Dr. Rich Edwards

JULY 24 TCM FILM DISCUSSION FOR #NOIRSUMMER FOR ALL 13 FILMS

148 posts in this topic

KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL

Does anyone else see a resemblance between John Payne in K.C. Confidential and Kevin Spacey in L.A. Confidential?  (especially in Payne’s right quartering profile)

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Did you notice that Dead husband of Helen was William Talman in the picture of him, in Beware My Lovely.

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Did you notice that Dead husband of Helen was William Talman in the picture of him, in Beware My Lovely.

I sure did!!  At first I thought it was my imagination but then I realized it really was him!!  I loved it!!

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Howard was a total psychopath and that's what they do; manipulate others to feel sorry for him. Robert Ryan's acting  in this role was superb.

Yes, Robert Ryan's acting was superb.  I've just ordered a copy of his biography (The Lives of Robert Ryan) and can't wait to read it.  I have really enjoyed his performances in so many of the films we've watched for the class!

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The only reason I think they put it in 1918 is so it could be a world war 1 vet. Many veterans suffer psychological trauma just like today. However Hollywood did not want to portray WW2 vets as dangerous psychopaths out of respect. It was just to soon. An example of this is the movie Blue Dahlia where originally it was supposed to be a vet that was the killer. I probablyI wouldn't have thought of this if Bendix from Macao wasn't on right now.

I never understood why they didn't just say it was 1950: nothing else would have had to change and I'm sure no-one would have been any the wiser!

 

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Macao

 

Now that's more like it! A real sizzle between Mitchum and Russell and a part for William Bendix where he's not playing someone deeply damaged.

 

This is the kind of film that made me love old movies in the first place. There was nothing special about it, and no deep thinking required, but it was a great film for a lazy Friday afternoon. I liked the Realist protrayal of Macao - was it filmed there? I doubt it - but it made for an exotic backdrop to a relatively standard cops and robbers film. Noir? I suppose, there was some nice cinematography: I liked the shadows of the bird cages on the walls in the casino, which made a nice change from the standard staircase shadows, and also the chase through the netting was well done. But the main thing about this film was Mitchum and Russell and they had some good scenes together, with some nifty one-liners. 

 

"My fatal charm. Never misses...except with women" 

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The only reason I think they put it in 1918 is so it could be a world war 1 vet. Many veterans suffer psychological trauma just like today. However Hollywood did not want to portray WW2 vets as dangerous psychopaths out of respect. It was just to soon. An example of this is the movie Blue Dahlia where originally it was supposed to be a vet that was the killer. I probablyI wouldn't have thought of this if Bendix from Macao wasn't on right now.

quoting myself to say sorry Van Hazard, I didn't see you had already mentioned that point
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“Beware, My Lovely”

 

I actually may have seen this movie once upon a time when I was a little girl.  There was something about when the children come into the house with the Christmas presents that I seem to remember. 

 

But first things first.  Are Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino great actors or what?  And Robert Ryan, wow, he was tall and handsome and tender.  The acting was great, the cinematography was first-class, so when you think about it, what separates a great work of art like “The Letter” from a movie like “Beware, My Lovely?”

 

 “The Letter” was adapted by Howard Koch from Somerset Maugham’s play.  Doing some research, I discovered Mel Dinelli adapted his own Broadway play “The Man” into “Beware, My Lovely.”  Whereas  "The Letter" blossomed via its location shooting, I think "The Man" was probably better served by the confines of a proscenium arch.

 

After watching “Beware, My Lovely,” I also did a little research on Ryan.  It seems in the summer of 1960, he starred opposite Katherine Hepburn at the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut, playing Antony to Hepburn's Cleopatra.   Unfortunately, that was well before the time of my summer excursions up to Stratford. He also played “Coriolanus” off-Broadway and “Othello” in Nottingham, England. Robert Ryan is one actor I truly would have liked to have seen on stage in classical roles. :wub: 

 

 

“Kansas City Confidential”

 

I do like a happy ending, and some of the script twists in “Kansas City Confidential” are quite good.  There was one thing that surprised me.  I thought the gasoline Foster was carrying in his station wagon leaked through the floor and splashed onto the money.  But, then again, maybe it didn’t.  I thought perhaps the plot device for transporting the gasoline in the first place (which is not a clever thing to do) was to get the money inadvertently wet and, in turn, accidentally set on fire.  I was waiting for it, but it didn’t happen. 

 

The movie benefits from three disgustingly evil villains in Lee Van Cleef, Jack Elam, and Neville Brand.  And when he is being a daddy, you do want to give Preston Foster a big hug. What I find troublesome about this movie are the leads, John Payne and Coleen Gray.  For me, Payne probably was a good choice for the lead, as he is not someone I would be immediately sympathetic to.  In fact, he never grew on me, even by the end of the movie.   I felt Coleen Gray, who I don’t think I have ever seen before, was too plastic for the daughter/law school student.  Her face looked botoxed to me, with not even one tiny line under her eyes.  When I went to law school, all of our eyes were perpetually tired for three years, including summer breaks.  A girl going to law school in her day would have to have been BEYOND driven.  I don’t think “Pumpkin” would have made it past first-year “Torts.”  I’m not being catty ~ well, maybe just a teeny, weeny, little bit…. ;)  

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i think you would like him in quicksand better. andy rooney plays a young man who steals out of his cash register to go on a date with an older woman. it also has peter lorre in it. it's a great noir and it suits andy rooney's personality

Thank you for your suggestion of Quicksand. I have never before heard of it and it seems as though it would be worth a try and particularly if Peter Lorre is in it.

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Roadblock (1951)

RKO Radio Pictures

 

 

I was disappointed with Roadblock. I’m a fan of Charles McGraw but I feel he was miscast here. The role called for more charisma or spunk. His delivery was stiff at times.

He was so much better in his previous films. The role called for a Robert Mitchum type. Also, the story never quite intrigued me.

 

I thought Dianne (Joan Dixon) played the perfect femme fatale until- she softened up and tells Peters, “Who cares about money?“ WHAT? Femme fatales do not say that!

 

The RKO look was undeniable in all the scenes. Nicholas Musuraca knows how to “Paint” a scene. My standard line applies again here- Roadblock is beautiful to look at.

 

Overall this noir had its good moments but only fair at best.

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Talk About a Stranger" seemed me to be a deceptively simple movie. They allow the audience to form attachments to both the boy and the dog while becoming suspicious of "the stranger" so we are sort of lead down the path of jumping to conclusions. Today's audiences are a bit more jaded so they may see through this. However, seen through the eyes 1952 it may have been a little revealing about how easy it is to make judgments without knowing all the facts.

 

I don't think it would be stretching a point if I was to say this could be a comment on the House of an American Activities Committee which didn't end its investigations until 1954, two years after this movie

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Macao

 

Now that's more like it! A real sizzle between Mitchum and Russell and a part for William Bendix where he's not playing someone deeply damaged.

 

This is the kind of film that made me love old movies in the first place. There was nothing special about it, and no deep thinking required, but it was a great film for a lazy Friday afternoon. I liked the Realist protrayal of Macao - was it filmed there? I doubt it - but it made for an exotic backdrop to a relatively standard cops and robbers film. Noir? I suppose, there was some nice cinematography: I liked the shadows of the bird cages on the walls in the casino, which made a nice change from the standard staircase shadows, and also the chase through the netting was well done. But the main thing about this film was Mitchum and Russell and they had some good scenes together, with some nifty one-liners. 

 

"My fatal charm. Never misses...except with women" 

I agree with your thoughts about Macao. I love this movie if only to see Mitchum and Russell play off each other. Don't forget Thomas Gomez as the corrupt policeman. He always steps up to the plate. Totally, noir in my opinion as well. BTW: Macao was colonized by Portugal in the mid 1500's and was returned by Portugal to China in 1999. The small amount of research I did indicates the movie was filmed in Macao and Hong Kong. I'm not sure if that's accurate. I could find very little about the main shooting location of the film. Maybe somebody who knows this could weigh in?

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Of all the films in this Films Noir series, the 5 I would take to the proverbial island are--& not in any order:

Laura

His Kind Of Woman

Kansas City Confidential

The Letter

While The City Sleeps

All of these films have a great cast, a compelling story and beautiful photography

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Macao

 

Now that's more like it! A real sizzle between Mitchum and Russell and a part for William Bendix where he's not playing someone deeply damaged.

 

This is the kind of film that made me love old movies in the first place. There was nothing special about it, and no deep thinking required, but it was a great film for a lazy Friday afternoon. I liked the Realist protrayal of Macao - was it filmed there? I doubt it - but it made for an exotic backdrop to a relatively standard cops and robbers film. Noir? I suppose, there was some nice cinematography: I liked the shadows of the bird cages on the walls in the casino, which made a nice change from the standard staircase shadows, and also the chase through the netting was well done. But the main thing about this film was Mitchum and Russell and they had some good scenes together, with some nifty one-liners. 

 

"My fatal charm. Never misses...except with women" 

 

Well said;   As for the portrayal of Macao;  Well the film was directed by Josef von Stemberg but he was replaced and much of the film was reshot by Nicholas Ray.    Since Stemberg was the director of the very early noir The Shanghai Gesture and known for featuring the exotic (e.g. his Dietrich films) many of the scenes carry over the Stemberg style as toned down, so to speak,  by Ray.

 

Gloria Grahame was somewhat wasted in this film but at least she was in it since she always adds something.    As you noted what makes this film work is the interaction between the two leads as well as Mitchum and Bendix (both feeling each other out all the time since they are each unsure of the other).

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Split Second

 

I know nothing about Dick Powell as a hoofer, and don't think too much of him as Marlowe, but did like him in Cornered and really quite enjoyed his directorial debut on this film. It didn't really bear too much thinking about plot wise, but it was a snappy little mean Noir B movie that never let up on the tension and had a great not-so-femme-fatale (more a a femme-desperately-hitching-her-wagon-to-anyone-who-could-save-her-neck)! Interesting too to see the Realist element of the movie when we see the military preparation going into the bomb test.   

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Split Second

 

I know nothing about Dick Powell as a hoofer, and don't think too much of him as Marlowe, but did like him in Cornered and really quite enjoyed his directorial debut on this film. It didn't really bear too much thinking about plot wise, but it was a snappy little mean Noir B movie that never let up on the tension and had a great not-so-femme-fatale (more a a femme-desperately-hitching-her-wagon-to-anyone-who-could-save-her-neck)! Interesting too to see the Realist element of the movie when we see the military preparation going into the bomb test.   

 

This was an interesting enough B movie but way more of an average thriller than a noir.   I like seeing Alexis Smith get the short end of the stick as the selfish women.   Smith was the closest gal to a femme-fatale since loving her lead to the death of her playmate.    While Jan Sterling game off as a gangster type moll she ended up doing right and saving her neck.     (expect rumor has it that they all died of radiation poisoning shortly thereafter!).   

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Now that I have seen all of "Narrow Margin" I can say I disagree with Hirch's assessment. I feel it still has not crossed the line from formula to parody in my opinion. I think the dialogue just seemed to be what people expected.I have seen some later film noir where the dialogue or voiceover is (I believe) unintentionally parody. "Chicago Confidential" comes to mind for me. I guess for me in order for it to be considered parody whether intentional or not has to make me smile or maybe even laugh out loud. Perhaps I'm just taking parody in too narrow of a definition. If there was any kind of parody it was to enhance the surprise twist ending (although I would classify it as taking formula to the extreme) It was telling us things aren't always as they seem on the surface and people don't always fit the stereotypes.

 

I like the way the setting of the train with it's crowded quarters enhance the feeling of being trapped and pursued. I loved the wonderful handheld photography and especially the amazing fight scene.

 

I heard it said that McGraw's shadow profile looks like Dick Tracy's and I have to say I agree. Does anybody else?

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The Narrow Margin

 

When Brown and Forbes enter the tenement and climb the stairs they immediately hear the decadent jazz piece that becomes the sultry Mrs. Neal's leitmotif.  

 

Brown correctly portends that his hunch about Mrs. Neal is right and the initial meeting is a hoot. The whole sequence takes on a whole new subtext upon a second screening of the film once you know that Mrs. Neal is in actuality a decoy undercover (internal affairs) Chicago cop, Sarah Meggs, playing the gangster moll, and more than tough as nails McGraw's equal. 

 

Windsor's turn as a hard boiled internal investigations cop playing a cheap, coarse, sightly seedy floozie is her tour de force. It's Chicago vs LA  and Windsor steals the sceenher large eyes flashing derision. 

 

Forbes: - What’s the music for, a welcome?

CPD: - You don’t know how welcome…. Hey ( to Meggs) turn that thing off … your escorts here.

Meggs (decoy Mrs. Neal) leaves  the jazz spinning,  flips her hair and struts over and runs her eyes over Brown first then Forbes.

CDP: - Forbes and Brown from Los Angeles…

Meggs - How nice, how Los Angeles ( taking a drag and blasting a mushroom cloud of cigarette smoke into Brown’s face)… Sun burn well… on the way out?

 

Gotta love it.

 

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Narrow Margin

 

This is my first time seeing this film, and it is now on my list of favorite films noir. The plot and acting are phenomenal. I was impressed with the choice to use a train as the main setting. The claustrophobic atmosphere added to the heightened tension of the situation as well as the anxiety exhibited by McGraw's character.

 

The technical noir elements were spot on: chiaroscuro, camera angles, wide angle focus, POV shots, obscured vision (fog and shadow) and the use of reflections particularly during the film's climax. I also liked the fade between scenes particular when Marie Windsor's filing her nails to the train's speeding coupling rods.

 

I don't how I missed seeing this film before, but I was very impressed.

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“The Narrow Margin”

 

WHAT!!!  :huh:

 

Not even a second thought, much less a tear, for the dead policewoman?  :angry:  :angry:  :angry:  

 

She didn't shed much of a tear for fellow officer Forbes, either.

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“The Narrow Margin”

 

WHAT!!!  :huh:

 

Not even a second thought, much less a tear, for the dead policewoman?  :angry:  :angry:  :angry:  

It's the films biggest fault, but you know, it actually precedes Hitchcock's Psycho in killing off a main character half way through the film.

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“The Narrow Margin”

 

WHAT!!!  :huh:

 

Not even a second thought, much less a tear, for the dead policewoman?  :angry:  :angry:  :angry:  

I know!  So much sympathy for Forbes and his family and not a word of sorrow for her.  I do wonder why a smart policewoman would be playing loud music and opening her door to the bad guys.

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I know!  So much sympathy for Forbes and his family and not a word of sorrow for her.  I do wonder why a smart policewoman would be playing loud music and opening her door to the bad guys.

 

I know!  So much sympathy for Forbes and his family and not a word of sorrow for her.  I do wonder why a smart policewoman would be playing loud music and opening her door to the bad guys.

Agreed!!  Maybe I was just "noired out" today by the time I saw this film, but it just seemed a little off in the story line and I was disappointed in it...

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