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Barton_Keyes

Noir Alley

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21 minutes ago, TheCid said:

Did Eddie say anything really good during the intro?

He kept it pretty basic, praising Robertson's "sneering" performance and the two women. He also said it was a great movie for Father's Day.

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5 minutes ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

He kept it pretty basic, praising Robertson's "sneering" performance and the two women. He also said it was a great movie for Father's Day.

Eddie did end his intro saying something like the film had no time for sentimentality.

I then yelled at the T.V. "hey,  Eddie you just stole my line!".      My wife asked me "what?" and I just said it was an inside joke!

 Below is what I posted at this thread before Eddie's intro.

"Very dark film with little to no sentimentality".

   Of course such a view of the film is hardly a surprise.    (especially after one sees the scene with the kid and the car).

   

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3 hours ago, Hibi said:

I thought Underworld USA  was just ok. Eddie oversold it for me. I don't worship Sam Fuller like he does. I was bored during parts of it. Too slow and the plot was so familiar. Richard Rust was good at playing heavies. After a good start in films, he worked mostly on tv. He died very young of a heart attack at  59.

I agree, the action flagged. A revenge story and also sort of social justice message exposition on the threat of organized crime, maybe slowed it down. I was not impressed with Robertson in this role. Not surprised to learn that this sort of thing "didn't stick." I didn't see a complete or deep performance. Compare last week when Edwards was totally convincing. He would have done well in the role IMO. Robertson was the only real headliner and that put a burden on him to carry the film. Some interesting familiar faces in character roles, the police chief Larry Gates and the crime boss Robert Ernhardt. I'm trying to think of the movie Richard Rust was in where he was one of three bad guys. I looked at his filmography and don't recognize the title. Maybe someone will think of it. Maybe it wasn't him. Doloros Dorn excelled.

 

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First, there's was something about Robertson's portrayal of the hood with a vendetta that I just didn't totally buy into. He started to remind me of some of Robert Montgomery's noir roles where he attempts to act like a tough guy but somehow I never quite totally buy into them, either. I'm thinking it might be because of their common (kind of) frat boy looks, and the feeling I get that they're affecting a street tough accent just a bit too much.

Secondly, the first role I think of whenever I see Larry Gates in something is as Endicott, the guy who slaps Sidney Poitier and  who in turn gets slapped right back in In the Heat of the Night.

Thirdly, I'd give this Sam Fuller effort a rating of 2.5 stars out of 4, as I did like much of the acting in it, and Fuller's atmospheric direction was decent and considering what was apparent as the film's small budget.

(...and fourthly and as a little personal side note here..Dolores Dorn reminded me SO damn much of a woman who broke my heart into little pieces back in the late-'70s when she went back to her husband, that I found it very ironic when Eddie mentioned in his outro that she was also originally from Chicago and just like that heartbreaker of mine was...they could've been twins)

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Mostly a routine crime film with a few good visuals and some interesting plot points, but still it's

a I've seen this before type of movie. I did get a kick out of Robertson in the finale trying to out

Cagney Cagney in the I'm gonna keep stumbling until I go down sweepstakes. Rain always helps

in those situations. I thought Fuller might end the movie with the shadows of Robertson and the

two women up on the wall as in the scene at the beginning of the picture, but I guess not. Robertson

screwed up like many tough guys do by not disarming the dude that was Emhardt's bodyguard and

then getting shot on the way out. What is this, amateur hour? And it's hard to believe that Cliff could

drown a whale like Robert in so short a time. I think Larry Gates was also in that bomb shelter episode

of The Twilight Zone.

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7 hours ago, Det Jim McLeod said:

What's your opinion of it? 

Underworld U.S.A. (1961) Dir Sam Fuller, with Cliff Robertson. I think I actually saw this in the theater back in 61 and remembered liking it but was fuzzy on some of the details, i.e. the end happens in a wet alley and instead of Christmas music its a music box "Auld Lang Syne" that plays, close. I think over the decades I may have cross wired this with James Cagney's death in "The Roaring Twenties" but I'm still not 100% positive its the film.

Anyway, as a 14 year old Robertson sees his father beaten to death in an alley and as the years pass he finally gets his sweet revenge on the four culprits, some nice sequences but not up to "Pickup On South Street" budget standards. It keeps you entertained and Robertson is great, some of the rest of the cast are recognizable but not names you have on the tip of your tongue, its on the cusp of the The Classic Film Noir era closer in look to "Shock Corridor" and "The Naked Kiss" than "Pickup On South Street" still a 7/10. (I wrote this back in 2011 before I came to call them Transitional Noir)

Watching it again I still see its low budget sets as a detriment to the film as more and more films were doing  real on location shooting. I feel the same about "Shock Corridor" and "The Naked Kiss"

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This was the second time I'd seen "Underworld USA".   I do like the film;  it is, as joe says, what you could call a "transitional noir", and as such, you don't even expect the shadows and angles etc. of classic era noir.  Still, it had some good noirish bits, most notably that alley with the garbage cans, so nicely structured with its being featured at both the very beginning and very end of the film  (wonder if they were even the same garbage cans, 18 years later?  😐 )

A few observations:  god,  Dolores Dorn is a pretty one.  Exceptionally pretty.  I did notice they didn't bother with maintaining that cut on her face, the one she got from Gus before Tolly rescued her.  After that first scene where Sandy is giving her a bit of first aid for it, you never see that cut again, she made a complete recovery in one day !

"Cuddles" is a character in the same Sam Fuller tradition as "Candy" from "Pickup on South St."  Both women are no angels, they have what would have been called then a "history";  I do like the way Fuller sees these women so sympathetically, he clearly thinks their (extensive?) previous sexual experience is no reason to not take them seriously as people, and as potential long-term mates.  Kind of ahead of its time, in that usually the "experienced" woman, possibly an ex-prostitute or call girl?.  is considered not worthy of serious consideration for marriage on the part of the male protagonists.

Also, both these female Sam Fuller leads have silly names, obviously not their real names, names that suggest their sexual availability:  "Candy" and "Cuddles".  ( Not so much with the Jean Peters character in "Pickup", but definitely in "Underworld USA", I was really hoping for a moment where Tolly asks her "  "Cuddles"...that's not your real name, is it?  What's your real name?"   but of course we get no such scene.)

Gus  (Richard Rust):  ok, stone cold hired killer, yes.  But did anyone notice how, every time he was ordered to "take care" of someone, the expression on his face changed, just for a second, and he looked almost sad, before putting on those sunglasses which were part of his killing ritual?  Maybe this was something the actor himself thought of, I'm not sure it would have been in the screenplay.

Something else I kept thinking about, watching "Underworld USA" this time around, was how the film would have benefited from just a little more backstory on Tolly's relationship with his father.  Either a very brief scene near the beginning, shortly before the dad gets killed,  or a flashback, maybe Tolly thinking about his father when he's reminded of him in some way,  or even just a bit of dialogue between him and Cuddles  (or maybe Sandy), in which he talks about why he cared about his dad so much, why even if his father was "no good", he mattered to Tolly.  Just because someone's your parent is not an automatic guarantee that you will care for them;  I found Tolly's revenge agenda slightly extreme, mainly because we are never given a reason why he became so obsessed with avenging his father's death.  Some kind of memory or flashback or something that would show us a bond between the two, some kind words or fatherly advice or maybe just a father/son shoplifting expedition  (hey, these guys were tough),----just give us some reason why Tolly cared so much about taking revenge on his father's killers, besides just the fact that he was his father.

Anyway, I still enjoyed it.  Sam Fuller was a unique talent, and every film I've ever seen by him, I remember.

 

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5 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

(especially after one sees the scene with the kid and the car)

I found that shocking...

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Speaking of Larry Gates: toward the end of his career he spent a decade or so on Guiding Light as millionaire H.B. Lewis. Over the years vixen-turned-heroine Reva (Kim Zimmer) was married to H.B. and both of his sons, though not all at the same time.

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21 hours ago, Vautrin said:

I did get a kick out of Robertson in the finale trying to out Cagney Cagney

In the voice of the late, great Mr. T...."I pity the fool who thinks he can out Cagney Cagney!".:D

It was an okay film but Robertson was no Cagney regardless if he was trying to outdo him or not.

I've seen worst film noirs, but I've seen better as well.

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1 hour ago, Bethluvsfilms said:

In the voice of the late, great Mr. T...."I pity the fool who thinks he can out Cagney Cagney!".:D

It was an okay film but Robertson was no Cagney regardless if he was trying to outdo him or not.

I've seen worst film noirs, but I've seen better as well.

I was referring only to the end of the film where Cliff stumbles along a number of blocks before he

finally goes down, as Cagney did in a couple of his gangster movies. I'd say it's a somewhat above

average movie, certainly entertaining, but nothing special. 

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4 minutes ago, Vautrin said:

I was referring only to the end of the film where Cliff stumbles along a number of blocks before he

finally goes down, as Cagney did in a couple of his gangster movies. I'd say it's a somewhat above

average movie, certainly entertaining, but nothing special. 

As you previously noted,  Cliff wasn't trying to outdo Cagney,  even at the end of the film;  E.g. Cagney would have shot Emhardt's bodyguard upon entering.     I can hear him now; "hey, this is pre-code,,,  we could get away with that stuff,,  until July 1934!".

Cagney and the Mob: Kenneth Tynan on Hollywood's original gangster ...

 

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5 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

As you previously noted,  Cliff wasn't trying to outdo Cagney,  even at the end of the film;  E.g. Cagney would have shot Emhardt's bodyguard upon entering.     I can hear him now; "hey, this is pre-code,,,  we could get away with that stuff,,  until July 1934!".

Cagney and the Mob: Kenneth Tynan on Hollywood's original gangster ...

 

Yes, it's heartening to see a crook who uses his brains and follows the old time gangster tradition

of leaving no witnesses. Well done, faithful servant. 

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On 6/21/2020 at 8:30 PM, Vautrin said:

Mostly a routine crime film with a few good visuals and some interesting plot points, but still it's

a I've seen this before type of movie. I did get a kick out of Robertson in the finale trying to out

Cagney Cagney in the I'm gonna keep stumbling until I go down sweepstakes. Rain always helps

in those situations. I thought Fuller might end the movie with the shadows of Robertson and the

two women up on the wall as in the scene at the beginning of the picture, but I guess not. Robertson

screwed up like many tough guys do by not disarming the dude that was Emhardt's bodyguard and

then getting shot on the way out. What is this, amateur hour? And it's hard to believe that Cliff could

drown a whale like Robert in so short a time. I think Larry Gates was also in that bomb shelter episode

of The Twilight Zone.

Yes, he was! I just saw that episode recently.

 

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6 hours ago, kingrat said:

Speaking of Larry Gates: toward the end of his career he spent a decade or so on Guiding Light as millionaire H.B. Lewis. Over the years vixen-turned-heroine Reva (Kim Zimmer) was married to H.B. and both of his sons, though not all at the same time.

LOL! All in the family............

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5 hours ago, Vautrin said:

I was referring only to the end of the film where Cliff stumbles along a number of blocks before he

finally goes down, as Cagney did in a couple of his gangster movies. I'd say it's a somewhat above

average movie, certainly entertaining, but nothing special. 

Roaring Twenties for one.

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1 hour ago, Hibi said:

Yes, he was! I just saw that episode recently.

 

Everybody wanted to get into that little ole bomb shelter. One of the better TZ episodes IMO.

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1 hour ago, Hibi said:

Roaring Twenties for one.

I couldn't remember the specifics. Sometimes those gangster movies get muddled up in my mind.

It was certainly an iconic scene, one that is hard to top in later movies.

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15 hours ago, Vautrin said:

Everybody wanted to get into that little ole bomb shelter. One of the better TZ episodes IMO.

Gotta love that early 60s hysteria....

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15 hours ago, Vautrin said:

I couldn't remember the specifics. Sometimes those gangster movies get muddled up in my mind.

It was certainly an iconic scene, one that is hard to top in later movies.

He dies on the church steps. LOL.

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I only watched the beginning (was doing other things and wasn't watching any TV Sunday morning).  There are probably better noir films to show on Father's Day.  Cliff Robertson was in Charley, which was based on Flowers for Algernon.  Personally, for me, because my brother was profoundly ****, both the book and the movie are tough for me to watch.  I believe Mr. Robertson was at least nominated for the movie.  I never thought of Cliff Robertson as a "pretty boy."  I remember that he was married to Dina Merrill and was involved (he was the "good" guy) in exposing a scandal in Hollywood.

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2 hours ago, Hibi said:

Gotta love that early 60s hysteria....

Yeah. Some of Serling's TZ scripts were kind of preachy and simplistic, but this one was a cut above

the usual. After the false alarm I guess everybody will be building their own shelter, though I don't

think that was the message Serling wanted to get across. 

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2 hours ago, Hibi said:

He dies on the church steps. LOL.

Maybe he expected Pat O'Brien to come out and save him.

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21 hours ago, chaya bat woof woof said:

I only watched the beginning (was doing other things and wasn't watching any TV Sunday morning).  There are probably better noir films to show on Father's Day.  ...

probably.....suggest one.

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2 minutes ago, misswonderly3 said:

probably.....suggest one.

How about Pitfall?  

Pitfall3.jpg

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