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Barton_Keyes

Noir Alley

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3 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Some of you longtime posters remember the late Fred C Dobbs who would often post "Xx minutes in to (whatever movie was on) and nothing has happened "?

15 minutes in to THE CLAY PIGEON and things haven't stopped happening!

man, this thing MOVES!

 

What is funny about all this and the 63 minute running time is I looked up at the clock and said '15 minutes into to this and nothing much has happened'.   I believe the pair were just leaving San Diego from Hale's apartment.   I.e. the first real 'action' was when the car pulls behind them and then tries to run them off the road.

I was thinking,  with the film already a quarter of the through,, they need to really pack a lot into those other 45 or so minutes.   So I admit I keep looking up at the clock to see how much time was left,  as a type of gague of how the story was unfolding.   Thus I wish I wasn't aware of the running time. 

Note that something similar occurs when I watch hold-em poker on T.V.    I.e. since I know the show will end on the hour,  when there are only 2 or 3 contestants left and say 20 or so minutes,   I know that there will be some big hands and someone will be the winner by the end of said hour (so this 'giveaway' reduces the suspense).

 

 

    

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2 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

I also noticed the stock footage of the approaching train that was used by Fleischer again in The Narrow Margin opening credits.

I was going to point that out when I saw it, but forgot to.  Maybe amnesia is contagious from good "B" movies?  Also another scene which clearly shows and Pennsylvania Railroad engine on California train.

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They sure wrapped up the ending quickly. They met after the war in Japan and

had counterfeit money or something. It blew by so fast I never caught the

details. A pretty good flick. The Japaneses war widow thing was pretty heavy handed,

however appropriate. I recall another noir with a similar plot . A vet in a hospital

gets out and meets a girl who works in a Chinese restaurant and some kind of

mayhem ensues. I'll have to go back and see if I can find the name of the movie.

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I too enjoyed The Clay Pigeon. Like Eddie Mueller said, there were some things that probably wouldn't happen in real life. However, that still happens in movies today. I love these old movies. The emphasis is on character development and advancing the plot. They didn't have all the special effects that are so common in films made  today. There are no cell phones or laptops to aid the protagonist. It's people reacting to and dealing with the actions of other people. 

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12 hours ago, Vautrin said:

They sure wrapped up the ending quickly. They met after the war in Japan and

had counterfeit money or something. It blew by so fast I never caught the

details. A pretty good flick. The Japaneses war widow thing was pretty heavy handed,

however appropriate. I recall another noir with a similar plot . A vet in a hospital

gets out and meets a girl who works in a Chinese restaurant and some kind of

mayhem ensues. I'll have to go back and see if I can find the name of the movie.

YOU KNOW IT'S WEIRD. I'm usually the first person here to take issue with a script element being heavy handed or clunky, but I didn't mind it at all, I did think the actress in the scene was a little stiff, but I imagine that was how she was told to play it (Asian women in classic movies are nearly always stoic and placid in classic movies.)

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Real life husband and wife Barbara Hale and Bill Williams would reunite years later in 1975's unfortunate THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION, from the director of MONSTER A-GO-GO and made in Wisconsin.

It is terrible.

Luckily, Barbara would resurface in THE NEW PERRY MASON MYSTERY MOVIES that were on NBC in the 80's and which I loved.

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1 hour ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Real life husband and wife Barbara Hale and Bill Williams would reunite years later in 1975's unfortunate THE GIANT SPIDER INVASION, from the director of MONSTER A-GO-GO and made in Wisconsin.

It is terrible.

Luckily, Barbara would resurface in THE NEW PERRY MASON MYSTERY MOVIES that were on NBC in the 80's and which I loved.

I've recently seen Barbara's husband, Bill Williams, guest starring on 2 of the original Perry Masons.

And it was unbelievably wonderful that her very adorable son, William Katt,  appeared as a regular with her and Raymond Burr on "The Return of Perry Mason Mystery Movies" for the first year run in 1987.

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4 minutes ago, Princess of Tap said:

I've recently seen Barbara's husband, Bill Williams, guest starring on 2 of the original Perry Masons.

And it was unbelievably wonderful that her very adorable son, William Katt,  appeared as a regular with her and Raymond Burr on "The Return of Perry Mason Mystery Movies" for the first year run in 1987.

I thought William Katt played Paul (the PI) for the whole run...

you are right, he was adorable. (Those curls!)

I seem to remember reading that Barbara Hale and Raymond Burr were lifelong friends, Burr maybe even named an orchid that he patented after her?

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5 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

YOU KNOW IT'S WEIRD. I'm usually the first person here to take issue with a script element being heavy handed or clunky, but I didn't mind it at all, I did think the actress in the scene was a little stiff, but I imagine that was how she was told to play it (Asian women in classic movies are nearly always stoic and placid in classic movies.)

Oh, I really didn't mind it very much, but it did seem a bit separate from the rest of the

movie. I can certainly understand why Foreman put it in there.

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5 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

 

 

5 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Luckily, Barbara would resurface in THE NEW PERRY MASON MYSTERY MOVIES that were on NBC in the 80's and which I loved.

It does resurface on TV periodically.  One of the Hallmark channels used to show it before they made about a million rom/com/mysteries.  They are available on DVD.  The PM movies are very good, but not quite as good as the original 60 minute B&W TV shows.  But then, I'm not as good as I used to be either.

Ironically, the PM movies were set in Denver for some reason.  Probably more state money available.

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6 minutes ago, TheCid said:

 

ironically, the [1990'S PERRY MASON movies] were set in Denver for some reason.  Probably more state money available.

I REMEMBER THAT! they filmed one movie at a nice luxury hotel in the area, i remember a scene with a falling chandelier...

in the first movie it's DELLA STREET who finds herself accused of murder (but it was really a hitman in a grey wig and a dress.)

(i used to tape them and watch them over and over again)

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I liked THE CLAY PIGEON and it does move fast with no wasted scenes.  I loved the opening scene at the hospital.

I was curious about something Eddie said re Richard Quine so I did a little detecting:  he was married to actress Susan Peters who accidentally shot herself when they went duck hunting and she ended up in a wheelchair.  They divorced a couple of years later.  Susan was only 30 or 31 when she died from kidney failure which was self-induced due to starvation and dehydration.  Quine and Kim Novak had a major romance (he directed two of her movies) and although he had affairs with other actresses, Novak was the real thing (they were supposed to get married but she backed off).  He sadly ended his life in suicide when he was in his 60s and his directing gigs dried up.  Weirdly, he used the same type of shotgun Susan had used years earlier.

I had no idea William Katt was Barbara Hale & Bill Williams' kid.  They both were quite good in CLAY PIGEON.

Interesting and refreshing that CRIME WAVE and THE CLAY PIGEON (SPOILER ALERT) are noirs with happy endings.

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On 5/27/2018 at 11:42 AM, cigarjoe said:

Interesting that Williams played the memory losing sailor before in Deadline at Dawn (1946)

YES!

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I watched The Letter Sunday.  Sorry, may have great producer, director and star, but just not impressed.  My wife and I both watched it and had seen it before.  Both had same impression.  It's a good mystery/drama, but not great.

Not sure what genre it is, but it is not Noir.

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You're right. It's not Noir, but my wife and I enjoyed it. However, we love Bette Davis and almost everything she does, so we're not objective. 

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I think The Letter is a great movie. I've seen it several times now, and it passes the "does it still hold my interest after several viewings?"  test quite nicely.

Something I noticed more this time around than in the previous times I've watched it is the performance of James Stephenson as Bette's lawyer, Howard Joyce. I thought he was excellent as the conflicted attorney; he regards himself as an "honourable man", and an honest lawyer. Yet in order to save Leslie's life, he has to commit the highly unethical act of buying and suppressing a key piece of evidence. Stephenson conveys the man's ambivalent feelings about Leslie and the choices he must make to protect her - - or send her to almost certain death - - subtly and effectively. Stephenson is in fact in nearly every scene, certainly more scenes than Herbert Marshall, and he is both convincing and sympathetic throughout.

A frequent theme in W. Somerset Maugham's work is the unknowable quality of human beings, that people are not who we think they are. Someone who presents a virtuous face to the world often turns out to be immoral in some way, either in thrall to some sexual obsession ( usually involving adultery or incest or something else perverse or decadent in some way) or they've been embezzling the company funds for years, or they're concealing some dire family secret... I like this aspect of Maugham's writing; the topic he seems most interested in is that of the complexity and unfathomableness of human nature. There's no better example of this than The Letter.

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Oh, by the way, also about James Stephenson:

I happened to watch TCM's airing of Three Strangers last night. I think it's a very good film, deserving to be much better-known than it is.

Anyway, when I saw James Stephenson this morning in The Letter, I thought at first it was the same actor who played David Shackelford, the husband of the obsessive destructive woman in Three Strangers. They really look alike !

However, I looked them up and found out I was wrong. Still, I think people will have to agree there's quite a resemblance between them.

Here's James Stephenson, who plays lawyer Howard Joyce in The Letter:

Image result for actor james stephenson

 

And here's Alan Napier, who plays the hapless Mr. Shackleton in Three Strangers:

Image result for alan napier

 

Whaddya think?  Real look-alikes, and it's not just the mustache.

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I love The Letter and think it's one of Bette's best performances (and one of my favorites) Have seen it many times. The camera work, lighting and mood are so impressive. Found it an odd choice for Noir Alley (though it does have some noirish elements) but enjoyed Eddie's chance to talk about it..... James Stephenson is also excellent. A shame he died just when his career was taking off. (one thing Eddie didnt mention).

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Yes, James Stephenson was great. I'm going to Google him because I'm not familiar with his work. I think we all agree The Letter is not technically a Noir film, but those scenes in the bedroom where she walks out to find the knife were very noirish (if I can invent a new word).

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One thing I noticed this time around that I hadn't before: you can see the reflection of the guy who leaves the knife outside in Leslie's mirror. She doesn't notice it (and neither had I before this last airing despite the many times I've seen it).

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I watched it mainly because I haven't seen it in a number of years. It is a product of

Hollywood at its studio era prime, but I consider it a good movie but no great shakes.

Bette seems to be giving poor Herbert Marshall a giant middle finger in the films they

appear in together. Old Herb usually has a small hissy fit, then spends the rest of the

time sobbing quietly into his dinner jacket. It's kind of funny, despite the seriousness

of the plot. The Gale Sondergaard character isn't all that believable, and looks like she just

stepped out of a Terry and the Pirates strip.  What I like most about the picture is the

life style of the British colonials among the exotic world of Malaya, sort of like a PG version

of White Mischief. My only true complaint is that there weren't enough shots of the moon

appearing and disappearing behind the clouds.

 

 

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Are you kidding? That moon had a supporting role! (non-speaking, of course like Gale).

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2 hours ago, Hibi said:

One thing I noticed this time around that I hadn't before: you can see the reflection of the guy who leaves the knife outside in Leslie's mirror. She doesn't notice it (and neither had I before this last airing despite the many times I've seen it.

That's interesting, Hibi. this must have been at least the 4th time I've seen The Letter, and I still missed that.

SPOILERAMA :

I will say, my memory of the film's ending was incorrect: For some reason I'd always thought it was Hammond's wife (Gale Sondergaard) who actually stabs Leslie. But in fact it's the man who always seems to accompany her ( paid assistant?  brother?  friend? ) who grabs Leslie and kills her. And I don't think she's even stabbed to death by that dagger, it looks more like she's strangled.

But Mrs. Hammond / Sondergaard just looks on - in fact, she's clasping the dagger the whole time. Even though the dagger ( well, there seem to be two daggers, in a set, which Leslie observed when she meets Madame Hammond for the letter exchange...) is left on the porch pointing towards her, it's not specifically the instrument of death for Leslie. At least, I don't think so. Not that it matters, really; what matters is that Leslie is killed, either by the actual hand of the vengeful Mrs. Hammond, or by her assistant / friend / brother / whoever he is.

I cannot remember if this is the way it ends in the Maugham story. If it's not, it should be; it's a very dramatic and effective finish to the film. I know Leslie had to die because of the Code, she couldn't be allowed to get away with murder. But even aside from that, I think it's the right way to end the film. And in fact, I believe we're supposed to think that Leslie knows what's going to happen to her and chooses her fate knowlingly; she sees the dagger on the porch, she goes out into the night to meet her end. 

I just think it would have been more fitting, somehow more satisfying, if Hammond's wife herself had done the killing. Also, I kind of wish she and her assistant had not been arrested as soon as they've done the deed. It would have been more interesting, more bleak and noirish, if the two assassins had simply murdered their victim and then disappeared into the night.

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Miss W., in the play it ends with Leslie's line about she still loved the man she killed. The code could not condone a woman committing adultery and murder and getting away with it, so Bette had to pay for her crimes. Likewise, the mistress and her cohort (who is actually the head man on the plantation who runs away in the beginning and leads the wife back to view the body). I assume they are arrested for trespassing, but once Bette's body is discovered in the morning....How she is killed is a bit murky, but from the way Bette goes quickly limp I assume she is stabbed. Although it's not really clear who does the stabbing as the man is holding her, I guess he still could have done it.

I dont think the code imposed ending spoils the film and there's a certain logic/poetic justice to it. And I agree, Leslie does sense what is going to happen to her and willingly walks into the trap, feeling she deserves it.

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