably a couple. All this in 1951 ? I love it !

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