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Best "Under the Radar" Films Noir


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> {quote:title=FrankGrimes wrote:}{quote}

> I'm in total agreement about THIS GUN FOR HIRE.

>

> I just love the psychological depth of film noir and This Gun for Hire is one of the more unique psychological films noir because it places the psychological effects of childhood under the microscope.

>

 

Interesting analysis. Next time I watch it I'll see if I can relate to any characters in some way that relates to the psychological effects of childhood.

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As the de facto guardian of the Timothy Carey legacy on this board, I must protest and state, without reservation, that Timothy Carey, or anyone else for that matter, would never bother to shoot Bronxsie's friend Flicka.

 

killing1-1.jpg

 

killing2.jpg

 

R.I.P., Flicka. Everyone's friend but...

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*So what's your best "under the radar" performance in film noir?*

 

Actors? Shouldn't they be treated like cattle (or, is it "treated as cattle"?)? They merely get in the way of the auteur. Assuming the question is "best performance by relative unknowns in an 'under the radar' film noir", then...

 

Is *The Naked Kiss* (Samuel Fuller, 1964) under the radar? If so, then Constance Towers (best regardless of gender).

 

Runners-up: Allan Baron and Larry Tucker in *Blast of Silence* (Allan Baron, 1961), and Marshall Thompson, Leon Ames, Virginia Field and Andrea King in *Dial 1119* (Gerald Mayer, 1950).

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I found the lists very interesting. I haven't seen a lot of the titles. I'm not sure if the following qualify as "under the radar" and I'm sure most people here have seen them, but I like these and they weren't mentioned.

 

1. *Too Late for Tears 1949* My favorite performance so far by Lizabeth Scott as a woman who wants a little more out of life and doesn't want to blow an opportunity. I love how she takes control from an increasingly hapless Dan Duryea.

 

2. *The Window 1949* Bobby Driscoll makes this film work by delivering a believable performance as a kid who witnesses a murder and no one will believe him...except the killers. Also some nice location shooting. Paul Stewart, Ruth Roman, Arthur Kennedy and Barbara Hale make for a nice cast.

 

3. *Deadline at Dawn 1946* Nice screenplay by Odets and good early work by Susan Hayward.

 

4. *Impact 1949* There is a lot going on here and Brian Donlevy gets us through most of it in a nice understated performance. Ella Raines is a good girl and Charles Coburn is always good. Anna May Wong plays a tiny but key role. The film is so long that eventually even Mae Marsh shows up but it's still a good ride.

 

5. *Side Street 1950* is well paced and well shot but the thing that stays with me is Jean Hagen. Her performance, in a small role, as a boozing loser haunted me long after the film was over.

 

6. *Quicksand 1950* Mickey Rooney gets in over his head and Jeanne Cagney tries to help him out. Peter Lorre shows up too.

 

7 *Let Us Live 1939* Well this one doesn't really qualify, but having seen it for the first time a few nights ago, it has a lot of noir elements. Definitely a forerunner of the genre.

 

Message was edited by: molo14 for spelling

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Great list, Molo, especially for adding two more movies that used Cornell Woolrich stories as the source material: *The Window* and Deadline at Dawn.

 

Quicksand: Ya know, the concept seems obvious and I always find Mickey Rooney difficult to watch, but I really enjoy it (except for the ending that is too darn happy). Nice pick.

 

Message was edited by: ChiO

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Maybe the most under-the-radar director with the most wonderful under-the-radar films noir is (with the possible exception of Anthony Mann) Chicago native Phil Karlson.

 

*Kansas City Confidential* (1952)

*Tight Spot* (1955)

*Five Against the House* (1955)

*The Phenix City Story* (1955)

 

And those are just the ones I've seen. Would love to see:

 

*Scandal Sheet* (1952) (based on a novel by an ex-Army, ex-reporter, cigar chompin', pistol shootin' director auteur extraordinaire)

*99 River Street* (1953) (Dewey included this on his list)

*The Brothers Rico* (1957) (Italian crooks? With Richard Conte?)

 

Quite an impressive body of work for a director who is remembered, if at all, primarily for *Walking Tall* (1973).

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I really regret missing *5 Against the House*, did you really like it? I'm also curious to see

*Scandal Sheet, 99 River Street* and *Brothers Rico* (I really like Conte).

 

It's definitely not a noir, but I would also like to see his *Rampage* starring Robert Mitchum and

Jack Hawkins. I think TCM has aired it in the past but I missed it.

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Hey, Molo -- I greatly enjoyed reading your list of "under the radar" films noir. Of the seven, I have only seen Side Street. I have Too Late for Tears, Quicksand, and Impact on DVD and Deadline at Dawn and The Window on tape.

 

I have high hopes for Impact and Too Late for Tears.

 

What's up, ChicagOwen -- Your homeboy, Phil Karlson, is a terrific choice for "under the radar" film noir director. He and another fave of yours, Joseph H. Lewis, are two directors that I don't think get much pub.

 

Actors? Shouldn't they be treated like cattle (or, is it "treated as cattle"?)? They merely get in the way of the auteur.

 

Ahhh, Hitch. A wise man was he. :D

 

Assuming the question is "best performance by relative unknowns in an 'under the radar' film noir", then...

 

That's a good way of putting it.

 

Is The Naked Kiss (Samuel Fuller, 1964) under the radar? If so, then Constance Towers (best regardless of gender).

 

I'm not sure I'd call the film "under the radar," but I believe Constance Towers' performance is.

 

Runners-up: Allan Baron and Larry Tucker in Blast of Silence (Allan Baron, 1961), and Marshall Thompson, Leon Ames, Virginia Field and Andrea King in Dial 1119 (Gerald Mayer, 1950).

 

Now those are clearly "under the radar." I know both are huge favorites of yours. I like Dial 1119, as well. It's The Petrified Forest of film noir.

 

Jean Gillie's "Margot Shelby" in Decoy is the "under the radar" actress performance for me. My runner-ups are Audrey Totter's "Claire Quimby" in Tension and Mary Beth Hughes' "Connie Wallace" in The Great Flamarion.

 

Dennis O'Keefe's "Joe Sullivan" in Raw Deal is my actor choice. I know the film is held in high regard but I don't think O'Keefe gets enough due for his performance. He's quite a presence in the film. Lawrence Tierney's "Sam Wild" in Born to Kill and Farley Granger's "Martin Lynn" in Edge of Doom are my runner-ups.

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A _FrankG_ pick is: *Lawrence Tierney's "Sam Wild" in Born to Kill and Farley Granger's "Martin Lynn" in Edge of Doom are my runner-ups.*

 

Excuse me until my tic subsides. There. Okay...have the names Lawrence Tierney and Farley Granger ever appeared in the same sentence before?

 

Have you seen Tierney in The Hoodlum? Directed my Max Nosseck, who also directed Tierney in Dillinger. You've made your disdain of PD movies clear, but...it is a white hot performance. Tierney's not so much "under-the-radar" as "radar...hell...let's smash through the damn thing". Whatta guy.

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Excuse me until my tic subsides. There. Okay...have the names Lawrence Tierney and Farley Granger ever appeared in the same sentence before?

 

:D Welcome to film noir.

 

Have you seen Tierney in The Hoodlum? Directed my Max Nosseck, who also directed Tierney in Dillinger. You've made your disdain of PD movies clear, but...it is a white hot performance.

 

I have not seen The Hoodlum, but I do have it on DVD. I'm actually okay with PD. Why? Because I would not have the chance to see some of these films if it wasn't for PD. I prefer to at least see a crappy transfer of a film than not see it at all, especially since all of this is new to me. The only film where I absolutely cringed watching a PD version of was The Red House. I believe Larry smashed the audio.

 

Tierney's not so much "under-the-radar" as "radar...hell...let's smash through the damn thing". Whatta guy.

 

:) I would have loved to see Larry go up against Bogie. Can you imagine Burt Lancaster on the set with Larr?

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> {quote:title=MissGoddess wrote:}{quote}

> It's definitely not a noir, but I would also like to see his *Rampage* starring Robert Mitchum and

> Jack Hawkins. I think TCM has aired it in the past but I missed it.

 

I think I may have recorded this one, but I have to check

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  • 1 month later...

Dear Arkadin, Dewey & FrankGrimes:

 

I have now seen *Dementia* and *Daughter of Horror* and have two questions:

 

(1) How in the world does a director make a film like this as his first feature?

(2) How in the world does a director who makes a film like this as his first feature never get to make another feature film?

 

I'm in awe. What an incredible movie! It's all you said it would be. Prefer Dementia, but I wasn't as put off by Ed McMahon's narration in *Daughter of Horror* as I thought I'd be.

 

John Parker now joins my short list with Allen Baron (Blast of Silence), Timothy Carey (The World's Greatest Sinner), Charles Laughton (Night of the Hunter) and Barbara Loden (Wanda) of great filmmakers who didn't have a second feature film.

 

*"God" Hilliard in '08 and beyond.*

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I'm glad you liked Dementia, ChiO. I was quite confident in you doing so. I think it's one of the most unique films ever made and I wish TCM would play it on Underground. I believe it would find many more fans if it were only shown more.

 

(1) How in the world does a director make a film like this as his first feature?

 

(2) How in the world does a director who makes a film like this as his first feature never get to make another feature film?

 

Well, because...

 

From Wiki:

 

Though this film was credited to John Parker as being the screenwriter, director, and producer, he was only the producer of the film. Bruno VeSota was, in fact, both screenwriter and director of this film.

 

From IMDb:

 

VeSota: Was a great admirer of Orson Welles and Sydney Greenstreet.

 

Does this sound as interesting to you as it does me?:

 

From IMDb:

 

A blonde actress is murdered across from a bar. An off-duty cop has been getting pleasantly sloshed, but becomes worried about his innocence when he finds out he was seen leaving the establishment with a blonde, but doesn't remember. As he investigates, he interviews a columnist who was going with the actress, a caricaturist who drew the victim, the caricaturist's wife who works at the bar, and the caricaturist's lover, and slowly begins to put the pieces of the deadly puzzle together.

 

And...

 

I got just about what I expected from this, a low-grade b-movie with several redeeming qualities. I've seen two films from Bruno VeSota (the other being "The Brain Eaters") and they seem to both have the same positive and negative attributes. I am a massive fan of film noir, but I'll have to admit this is probably among the poorest examples of the genre I've seen. It's main problem is that VeSota has no idea how to keep a story moving. I don't mind slowly paced films, but when I watch a trashy grade-b flick such as this I expect it to keep me intrigued. Despite the running time of about an hour, it feels very erroneous. Still, he knows how to create an atmosphere. This is one sleazy, sordid, and claustrophobic film. This is created by mainly some creative cinematography, and the minimalist sets actually help this one out.

 

In addition to the atmosphere, it has an interesting cast assembled. Lawrence Tierney, who is always a favorite, had an uneven career. When given the opportunity, he could turn in a riveting tough guy performance. Check out either "Reservoir Dogs" or "Born to Kill" to see him at his finest. However, often he just seemed to be going through the motions. That seems to be the case here as he is hardly used. John Carradine is more impressive. Even when given such an uninteresting and poorly developed character such as this, he could be depended on for some accomplished acting. He doesn't fail in this aspect. Jayne Mansfield is in this only briefly, but she certainly looks good.

 

The story was standard and predictable pulp fiction stuff. This isn't a very good film, but not completely worthless either. Maybe worth watching if it turns up on TV and there is absolutely nothing else on. (4/10)

 

Female Jungle is the flick. I may have to buy the DVD.

 

By the way, do you know that the brand new DVD release of Touch of Evil features three versions of the film? But what should interest you the most is that the "preview" version commentary track features... Jonathan Rosenbaum.

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*By the way, do you know that the brand new DVD release of Touch of Evil features three versions of the film? But what should interest you the most is that the "preview" version commentary track features... Jonathan Rosenbaum.*

 

I've been meaning to get that new collector's edition, it's a good thing they finally released every version they had.

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