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*The Narrow Margin* (1952)

 

 

The Narrow Margin (1952) Director: Richard Fleischer, Writers: Earl Felton (screenplay), Martin Goldsmith (story) Jack Leonard (story). With Charles McGraw, Marie Windsor, Jacqueline White, Don Beddoe, Gordon Gebert, David Clarke, Peter Virgo, and Paul Maxey.

 

 

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Story:

 

Two LA Cops arrive in Chi-Town at Union Station on Central Pacific's 49er. Det. Sgt. Walter Brown (McGraw) and longtime senior partner, Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes (Beddoe) are there to pick up a friendly witness against corruption in the LA City Government for escort back to LA. The witness is the wife of an LA mobster. There is a one hour turnaround for them to pick up the witness, Mrs. Frankie Neal (Windsor), get back to the station, and make the Golden West Limited back to LA.

 

Brown and Forbes grab a cab to a shabby tenement safe-house in a run down neighborhood and pick up Mrs. Neal. On the way the two cops make a $5 bet on the type of woman who would marry a mobster

 

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*Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes*: Bet you're wondering the same thing I am - what she looks like.

*Walter Brown*: I don't have to wonder - I know.

*Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes*: Why, that's wonderful, Walter, nobody's seen her but you know what she looks like. What a gift.

*Walter Brown*: Aw, come off it, yer just makin' talk.

*Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes*: Well, we get there just as fast, talkin'. What about this dame, Mr. Crystal Ball?

*Walter Brown*: A dish.

*Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes*: What kind of a dish?

*Walter Brown*: Sixty-cent special. Cheap, flashy. Strictly poison under the gravy.

*Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes*: How do you know all this?

*Walter Brown*: Well, what kind of a dame would marry a hood?

*Det. Sgt. Gus Forbes*: All kinds.

 

So begins a film with possibly some best hard boiled banter in Film Noir. If you haven't seen the film there are spoilers in next post

 

 

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SPOILERS

 

When Brown and Forbes enter the tenement and climb the stairs they immediately hear the decadent jazz piece that becomes the sultry Mrs. Neal's leitmotif.

 

Brown correctly portends that his hunch about Mrs. Neal is right and the initial meeting is a hoot. The whole sequence takes on a whole new subtext upon a second screening of the film once you know that Mrs. Neal is in actuality a decoy undercover (internal affairs) Chicago cop, Sarah Meggs, playing the gangster moll, and more than tough as nails McGraw's equal.

 

 

Windsor's first view of McGraw and Beddoe

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Windsor's turn as a hard boiled internal investigations cop playing a cheap, coarse, sightly seedy floozie is her tour de force. It's Chicago vs LA and Windsor steals the sceenher large eyes flashing derision.

 

 

*Forbes*: - What’s the music for, a welcome?

*CPD*: - You don’t know how welcome…. Hey ( to Meggs) turn that thing off … your escorts here.

Meggs (decoy Mrs. Neal) leaves the jazz spinning, flips her hair and struts over and runs her eyes over Brown first then Forbes.

*CDP*: - Forbes and Brown from Los Angeles…

*Meggs* - How nice, how Los Angeles ( taking a drag and blasting a mushroom cloud of cigarette smoke into Brown’s face)… Sun burn well… on the way out?

 

 

Windsor totally eviscerates McGraw, Beddoe and LAPD, with cutting one liners.

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Windsor doesn't think much of her LAPD escort

 

 

Windsor's doubts about her escorts abilities soon play out in a beautifully executed Noir sequence involving a string of pearls where Beddoe is gunned down in a stairwell and McGraw gives chase through a web of backyard clotheslines.

 

 

Rushing in a cab back to the station another classic sequence unfolds, McGraw smacks his fist against his thigh:

 

 

*Meggs*: Charleyhorse?

*Brown*: The onetime I let him go first it happened.

*Meggs*: Forbes?

*Brown*: Yea he was getting old and slow... you could put a live bomb in his hand and count ten before he'd drop it. I'll never forgive myself.

*Meggs*: Well this fine... some protection they send me, an old man who walks right into it, and a weeper.

 

 

Some people say the problem with this film is the plot. Why keep Charles McGraw in the dark about the true nature of the journey? And if you are going to run a decoy, why would you put her on the same train with the real girl? Wouldn't it make more sense to send them on, you know, different trains?

 

 

I think the answers are all in the subtext, Meggs (Decoy Mrs Neal) is not only a decoy but an internal affairs cop, and she is looking for corruption in LAPD. The initial fact that the "safe house" is already compromized, indicates that the underworld has been tipped off by a mole in LAPD as to the whereabouts of Mrs. Neal and the two main LAPD suspects are Brown and Forbes. If you go with that angle the whole "Mrs. Neal and the list" plotpoint becomes irrelvant and the real plot is corruption investigation in LAPD and who is/are the informer(s). Like you say "Why keep Charles McGraw in the dark" or why not just mail the list.

 

 

Now remember Forbes right at the get go tries to get Meggs (Decoy Mrs Neal) to give him the list. Once Forbes buys it, Meggs goes to work on Brown tempting him in the cab with sex and later on the train with money.

 

 

*Walter Brown*: You're a pretty good judge of crooks, Mrs. Neall; the only place you slip up is with cops. I turned the deal down.

*Mrs. Neall*: Then you're a bigger idiot than I thought! When are you going to get it through your square head that this is big business? And we're right in the middle.

Walter Brown: Meaning you'd like to sell out?

*Mrs. Neall*: With pleasure and profit, and so would you. What are the odds if we don't? I sing my song for the grand jury, and spend the rest of my life dodging bullets - -if I'm lucky! - -while you grow old and gray on the police force. Oh, wake up, Brown. This train's headed straight for the cemetery. But there's another one coming along, a gravy train. Let's get on it.

*Walter Brown*: Mrs. Neall, I'd like to give you the same answer I gave that hood - but it would mean stepping on your face.

 

 

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*Journey Into Fear* (1943) Director: Norman Foster, Writers: Orson Welles (screenplay), Joseph Cotten (screenplay), Richard Collins uncredited & Ben Hecht uncredited. Staring Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dolores del Rio, Agnes Moorehead, Jack Durant, and Everett Sloane.

 

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Pleasantly surprised, what really makes this great is that you never know what's happening next, a caveat to that is you also don't know if this is intentional or if the studio cuts made it more convoluted. Either way the chiaroscuro cinematography, the sound design, studio sets, and the bizarre characters that Joseph Cotten encounters in The Levant aboard a cattle boat are priceless (68 minute cut) 8/10

 

here is a little short atmospheric vid I put together, enjoy:

 

 

 

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*Shield For Murder* (1954) Directors: Howard W. Koch, Edmond O'Brien with Stars: Edmond O'Brien, John Agar, Marla English, Emile Meyer, Carolyn Jones, Claude Akins, Vito Scotti, and Richard Deacon.

 

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Police detective Barney Nolan (O’Brien) commits a murder in an alley and collects 25,000 of mob money from the victim then frantically tries to cover his tracks. With His ill gotten gains he plans to buy a tract house for his cigarette girl girlfriend. The mob becomes suspicious and sends two muscle men after him.

 

 

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Biggest surprise in this was Carolyn Jones' bit performance as a tipsy B-girl, she looks quite stunning as a blonde, prior to this as a blonde in other films she always looked off.

 

 

Jones & O'Brien

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Carolyn Jones as B-Girl Beth:

 

 

 

 

 

From IMDb

 

Edmond O'Brien as bad cop in brutal Eisenhower-era look at police corruption, 18 August 2004

 

Author: bmacv from Western New York

 

In Shield for Murder (a movie he co-directed with Howard Koch), Edmond O'Brien plays a Los Angeles cop `gone sour.' Bloated and sweaty, he's a sneak preview of another bad apple ? Orson Welles in Touch of Evil. In a pre-title sequence, he guns down a drug runner in cold blood, relieves the corpse of an envelope crammed with $25-thou, then yells `Stop or I'll shoot' for the benefit of eavesdroppers before firing twice into the air. When his partner (John Agar) arrives, there's only a few hundred dollars left on the body, and it looks like a justifiable police action ? though O'Brien's shock tactics have already drawn the unwelcome attention of his new captain (Emile Meyer).

 

O'Brien wants the money to buy into the American Dream ? to put a down-payment on a tract house, furnished (oddly enough) right down to the table settings. It's a bungalow to share with his girl, Marla English, as well as a handy place to bury his cash in its yard. But a couple of things go wrong. First off, a local crime boss wants back the loot O'Brien ripped off and dispatches a couple of goons to retrieve it. Then, though there were no eye-witnesses to the murder, there was in fact an eavesdropper ? an old blind man whose acute hearing picked up a sequence of shots that don't add up to the official story. When this good citizen decides to tell the police what he heard, O'Brien decides to pay him a nocturnal visit....

 

Based on a novel by William McGivern (who also wrote the books from which The Big Heat, Rogue Cop and Odds Against Tomorrow were drawn), Shield For Murder embodies some of the shifts in tone and emphasis the noir cycle was showing as it wound down. Its emphasis is less on individuals caught up in circumstance than on widespread public corruption; its tone is less suggestive than ostentatiously violent. The movie ratchets up to a couple of brutal set-pieces.

 

In one, O'Brien, knocking back doubles at the bar in a spaghetti cellar, is picked up by a floozie (Carolyn Jones, in what looks like Barbara Stanwyck's wig from Double Indemnity). `You know what's the matter with mirrors in bars?' she asks him. `Men always make hard faces in them.' While she eats, he continues to drink. When the goons track him down there, O'Brien savagely pistol-whips one of them (Claude Akins) to the horror of the other patrons who had come to devour their pasta in peace. Later, there's an attempted pay-off (and a double-cross) in a public locker-room and swimming-pool that ends in carnage. It's easy to dismiss Shield For Murder ? it has a seedy B-picture look and a literalness that typified most of the crime films of the Eisenhower administration. But it's grimly effective ? almost explosive.

 

Edited by: cigarjoe on Feb 26, 2013 5:25 PM

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*Pickup on South Street* (1953) is another title that improves more and more with repeated viewings.

 

The cinematography of Joseph MacDonald (Niagara, Call Northside 777, Panic in the Streets, My Darling Clementine, Viva Zapata!, Yellow Sky, The Street with No Name, The Dark Corner) combines the great 20th Century Fox studio set design seamlessly with stock NYC location footage to depict a very believe-able 3 layered Manhattan. From vaulting suspension bridges overhead, against a backdrop of Brooklyn waterfront warehouses across to a lower East Side, East River, pier-scape, with a catwalk to a crumbling bait shack, butted up to the border of Chinatown with its grifters, flophouses, cigarette machines, B-girls, and tattoo parlors perched above the labyrinthine passages of the subways with their human drain ways from the surface

 

Peters approaching Moe's "above the tattoo parlor and across from the top of the stairs"

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Widmark spotting a tail

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Interior of swaying rush hour subway car in a neat sequence that introduces Peters, Boushey, Widmark and the plot:

 

After a station stop where various riders both exit and enter the car as the train starts and sways we watch as patches of Widmark, a hat brim, a corer of his eye, come into view as he jostles his way through the car of commuters...

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until he stands opposite floozie "I've "kissed" a lot of guys" Peters

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All of the major actors are great in their roles. Ritter in probably her best performance as Moe, she is sly, shrewd, and funny in her scenes with G Man Bouchey and cop Vye, woman to woman matter of fact with Peters, motherly with Widmark, fearless with Kiley. Fuller did an outstanding job on the screenplay and was spot on in the dialogs.

 

Ritter with Bouchey, rt. and Vye, lt. at precinct headquarters, selling information and ties.

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Other highlightes, watch for Peters dickering with Vic Perry (Lightning Louie) in a Chinese restaurant ( Perry was a real pick-pocket and was a technical advisor on that aspect of the movie.), and the brutal fight Peters has with Kiley.

 

Widmark is most excellet in the culmination of all his three time looser wise *** roles, and there is real chemistry in the on screen relationship between Widmark and Peters that sparks once they quit playing each other while jockeying for the microfilm . Some question the transition to romance, but it's meant to be a little off the wall. Moe points out how Skip is some kind of chick magnate. Moe she cant figure how women seem to fall for him, I'd say it is probably the most successful depiction of a relationship in a noir, and Fuller gives it plenty of time to stew and marinate. If it survives past the end credits is anybody's guess, but the deck is stacked against them. Peters is a real cutie in this, its a shame she cut her career way too short.

 

Peters taking a soak while sucking a tar bar.

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Great score by Leigh Harline, Another 10/10 for me. The demise of the studio system really is apparent in Fullers later noirs

 

 

 

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Window, The (1949)

Seeing is Believing.

 

This is my 4th or 5th viewing. 

 

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Director: Ted Tetzlaff (Notorious (director of photography) Writers: Mel Dinelli (screenplay), Cornell Woolrich (based on his story "The Boy Cried Murder") Cinematography by Robert De Grasse & William O. Steiner. Stars: Bobby Driscoll, Ruth Roman, Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, and Paul Stewart.

 

A unique Noir Thriller. A Family Noir. A Kid's Noir. But not just any kid, the kid who was a denizen of an decaying urban rat warren in a city that was constantly regenerating. A city before the Manhattan el's were torn down, before TV, before air-conditioning, where clothes were dried on clothes lines, where playgrounds were winding back alleys, tar beach roof tops, jungle jim fire escapes, and condemned buildings that became, clubhouses, forts or whatever you may imagine. The real habitats of urban man circa 1948, apartment-street, hall-alley, sidewalk-pavement, steel-earth, inside-outside, light-dark. I remember us kids grabbing trash can lids for shields and sticks for swords and battling it out in the backyard Colosseum, the clanging of the sticks against the lids sounded quite cinematic.

 

Third Avenue El

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Back yard scape

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Fire Escape

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What really hits home with this film is its realistic telling of the tale from Tommy's POV (Bobby Driscoll). Any viewer with an urban background will find some touchstones to his own childhood or to the childhood stories of his parents and grandparents. I still remember trying to sleep on hot, humid summer nights, in a second story apartment, where, thanks to a corner bedroom and two open windows any slight cross breeze brought relief. But it also provided the city lullabies of traffic, distant and near, the rattle of the Connecting RR winding off the Hell Gate Bridge, the faint roar of the sunken Grand Central. Nature provided the rustle of a sycamore tree from a breeze or the patter of rain on leaves. My best friend who lived in a bigger apartment house actually did sleep out on the fire escape to cool off. An el the old BMT line to Ditmars Blvd. was just down the block.

 

The film begins brilliantly with one of Tommy's fantasies instantly drawing us in to his world. 

 

We see a condemned building, we see a black window, lying face down, we see Tommy. He awakens looking somewhat in pain, clutching his chest. A child in distress. Crawling forward he grabs a cap gun and we are brought to reality. Tommy is fantasizing, playing/acting out, a "shot" cowboy crawling in a hayloft towards the hay-door from where he spots the "gang" playing cards. He shoots, bang, and his older buddies ignore him, a new game has already replaced the one Tommy was still playing, and a fire truck siren from the street trumps even that.

 

As Tommy makes his way to his street urchin buddies we follow the relatively benign, maze like, cinematic urban landscape that duplicates in reverse later, a final reckoning that, taking place in the dead of night, turns it all very noir-ish and frightening, with murderous silhouettes on window shades, illumination stabbed by slanting shadows. 

 

tenement hall

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apartment in the dark

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el stairway

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The city, especially in this film, is given equal billing. William O. Steiner (cinematography) a native New Yorker along with two of the three assistant directors, informs the visual compositions with a loving and knowing familiarity. Interiors (studio probably) Art Direction by Italian born Sam Corso, native New Yorker Albert S. D'Agostino and Kansian Walter E. Keller look flawless.

 

Ed & Tommy

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All performances are top notch. Bobby Driscoll was incredibly talented. He's thoroughly believable as Tommy. All his interactions and reactions with his peers, with his parents especially his father Ed (Arthur Kennedy), with his neighbors, and with the police, as he tries to convince them that he's telling the truth ring clear. Barbara Hale and Arthur Kennedy are excellent as Tommy's doubting parents ratcheting up the tension/horror level every time they attempt to reason with or placate Tommy's accusations with the kind of statements most parents faced with the same situation would make. They even make Tommy confront the upstairs neighbors the Kellerson's. Joe Kellerson and Jean Kellerson are one of the most despicable couples in noir. Their grift is for looker Jean (Ruth Roman) to lure single men to their apartment, probably for sex, where she slips them knockout drops, Joe (Paul Stewart) then rolls them for their doe and dumps them in an alley. 

 

Joe and Jean Kellerson

 

 

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On a hot & humid night Tommy can't sleep, he wakes his mother Mary Woodry, (Barbara Hale) and asks if he can sleep out on the fire escape where it would be cooler, she says sure but be careful. Laying out in the sweltering evening with his pillow Tommy looking up, sees the towels hanging from the Kellerson's clothesline billow out in a breeze, a breeze that doesn't reach down enough to give Tommy relief, so like any resourceful kid, Tommy grabs his pillow and climbs up the stairway to the Kellerson's landing to fall asleep there beside their window. He's awakened both by a shaft of light spilling across his face from the void between the bottom of a pull down shade and the window sill, and the sounds of a grift going murderously wrong. Its a beautifully filmed sequence where the action is obscured, partially silhouetted and enlarged by the shade and vividly focused through the slot.

 

Ruth Roman

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Though I've never read the Cornell Woolrich short story I have read that the story is even gorier, i.e.the Kellerson's victim is cut up to fit into a suitcase. Lots of great sequences, watch for the police station cat. The original music score by Roy Webb even includes a leitmotif for Tommy. Great New York Noir 10/10

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Mister Buddwing (1966) Jazz Noir

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Oscar-winning film director Delbert Mann ( The Outsider (1961), Marty (1955) - TV, Playhouse 90, Goodyear Playhouse, Omnibus, roducers Showcase, Playwrights ‘56, Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, Schlitz Playhouse, Masterpiece Playhouse) adapts Evan Hunter’s novel “Buddwing” and with the cinematography of Ellsworth Fredericks (Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Seven Days in May (1964)) and a great original jazzy score by Kenyon Hopkins (composer for Baby Doll (1956), 12 Angry Men (1957), The Fugitive Kind (1959), The Hustler (1961), to create a stylized “Jazz Noir”. 

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Filming in 1965, Mister Buddwing is one of those lost films that are on the cusp between Film Noir and Neo Noir. Sort of a psychological noir rather than a “crime” noir. A melancholy film that plays with time, space and your mind as the various vignettes overlap it's eerie and noirishly suspenseful, but at times darkly comic. It requires multiple viewings to fully comprehend.

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The film stars James Garner in a role that really displays his acting chops in a performance far removed from his wisecracking Bret Maverick (disregard his contention that this is his worst film, he sells himself way too short). Garner plays one of Film Noir’s touchstone tropes the amnesiac. The film opens with an unfocused shot of the sky sliced diced and fragmented by bare branches . As the frame focuses and our view pans we see the branches are trees, we see buildings, and Central Park at the corner of 59th and 5th. In an homage to Robert Montgomery‘s “The Lady In The Lake” and the beginning of “Dark Passage”, the film displays an intriguing POV sequence that begins when hands “rub” the eye of the camera, it also begins a faint jazz heartbeat increasing in tempo and volume as “we” the character sitting on a park bench search frantically through out suit pockets (for identification) combing out a train timetable, a scrap of paper with a phone number and some pills. A ring on his finger has an inscription “from G.V.”. The POV sequence continues until we stumble into a mirror at the Plaza Hotel when Garner is revealed. He has neither money or ID but he does remember the name of a woman, a woman named Grace.

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Gloria 
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Using a lobby phone and giving a fictitious room number he calls Gloria (Angela Lansbury) to try and discover his identity. Gloria a divorced floozy with a heart of gold, takes pity on him and gives him money so that he can find himself. So begins his jazz odyssey through the streets of New York. 

Janet
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In his quest for Grace, Garner meets three women, Janet (Katherine Ross), Fiddle (Susanne Pleshette), and The Blonde (Jean Simmons), each of the women he at first mistakens for Grace. So at first we see Garner interact with each woman in their true identities and at some point they become a vivid flashback to his relationship with Grace at different stages of his life with Grace, the starry eyed young love stage, the struggle with real life, and the consequences of wrong decisions made. All this makes the viewer a little disoriented, a little lost, exactly how James Garner's character feels throughout the movie.

Fiddle
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The film features the neighborhoods of midtown Manhattan, Times Square, and the Queensboro Bridge as its backdrop creating a cinematic memory link to classic Noirs, The Sweet Smell Of Success, Kiss Of Death, Killers Kiss, The Unsuspected, it also seamlessly fuses with the occasional studio backlot segments. Wonderful melancholy jazz compositions accompany Garner as he wanders the streets.







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The Blond
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All the three actresses are outstanding in their dual rolls.

 

Watch for Joe Mantell’s cab driver character’s hilarious monolog then pay attention for its echo with the 2nd cab driver Billy Halop, the original leader of the Dead End Kids. Watch for Nichelle Nichols appearance as a dice player, Raymond St. Jacques as the tout for the crap game, and Jack Gilford‘s interaction with Garner in a lunch counter.

Nichelle Nichols 
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The cinematography during the crap game sequence is excellent, I don't recall a crap game segment, as well done for is length, taking time to visually introduce each of the participants. It does recall the boxing sequence and the ringside vignettes from Robert Wise'sThe Set Up (1949).

Available on DVD from the Warner Brothers Archive Collection. 9/10

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  • 3 weeks later...

We got two out of three today when *High Sierra* and *I Died a* *Thousand Times* were shown-had they showed *Colorado Territory* we would have had all three versions of the story to compare.

 

*IDATT* was the only one in color and was the least deserving of it. *CT*, being a Western, should have been and I hope I get to see the colorized version someday.

 

Why did they even make *IDATT* as the script was nearly identical to *HS?* The actors couldn't touch those of the original except for Lee Marvin and Earl Holliman. Jack Palance had his moments but just couldn't make us forget Bogie as "Roy Earl" and I couldn't see Shelley Winters and him as a couple. With three Oscars between them you'd think they could. Oh, yes, I did catch Henry Hull in both *HS* and *CT.* being perfect in each.

 

Bogie and Ida Lupino were great together as were my favorite of the duos, Joel McCrea and Virginia Mayo. I think this is because Mayo's version of the character was stronger and tougher than the other two especially Winters' whining "Marie." *CT's* ending is different from the other two but it fits the story. I guess they couldn't find a way to fit "Pard" into a Western. Interesting day.

 

I can now say I've seen all versions unless there's one I don't know about.

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jamesjazzguitar wrote:

There is a thread on IDATT that addresses some of your 'why' questions.

 

We have very similar views on HS and IDATT. So similar that if I didn't trust you I would say you read what I wrote before you posted this (ha ha).

 

I might have as I remember some comments about it on one thread as well as Shelley Winters performance on a thread about "Annoying Actors". I had not seen the movie then and prefer to decide for myself about films. In this case, I'm with all of you.

 

This just was not one of Jack Palance's better performances. When I walked out of *City Slickers* I knew I'd watched him win an Oscar and thought it was about time. I also liked Ms. Winters in *A Place in the Sun* and *Winchester '73* but that whiney thing does wear on you after a while.

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Directed by Harold Daniels, cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca (Out of the Past, Deadline at Dawn, The Hitch-Hiker, The Seventh Victim) Charles McGraw as Joe Peters, Joan Dixon as Diane, Lowell Gilmore as Kendall Webb, Louis Jean Heydt ?as Harry Miller, Milburn Stone as Egan.

 

A Crime Film with some noir-ish flourishes that doesn't quite hit on all cylinders.

 

The tale begins with a teaser, insurance detectives Joe Peters and Harry Miller stage a shootout in Cincinnati, Peters "kills" Miller in front of a "mark" about to get into a car. Peters forces the mark at gunpoint the drive him away from the scene of the crime. The menacing Peters threatens the mark as being the only witness, the mark panics, and offers Peters $100,000 to not kill him. Peters acquiesces and the mark drives him to a cemetery where in the tomb of his late brother he removes a floor tile hiding a tin box containing the money he embezzled. Detective Miller who tailed Peters and the mark comes back from the dead at the tomb and Peters with Miller arrest the embezzler, money recovered, case closed.

 

The prequel ruse & the airport sequence with a lot of studio head Howard Hughes' blatant TWA product placement in every shot.

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The real story begins when Peters, while flying back to LA, meets and is smitten by con girl Diane (Dixon). Diane cons herself to a reduced ticket by pretending to be Peters' wife. Straight-arrow Peters disapproves of the scam when Diane takes the seat on the plane but keeps mum. Bad weather forces the plane down for an unscheduled landing and being "husband & wife" on the roster they have to share a room at the only hotel in town. Its a cute meet type of situation, and by the end of the trip in LA Peters is hooked on Diane, but Diane has her sights set on bigger game.?

 

I bought this a whole lot better upon second view. It all takes pace in a commercial aviation setting (a new wrinkle in Crime Films), the initial contact where Diane overhears Peters booking his ticket in the waiting room and sets her con in motion is well acted between the two leads. Diane after flirting with Peters pretends to be his wife getting a discounted ticket. Their confrontation once Peters sees through her scheme and the continuation of their "fake" marriage after their plane is forced down are equally well written.?

 

But here may be one of the films minor faults, Joan "too skinny" Dixon does an adequate job, but what if McGraw had been cast against Noir Queen Marie Windsor here, they had some great sparks/chemistry, in The Narrow Margin as adversary's there and she had a great rack.

 

Too bad this was shot before The Narrow Margin. This alternative casting might have vaulted this film immediately into top shelf noir, and McGraw - Windsor into near Bogart - Bacall territory, or at east the "B" version of it, on first view, as is, Dixon is a dame you have to warm to over repeated watches. Miss.

 

Diane - left in hotel (no rack), right as racketeer's fur wrapped squeeze

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The detectives first encounter with racketeer Kendall Webb (Lowell Gilmore) is another great sequence, it has Webb exclaiming "you got more nerve than regular cops" to which Peters snaps "thanks".

 

The finale car chase with Peters' peddle to the metal Chevy barreling almost out of control through the concrete trough of the LA River is riveting. Highlights below:

 

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"Too Skinny" Joan (bottom rt.) in parting shot at end of film, walking down the worlds biggest storm sewer, symbolic of her future going down - the - drain.

 

Roadblock & The Narrow Margin are Charles McGraw?s best film noirs. Rating upped to 9/10 upon second watch.

 

Edited by: cigarjoe on Sep 27, 2013 8:36 AM

 

Edited by: cigarjoe on Sep 27, 2013 8:39 AM

 

Edited by: cigarjoe on Sep 27, 2013 8:39 AM

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A re-post of a previous post, since I wasn't able to post images until now ;-)

 

 

*Hell's Half Acre* (1954) Tiki Noir

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Director: John H. Auer (City That Never Sleeps (1953)), Story by Steve Fisher (novel, I Wake Up Screaming, screenplay Lady in the Lake, screenplay Dead Reckoning, screenplay Johnny Angel, screenplay I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes, story Terror Street) Cinematography by John L. Russell (Moonrise, City That Never Sleeps)

 

Hell's Half Acre has a surprisingly great cast, Wendell Corey, Evelyn Keyes, Marie Windsor, Jesse White, Nancy Gates, Keye Luke, Phililip Ahn, Robert Costa, Leonard Strong, and Elsa Lanchester. The film takes place in for that time period the Hawaiian Territory. Hell's Half Acre is to Honolulu what Bunker Hill was to Los Angeles, the ghetto district of Honolulu, a multi-story labyrinth, a rats nest of cribs, flop houses, clubs, gambling dens and dime a dance joints. Filmed on location in Honolulu, O'ahu, Hawaii.

 

I wonder if this film along with Cry Vengeance & Alaska Seas were a way of priming the territories for statehood as in "see, you're just the same as the rest of U.S.".

 

Story opens with a couple planning to be married, Chet and Sally Lee (Wendell Corey and Nancy Gates), sitting in Chet's tiki nightclub "Chet's Hawaiian Retreat" the ultimate Tiki Bar. Chet Chester has a burn scar on the left side of his face, he is something of a racketeer, at the start of WWII he started a syndicate in Hell's Half Acre with "Slim" Novak (Robert Costa) and Roger Kong (Phililip Ahn), then after the war he bought them both out and went legit. Now he pretty much has gained some pull and respectability in Honolulu. He has enough leisure time on his hands to also compose and record songs .

Clockwise from top left, Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach noir-time, Chet's Hawaiian Reteat, Slim Novak in peacock chair, Honored guests Sally Lee & Chet Chester arriving to the party.

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Chet's friend Roger Kong is throwing a party in his honor by staging a Hawaiian band & chorus floor show playing Chet's hit song "Polynesian Rhapsody" While they listen, sinister looking Novak passes a threatening note to Sally Lee who excuses herself to meet him in the clubs office. He tells her that he is going to blackmail Chet exposing his past so he and Roger can re start the syndicate. Sally, taking no BS from Novak, puts a bullet in his forehead, in a surprisingly pretty graphic sequence for 1954.

 

Clockwise from top left, the threatening note, Sally Lee's final answer to Novak, the floor show, Novak taking the "Big Chill"

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Sally Lee goes back and tells Chet what she did. He tells her that he will take the rap for her but that she is to leave for the mainland with $50,000 of his money to give to a lawyer buddy of his back in LA to get him off.

 

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Cut to a record store in LA. Donna Williams (Keyes) is dreamily mesmerized, sitting, spinning a platter, listing to "Polynesian Rhapsody". At the end however, she is startled by the final line "you're my golden dream at the rainbows end", she lifts the stylus, and replays it. She buys the record and runs home, the final line is exactly the same as an inscription her dead sailor husband wrote to her on a framed picture she has on a table. It can't be a coincidence, and she is obviously still holding the torch for Randy who was on the USS Arizona when it was bombed at Pearl Harbor. Could he be alive, She wants to talk to the composer. So she flies to Hawaii to check things out. So beings an interesting convoluted story of murder, shady characters, and the Hawaiian underworld.

 

The film has a very entertaining cast of supporting players:

 

Donna (Keyes) and helpful cabby Lida O'Reilly (Elsa Lanchester)

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Honolulu Police Chief Dan (Keye Luke)

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Police Chief Dan & Ippy the Stoolie (Leonard Strong)

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Roger Kong (Phililip Ahn)

 

 

Rose Otis (Marie Windsor)

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Tubby Otis (Jesse White)

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Donna top to bottom as taxi dancer, waking up naked in the Acre, meeting Chet.

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The Otis flop house:

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Noir Action in Hell's Half Acre

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Corey dressed in hip Hawaiian "cool"

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Keyes is very cute in this masquerading as a taxi dancer at one point, waking up naked in a bed at another, Marie Windsor is also great and equally good looking as sort of a sleazy Femme Fatale, and Elsa Lanchester is a blousy woman cab driver. Jesse White plays Windsor's alcoholic husband and Ahn is Windsor's Chinese lover.

 

Original Music was by R. Dale Butts, Republic Studios staff composer.

 

Don the Beachcomber was the technical adviser for the film the inventor of the Tiki Bar, so you can bet things were authentic down to the last tiki torch, lol.

 

Tiki from Wiki:

 

The first tiki bar was named "Don the Beachcomber", and was created in Los Angeles in 1933 by Ernest Gantt (aka "Donn Beach"). The bar served a wide variety of exotic rum drinks (including the popular "Sumatra Kula" and "Zombie cocktail") as well as Cantonese food, and displayed many artifacts that Gantt had collected on earlier trips through the tropics.

 

When Gantt was sent to World War II, Don the Beachcomber flourished under his ex-wife's management, expanding into a chain of 16 restaurants.

 

When Gantt returned from the War, he moved to Hawaii and opened "Waikiki Beach", one of the two canonical tiki bars. The bar was designed to evoke the South Pacific, with palm trees, tiki masks on the walls, a garden hose that showered a gentle rain on the roof and a myna bird that was trained to shout "Give me a beer, stupid!" The bar was located on the beach, lit by tiki torches outside which enhanced its primitive ambiance.

 

Check out Don the Beachcomber's interesting bio here http://www.donthebeachcomber.com/history.html

 

Wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised. Some nice noir-ish sequences, but not a lot of them. Available on DVD from Olive. 8/10

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*Flamingo Road* (1949) first time watch, carnival dancer Joan Crawford quits carny for waitress job, falls for Zachary Scott, lackey deputy of backroom political manipulator Sheriff Titus Semple (Sidney Greenstreet). Ambitious Scott lets Semple manipulate him into the state senate, price, dumping Crawford, and marrying ritzy proper Flamingo Road gal Virginia Huston. Crawford, picked up for street walking on Semple's frame-up, is railroaded to a county lock-up. When released she gets a job at a "road house" run by Gladys George where Crawford meets David Brian (Beyond the Forest) an even bigger politico than Greenstreet who she marries. The fireworks between Crawford and Greenstreet entertains. Fred Clark (Ride the Pink Horse) plays a newspaper editor. The whole cast is great, Greenstreet at the top of his game and Scott is actually very tolerable (for me) in this, most of the time he tends to ham it up too much for my tastes.

 

Crawford is a bit too old to play a carny "dancer" and in reality she would be a carnival sideshow stripper a notch lower than burlesque but still at 45 that would still be pushing the envelope, my only complaint. If a younger star would have replaced Crawford say Audrey Totter (31), Gloria Grahame (26), or Liz Scott (27), and (if the Hayes Code was non existent) and more time and emphasis spent on sex and more blatant innuendos used, this film would have really sizzled, too bad. As is Noir Light and a 7/10

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*Slaughter On Tenth Avenue* (1957) Three goons gun down Solly Pitts (Mickey Shaughnessy) in the stairwell of his walkup. He was a trouble maker against the Longshoremen's Union racket run by mobster Al Dahlke (Walter Matthau). Before dying, Pitts tells his wife Madge (Jan Sterling) that "'Cockeye Cook and two of his meatballs were the killers. He won't won't repeat it to the police in a formal statement keeping it "in house" within the union since he knows everything is corrupt with the police on the take.

 

New assistant DA William "Bill" Keating (Richard Eagan) is assigned to the case and he teams up with Charles McGraw who plays Lt. Anthony Vosnick a (bleach blonde mode) former dockworker who has a personal vendetta against meatballs. Dan Duryea plays slimy mob lawyer John Jacob Masters sporting a pencil thin moustache.

 

Its noir light, but Matthau, McGraw, and Duryea put in stellar performances, Matthau particularly is a hoot. Richard Egan is adequate but his part called for star power, a Glenn Ford, a Bill Powell. Its a good film but Egan isn't quite up to the task he always struck me as sort of just another George Hamilton, presence but not much substance. Still a 7/10 Caf? au lait Noir with lots of NYC locations.

 

*Please Murder Me* (1958) A lawyer (Raymond Burr) wins an acquittal for his client (Angela Lansbury), a woman accused of murder. After the verdict, he finds out that she indeed did commit the murder and manipulated him to win her acquittal. Uneven with some nice visual noir-ish sequences and some not so with John Dehner. 7/10

 

*The Suspect* (1944) Dir Robert Siodmak with Charles Laughton, Ella Raines, unhappily married Philip Marshall (Laughton) meets young Mary Gray (Raines), who is unemployed and depressed. Their deepening friendship, though physically innocent, is discovered by Philip's wife who threatens him and her with exposure and scandal, driving him to kill her. 8/10

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*Alias Nick Beal* (1949) finally got around to watching the AVI file I have of this film.

 

From IMDb (spoilers) Righteous district attorney Joseph Foster's main goal in life is to rid his city of the gangsters infesting it. In order to be even more efficient in his war against crime he plans to run for governor. One day he meets a strange, shadowy man, Nick Beal, who offers to help him to achieve his end. Beal convinces hesitating Foster by dint of easy money, easy sex with an alluring young woman and the promise of easy success. Joseph Foster soon becomes an influential politician but a corrupt one. A minister of God manages to show him that he has been the plaything of the so-called Nick Beal, who might be "Old Nick" , that is to say Satan himself. Foster then decides to resign and to become an honest man again.

 

Ray Milland is adequate but Walter Huston (The Devil and Daniel Webster) and Claude Rains (Angel on My Shoulder) have played the devil better. Audrey Totter has some great scenes, lines of dialog, and Thomas Mitchell is ok. Fred Clark plays a slimy racketeer. The film set of Totter's apartment has some great Daliesque wall murals. One of those films on the cusp of Noir. Entertaining enough 7/10

 

*Jigsaw* (1949) Interesting noir starring Franchot Tone, Jean Wallace, Myron McCormick, Marc Lawrence, and Winifred Lenihan. It has surprising cameos by Burgess Meredith, Marlene Dietrich, Henry Fonda, and John Garfield and is the third noir I've seen that utilizes a POV camera in one sequence. 7/10

 

*Time Table* (1956) Mark Stevens train robbery flick, entertaining 6-7/10

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*The Good Die Young* was shown last night on TV. Wonderful ensemble work in this picture about four men who take part in a robbery in London, each for his own reasons. Laurence Harvey is memorable as a heel who is gradually revealed to be something much worse.

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 Noir, New York Noir and PI Noir

I’ve reassessed The Dark Corner over the last couple of weeks. Most reviewers recognize this as just a good Film Noir and then go on to dismiss two of the leads, Mark Stevens and Lucille Ball, as being lightweights in their respective roles, I think their judgment is being jaded by the hard boiled performances of the likes of Bogart, Powell, Mitchum, Montgomery, and Meeker as tough PI’s and on the flip side by all the slinky sultry Femme Fatales that proved to be their banes. The critics are being way too harsh. 

 

Directed masterfully by Henry Hathaway, written by New York City born screenwriters Jay Dratler and Bernard C. Shoenfield and based on a story by Leo Rosten. The film stars Lucille Ball, Clifton Webb, William Bendix, Mark Stevens, Cathy Downs and Kurt Kreguer.

 

This is Noir, New York Noir and PI Noir distilled to its essence. Under the artistry of director of photography Joe MacDonald (Street With No Name, Call Northside 777, Pickup on South Street) visually this film is stunning, we see contrasts of deep blacks with sharp highlights that evoke the chiaroscuro of crime scene photography and graphic novels, diagonals stabbing into the frame, single source lighting throwing shadows that advance the story, tendrils of omnipresent cigarette smoke clouding atmosphere. 

 

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NYC circa 1940's

 

The story is firmly anchored in a New York City that juxtaposes, high society art galleries with tenement flops. The New York City of the ‘40’s its canyons with its Els, its traffic, its jazz clubs, fire escapes, Times Square, neighborhood penny arcades filled with nickelodeons, mutoscopes, pinball and skee ball games, shooting galleries, and 5 cent mechanical fortune tellers.

 

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Chiaroscuro
 

 

This film does better what all the various New York based Mike Hammer classic era noirs (the ones that actually attempted to place the action in Manhattan) never came close to, it gives you a realistically gritty impression of New York City.

 

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Bendix

 

The visual component of the film is complimented by a smart, equally impressive, sound design that floods your senses with the lullaby of THE CITY. I don’t believe I’ve heard a better one in any contemporary noir set in NYC. You constantly hear the rattle of the El as it passes by the windows of Gault’s (Stevens) office or above your head when out on Third Avenue, you hear the honk and rumble of traffic on the street, you hear the cacophony of the arcade. There is even a sequence where Gault and Kathleen (Ball) are talking to a newspaper boy in a lunch counter who witnessed a near hit and run accident, after he leaves we even hear his news hawking faintly diminishing as a background to the conversation between Gault and Kathleen. 

 

This constantly enveloping sound design ingeniously transitions seamlessly to diegetic and non diegetic music provided by various artists, Alfred Newman, Eddie Heywood and His Orchestra, Duke Ellington and others. 

 

The story goes like this, private detective Bradford Gault (Stevens) is looking to make a fresh start in New York City after a two year drunk driving manslaughter stint in California. He was framed by his ex partner Jardine (Kurt Kreuger) when he objected to Jardine’s blackmail scam. 

 

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Kreuger & Webb

 

Jardine, who has also relocated to New York is running the same blackmail scam again with the city’s high society. He is seducing society women and then blackmailing them with their own love letters. Hardy Cathcart (Webb) a wealthy gallery owner, suspects that Jardine is having an affair with his young bride Mari (Downs). Cathcart hires Stauffer (Bendix) to deal with Jardine by trying to escalate the Gault/Jardine animosity to a deadly finale. 

 

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Downs. Yes, they are all sisters under the mink

 

Kathleen (Ball) is good as Gault’s plucky new secretary who evolves into a combination love interest/partner. Lt Frank Reeves (Reed Hadley) is the NYPD officer keeping tabs on Gault.

 

The Kathleen/Gault side story is unobtrusively woven into the fabric of the plot. Gault, is no iconic Sam Spade, Marlowe or Hammer, he is, as played by Stevens a bit vulnerable more soft boiled than hard, the average everyday PI, he gets stressed, he gets drunk, he tries to score with Kathleen. Ball plays Kathleen as the virginal good girl who begins to fall for Gault and there are some nice situational humorous sequences where Ball’s virginity to onlookers and acquaintances is put doubt. 

 

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Ball

 

 

 

Cathy Downs plays the unfaithful wife of Cathcart and the films closest equivalent to a femme fatal. Clifton Webb is great as the possessive **** retentive Cathcart, but the really impressive performance is from Bendix. New York, (Manhattan) born and bred, Bendix plays a very convincing sleaze ball PI/muscle and the film is rife with some great sequences of Bendix interacting with Gault and Cathcart, and he has a very nice telephone monologue. 

 

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Bendix, playing the softy

 

Topping it off Hathaway adds some nice stylistic touches, watch for the black humor sequence proceeding the discovery of Jardine’s body, a coiled vacuum cord is slowly stretched in pulses as the cleaning lady vacuum’s closer and closer to the bed under which the body is hidden.

 

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style

 

If this 20th Century Fox film had starred say Dana Andrews, or Tyrone Power as Gault, and Gene Tierney or Linda Darnell as Kathleen it would be up there unquestionably with all better known the top shelf films noir.

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I agree that the casting of Mark Stevens is what makes The Dark Corner a lessor noir compared to those by well known noir actors mentioned.    While that is unfair to Stevens (he does a good job in the film),  it is just what it is.   Note that Bendix is in the picture and he was a noir icon supporting player (the films with Ladd and Lake,   Macro with Mitchum).   

 

So this film had all the elements and is a fine film but I do end up wishing that the male lead was played by Mitchum or Andrews,  or even someone like Van Heflin.    i.e. a actor I associated with film noir.

 

But I don't wish to see Lucy Ball replaced.   I think her screen persona fits the role really well and I'm not sure a gal associated with noir (e.g. Jane Greer,  Maria Winsor,  Grahame),  would have been a better fit.

 

 

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But I don't wish to see Lucy Ball replaced.   I think her screen persona fits the role really well and I'm not sure a gal associated with noir (e.g. Jane Greer,  Marie Windsor,  Grahame),  would have been a better fit.

 

I agree to an extent she played the part in a way that say a Eve Arden or a Hillary Brooke would have, a couple of noir gals that may have fit better would be maybe Evelyn Keyes, or Lisbeth Scott,

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Satan In High Heels (1962) Fetish Noir

 

 

Directed by Jerald Intrator, Starring Meg Myles (The Phenix City Story (1955)), Grayson Hall (Night of The Iguana (1964), (Dark Shadows TV), Del Tenney, Mike Keene, Robert Yuro, Sabrina. Called a 1962 American "sexploitation film" it's actually a curiously well enough done and very film noir-ish in spots especially the opening intro carnival sequence which will remind you of Nightmare Alley. 


The story starts off at a sleazy carnival burlesque show where carnival stripper, Stacey (Meg Myles), has a confrontation with her junkie ex-husband in a dressing room strung with lingerie, he says he's off the horse and has a roll of money to prove it. She steals the $900 from him and flies off to New York City. She picks up a mark on the plane and bounces him for the connections he has to New York night life, which she parlays into a shot at a cabaret act. She plays footsie with the lesbian club manager Pepe (Hall) and gets the spot, but she wants more. She strings along the club owner who sets her up in a fancy apartment, but she falls for the owner's son. When her desperate ex-husband finally tracks her down, she manipulates him, plotting a way to get to kill two birds with one stone to get what she wants.


The Carnival Sequence:


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Myles & carny barker


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Myles in undie strung dressing room


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Myles with junkie ex hubby


For reference on carney strip shows check out the noir-ly photographed Carnival Strippers by Susan Mieselas:

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Myles has a great singing voice and she really impresses in her audition number. The club sequence was filmed at New York's old La Martinique cabaret which from the bearings I get (from some of the outside the entrance location shots) seems to be someplace on the Upper East Side, I think I see Central Park in the bg. 


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Grayson Hall as PePe


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Hall & Myles


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British export sex bomb Sabrina - In 1957, her 41-inch breasts were insured for £125,000.


This film captures a strange period in the US where sex was nuking the restraints it was placed under thirty years before by the Legion of Decency, Breen and the Hays Code, it worships at a way way over the top breast, a$$, and leather fetish altar, hell, even the late 50s early 60s cars are photographed as sex objects. It taps in this weird sexual Zietgiest that prevailed in an atmosphere of impending nuclear annihilation. This film plays like a John Waters/Devine wet dream its fun & entertaining enough, the DVD is excellent, better than some of the screen caps found on the web above, available from Something Wild, Noir on the fringe 6.5/10

 

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 Marlowe (1969) A Cool Cat Looking For a Connection

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title sequence

It’s all about cool, cool that aura of quiet intensity along that ever changing cutting edge balancing between conservative and excess, the spark between new and old, you know it when you see it. 

William Powell had it, Noir icons Bogart, Dick Powell, Mitchum, Conte, Andrews, Ford, Holden, and Hayden had it. James Garner as Marlowe displays one of the last vestiges of classic, big city, private eye cool, surfing the counter culture tsunami of the 60s. Yes, other P.I. depictions will follow, the majority on TV, but they will be diluted and tainted by the sea change of the Age of Aquarius, but they will be written quirky, cutesy, and PC. The only other film P.I’s that have the classic cool in contemporary settings are Paul Newman’s Harper films, Armand Assante in I, The Jury, and possibly Elliot Gould’s turn as Marlowe in The Long Goodbye, and Gene Hackman as Mosby in Night Moves.

Marlowe(1969) Director: Paul Bogart, with James Garner as Philip Marlowe, Gayle Hunnicutt as Mavis Wald, Carroll O'Connor as Lt. Christy French, Rita Moreno as stripper Dolores Gonzáles, Sharon Farrell as Orfamay Quest, Corinne Camacho as Julie, William Daniels as Mr. Crowell, H.M. Wynant as gangster Sonny Steelgrave, Jackie Coogan as Grant W. Hicks, Paul Stevens as Dr. Vincent Lagardie, film noir bit part mugs Kenneth Tobey (He Walked by NightThe File on Thelma JordonOne Way StreetKiss Tomorrow GoodbyeAngel FaceDown Three Dark Streets) and George Tyne (Deadline at DawnThey Won't Believe MeBody and SoulCall Northside 777Thieves HighwaySide Street, and Bruce Lee as mod clad enforcer/hit man Winslow Wong. 

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top to bottom: The Infinite Pad, Marlowe with horsehead oil pump, managers apartment


Right out of the chute we are dropped both visually into Marlowe’s current case in the title sequence by the use of a nice dynamic camera aperture motif that reveals multiple candid papparazi/surveillance photos, and audibly by a bubblegum style pop tune from the silly side of the commercial sixties. Titled “Little Sister” (sung by Orpheus) that ties the film to Raymond Chander’s novel “The Little Sister” The tune itself then morphs into a tinny sounding diegetic song blaring from the radio of Marlowe’s top down Dodge convertible. 

The car rolls along, anb only in southern California, horsehead oil pump studded beach, and up to a peace sign and flower power festooned hippy hotel called The Infinite Pad. Jammed into the chrome barred appointments of the dash is a photo of Orin Quest, the wayward missing in action brother from some hicksville Kansas fly speck who blew town down Route 66 in search of kicks. Marlowe wades through the throng of **** out denizens and into the mangers office replete with posters, burning incense, and love beads. Marlowe soon finds out that he’s in deeper **** than the $50 dollar retainer chump change case warranted.

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The Bradbury Building

So how, you may ask, does a knight errant loner like Marlowe survive in a world of full page add, multiple operative, private investigation agencies? Well, he sublets half of his shabby suite of family-hand-me-down furnished offices to a beauty college who’s ex-pat Brit proprietor doubles as an answering service/receptionist. He is good for a few chuckles. 

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noir-ish

Cinematographer William Daniels (Brute ForceLuredThe Naked City) achieves a subdued almost laid back noir-ish style, photographing sleazy late 60s LA in a way that emphasizes the thin veneer of “new” that cosmetically covers the same old decay, its just Day-Glo painted now. Noir archetypes such as the Bradbury Building, and Union Station provide a cinematic memory link to classic film noir, while modern apartments, cloud club panoramic restaurants, the Hotel Alvarado and Sunset Blvd. strip joints anchor us to 1969. The use of split screen both advances the story line and occasionally provides a bit of humor. Another segment at a TV studio juxtaposes a throwaway modern dance routine along side one of the 20 Greta Garbo films that Daniels is famous for. Garner disdains the dance number to a TV exec telling him that the Garo film is the real entertainment.

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top to bottom: Garner & George Tyne, Coogan - O'Connor, Garner O'Connor Tobey

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top to bottom: Steelgrave, split screen, Winslow Wong & Marlowe 

 

1969 contemporary Marlowe is a cool level headed professional, efficient, witty, and generous he even has a sleep over gal pal who works at the DMV who he also pumps for information. He eschews fedora and trench coat for sunglasses but still smokes a pipe and drinks bourbon.

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Marlowe s*t*o*n*e*d on drug laced tar bar

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top to bottom: Corinne Camacho, Gail Hunnicutt, Sharon Farrell far rt., Rita Moreno

The stories catalyst is Orfamay’s search for brother Orin and turns convolutedly into something else. Gayle Hunnicutt is Mavis Wald, a prominent TV star billed as "America's Sweetheart" an almost auguring like reference to Mary Tyler Moore & her show by the same name. Marlowe’s involvement shakes things up enough to get various seemingly un-related individuals getting caught in a vortex with bodies piling up. Watch for Bruce Lee trashing Marlowe’s office. The repartee between Carroll O’Connor and Marlowe. The sequence at Union Station where a woman is caught sitting at a lunch counter between Marlowe and Orfamay where they update all the skulduggery that has taken place the various facial expressions she displays are hilarious. This is a reference to a similar set up in The Dark Corner where Mark Stevens and Lucille Ball are conversing while a ticket booth girl overhears them.

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Club Largo & Dolores (Moreno)

Fellows shines as Orfamay. Jackie Coogan is good as shifty Grant W. Hicks. George Tyne is a hoot as as the Hotel Alvarado house dick. Rita Moreno sizzles as stripper Dolores, doing a very sophisticated striptease routine that’s low on tease and high on strip. It makes you think of what may have been if Hollywood had not been shackled by the Hays Code. Think of the strip routines of Rita Hayworth in Gilda, Adele Jergens in Armored Car Robbery, Anita Ekberg in Screaming Mimi, Robin Raymond in The Glass Wall, Barbara Nichols in Beyond A Reasonable Doubt, even Kim Novak inThe Man With the Golden Arm

The soundtrack after the title sequence reverts into variations of a nice cool jazzy theme. If I have any quibbles it would be for even more LA location shots (especially with the cinematographer of The Naked City). DVD from Warner Archive Collection. 9/10

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  • 3 weeks later...

Wicked Woman (1953) directed by Russell Rouse. A blonde floozy (Beverly Michaels) drifts into town and gets a job as a waitress at a local bar. She sets her sights on the bar's handsome owner (Richard Egan), who is married to an alcoholic (Evelyn Scott). Runty flophouse neighbor (Percy Helton) complicates the scam to impersonate Scott, sell the bar and run to Mexico. Entertaining enough 7/10

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