cigarjoe

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.
 
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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.
 
 
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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.  

 

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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.

Noirsville
 
 
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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. 
 
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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.
 
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Gloria (Arlene Dahl)
 
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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.
 
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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.

Noirsville
 
 
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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.
 
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Christine and Janet (Cathie O'Donnell)
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
 
 
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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.

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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.

Noirsville
 
 
 
 
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<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

 
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.

Noirsville

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George Macready lt. with Marianne

 

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Marianne (Lamar)
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
 
 
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A French Quarter welcone to New Orleans 
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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!
 
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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.

Noirsville
 
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Bob ( Benigni)
 
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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

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

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.
 
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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.

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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.
 
 
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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.

 
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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.
 
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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.

Noirsville
 
 
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"You haven't tried everything."
 
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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

 
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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.
 
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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.
 
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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.
 
 
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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.

Noirsville
 
 
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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

<spoiler>

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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