Recently watched Noir

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22 minutes ago, decojoe67 said:

I have to agree although I would not discount seeing it to the Film Noir buff. It is quite suspenseful.

Agree it's worth a watch.

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Kiss The Blood Off My Hands (1948) Robert Newton Sleeps With The Fishes

An American film noir directed by Norman Foster noted for noirs (Journey Into Fear (1942), and Woman on the Run (1950)).

Foster, who started out a s a cub reporter turned actor later focused on directing. He helmed six of the eight 20th Century Fox Mr. Moto detective series films starring Peter Lorre. He also directed two of the Charlie Chan detective films, and Scotland Yard (1941).

This film was written by Leonardo Bercovici, Ben Maddow, and Walter Bernstein, with additional dialog by Hugh Gray. It was based on a book by English novelist Gerald Butler. The impressive cinematography was by Russell Metty (Whistle Stop (1946), The Stranger (1946), Ride the Pink Horse (1947), The Raging Tide (1951), Naked Alibi(1954), Touch of Evil (1958)). The music was by Miklós Rózsa (Spellbound (1945), Double Indemnity (1944)).

The film was produced by Norma Productions which was Burt Lancaster's company. It was their first film.

Staring Joan Fontaine (Ivy (1947)) as Jane Wharton, Burt Lancaster (seven Classic Noir) as William Earle "Bill" Saunders,  Robert Newton (Odd Man Out (1947), The Hidden Room(1949)),  as Harry Carter, Lewis L. Russell as Tom Widgery, Aminta Dyne as Landlady, Grizelda Harvey as Mrs. Paton, Jay Novello as the Sea Captain of the Pelicano.   
Post war London. The waterfront. Though it's not London at all, in reality shot entirely on the Universal back lot, with some stock London footage thrown in. Griffith Park is filling in for a country picnic shot and it's zoo (filling in for the London Zoo) and a race track sequence are the films only on location shots. Houses with occasional scaffolding and cross beam supports indicate the city is rebuilding after years of war.
Harry Carter (Newton) tickling the ivories
Bill Saunders (Lancaster) is a Canadian ex POW living in London. Suffering from what we call now PTSD, his personality has a hair trigger that can explode into violence at slight provocations. In his cups at The Anchor & Dolphin Pub at closing time, Bill is hunched over the bar.
Bill Saunders (Lancaster)

The Anchor & Dolphin looks like a local dive where the low company hang. At an upright piano is Harry Carter (Newton), a shady character who seems to fit right in with the crowd. The pub's owner, annoyed that Sanders hasn't moved, gives him a nudge to get out. Sanders reacts viciously. A fight erupts. The result is the owner on the floor dead, the back of his head bashed in by falling upon the buttressed piano leg. Harry Carter witnessed the whole thing.

Saunders panicked, rams through a couple of men blocking his way at the door and out into the foggy night. He's pursued by some of the lingering patrons and eventually a couple of bobbies that the crowd attracts. Saunders through his own agility, manages to scamper up a scaffolding and into an open second story window.  



Jane Warton (Fontaine)
The window puts Bill into Jane Warton's (Joan Fontaine) bedroom. He is momentarily stunned. When she begins to wake Bill grabs her and places his hand over her mouth. He tells her he won't hurt her if she remains quiet. She agrees and he lets her loose. Jane believes his story that he was running away from a fight. She is a nurse at a The Mary Wilson Institute a sort of medical clinic.  After she leaves for work he studies her things he notices a photograph of an RAF officer.

Bill slips out after dark mugs a pedestrian stealing his wallet with money and ration booklets. He buys himself a new suit of clothes. Checks himself into a "bed and breakfast" Hotel.

He visits her at the institute the next day. She at first is standoffish and threatens to call a cop. He continues to be persistent. He follows her to the zoo. She's cool, he's hot, and eventually they warm to each other. They date. So Jane and Bill basically get it on. Into this nice rosy idyllic relationship slithers Harry Carter. When Bill and Jane go out for a day at the races Bill is spotted by Carter, who follows them back on the London train. Carter spying Bill having a smoke out in the passageway tells Bill he has a little proposition for him. Bill declines.
a proposition
Bill back in their compartment has a flare up with a fellow train passenger over a card trick, He knocks him out. Jane pulls the emergency brake and Bill and Jane run out of the train. Jane is frightened of Bills vicious flare up, and tells him that she doesn't want to see him again. After Jane splits Bill gets into another fight with a bobby. He's sentenced to a flogging and six months for the two crimes.

When Bill's let out he runs into Cater at a pool hall. Carter asks him if he's low on dough, tells him he's got a scam going with petrol coupons and there's a tidy sum in it if he wants in. Bill just wants to make a bankroll and blow. Carter gives him his address.

Lovesick Bill next wanders over to Jane's flat and sees her coming home from work. She tells him that she tried to see him but only relatives were allowed that privilege. Bill tells her that he thought about her every day. Jane asks him what he's going to do. He says, head back to Canada for a new start. She tells him that they need a lorry driver at the institute. Jane, through friends at the institute, gets him the job driving supplies to various satellite clinics.
Carter again pops into the picture. He blackmails Bill with a threat. Carter declares that he wont inform the coppers of his identity in regards to the pub murder if he'll agree to hijack a load of penicillin during one of his delivery runs. They'll make it look like Bill was innocent by roughing him up a bit. Bill decides to do it and the plans are made. The night of the fake hijack, however, Joan decides to tag along to keep Bill company on the long run, so to keep Jane out of it, he cancels the job.
Bill nixing the job
Carter and his goons are not happy. Carter goes to visit Jane at her apartment, tells her about Bill killing a man at the Anchor & Dolphin, he threatens her physically and things get nasty. Jane grabs her scissors and stabs Carter. Jane, thinking she's killed him, heads out into the night and right into Noirsville.




This is a nice moody, studio bound noir. It has enough UK actors top loaded in the cast that along with its rat warren-ish sets and stagecraft the film convincingly portrays a very dark, damp, foggy London. The film in Russel Metty's capable hands looks marvelous, the blacks are inky. It has well directed fight and foot chase scenes. Both Lancaster and Fontaine are good, though this viewer didn't really detect any genuine on screen sparks between the two. Robert Newton pretty much steals all the scenes he's in, he's delightfully sleazy in that menacingly politely English sort of way. If you've just seen his pirate films this will be an eye opener.  I wish he'd made even more noirs. Screen caps are from a DVDr of an old AMC cablecast, and they still look great. 7/10  Full review with more screencaps here Noirsville
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Scene Of The Crime (1949) Shootout at the L.A. Corral

Directed by Roy Rowland Witness to Murder (1954), Rogue Cop(1954), The Girl Hunters (1963). The film was Produced by Harry Rapf, It was written by Charles Schnee and based on the story "Smashing the Bookie Gang Marauders" by John Bartlow Martin. The great cinematography was by Paul Vogel (Lady in the Lake (1946), High Wall(1947), A Lady Without Passport(1950), Dial 1119 (1950), The Sellout (1952), The Money Trap (1965)). Music was by André Previn.

The film stars "bland" Van Johnson in his only Film Noir as Mike Conovan, Arlene Dahl (No Questions Asked (1951), Slightly Scarlet (1956), Wicked as They Come (1956)) as Gloria Conovan, Gloria DeHaven as Lili the stripper, Tom Drake (Sudden Danger (1955)) as rookie Detective "C.C." Gordon, Leon Ames (the father in Meet Me In St. Louis (1944), as Captain A.C. Forster, John McIntire (seven Classic Film Noir) as Detective Fred Piper, Donald Woods (13 Ghosts (1960)) as Bob Herkimer, Norman Lloyd in Noir since Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942) and Spellbound (1945), also in M (1951), He Ran All the Way (1951), and then off into a lot of TV work, plays Sleeper the stool pigeon, Jerome Cowan one of the earliest Noir actors (The Maltese Falcon (1941), Moontide (1942), Street of Chance (1942), Deadline at Dawn (1946), The Unfaithful (1947), Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948), The Fat Man (1951) who then also segued into early TV, ) as Arthur Webson, Tom Powers in films since 1911, who played Phyllis Dietrichson's husband in Double Indemnity (1944), and in The Blue Dahlia (1946), The Velvet Touch (1948), Chicago Deadline (1949) The Steel Trap (1952), I, the Jury (1953)) as Umpire Menafoe, Richard Benedict as Turk Kingby, Anthony Caruso as Tony Rutzo, Robert Gist as P.J. Pontiac, and Romo Vincent as Hippo.

This is one of the rare Film Noir to feature an actual prolonged machine gun battle.

Lieutenant Mike Conovan (Van Johnson), head of an LAPD homicide detective squad is assigned to the murder investigation of an off duty cop who is a member of his squad, Ed Monigan. The only clues they have to go on is the three eye witness accounts of what happened. Two teens smoochin' in the alley, and the owner of a all night place that makes book on the side. Their story: a guy looking to knock over the book joint, had a twisted left hand and blotchy face. The other hoods in the getaway car called him a "crazy lobo" after he shot the cop. Then he jumped in their sled and they burned rubber.  A search of Conovan's body reveals that he had a G in his pocket. Was he on the take?

 All Conovan has to work with are a rookie detective named CC, and Piper,  his oldest squad man who's coasting along with failing eyesight. Plus, Conovan's wife Gloria (Arlene Dahl), is putting pressure on the other end by getting anxious and upset over his dangerous line of work. 
Conovan, Piper (McIntire), Captain A.C. Forster (Leon Ames)

He's trying to both solve the murder and prove that Monigan wasn't on the take. He finds out from an informer named Sleeper, that there are a pair of downstate "lobos" knocking over bookie joints in L.A. trying to muscle in on the book racket. They call themselves the Royalty Brothers. The local mob is also understandably looking for them too.
Gloria (Arlene Dahl)
Sleeper (Norman Lloyd)

More tips from Sleeper take him to the Fol-de-Rol a night club with a burlesque act. A stripper named Lili knows the "Brothers" one of them is her ex-boyfriend Turk Kingby (Richard Benedict) the other Lafe Douque  (William Haade). They are the ones knocking over the book joints. But neither of them has a twisted arm. Lili said they split up, and don't know where they are holed up yet. Conovan figures that one of the other will contact Lili eventually.  Lili and Conovan hit it off, even though she knows he's pumping her for information. She lets Conovan know that Lafe came down to the club. Conovan asks Lili to lead Lafe on, get him good and drunk, get him to take her to his flop for a little "in and out."  As soon as Lafe passes out he tells her to call him and give him the low down on where he's at, so that he can toss his flop.
Lili (Gloria DeHaven)
Sleeper is killed and his body is found standing, hooked to street pole with both his legs and his arms broken. He's got a dead pigeon in his jacket pocket. No more tip offs. 

Conovan gets the call from Lili, she tells him the name of residence hotel and a room number. Lafe's record shows that he's a guy who's a known hoarder, and Conovan thinks he may have some evidence in his room from the holdups that will connect to Monigans murder. Conovan tosses Lafe's room while he's three sheets to the wind passed out on his bed. He finds a .38 caliber revolver and a single dark latex glove, Monigan was shot with a .38. Lafe wakes up and after a brief fight is arrested by Conovan. Out on the street they catch a drive by, Conovan is wounded and Lafe is shot dead.

Gloria flips out and makes Conovan resign from the department. His separation doesn't last long.

Lili calls Conovan's phone. Piper picks it up. Lili tells Piper to give Conovan the address where Turk is holed up. Piper doesn't tell her that Conovan resigned, and he goes out there solo to the address. It was a trap. Piper gets gunned down.

Of course Conovan gets his job back and and the poop hits the fan in Noirsville.




You can see why Van Johnson never made any more Noirs. He just doesn't seem quite hard boiled enough, another song and dance man who was trying to harden his image, sort of like Dick Powell, although Powell easily made the switch Johnson didn't.  He's too vanilla. The rest of the cast are quite adapt in their rolls. Arlene Dahl is fine but wasted in the good girl role though she does look stunning. Gloria DeHaven is an eye opener. She's another refugee from musicals and she's quite believable as the stripper.  In fact, she would have been good in Noir but she never appeared in another. However since this was 1949 her strip act is pretty tame. McIntire is doing a variation of his his usual shtick, and Norman Lloyd is very entertaining as Sleeper.

The battle between the police and Turk's armored car is unusually detailed and quite drawn out. It is an interesting sequence that would be more at home in a 30s gangster flick, check it out. Screen caps are from a DVDr. 7/10

Full review with more screencaps at Noirsville


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The Amazing Mr. X (1948) The Spook Trade Noir

This film, aka The Spiritualist was directed by Bernard Vorhaus (Bury Me Dead (1947)) he was active in the UK  during the 1930s. He was later blacklisted in Hollywood. Original story written by Crane Wilbur, with Muriel Roy Bolton, and Ian McLellan Hunter combining on the screenplay. The none other than excellent cinematography was by the great John Alton. The music was by Alexander Laszlo and that also includes two Frédéric Chopin pieces Prelude for Piano, Op. 28 Nr. 4 in E minor & Nocturne for Piano, Op. 9, no. 1, in B-flat minor

The film stars Turhan Bey as Alexis the psychic consultant, Lynn Bari (Nocturne (1946)) as Christine Faber a wealthy recently widowed woman, Cathy O'Donnell (Bury Me Dead (1947), They Live by Night (1948), Side Street (1950), Detective Story(1951)) as her younger unmarried sister Janet Burke, Richard Carlson (Behind Locked Doors(1948), The Sound of Fury (1950), segueing into SiFi/ monster movies and TV The Magnetic Monster (1953), It Came from Outer Space (1953) Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)) as Martin Abbott, with Donald Curtis and Virginia Gregg rounding out a pretty small cast.

Our story begins in a seaside mansion on a cliff above the Pacific. It's two years after Christine's husband Paul was incinerated in a fiery auto crackup along the Pacific Coast Highway. Christine finally is over mourning for Paul. She is convinced, by her younger sister Janet, to go out on a date with the persistent next door neighbor. He's equally wealthy, a lawyer, his name is Martin Abbott. He's in love with Christine and wants to propose. The date is for a show and later dinner at the Blue Angel.

Martin calls in to Christine and tells her that he has been running late, a last minute client has caused the delay and he just arrived at his house. He offers to drive over as soon as he changes. Christine, in turn, suggests that she can walk over along the beach and meet him.
Christine and Janet (Cathie O'Donnell)
Martin (Richard Carlson)
On the moonlit beach walk, below the cliffs, Christine thinks she hears Paul's voice hauntingly calling to her above the turbulent breakers and the rushing sea foam. She becomes a bit rattled, then more so after the wind swept hem of her dress, suddenly catches on a protruding nail sticking up from the bow of a beached dory. She unhooks herself from it's grasp, and runs to the base of the path that climbs to Martin's house.
This whole beach and seaside cliffs sequence is gorgeously filmed quite noirs-ish-ly by Alton.

Near the start of the path to Martin's house, she is startled by the squawking of a pet raven sitting on a branch of driftwood. Turning and running again she accidentally bumps into a man smoking a pipe.  It is a very suave and mysterious gentleman.
Alexis (Turhan Bey)

The man is Alexis, and he immediately goes into his professional spiritualist spiel. He tells her just enough about her whole recent situation, regarding Paul's death, in a very charming way that she can't help but be convinced that this guy must be for real, how can he know all this. He kisses her hand and excuses himself. She asks if he lived around here? He's says he wishes, he lives way across town and gives her his card, he is a "psychic consultant." When she reads his title she is slightly befuddled.

Christine: Oh!
Alexis: I see you place me in the same category as fortune tellers, snake charmers, and magicians. Oh well, many people do.
Christine: But you must know who I am, how else could you know all these things?
Alexis:  Perhaps because we are very much alike. You and I free spirits, like our friend here [points to the raven] you like the night, and the mist of the ocean. The wind whispers, the sand that is cool under our feet. We are not like, I hope I don't have his name wrong, Martin.
Christine: There's nothing wrong with Martin,
Alexis:  Of course not, but if you will only understand how little he understands.
Christine: Well Martin is very logical.
Alexis:  Yes that's why you should marry him. All free spirits must come out of the night sometime put on their shoes, pay their bills, go to the dentist, and of course family dinners on Sundays. You really shouldn't be so irritated by his little mannerisms, like when he clears his throat, announcing that he's going to kiss you in a minute. Or how he counts up all his plans on his fingers. I can't tell you how I know these things but it hardly matters. We are not going to meet again.....

The hook is proverbially in.

Martin has finally come down to the beach near the end of this meeting and is now calling Christine. She walks over to him. He clears his throat then kisses her. He asks what took her so long and she says she was talking to Alexis, but when she turns back to show him, Alexis has vanished.

Getting back to matters at hand, Christine has to now go and change her torn gown. By the time they get back to her house, they decide it's too late for the show and dinner. So Martin and Christine decide to spend a cozy evening at Christine's. While Christine is changing Martin sets the mood he mixes drinks, and puts on a phonograph record. Its a piece that Paul always used to play. Christine hears it and gets upset with Martin. Martin calms her down,  gives her the engagement ring, and proposes.

That night, Christine faintly hears that same piano piece again and Paul's voice calling her name. She awakens and runs towards the window. She turns and sees a wilted bouquet, her wedding ring, Paul's picture on the floor, and then her wedding dress is floating towards her in her bedroom. She runs, screams, and feints. Janet runs into her sisters room. When Christine recovers, she finds the flowers are fresh, the engagement ring on the dresser instead of her wedding ring, and Martins picture in the frame instead of Paul's.

Of course all these unexplainable phenomena now make her think of Alexis. He deals with this stuff professionally and of course she heads off to her psychic consultant.

Alexis' house on 6200 Warner Drive is something else to see, outwardly it is quite normal. But Alexis has got lots of two way mirrors installed, that he uses to observe and read his clients. When Christine gets to his door she greeted by a skull doorknocker. She lifts handle to knock but it rings a chime. Alexis flips up a sliding panel to see who is at the door. The front door automatically opens onto a dimly lit interior filled with arcane artifacts.

Christine walks in, the door closes and she is greeted with a squawk by the same raven from down of the beach. The raven and Alexis work together. While looking at the raven, a set of sliding door panels open silently, and the raven jumps off his perch and flies through them.  Christine follows the raven. After stepping through the door panels they again close automatically. When she sees Alexis leaning against his fireplace, she tells him sarcastically, that she thought the "fog and the ocean were more effective." Alexis chuckles. He then goes again into his spiel. He tells her that he agrees, but that in his line of work he's dealing with all kinds of minds, and that three types of people come to see him. The first group comes to scoff, but sometimes they remain to pay. The second are childlike creatures of mind, they are tired and sad and need comfort. (They are the ones that go for all the histrionics). The third group is those of us who honestly explore the outer world. Alexis then tells her that "I feel that you have come here today to join that group." By this time he has manipulated her into sitting down at a table with a crystal ball.

Alexis' Spook ParlorSpiritualist%2B35.jpg


Alexis checking out the rocks on a new client

So Christine is now under Alexis' spell so to speak. He sees her so much in the next coming weeks that Janet and Martin become concerned enough to follow her to Alexis' house. When Marin sees that all that Janet has been telling him is true he gets upset enough to hire a detective. He finds a detective named Hoffman (played by Harry Mendoza a real magician and actor), who specializes in exposing  phony mediums.  He tells them that he is a former vaudeville magician, who knows all the tricks in the spook trade. He is a crusader, much like Harry Houdini was starting back in the 1920s, and followed right through to the present by The Amazing Randi, Dorothy Dietrich, Penn & Teller, and Dick Brookz.

Martin and Janet's visit to their hired detective provides for another amusingly interesting sequence. All the while they are speaking with Hoffman he is performing various "sleights of hand" tricks. It's very entertaining. Hoffman looks through his files and finds a spiritualist who looks a lot like Alexis with a swami hat. Janet decides to visit Alexis and try and get his finger prints to see if they are one and the same man. However, Janet falls instantly for Alexis' charms also.

The elaborate hoax is all undone by a very unexpected twist that leads to Noirsville.


<spoilers below>

What's interesting about this film is how we are dropped into the middle of the phony spiritualist story, though we don't realize it at the time. It's only later that it comes to light how elaborate the preparations, and the physical rigging's of the hoax actually were.

The reason this film is not as highly regarded as Nightmare Alley is because one it's never seen and two,  it's cast with lesser know talent. You can imagine Vincent Price, Paul Henreid, or say Clifton Webb playing the spiritualist, Joan Bennett or Ava Gardner, in the Christine role (originally it was supposed to go to Carol Landis (I Wake Up Screaming (1941)) but she committed suicide right before filming was to start). Martin could have been played by Howard Duff or say Mark Stevens.  Margret O'Brien would have aced the Janet role.

However Turhan Bey is, believe it or not, better at being the suave slimy type than say Zachery Scott, he's more believable, possibly because of his Turkish/Austrian accent. Lynn Bari is good as the manipulable widow as are Cathy O'Donnel as Janet and Richard Carlson as Martin.

The Amazing Mr X followed right on the heals of Nightmare Alley. Other Crime and Noirs dealing with the same subject of spiritualists are Ministry of FearFallen AngelNight Has a Thousand EyesConfidence Girl, and later Hitchcock's Family Plot, I'm sure there are a few more out there.

The story is good and the cinematography breathtaking. It's John Alton, but not in his usual milieu of cityscape's. Here he makes a rugged moon lit seacoast, a cliff side house and a spiritualist's spook parlor his subjects. Images are from the French DVD. 8/10 Full review with more screencaps here Noirsville
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A Lady Without Passport (1950) Illegal Alien Noir

Havana and The Everglades.

An MGM film by Director Joseph H. Lewis (My Name Is Julia Ross (1945), So Dark the Night (1946), The Undercover Man (1949), Gun Crazy (1950), The Big Combo (1955)), gives us a topic that is quite on the front burner these days. Written by Howard Dimsdale, adapted by Cyril Hume, from a story by Lawrence Taylor.

The cinematography was by Paul Vogel (Lady in the Lake (1946), High Wall (1947), Black Hand (1950), Dial 1119 (1950), The Tall Target (1951), The Sellout (1952), and The Money Trap (1965)). The music was by Hal Schaefer.

The film stars Hedy Lamarr (Crossroads (1942), Experiment Perilous (1944), The Strange Woman (1946)) as Marianne Lorress, John Hodiak (seven classic noir) as Peter Karczag, James Craig as Frank Westlake, George Macready (four classic noir) as Palinov, Steven Geray (six classic noir) as the Frenchman, Bruce Cowling as Archer Delby James, Nedrick Young as Harry Nordell, Steven Hill as Jack, Robert Osterloh as Lt. Lannahan, Trevor Bardette as Lt. Carfagno, and Charles Wagenheim as Ramon Santez.

The long immigration route to the U.S.A. in the immediate post WWII era often passed through Havana, Cuba. The final bottleneck was the U.S. Embassy where scores of potential immigrants would wait for their interviews to see whether or not they would be granted visas. As a result, a well organized illegal alien smuggling ring arose to alleviate the problems for those with enough money.
a flight and death by taxi

A dead man with no ID in New York is traced by N.Y.P.D. investigation of his pocket contents to a flight from Miami, the evidence collected from his shoes finds traces of sugarcane and red clay that is only found in Cuba. The potential that the man is an illegal alien triggers an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Pete (Hodiak)
An operative Pete Karczag is sent undercover to Havana to try and gather evidence against Palinov (Macready) a suspected human trafficker. Pete is to pose as a Hungarian who wants to enter the USA. Palinov has based his operations out of his Gulf Stream Cafe. As part of Pete's undercover infiltration he goes to the U.S. Embassy in Havana and makes a loud enough ruckus after a presumed denial of a visa that he is noticed by many of the people awaiting interviews. He is noticed by one of Palinov's touts played by Steven Geray, who follows Pete when he leaves the embassy. When he finally makes his move he directs Pete to Palinov's Gulf  Stream Cafe.

At the cafe Pete meets the beautiful Marianne Lorress (Hedy Lamarr) who is an Austrian refugee from the Buchenwald concentration camp. She is broke and illegally working in Cuba as a cigarette girl, among "other" things.  Palinov has been enchanted by her beauty.

It's also implied very sub-textually (the film is after all made under the MPPC) that Marianne has been letting Palinov play hide the sausage with her for accommodations in the rooms above his cafe. Marianne also makes a remark that since she is not allowed to work under Cuban Law she must find her bread "on the streets." It's not hard to make the leap to streetwalker. It's all very quaint in hindsight.

Anyway Palinov is head over heels infatuated enough with Marianne that he breaks with his usual demand of a thousand dollars upfront. He agrees to accompany her himself to Savannah, Georgia where her father has previously immigrated to and where she assures him he will be paid by daddy. It's a not hard to figure out why Pete decides to use Marianne to find out the day and time of Palinov's next scheduled operation. As he gets close to her he also finds himself smitten by her allure, and he too is soon also in love. Soon Pete is thinking about quitting the service and telling Marianne that he is in love with her and that she should stay with him in Havana.

Palinov jealous, has Pete shadowed, and eventually his men discover that Pete is actually an immigration cop. It all goes Noirsville when Palinov exposes this information to Marianne, who decides to leave for the US on the next smuggling flight.




George Macready lt. with Marianne


Marianne (Lamar)


The films strengths lie in its on location Havana sequences, once the immigrants take flight to the US and crash land in the Everglades the film looses some of it's magic.

All of the cast do well and are believable. Watch for a fantastic Cuban dance sequence by Nita Bieber. An entertaining enough time waster. Screen caps are from a DVDr of a cablecast, there is a new release as of 2006. 7/10 Full review with more screen caps here: Noirsville 
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I've watched A Lady Without Passport several times primarily for Hedy Lamarr.  As you note, the Havana settings and the story itself make for a very interesting movie.

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Down By Law (1986) Neo Orleans Noir Fantasy

In reality, New Orleans is the main drain, sittin' there right on the bottom. The gritty sewer of practically everything Southern.

A strange gem from the imagination of Jim Jarmusch, the magic talents of an amazing cast, and the crumbling beauty of New Orleans and Louisiana.

It's an entertaining, low budget, picaresque film that's part Neo Noir, part Prison Film/Prison Noir with a lighthearted rift on the drama of (Brute Force (1947), Canon City(1948), Caged (1950), Convicted (1950) Crashout(1955), and Cool Hand Luke (1967)) but without the detailing or planing part of a prison break out. Part Dogpatch, Hillbilly, Cajun, Swamp Noir (Moonrise (1948), Swamp Women (1956) Bayou (1957)), and add a sprinkle of sewer from He Walked By Night (1948) and The Third Man (1949) and a pinch of pixie dust Fairy Tale.

The film stars John Lurie (Subway Riders (1981), Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Paris, Texas(1984), Wild at Heart (1990)), an actor and a jazz musician and founder of the The Lounge Lizards, Tom Waits (Paradise Alley (1978), The Cotton Club (1984)) , a musician and master artist of what I like to call "Songs From the Twilight Zone" or more simply Aural Noir. Roberto Benigni,  an actor director, and writer, who won an Oscar for Life Is Beautiful (1997). Ellen Barkin (The Big Easy (1986), Siesta (1987), Sea of Love (1989)), Bille Neal (Jacob's Ladder(1990), A Kiss Before Dying (1991)), and  Nicoletta Braschi (Johnny Stecchino (1991), The Monster (1994)) and Life Is Beautiful (1997)). Rounding out the cast are Rockets Redglare (After Hours (1985), Talk Radio (1988), Trees Lounge (1996)), Vernel Bagneris (Pennies from Heaven (1981)), Timothea, and Joy N. Houck Jr. (Tightrope (1984), The Big Easy (1986)).

Opening sequence

It's the story of three men and three women.

The film starts with a traveling shot that begins with a close up of a hearse at a cemetery and ends in a second floor bedroom of a pimp named Jack the French Quarter in New Orleans. We see graves, shotgun shacks, decaying neighborhoods, bayou shanties, stilt houses, and the balconies of Vieux Carré.  Jack (Lurie) and his current prostitute main squeeze Bobbie (Neal) are lying on satin sheets. Jack is woken up by a creaking sound. Its Julie (Timothea) one of his other girls rocking on the porch. She's watching the light change. When Jack crawls back under the sheets Bobbie awakens.
Bobbie (Neal) and Jack (Lurie)
Back across town with another traveling shot going out away from the French Quarter back through  a couple of cops making a roadside arrest, industrial areas, brown fields, junk yards and roadside trailer parks scattered haphazardly around bill boards to Zack's (Waits) paint peeling crib. we see Zack sneaking in to his graffiti scribbled flop trying not to wake is girlfriend Laurette (Barkin). Zack has gotten fired from his DJ job and has been on a drunk. When he sits on the bed Laurette awakens.
A French Quarter welcone to New Orleans 
Laurette (Barkin)
Laurett decides that she's throwing Zack out. We travel shot back from Zack's to the Quarter. Laurette is going through one of the great temper tantrums on celluloid. She is in her apartment, and is throwing all Zack's **** out into the street. Records, clothes, radio, right out through the second story windows.  She's screaming non stop, a women in meltdown. It's very entertaining.

In the time honored tradition of countless Southern potboilers, Barkin is the visually negative image. A wound up bond in the black slip. The yin, to say Elizabeth Taylor's cool and calm white slipped "Maggie The Cat." The yang in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. But its just an interesting visual juxtaposition. They both love their men but one chooses to stick the other to toss. Waits just sits there not saying a word and letting Barkin vent. Good move. Waits is sort of channeling noir icon Timothy Carey. He's all twitches and fidgety movements, like he's got an itch that won't stay scratched and Barkin as Laurett knows it. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but in this case its not another woman it's Zack's drinking problem. She apparently still loves him and tells him that he's digging his own grave, but she just can't mentally can't take it anymore.

Laurette: [to Zack] Because you... because you don't take care of me... ya don't want me... ya don't wanna make any **** commitment to me... I'VE *FINISHED* WITH YOU, ZACK! I've completely *finished* with you! Why doncha just go find some other li'l girl... I mean... that shouldn't be too difficult for you! I'm FED UP with you and YOUR ****' STUPID RADIO SHOWS!

Zack is still sitting there, head bobbing up and down, like he's putting her rant all to some internal jive beat only he can hear. He's taking all this in. Laurette continues her purge. She doesn't get any reaction out of him until she grabs his favorite pair of, well lets say they're a sort of cross between ankle high cowboy boots and pointy Puerto Rican Fence Climbers, with fancy shiny brass tip guards. When she flings those out the window he goes after them like a dog for a chew toy. Besides his drinking problem, he must have a hell of a shoe fetish.

It takes some searching but he finally finds his boots. He tosses the shoes he has on his feet away and lovingly slips into his precious footwear. Might be time for Zack to kill another bottle..... while he contemplates his next move.

Back at Jacks, Bobbie, laying naked on the bed is shooting her mouth off.

Bobbie: You know, Jack, we could make some money together. Except you're always blowin' it. You know - gambling, gettin' high, showing off.
Jack: I gotta have fun, you know, baby ?
Bobbie: Yeah, yeah, I know. You're always makin' big big plans for tomorrow, and you know why ? 'Cause you're always **** up today ! Look at that white girl, that Julie you started out with, she's all messed up now. All your girls are so messed up - except me. I can tell a lot of things about you. Some things you'd never put into your head. But you can't be so sure. My mom used to say that America is like a big melting pot, because she used to say that when you bring it to the boil, all the scum rises to the top. [she laughs sarcastically]
Bobbie: So maybe there's still hope for you yet, Jack. [she suddenly stops laughing] You listening to me ?  Sh**. You don't understand any kind of people. Maybe that's your problem. You sure don't understand women at all. And a pimp is supposed to know about women. If you was a good pimp, you'd have hit me by now, you'd have done something. But I can just lay here, and talk forever, and you won't hear a single word. Like you don't even speak English ! You're lost in your big big plans, but I know about you, Jack.

Bobbie: My mama used to say that America's the big melting pot. You bring it to a boil and all the scum rises to the top.

The phone rings and Jack answers. A rival pimp Gig (Rockets Redglare ) wants to make a previous wrong right, He's downstairs and wants to come up and make him a proposition.

Bobbie: My mama used to say that America's the big melting pot. You bring it to a boil and all the scum rises to the top.
Gig is a sweaty, chubby, goober, missing a substantial amount of his front teeth, a fine specimen of Southern gentleman. Gig tells him he's got Jack a new piece of ****. A teenaged "Cajun Goddess." A fine piece of chicken to add to his stable of ladies. Gig's got her stashed in room 27 in a nearby French Quarter hotel.

Intrigued, Jack pimps himself out to retrieve Gig's "gift." He swings by Julie who is trying to sell her **** on the corner. So far it's been a slow night, no takers.

When he gets to the hotel he finds the new  girl on the bed in the darkened room. He's giving her the spiel, he'll protect her, take care of her buy her clothes, etc., etc. when he's busted by the cops. It was a set up. Gig set him up with under aged jail bait.  Jack just got a one way ticket to Noirsville.

A very noir-ish, ominous, ending to the sequence where Mandino tells the girl that she'll have nothing to worry about, because after she rests a bit, he'll take care of her.
We next cut back to Zack half zoned out on a bender, at the back door of a bar sitting amongst the trash. He's first meets Bob (Benigni) who he tells to "buzz off!"

Next a small time crook Preston walks up the street and spots Zack.
Preston (Vernel Bagneris) with Zack
Preston: Zack ! Hey man ! What the **** ya doin' here in the garbage ?
Zack: [without looking at Preston] Just leave me alone, Preston. I'm in a bad mood.
Preston: Then I'm just the man you've been looking for. In fact, I've been looking for you.
Zack: That's a bad sign.
Preston: Now, Zack , baby ! I got somethin' real good for you. An hour's work for a whole lotta scratch.
Zack: I ain't interested.
Preston: Then you ARE in a bad mood. You won't even let me propose it to you ! Can you just listen to me for one minute, will ya ? One minute of your, uh... valuable time ?
Zack: [sighs in exasperation] Just **** off, Preston.
Preston: [chuckles and acts like he's going to walk away from him, but then goes back to him] All I wanna do is pay you a grand, in exchange of a single hour of your very very valuable time. But this ain't no break in, no delivery of controlled substances, none of this stuff. It's just to drive a car, from one part of town to another, alone. That's it.
Zack: What kind of car will that be, Preston ?
Preston: That will be a very nice car. A very nice, very expensive imported car, which just happens to be in between owners at the present time.
Zack: [mutters to himself]
Preston: Look man, all you gotta do is drive the car across town, park it, leave it. I can pay half grand upfront, and the other half later. The whole thing's over in an hour! It's very safe, very clean, and believe me, i can get a million guys to do this for me.
Zack: Then why don't you do it yourself ?
Preston: I'm offerin' a grand so I don't have to answer stupid questions like that.
Zack: Well... I might consider the grand upfront... then I might think about it.
Preston: Jesus ! [a pause] Zack... you are in a nasty mood. So just to cheer you up a little bit, I give you 750 upfront. OK ? [Zack rises to leave him on the spot but he holds him back] Alright, alright, Mr. All-Mighty-Hot-****. I'm gonna do you this favour. [he gives Zack the keys of the car]
Zack: [impressed, but still muttering to himself] Oh man ! A Jaguar !
Preston: I'll give you the whole thing upfront [he gives Zack the money] Now you owe me. [long pause] Zack, you know you can buy yourself twenty girls for all of that ?
While Zack is doing the transporting he's pulled over by NOPD, and arrested after a dead man is found in the trunk. He's hauled off and booked into Noirsville!
a dead man

The New Orleans Parish Prison section takes up the middle third of the film. Jack and Zack are put in the same cell followed quickly by Bob. They go through the typical Prison Genre old clichés but Jarmusch gives them to you with a new twist. One memorable sequence is when Jack and Zack are telling one another how they were set up. When they finally ask Bob what he in for he tells them he killed a man with an eight ball. The only one that actually did do something.

Bob ( Benigni)


Nicoletta (Nicoletta Braschi)
The women though their parts are minimal comparatively, are all excellent in their short scenes. Jarmusch lets Lurie, Waits, and Benigni create much of their own characters personalities and this results in an interactive spontaneity that would be impossible to get with written lines.

The film is a joy to watch, as like a pinball it bounces around genre conventions keeping you guessing which tangent it will take. The gorgeous black and white cinematography was lensed by Robby Müller (The American Friend (1977), Paris, Texas (1984), Barfly (1987), Dead Man (1995)), and the score was composed by John Lurie.

Screencaps are from the Criterion DVD 9/10. More screen caps and full review here: Noirsville 

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One Naked Night (1965) Woman's Noir Vérité

New York Artist-Photographer's Model Woman's Noir

The Last Drive In (

Directed  filmed and probably written (though there is no credit) by Al Viola, (Albert T. Viola born in Brooklyn) a production coordinator for The Naked City TV series (1958-1963), who segued into film, other credits include a "Mondo" film A Fool's World (1964), a thriller called A Woman in Love (1968) it's IMDb page shows zero reviews, Interplay (1970) ditto, and a pair of what sound like Dog Patch Hillbilly films titled Preacherman (1971) and Preacherman Meets Widderwoman (1973), but hey, he did make it to Hollywood. The cinematography is very noir-ish in spots.

A great bongo tune by Chet McIntyre (Music) plays during the credit sequence, and  the film has nice but appropriately sleazy piano/sax jazz instrumentals.
Right from the local Five and Dime stores sleazy pulp fiction paperback racks to the screen! One Naked Night is the story of a girl from "hicksville" it could even be the real one on Long Island. Candy Stevens (Barbara Morris, (Philip Marlowe TV Series (1959–1960 and a couple of other credits, she like thousands of other women trying to break into showbiz, didn't catch fire)) is a young woman, daughter of a high priced call girl, who made lots of money horizontally so that she could send her daughter to an expensive boarding school. Way to go mom! However, Candy is now alienated, desperate to leave her "home" town after she is exposed as the next of kin, a prostitutes daughter, when her notorious mother commits suicide and it's headlines in all the papers.

Candy Stevens (Barbara Morris)

We get a nice voice over narration by Morris of our female character Candy. It's interesting because it's an average, real, plausible young woman's noir. She's not gonna be a female PI, the Femme Fatale, or an ace reporter, she's just telling the distaff side, the female equivalent of an average joe's hard boiled, a hard luck story, of what thousands of women who want to make it big go through, and just from the bios of our female cast you know that either they went through pretty similar circumstances and scenarios or know people who did. This will inform their best they can do acting.
This is no Pretty Woman (1990) fairy tale its an almost Vérité, Neo Realist in feeling.

She splits for New York City, taking up an offer from Laura (Sally Lane, her only credit), a girlfriend from the school, who is now a model, to stay with her in a typical NYC arrangement, a three girls sharing the rent apartment.  A fourth girl can easily squeeze in and all will pay less. She can stay there with them while she looks for work. But Laura quickly arranges for Candy to go to cheesecake photographer Charlie Stern (played by Ian Miller) to audition to be a model, and she's got what it takes to be "in the biz." He schedules her for a shoot.

 The other two girls living in the apartment are also both pin-up models. Peg a blond who is uncredited, and Barbara played by Audrey Campbell who in real life was a model then starred in a live television program on Cincinnati's WKRC network called "The Girl in the Window in the late 40's Audrey debuted playing a Roman princess in  Joe Sarno's movie "Lash of Lust." She appeared in TV Soap Dark Shadows. Campbell is most famous for her character Madame Olga and the series of Exploitation films featuring her.

Candy has a couple of modeling sessions with Charlie Stern. It eventually gets romantic.

Charlie Stern (Ian Miller) with Candy
After their last shoot Candy and Charlie hit the sights in Times Square and then head for a dance club up in Harlem.

And the finale back at his place.....

Below, Charlie slowly goes down out the frame a quote of Richard Conte and Jean Wallace from The Big Combo. Candy is obviously having a good time.
After Candy is seduced by Stern she thinks she's in love. Barbara knows the score. Barbara also came from a broken home and had a promiscuous mother. To the accompaniment of a wild Jungle Bongo with liquorish stick theme, we get a flashback as Barbara tells Candy why she should not trust men. It's the tale of how Barbara losing her virginity. On the day of her eighteenth birthday Barbara comes home from school and finds a present on her dresser.


At eighteen her mother gives her a negligee and tells her she should find a man. Barbara was always resentful of the men in her mothers life who compete with her for love, but she showers and tries on  the gift, admiring the way she looks and experimenting with the awakening of her sexual feelings. At this time a "friend" of her mother's enters the apartment using his key to retrieve his watch.

He sees Barbara and thinks she is one of the many party girl friends of her mother. He seduces her, and Barbara lets him.

Barbara seems to start out OK but it went South. She's off men and into women.

Barbara: I've seen lots of men they're either dull as death or all rotten.

To get Candy to see the light, Barbara arranges for Candy to find Charles in bed with Laura. After Candy flees Charlie's apartment, Charlie comments to Laura "Poor thing guess she took everything seriously."

Candy goes running to Joe (Joseph Sutherin), a nice guy artist friend of Charlies. At first they hit it off. They get intimate. Candy fixes his meals and even poses for Joe. However, Candy becomes too possessive and prevents David from getting in touch with his creativity.

Candy wants him to cater to her. When he frustratingly spurns her, she picks up a mallet and begins to smack it up against his latest sculpture, He smacks her to the floor. Shocked, Candy runs from the apartment and back to the "party pad."

There Candy segues into a playgirl lifestyle and has a different man every night. When she tells Barbara that she's tried everything and is bored, Barbara tells her, hint hint, that "she hasn't tried EVERYTHING."

Of course it all spirals into Noirsville.



"You haven't tried everything."

This film is really just on the cusp of being an Exploitation Noir. It's not even up to contemporary "R" rated films of today. When the MPPC ended independent filmmakers exploited everything that they were prevented from depicting when the code was in effect. Its just like a dam broke and nothing was going to stop the flood of freedom no matter how crass and tasteless it was. If someone could make a quick buck off something they made it. But this film offers something more.

Barbara Morris is surprisingly good in this. Director Viola shows some nice sequences of 1965 5th Avenue, Times Square and its signage, an equally interesting detour into a Harlem dance hall and of a time long ago and far away. Worth a look. Screencaps are from an online streaming site. 6.5/10 Full Review with more screencaps here: Noirsville
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Killer's Kiss (1955) Low Budget New York Noir

Written, Directed, and Edited by Stanley Kubrick.

This is what you can do when you are low on budget, about $75,000, and big on talent.

What's not to like, you got a taxi dancer and a boxer, both of which are voyeurs of each other. A greasy, sleazy ballroom racketeer. And shots of New York City circa mid 1950's. The scenes of Times Square, a 1932 vintage IND R-1 subway car with the old crosswise and facing pattern rattan seats, the real Pennsylvania Station, a taxi dance ballroom, a boxing match in probably the old St.Nicholas Arena, DUMBO before it was DUMBO, and top it all off with a classic mannequin factory showdown. The film is priceless for these sequences alone.

The Story.

Three days in the life of Davey Gordon, (played by Jamie Smith, a mainly TV series actor whose first film was Faithful City (1952). In his bio,  he cryptically "then joined the company of Orson Welles" (IMDb)  whatever that means. His last credit was Route 66 (TV Series) (1963) as a Deputy), then nothing, zip nada  until a 1990  Netherlands TV series.

Davey is a fly weight boxer, from near Seattle, fighting bouts at probably the old St. Nicholas Arena that was at 69 West 66th Street, Manhattan. If Kubric shot at the actual arena, they are the only interior shots I've found. Davey's last bout was against Kid Rodriguez. It was on television in the film.. Vinnie Rapallo and Gloria, watch it. The DuMont Television Network's (the first TV Network  in the U.S. BTW) last series show ever was "Boxing From St. Nicholas Arena."

The story is told mostly in flashbacks.
Davey (Smith) and Pennsylvania Station

Davey lives in a small studio apartment up in the Bronx. He has a view of the air shaft. For those of you who don't know **** I'm talking about, an air shaft was a sort of natural ventilation system buildings of a certain sizes and style were required by city building codes to have. Cooler air from the basement passages would be sucked inwards towards the shaft as the top walls, exposed to sun heated up. The warm the air in the top of the shaft expands upwards leving a void that draws more cool air up to replace it, like a chimney. A natural "renewable energy" circulation system.

Anyway it not as dreary as it sounds. Across Davey's shaft, lives Gloria (played by Irene Kane a one time Vogue model and later aka Chris Chase the writer). Gloria is a local girl from out on Long Island. Gloria's festooned her dump with comfy furniture, curtains that turn an alcove into a closet, and wash line strung with a dainty lace bras, nylons, panties, and and garter belts. Gloria leaves her pull shade open. Davey's got a nightly show named "Gloria" to watch. Coincidentally in the best Woolrich manner, Gloria is both an exhibitionist and a voyeur in turn of Davey, who reciprocates by leaving his pull shade up. Cute visual meet. The ballroom dance song "Once" is the leitmotif for Davey and Gloria.
Gloria (Kane)
Anyway, the Italian Vinnie Rapallo, is played perfectly by Frank Silvera (Viva Zapata! (1952), The Appaloosa (1966), Hombre (1966)). A very successful black actor. I enjoyed his Westerns. He was like a black Paul Muni, he could play across ethnic boundaries without makeup and be entirely believable. He was also a director. Vinnie and his minions at the dance barn have a sort of demented twisted cha cha as their leitmotif.

Vinnie is the sleazy proprietor of Pleasure Land Ballroom depicted in the film as on the Westside of Times Square. It's a taxi dance joint. Vinnie likes to sample the merchandise. He samples Gloria. Vinnie has been picking up Gloria at her apartment house in his snazzy chrome accented 1951 Chevrolet Styleline De Luxe Bel Air convertible. Vinnie  a bit jealous when he sees Gloria exit her apartment house with Davey. He tells her that he's a boxer. Tells her that he has a bout that night. Tells her that they'll watch him in his office.

At fight time Vinnie goes out into the ballroom and collects Gloria. He has a problem seperating her from a patron. He has to call in his goombah's to rough the guy up and throw him out. Gloria and Vinnie go up to his office to watch the fight. In the sequence during the fight Gloria seems to get turned on watching Davey and Kid Rodriguez beat the **** out of each other. She embraces Rapallo, the lights go out and you know that that was "code" for getting down to business.
Feeling down and nusing his wounds and pride, Davey is perked up by both the nightly Gloria show across the airshaft and a phone call from his uncle in Seattle.

Later after her shift at Pleasure Land, Gloria is confronted by Vinne at her apartment and is rejected quite forcibly by her. We can only speculate that maybe Vinnie wanted to go a bit father than before. Wanted to sample all her charms. Here is where, thanks to the MPPC, you can imagine the absolute worst, that maybe Vinnie wanted to go all around the world, and Gloria was only willing to go at least two-thirds of it.

Make no mistake about it, Gloria is no virgin, she was doing Vinne judging from her statement later in the warehouse when her life is on the line.

Gloria Price: [Rebuffing Vinny] Can't you get it, Vinny? To me you're just an old man. You smell bad.

Gloria's screams awaken Davey who sees Vinnie physically roughing up Gloria across the air shaft. He shouts, startles Vinne, which causes Vinnie to flee. Gloria is saved. They become close, it's  strongly inferred again by visual "code" that they become lovers. Gloria seems pretty "easy."

Davey and Gloria decide to leave town for Seattle. Davey arranges for his manager to meet him at Pleasure Land to give him his cut from the fight, while Gloria goes up to collect her last weeks wages.

It all goes Noirsville when Vinnie sends his dim bulb goons to rough up Davey and instead kill Davey's manager by mistake.



Vinnie (Silvera)

Kubric is just at the beginning of an interesting run of films. For it's budget Killer's Kiss is a visual treat, a bit rough around the edges but thoroughly immersive and very entertaining. For a New Yorker the film is an archive of Times Square, Brooklyn and a bit of city life circa 1955. The ending at the mannequin factory is worth the view alobe. A Low Budget Classic 8/10. Full review with more screencaps here Noirsville


Kubrick actually wanted a darker ending. His last shot would have been of Davey finishing his flashback story and waiting for Gloria who never shows up.

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Tokyo Drifter (1966).  Tetsu “The Phoenix” is a gangster who decides to embark on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, he still abides by an archaic, and for him dangerous, code of loyalty, specifically to his boss, Kurata, who has disbanded the criminal gang he led.  A rival crime boss, sadistic Otsuka, with his bright red jacket and penchant for wearing sunglasses indoors, wants to muscle Kurata out of a valuable piece of real estate, thus drawing Tetsu back into the business. Tokyo Drifter is all over the place genre-wise, and every place is wonderful.  For example, there are sets that resemble MGM Technicolor musicals.

A drifter, as referenced in the title, is a self-imposed Monasticism, a life devoted to being constantly on the move, unencumbered, even by women, which in Tetsu’s case is rather poetic.  TCM has been airing a few yakuza films of late.  Last month I had the pleasure of watching another gem, A Colt Is My Passport (1967).  

Nikkatsu, the studio behind Tokyo Drifter, didn’t care for director Seijun Suzuki’s experimental style, and fired him in 1968.  Suzuki would be blacklisted from making films for another 10 years.

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Shanty Tramp (1967) Hilarious Hillbilly Exploitation Noir

Right out of the sleazy pulp paperbacks found near the newspaper/magazine racks of the local five & dimes comes Shanty Tramp, a little exploitation noir that deals with a promiscuous town tramp, an evangelist, a biker gang, moonshiners, and with a little dash of miscenagation thrown in for good measure.


I remember going to the local Woolworths, in the early '60s to check out their latest models, I was an avid modeler as a kid, WWI biplanes, battleships, etc., etc. I used to also get a kick out of Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's plastic models of his "monsters," Rat Fink, Brother Rat Fink, Drag Nut, Mother's Worry, Mr. Gasser. I'd also drift over to the paperback book racks and get an eye full of the beautifully suggestive artwork of the various titles that appealed to my budding libido. Where were all these extremely alluring and scarily seductive women? A few older and wiser years later you'd hear tell of the neighborhood's "lover's lane" or, for those without vehicles, find traces of various nighttime assignations in secluded bush shrouded grassy areas of traffic islands, or on a shredded mattress in an abandoned house. You'd fantasize over the "when and who with" detritus of a single nylon stocking near a depression in the grass, or a lost pair of panties dangling from a twig. All was not squeakily prim and proper as it appeared in the Eisenhower Years, there was a sexual "Noir" side to life and it was pretty close to home.

Shanty Tramp was directed by Joseph G. Prieto who has five directing credits. His last feature was Miss Leslie's Dolls (1973), a film that has gotten a bit of renown as an underground demented rarity of interest. That film featuers Salvador Ugarte.

(from film4q at IMDb)
"Ugarte, it seems, was a mainstay of expatriate Cuban theatre in Florida, where the film was shot (in a 'studio' in the middle of a cattle farm, according to one of the cast). And his performance is a masterclass in off-beam absorption - all helped by the fact that he's dubbed with a female voice which almost but doesn't quite match his lip movements."

The writing credits for Shanty Tramp go to K. Gordon Murray for story and Reuben Guberman and Joseph G. Prieto for the screenplay.  Cinematography was by Ralph Remy Jr., music was by Frank Linales.

The film stars Eleanor Vaill as Emily Stryker (as Lee Holland), Otto Schlessinger as Emily's Father Stryker, Lewis Galen as Daniel, Bill Rogers as Preacher Fallows, Lawrence Tobin as Biker Savage, and Lee Ann (as possibly Daniel's mother).
Emily (Elanore Vaill)
The story. Emily the "town pump," is hot to trot. She's on the make in a slinky low cut dress that barely contains her ****. She's strutting her stuff under the bare incandescent light bulbs of the wooden sidewalk of a hicksville main drag. After fighting off the come on's from losers who don't quite measure up to even her low admittance standards, she sashays over to a traveling evangelist's revival tent, looking for a warm body.
Emily's entrance at the back of the tent catches the eye of Preacher Fallows (Rogers) along with a black man Daniel (Galen) and his mother (Ann). Fallows and Daniel like what they see. At the end of the revival Emily approaches Fallows and tells him she needs some special "counseling." Fallows tells her to come back after the last revival of the evening. Wink, wink.
"later sister, after the last meeting of the evening"


Emily heads off to the town jukejoint Tom's where all the town sinners hang out. Daniel takes his mother back to their shack, but Daniel is restless and ****. He leaves his mother and goes looking for Emily.


At Tom's, Emily picks up a guy and starts to dance. While they are dancing a biker gang roars into hicksville looking for action. The leader, Savage pulls up at Tom's the only game in town, looking for a drink and women. Inside Savage zeros in on Emily. After a brief confrontation he pushes aside Emily's dance partner. Savage and Emily dance. Emily breaks away and asks Tom the owner for the key to the storeroom. He picks it up from below the bar and hands it to her. It's apparently a regular request, he probably gets a piece for himself as part of the deal. Emily and Savage head for the storeroom. Daniel across the road is watching. He follows.
Savage (Lawrence Tobin) and Emily. A matress on the slab, very romantic
When Emily and Savage start to get it on Savage gets rough and rips off Emily's dress. She screams. Daniel, lurking outside, runs in and he confronts Savage. They fight. Daniel wins. Daniel gives Emily the shirt off his back so that she can be decent going home to her shack. Emily tells him to come over and she'll be waiting in the barn for him.

Daniel (Lewis Galen). Come to the barn, I'll be waitin'


When Savage comes to, he gathers his bikers and goes looking for Daniel. They get to his mothers shanty. They question her a little too violently about Daniel and accidentally break her neck. Then all the bikers skedaddle getting the hell out of Dodge.

Back at the revival Emily's drunkard of a father gets called to Jesus. When he arrives home he finds Emily and Daniel naked in the barn. He goes running off back to town. Emily tells Daniel that he better git. Rousing the racists and the town clown sheriff deputies, a lynch mob with dogs heads towards Emily's shanty. Emily now scared tells the mob that Daniel raped her.

Stryker yells out. He goes running off back to town. Emily tells Daniel that he better git. Rousing the racists and the town clown sheriff deputies, a lynch mob with dogs heads towards Emily's shanty. Emily now scared tells the mob that Daniel raped her.

Daniel raped Emily!

Daniel cutting through the back woods sneaks up on a moonshiner making a deal with some bootleggers. The bootleggers have already loaded the shine and are finishing the deal. Daniel jumps into the bootleggers car and takes off with their goods. They follow in a second car. Daniel looses control, cracks up and burns to death.

Once the mob leaves Emily's shack her old man takes off his belt and begins to whack the tar out of her. When he gets done with that, it looks like her next lesson is going to be an incest session with Daddy but Emily grabs a kitchen knife out of the sink and sticks in in her old man, over and over again, just to make sure he get's the point.

Thinking quick Emily gets dressed and heads back to the revival getting there just in time to get a private horizontal come to Jesus session with sleazy Preacher Fellows in his trailer as his driver pulls out of town.

I'll need a lot of layin' on of hands preacher. And use that isnstrument of the Lord on me also,  Amen!

Low budget but worth a peak for all its hilarious sordid goings on. Images from a streamed source. 5.5- 6/10  More hilarious screencaps with review here Noirsville

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The Notorius Bettie Page (2005) Quasi Bio Noir

I used to ride the Ditmars Blvd Bus in Astoria, NY.

From the Ditmars - 31st. Street Station to 49th Street going to and from the city. I was just a baby about 3-4 years old. I loved riding the bus and the subways. We used to go shopping, places like Macy's, Gimbals, Bloomingdale's, or go to the movies. Once I watched a woman get on the bus carrying a hat box. She came  smiling down the aisle between the bench seats towards us. I was standing on my seat, and leaning forward over the top of the bench seat in front of me. She was noticeable even to me. She sat a few seats in front of us. She stayed on heading for Jackson Heights, and we got off. Years later I stumble upon a picture of Bettie Page, and I remember back to that day on the bus. Was it really Bettie, or am I wishfully fantasizing? I'll never know for sure or not, but it's a good story. That's part of her mystique.

Bettie (Mae) Page was a bonafide, raven haired, American Icon.

 She was "The Dark Angel, The Queen of the Pinups."

She was a very popular photographers model who established a significant profile in the 1950s for her pin-up photos, with a copious enough amount of content to achieve the title of "Queen of Pinups."

Directed by Mary Harron (I Shot Andy Warhol (1996), American Psycho (2000)). The screenplay was by Harron and Guinevere Turner (American Psycho (2000), the beautiful Black & White & Color cinematography was by W. Mott Hupfel III, and the music by Mark Suozzo (American Splendor (2003)).

The film stars Gretchen Mol (Get Carter (2000), 3:10 to Yuma (2007), Manchester by the Sea(2016)) as Bettie Page, Chris Bauer (Sweet and Lowdown (1999), The Deuce  TV Series (2017– )) as Irving Klaw, Lili Taylor (Mystic Pizza (1988), Born on the Fourth of July (1989), I Shot Andy Warhol (1996)) as Paula Klaw, Sarah Paulson (Serenity (2005), 12 Years a Slave(2013)) as Bunny Yeager, David Strathairn (Matewan (1987), The River Wild (1994), L.A. Confidential (1997), ) as Senator Estes Kefauver, Norman Reedus as Billy Neal, Kevin Carroll as Jerry Tibbs and Molly Moore as young Bettie.

The film selectively follows some parts of Bettie's life while significantly leaving out or inexplicably changing/rearranging other parts. That accounts for the "Quasi" in the header description.

The Notorious Bettie Page is told mostly in Black & White and in flashback. In an intro we are transported to a Times Square "dirty book store." An undercover cop asks the counterman for something "special."
 When the counterman produces a bondage book he's arrested.
Bettie Page (Gretchen Mol )

We begin our actual story in New York City 1955. Bettie is sitting outside a traveling Senate sideshow set up in a hearing room in Federal Courthouse in Foley Square, waiting to be called to testify. Inside Democratic Senator Estes Keaufver (David Strathairn) launched his own anti-porn crusade blaming comic books and smut for juvenile delinquency.

The New York Times headline “Smut Held Cause of Delinquency.” The hearings also "discursively linked pornography to traffic in narcotics. Teenagers were branded as "the biggest market for pornographic materials," and it was further alleged that teenagers were :widely used to push dirty pictures, magazines, and books. Among the targets of the Keaufver hearings were the fetish materials produced by "the King Of The Pinups," Irving Klaw (Looking Past the Screen: Case Studies in American Film History and Method)). Klaw's Movie Star News, had moved beyond publicity stills of movie stars and into producing S&M bondage and spanking photos. Bettie Page and other models were always dressed in underwear or lingerie so it would have been hard to classify that as obscene. However during the hearings Klaw's material was linked to sex crimes perpetrated by teenagers. A result of the hearings was a law that made it illegal to transport pornography over state lines, which got the F.B.I. involved.

While waiting Bettie reflects on how she got there. In flashback we see Bettie's life play out. Born in Nashville, Tennessee. (Betty, "So poor that they lived on beans fried potatoes and macaroni.") The product of a broken home at age seven, with religious fanatics on her mothers side (Ann Dowd), and at age thirteen sexual abuse by a drunken father (Jack Gilpin). To quote Betty, "Father was a womanizer, of the worst sort a sex fiend" and accuses him of bestiality with chicken cows etc."

When her father was imprisoned for car theft, her mother ditched Bettie and her two sisters to an Protestant orphanage for a year. That rejection by her mom also had serious consequences on her mental health. When you are that young you can internalize quite a bit plaster it all over and appear quite normal on the outside but later, eventually, it will leak out and get expressed in unusual ways.

As a teenager she and her sisters did what most girls did in the thirties emulate the look and styles of movie stars, acting out parts of movies they've seen. She also learned how to sew and make her own clothes. No dummy, Page graduated as the salutatorian of her high school class, and later also successfully graduated from George Peabody College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1944.

She Married a local boy Billy Neal. They live with Billy's family. He gets abusive, he's a bit jealous that she is smarter than he is, and wants to be a teacher. (In the Foster book we learn that Billy's father also chimes in calling Bettie "college girl.") Billy gets his draft notice and at first is sent to the 63rd Infantry Base in Mississippi. Bettie enters a beauty contest and comes in second.

At this point the film script goes off the rails. It depicts Bettie getting getting gang raped by a bunch of hicks in Tennessee, then has her leaving for a hopefully better future in New York City. For the missing parts of the story type Noirsville  - The Notorius Betty Page (2005) in your browser.


Two years later the film picks up the  story it's 1949, Betty is working again as a secretary. She is walking on the beach at Coney Island and is approached by a camera buff and off duty N.Y.P.D. patrolman Jerry Tibbs (Kevin Carroll) . Jerry wants to take her picture, he gives her his card. He tells her that she'd make a great pin-up model. He makes a deal with her, that in exchange for letting him shoot her, he'd make her a professional portfolio for free. It was Tibbs who suggested that she cover her high forehead with bangs, her trademark look.
Her trademark bangs Bettie with Tibbs (Carroll) 
Soon Bettie, through Tibbs, was introduced to a Jamaican named Cass Carr a photographer who organized "camera clubs" around the New York-New Jersey Metropolitan Area. Carr lived in the basement of an off 5th Avenue building. He bought auctioned government surplus equipment and resold it to camera buffs. In the film Cass Car un-named is represented possibly by one of the characters listed in the credits as "Photographer." Camera Club shoots would cost photogs 5-10 dollars depending on where the shoot was.. Sometimes there were 30-40 members at these shoots. Bettie and the other gals got paid 25 dollars a day.

These clubs were underground organizations that allowed photographers and models to engage in artistic and erotic photo sessions that would be frowned upon or deemed taboo by conservatives,  uptight bluenoses, and church groups concerned with the demise of good taste and "moral decay." These "clubs" circumvented laws restricting the production of nude photos. These camera clubs existed supposedly to promote artistic photography, but in some cases they were merely the means to create erotica. One man's crap is another man's cannoli.  It's appropriate here to again quote Pablo Picasso  “Ah, good taste! What a dreadful thing! Taste is the enemy of creativeness.”
Both Bettie and the photographers used these camera club sessions for artistic self expression and self exploration. And these camera clubs were not limited to only amateurs, well known photographers  Weegee, Art Amsie, Arnold Kovacks, Don Baida, Robert Collins, Morris Glassman, Robert Stanton, Sam Menning and Gordon Parks attended the sessions. Bettie progressed from swimwear and lingerie to topless and finally fully nude posing, her lack of inhibitions was refreshing and soon she was in top demand.

In 1951 her first commercial work was for a series of  magazines published by Robert Harrison, Wink, Titter, Flirt, Beauty Parade, Dare, and Eyefull. She was 27 when she started modeling, but in print editors would say 22.
In 1952 Bettie answered a classified add for models placed by Movie Star News at 212 East 14th Street in Manhattan, a storefront mail order photo operation owned and operated by Irving (Chris Bauer) and Paula Klaw (Lili Taylor). The Klaws featured Pin-up, Bondage, Dominant, Submissive, and Masochistic depictions.

Paula (Lili Taylor) and Irving Klaw (Chris Bauer )

Bettie had a healthy attitude about the subject matter thinking it both harmless and silly. The Klaws catered to their fetishistic-ly bent clientele fulfilling "special" requests in ten minute 8mm and 16mm movie reels. None of these films featured nudity and the Klaws made doubly sure requiring their models to wear two pairs of panties so that no **** hair could be remotely seen. ****, sadism, and sex was a no-no in 1950s, any combination would make the material pornographic and illegal to sell via mail.

The film barely touches on Bettie's attempts at acting. It depicts her attending acting classes (Herbert Berghof Studio) and doing improve. It doesn't inform us that she did in fact get roles on TV (The United States Steel Hour and The Jackie Gleason Show) and Off-Broadway. She also acted and danced in Jerald Intator's Striporama (1953). Intrator also directed Satan In High Heels (1962) Bettie appeared in Varietease (1954) and Teaserama (1955) directed by Irving Klaw, a clip of this is featured in the closing credits. Her Klaw movies paid $150.

The film next touches on Bettie's photo sessions with Bunny Yeager who she met while on vacation in Miami in 1954, Yeager paid her five dollars an hour, and took about eight hundred pictures of Bettie. The film curiously changes to saturated color for the beach and "Jungle Bettie" photo sessions, it's suggested in other commentaries that the use of color represents the woman's gaze. Yeager sent the shots off to various magazines. Hugh Hefner of the then two year old Playboy chose one of these to use as the Playmate of the Month centerfold in the January 1955 issue. Bettie is winking at the camera, nude, wearing only a Santa hat holding an ornament and kneeling before a Christmas tree.

The film also leaves out Billy showing up unexpectedly in New York City and banging on the door of her apartment. She's inside but doesn't answer. Billy bangs hard enough to wake a neighbor. Billy gets into an altercation with Bettie's next door neighbor, pulls a knife and stabs him. The cops arrest him and send him back to Nashville.




Paula (Lili Taylor) and Irving Klaw


In the film we get two portends from both Yeager and another model that Bettie is approaching her use by date for a modeling career. When Yeager asks Bettie her age and she replies thirty-two, Bunny tells her not to tell anybody else that. On another occasion in a dressing room with one of Klaw's fetish models, the model asks Bettie what is she going to do when she gives up modeling, implying that they are both getting to the end of the road. Apparently the film wants to show that these two incidents were the triggers for Bettie deciding to quit the biz in 1957 while she was still on top.

The final film segment segues into showing Bettie post '57 living in what is supposed to be Key West, she's in a living room sitting on a couch watching TV with Armond Walterson (Alejandro Chabán) a man much younger than herself who she married in 1958.

The film is supposedly depicting Bettie, on New Years Eve, in the aftermath of an argument over whether or not they are going out dancing to celebrate. Armand wants to watch TV. Bettie gets up, walks out, (Bettie says she was in tears), the film depicts her strolling along the beach (actually it was one of Key Wests main drags) until she sees a lighted cross that belongs to an evangelical church where she has a "comes to Jesus" moment.

The end of the film is all happy, happy, joy, joy, showing Bettie beatifically handing out bible tracks to all the sinners of the world spreading the word.

So what was the purpose of telling the story they way they?  Did the director and writers have a message, an agenda? You tell me. The complete story is way, way Noir-er than this.

Gretchen Mol is great as Bettie Page though she should have had more of a Tenneesee accent, Chris Bauer and Lili Taylor do a believeable job.

Bettie's vanishing act had the same effect as Marilyn Monroe's death had upon her legacy. It built momentum over the years. She's a bonafied Icon. She's as famous as the Movie Stars she always wanted to emulate as a young girl, though she never took part in any of it directly.

The film is about a 7/10.

It was only the intermission....

For full film review and bio commentary with more screencaps and most definitely unexpurgated images type Noirsville The Notorius Bettie Page (2005) Quasi Bio Noir in your browser

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The Badge (2002) Goober Noir - Neo Orleans Noir -Christmas Noir

Taking a scene right out of one of John D. McDonald's Travis McGee novels, i.e., a naked woman runs out of the swamp directly into the path of Travis' truck Miss Agnes. To avoid hitting her, Travis turns the wheel and skids off the embankment into the canal that parallels the highway.

In the opening sequence of The Badge the truck is a semi. the "woman" is scantily clad and the driver lays the rig over, the semi slides off the slope coming to a stop on its side in a bayou.

Directed and written by Robby Henson, with some excellent cinematography by Irek Hartowicz and with music composed and performed by David Bergeaud and Otis Taylor. It's a nice Neo Noir with some interesting twists.

The principal goober and peckerwood contingent of the cast is comprised by Billy Bob Thornton (Tombstone (1993), Sling Blade (1996), A Gun, a Car, a Blonde (1997), U Turn (1997), A Simple Plan (1998) The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), Bad Santa (2003)) as Parish Sheriff Darl Hardwick, Ray McKinnon as Deputy C.B., Sela Ward (The Fugitive (1993) Westworld TV Series (2016– )) as Carla Hardwick, John "Spud" McConnell (Miller's Crossing (1990), Django Unchained (2012)) as Ornell, and Mark Krasnoff as Squeegee. There are more in minor rolls.

The rest of the cast has Patricia Arquette (True Romance (1993), Lost Highway(1997)) as Scarlet,  Thomas Haden Church (Tombstone (1993), Killer Joe (2011)) as David Hardwick, William Devane (McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971), Family Plot (1976)) as the Judge, Julie Hagerty (U Turn (1997)) as Sister Felicia, Marcus Lyle Brown(12 Years a Slave(2013),Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)) as Deputy Jackson, Tom Bower as Bull Hardwick, Hill Harper (NYPD Blue TV Series (1993–2005), CSI: NY  TV Series (2004)), Audrey Marie Anderson, Deana Carter, Michael Hitchcock as Luna, and Cyd Casados as Mona.

A boozer. A goober. Sheriff Darl Hardwick, has passed out in his pickup. He's parked ouside of some Mississippi River levee juke joint. He's woke, and goes into the bar. Gets the call about the wreck and heads out. There's shoes strewn all along the embankment and swamp.
Looks routine, he questions the driver, wants him to take a breath test. He calls one of his constituents who makes connections and as part of the "good ol' boy" network a swarm of locals show up to get a piece of the pie, and get the site cleaned up saving the parish money too boot. Ornell (McConnell) drives up with his wrecker to right the truck.

Sheriff Darl Hardwick (Billy BobThornton)

Darl's called to the edge of the cypress trees. The body of a woman has been found. The coroner is called. The body hauled off.

He has his crime scene photo man take a Polaroid picture of the body. He takes it and goes about the parish asking if anybody knows her. When Darl gets back to the office, he's called over to the coroners. Twist No 1. When he gets to the examination room he finds out that the she was a he. Actually the coroner explains that the deceased was a transexual. He also discovers that death came only an hour and a half ago from a .22 caliber bullet in the back, and that the victim was still alive while he was handing out shoes. Bummer.

Darl's ex wife Carla (Ward), the parish DA arrives. She chastises him for moving the body. His retort "it was a wreck" when he got there. A couple of hours later a woman named Scarlet (Arquette) arrives looking for a missing person fitting the description of the deceased. Darl thinks she's quite the looker and seeing as how he's been not gettin' any lately, he puts a bit of of a move on Scarlet in the office. He's asks a few questions and then takes her over to the morgue.

Scarlet breaks down seeing the body. It's Mona, she tells Darl. He's filling out a clipboard with paper work. Twist No.2. When Darl asks her relationship to the deceased Scarlet tell's him she's his wife.
Scarlet (Arquette)
So Scarlet make's Darl promise that he'll solve this murder and she drives back down to New Orleans. Being as weird as it is the county powers that be aren't in any kind of mood to commit a lot of time and resources to the case. They figure that Darl's just the man for the job.

Another minor crisis arrives when Darl's crazy drunk father starts running around shooting up things dressed in a Native American headress. He used to be the sheriff until the Judge (Devane) stripped him of the office. He threatens to shoot the Judge.

 When Darl's starts showing some ambition and initiative the county political machine decides to put Deputy Jackson (Brown) up for election for Sheriff rather than Darl. They further pay the under aged local town "pump" to frame him for having sex with a minor after the Parish Christmas party. He did  take her to his place since she had nowhere to go, but he slept on the couch.

He gets a call in the middle of the night from Scarlet, she gives him the phone number Mona called from before he/she was killed.

Darl gets arrested when he gets to the office, and is put in jail as a warning to back off. The Parish Machine is angry.

Darl gets out of jail grabs his gun and heads off on his own investigation to Noirsville/New Orleans to find out from Scarlet and Mona's friends and associates who were the last people to see Mona.

When he gets to the French Quarter he heads to his brother Davids Adult Video store. David (Church) is gay and runs the place with his partner Luna (Hitchcock). David tells him how to get to the club that Scarlet works at. Darl makes the connection, and with Scarlet as a sort of guide through sexual underworld, starts to solve the case.



The film's whole premise is the fish out of water reactions between the Darl the goober and the various weirdos of the kaleidoscopic sexual revolution. It's entertaining and a hoot in spots. Watch for Darl spying on Scarlet to see if she's packing sausage like her husband Mona. Or Ornell, who is a women's bathroom peeping tom masturbator, get an eyeful, up close and personal, of p*e*c*k*e*r instead of his customary p*u*s*s*y.

I guess it gives a whole new meaning to the anti transgender hysteria. Where are deviants gonna drill their potty peepholes safely. 7/10.

More Screen caps from the 2004 DVD in Noirsville.
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City That Never Sleeps (1953) started out promisingly, and then became enamored by its own style.  There was plenty of flat dialogue that should have been left on the cutting room floor.  And the final chase scene dragged out, losing energy, becoming anticlimactic.  Nonetheless, there was beautiful black & white photography of Chicago at night, with notable performances by Edward Arnold as a crooked lawyer, and William Talman as a murderous blackmailer. Mala Powers, playing an exotic dancer, also gave a sympathetic portrayal. Gig Young as the conflicted policeman was okay, but his character lacked inner turmoil.

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Warm Nights On A Slow Moving Train (1988) Aussie Railway Noir -Christmas Noir

"She's a railroad lady
Just a little bit shady
Spending her days on a train
She's the semi good looker
But the fast rails they took her
Now she's trying just trying
To get home again"(Willie Nelson)

Directed by Bob Ellis and also written by him along with Patric Juillet, and Denny Lawrence. The interesting cinematography was by Yuri Sokol, music was by Peter Sullivan. The film was shot around Goulburn, and Sydney in New South Wales, and in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It reminded me a lot of The Narrow Margin.

The film stars Wendy Hughes (My Brilliant Career(1979)) as Jenny Nicholson aka. The Girl, Colin Friels (Dark City (1998) as The Man, Norman Kaye as The Salesman, John Clayton as The Football Coach, Rod Zuanic as The Young Soldier, Lewis Fitz-Gerald as Jenny's brother Brian, Peter Whitford as The Steward.

The tale of a "railroad lady" a woman who, on the weekends, moonlights as a professional prostitute. She trolls the lounge car for lonely men on the overnight train, the Sydney/Melbourne/Sydney Express. Called the "Sex" or "Mex express. It's a seventeen car train and a twelve hour journey in each direction.
Jenny (Wendy Hughes)
During the week she's a demure Catholic girls school art teacher. She is justifying her seedy second occupation by using the jack to buy her paraplegic junkie brother the morphine he needs for his habit. He is sort of a latent de facto pimp.
All her encounters are juxtaposed with haunting shots of the train stabbing through the lonely darkness. A metaphor for lost souls searching the dark eternity for fleeting moments of intimacy.
She enters the lounge car like a shark looking for tricks she knows how to scope out the troubled  lonely ones, and how to maneuver in close, and how to make them desire her.

Jenny's a good listener, and instinctively knows what to say to encourage and comfort. Before she was a teacher she was for a brief period a nurse and that experience informs her almost therapeutic effect on her johns.

She has the Judy Garland Suite reserved for her assignations. Chameleon like she changes her looks  with different clothes, various wigs, and makeup, and accessories.
"I do this for money"
First customer is a famous football coach. He writes a newspaper column, but he has just gotten fired. He has some low self esteem and a persecution complex. They chat in the lounge until Jenny suggests that they go to her suite. The coach agrees eagerly. In the dark corridor she stops and matter of fact-ly whispers that this is going to cost him. She charges him $250, they do the horizontal mamba, and when his time is up she drops the friendly facade and kicks him out. The next morning in the dining car she ignores him and his attempts to make conversation. It was just business.
On the return trip she has a different look, that of a much younger woman. A real flirtatious cutie. She picks up a young soldier. He's smitten with her, wants to marry her. When he tries to stay past her 3AM cut off time she demands that he leave. He does, but after some difficulty. He again tries to talk with her at breakfast, and to accost her on the platform. She calls the authorities.
Another weekend. Her next client is a retired salesman. She is a redhead on this rail trip. He comes on to her when he approaches her in the club car.
Salesman: Are you going all the way?
Jenny: I usually do.
She charges the salesman $200 listens to his problems and gives him a roll.

On her next tip there is a Christmas Party and her client that night is a preacher. Throughout all these encounters we have seen in short glimpses a handsome man giving Jenny the eye, watching her in sort of peek-a-boo sequences.  After the second incident we get the first impression that he may be a railroad detective or some other type of cop. She appears to break with her usual cold professionalism, and seems excited by his attentions. Jenny is inside a woman with needs after all. Jenny begins to look for him.

One night he's waiting for her outside the Judy Garland suite. They make love as lovers. Jenny gives in to temptation, lets herself go and finds herself falling in love with him.

They meet again on the return trip and repeat their lovemaking. Jenny tells him about her brother and why she is doing what she is doing. However when the train gets to the terminal and they go their separate ways, Jenny watches as the man is met by a woman in a Mercedes. He drives off with her, Jenny is jealous.

Jenny's back on routine by the next weekend. Her next client is a musician. It's the same M.O. chat them up, tell 'em it's going to cost 'em, screw, and then out.

Here, after his session, we find out the reason she cuts everyone off at three o'clock. The head steward (Peter Whitford) shows up at 3:00 to check on her and to get his cut of the action. He most probably spreads it around to the rest of the lounge crew to keep things running smoothly. The steward also sleeps in the pull down top bunk in the Judy Garland Suite along with Jenny. We find out he's gay and that even he uses Jenny as a confessor. He tells his latest love problems with his partner to Jenny.

Another weekend. Jenny in the lounge car her gaze wanders looking more for the handsome stranger, rather than for tricks. She spots him.

He tells her they need to talk. She meets with him back at the suite. Though this time he acts differently. Business like, he makes her a proposition, $50, 000 down and $800,000  afterward to kill a politician. She gets him in the sack, uses an instantaneous poison concealed in a fake fingernail. It will look like a heart attack. They will take compromising pictures "in flagrante delicto," and ruin his political machine.

She'll be set for life, her bother would be taken care of 24/7. He tells her also that she can see him as much as she wants. When she hesitates he tells her that the politician will be killed anyway and she'll be booked for prostitution and drug charges.

Will she do it?





The film is well acted. All the characters are believable. The little vignettes are telling and introspective.


The film was greatly shortened by producer Ross Dimsey.  According to the director Ellis:

"It was one of the best scripts I've ever written. We made the grave error of agreeing to let Dimsey produce it and then the worse error of moving the whole thing to Melbourne. So I was away from home. And there was this whole 10 BA set-up with shifty lawyers who, I didn't know, had kind of agreed to fire me at a certain point if I fulfilled certain expectations. Which I didn't. But I got fired quite late in the day and then 64 laughs, by my count, were removed. It wasn't meant to be funny, but it was a viable experience. I had Yuri Sokol shooting it. He's a wonderful cameraman but he's an awful bastard and he would sometimes light with candles... It was a nasty experience, as nasty as I've experienced. So it really ditched me as a director. Because it would have been - had my cut, which fortunately several people like Al Finney and Bob Weiss saw and said it would have been the best Australian film - had my cut survived and been shown (but it was burnt with our house), I would have then had a directing career not unlike that of, say, Simon Wincer where I would have had some credibility overseas and so on." (from Wiki)

I've also read that in the directors cut an attempt was made to have each of Jenny's john's represent a different type of Australian man. Don't know how many were cut out. The film is quite good in this cut, one wonders how much better it could have been. 7-8/10  Full review with more screen caps here: Noirsville

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20,000 Eyes (1961) Jewel Caper/Tail Fin Noir

Never heard of this film before. A definite "C" Noir.

"The lights of the City are its eyes... Ever watchful... Ever curious... Ever ready to betray the secrets of the night."

There are probably a few more of them out there because one, they don't fit into the established, though quite arbitrary, parameters, and two, they are invisible, never shown anywhere anymore. Noir for Neophytes or for those that learn subjects by rote usually shoehorn Film Noir into a roughly 1940 to 1959 time frame. Visual evidence points to a much larger interval(s).

On one hand you can define Film Noir as dealing in dark subject matter, being shot in Black & White, filmed in a certain visual style that emphasized claustrophobia, entrapment, with a world spiraling under control with characters that are usually alienated and obsessed. This would stretch the Noir time frame from the French Poetic Realist films of the mid 1930s to the end of Black & White film production in 1967-8.  A time stretch of over thirty years.

On the other hand you can say Film Noir includes all of the above plus the Color Film Noirs starting with Leaver Her To Heaven (1945), with virtually no difference between the two aside from being shot in color, no difference that is until the demise of the Motion Picture Production Code, when formerly taboo subject matter and story lines could be exploited and began to slowly change Classic Film Noir into what we now call Neo Noir, which are continuing to be made to the present. A time stretch of eighty plus years and counting.

Directed, in supposedly six days, by Jack Leewood who is mainly known for producing films (27 credits). The film was written by Jack W. Thomas (Lone Texan (1959)) whose last credit was for Embryo (1976). The cinematography was by Brydon Baker who lensed a few low budget Crime and Noirs (Walk the Dark Street (1956), **** (1956), Scandal Incorporated (1956), a lot of Oaters, some SyFy (Return of the Fly (1959)), Horror and TV). The music was by Albert Glasser.
Dan Warren (Gene Nelson)
The film stars Gene Nelson (who has a great role playing ex con Steve Lacey in Crime Wave(1953), The Atomic Man (1955), Oklahoma! (1955)) as Dan Warren, the mostly TV actress Merry Anders (The Hypnotic Eye (1960)) as Karen Walker, James Brown who did a lot of Westerns, War films, and Noirs (The Big Fix (1947), Missing Women (1951))  along with a long career in TV,  as Jerry Manning, Austrian born John Banner (The Fallen Sparrow (1943), and for his memorable portrayal as Sergeant Schultz in Hogan's Heroes TV Series (1965–1971)) as Kurt Novak. Paul Maxey (Shed No Tears (1948), All the King's Men (1949), Highway 301 (1950), The Narrow Margin (1952), The Big Heat (1953), City of Shadows (1955)) "nobody loves a fat man," plays an insurer.
Karen Walker (Merry Anders) and Dan

Dan (Nelson) is a sort of investment advisor/mine promoter. He's been pushing a South American diamond mine he's partners in with Jerry Manning (Brown) an old fellow Korean War pilot buddy of his. He's been funneling a lot of other people's money into the venture. One of them is mobster Kurt Novak (Banner). Novak wants his money $100,000. Dan figures he can promote the mine with samples that Jerry brings back and raise the money to pay back Novak. But Novak wants his money out immediately. Dan stalls him. Novak is **** off but gives him five days to get his money. For collateral Novak makes Dan take out a life insurance policy with the beneficiary being Novak in case of death, this way Novak will get his money even if he has to kill Dan to get it.
Dan with Kurt Novak (John Banner)

Meanwhile Dan has been two timing Jerry. Dan and his secretary Karen (Walker), Jerry's girlfriend,  have become an item since Jerry has been away in South America.

Scrambling for money, Dan come up with an ingenious idea to steal some uncut diamonds, in an overnight burglary, out of The Los Angeles County Historical and Art Museum, replace them temporarily with the low grade but similar looking sample from his and Jerry's mine. Which he has stored in a safety deposit box at his bank. He then arranges with the bank manager and an insurance company to have the museum display diamond sample appraised at the bank before opening hours, and insured as the mining sample from his and Jerry's mine.

Just after the insurance papers are signed. Jerry, with a stocking covering his face and brandishing a revolver, forces his way into the bank behind Karen, let in by the bank manager. She, as preplanned,  is coming to meet Dan. Jerry pulls out a pillow case and  makes a show of having the bank manager filling it up with money from the vault. Jerry then notices the diamond sample on the table and also grabs them. Dan, as preplanned, makes a lunge at Jerry, grabs the pillowcase full of money, and a shot goes off grazing Dan's arm. Jerry runs out of the bank with the museum diamonds. Dan looks like a hero. After Jerry and Karen are done with questioning by the police they head to a rendezvous with Jerry who passes the museum diamonds back to Dan. Dan then goes back to the museum right after it opens and it is relatively empty, and he quickly replaces the mining sample with the real museum display before it gets too crowded.

Everything goes Noirsville when Dan finds out that the insurance won't pay off for sixty days.

Tail Fins


A low budget "tail finner" lots of cool shots of Dan's 1961 Chrysler New Yorker zooming around Los Angeles like a small jet plane.

The film moves along at a good pace and is entertaining enough. It's nice to see Nelson in another Noir, Banner in a villain role and Maxey is a bonus. Screen caps are from a streaming site, could use a restoration somewhere down the line. 6/10. 

Full review with more screen caps at Noirsville

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The Scarf (1951) Mojave Noir

Wow, what a good print will do for a quirky little film.

I watched it the first time years ago on a YouTube upload of a multi generation print. A restored print does wonders. I really enjoyed the film this go around. It's a pristine print from another streaming service. The print has a TCM logo BTW.

The maybe "Poverty Row" or similar low budget, Gloria Productions film, was regardless, competently directed by Ewald André Dupont or E.A. Dupont (Variety (1925)), who started  directing in Germany in 1917. Dupont became a respected exponent of the German expressionist movement, gaining early recognition. He was a part of the exodus of German emigre writers, directors, producers, actors, composers etc., etc., who fled the Nazis before WWII.

Except for one or two successes Dupont was never able to achieve the lofty heights of a Robert Siodmak, Fritz Lang, Otto Preminger, or Billy Wilder. Dupont was on the rungs below Edgar G. Ulmer, I never heard of him, he's among the likes of Gustav Machaty, John Reinhardt and Curtis Bernhardt, who?

The writing credits go to Dupont for the screenplay and Isadore Goldsmith and E.A. Rolfe for the original story idea.

The beautiful chiaroscuro images are the work of cinematographer  Franz Planer (The Face Behind the Mask (1941), The  Chase (1946),  Criss Cross (1949), 711 Ocean Drive(1950), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), 99 River Street (1953), The Long Wait (1954) and for Marilyn Monroe's last uncompleted film Something's Got to Give (1962)). The Music was by Johnny Mercer (Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)).

The film stars John Ireland (five Classic Film Noir and Neo Noir Farewell My Lovely (1975)) as John Howard Barrington, Mercedes McCambridge (All the King's Men (1949), Lightning Strikes Twice (1951) Touch of Evil (1958)) as Connie Carter, James Barton as Ezra "Cactus" Thompson, Emlyn Williams as Dr. David Dunbar, Lloyd Gough as Asylum Dr. Gordon, Basil Ruysdael as Cyrus Barrington John's father, and David Wolfe (three Classic Film Noir) as South Main St. Los Angeles Bar owner, Level Louie.

The Alcanta mental hospital somewhere 250 miles from L.A., out in the Mojave Desert. A patient, John Barrington (Ireland), goes over the wall, covers ten miles of desert and collapses at daylight in a turkey farm owned by Cactus Thompson (Barton), I've seen him in countless Westerns.

Chiaroscuro -  John (Ireland)
Cactus: Before a bullet, all men are equal, like in the Constitution.
"Cactus" Thompson (Barton)

John had been confined for the strangulation killing of a girl friend, but he doesn't remember doing it. How can he admit his guilt if he doesn't remember doing it? Thompson, a classic desert rat, a sage of the sagebrush, is skeptical at first but eventually believes his story.

Cactus: I came here fifteen years ago to be by myself. Haven't got a mirror in the place. Even my own reflection's too much company. Let me tell you something, you're either a fool, or you're bats. Does the word 'bats' means anything to you outside of baseball?

John starts to work the turkey farm for Thompson, who is beginning to slow down with old age. On a trip to town to the feed store John picks up a hitchhiking woman named Connie Carter (McCambridge) who actually doesn't look too bad in this film.


Its a cute meet with Connie expecting an inquisition, a pass, or to get pawed by John, with John just ignoring her completely as if she wasn't there.

Connie: I'm not a lily.......

Here, if it was a modern film you'd expect John to hit the hooks roll out the bed roll and do the horizontal mambo with Connie. However its the Code era, and we jump cut to the below scene, lol.

Connie must be wondering whats up since "code wise" they been laying there looking at the sky for hours. When Connie gets a little chilled she puts on her scarf which triggers a memory in John.

The scarf, he remembers David his "best friend" and this memory sends him on a search for David Dunbar (Williams), who had witnessed the murder and who's testimony sent Ireland to the mental hospital.

It all goes Noirsville when John visits David and  David calls John's father who calls the police who then recapture him.

Connie (McCambridge) the singing waitress at Level Louie's

Watch for the interesting philosophical dialog between Cactus and John, and then later between Cactus and the authorities looking for John. The cute meet of Connie and John, and for the lounge lizards in The Silver Saddle. I was actually impressed with McCambridge in this, she plays an average looking woman who is scratching out an honest living.

There is a nice surreal sequence. Connie is the cause of a bar fight and is ordered to leave town by the sheriff. While sitting in the bus station waiting for the Los Angeles bound bus, Connie sees a wanted poster for John with a $5,000 reward on his head. When Connie heads out to get on the bus she glances down the street spying the neon sign flashing Sheriff's Office change to $5,000. Tempting.

Born in Vancouver B.C., and raised in New York City, Ireland's first acting job was in a carnival, convincing an audience that the dead octopus he was wrestling was alive. From there he graduated to Shakespeare, sounds about right. He never did achieve the top tier but kept busy with a long career.

In 1950, just before making this film, at 34 years old, McCambridge married Canadian Fletcher Markle. Her career sort of derailed because of alcoholism. She often was hospitalized after heavy drinking benders. She and Markle divorced in 1962, after twelve years of marriage. Finally in 1969, after years with Alcoholics Anonymous, she achieved sobriety.

Enjoyable film though a bit rushed at the end. 7/10 Full review with more screen caps here Noirsville

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Wanda (1970) Woman's Noir, Road Noir

Barbara Loden wrote, directed and starred, in Wanda.

This is no fairy godmother story. Wanda is not pretty picture. She's a total mess. It's about a woman who has given up on everything, on her husband, her children, and life. She's an alcoholic. She's an alienated loser. She sleeps on the couch at her sisters house. Is she mildly ****?

She bums money from her barely scratching by father who is reduced to picking through slag piles for chunks of coal that he can sell. She's late for her custody hearing at divorce court. She tells the judge she doesn't want her kids and that they'd be better off with her husband. A depressing tale set in the disintegrating communities in the coal mining country of Pennsylvania.

The cinematography was by Nicholas T. Proferes. The rest of the cast consists of Michael Higgins (Terror In The City (1970), The Conversation (1974), Angel Heart (1987)) as Norman Dennis, Frank Jourdano as The soldier, Valerie Manches as The girl in the roadhouse, Dorothy Shupenes as Wanda's sister, Peter Shupenes as Wanda's brother-in-law, Jerome Thier as Wanda's husband, Marian Thier as Miss Godek, Anthony Rotell as Tony, and M. L. Kennedy as the Judge.
Wanda (Loden)
Wanda can't find work as a seamstress at the local clothing factory because she's too slow. She spends her time in the local dive bars sipping on beers. She gets picked up by a traveling salesman looking to get his noodle wet. He takes her to a motel. In the morning he silently tries to slip out on her. he bumps against a suitcase stand.  Naked, Wanda wakes up, gets quickly dressed, and hops in his car. He whisks her out of Carbondale.

At a soft ice cream stand the salesman speeds off ditching Wanda as soon as she gets out of the car. With barely any money Wanda buys a movie ticket and dozes off in the theater. She is awakened by the cleaning man at closing. She discovers that she was robbed of what little money she had in her sleep.

Wandering around the streets she enters a bar at closing time, she has to use the john. There she meets Norman Dennis (Higgins) who she thinks is the bartender but is really a petty thief.

Norman, just before Wanda walked in, conked the real bartender over the head. The barkeep is laying out of sight behind the bar. Norman is robbing the cash register. When Wanda comes out of the john she asks for a beer. Norman serves it to her. She fancies him. Another wrong direction. When done he takes her with him out of the bar and on the run.
Dennis Norman (Higgins)
Wanda is extremely pliant and Norman is creepily abusive. A good match for trouble. Wanda and Norman go on a low key spree, boosting items of clothing from unlocked vehicles. Hot wiring cars, etc., etc. Things go Noirsville when Norman decides to go big time with his "partner" and cooks up scheme to rob a bank using a fake bomb and the bank president's family as hostages.


The film is a nice snapshot of 1970 Carbondale and Scranton, Pennsylvania that is not ever going to appear on any tourist postcards. The movie was shot on 16mm stock, using a budget of about $100,000 with a crew of four: Loden, cinematographer and editor  Nicholas Proferes, Lars Hedman for lighting and sound, and production assistant Christopher Cromin.

Barbara Loden died young and who knows what else she would have accomplished. At the 31st Venice International Film Festival, Wanda won the International Critics' Prize for Best Film. Noir light 7/10. Full review with more screen caps here: Noirsville
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Man In the Dark (1953) 3D Noir

This was the first stereoscopic 3-D feature ever released by a major American studio, Columbia Pictures.

Directed by Lew Landers (Crime, Inc. (1945), Danger Street (1947), Inner Sanctum (1948)) the film is a remake of the 1936 Ralph Bellamy crime film The Man Who Lived Twice (1936). The adaptation was by William Sackhein the screenplay was re written by George Bricker and Jack Leonard from the story by Tom Van Dycke and Henry Altimus. The cinematography was by Floyd Crosby (High Noon (1952), Attack of the Crab Monsters(1957), The Cry Baby Killer (1958), I Mobster (1959), Night Tide (1961)).  The music was by Ross DiMaggio, musical director, and the Music Department.
The film stars Edmond O'Brien (eleven Classic Noir) as Steve Rawley, Audrey Totter (eight Classic Noir) as Peg Benedict, Ted de Corsia (six Classic Noir) as Lefty, Horace McMahon (Blackboard Jungle (1955), and Naked City TV Series (1958–1963)) as Arnie, Nick Dennis (Sirocco (1951), A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), and Kiss Me Deadly (1955)) as Cookie, Dayton Lummis (four Classic Film Noir) as Dr. Marston, and Dan Riss (nine Classic Film Noir) as Jawald.  

No way was I going to be able watch this in 3D on my home screen.  Incidentally, it worked just fine in 2D. However, even without it's 3D technique, Man In The Dark with the majority of it's cast so well steeped in Classic Film Noir can definitely be considered your basic a "meat and potato" Noir. Its has it all, the cinematic memory, your classic amnesia story, this time with a medically induced twist, the forgotten cache of stolen loot, the skirt with change of heart, the iconic denouement with a roller-coaster, and all done 70 minutes.

Steve Rawley (O'Brien) is in stir. Doing a dime. Christmas Eve Armed Robbery. Armored car payroll. He was carrying the loot. The swag, never recovered. He stashed it right before he got caught. His gang Lefty (de Corsia), Arnie (McMahon), and Cookie (Dennis) want it. Steve's gal pal Peg (Totter) wants him out.
Steve (O'Brien)
Peg (Totter)
Left to right, Lefty (de Corsia), Steve, Cookie (Dennis), and Arnie (McMahon)

Steve agrees to an experimental procedure developed by Dr. Marsden (Dayton Lummis). The guinea pig gets immediate parole. It sounds awfully close to a lobotomy. Steve emerges from surgery happy gentle but also with amnesia. He doesn't remember who he is, what he did or more importantly, to an insurance company rep Jawald (Dan Riss). what he did with the un-recovered $130,000.
the operation 3D
His gang also wants the moola. Everyone, except his doctor, believes Steve is faking.

Steve's blissful existence of gardening and oil painting is suddenly shattered when Lefty, Arnie, and Cookie kidnap Steve out of the institution.

They hole up at an apartment near Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica. They want their money. When the gang recounts to Steve the details of their daring daylight robbery we see it in flashback. Their hopes are dashed when Steve still tells them that he doesn't know anything, he's a man in the dark. Peg gets Steve alone, she tells him to give up his act and they can split with all the cash. she gets friendly he's unresponsive. Steve doesn't recognize her.  Lefty begins to get tough and Steve is roughed up. He still cant tell what he doesn't know.

Peg begins to believe Steve. They both flee the apartment. Steve begins to have dreams. Fragments of his forgotten past begin to return. He remembers a post office, and the amusement pier. When they search his old apartment they find a piece of paper taped to the bottom of a drawer. On it are four numbers. Is it a combination, a deposit box, an apartment?  It's Noirsville.

3D cigar to the eye threat
3D gun effect



The film is a neat little time waster, all the principles have been in better Noirs but this one delivers what it promised. Worth a look, and a even a purchase for the  whip dream sequence and Pacific Ocean Park, High Boy (Sea Serpent) roller coaster denouement, screen caps are from a TCM presentation. 6/10 Full review with more screen caps in Noirsville

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Live Fast, Die Young (1958) Tail Fin Noir

I was expecting low budget junk but the film was surprisingly well made.

Directed by Actor Paul Henreid (who appeared in Now, Voyager (1942), Casablanca (1942), Hollow Triumph(1948), and Rope of Sand (1949), and directed A Woman's Devotion (1956), and Girls on the Loose(1958) a sort of thematic companion to this film, along with Dead Ringer (1964) and lots of 50s and 60s TV fare. The screenplay was written by Allen Rivkin and Ib Melchior, from a story by Ib Melchior and Edwin B. Watson. The Cinematography was by Philip H. Lathrop (Cry Tough(1959), Lonely Are The Brave (1962), The Americanization of Emily (1964), who continued to give us Neo Noirs, Experiment in Terror (1962), Point Blank(1967) and They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969).

The film stars Mary Murphy (The Turning Point(1952), The Wild One (1953), Hell's Island (1955)) as Kim Winters who also provides the voice over narration, Norma Eberhardt as Jill Winters her younger sister. Mike Connors (Sudden Fear(1952), Mannix TV Series (1967–1975)) as Rick, Sheridan Comerate as Jerry, Peggy Maley (The Wild One (1953), Human Desire (1954), The Brothers Rico (1957)) as Sue Hawkins, Troy Donahue (A Summer Place (1959)) as Artie Sanders, Carol Varga (Dyesebel (1953)) as Violet, Joan Marshall (Mike Hammer TV Series (1958–1959), Homicidal (1961) and played Wilma in The Twilight Zone (TV Series) episode - Dead Man's Shoes (1962)), as Judy Tobin, Gordon Jones who played Mike the Cop in The Abbott and Costello Show TV Series (1952–1957), as Pop Winters, Robert Karnes  (Road House (1948) and twelve other Classic Noir) as Tommy "Tubbs" Thompson, Robert Carson (three Classic Noir) as Frank Castellani, John Harmon (six Classic Noir) as Jake, a Hobo, and Norman Leavitt (four Classic Noir) as Sam, a hotel clerk.
Norma Winters (Eberhardt)  and Kim Winters (Murphy)
Kim (Murphy) and Norma Winters (Eberhardt) are two sisters living with their barely employed juicer of a father (Jones) in Hoboken, New Jersey. Kim has been employed as a waitress since her teens, supporting daddy and sissy, after mommy blew town with a traveling salesman. Norma, still in high school, is a wild child, chomping at the bit to cut loose.
Pop Winters (Jones)
Pop is always critical of Norma who is bored with school and lazy. After their last fight, Norma packs a bag steals $20 out of Kim's purse and splits. When she runs out of cash she tries to scam a flop house hotel manager into letting he work of a room. He lecherously agrees, telling her to start with his room. Once inside he tries to get really friendly. Norma is rescued by a B-Girl Sue Hawkins who lets her bunk with her. Sue takes Norma to a local dive bar where she learns to roll drunks for their money and valuables.

Setting off on her own Norma with her new found talent rolls drunks all the way to the West coast. Meanwhile Kim leaves Pop, and heads out tracking Norma down.
B-Girls, Violet (Varga )and Sue Hawkins
In Nevada Norma makes a killing with a guy who had a gold watch, $2000 in cash and owned a new Cadillac convertible. After hocking the watch, Norma takes off in the caddy for The City Of Angles with an introductory tip to a big fencing stolen goods operation.

Fencing a gold watch

In L.A, Norma is accepted into the gang and is in on a big jewelry heist. Kim arrives in L.A. finds Norma and convinces her to let her also join the gang, and it all goes Noirsville.



Caddy tail fins
tail fins
Another Beat Generation, juvenile delinquent Noir, but this one is sans most of the hip slang with hardly any references to the beats, but it does emphasize Norma's penchant for Jazz. It's all pretty "Code" tame and doesn't push any boundaries. Henreid does a good job of keeping the pace moving, though the ending seems a bit rushed. Could use a restoration. 6/10  Full review with more screen caps here Noirsville

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Der Fall (aka The Fall) (1972) Swiss Noir

A stylistic Swiss detective film.

Interestingly, I just recently watched Czech director Hugo Haas' The Pickup (1951). The majority of Hass's American Noir output was variations on a theme, that theme being the same one for director Josef von Sternberg's Blue Angel (1930), foolish, lonely old fuddy-duddy professor falls for floozy flirtatious dance hall stripper.

Der Fall is a Swiss version of the tale. This go round the man is Alfons Grendelmann (Walo Lüönd) a private detective, the girl Marsha (Katrin Buschor) is an underage **** who lives off her clients.

Alfons is an ex cop who quit the force when the case he unearthed of child molestation evidence among police officials, was squashed by the political forces that be. Alfons is now a fairly successful detective, he can make a living at his Grendelman Detective Agency.  He shares a sort of home/office in Oerlikon, the industrial North section of Zurich with Frl. Gretz (Annemarie Düringer). She operates a sort of one stop shop for anyone's office services. She does printing, typing, telephone answering and she is a freelance secretary. She answers Alphons' phone, takes messages. and sets up appointments. Fraulein Gertz has a secret crush on Alfons, she wants to be his Velda.
Alfons Grendelmann (Walo Lüönd)
His father Alphons Grendelmann Sr, (Max Knapp) is slowly dying. Alfons looks like a sad Walter Mathau with a walrus mustache. He doesn't seem to have any social life and he's totally oblivious to his secretary's subtle advances.
Frl. Gretz (Annemarie Düringer)
Waldo is particular about the cases he takes. For some would be clients he acts more like the detective philosopher and or adviser. For instance, when confronted with an agitated business man who has a irreplaceable employee who has been embezzling money he asks the man how much he is paying him. When he says 1500, Alfons tells him to pay him more since he's worth it, end of problem, and refuses to take the case.

Another potential woman client is complaining about a peeping tom, when Alfon's asks her why doesn't she close the window and shut the blinds, she replies but then, she argues, she wouldn't be able to tell if he's still there. He gives her a card of an old colleague, he tells her he's a nice man who wears a white coat and glasses and has a note pad.
In another situation a worried man named Kramer is sitting in Alfons' office when he returns from his preliminary scoping of Marsha. The man cradles his dog.

Alfons: Well?
Kramer: She wants to poison her. She's already tried it before. She didn't succeed then. She ate a little bit then vomited. We managed without a stomach pump.....  I saved her life. She's at it again I'm sure. At least it looks that way. I've already been to the police. They said that as long as nothing happens they can't do anything. That's what they said. Until murder is committed They can't do nothing.
Alfons: True
Kramer: What should I do? There's nobody but her in my life.
Alfons: Your dog? (to make sure he's hearing it right)
Kramer: Yes.
Alfons: It's your housemaid? OK, well what's her name?
Kramer: Sempa.
Alfons:The housemaid's name.
Kramer: She's from the agency Kagi.
Alfons:  I'll talk to people there.
Kramer: And if that doesn't help?
Alfons:  Give me your address. (He hands him a card) In the end there's the general public, The Newspapers and all.... People will do anything for a dog.
Kramer:  Well then.... many thanks.

It's one of those situations where you get the impression that the guy is maybe just totally nuts. It reminds you of the police station squad rooms where in the old Classic Policier Noirs, a very old woman with way too much makeup on comes in and complains that she has a masher after her. When the detective taking her statement questions her facts she claims that he is also mashing her. Or there is the guy that claims his wife is an alien. In the policiers they usually hustle the person out. Here Alfons will take his easy money. These little vignettes are well done.
Alfons is meticulous and professional. He takes copious notes. He's got dependable down and out-ers and stoolies who he passes cash to who help him with surveillance. He also flashes the green when he's questioning leads. Money loosens the tongue. He has a case where a wife is suspected of cheating Alfons discovers that she is moonlighting as a hooker in a **** house.

Another business man Herr Bleiber (Klaus Knuth) who doesn't want to be seen, intercepts him outside his office makes a date to meet in a movie theater to discuss a case. Marsha is a young Fraulein who is blackmailing him. He has had a continuing affair with her for two years. He has a good position and a family. He doesn't want a scandal. She wants 21,000 Swiss Franks, a 1,000 to keep quiet, and the rest for expenses to start a new life. Alfons bull **** him telling Bleiber that he usually doesn't take cases that deal with passion (to charge him more), or as Pat Chambers calls Hammer's work in Kiss Me Deadly, "bedroom dick" cases. He agrees to take the job.

He takes a taxi to Marsha's flat. He confronts her with going to the police, but gets nowhere, she tells him she's just 17, another case of an underage girl with an older man. His past returns. She tells him to tell Bleiber she wants her money.

Meanwhile Alfons takes on the additional case of a missing girl. Her parents are the seriously wound a bit too tight control freak types. The father is a Poindexter type neat-nik who micro arranges furniture and synchronizes his watch with every clock in his home. The tightly conservative Mother has hair severely pulled into a tight bun.

Their daughter has run away from home. They can't understand why she split, she has everything here. It's obvious why to Alfons. He takes their photos and their case. While searching the hangouts of Zurich for the runaway he runs into Marsha again. Alfons tells her she can have her money once she signs a statement. She propositions him with the key to the apartment Bleiber gave her.
Marsha (Katrin Buschor) propositions Alfons
The relationship that develops (skirting awfully close to the same trail that forced him to retire from the police force) sends Alfons slowly spirally into Noirsville.



Der Fall was Kurt Früh's last film. The music by Walter Baumgartner is a Spanish guitar, jazz, bongo paella. Watch for the wonderful six day bicycle race sequence, a series of short vignettes of the cyclists, their support personnel, the spectators, it functions much like the vignettes director Robert Wise filmed during the boxing match in The Set-Up (1949), and for the crap game in Delbert Mann's Mister Buddwing (1966). The excellent cinematography was by Eduard Winiger, Switzerland never looked so bleak and Noir-ish. It's a nice addition into the Neo Noir canon. 8/10

Full review with more screen caps at Noirsville


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Manhandled (1949) Screwball Noir

Another of the ensemble/quasi-comedy Noirs.

A small sub genre of  Noir, other films are Deadline at Dawn (1946), His Kind of Woman (1951), Shack Out On 101 (1955), and even Lady In The Lake (1946), has some of this quality, there are probably a few others lurking in the Classic Noirs. Neo Noir contenders are Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Seven Beauties (1977), The Late Show (1977) After Hours (1985), Down By Law (1986), Delicatessen (1991) and The Big Lebowski(1998).

Directed by Lewis R. Foster (Crashout (1955)).The screenplay was by Lewis R. Foster and Whitman Chambers and it is based on the 1945 novel The Man Who Stole a Dream by L. S. Goldsmith. The cinematography was by Ernest Laszlo (D.O.A. (1949), M (1951), The Steel Trap (1952), Kiss Me Deadly (1955))

There are two long running gags that go on throughout the film. The first is pretty much a sight gag concerning the brakes on police Detective Lt. Bill Dawson's (Art Smith) squad car. Every time they show up at various crime scenes they crash into different objects, the curb, a parked taxi, etc., etc. The second is the fact that insurance detective Joe Cooper (Sterling Hayden), is always one step ahead of the police detectives at every stage of the plot. These two jokes pretty much render the police into a bordering on Keystone Cops like looking force. Other lighthearted sequences are when Detective Lt. Bill Dawson (Art Smith) has phone conversations with his wife, a la Bob Newhart. It goes from a grocery list, to the topic of his daughter's piano lessons, where he tells the wife to "make sure she finishes" before he gets home. Another is where Dawson takes a sleeping pill, and then suddenly clues start popping and he's falling asleep. An example is in a Dry Cleaners where the clerk just assumes that Dawson is drunk, he's looking quite tipsy and she suggests to Cooper that he bring his friend home. It's dupe is a sequence at a Chinese laundry, and another with Dawson's underlings.

Merl Kramer (Dorothy Lamour)  
Joe Cooper (Sterling Hayden)

The story concerns a writer Alton Bennet (Alan Napier), who has a recurrent nightmare of killing his rich, wayward wife, by bludgeoning her repeatedly on the head with a quart bottle of perfume. He goes to a shrink Dr. Redmond (Harold Vermilyea) and relates all this to him and his secretary/transcriptionist Merl Kramer (Dorothy Lamour).

When Alton's wife is actually murdered in exactly the same way as described in the dream, of course Alton is immediately suspected. All her jewelry, insured for $100,000 also happens to be missing.
Karl Benson (Dan Duryea) is Merl's friendly downstairs neighbor.  It was Karl who got Merl the job with Dr. Redmond. Karl is an ex-cop who makes a living doing P.I. and collection work, bedroom dick type stuff, repos, bodyguard, small potato cases. Merl always fills Karl in on the crazy clients that show up for consultations with Dr. Redmond. Karl takes mental notes.
Karl Benson (Dan Duryea) The rat and his rat

While cleaning up her apartment Merl finds a signet ring in a chair cushion. A remnant from a previous tenant? She pawns it, pays off the lay-away on a coat she wanted, and is soon visited by both Joe Cooper and Detective Lt. Dawson. The ring was listed as among the various pieces stolen from Ruth Bennet (Irene Hervey). When the authorities do some more investigating they find that Merl's references from L.A. were forged and it goes somewhat Noirsville.


Manhandled stars Dorothy Lamour (Johnny Apollo (1940)) and well known for the numerous "Road Movies" with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, as Merl Kramer, Sterling Hayden (seven Classic Film Noir) as Joe Cooper, Dan Duryea (nine Classic Film Noir) as Karl Benson, Art Smith (five Classic Film Noir) as Detective Lt. Bill Dawson, Irene Hervey (Chicago Deadline (1949)) as Ruth/Mrs. Alton Bennet, Phillip Reed (The Tattered Dress (1957)) as Guy Bayard, Harold Vermilyea (The Big Clock (1948), Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), Alias Nick Beal (1949), Chicago Deadline (1949), Edge Of Doom (1950), Born To be Bad (1950) as Dr. Redmond, Alan Napier (five Classic Noir) as Alton Bennet, Keye Luke (three Classic Noir) as Chinese laundry man, Irene Hervey as Ruth Bennett, and Irving Bacon (three Classic Noir) as Sgt. Fayle.

This film isn't supposed to succeed very well as a hard core noir but more as light comedy. Manhandled swings a bit to far in the comedy direction for its own good. Deadline At Dawn handles the balance much better, it isn't quite as obvious. It does have some good moments though, and some twists.

Duryea is playing his expected sleazy, slimy, no account, and he does this well to perfection. It's worth a watch but not necessarily a purchase. Screen caps from a TCM presentation. Café au lait Noir 6/10 Full review with more screen caps here in Noitsville.
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The Big Empty (1997) The Intangible Detective

Directed by Jack Perez. Written by James McManus and Jack Perez. Cinematography by Shawn Maurer, Music was by Jean-Michel Michenaud.

The film stars James McManus as Private Detective Lloyd Meadows, Ellen Goldwasser as Jane Danforth, Pablo Bryant as Peter Danforth, H.M. Wynant as J.W. McCreedy and Lee Holmes as Scott.

Never heard of this film and actually, it just sort of popped up on my Netflix list by mistake. I thought I ordered The Big Empty (2003). This film is an interesting take on Noir.

Lloyd (McManus) is a waiter at a diner somewhere in L.A. While shopping at a grocery store for motor oil he witnesses his friend Scott (Holmes), who once told him was going to do big things with his life drop dead. All he ever made it to was grocery store clerk.

Then and there as Lloyd watches the EMT's wheel Scott to meat wagon he figures that it was Karma  that made him witness Scott's death and decides to change his life on the spot. He un-pins his "Hi my name is Lloyd" name tag from his polyester uniform and drops it on the sidewalk. We jump cut to him slipping a "Lloyd Meadows Private Detective" business card into his wallet. Hey it's Tinseltown. Its a riff on the old "go West young man/reinvent yourself" trope. Waiter to private dick. Hell what could go wrong?
Jane (Ellen Goldwasser)

He seems to make an OK go of it until he get's personally involved with a client. Jane (Goldwasser) suspects her care giver husband Peter (Bryant) of having an affair. When Lloyd gets the unexpected goods on Peter it all goes Noirsville when he stalls on handing over the evidence to Jane in order to both inject himself into her life and to blackmail Peter.

Lloyd (James McManus)
Peter (Bryant)


Its watchable and will click mostly for noir fans who will get the visual references. 7/10 Full review with more screen caps here Noirsville

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Touch Of Evil (1958) Welles' Tail Fin Noir Masterpiece

I've watched this film many times over the years.

With each viewing the film reveals either something new. or displays an interesting detail just not noticed before. Or you subconsciously noticed but then were overwhelmed by the cornucopia of other sensory delights. Or you did not appreciated then but now through the lens of time gained some significance in pondering. Sometimes I'll just fixate on one of the principals or upon the various minor characters.

If any of you reading this have not seen the film the following may contain <spoilers>

This go round I was intrigued by something that I had not consciously noticed before. During the famous one take three minutes and 20 seconds opening sequence, where Vargas (Heston) and his wife (Leigh) are walking along the main drag sort of parallel and in the same direction to the 1956 Chrysler New Yorker with the dynamite time bomb in it's trunk, there are also two somewhat dueling leitmotifs.

One is diegetic and comes blaring out of the doomed cars radio, there is another for Vargas and his wife which is non diegetic and just seems to hover about them. As each grouping in turn comes into visual prominence, their associated leitmotifs overcomes the other and dominates. Its a sort of aural fencing match.

 Tail Fins on a 1956 Chrysler New Yorker 
Of course, later on in the film there is also the diegetic pianola leitmotif for Tana and it consequently serves also as the aural signature for the lost love affair between Tana (Dietrich) and Hank (Welles). There may be others I've yet to notice.

Fank Quinlan (Orson Welles) follows the tinkling of Tana's pianola her leitmotif

Another interest that again grabbed my visual attention was the excellent noir stylistic cinematography, the shadows, the Dutch angles, the high and low angles, the interesting transitions, and linked camera movements. I even spotted a faux pas, a shot where it looks as if some of the set that Welles built was accidentally captured in the background.

A timely thought that crossed my mind in this seemingly getting more ridiculous PC age was of the actors that were portraying various ethnicities. Of course you have Carlton Heston portraying a Mexican in sort of brown-face. He's not stereotyping though, he's actually giving a serious performance of a respectable man. He does look a bit ridiculous. But he's acting a part. Of course in hindsight Welles should have cast say an "A" list actor of Mexican or Latino heritage. Anthony Quinn, Ricardo Montalban, Jose Ferrer, Glibert Roland, etc., etc., were around but maybe not available or not interested. But back then though nobody was thinking PC.

Akim Tamiroff a Russian of Armenian descent plays Mexican American gang leader Uncle Joe Grandi, he does a great job aided by a pencil thin mustache and an often askew toupee, he's a professional actor who has played many ethnicities over his C.V., a Pole, a Chinese, Italians, Greeks, Egyptians. Orson Welles himself has played Irish, Italian, Moorish, Mexican. Joseph Calleia (a four classic Film Noir veteran) has played Italians, Hispanics, and Native Americans. Marlene Dietrich has played of course German, but also Eurasian and French.

If you say that an actor can only play his own ethnicity that's obviously going to limit what parts he can play. Anthony Quinn a Mexican played besides Hispanics, Native Americans, Asians, White, a Greek in Zorba The Greek, Italians, Irish, Jewish, etc., etc. Frank Silvera a Black American has played Hispanics, an Italian Frank Rapallo in Killers Kiss, Polynesian and "white"/racially indeterminate parts. Eli Wallach a Polish Jew from Brooklyn portrayed Hispanics Calvera in The Magnificent Seven, and the Iconic Tuco a Mexican bandit in Sergio Leone's The Good The Bad And The Ugly. He also played an Italian G*u*i*d*o in The Misfits.

Actual Hispanics in the cast were Valentin de Vargas, Lalo Rios, Joe Basulto, Yolanda Bojorquez, Domenick Delgarde, Jennie Dias, Eleanor Dorado, and Ramón Rodríguez.

The tale that enfolds is quite prescient (with all the ongoing DNA exoneration's), that of a corrupt cop and his cronies who have planted evidence for years framing, convicting, and burning innocent men along with the guilty.

Finally I noticed all the tail fins on the vehicles......

Enjoy the visuals
Dist. Atty. Adair: An hour ago, Rudy Linnekar had this town in his pocket.
Coroner: Now you could strain him through a sieve.
20 Sizzling Strippers Club.... Frank: I want to see all of them.
Susan: You know what's wrong with you, Mr Grandi? You've being seeing too many gangster movies. Mike may be spoiling some of your fun.
'Uncle' Joe Grandi: Mike?
Susan: My husband, yeah! And if you're trying to scare me into calling him off, let me tell you something Mr. Grandi. I may be scared, but he wont be.
Pancho (Valentin de Vargas) and 'Uncle' Joe Grandi (Akin Tamiroff)
'Uncle' Joe Grandi: You just said it yourself. Somebody's reputation has got to be ruined. Why shouldn't it be Vargas'.

Mike Vargas (Carlton Heston)

Quinlan: Come on, read my future for me.
Tanya: You haven't got any.
Quinlan: Hmm? What do you mean?
Tanya: Your future's all used up.


Pete Menzies:  You're a killer.
Hank Quinlan: Partly. I'm a cop.
Pete Menzies: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Drunk and crazy as you must have been when you strangled him. I guess you were somehow thinking of your wife, the way she was strangled.
Hank Quinlan:  I'm always thinking of her, drunk or sober. What else is there to think about, except my job, my dirty job?
Pete Menzies: You didn't have to make it dirty.
Hank Quinlan:  I don't call it dirty. Look at the record, our record, partner. Huh?
Pete Menzies:  Sure, sure, sure.
Hank Quinlan:  Well? All those convictions.

Pete Menzies:  All these years you've been playing me for a sucker. Faking evidence.
Hank Quinlan: Aiding justice, partner.

Low Angle
High Angel Chiaroscuro

'Uncle' Joe Grandi: You got her undressed?
Girl Gang Member #1: Yeah. We have scattered our reefer stubs around.
'Uncle' Joe Grandi:  You kids didn't use none of that stuff yourself, huh?
Girl Gang Member #2: You think we're crazy?
'Uncle' Joe Grandi:  Nobody in the Grandi Family gets hooked. Understand? That's the rule.
Girl Gang Member #1:We blew the smoke at her clothes, that's all.
Girl Gang Member #2: Like you said, we put on a good show to scare her.
'Uncle' Joe Grandi:  Let's hope it was good enough.
Low Angle
One of the best, if not the greatest, of the Tail Fin Noirs. Full review with more screen caps in Noirsville
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Sweet Smell Of Success (1957) New York Tail Fin Noir

A Manhattan press agent Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) makes his doe by getting mentions of his various showbiz clients in a well read showbiz/society newspaper column. Sidney has his glass office door taped with a cardboard shingle proclaiming "Publicity Agent," he lives there also, it's over the Howard Photo Service off Times Square on 46th Street. Sidney scrapes by drumming up press for his clients and putting up a good front. He has a girl Friday Sally who mans the phones. He's no better than the other rats scurrying around on the subway tracks at Canal Street. He gets his cheese but he's got to be sleazy, greasy, and quick to catch the crumbs.
Sidney is cheap he goes without a hat or a top coat so that he doesn't have to check them in or leave a tip at the hat check. at the clubs he frequents.

Sidney's girlfriend is Elysian Room blond cigarette bimbo Rita (Barbara Nichols) who works for Frank D'Angelo (played by Noir Vet Sam Levine). Rita feeds Sidney dirt on the various clients she observes at the club.

The biggest mention he can get his clients is by J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster) is loosely based on Walter Winchell who was a sort of precursor to the radio talk show host, tabloid journalist and political columnists of today, all rolled into one. He had a lot of clout in the 1940s and 50s.
Sidney is on J.J.'s "drop dead list," he was assigned to break up a relationship between J.J.'s baby sister Susan (Susan Harrison) and a jazz guitar player Steve Dallas (Martin Milner), and he didn't deliver. In fact he's discovered that they are engaged. With this bit of news J.J. gives Sidney a second chance.
J. Simpson & Co, Pawnbrokers was at Broadway & 46th Street

Sidney tries to blackmail a rival columnist Leo Bartha (Lawrence Dobkin) about an affair he had with Rita. Sidney threatens to let his wife know. He wants to get a piece written about Dallas that claims he is a marijuana smoking communist. Bartha tells him off. Otis Elwell (David White) another columnist watches the confrontation and is thinking about writing about it. Sidney knows he's a bit of a **** hound so he bribes Otis by pimping Rita to him. Rita is up waiting for him for a late date up in his office apartment.
Sidney Falco (Tony Curtis) and J.J. Hunsecker (Burt Lancaster)


Rita (Barbara Nichols)

Otis apparently had a happy ending because the item about Dallas appears in the next days column. Dallas is subsequently let go from the Elysian Room. Sidney convinces J.J. to get Dallas re hired and save his reputation and use this as a ploy. Sidney knows that Dallas will not kowtow to J.J. and that he will look bad to Susan.

Dallas insults J.J. in public and Susan breaks up with him to protect Dallas from her brothers wrath. However megalomaniac J.J. feels that Dallas insulted not only him but also the 60,000 readers of his column. J.J. decides to ruin Dallas. He tells Sidney to plant some reefer on Dallas and then to rat him out to a buddy of J.J.'s the bent cop Lt. Harry Kello (Emile Meyer). Kello will rough him up and collar him.

Sidney begs off until J.J. tells Sidney that he can take over his column when he takes his vacation. Sidney bites and it all goes Noirsville.

Frank D' Angelo (Sam Levene) with Sidney
Lt. Harry Kello (Emile Meyer)

Manny Davis (Jay Adler ) far left


Times Square
Queensboro Bridge at 59th Street 

Made by Hecht-Hill-Lancaster Productions (Vera Cruz, Marty,) and released by United Artists. Directed by Alexander Mackendrick (The Ladykillers) Writing Credits Clifford Odets  (screenplay) and Ernest Lehman (screenplay), Ernest Lehman (novella), Alexander Mackendrick (uncredited). The New York Street Cinematography was by James Wong Howe. The Crime Jazz Music was by Elmer Bernstein and also the Chico Hamilton Quartet.

Great story great dialog and cinematography. Here's a rare Noir where nobody gets killed. 10/10 Full review with more screen caps here Noirsville.
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