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Blast of Silence


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Today, replacing my "5 Minutes to Live" copy, I received the new Criterion release of BLAST OF SILENCE. It is now in _crisp_ black & white (mostly black), but luckily none of the sleaze and grime of the story was eliminated.


It was filmed in 1959-60 and released in 1961. Written, produced, starring and directed by Allen Baron, it is the tale of Frankie Bono, out-of-town hitman in NYC to bump off a mid-level mobster, but this movie is about tone and atmosphere. To call it "bleak" is only to scratch the surface. It is nihilistic -- we come from nothing and end as nothing. If anything resembling happiness occurs in between, it will be snuffed out quickly. Redemption is not in any part of the universe that Bono inhabits.


We experience the birth of the movie and Bono right at the start with dramatic shots of New York and a voice-over -- in the second-person. Given the story, the narration by blacklisted *Lionel Stander* (written by blacklisted Waldo Salt) is likely the voice of Satan rather than a Morgan Freeman-like voice of God.


Remembering, out of the black silence...you were born in pain...you were born with hate and anger built in...took a slap on the backside to blast out the scream and then you knew you were alive. Eight pounds, five ounces. Baby boy Frankie Bono. Father doing well. Later you learned to hold back the scream and let out the hate and anger another way.


You come into Manhattan by dark, whatever time of day it is. Through tunnels, like sewers, hidden under the city. But you don't mind that. It's always that way, whatever city it is.


You're alone. But you don't mind that. You're a loner. That's the way it should be.


The film was made for about $22,000 cash, some raw stock and equipment that *Baron* "liberated" after acting in CUBAN REBEL GIRLS. Baron, as Bono, looks and sounds like George C. Scott...without Scott's good humor. Peter Falk, a friend of Baron's, was going to do the role, but was offered a paying role in *MURDER, INC.* as filming was to begin. *Baron* decided to play the role because "I was the best actor available...and the only one I could afford." *Larry Tucker* (actor: ADVISE & CONSENT, SHOCK CORRIDOR; writer/producer: I LOVE YOU, ALICE B. TOKLAS, BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE; writer: episodes of The Monkees) is fabulous as Big Ralphie, a slimy gun dealer.


The DVD has no commentary, but it includes a 60 minute documentary on the making of BLAST OF SILENCE. Originally filmed by a German team in 1990 (Baron won raves as a undiscovered Welles shortly before at a Munich film festival), an American in 2006 added footage that had been edited out and a new interview with Baron.


At 77 minutes, *BLAST OF SILENCE* is a near flawless film noir gem.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Finally received this film. I loved it, the narration was great. Quite gritty. The DVD includes: Baron going to most of the films locations, now in 2008. Some areas have changed dramatically, while other spots still look (sadly) the same.

I think Baron should of stayed with 'Noir instead of switching to directing TV shows like "The Brady Bunch" and "Charlie's Angels" Would of loved to see more of this type of film from the man.




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