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Recently watched Noir

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The Fugitive Kind (1960) Steamy Tail Fin Drama Noir

 
Directed by Sidney Lumet (12 Angry Men (1957), The Pawnbroker(1964), Serpico (1973),The Verdict(1982), Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007)) Written by Tennessee Williams and Meade Roberts.
Cinematography was by Oscar winner Boris Kaufman who shot Vigo's  L'Atalante (1934). He helped to introduce neo-realistic style to American films, notably  (On the Waterfront (1954), Baby Doll(1956), 12 Angry Men(1957), Splendor in the Grass (1961), and The Pawnbroker (1964)). Music was by Kenyon Hopkins who later provided the soundtrack for Mister Buddwing (1966). 
 
The film stars Marlon Brando as Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier, Joanne Woodward as Carol Cutrere
Anna Magnani as Lady Torrance, Maureen Stapleton as Vee Talbot, Victor Jory as Jabe Torrance.
R. G. Armstrong as Sheriff Jordan Talbot, John Baragrey as David Cutrere, Virgilia Chew as Nurse Porter, Ben Yaffee as "Dog" Hamma, Joe Brown Jr. as "Pee Wee" Binnings, Madame Spivy as Ruby Lightfoot, Sally Gracie as Dolly Hamma, Lucille Benson as Beulah Binnings, and Emory Richardson as Uncle Pleasant, the Conjure Man. 

 
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Marlon Brando as Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier
 
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Maureen Stapleton as Vee Talbot
 
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Joanne Woodward as Carol Cutrere
 
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Anna Magnani as Lady Torrance
 
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Victor Jory as Jabe Torrance
 
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R. G. Armstrong as Sheriff Jordan Talbot
 
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John Baragrey as David Cutrere

 

The Tennessee Williams play had two titles. Originally in 1940 called Battle Of Angels, it nose dived on Broadway. Perhaps the, end of The Great Depression/on the brink of WWII audience wasn't quite ready for such a dark film.  Then it reappeared in 1957 as Orpheus Descending.  

Williams wrote: "On the surface it was and still is the tale of a wild-spirited boy who wanders into a conventional community of the South and creates the commotion of a fox in a chicken coop. But beneath that now familiar surface it is a play about unanswered questions that haunt the hearts of people and the difference between continuing to ask them...and the acceptance of prescribed answers that are not answers at all." (Wikipedia)


The Story

 
Snakeskin aka Valentine Xavier is a guitar picking, home fatale, bad boy. He's a chick magnet. It's hinted at that he probably played the various dens of iniquity/whorehouses that flourished unofficially underground in New Orleans once the legal prostitution district of Storyville was closed down in 1917. He's also got apparently "something in his pants "wink-wink."  Whether or not it was part of his performance is never mentioned. The film opens with a prequel vignette of  Snakeskin being told to get his **** out of town. 
 
 
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Hitching his way out, Snakeskin is dropped off in a downpour and ends up in some drenched Southern ****-hole flyspeck. A high water rack pile of white trash flotsam. 

 
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There he meets Vee Talbot the wife of the local law-dog a gentle soul of a woman, who gives him shelter from the storm. She puts him up in a lockup that was just vacated by an escaped prisoner. While they converse you hear in the background the sound of hounds braying in the distance, then the final cornering of their prey and gunshots. 
 
 
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Chick magnet effect working, Vee is immediately attracted. Vee tells him that the general store down the street needs help. It's owned by Jabe and Lady Torrance. Jabe a bitter intolerant man, a kind of sweaty tyrant. He is slowly dying, spending most of his time ruling his eyrie like roost in the apartment above the store. 
 
Lady was the daughter of an Italian immigrant, a mandolin player and a lover of life, who started a rustic wine garden out in the sticks at the edge of town. He makes the mistake of selling wine to black folks which gets his wine garden burned out by the clan and himself roasted alive. Lady is a woman who was deflowered, impregnated, and discarded by the alcoholic, local rich plantation playboy, David Cutrere. Lady in permanent mourning always wears black.
 
Local daughter, "persona non grata," and sister of David is "round heels" nymphomaniac Carol Cutrere blows into town. 
Carol is also an alkie, it runs in the family. She "knows" Snakeskin from his infamous life in New Orleans and it's strongly hinted at that it's in the "biblical" sense. Here again, though the Motion Picture Production Code is beginning it's death spiral in 1960 all the innuendos are still heavily coded. 

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Watch Carol's very suggestive hands during her conversation with Snakeskin. Carol is instructed to get out of the county.

Carol's Hands

 
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Snakeskin removes his trademark jacket dons a square john blue suit and tie and transforms to Val. Val begins to work at the general store where he still  attracts high school girls who come in the the excuse to try on shoes. They like to flirt. Val works his magic on the bitter Lady. 
 
Lady begins to sweeten as her soul is stirred, like sugar in black coffee. She enjoys life again as Val "primes her pump." She and Val of course have a steamy affair, but this being 1960 all their assignations fade to black. 

 
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The Confectionery
Lady adds a confectionery onto the lot beside the general store. It visually represents a new beginning, all Christmas lights, baubles, wind chimes and tinsel. Its also symbolic of the new life stirring inside her as she is pregnant with Snakeskin's child. Of course Lady's happiness stokes Jabe's sadistic resentment and it all goes Noirsville.

Noirsville
 
 
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Most of the performances are brilliant or near so. Brando, Magnani, Stapelton, Jory, and Armstrong are spot on. With Jory being the most impressive. Woodward is stuck in what seems to be the Hollywood method acting standard crumbling "Southern Bell" mode, though she is a bonafide one from Georgia, it's a minor flaw.  Actually filmed in Milton, NY and the Gold Medal Studios, Bronx, New York City. Screen caps from Criterion screener. Full review with more screencaps at Noirsviie 7/10

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Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967) Twisted Soap Opera - Neo Noir

 
"There is a fort in the South where a few years ago a murder was committed."(Carson McCullers)

Directed by John Huston

Huston was one of the directors credited with creating one of the first noticed "American" Film Noir after WWII when a backlog of US Films hit Paris, The Maltese Falcon(1941). The other 1941 film curiously was the (in reality) much darker looking I Wake Up Screaming (1941) directed by  H. Bruce Humberstone ) it was a one off film, Humberstone never directed another Noir/

John Huston went on to make the classics, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Key Largo (1948), The Asphalt Jungle (1950), The Misfits (1961), and The Night of the Iguana(1964).

Written by Chapman Mortimer and Gladys Hill and based on Carson McCullers novel. The Cinematography was by Aldo Tonti (The Nights of Cabiria (1957)) and and uncredited Oswald Morris.

The film has seven major characters starring Marlon Brando as Major Weldon Penderton, Marlon Brando as Major Weldon Penderton, Brian Keith as Lt Colonel Morris Langdon, Julie Harris as Alison Langdon, Zorro David as Anacleto, Robert Forster as Private L. G. Williams, and Firebird the stallion.
 
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Robert Forster as L. G. Williams 
 
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Marlon Brando as Major Weldon Penderton
 
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Marlon Brando as Major Weldon Penderton
 
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Julie Harris as Alison Langdon
 
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Brian Keith as Lt Colonel Morris Langdon
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Zorro David as Anacleto
 
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Firebird
Pretty much right from the get go McCuller's script heads us right back into to that crumbling decadent south land of sexual ambiguity, fetid relationships, and moral swamps, sort of key words for the similar the works of James Leo Herlihy, William Inge, and Tennessee Williams.

Marlon Brando is Weldon Penderton an Army Post officer, who has the hots for a PFC L.G. Williams played by Robert Forster. Weldon  also has a personal "whack off" box where he keeps photographs of statues of naked Romans. He also keeps as a sort of trophy a silver spoon he purloined from some officers party way back when. Into the box also goes trash dropped by Williams as Penderton is so obsessed that he even follows him around at night as if he's a **** in heat. Penderton would probably be rolling around in his poop if he could.

Williams is no innocent either. An alienated country boy who is great with horses. He's a sort of a backwoods bumpkin from the bible belt whose parents told him that "wiminz" were evil.  His love of horses goes a bit outre when he starts galloping around in the nude and stops for impromptu sun baths in clearings.
 
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Penderton, his wife Leonora (Elizabeth Taylor) and Lt. Col. Morris Langdon (Brian Kieth) are out riding when they spot Williams doing his Laddie Godiva routine.

Leonora is an earthy horse woman, she really gets off on her riding. The way she controls her stallion is the way she controls Weldon, forcefully. She's not getting any obviously from Weldon who is afraid of her. He knows that she can probably kick the **** out of him. Taylor is thirty-five in this, but she looks a puffy forty-five, must be the boozing.

Taylor must have an affinity for horsey pictures. I'll admit she does look like she knows what she's doing. The rides are like a substitute for foreplay. Her brisk canters on her stallion Firebird stimulates her sex drive. Her partner in the illicit affair is Morris Langdon.

When they reach a secluded glade they wade into the bushes for some earthy au natural bare-assed **** caveman fashion rutting on the ground, Mother Natures first mattress.

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Foreplay on horses and then rutting in the woods
Permitted our imaginations we can only assume the most practical scenario and fantasize Leonora on all fours with Langdon mounting her doggy or better yet horsey style from the rear.

Langdon is an alcoholic  cheating husband who can't resist the over **** Leonora. He's married to Alison a frail, bookish, neurotic woman who, because of a recent miscarriage has some continuing metal problems. A past episode of depression had her using a pair of garden shears to snip off her now useless nipples.
 
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Other than that she gets along well with her effeminate Filipino houseboy Anacleto much to Morris' displeasure. He keeps mumbling about how he'd like to get him in the service and put him thought basic training. Anacleto dotes on Alison and he is her only real confidant. They chatter away, listen to music together, and also watercolor.

The bizarre ain't over yet. Williams we find out has more kinks. He sneaks out of the barracks at night and prowls around the officers housing. He progresses from peeping tom to pantie sniffer, targeting Leonora.
 
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peeping tom
One night Leonora and Langdon have an argument. Leonora is in what I'd guess is her favorite position on the carpet. On her hands and knees.

Weldon tells her that she looks disgusting and cheap. She begins to strip throwing clothing items at his face, taunting him, ending up nude in the middle of the room. Outside looking in the window, Williams is watching the show.
 
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Apparently that was enough to fixate his obsession on everything Leonora, eventually he later on spends whole nights just sniffing her clothes and watching her sleep.

Weldon in revenge takes out Firebird spurring him out for a ride. Weldon pushes the stallion just a bit too far and the horse bolts off at breakneck speed through low branches and brambles until Weldon gets thrown from the horse with his foot caught in the stirrup. He gets dragged a good long way before he can get loose. It's an exceptionally well done sequence of cinematography that barely ever gets mentioned and any still frames of it won't capture its ingenuity.

When Weldon finally catches up to the played out Firebird, He grabs a switch and viciously beats the stallion. Williams shows up (naked of course) and leads away the injured horse.

Later at Leonora's big shindig she confronts Weldon when she finds out what happened to Firebird. She takes a ridding crop to Weldon's face its a real party stopper.

Alison begins to go off the deep end when she imagines she sees someone sneaking repeatedly into the Penderton house at night. She thinks it's her husband.
 
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She goes over to tell Weldon. Who thinks she's crazy. So Alison goes upstairs to confront Langdon in Leonora's room and she finds Williams in pantie sniffing mode instead. She runs back to her house, while Williams skips back outside. When Weldon opens Leonora's bedroom door no one is there.
 
Back at her home Alison finds Langdon in his room and tells him that Leonora is two timing him also with an enlisted man. She tells Langdon that she wants a divorce. Of course they all now think Alison is certifiable. Langdon has her committed. Alison is soon dead (heart attack or suicide) and Anacleto vanishes. Langdon now begins to feel the loss. He is repulsed when Leonora, while going through Alison's personal effects, begins to come on to him.

Meanwhile Weldon's obsession with Williams continues. One night he sees Williams lurking about his house and he gets ready for what he thinks is the big rendezvous. It all goes Noisrville.

Noirsville
 
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Originally the film was released with a golden tint. A a sort of golden noir. Each scene, supposedly, was to contain stylistically one object normally colored. This tied into the films title which derived from houseboy's watercolor of a golden peacock in whose eye the world was a reflection. I've seen that print once, it's suggested of the monochrome ambiance Black and White. It worked for me. (See below)
 
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Its not a Noir of gritty cityscapes, or one of bleak desolate deserts. Its a film of the rural night, a shady neighborhood, a stable, a house of shadows and dark interiors both psychical and mental.

Most Noirs and Neo Noirs are usually Crime Genre films, but not all. During the Classic Era the Motion Picture Production Code had guardrails on Film Noir. On one side was the rail for violence, the other side for sex and other taboo subjects. With the demise of the code Film Noir lost it's guardrails and was allowed wander. It had the freedom to exploit whatever and go wherever it wanted to weaving off the usual highway and all over the psycho-sexual landscape. It's an adult noir.

Brando gives a bravura performance of a man going slowly to pieces as his whole world beings to shift. He's like a burnt marshmallow hard just on the outside, but a gooey mess on the inside. He's the complete opposite of testosterone laden Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.

Taylor is  still good, a bit past her use by date. She's not smoking hot. She's on her way to being a full figured woman. Though in reality both she and her potential prey are confined to the "pool" of the army base. I guess if you are the most desirable woman in that small pool it works. Julie Harris is surprisingly tolerable in this and quite believable. Brian Kieth is playing his usual gentle easy going persona. Forster doesn't have much to say and Firebird is an impressive part of the tale. More screencaps at Noirsville 7/10

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21 Days (1940) Early Brit café au lait Noir

 
Labeled as a British Film Noir. Filmed in 1937.

It's a pretty early entry sort of testing the waters for films to come. I'm attempting to catch up on both British and

Directed by Basil Dean ( who built Ealing Studios in 1930) He ran it until 1938.   The screenplay was written by Basil Dean and Graham Greene, and based on John Galsworthy's play The First and the Last. Music was by John Greenwood with Cinematography by Jan Stallich.

The film stars Vivien Leigh, Leslie Banks, Laurence Olivier, Robert Newton, Arthur Young and Francis L. Sullivan.

It's a sort of café au lait noir, it starts off dark. Larry (Olivier) and his gal pal Wanda (Leigh) are head over heels in love with each other. They meet for a date, grab the fixin's for an Italian dinner at a deli. When they reach Wanda's apartment house they see that her light is suspiciously on. When they open her apartment door a man Esme Percy is there. When Larry asks who he is the man replies "Ask my wife."

Nice opening twist.
 
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Vivien Leigh as Wanda
 
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Laurence Olivier as Larry
 
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The husband demands his wife Wanda's money. Larry confront's him. He pulls a knife. They struggle. The man goes down hitting his head on the hearth. He's dead.
 
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Esme Percy
Larry is distraught and goes to visit his brother Kieth who is a judge. Larry tells him the details and Kieth to avoid scandal tells him to get rid of the body.
 
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Leslie Banks as Kieth 


The Fight
 
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The knife
 
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The customary killed by fall on stone hearth....
 
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Larry sneaks him out of the apartment and dumps him in an archway leaning him up against an alcove.
 
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On his way back to Wanda's Larry meets a bum, a former preacher Asher, who "bums" a cigarette from Larry. They chat a few minutes then Larry takes off but Larry accidentally dropped his gloves. The bum notices them eventually and puts them on. The bum also later discovers the body and robs it of its ring and money
 
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Larry and Asher (Arthur Young)
Kieth instructs Larry to get ready to travel without Wanda. Wanda can follow later. Meanwhile the bobbies find the body and pick up the bum and accuse him of murder. The 21 days represents the number of days starting at the killing and including the trial of the bum.

Instead of splitting the country, Larry and Wand decide to stick around to makes sure an innocent man isn't convicted of the crime. Larry will confess if need be, but they feel that it most likely will not happen with the flimsy circumstantial evidence. 3/4 of the film is a light love story with Larry occasionally getting hallucinations of the innocent man.

Larry and Wanda try and make the most of their 21 days together, if that's all they have. They head to Kursaal (an amusement park) at Southend on the Sea, the London sort of the equivalent of New York's Coney Island. Apparently the way to go was by side wheeler steamboat. A sort of "party boat," where drinking was encouraged.
 
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Party Boat
 
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Good Times
 
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Roller Coaster
 
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The shots of fun at the park are juxtaposed with the severity of the trial of where Robert Newton (Kiss the Blood Off My Hands ) tries to defend Asher.

Noirsville
 
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<spoilers>  

Of course the ex padre is found guilty and sentenced to hang. Larry heads to the police station to confess to the accidental killing. However the bum has a convenient heart attack and dies of natural causes. Wanda hears the news and runs to intercept Larry reaching him after a dramatic chase right at a police station.

<end spoilers>

Vivien Leigh gives us a hint of her Blanche Dubois character to come. She made this film among a few others between Gone With The Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire and just beforeWaterloo Bridge. Olivier is kind of wiry, quite youthful, and a bit of a ham, compared to what most of us remember of the highlights of his film work in the fifties, sixties, and seventies. It's quite interesting to see the two of them acting as a couple together. Leigh's greatest "Drama" Noir for me is A Streetcar Named Desire. Leslie Banks I was not familiar with, but Francis L. Sullivan I knew from Night and The City.

What's interesting is if this was an American Noir, the MPPC would usually not allow Larry to get away so Scott-free. 6/10

21 Days, aka 21 Days Together is a part of  Great British Movies - Film Noir [DVD] [1940] along with Hunted, Sapphire, So Long At The Fair, and Turn the Key Softly.

PS - You'll need a third party converted region free DVD player to watch these in the U.S.
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11 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

Leslie Banks I was not familiar with, 

I'm surprised to see that you don't know Leslie Banks. He was a successful star in English films for a few decades. I like him best in The Most Dangerous Game (1932) as Count Zaroff, the prototypical aristocrat who likes to hunt people. He appeared with Olivier and Leigh in Fire Over England (1937). One of his last appearances was in Olivier's Henry V (1944), so the two must have liked working together.

Banks was a standout in the original The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), Sanders of the River (1935) alongside Paul Robeson, and Went the Day Well? (1944).

 

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8 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Banks was a standout in the original The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934)

You know, that's the only film mentioned that I've seen, and it's been awhile if I didn't recognize him.

The others no. Though I have seen Confessions of a Crazy Cat which was based on The Most Dangerous Game😎

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W*h*o*r*e (1991) H*o*o*k*e*r Reality Neo Noir

 
"I must be some use to somebody. I mean, there must be a reason for me, right?"
Appropriately W*h*o*r*e begins with streetwalker Liz (Theresa Russell) strutting her stuff, in a Madona-ish get up, at the entrance of a tunnel. It's not subliminal. Hookers. Streetwalkers. Prostitutes. Whores and a tunnel all got something in common, a hole. The typically unrestrained Ken Russell shoves it right in your face. Bravo!

The "tunnel" is a Classic Film Noir iconic location, one of The City Of Angels tunnels of "love." Specifically the 3rd St. Tunnel. It's also one of the few remaining artifacts of Bunker Hill, a long gone scenically sleazy rundown Los Angeles slum dating back to the turn of the last century. It was made up of Queen Anne mansions that were sheet rocked into retiree cribs, with neighborhood bars and businesses, along with residence hotels, and hot sheet flops. It was all attached like a looming **** wart to L.A.'s old downtown by way of Angels Flight and long concrete steps.  The area was deemed by the L.A.P.D. as a "high frequency crime area." The Health department of L.A. also called the area a health hazard.

In the 1960s Bunker Hill's houses and businesses were demolished and the area was regraded, dozed down about a hundred feet. The new skyscrapers that sprouted up are Bunker Hill's tombstones only the 2nd and 3rd Street tunnels remain in place. If you go to visit  Los Angeles, there is where you go to pay your respects to Bunker Hill. They also saved Angels Flight but moved it half a block South of the 3rd Street and Hill intersection.
 
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Madonna-ish at 3rd Street Tunnel
 
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Liz (Theresa Russell)
W*h*o*r*e is Ken Russell's satirical reality check to the fairytale Cinderella fantasy of chick flick Pretty Woman. It's almost a docudrama. The film's screenplay by Ken Russell and Deborah Dalton (Dalton produced a radio series on hookers and prostitution BTW) was based on former part time taxi driver David Hines' famous monologue called Bondage. It was inspired by the conversations he had with real prostitutes while running them around to their various tricks. Bondage was a sort of an amalgamation into a night in the life of a London Kings Cross hooker. It was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and throughout Europe.

Once you get your head around the fact that this isn't a cutesy treatment a la Pretty Woman, The Cheyenne Social ClubIrma la Douce, or The Owl and the Pussycat and more in the serious vein of Pretty Baby and Fellini's The Nights of Cabiria you'll see if for what it is, an unglamourous view of "the life."

Liz breaking the fourth wall, gives us an on and off running monologue of the "ins and outs" of her life on the streets. The dangers and the kinks. Flashbacks illustrate the various vignettes, some are humorous others terrifying. Some of these are juxtaposed with the monologues of her pimp Blake played by Benjamin Mouton. He's all for keeping prostitution illegal and himself in business.
 
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breaking the fourth wall
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Blake the pimp (Benjamin Mouton)
If prostitution was legal and protected the women would be more empowered. Gone would be the pimps, the payoffs, the underworld connections if the women controlled the sex trade.

Liz throughout the film tells us her sad tale. She goes back to the beginning. How she got married to a cute guy she met in a bar, who, no surprise, turned out to be an alcoholic. He can't stay sober and can't keep a job. She leaves him passed out on the floor, and with her infant son in tow and takes off for her mothers.

Liz finds a job in a greasy spoon diner and sweats out a living as a graveyard shift waitress. All is jake until a customer starts laying twenty dollar bills on the counter. He wants to go on a "date." It's more money than she makes in a week. She goes out on "the date" and finds out that it's pretty easy money.
 
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But with the money comes danger, STDs, commodification of and desensitivity to sex. Liz tells us that she's had more sex partners than she can remember and while she used to enjoy sex she doesn't anymore. She meets up with Blake to takes her to L.A. To be part of his stable of hookers. She also confesses that once she was in, she couldn't escape from the control of her pimp.
 
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The dialog, humorous, gritty, and probably shocking to some ears. It sounds real because it is real and right out of the mouths of David Himes' prostitute cab passengers. Theresa Russell does a wonderful and highly believable job with the material. She plays Liz one of the hookers in the stable of Blake the pimp. She works L.A.'s Main Street downtown and the re-developed steel and glass Bunker Hill.

Noirsville
 
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Jack Nance
 
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Antonio Fargas as Rasta
 
 
 
 
 
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Danny Trejo
 
 

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The story of how **** came about was, as related by Ken Russell, that Himes recognizing Russell jumped out of his cab and asked him to write a screenplay. When Russell couldn't get financed in the UK he came to the US for the dough. The prostitutes venue was changed from London to Los Angeles.

Cinematography by Amir Mokri is a bit light on visual style for the most part. but that could be a result of budget restraints. Its subject matter is quite Noir-ish to overcome its lack. Music by Michael Gibbs with some interesting soundtrack selections.

Theresa Russell (Bad Timing (1980), Black Widow (1987), Impulse (1990) as prostitute Liz, Benjamin
Moulton (Basic Instinct (1992), Falling Down (1993)) as the pimp as Blake, Antonio Fargas (Shaft (1971), Across 110th Street (1972), Pretty Baby (1978)) as Rasta, Elizabeth Morehead as Katie, Sanjay Chandani as Indian, Jered Barclay as the Dead Trick in Car and Ken Russell himself as the snooty waiter in the French Restaurant..

Screencaps from an online streaming version. An intelligent, realistic, tongue-in-cheek look at prostitution. Café au lait Neo Noir. Full review with more screencaps at Noirsville . 7/10.
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I recall when that came out on video, some video stores refused to carry it because of the title. So the distributor put out another version with this altered title and cover-box:

9786302263824-us.jpg?w=538

I've never watched it, but it has a good cast.

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9 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

I recall when that came out on video, some video stores refused to carry it because of the title. So the distributor put out another version with this altered title and cover-box:

9786302263824-us.jpg?w=538

I've never watched it, but it has a good cast.

Theresa Russell is very entertaining its barely an "R." The Puritans still among us would probably get an exploded head (a la Mars Attacks) more for the frank talk about sex than any images in the film 😎

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Deadline At Dawn (1946) Ensemble Noir

 
"If she'd cut off her head she'd be very pretty."  (Val Bartelli)

Directors: Harold Clurman, William Cameron Menzies (uncredited). Written by Clifford Odets (screenplay), based on Cornell Woolrich (as William Irish). Cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca, Music by Hanns Eisler.

The film stars Susan Hayward as taxi dancer June Goffe, Paul Lukas as the cabbie Gus Hoffman, Bill Williams as Seaman Alex Winkler, Joseph Calleia as gangster Val Bartelli, Osa Massen as Helen Robinson, Lola Lane as "V" girl Edna Bartelli, Jerome Cowan as a showbiz producer Lester Brady, Phil Warren as Jerry Robinson, Constance Worth as Nan Raymond  and Marvin Miller as Sleepy Parsons.

Seen the film multiple times. Susan Hayward is pretty cute as a taxi dancer turned amateur sleuth. Though based on Woolrich's eponymous novel the film truncates the tale and adds extra characters.

The Film vs the Novel

Reread Cornell Woolrich's Deadline At Dawn recently. Rewatching the film as I type. The book is seriously, completely different from the film in its initial setup.

In the film the Hayward character June is a taxi dancer at a dump called "The Jungle" and the Williams character Alex is a sailor. The deadline in the film is a bus that he has to catch to get to Virginia Beach for Naval training. June gets a connection to Alex because her brother is a tail gunner in the war and she is from Virginia Beach.
 
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The film streamlines the novel.  In the film a blind man named Sleepy Parsons goes up a stairway to the apartment of his ex-wife Edna Bartelli to collect some money. When he gets to the door he knocks. No answer. He knocks again. Our first gander at Edna finds her asleep with a fly crawling across her face, a small prelude of things to come or is Edna the equivalent of a ****? You decide.
 
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Edna Bartelli (Lola Lane)
Though not mentioned outright. It's just hinted at Edna is a sort of "V" girl hooker. She awakes and lets Sleepy in and at first disrespects him a bit, but when she goes to get the money finds that is is gone. She mentions a sailor who was there earlier. Later in the film another john begins to yell at the window for Edna to let him in for a drink and whatever you want to imagine.
 
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Sleepy Parsons (Marvin Miller) 
 
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We cut to Alex. He's sort of recovering from a blackout He can't drink without having blackouts. He's sitting in a newsstand drinking coffee and talking to the owner. When Alex gets up to leave to cool off he takes out his handkerchief to wipe his brow, a wad of dough falls out of it to sidewalk. He barely remembers the last place he was at but he is determined to return the money to Edna.
 
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Newspaper nest
 
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 Seaman Alex Winkler (Bill Williams) 


On the way to Edna's. Alex gets sidetracked at The Jungle a dime a dance ballroom where he meets June.
 
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The Jungle

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June (Susan Hayward)
 
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They sort of click. He reminds June of her brother. June takes him to her flop for a sandwich. He tells June he's heading to Virginia Beach to report for duty. He tells June about the money. How he met Edna in an Italian Restaurant/clip joint where he lost all his money to Val, Edna's brother, playing casino.
 
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When the place closes Edna asks Alex to come up and fix her radio. She'll pay him. While he's doing the fixing Edna's doing the flirting, and generally being "disgusting" according to Alex. Here again the code let's each of us imagine what "disgusting" is supposed to mean. He fixes the radio. Wants to get paid. He gets drunk. Edna passes out. Then he blacks out coming back to his senses at the newsstand.

June tells him that she will help him if he goes and visits her mother in Virginia Beach to say howdy. This all takes about 13 minutes of an hour and ten minute film. They take a taxi back to Edna's. Alex goes up with the money but he finds her dead. When June asks him if he did it he tells her he doesn't know.
 
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In the novel the taxi dancer is named Bricky for her red hair. There is no sailor at all, and no deadline to get to Virginia Beach. He is replaced by Quinn a guy coincidentally from Bricky's hometown in Iowa, the proverbial "boy next door." Quinn BTW worked for an electrician in Manhattan until the old man died recently.

On one particular job they did they had to add a new socket in a bathroom wall, while Quinn was cutting through the plaster and lath wall he hit the wooden backside of a safe embedded in the wall only the safe door and frame were of cast iron. Quinn also came into possession of the latch key for the house that accidentally fell into his tool box that he had placed near the small table near the foyer. Weeks go by and he forgets about the key.

When the old man died the shop he ran closed up and Quinn was going broke by the day. He remembered the latch key that he had forgotten about and the safe that would be easy picking. So he waited until the owner left the house, went in and broke through the back of the safe making away with about $2500 in cash. He's now feeling that everyone is watching him. He spends some of the money on food then decides to hide out in the taxi dance ballroom until it closes there he meets Bricky.

He basically confesses to Bricky who falls for him and then Bricky decides that the thing for them to do is to put the money back and catch the 6AM bus to Iowa. That is the deadline in the novel. Also throughout the novel Bricky keeps getting glimpses of the large clock atop the Paramount Building and it's hands moving ever closer to that 6AM deadline. When they get back to the townhouse to put the money back they find the owner shot dead. In the novel Bricky and Quinn act like detectives picking up various clues and following them. They figure out that there was a man and a woman in the room with the dead man and figure out that one of them must be the murderer.

In the film Alex and June find clues some blond hair and a white carnation in Edna's flop and they decide to find the killer.
 
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Going back down to the street they begin to track a killer following various tips and clues and adding various characters making the film more of an ensemble effort. The film differs quite a bit now from the novel though still following the same general story outline though there never is any mention or shot of the clock on the Paramount Building. The film supplies convenient characters to speed up the story.
 
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A New York stapel well into the 70s was Nedick's here changed to Resnick's
 
With only four hours to go before that 6AM deadline they split up to follow the leads Quinn after the man Bricky after the woman, agreeing to rendezvous back at the town house. The novel details the various trails they follow and some of the leads are quite interesting. 

For instance in the novel the Bricky character traces a cab taken by a woman to a street corner in lower Manhattan from there she goes into an all night bakery to ask if a blonde woman came in. They tell her that one that lives just down the block did  and bought some fresh bread. Bricky starts checking the buildings on the block looking for traces of flour on the door handles and mail boxes. 

In the novel the Quinn character follows a dead end lead of a nervous man to a hospital where he discovers he's been following an expectant father. The whole novel pretty much, is Quinn and Bricky vs Manhattan and a bus departure deadline with just minor characters.

The film short cuts all the above by having a building super and his wife sitting on a stoop tell Jane exactly where the woman lives.
 
 
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Helen Robinson (Osa Massen)

While the wild goose chase that Quinn takes to a hospital waiting room is switched to a cab chase following a nervous man with a sick cat to a pet store. We also are introduced to a slew of characters. Back at Edna's, a friendly cabbie Gus Hoffman, helps the two on their search for the killer. He's like both a dime store philosopher and deus ex machina. His role is even more ludicrous when you get to the final twist.

Noirsville
 
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Gus Hoffman (Paul Lukas) 
 
 
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 Lester Brady (Jerome Cowan)
 
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Val Bartelli (Joseph Calleia)."If she'd cut off her head she'd be very pretty." 
 
 
 
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Constance Worth as Nan Raymond
 
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Anyway, I suspect a lot of MPPC finageling because the film could have taken equally a different track quite easily. Either one by the way different from the novel. Joseph Calleia as the gangster is a hoot especially when he gives the header quote. The film also lacks any real New York City location footage, it's all studio sets. Full review with more screenshots at Noirsville 7/10
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Cast A Deadly Spell (1991) Fantasy P.I. Noir

 
A dash of Noir, and of Hammett, Sin City, Alien, Gremlins, Big Trouble in Little China, Dick Tracy, Angel Heart, Marlowe, I Walked With A Zombie, and the "Leviathan" Storyline from the old Dark Shadows TV Soap.

Directed by Martin Campbell. Written by Joseph Dougherty. Cinematography by Alexander Gruszynski and Music by Curt Sorbel. An HBO cable TV film.

Fred Ward (Carny (1980), Miami Blues (1990),  ) as Harry Philip Lovecraft (same initials as Howard Phillips Lovecraft author), Julianne Moore (The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992), Short Cuts (1993), Boogie Nights (1997), The Big Lebowski (1998)) as Connie Stone, David Warner (Tom Jones (1963), Morgan! (1966), Straw Dogs (1971)), as Amos Hackshaw, Alexandra Powers ( Dead Poets Society (1989)) as Olivia Hackshaw, Clancy Brown (from a billion TV show) as Harry Bordon, Charles Hallahan (The Thing (1982)) as  Detective Morris Bradbury, Arnetia Walker (Love Crimes (1992)) as Hypolite Kropotkin, Raymond O'Connor as Tugwell, Peter Allas as Detective Otto Grimaldi, Ken Thorley as Mickey Locksteader, Lee Tergesen as Larry Willis/Lilly Sirwar, Jaime Cardriche as The Zombie, John De Bello as Crooner, and Curt Sobel as the Band Leader.
 
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Fred Ward  as Harry Philip Lovecraft 
 
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Julianne Moore as Connie Stone
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David Warner as Amos Hackshaw
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Alexandra Powers as Olivia Hackshaw
 

Its 1948, Los Angeles in a parallel time (another Dark Shadows storyline BTW). Magic is the "new thing,"  everybody practices it, everyone except Phil. Phil is Harry Philip Lovecraft a City Of Angels P.I. and ex LAPD detective. Phil rents office space from a dance studio instructor and practicing white magic witch Hypolite Kropotkin, this was a running joke (without the magic of course) in James Garner's Marlowe.
 
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Phil is hired by billionaire Amos Hackshaw who thinks his ex-chauffeur Larry Willis stole a book after he was fired. The book is not just any book it's the Necronomicon a textbook of magic textbook  its infamous author, Abdul Alhazred the "Mad Arab."
 
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Hackshaw Mansion
 
 
Besides the occult Hacksaw's other mission in life is his obsession with protecting the virginity of his 16 year old daughter Olivia who spends her days on horseback hunting unicorns. Harry's first clue sends him to the nightclub of his ex LAPD partner Harry Bordon who is now a bit bent as they say.
 
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Magic is used nonchalantly throughout the film. At Union Station suitcases trail through the air after passengers, waiters pour drinks by levitation, cigarettes are lit without matches, spell are used by hitmen. etc., etc. When Phil questions Harry Bordon, Dunwich nightclub owner, about the new help....

Lovecraft: Hey, what happened to your regular leg breakers?
Harry: Progress.
Tugwell: Zombies don't eat, don't complain...
Harry: ...don't get ideas.

Zombies are not only used for muscle but also as cheap disposable labor. Harry explains to Phil that the zombies are cheap, come six to a box, shipped up direct from Caribbean. They work until they rot.

Phil's femme fatale is Connie played by Julianne Moore. Connie is a redhead **** torch singer. She is Phil's ex gal pal. It's three years before Julianne proved the carpet really matches the drapes in Short Cuts.

Connie: I heard something about you at the club.
Lovecraft: Such as?
Connie: You don't use magic.
Lovecraft: You heard right.
Connie: How do you expect to get out of dumps like this if you don't start playing the game?
Lovecraft: Seems to me we've already had this discussion.
Connie: Everybody uses magic.
Lovecraft: I don't.
Connie: What have you got to show for it? Fly-specked office, a broken-down car and a ugly necktie, that's what all this integrity buys you. Damn it, everybody's got to compromise.
Lovecraft: That's what I keep hearing.
Connie Stone: And what makes you so special?
Lovecraft: What makes me special is that I'm my own man. When I started out, I said there were things I would do and things I wouldn't do. Lot of guys start like that and a lot of them sell out along the way, but the more who fall, the easier it gets. See, look... everybody compromises, everybody cheats, everybody uses magic. So they empty ideals out of their pockets and get on with the job of sticking it to their neighbor before they stick it to them. That's the way it's done. To which I say "nuts." My collar may be a little frayed, maybe I need a shoeshine, but nobody's got a mortgage on my soul. I own it, free and clear.

Hackshaw: You don't believe in magic?
Lovecraft:  I believe it, just don't use it.
Hackshaw:Why?
Lovecraft: Personal reasons.
Hackshaw: And they are?
Lovecraft: Personal.

Noirsville 
 
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Gargoyle

 
 
 
 
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The Necronomicon

 

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Cthulhu


This film is a light amusement. The more Noir/Neo Noir and other popular films you have under your belt the more references/homages to other films and styles you'll notice. It is at times reminiscent of the color pallet of Dick Tracy combined with the magic realism of 1948 studio sets, which are shot with the noir stylistics of Sin City, Hammett, and Angel Heart. For the kids it's got cutsie muppet like gremlins and animated gargoyles. This is a film for the whole family 7/10. Full review with more screen caps at Noirsville.

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You're probably aware of this, Joe, but Cast a Deadly Spell had a follow-up in 1994's Witch Hunt. Dennis Hopper replaced Fred Ward as Lovecraft, and the cast included Penelope Ann Miller, Eric Bogosian, Julian Sands, and Sheryl Lee Ralph. It's an allegorical take on the commie red scare. I liked the first one more, but Hopper is always worth seeing.
 

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3 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

You're probably aware of this, Joe, but Cast a Deadly Spell had a follow-up in 1994's Witch Hunt. Dennis Hopper replaced Fred Ward as Lovecraft, and the cast included Penelope Ann Miller, Eric Bogosian, Julian Sands, and Sheryl Lee Ralph. It's an allegorical take on the commie red scare. I liked the first one more, but Hopper is always worth seeing.
 

WitchHunt1994film.jpg

There is an underwater Youtube offering, watched it, didn't have the noir vibe. Supposedly there is a third that they did in the 2000s

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Hunted (1952) (aka The Stranger in Between) Gritty Britt Noir

 
"Why do girls marry a sailor for?"

A Kids Noir, a Road Noir, a nice surprise. We first see Robbie excellently played by Jon Whiteley running in a panic with his teddy bear through the streets of London. He runs almost under the hooves and wheels of a Watneys Keg wagon carrying Reid's Stout. He darts off and climbs up into the ruins of a still bombed out rubble filled section of the city. He runs down into a ruined cellar and almost into Chris Lloyd (Dirk Bogarde).
 
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on the run
 
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Robbie (Jon Whiteley)

Chris grabs him in mid run. Robbie startled drops his teddy when he sees the other man's body. Chris asks him what is he doing down here. Robbie tells Chris that he set the house on fire. We hear the happy voices of playing children. Chris takes Robbie's hand and they run out through a ruptured cellar wall and out into the daylight.
 
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Chris (Dirk Bogarde) and Robbie
We cut to Robbie's apartment. His step mother arrives opening the door. She calls out for Robbie. She immediately smells the smoke. Robbie's been playing with matches again and has set a lace kitchen curtain to smouldering, it didn't ignite enough to cause much damage, but Robbie doesn't know that. She rips the curtain down and dumps it into the sink dousing it out. She looks around for Robbie but he's vanished. She begins a worried search.
 
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Kay Walsh as Mrs. Syke
Back out on the streets of London Chris and Robbie and walking swiftly down the sidewalk. Suddenly Robbie begins to drag his feet he wants to go back for his teddy. Chris wants no part of that and tells him to come on. At this point a fire truck goes by and in a panic Robbie tells Chris that he doesn't want to go home. He breaks free and runs away in the opposite direction. Chris catches up to him and tells him that he's not taking him home. The head to the Thames waterfront where they hide out in a tarp covered barge.
 
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Robbie's adopted parents Mr. and Mrs.Sykes, are reporting his disappearance to the police. They report the incident with the curtains. Later that evening a man an a woman, a prostitute perhaps, are embracing outside of a saloon. A man emerges and they move off through the blitz ruins ending up down in the cellar with a little bit of the old "in-and-out" in mind. Before they can get it on the woman spots the dead man and screams.
 
Scotland Yard arrives and begins investigating. The dead man is a Charles James Mills and the police are questioning the Saloon's barmaid. They find out that he left with a bloke called Lloyd a third engineer or mate or something on a ship. That he used to come in once or twice with his girl.
 
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The next morning Chris reads in a paper that they have discovered the body. While sitting eating a breakfast roll with Robbie, Chris asks Robbie why he doesn't want to go home.

Chris: You don't like me, do you?
Robbie: No.
Chris: Well, why don't you go off home, then?
Robbie: I don't want to go home.

Then Chris puts two and two together and figures out that Robbie burned his house down. Chris cons Robbie telling him that if he wants Chris to get him out of this jam, they are going to need money.
 
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Chris tells Robbie that he must go to Chris' place and get his money. Chris takes him to the building with his flat. Gives him instructions to ring the bell and if no one answers, to let himself in with Chris' key. Tells him to get his money out of a draw, it's in a pay packet tucked under some shirts.
 
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Robbie follows instructions, but while inside the flat Chris's wife Magda returns home with some inspectors from Scotland Yard. Robbie dives under a bed and when they pass into another room runs out of the flat and back to Chris without getting his money. He runs back to Chris telling him about the bobbies.
 
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Trying to raise some money Chris tries to sell his trench coat outright. The pawnbroker is wise to him from a police description, and telling Chris that he knows someone looking for a coat, goes back to his office and calls Scotland Yard. Chris realizes what's going on and runs off with Robbie hiding out in a Amusement Arcade.
 
Later that night Chris and Robbie go back to Chris' flat. Chris has Robbie case the joint out for bobbies. Robbie tells him the police are staked out at the entrances of his building. Chris goes over a wall and tightrope like walks along it's top to a balcony.
 
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 Over the railing and he's in the building. However another stakeout man is in the hall outside his flat so Chris goes up to the roof and shimmies down the buildings facade to a ledge where he enters his flat through an open window.
 
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He goes into his bedroom and puts a hand over his wife's mouth waking her up.
 
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Magda (Elizabeth Sellars)
Chris: One squawk out of you. [releases her mouth] You rotten little....
Magda: Chris, Chris why did you do it?
Chris: You ask me

Chris goes to the dresser taking his money. Magda gets out of bed comes over to him and asks him what is he going to do? She tries to embrace him, tries to get him to stay. She tries to explain her infidelity.

 
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Magda: You were always away, I couldn't help it I couldn't...

Chris flings her on the bed. We see on the wall a publicity shot of a stripper/belly dancer, probably Magda. Magda offers Chris a string or pearls for extra getway money. Chris knocks them out of her hand and slips back out the window and back up over the roof. He just eludes the police who now give chase and he joins Robbie. They run down a street and  hop into the back of a lorry stopped at a red light
 
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The two unlikely fugitives one only in his mind, the other for real hit the road and escape from London headed for the "wild" North.

Noirsville
 
 
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Potteries Loop Line at Burslem,  Stoke-on-Trent,
 
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 pottery factories of Stoke on Trent
 
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Obviously the tale is in a similar vein to Stevenson's Treasure Island, parts of Twain's Huckleberry Finn, and films like Chaplin's The Kid (1921), the more contemporary (1959) and modern takes like Paper Moon (1973), Gloria (1980), A Perfect World (1993), Léon: The Professional (1994)

A very well acted film directed by Charles Crichton, based on an idea of  Michael McCarthy and a screenplay by Jack Whittingham. The excellent cinematography was by Eric Cross.
 Music was by Hubert Clifford.

The cast stars Dirk Bogarde as Chris Lloyd, Jon Whiteley as Robbie, Elizabeth Sellars as Magda, Kay Walsh as Mrs. Syke, Frederick Piper as Mr. Sykes., Julian Somers as Jack Lloyd, Geoffrey Keen as Detective Inspector Drakin, and Douglas Blackwell as Detective Sergeant Grayson.

It's a gem of British Noir 9/10. Full review with more screencaps at Noirsville.

"It really is a superbly made drama and I read somewhere that, of all the many Rank films Dirk Bogarde made during his long career, this was his personal favourite. It is also a film record of a bygone post-war Britain; from its bomb sites and tramcars and horse drawn traffic in the capital, to the now long gone pottery factories of Stoke on Trent, belching forth their black smoke from huge bottle ovens and covered with industrial grime. The railway scenes in the film were filmed on the equally now long gone Potteries Loop Line at Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, one of hundreds of lines that fell under the Dr Beeching axe in the 1960's. All completely gone now, but captured for posterity on 35mm black and white film in Hunted." (DavidW1947  IMDb)

Hunted is a part of  Great British Movies - Film Noir [DVD] along with 21 Days, SapphireSo Long At The Fair, and Turn the Key Softly.

PS - You'll need a third party converted region free DVD player to watch these in the U.S.


Great British Movies - Film Noir [DVD] [1940]

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Poodle Springs (1998) Last Marlowe - Retro Tail Fin Noir

 
"I clean up for my guy... you clean up for yours."

I've always heard negative things about Poodle Springs.

Its BS... the negative comments. They are made by people who don't know what they are talking about. This film is a great addition to the Philip Marlowe detective film "universe." I like it better than Altman's unconventional The Long Goodbye.

Poodle Springs was the novel started by Raymond Chandler that was  unfinished at the time of his death. He knocked out a handful of chapters before kicking the bucket. It was eventually completed by Robert B. Parker. I've heard that some Chandler fans even refused to read it out "respect" for Raymond Candler. Hey! News Flash! It was the Chandler estate that requested that Parker finish the last Philip Marlowe novel.

Directed by Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces (1970), Black Widow (1987), and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)). Excellent cinematography was by Stuart Dryburgh, and and beautiful score by Michael Small. The teleplay (it is an HBO film BTW) was written by Tom Stoppard based on the aforementioned book by Robert B. Parker and Raymond Chandler. Stoppard made some changes that work very well. He advanced the time period 3-4 years setting the tale within 19 days between November 3 and November 22 1963 the day of the Kennedy assassination, and that ending date could very well be called the end of what some like to think of as the conservative old school 50's and the dawning of the "Age of Aquarius."

The film stars James Caan (Naked City TV Series (1958–1963), The Godfather (1972), Cinderella Liberty (1973), Dick Tracy (1990)) as Philip Marlowe, Dina Meyer as Laura Parker-Marlowe
David Keith (The Two Jakes (1990)) as Larry Victor/Charles Nichols. Joe Don Baker (Charley Varrick (1973)) as P.J. Parker, Tom Bower (River's Edge (1986), The Killer Inside Me (2010)) as Lt. Arnie Burns, Julia Campbell as Miriam "Muffy" Blackstone-Nichols, Brian Cox as Clayton Blackstone, Nia Peeples as Angel, La Joy Far as Lola Faithful, Sam Vlahos (Powwow Highway (1989), Lone Star (1996)), as Eddie Garcia, and Mo Gallini as J.D.
 
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James Caan as Philip Marlowe
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Dina Meyer as Laura Parker-Marlowe
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Tom Bower as Lt. Arnie Burns
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David Keith as Larry Victor/Charles Nichols
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 Julia Campbell as Miriam "Muffy" Blackstone-Nichols
 
BTW Poodle Springs is of course fictitious. a spoof on Palm Springs but located way farther East and North, somewhere between Baker and Las Vegas and roughly two miles from the California/Nevada border.

The Story

First day back from his honeymoon Marlowe is lured to a crime scene by a phoney call from a radio phone from Paul Krauss another P.I. asking for some help on a stakeout down in San Pedro, berth 60.
 
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He tell's Marlowe that he's driving a fire engine red '62 Ford Thunderbird convertible. Marlowe hears two shots over the phone. He calls his pal Detective Lieutenant Arnie Burns on LAPD and reports a possible homicide. Marlowe hops in his 1957 Plymouth Plaza gets to the waterfront finds the red rag top.
 
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Inside the car is Krauss. Inside his head is a slug. He's looking through Krauss' wallet and notebook when Burns shows up. Marlowe tells him the story. The homicide squad arrives and starts investigating.
 
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the dead Krauss
 
 
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"find the other slug?"
Marlowe: Hey you find the other slug?
LAPD Detective: There's just one entry.
Marlowe: You sure?
LAPD Captain: Something troubling you Marlowe?
Marlowe: Yea there were two shots.
LAPD Captain: Tell me again how you know?
Marlowe: I was counting...

Marlowe is arrested when the cops tell him Krauss couldn't have made the call. All radio calls go through an operator and the last call Krauss made was last night.

Marlowe immediately finds out how strong political pull really is when he's suddenly released when some brass on the LAPD finds out he's P.J. Parker's son-in-law. However once the brass splits his buddy Arnie, who doesn't want anybody to think he rolled over for P.J. Parker, has Marlowe handcuffed again and still sent to a holding cell until his wife and her law partners get him out.

From the name and address he found in Krauss' notebook Marlowe checks out a photographer named Larry Victor. He's not in his office so Marlowe jimmy's the lock on the back door and snoops around. He doesn't get far. Larry Victor come in through the back door of his office.

Larry Victor: Any idea what breaking and entering can get you?
Marlowe: One to five in Soledad...

Marlowe questions Larry after identifying himself as a private eye. Larry tells him that he doesn't know why his name was in Krauss' address notebook. Larry gets a phone call and Marlowe splits. But he circles around the hall and sneaks back in through the front door to listen to the conversation. He finds out that Victor is going to meet someone at Sam's Hof Brau at 9:00PM.

The Hof Brau is a hole in the wall strip joint. Marlowe follows Larry inside and eavesdrops on Larry and a stripper.
 
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From the stripper's dogs collar Marlowe gets her address. The stripper is blackmailing Larry with photographs, but she also has the negatives. Larry gives her a few bucks for the photos. Grabs the envelope they are in and splits.
 
He rips up the envelope outside the club and throws the pieces in the gutter. Marlowe gtabs a fragment and follows Larry to the apartment of a woman named Angel where it looks like he's spending the night.
 
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Marlowe heads for 6605 Willowby, the address on the dog tag, to snoop around. He finds the place tossed and he's startled by a dead cat spinning from a ceiling fan. He loses his composure and gets hit over the head.
 
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Later back at his apartment he's got reservations about private eyeing. He confides to Arnie...
 
 
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"I never had that,  this was fear."
Marlowe's reflections and changed directions.

Detective Lieutenant Arnie Burns: What's going on with you?
Marlowe [pouring himself a drink]: I don't know, something. I had an experience tonight Arnie, I was shakin', I could see my hand... I was shakin' . I went up those stairs and I was thinking about Laura, I was so busy thinking I wasn't thinking and somebody come and hit me in the head.
Detective Lieutenant Arnie Burns: It happens.
Marlowe: I never had that, this was fear. [sitting] I know what kept it out.
Detective Lieutenant Arnie Burns: What was that?
Marlowe: Belonging to nobody. I found something out about this job... It's a loners job.... I ain't that guy anymore.
Detective Lieutenant Arnie Burns: So?
Marlowe: So... The hell with it. I got a wife I don't deserve loves me. Got four good suits. I got a Plymouth, a .38 under my arm, and I buy my own drinks. There's other places.

He opens up an office in Poodle Springs. It's filled with snooty women and retirees. Marlowe wearing a sport shirt has changed his image.
 
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Poodle Springs


However trouble seems to find him. While looking for a light for his cigarette he gets almost hijacked by two thugs who tell him that "Lippy wants to see him."

 Here Marlowe pulls a neat trick. He asks the thug that pulls a gun on him "Hey how am I going to get back? Why don't you ride with me?" The thug agrees puts his automatic back in his holster and goes to get in the car. Marlowe gets in the driver's seat first and pops a gun out from under the dash and pulls it on the thug.
 
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We realize that this is Marlowe's regular routine in a situation like that, when this trick is repeated later on. The fracus causes a small commotion on the streets of the "Springs." Before he tells the thug to beat it he asks again for a light. The thug gives him a box of wooden matches that come from the Agony Club.
 
Marlowe heads to the Agony Club to confront Lippy Lipshultz. Lippy tells Marlowe he's looking for a guy named Charles Nichols. Nichols left a maker for 100,000. He wants Marlowe to find him.
 
Marlowe agrees to find Charles Nichols for Lippy.  Marlowe visits Charles' wife Maryam "Muffy" Blackstone Nichols. He tells her that he's been employed to find him from someone who claims that he owes him a hundred thou.
 
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Muffy tells him that that is absurd. She tells Marlowe that her husband does not gambol. Marlowe tells her that he'd like to hear that from Charles himself. Muffy tells him he's off working, and that he basically prides himself on not living off her money. A kindred soul to Marlowe in his present situation, made more poignant considering Lippy's comment about rich ladies with "rented" husbands.

Sitting at Muffy's home bar, Marlowe casually glances down at the collage of images beneath the glass bar top. He sees homey pictures of, surprisingly, Larry Victor and Muffy together. Marlowe asks her if the man in the photos is her husband. She replies yes.

We cut to Marlowe almost calling Arnie in L.A. the double identity of Larry/Charles to tell him what he's discovered, but he doesn't. Old habits are hard to break he decides to split for the city to shake things up for himself.

This leads to Phil and Laura's first tiff. It's a well done scene. She says he told her he was through with the Larry Victor case, Phil tells her Larry and Charles are the same person and "ain't is a gas." But Phil tells Laura that he doesn't have to go tonight. They have makeup sex.

Back in L.A. Marlowe finds Lola Faithful dead in Larry Victor's office. He calls Arnie. The Homicide squad arrives Arnie grills Marlowe. Arnie wants to know **** Marlowe is doing back in L.A. Marlowe tells him he's working on a missing persons case. He's looking for Charles Nichols son in law of mining magnate Clayton Blackstone. Marlowe tells Arnie that if he's your guy he'll give him to him gift wrapped.

Marlowe in the course of their conversation also asks Arnie about that mobile phone call he got. Arnie says the phone record only showed only his office his doctor and the Posada Motel a cathouse in Silverton.

Marlowe meets with Larry at a bar to shake him up. He tells him about Lola dead in his office. Tells him he knows about Muffy. Larry says that Angel is his wife. Marlowe tells him Charles Nichols is married to Muffy and that Charles Nichols is you. Larry asks him if he's told the cops Marlowes says not yet, because he doesn't think he's a killer. So Larry spills that way back when he and Lola were in the porno business. He also relates that Lola started blackmailing him when she found out he was married to Muffy Blackstone. The twist is that the pictures that Larry ripped up outside the Hof Brau were actually of Muffy who was into posing porno as a kink.

Marlowe gets hijacked again this time by goons working for Clayton Blackstone. His evasive car related trick doesn't work and he's driven to Blackstone's place. There, Marlowe breaks some interesting news to Blackstone.
 
When Blackstone asks Marlowe who hired him, he tells him that he did, in a way, through Manny "Lippy" Lipshultz manager of the Agony Club which Blackstone owns. Manny gave him some story about an I.O.U. It comes out that Blackstone is paying Charles to be married to Muffy, Charles was spending more time away from home and she was getting distressed, he wants her to be happy.

Blackstone: I give him an allowance certainly... he's not what you'd call successful.
Marlowe: He probably makes twice what I make.
Blackstone: That's what I mean.
Marlowe: I also been thinking that you hired Paull Krauss who'd been following Lola around.
Blackstone: Why should I have someone follow Lola Faithful?
Marlowe: Lola was trying to raise some money on a pronographic photo of your daughter. But what I'm thinking is why you're going to all this trouble to talk to me. What did Lola have on you Blackstone?
Blackstone: My daughter was a sick woman for a while after her mother died. A nervous breakdown. Her behavior became extreme. Maybe you should stick to your own case. Did you find my son-in-law?
Marlowe: What do you think of Charles now that we call him Larry?
Blackstone: My daughter loves him, and as long as she does I will support him. I will intercede with those that bear him ill.

Blackstone tells Marlowe he will pay for information on who hired Krauss. Marlow
 
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Marlowe: It's cold out,  colder than the city.
Laura: You seem different.
Marlowe: I am.
Laura: Did everything go alright? Did you find who you were after?
Marlowe: I found him. Remember that happy couple I told you about dancing to the radio? The guy I risked my license for? Turns out he's a bigamist, pimp, and a liar and she is a hooker and an addict, otherwise they didn't fool me one bit.

Of course it all goes spectacularly Noirsville.

Noirsville 


 
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Tail Fins
 
 
 
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Tail Fins
 
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Tail Fins
 
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Tail Fins
 
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James Caan is great as the aging Marlowe in a changing era. He makes this Marlowe just as believable as Mitchum did in the more traditional period piece Farewell My Lovely and in the updated and reimagined The Big Sleep (1978) that had a contemporary (1978) Marlowe who had served in WWII and then resettled in the UK after the war. Once you get over the time and location change you find the plot follows the original story much better than the Bogart - Bacall version. Both of those films should be checked out if you haven't seen them.

Dina Meyer (Laura Parker) gives off a very Jackie Kennedy-ish vibe in the flick. She's smart and confident, she knows what she wants, a harbinger of the women's empowerment movement that's to come. Meyer and Caan are reminiscent of Bogie and Bacall. Meyer is stylish and believable.

Other cast standouts are David Keith, Tom Bower, Julia Campbell, Brian Cox, Nia Peeples, Sam Vlahos, and Michael Laskin.

Another standout for me in the film is the attention to detail in recreating 1963. From tobacciana -ashtrays, matchbooks, Camel cigarettes and table lighters, to Googie signage and architecture. Home interior are 60's chic. There is also a plethora of tail fin cars. Marlowe tools around in a 1957 Plymouth Plaza, Laura drives around in a turquoise 1959 Imperial Crown. Blackstone's goons drive a  1962 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, Krauss drove a 1962 Ford Thunderbird. Also making appearances are a 958 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe, a 1959 Cadillac Ambulance. a 1962 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special, and a 1960 Buick Invicta Convertible Coupe.

The film pretty much follows the novel with a few changes that make the story even more cynical. i.e. changing the time frame to 63 brings in a bit more of a gritty, decadent, sleazy, sixties feel to it all.

Screenshots are from an online streamer. Could use a Bluray release 9/10. Full Review with more screecaps at Noirsville
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Turn The Key Softly (1953) Woman's Noir

Directed entertainingly well by Jack Lee. A chick flick Noir.

Written by Lee and producer Maurice Cowan and based on the novel of the same name by John Brophy. It's the tale of the first 24 hours in the lives of three female prisoners released from Holloway Prison in London. The excellent cinematography was by Geoffrey Unsworth the music by was by Mischa Spoliansky

The film stars Yvonne Mitchell (Sapphire 1959), Joan Collins, Kathleen Harrison and Terence Morgan. Yvonne Mitchell is Monica Marsden the upper middle class gal pal of a second story man a burglar and safe cracker, She went to prison for not ratting him out and for something she didn't do. Joan Collins plays a "B" girl and maybe prostitute, Stella Jarvis, but it's never revealed in the film. She has a bus driver boyfriend who promises to marry her when she gets out. Kathleen Harrison plays the part of a sweet granny, Granny Quilliam, who is a sort of kleptomaniac shoplifter she reminds me a bit of Thelma Ritter's performance in Pickup On South Street. Granny's only true friend in life is her dog Johnny. Terrance Morgan is the suave safe cracker.
 
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Lt to rt. Joan Collins, Yvonne Mitchell, and  Kathleen Harrison
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the warden
 
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Holloway Prison
We follow the three women's lives concurrently, switching back and forth between the leads. Stella is met by her boyfriend outside the gate. Monica and Granny head to a tube station for their respective destinations. Monica to her sisters place, Granny to her old apartment flat in the neighbourhood of Shepherd's Bush. On the tube train Granny notices that Monica is attracting the attention of men. One of the men George Jenkins (Russell Waters) asks Monica for a date.
 
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Monica meets her sister and begins a quest for a job. Stella with money given to her by her fiance, instead of getting a temporary flat to live in, visits her prostitute friends in Leicester Square and buys a pair of gaudy earrings. Granny is reunited with her dog Johnny.

There is both pathos and hope in Noirsville as each of the women's lives as their tale unfolds.

Noirsville
 
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Some great action sequences during a rooftop chase. Wonderful images of 1950s London. 8/10

Turn The Key Softly is a part of  Great British Movies - Film Noir [DVD] along with 21 Days, Sapphire, So Long At The Fair, and Turn the Key Softly. PS - You'll need a third party converted region free DVD player to watch these in the U.S. Full review with more screencaps at Noirsville.

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Sapphire (1959) British Transitional Noir

 
A Rank Organisation Film.

Directed by Basil Dearden a Brit Noir Veteran who gave us The Blue Lamp (1950) and Pool of London (1951), also other crime and possible Noir dramas Cage of Gold (1950), I Believe in You (1952), The Gentle Gunman (1952), PT Raiders (1955). Those film should be sought out and evaluated. We don't get to see the full spectrum of European Film Noir here in the USA. Deardon also directed a nice little Black & White comedy about a couple who take over a dilapidated movie theater called Big Time Operators (1957) which I've actually caught on Turner Classic Movies.

Sapphire was written by Janet Green with additional dialogue provided by Lukas Heller. Cinematography was by Harry Waxman who lensed noirs (Brighton Rock (1948), The Long Memory (1953), and later The Wicker Man (1973)). Music was by Philip Green.

Sapphire stars Nigel Patrick as Superintendent Robert Hazard, Yvonne Mitchell (Turn The Key Softly) as Mildred, Michael Craig as Inspector Phil Learoyd, Paul Massie as David Harris, Bernard Miles (The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)), as Ted Harris. Olga Lindo as Mrs. Harris, Earl Cameron (Pool of London (1951), as Dr. Robbins. Gordon Heath as Paul Slade, Jocelyn Britton as Patsy, Harry Baird (The Italian Job (1969)) as Johnnie Fiddle, Orlando Martins as Barman, Rupert Davies as P.C. Jack Ferris, Freda Bamford as Sergeant Cook, Robert Adams as Horace Big Cigar, and Yvonne Buckingham as Sapphire Robbins.
 
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Nigel Patrick as Superintendent Robert Hazard
 
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Earl Cameron as Dr. Robbins
 
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Michael Craig as Inspector Phil Learoyd
 
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Bernard Miles as Ted Harris
 
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Yvonne Mitchell as Mildred 
 
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Paul Massie as David Harris
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Harry Baird as Johnnie Fiddle lt.

The Story

The body of a young woman is found stabbed multiple times on Hampstead Heath. It's locally known as "the heath" It is a large, ancient London heath, covering 790 acres, just a bit smaller than New York City's Central Park.
 
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grisly find 
 
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CSI - UK style
The film starts out as a policier, with Scotland Yard Superintendent Robert Hazard heading up the investigation. The police first identify the body as Sapphire Robbins a student at the Royal Academy of Music. The police question her boyfriend David Harris, her friends at the academy, and her landlady.

The police know that she was killed elsewhere and dumped on the heath because of the lack of blood on the scene. A search of her room discovers in the contents of a locked draw a bunch of gaudy lingerie and a photograph that was cut in half. The photo only shows Sapphire dancing with someone who has been cut off. An autopsy reveals that she was a few months pregnant.
 
The police go back and question David Harris who states to Superintendent Harris that he and Sapphire were to be married.

Everything begins to go Noirsville when Sapphire's older brother Dr, Robbins arrives at police headquarters. Dr. Robbins is black, Sapphire was white or so the police thought. Sapphire was actually the product of a white father and a black mother. She was passing for white.
 
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This fact exposes prejudices across a broad spectrum throughout the rest of the film. Hazard's second in command Inspector Phil Learoyd begins making derogatory comments. Sapphire's rooming house landlady is concerned about being shunned by white boarders if they find out that she rented to a black. The Harris's in particular David's father Ted and David's sister Mildred display a great deal of prejudice against blacks, but David tells the police that Sapphire had told him of her racial background and that they were getting married anyway.

So now the police try and piece together Sapphire's back story figuring that who ever Sapphire was dancing with in the photo they found may be a prime suspect, as in a jilted lover angle. With this new lead the police go to Sapphire's first boarding house and question the tenants. They discover the names of Sapphire's friends and take their statements and follow leads to the International Club and a nightclub called Tulips. They discover that once Sapphire found out that she could pass for white she cut off her old friends split and began a new life.

Noirsville
 
 
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Smoggy 1959 London 
 
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The blue lamp marking a London police station.
 
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For it's time period Sapphire surprisingly explored straight forwardly racial relations in the UK.

During the 1950s some of the white working class in the UK began to show open hostility to the influx of African-Caribbean immigrants. Groups such as the Teddy Boys, Oswald Mosley's Union Movement and the White Defense League were agitating to keep Britain white.

Blacks were attacked during the summer of 1958. On 29 August 1958 Majbritt Morrison, a white Swedish woman, was arguing with her Jamaican husband Raymond Morrison at the Latimer Road Underground station. A fight broke out between Morrison and some of his friends and some whites who tried to intervene.

The following day Majbritt was assaulted by a white gang. That night on Bramley Road, hundreds of whites attacked the houses of West Indian residents. These riots and attacks continued through the 5th of September. The Metropolitan Police Service arrested well over a hundred people.

"The riots caused tension between the Metropolitan Police and the British African-Caribbean community, which claimed that the police had not taken their reports of racial attacks seriously. In 2002, files were released that revealed that senior police officers at the time had assured the Home Secretary, Rab Butler, that there was little or no racial motivation behind the disturbance, despite testimony from individual police officers to the contrary." (Wiki)

Sapphire won the British equivalent of our Academy Award the BAFTA Film Award for Best British Film. It's a nice noir-ish mystery with a message 8-9/10. More screen caps at Noirsville.

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Once A Thief ( Les Tueurs de San Francisco) (1965) San Francisco Beat/Transitional Noir

 
This time I'm going to shove you into the gas chamber. (Inspector Mike Vido SFPD)

It takes more than one watch and helps to have quite a few noir under your belt.

Once A Thief is familiar and yet a bit different. Think of the Classic Film Noir Crime Wave (1953). In Crime Wave Gene Nelson plays an ex con trying to go straight. He's on parole works as an airplane mechanic, has a loving wife Phyllis Kirk,  and drives a hot rod-ed out 1930 Ford Model A.

Some barbed wire hotel buddies of his break out of the slammer and go on a crime spree through California heading South. The gang of crooks is led by suave Ted de Corsia, and they persuade Nelson to help them out by holding his wife hostage while he drive both their bank robbery getaway car but also by flying a getaway plane across the border to Mexico. The cop chasing all of this down is played by Sterling Hayden.

In Once A Thief the excon is  Alain Delon he been out on parole six years after doing a 18 month stretch in San Quentin, he has a loving wife Ann-Margret and a baby girl. He had a good job for an import company but got fired after getting framed for a Chinatown deli robbery and murder. One of the two thieves wore his trademark sheepskin coat and drove a vintage 1931 Ford Model A. The frame up was done by two associates of his gangster brother Jack Palance, John Davis Chandler and Tony Musante. The reason is because they want to use Delon as the inside man to rob the import company of a million dollars worth of platinum wire. Van Hefiln is the cop with a grudge against Delon. He believes it was Delon who shot him during a robbery before he got pinched for the crime that sent him to prison. Familiar and yet a bit different. Its a Transitional Noir.

It got a crisp aesthetic that fits in style/composition-wise with Kiss Me DeadlyDeath In Small DosesThe Harder They FallA Hat full Of RainMy Gun Is QuickPlunder RoadOdds Against Tomorrow, Screaming MimiSweet Smell Of SuccessMurder by ContractThe Beat Generation, The Crimson Kimono, Blast Of Silence, The Young Savages, Night Tide, Something Wild, All Fall Down, Cape Fear, Experiment In Terror, The Manchurian Candidate,  Underworld U.S.A.Requiem For A Heavyweight, The Pawnbroker, and its also reminiscent of the jazz club opening of  I Want To Live.  What your are seeing with the above and particularly with Once A Thief, is a Panavision "wide screen" Noir. The blacks are inky and not crushed. Claustrophobia is replaced by agoraphobia. The old Academy Ratios (1.37:1) last hurrah is soon going to be in grind-house Exploitation Films and Porno Loops.

Directed by Ralph Nelson (Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), Charly (1968), Soldier Blue (1970)) written by Zekial Marko, based on his novel. Cinematography was by Classic Film Noir Vet Robert Burks (Beyond the Forest (1949), The Enforcer (1951), Strangers on a Train (1951), Tomorrow Is Another Day (1951), Rear Window (1954), The Wrong Man (1956), Vertigo (1958)) and Music by Lalo Schifrin who wrote the memorable themes to TV's Mission: Impossible (1966), Mannix (1967), Cool Hand Luke (1967), and Bullitt (1968), the theme's to all the Dirty Harry films, and Coogan's Bluff (1968)) .

The film stars French Noir Vet Alain Delon (Purple Noon (1960), Le Samouraï (1967), Le Cercle Rouge (1970), Un Flic (1972)), Ann-Margret (Viva Las Vegas (1964), Kitten with a Whip (1964), Murderers' Row (1966), Carnal Knowledge (1971), 52 Pick-Up (1986)). Four Classic Film Noir Veterans, Van Heflin, Jack Palance and Jeff Corey with four noir a piece and Steve Mitchell with three. Rounding out the cast are John Davis Chandler (The Young Savages (1961), Capone (1975)), Tony Musante (The Incident (1967), The Detective (1968), The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)), Yuki Shimoda (Man-Trap (1961). and Noir TV Johnny Midnight 1960) and Tammy Locke (The Naked Kiss (1964)).

Story

The opening credits take us into a dark North Beach section of San Francisco, la fin de l'ère Beatnik nightclub/cafe.
 
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Russell Lee
 
 
It's Big Al's soon to be one of the first topless bars in San Francisco and the United States It was also the first bottomless bar in San Francisco. It still there BTW. It is next to the Condor Club, it's now one of the largest adult stores in San Francisco.
 
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Time wise, we are  right at the dawning of the Age Of Aquarius. But it still leans more 50s than 60s. There is a kick **** drum solo. a hop head jungle beat that punctuates it's pauses variously with beat/hipster jive...

Brunette: There aren't many real people left. The only real people I know are dead, pushed into nut houses, lobotomies, junk, suicides or really cooling it and saying nothing to nobody.

And also a seedy looking drug pusher giving his spiel.

Pusher: I got a great deal, amphetamines, caps, crystals, anything you want. No? [he's ignored] Keep your trip you don't need nothing, I'll see you later.

He's offering his wares to a man who was, just before the pusher arrives loading a revolver. He's sitting next to another man with a sheepskin coat. Another pause shows two women and a man giving each other the eye before the blond tells her male companion....

 
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"Don't look at me like that"
Blonde: Don't look at me like that. I can read your head. Dolly and Patty have nothing to do with thee and me. [takes a drag on her cigarette]
Man: I don't want to hear anymore about them dykes, man, and if you don't cool this lickety split talk talk jazz you're going to get my paranoid going too you dig?

There's a lot of subtext (both visual and audio) going on in that conversation sequence.

The sequence at Big Al's ends with the two gunmen leaving in a 1930 Ford Model A. The Drum solo continues. We segue into a hallucinogenic teeter totter swing through Chinatown to Wings Market. The two rob a woman at gunpoint emptying out the till before shooting her down.
 
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One of the homicide detectives, Inspector Mike Vido SFPD (Van Heflin), upon hearing the description of one of the killers and the unusual getaway car pins an old nemesis Eddie Pedak as the perp. Lt. Kebner SFPD (Jeff Corey) instructs Vido to hold his horses. Here, we get the complaints about police brutality connected with Vido as the reason. It will be echoed again in Dirty Harry (1971). We never heard the term in 40s-50s Classic Noir.
 
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Van Heflin as Inspector Mike Vido and Steve Mitchell as partner Frank Kane
Vido's got a **** for Eddie. He got drilled in the gut responding to an armed robbery. His vendetta is against Eddie Pedak who he thinks was the trigger-man ever since. Eddie's been keeping his nose clean. Working an honest job and trying to save extra cash to buy a boat to start his own business.
 
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Rt to lt., Ann-Margaret, Tammy Locke, and Alain Delon 
 
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Jack Palance

Eddie's brother Walter a local mobster pays a visit with his two goons the strung out druggie Sargatanas and 'Cleve' Shoenstein offering Eddie $50,000 to pull a job. Eddie turns him down.
 
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John Davis Chandler
However the frame botches Eddie's steady employment. Kristine goes to work as a waitress to make ends meet, but she doesn't tell Eddie that she's a cocktail waitress at Big Al's. When Eddie finds out he goes ballistic. He grabs her out of Al's and tells Walter that he will do the job.

Eddie plans out the heist with his inside knowledge of his former employer. The heist goes well until it goes Noirsville.

Noirsville
 
 
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Jeff Corey
 
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Jack Palance and Tony Musante
 
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"This time I'm going to shove you into the gas chamber."
 
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Like I mentioned earlier, the story is a sort of variation of Crime Wave and probably, I'm sure, a few other Noir also. All the performances are good, Van Heflin is looking his age and a bit tired but it goes with the character's story line, John Davis Chandler is creepy as the shade wearing druggie, but no one really stands out from the pack. Anne Margaret jettisons her sex kitten shtick, Jack Palance is believable as the Croatian/Italian big brother hailing originally from Trieste, his Italian sounds great.

Van Helfin BTW is also supposedly from Trieste in the story and definitely has an Italian mother, though he has no accent. This sort of mirrors my own Italian/Croatian background. My father was an Italian from Croatia my mother was from New York City and I have no accent either. So a believable scenario would go like this. Mike Vido was born in Trieste to an Italian mother and say a U.S. GI of Italian decent from San Francisco and arrived in San Francisco at an early age. He wouldn't have an accent.

Alain Delon though definitely sounds French not Italian. I suppose to untrained ears he just sounds foreign. It a minor quibble. There are some great sequences of early sixties San Francisco too boot. Full review with more screencaps at Noirsville 7/10
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52 Pickup (1986)

This is a  John Frankenheimer film, and that should have meant something.

Frankenhieimer gave us some great Transitional Noirs, In the early 60s he was on fire. The Noirs were All Fall DownThe Manchurian Candidate, and Seconds. He also directed Seven Days in MayBirdman of Alcatraz, The Train, and Grand Prix which I believe was his first color film.

Then he just sort of disappeared below my horizon, I don't remember much of note, maybe he didn't like working in color, who knows?  He kept making films. Films that made some blips on the radar screen. I haven't seen all of them but those I did somewhat like were Ronin, Reindeer Games and this one 52 Pickup.

It was written by Elmore Leonard and based on his novel. Leonard penned a few hits Jackie Brown Get Shorty, Mr. Majestyk, Joe Kidd, Valdez Is Coming, Hombre, 3:10 to Yuma, and The Tall T. Cinematography was by Jost Vacano and Stephen Ramsey (uncredited). Music was by Gary Chang.

The film stars Roy Scheider as Harry Mitchell, Ann-Margret as Barbara Mitchell, Vanity as Doreen, John Glover as Alan Raimy, Clarence Williams III as Bobby Shy, Lonny Chapman as Jim O'Boyle, Kelly Preston as Cini, Robert Trebor as Leo Franks, Doug McClure as Mark Arveson, and real porn stars Ron Jeremy and Amber Lynn as Party Goers.
 
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Roy Scheider as Harry Mitchell
Harry Mitchell (Roy Scheider) is a guy who runs a metal fabrication business. They have a way to fuse steel to other metals through planned explosions. He drives around in a very cool '65 Jaguar XKE
 
 
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1965 Jaguar XK-E
His wife Barbara (Ann-Margret) is a politician running for the Los Angeles City Council.
 
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Ann-Margret as Barbara Mitchell
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Harry is two-timing Barbara. He's shacking up on the side with Cini (Kelly Preston). Cini poses as a model. She is a "live nude girl."  Her specialty is posing nude for drooling pervs with cameras. The joint even rents Polaroid cameras for those that need them. They get to keep their whack off keepsakes for their photo albums.
 
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Cini was used by three low rent blackmailers to lure Harry to a motel room containing hidden cameras. One of them is her boss Leo Franks (Robert Trebor) the others are Alan Raimy (John Glover) and his muscle Bobby Shy (Clarence Williams III). Raimy is a pornographer and the brains of the scheme.

Harry arriving for his scheduled session with Cini is confronted by three masked men instead. They show him a tape they made of Harry doing Cini. They want a payment of $100,000 or they are going to show the tape to Barbara.
 
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Harry refuses to pay. The blackmailers get **** off and kill Cini with Harry's own gun to frame him for the murder. They video taped the murder and again show Harry. Now they want a payment of $105,000 a year for life.
 
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Harry tells them that he doesn't have that much money. He offers to show Raimy his books to prove it. When Raimy sees that Harry is telling the truth he accepts Harry's offer of $52,000.
 
 
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John Glover as Alan Raimy

This buys Harry time to turn the blackmailers against each other. He starts with Leo, the weakest link. Things in Noirsville unravel quickly.

Noirsville 
 
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Kelly Preston as Cini
 
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Robert Trebor as Leo Franks
 
 
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Clarence Williams III as Bobby Shy
 
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Lonny Chapman as Jim O'Boyle
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52 Pickup suffers from a real lack of any character development so you don't really care enough for any of the cast to get emotionally sucked into the story. The film proceeds in a pedestrian by the book manner without a lot of heart or very much of a memorable style and it feels like it's from another era.  Ann-Margaret is underused. I was hoping to see her in at least one good Noir/Neo Noir. It also suffers from the lack of a very strong villain. It diffuses the villainy among three characters. It needed an over the top protagonist.

Remember at the same time 52 Pickup came out we already had films by those that would be the new torch bearers setting new benchmarks, the Coen Brothers and David Lynch were making their marks and pushing the envelope. The Coen's Blood Simple (1984), Wim Wenders Paris, Texas (1984), Eastwood's Tightrope (1984),  William Friedkin'x To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986), and Alan Parker's Angel Heart (1987). Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs was just five years down the road. Full review with screen caps at Noirsville. Watchable 6-7/10
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The Dublin Nightmare (1958)

 
"Holy St. Patrick it's the guard!"

The director was John Pomeroy, it was his only film.

It was written by John Tully and based on Robin Estridge's novel. Cinematography by Eric Cross. Music by Edwin Astley. The film stars William Sylvester (2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)), Marla Landi (The Invisible Man(1959)), Richard Leech (A Night to Remember (1958)).

The Story

Early Morning. Dublin. Northumberland Arms hotel - Steve Lawlor wearing a shoulder holster watches a car approach. It looks like a 1958 Morris Minor, but I'm no British car expert. Two men get out. A tinny sounding church-bell peels.  IRA meeting. A Webley Top-Break revlover is loaded and handed off.

 
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Richard Leech
A woman comes into Steve's room. It's his girlfriend Anna Monti. They argue. She's afraid. He tells her he came back for the cause. He tells her that life has to be worth living its worth anything at all. She tells him that if he loves her he'd listen. He tells her that if he doesn't come back to do exactly what he told her to do. He hands her a small automatic.
 
 
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Marla Landi
 
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It's a armored car job, only in Ireland they call it a bank messenger. The heist is in Armagh, Northern Ireland.  They the stash the Morris and pick up a Vanguard.
 
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the bank messenger truck 
 
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The heist goes off as planed. They force the truck to stop. Knock out the guards, and split. A police car gives chase. The robbers are faster.
 
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They are out of sight of the coppers only in Ireland they call them "the guard." They get near the ditch point and two of the four, Steve and another man O'Callahan hop out of the getaway car with the money to pick up the Morris they parked. The police car speeds by a few seconds after the departing Vanguard.
 
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4:00 PM. Back at the Arms, Anna is anxious. Steve told her he would be back at 3. She goes and asks the hotelier what's going on. The two men who drove the Vanguard arrive. They tell Anna and the hotel man that it all went well. They wonder what could have happened. They suggest that they may have got stuck at the border. While they are deliberating the guard drives up.
 
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"Holy St. Patrick it's the guard!"
The guard officer is looking for a Mr. Kevin. John Kevin an American  arrives at just that moment. He's a photographer. The guardsman O'Connor explains that a man was killed in a motor accident and John Kevin's name was on a letter in the dead man's pocket.
 
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William Sylvester 
Anne sitting in the lobby herd the bad news. John goes to identify the body. The belongings, a tie a signet ring point to Steve. It's badly burned. It could be Steve.
 
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John gets drunk in a pub. He takes some pictures between rounds, afterwards he stumbles around trying to get back to the hotel. We see a man in a trench coat shadowing him. The next morning John gets pumped by the hotel porter for any info he may have gotten from the guard when he went to identify Steve. The IRA group figured that O'Callahan killed Steve and faked the crash so he could take off with the loot.
 
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Anna visits John she tells him that she doesn't have anyone to talk to. John was Steve's friend. She tells him it was murder, but she doesn't tell him how she knows. Of course this gets John to thinking. Meanwhile the IRA is alerting all it's branches to look for O'Callahan.

John sets up a makeshift darkroom in his hotel room and heads out into the city to finish off last nights roll. While he's poking about the cities sights a man follows him wearing a white trench coat. The man pushes John off the top of a small mill dam.

 
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He gets back to the hotel and reports the incident to O'Connor. He also confides in Anna that someone has tried to kill him also. Anna spills about the IRA and the robbery, and how Steve and O'Callahan had the money. They decide to team up and make their own inquiries. They go inspect the wreck site and then they go and retrace Johns pub crawl from the nigh before. John figures that he may have met someone then that caused that someone to push him off the dam. John and Anna start to hit if off a bit (so much for mourning for Steve).

The next day Anna reports all she discovered with John to the hotelier. She wants O'Callahan's address so she can talk to his wife. John and Anna go to O'Callahan's wife. The wife thinks he's dead.  Anna begins to think so also. Of course things go Noirsville.

Noirsville

 
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The Dublin Nightmare moves along at a quick pace and shows a bit of style to keep it interesting. The cast is made up of all unknowns (at least to me). Called a "quota quickie," a cheapo movie that fit the government mandate requiring a certain percentage of  British made film show in theaters. Filmed at Twickenham Studio Full Review with more screencaps at Noirsville - The Dublin Nightmare.

The DVD is part of Great British Film Noir set Vol 2. 6/10

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Zodiac (2007) Serial Killer Neo Noir Masterpiece

Zodiac is a great Neo Noir.

It's a sort of an amalgam of Police Procedural Noirs like one of the earliest, M (1931), also He Walked by Night (1948), The Naked City (1948), The Blue Lamp (1950) The Big Heat (1953) and the Newspaper Noirs like Scandal Sheet (1952), Call Northside 777 (1948), While the City Sleeps (1956) etc., etc., with a lot of noir visuals and style.

Zodiac was directed by David Fincher, of his films I've liked Se7en (1995), and the fantasy The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), didn't care that much story-wise for Gone Girl, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or The Social Network. From those last three listed choices of films that he made, they don't particularly give me the confidence to attend one of his films on the basis of his name alone being connected with the project. With director names like the Coen Brothers, Tarantino, or Lynch, I'll pretty much do a blind buy in, its a good bet I'll know what I'm getting.

It sort of makes me long for the old Hollywood Studio system, at least the part where, say a good director of Crime Films or Westerns would be able to carve out a nice Genre niche and perfect his style and ideas over a series of films. Se7en and Zodiac were great Police Procedural Noirs, I wish he'd make more of them, he made great ones.

Zodiac was written by James Vanderbuilt and was based on Robert Graysmith's eponymous book. Robert was a political cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle. In 1969 when the Zodiac killer case broke, he attempted to decode the four cryptograms sent to the paper and in turn became obsessed with the case. He wrote two books about the Zodiac and five other pieces on other crimes. One of those was made into the film  Auto Focus (2002).
 
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The well researched film (a lot of scenes where shot where the actual events happened) follows the investigations by Graysmith, San Francisco Chronicle crime reporter Paul Avery, San Francisco Police Department inspectors Dave Toschi and Bill Armstrong, and Sgt. Jack Mulanax from the Vallejo, California Police Department where the first Zodiac killing took place.

It's Fincher's style, the cinematography of Harris Savides, the dietetic soundtracks, and the music by David Shire, that combine to suck you into the story.

Noirsville
 
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Mark Ruffalo as Insp. Dave Toschi
 
 
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Jake Gyllenhaal as Robert Graysmith rt.
 
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Robert Downey Jr. as Paul Avery
 
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 Elias Koteas as Sgt. Jack Mulanax
 
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Brian Cox as Melvin Belli
 
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Chloë Sevigny as Melanie Graysmith
 
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The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Nocturnal Animals (2016)) as Robert Graysmith, Mark Ruffalo (Collateral (2004)) as Insp. Dave Toschi, Robert Downey Jr (Natural Born Killers (1994)) as Paul Avery, Anthony Edwards as Insp. Bill Armstrong, Chloë Sevigny (Palmetto (1998), The Brown Bunny (2003), Lovelace (2013)) as Melanie Graysmith , Brian Cox (Poodle Springs (1998)) as Melvin Belli, John Carroll Lynch (Fargo (1996)), as Arthur Leigh Allen, Dermot Mulroney as Captain Marty Lee, Elias Koteas (Hit Me (1996), The Killer Inside Me (2010)) as Sgt. Jack Mulanax, Donal Logue as Captain Ken Narlow and Philip Baker Hall (Zabriskie Point (1970), Hard Eight (1996), Hit Me (1996), Boogie Nights (1997)) as Sherwood Morrill.

It's more like an ensemble film. All the actors do a great job though none of them really stands out performance wise, though of course most time is spent with Gyllenhaal, Downey Jr., Ruffalo, Edwards and Sevigny. They all could have been replaced by other actors with no real change in the overall quality of the film. 9/10 Full review with more screencaps at Noirsville
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