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I liked KC Confidential and had no problems with the plot.  Did not think it any more contrived (or "absurd") than many highly rated Noirs.  As for the masks and secret identities, no problem there at all.  Preston Foster did threaten them with hard prison time if they did not cooperate and they were all about to get caught by the law.  The characters were not the brightest bulbs in the box anyway.  Typical for most characters played by Elam, Van Cleef and Brand at the time.  I think the reasons for the masks, the cards and the later split were enough to convince three desperate low level criminals.

I liked the Mexican resort part of it and it does help the plot to advance.  Also liked Colleen Gray's performance.  Although she was too quick to accept John Payne once she determined there was something fishy about him.  But that was the script.

To me the most dubious scenario was when Payne was throwing money around trying to locate Elam and then get to the resort.  The friend who ran a small diner could not have given him that much money.  But hey, whatever makes it work.

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I liked KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL too. The plot was great. A cop holding a grudge over "early retirement" was very plausible for me. Like Eddie said, it was maybe ahead of it's time. I sometimes find today's dramas are  so complicated I have to Wikipedia them to understand what is happening. I thought Elam, Brand and Van Cleef were perfect in their roles. I know Eddie's intros and follow-ups are not liked by all. However, as an old film fan; I enjoy hearing the back story of these movies. 

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On 11/18/2019 at 5:48 PM, speedracer5 said:

Thanks! I look forward to seeing this.  I think I've maybe seen Cornel Wilde in one other film. Lupino is one of my favorites and I've also found myself liking Celeste Holm in some of the films I've seen her in.  Widmark is always very interesting.  Prior to really getting into his noir films, I only knew of him from his appearance as himself in I Love Lucy.

 

Probably the best film Cornel Wilde was ever in was The Big Combo, an excellent noir, also starring the great, under-rated Richard Conte. I really hope Eddie shows this one some time on Noir Alley.

 

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I really like Kansas City Confidential - I think this was my third or fourth viewing, and I still enjoyed it (even though, as Vautrin mentioned, I guess the air goes out of the suspense balloon once you know the ending of a film.) In fact, this is kind of a favourite of mine. I agree with Eddie, I think the plot is unpredictable with a few twists; Eddie had mentioned that the screenwriter was good at that sort of thing. 

I don't mind that the heist guys agree to the rather unorthodox arrangement of meeting up with the Big Guy to get their money later, at an unspecified place and time. Yes, it is a bit implausible, but if you're looking for plausible situations in noir, you're going to be disappointed. I don't care about that sort of thing - and as someone (Cid?) pointed out, the three thugs were all wanted by the police, and had nothing to lose. (Even though, yeah, it is a bit of a stretch to think they're going to turn up at the designated place, produce their half a card, and go, "Look, I've got half a King here, give me my $300,000."  ) But the film is entertaining enough that I'm more than willing to overlook the unlikeliness of that scenario.

John Payne is a very appealing actor, and was well-suited to noir  (such as Larceny, The Crooked Way, and 99 River Street.) He has a way of looking angry, of hardening his face when he's been "crossed", that works with his often embittered characters. (Something about the way he sets his jaw reminds me a little of Dana Andrews, playing similar characters.) I think he's quite good in KCC. 

I also think the opening scenes show a true "noir" theme: A guy who's done nothing wrong returning from the War, where he served well, even earning some medals of honour, can't get a break when he returns. One slip and he's distrusted and even abused by the police and the public in general, who are only too willing to believe he's a criminal. I would like to know what he was supposed to have done, back before the story begins, to spend a year in prison - - something about losing his temper at a card game?? What'd he do to get a year? Of course, my impression, based on all these old noirs I watch, is that you didn't have to do very much back then to get a year in prison.

Coleen Gray is pretty darn good in this, too. I think she was more versatile than she gets credit for (her characters in Nightmare and Kiss of Death are quite different from her cheerful, smart, lawyer character in KCC.) And, as Eddie mentions, there's definitely a bit of chemistry between her and Payne.

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1 hour ago, misswonderly3 said:

Probably the best film Cornel Wilde was ever in was The Big Combo, an excellent noir, also starring the great, under-rated Richard Conte. I really hope Eddie shows this one some time on Noir Alley.

 

I think I have this on my DVR. I recorded it specifically because it was the movie that Cornel Wilde was promoting when he appeared on I Love Lucy. 

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Enjoyed KCC also, but yeah, there were a couple of things in it that stretched credibility for me.

One was where Payne was at the Tijuana airport with Elam, the KC cops show up a spot Elam and shoot him after Elam reaches for his gun and while Payne stood just a few feet away from the action, and yet none of the cops look up to see who else was nearby, and who would have recognized Payne due to grilling him in KC.

The second one was that while neither Van Cleef nor Brand knew what their ringleader Foster LOOKED like, I couldn't quite believe neither couldn't place Foster's VOICE as sounding more than a little familiar to them.

Ah, but as Cid up there said, neither of 'em were the brightest bulbs in the box.

(...btw, and speaking Preston Foster...can anyone recall the last time they watched a movie where an actor played a character with the same surname?...not including this one, of course)

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I liked Kansas City Confidential too, and I can see why some critics, as mentioned by Eddie Muller in his outro were disturbed by the heavy-handed tactics displayed by the cops against Payne's character early in the picture.  Poor Jack Elam though!  He got smacked around, but good by both Preston Foster and John Payne that I was half expecting someone off-set to literally throw in a towel to save the guy!  If you thought Bette Davis was rough on Miriam Hopkins in "Old Acquaintance" during the 'shaken-not-stirred' scene, spare a moment of silence for Mr. Elam's character out of respect (even though he probably didn't deserve it)!

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I don't quite understand the concern that some posters have for "poor Jack Elam" in this film. I would imagine that at the end of a hard day slapping him around could be quite an enjoyable experience. Call it a real tension release (for you, that is, not Jack so much).

I mean, come on, I've seen Jack play some real creepos in the movies (and he was hardly a sweet innocent thing in KCC either). A slap or two (or three) on the side of his unusually elongated head would feel pretty good, don't ya think? In fact, punching out Jack could easily become a favourite national past time. Elam should be grateful that there are no pitchforks around.

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15 hours ago, misswonderly3 said:

John Payne is a very appealing actor, and was well-suited to noir  (such as Larceny, The Crooked Way, and 99 River Street.) He has a way of looking angry, of hardening his face when he's been "crossed", that works with his often embittered characters. (Something about the way he sets his jaw reminds me a little of Dana Andrews, playing similar characters.) I think he's quite good in KCC. 

143b13c9b23abf9991927e18b31d2515.jpg

"You read that? Well, I'm setting my jaw now, turkey, so don't mess with me or I'll sick Dana Andrews on you and you'll be in real trouble."

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4 hours ago, TomJH said:

I don't quite understand the concern that some posters have for "poor Jack Elam" in this film. I would imagine that at the end of a hard day slapping him around could be quite an enjoyable experience. Call it a real tension release (for you, that is, not Jack so much).

I mean, come on, I've seen Jack play some real creepos in the movies (and he was hardly a sweet innocent thing in KCC either). A slap or two (or three) in the side of his unusually elongated head would feel pretty good, don't ya think? In fact, punching out Jack could easily become a favourite national past time. Elam should be grateful that there are no pitchforks around.

OK Tom, you seem cool about turning Jack Elam's character into a bobble-head doll.  Hearkening back to conversations we saw in another thread (may have been I Just Watched or Characters Who Should Be Pitchforked), by the tenor of some of our posters, I think they'd like to see Estelle Parsons and Shelley Winters go two out of three falls with no disqualifications!  Throw in June Allyson for a three-way Texas Death Match with Mr. Elam as guest referee, and the quadrant would be complete!  Tickets!  Get your tickets! 

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17 minutes ago, midwestan said:

OK Tom, you seem cool about turning Jack Elam's character into a bobble-head doll.

MV5BOTdjMDU0NWItMmI1My00NzQ0LWE5ODEtNzdh

"Treating me like a bobble head doll? You guys crazy?"

kc5.jpg

"Actually, Jack, I like the idea!"

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Payne also acted kind of dumb after Elam was shot. He keeps looking in that direction instead of

minding his own beeswax. One cop seemed to notice, but nothing came of it. I can' remember

which one of three Eddie said was so ugly that he made Charles Bronson look like Cary Grant,

but frankly no one could make Bronson look like Grant. I don't know that Bosley Crowther was

totally wrong. While KCC is way better than some heist movies, it's still basically another gangster

flick, though with good direction and script.

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LOL. It was Elam. Bosley Crowther was always a sourpuss. Or gasbag as Eddie put it. I never realized Elam couldnt see in one eye. It's no wonder he got cast as bad guy/creepy types...

Yeah, talk about looking guilty. Payne must've looked over there 4 times!

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4 hours ago, Vautrin said:

Payne also acted kind of dumb after Elam was shot. He keeps looking in that direction instead of

minding his own beeswax. One cop seemed to notice, but nothing came of it. I can' remember

which one of three Eddie said was so ugly that he made Charles Bronson look like Cary Grant,

but frankly no one could make Bronson look like Grant. I don't know that Bosley Crowther was

totally wrong. While KCC is way better than some heist movies, it's still basically another gangster

flick, though with good direction and script.

Actually Vautrin, it was Neville Brand that Eddie made that comment about in his intro.

And I'd guess he made that comment about Brand, and while a shot of his mug was shown on screen while Eddie said it, was primarily because both Brand and Bronson were burly guys and shared a similar physicality. 

(...and even though I've never thought Brand was particularly "ugly", and so I too thought it a rather strange comment to make)

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6 hours ago, Hibi said:

LOL. It was Elam. Bosley Crowther was always a sourpuss. Or gasbag as Eddie put it. I never realized Elam couldnt see in one eye. It's no wonder he got cast as bad guy/creepy types...

Yeah, talk about looking guilty. Payne must've looked over there 4 times!

Yeah, talk about mr. obvious. I think Crowther was one of those movie critics who also thought he

was also a part-time moral guardian. I don't think he was all that bad, of course it was a different

time. I might have read about one-eyed Jack and likely forgot it. In his 1960s roles in TV westerns

he also sported very extensive eyebrows. They made him look not so much mean as kind of weird.

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3 hours ago, Dargo said:

Actually Vautrin, it was Neville Brand that Eddie made that comment about in his intro.

And I'd guess he made that comment about Brand, and while a shot of his mug was shown on screen while Eddie said it, was primarily because both Brand and Bronson were burly guys and shared a similar physicality. 

(...and even though I've never thought Brand was particularly "ugly", and so I too thought it a rather strange comment to make)

A trio where Lee Van Cleef is the handsome dude. I don't think any of them are particularly

bad looking, though they're not matinee idols either. Their looks surely helped in playing

bad guys.

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Tonight it's The Mask of Dimitrios (1944)

Not a fave of mine but hopefully it will be on demand so that we'll see what Eddie has to say.

My two cents....

Directed by Jean Negulesco, with  Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, Zachary Scott, Faye Emerson, Victor Francen, George Tobias, Steve Geray, Eduardo Ciannelli, Florence Bates.

A really offbeat story of a mild-mannered mystery writer Leyden (Lorre) who is intrigued by the tale told by a Turkish policeman, of notorious criminal Dimitrios Makropolous (Scott), whose body was found washed up on the shore in Istanbul. Leyden decides to follow the career of Dimitrios around Europe, to learn more about the man. Along the way, he is joined by mysterious Mr. Peters (Greenstreet), who has his own motivation.

I really don't like any of the three leads all that much especially Scott who for me anyway has never been quite convincing in any role I've seen him in (he reminds me of Eric Roberts who I have the same ambivalence for), but Faye Emerson provides some nice eye candy.

For me the film was a bit ineffective because you can kind of figure out the obvious direction its going.

The cinematography is very noir-ish, so its a treat regardless in that respect, but then again on the other hand its not gritty cityscapes or lonely desert roadhouse diners, trailer courts or flashing neon backstreets in the type of noirs I enjoy most, nor does it have any hard-boiled dialog considering the cast of characters, lol, you are not going to get any of that from the likes of three of the silver screen's oiliest weasels, Lorre, Greenstreet, or Scott, it would sound ridiculous anyway.

Its like watching a dark Casablanca or any Adventure Period Piece set in Hollywood back lot Exotic-Anywhere-Ville, so it lacks the on location visual punch you get out of the best noirs.

I'll still give this weasel fest a 7/10

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Joe, I think that The Mask of Dimitrios is a noirish take on Citizen Kane. The film is set up in a similar fashion, and Dimitrios is the larger-than-life and even larger-than-death Kane character. I'm a big fan of the film. The black & white Jean Negulesco films are one of the most underrated bodies of work in the classic era. Faye Emerson gives a great performance, believable in both the before and after parts of her role. Negulesco likes to cast Peter Lorre against type; he does it again in Three Strangers.

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5 hours ago, kingrat said:

Joe, I think that The Mask of Dimitrios is a noirish take on Citizen Kane. The film is set up in a similar fashion, and Dimitrios is the larger-than-life and even larger-than-death Kane character. I'm a big fan of the film. The black & white Jean Negulesco films are one of the most underrated bodies of work in the classic era. Faye Emerson gives a great performance, believable in both the before and after parts of her role. Negulesco likes to cast Peter Lorre against type; he does it again in Three Strangers.

Yea you are right, it is similar Kane setup wise. I'm working now most weekends so I'll have to hope it's on TCM on demand to see Eddie's comments.

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1 hour ago, TikiSoo said:

THANKS! I have MASK OF DIMITRIOS recorded and love watching noirs in winter.

Also thanks for the heads up on TCM Premiere REPEAT PERFORMANCE coming up Dec 29, sounds right up my alley!

Repeat Performance has an impressive opening scene that is pure noir.

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