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Noir Alley

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I've come to appreciate Dennis O'Keefe lately, an actor who joins the likes of Dick Powell and John Payne in making a career transition in his roles from lightweight drama and comedy performer into a credible performer in crime dramas.

O'Keefe had a pleasantly flippant delivery of dialogue and, as pointed out by others here, he indulged in a bit of enjoyable bantering with Ann Sheridan (a real pro at fast quip one liners) in Woman on the Run. At the same time, though, O'Keefe was believable when it came to his portrayal of the darker aspects of his character.

Impressive as Woman in the Run is (lovely lead performances, great Frisco location shooting, a genuinely suspenseful climax), O'Keefe's two film noirs with director Anthony Mann are tougher and darker (both with stunning black and white photography by John Alton): T Men and Raw Deal. Once again OKeefe is very credible as a tough guy performer in these films. In one he's a good guy posing as a bad guy, while in the other he is a hood escaped from prison who is out for revenge but his character, hardened as he may be, still possesses a streak of decency.

5453f-rawdeal2.png

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9 hours ago, Dargo said:

Liked your write-up here, speedy.

However, and while I probably shouldn't mention the following, and only because you twice misidentified/misnamed the actor who played Ann Sheridan's husband in Woman of the Run, I've felt compelled to correct you on this.

As you most likely really know, the actor who played her husband in this film, and the actor as you correctly remembered who played the commercial director in the classic Vitameatavegamin I Live Lucy episode was Ross Elliott, not Eliot Reid.

(...although, I can plainly see how you could have confused these two actors, as not only do they sort of share a similar name and somewhat resemble each other in a fairly nondescript "average white male" manner, but also that both of these actors would never make much of an indelible impression upon the silver screen in their careers, either) 

Eliot Reid

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Ross Elliott

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Thanks for the correction Dargo! Yes. I did confuse the two actors.  That does explain why when I thought that Sheridan's husband also played the detective trying to schmooze Jane Russell in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, I didn't find the film in his filmography. 

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M (1951) Watched it last night (managed to stay up) on a very nice print. I think the first time I saw the '51 version was on Youtube and the copy was pretty crappy. This is a very good release version that I enjoyed quite a bit. For me it's almost equal to Lang's masterpiece and it has lots of Bunker Hill locations that give it an archival quality. Also a lot of L.A.'s Bradbury building and it's loaded with a lot of familiar faces. Eddie's intro and outros are great as usual. 8/10  

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2 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

M (1951) Watched it last night (managed to stay up) on a very nice print. I think the first time I saw the '51 version was on Youtube and the copy was pretty crappy. This is a very good release version that I enjoyed quite a bit. For me it's almost equal to Lang's masterpiece and it has lots of Bunker Hill locations that give it an archival quality. Also a lot of L.A.'s Bradbury building and it's loaded with a lot of familiar faces. Eddie's intro and outros are great as usual. 8/10  

I definitely agree with this.

Disclaimer:  I did not end up seeing WOMAN ON THE RUN after my internet issues last week.  It never appeared on my Sling TV TCM ON DEMAND, so I've ignored all of the discussion since then because I do plan to see it some day. 

The major detractor for M (1951) is M (1931).  I think this film would be much more acclaimed if the original didn't exist, but it does.  I thought it was pretty good, but once the chase started it really vaulted to excellent.  And I agree that the locations and the use of The Bradbury really added to it.  I would definitely watch this one again.  It is a real shame David Wayne didn't receive more public acclaim for his performance.

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5 minutes ago, Looney said:

It is a real shame David Wayne didn't receive more public acclaim for his performance.

Agree he was impressive.

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I watched Woman on the Run yesterday and M today and thought I was losing my mind when the cackling puppet in the final shot of woman on the run appeared 10 minutes into M.

same camera angle, but one panned up to it and the other panned down from it

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2 hours ago, hutz said:

I watched Woman on the Run yesterday and M today and thought I was losing my mind when the cackling puppet in the final shot of woman on the run appeared 10 minutes into M.

same camera angle, but one panned up to it and the other panned down from it

I noticed that too ! The exact same "cackling woman" carnival clown puppet ! Such a coincidence that that same (I'm sure it's the exact same one, there couldn't be two of them) bizarre dummy was in both films - and both movies shown back to back on Noir Alley !

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6 minutes ago, misswonderly3 said:

I noticed that too ! The exact same "cackling woman" carnival clown puppet ! Such a coincidence that that same (I'm sure it's the exact same one, there couldn't be two of them) bizarre dummy was in both films - and both movies shown back to back on Noir Alley !

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I think it's also in Man in the Dark (1953)

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I liked this remake of M, although I have to go with what seems to be the consensus, that good though it is, it's not as good as the original. Nothing can beat Fritz Lang's strange, unforgettable story of the pursuit of the tortured child murderer in Weimar Republic Germany.

Still, Joseph Losey's version is a very well-made film, and pays due homage and respect to Lang's. At first it seemed as though the remake was duplicating the original almost shot-for-shot. And certainly, there are many similarities - the blind balloon seller, so key to the capture of "M", the panic-stricken mother waiting for her child to come from school (and the audience knowing that she never will), the ball the little girl was playing with drifting into the garbage heap by the side of the road, telling us everything we need to know about what happened to her, and the riveting extended penultimate scene in Los Angele's Bradbury Building, a building as magnificent and labyrinthine as the one in Lang's version. (I don't know what that building is in the original film, or whether it's a set - either way, it's very impressive....)

The story is pretty much the same, but there are a few differences. The main one is that in Losey's version, the killer has a little girl with him the entire time he's being hunted down by the ganster's men. I think in Lang's film, the Peter Lorre character just abandons the child when he realizes he's being chased - he has no time to think about her or his terrible compulsions associated with her. He just wants to evade his pursuers.

In Losey's remake, the killer continues to keep the child with him, right up to the point when he's caught. This must have been a very deliberate decision on Losey's and the screenwriters' part, because what it does is double the tension - almost the entire time the audience is fearful for the girl's life. Even though, as I said, we're pretty sure the killer just wants to escape, he still has that child with him, and we just don't know for sure that she's going to get away alive. Although I still prefer Lang's version, the added suspense of the little girl who remains in M's possession and the uncertainty of what might befall her adds a whole new layer of uneasiness to the scene.

Another difference I noticed: The 1931 version is filled with paranoia; we can feel the oppressive atmosphere right from the film's opening shots. There's a double fear going on in the 1931 M: the fear that a child killer is on the loose and could strike at any time, and the fear resulting from that - the fear that anyone might be accused of being the killer. There are a lot more scenes of innocent men being vilified, just for walking with a young child, in the 1931than in the remake. I know that Eddie comments about the paranoia in the early 50s and how Losey had some of that feeling infuse his film, but I still don't feel it the way I do with Lang's version.

Finally, there's the scene in the taxi garage, the "kangaroo court", where the killer is "tried". Yes, David Wayne is very good. He succeeds in making us feel pity for him, despite his vile crimes. But there's nothing like Peter Lorre's anguish in the original. Maybe it's because it's in German, and I can't literally understand what he's saying - this renders his speech all the more strange, mysterious even. The way he wails that he doesn't want to do it , he can't help it, he must....it's jaw-droppingly repellent and moving at the same time.

Also, I think by 1951 there was a lot more "psychology" going on in Hollywood movies; the "explanation" Harrow gives for why does what he does, based on a twisted upbringing by a mother filled with hatred for men, just doesnt' quite fit, somehow. It feels like the screenwriters picked up on some psychological theory of the day about "psycho killers" and applied it to Harrow. I find the earlier film's "explanation" much more affecting - precisely because there's no attempt to "explain" the killer's motives. He's just a sick compulsive child killer who feels he "must" kill, even when he doesn't want to. This is a much more disturbing depiction of the killer's mind, because no one, not even the killer himself, knows why he feels the need to kill children. Somehow this very lack of explanation makes more sense to me than the 1951 "his mother made him sick" psychological analysis.

Sorry, I know this is long...just one more observation...For some reason I have the idea, in the Lang version of M, that the killer does sexually attack the children before he kills them. And this fits with my (very limited) knowledge of how such serial killers work. The Losey version makes a point, right near the beginning, of clarifying that the killer does not "violate" his victims - he kills them, but does not rape them. I suspect this was important for the filmmakers in 1951 Hollywood, that they felt the film would never get acceptance or even be released if they did not at least spare the child victims this added horror.

 

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8 minutes ago, misswonderly3 said:

The Losey version makes a point, right near the beginning, of clarifying that the killer does not "violate" his victims - he kills them, but does not rape them. I suspect this was important for the filmmakers in 1951 Hollywood, that they felt the film would never get acceptance or even be released if they did not at least spare the child victims this added horror.

Exactly, here is the Code at work no doubt, and that fact may have been the reason to have the child with the killer during the chase to make up for that very lack 

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It's Fat M vs. Thin M. I saw the remake a number of years ago and didn't remember much

about it. On its own it's a fairly good flick, though not up to the original. The German version

has a certain exoticism from being so long ago and set in Germany. There's nothing the

1951 version can do about that, it's just the way it is. I found it to be a typical police

procedural wrapped around a psychotic killer tale, and pretty effective as that. The mommy

messed me up theory likely seemed pretty nifty back then, today less so. Give mom a break.

I did get a kick out of the scene where Wayne strangles the Pillsbury Dough Boy as mommy

looks on from her photo. The mass paranoia and hysteria theme is also well done, though I

suppose it's an obvious tack to take. All in all, worth watching.

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I always try to be positive when posting on this site, but I couldn't get into M. I  thought it was weird.  I haven't seen the original and maybe I might have enjoyed it more if I had. I much prefer films that have some suspense. Having heard a lot about this film I was really disappointed. As mentioned the acting was good for the most part and having so many familiar faces was nice. It was interesting that the mobsters did a much better job than the police by catching the killer. I guess that was the whole point. As always, Eddie did a good job with his intro and follow-up. Still M just didn't live up to the hype for me or my wife.

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8 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

I noticed that too ! The exact same "cackling woman" carnival clown puppet ! Such a coincidence that that same (I'm sure it's the exact same one, there couldn't be two of them) bizarre dummy was in both films - and both movies shown back to back on Noir Alley !

Related image

My formative years taking place within a short distance (10-11 miles) of Santa Monica's Pacific Ocean Park (aka: "P.O.P."), although when the aforementioned films were shot in the early-'50s it was then known as Ocean Park Pier until 1958 and when the name change occurred and some additional rides and exhibits were added, I remember walking past this "cackling woman" more than a few times in my young life when I'd venture down the midway of this old amusement park.

It would permanently close in 1967 and be demolished in 1974.

(...other films and TV shows of note which would also be filmed there would be the final two-part episode of The Fugitive right after the park's closure, and the carousel scene in the movie The Sting just before its demolition)

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17 minutes ago, Dargo said:

My formative years taking place within a short distance (10-11 miles) of Santa Monica's Pacific Ocean Park (aka: "P.O.P."), although when the aforementioned films were shot in the early-'50s it was then known as Ocean Park Pier until 1958 and when the name change occurred and some additional rides and exhibits were added, I remember walking past this "cackling woman" more than a few times in my young life when I'd venture down the midway of this old amusement park.

It would permanently close in 1967 and be demolished in 1974.

(...other films and TV shows of note which would also be filmed there would the final two-part episode of The Fugitive right after the park's closure, and the carousel scene in the movie The Sting just before its demolition)

Was the Santa Monica Pacific Ocean Park in the same place where the famous Santa Monica Pier is ?

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29 minutes ago, speedracer5 said:

Was the Santa Monica Pacific Ocean Park in the same place where the famous Santa Monica Pier is ?

Hi speedy! Nope, they were always two different piers.

The Santa Monica Pier, which would also come very close to the fate of the wrecking ball in the mid-'70s due to neglect and occasional storm damage over the years, and which for years didn't have any sort of amusement park associated with it until 1996 and after its revitalization, is about a mile north of where the old Pacific Ocean Park pier was located.

(...and with the major east-west street of Colorado Blvd ending up at the Santa Monica Pier, and with the major east-west street of Ocean Park Blvd ending up at the ocean where the old P.O.P. used to be) 

 

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On 4/26/2019 at 11:03 PM, kingrat said:

Yes, I like it about as much as the Fritz Lang original. Love the location shots in LA and the utilization of the Bradbury Building.

Yes, I did too. It's sad that Bunker Hill can only be seen in pictures or films of that era now.

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20 minutes ago, Hibi said:

It's sad that Bunker Hill can only be seen in pictures or films of that era now

Well, the only three physical features left of Bunker Hill are Angels Flight (about a half block South from its original site), and the 3rd Street and 2nd Street tunnels.

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Yep. Progress. Just a bunch of skycrapers now......

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6 hours ago, cigarjoe said:

Well, the only three physical features left of Bunker Hill are Angels Flight (about a half block South from its original site), and the 3rd Street and 2nd Street tunnels.

And pretty much the very same type of urban renewal projects in Lower Manhattan which would take place during the same era (the 1960s) in your neck-of-the-woods, eh CJ?!

Bet you remember "Radio Row" before it was demolished to make way for the Twin Towers, don't ya.

And, just like I vaguely remember seeing the old Bunker Hill section of L.A. and the trolley cars plying the streets of downtown L.A. when I was a kid, and when we'd pile into my parents' '56 Chevy station wagon and drive up the Harbor Freeway to see a first-run movie at one of the grand old movie palaces there.

(...oh, and to have dinner at Clifton's Cafeteria too, of course...)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clifton's_Cafeteria

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How nice to see something being refurbished and not torn down.

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On 4/29/2019 at 6:00 PM, Dargo said:

And pretty much the very same type of urban renewal projects in Lower Manhattan which would take place during the same era (the 1960s) in your neck-of-the-woods, eh CJ?!

Yea Manhattan's urban renewal projects have, in my view, decimated a lot of the signature urban landscapes that made Manhattan, Manhattan. Of course there are plenty of pockets of picturesque urban decay to still be found in the "outer boroughs" and some small ones still in Manhattan. You just have to actively search for them on the island. 

For instance in this shot from Something Wild (1961):

 Manhattan%2BBridge%2BSomething%2Bfrom%2BPike%2BSt.jpg 

Here's the Manhattan end of the Manhattan Bridge, Pike Street is on your left. Pike street is the southern boundary of  "The Lower East Side", Madison Street is at the bottom of the screen grab just out of the picture, just in front of the one story building on the corner of the parking lot, center. The basement apartment that Ralph Meeker lived in is the lighter colored five story walkup right next to the bridge with the plume of white steam/smoke.

Here below is the scene at street level today courtesy of Google Maps:

ToF9ero.jpg

The line labeled Monroe St points to the corner building next to Ralph Meeker's five story walk up. In the first image its the darker building, today it's painted beige and has been built onto extending into the old parking lot. The rest of the parking lot is all built up also including the Madison Hotel which sits on the site of the one story building in the screenshot from the film. All the tenements on the North side of Pike Street have been demolished. You'll remember that neighborhood from The Naked City. It's the neighborhood at the end of the film where the police find and chase Ted De Corsia out of and on to the Manhattan bridge. 

Now as you can see its all red brick public housing projects, a tree planted medium and a new skyscraper going up just to the left of the the center street light.

Urban renewal tore down the last original Manhattan el in 1955. It, the Third Avenue el, was built in the previous century in 1878, had Victorian gingerbread stations, with ornate wrought iron appointments, stained glass windows, and pot belly coal stoves for heat see below.

Image result for third Avenue el station architecture

Image result for Third Avenue Elevated station stained glass windows

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Image result for Third Avenue Elevated station stained glass windows

Image result for Third Avenue Elevated station stained glass windows

They should have preserved at least a station or two and one 3 or 5 car train and the city blocks fronting what they should have left as a historic district. But no, real estate development and political pressures were too great. Ten years later In 1966, Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act.

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On 4/28/2019 at 4:20 PM, misswonderly3 said:

Sorry, I know this is long...just one more observation...For some reason I have the idea, in the Lang version of M, that the killer does sexually attack the children before he kills them. And this fits with my (very limited) knowledge of how such serial killers work. The Losey version makes a point, right near the beginning, of clarifying that the killer does not "violate" his victims - he kills them, but does not rape them.

I watched this again yesterday and I found a very noir-ish curious contradiction to all the above. Yes the Losey version makes a point of stating that the killer does not "violate" his victims, but if you rewatch the title sequence there are some very explicit visual clues of what he does. Watch this sequence again.

A little girl is standing by a vending machine that has a mirror we first see David Wayne in the mirror he's playing with a toy called a "whizzer" he pulling on it stretching and releasing it at crotch level no less. It attracts the attention of the little girl, she's curious about it. It's not much of a stretch to say its a visual metaphor for exposing himself, pulling out and playing with his ****.

tXOAcP9.jpg

Another sequence follows a little girl is attempting to drink from a fountain. David Wayne approaches. His back is to the camera, we first see a stream of water again at crotch level, looks again like he's again exposed himself and is ****. The very next image has the little girl bending over towards his crotch again suggesting oral. 

vDnV4vF.jpg

One of the final shots in the title sequence has Wayne leaning up against a boardwalk rail with his body in a very twisted almost "S" shape.

SJrc9xh.jpg

All visual clues are there to what the code forbade. There may be more.

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Wow, some interesting observations there, joe. I suspect you're right. Because of the Code, Losey couldn't overtly show or state that the children were sexually violated/molested in some way before M murdered them. But he had ways of getting around that, to suggest to observant viewers (like yourself) that, whatever that media of the day (in the film) announced about the killings, there was some horrible weird sexual stuff going on between the murderer and his prey.

But, as I think we'd all agree, Code or no Code, (and of course Lang's version didn't have to worry about a code), it's best that the weird obsessive sex stuff happens off-screen. As of course, the murders also are (off-screen.) This is a wise decision on the parts of both Lang and Losey (ok, Losey didn't have much choice, but I'm sure, in the spirit of the original "M", he would have had them off-screen anyway).

This is because M is not a horror film, nor even a film about compulsive sex murders.(well, that would be horror, too, in my book...)

M - both versions - is about a community where something terrible, unspeakable, is taking place, and how the members of that community react to it. It's a film about fear- the kind of fear that becomes a malaise, infecting even people who don't have children. There's something profoundly wrong with a world where children are abducted and killed (of course this still goes on now, perhaps worse than ever - but M is about it happening in a very specific place and time.)

 M is also about the killer himself, as underlined in that final scene where he gives his anguished speech (especially in the original version.) The fact that Lang - and Losey - could elicit any kind of sympathy for someone who commits such horrible acts is testament to their talent as director, and of course, the talent of the actors who played the killer.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is, M is a great film, and one of the reasons for this is precisely because the director chooses not to show the murders. A lone balloon floating randomly in the air is all we need to know what has occurred.

There's just one other difference between the two M's that I noticed, and it connects with what you were saying about the sexual obsessions of the killer. The Losey version has the killer collect the shoes of the children he kills. He has some kind of fetish about little girls' shoes. I'm not sure that adds to the story much, although it doesn't detract from it either. It wasn't necessary in Lang's M. In the later version, it helps in establishing concrete evidence when the police search Harrow's apartment.

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6 minutes ago, misswonderly3 said:

There's just one other difference between the two M's that I noticed, and it connects with what you were saying about the sexual obsessions of the killer. The Losey version has the killer collect the shoes of the children he kills. He has some kind of fetish about little girls' shoes. I'm not sure that adds to the story much, although it doesn't detract from it either. It wasn't necessary in Lang's M. In the later version, it helps in establishing concrete evidence when the police search Harrow's apartment.

I don't remember, but did Lorre play a flute too? 

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Another difference, most of the remake takes place in bright daylight.

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