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The Chase (1946) a bizarre Cornell Woolrich based film with Robert Cummings, Michèle Morgan, Steve Cochran and Peter Lorre 7/10 

 

Convicted (1950) Glen Ford, Brodrick Crawford, Millard Mitchell, Frank Faylen, Will Geer and Ed Begley, entertaining but average prison pic 7/10
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TCW_zpsa2c7918f.jpg

 

Director: Nathan Juran with Frank Lovejoy as Stanley E. 'Stan' Fabian, Mari Blanchard as Joanie Daniel, Richard Denning as Frank Daniel. Wow, here is a film that has a really unexpected twist, you think it's going to be one kind of double cross but it hits you right between the eyes with another one right out of left field. 

 

Stan Fabian owns a successful drive-in in LA called Star's, one of those googie/space age styled, in the round joints on Sunset Blvd. Joanie Daniel is a real h*o*t*t*i*e blond car hop with a nice rack that Stan is gaga over. The two love birds are in fast food heaven till one day when Frank drives up and blasts his horn at Joanie who reacts visibly with distaste, she knows him, its her wayward brother down from Portland. He's on his way to Chicago to hook up with a war buddy and the two of them are scheming on a plan to go back Germany to recover some loot (solid gold knicknacks) they buried in a cemetery on an estate. But Frank needs a stake of $3,000 to do the deal and convinces Stan to front the money for a three way split by telling him that Joanie has never gotten an even break and with his share they can get hitched and honeymoon in Europe. 

 

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Star's Drive In with Lovejoy & Blanchard

 

Mari Blanchard is strikingly pretty, she shines in this, too bad her career went nowheresville.

 

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Blanchard & Denning

 

Wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised Columbia Pictures on Youtube, 7.5/10 the .5 for Mari Blanchard    
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  • 5 weeks later...
Re-watched On Dangerous Ground today from the Warner Film Noir collection #3

 

1951 film noir directed by Nicholas Ray and produced by John Houseman. The screenplay by A. I. Bezzerides based on the novel Mad with Much Heart, by Gerald Butler. The drama features Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Ward Bond, Charles Kemper, Anthony Ross, Ed Begley, Cleo Moore, Olive Carey, and Nita Talbot.

 

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synopsis: Brutal cop boiling with inner turmoil, blasts off steam beating the crap out of suspects, he exists in a sewer cleaning up the human garbage. His prowl car partners have family life, wives, and kids for safety valves. They can shed the job and sympathize with  "there but for the grace of god go I" crowd, the  i.e. the rest of us poor schmucks, but not Detective Jim Wilson a high school jock whose faded glory days are reduced to cheap plastic trophies. Wilson is both alienated from humanity and obsessed with his job to the point where his partners become concerned. Wilson not only gets his man he puts him in the hospital. 

 

 

 

His chief gets him shipped to the rurales to help with a manhunt. Ends up seeing himself reflected in Ward Bond's revenge filled father character. Woman, Ida Lupino, soothes the savage beast.

 

Dark:

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Light:

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The film is a study of contrasting worlds the dark of the city against the light of the country, the vertical good-bad against horizontal conservative-liberal, Williams is skewed, way off center, to survive he must become centered, Lupino shows him the way back. 

 

Light & Symbolism:

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The first part of the film is great, Diskant's beautiful camerawork, including a squad car bound prowl POV, through rain slick LA city streets. Great characters pop up in vignettes and sequences, watch for screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides as slimy bar owner/pimp offering bribes, hooker Nita Talbot and her **** gaze as she sizes up Willson's package and ****/masochist Cleo Moore putting the hooks in Ryan.hooker Nita Talbot

 

A.I. Bezzerides:

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Nita Talbot her **** gaze proving she's "old enough"

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Cleo Moore - cleavage hook "I'm a big girl"

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Cleo Moore - **** hook

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Cleo Moore - flashing inner thigh hook

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The second half of the film is set in rural California, the snow cover blankets everything in a clean white patina. Underneath though, there are noir similarities to the city. A child killer is on the loose and Ward Bond is the dead girls father seeing vigilante justice at any cost, and Ryan comes off sane comparatively. Its a bit melodramatic but not overwhelming. The original screenplay was not as dichotomous as the filmed product, in the script Ryan returns to the city after being rejected  the second time by Lupino, a much more down & noir-ish ending. The changes are attributed to Howard Hughes' meddiling.  The film now seems a bit unbalanced, its original structure bouncing back and forth between dark and light would feel more harmonious.

 

The film can boast an outstanding score by the brilliant Bernard Herrmann. Great performances all around 9/10

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  • 1 month later...
The Kill-Off (1989) Jersey Noir

 

A run down Jersey Shore amusement park in the dead of the off season and adjacent fly speck town (Keansburg) are the setting for The Kill-Off an excellent, off the radar, low budget, Neo Noir based on Jim Thompson’s novel of the same name. The story is updated to post code late 1988, Newbie Director Maggie Greenwald does a fantastic job re-creating a Neo Noir milieu effectively, with limited sets and aside from Jorja Fox (Myra), William Russell (Rags), and Cathy Haase  (Dannie Lee), for the most part a majority of great but career-wise, comparatively flash-in-the-pan actors. Produced in 1988 by  Palace Pictures.

 

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clockwise from top left, title, tel-web, gossip, Luane & Ralph, suicide, Luane

 

 

The cast of looser slime balls include, Luane (Loretta Gross), a bed ridden hypochondriac, a black widow who has sat for years in the center of a web of telephone lines, a recurring visual archetype. Her poison tongue gossip and innuendos about the various denizens of the town results, most recently, in the twin suicides of  a brother & sister when she suggests that the sister has her siblings “bun in the oven“.  The telephone Luan holds is a powerful weapon in the hands of skillful equivocator. 

 

Ralph (Steve Monroe) is Luane’s the slow on the uptake “stupe” of  husband. Pete (Jackson Sims) is  the owner of The Pavilion a boardwalk skid row dive bar who needs money, Rags (Russell ) is Pete’s on the wagon, head bartender, Myra (Fox) is Pete’s rebellious daughter, Bobbie (Andrew Lee Barrett) the “skell” drug pusher after Myra  who is dealing out of The Pavilion. And  the last to be introduced is a full figured ex prostitute turned stripper, Dannie Lee (Hasse) who is wonderfully spot on in the part as the femme fatale who triggers The Kill Off.

 

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clockwise from top left, Myra & Bobbie, Myra & Jersey Shore, Rags & Bobbie, Dannie Lee & Pete, Rags & Pete, Pete in The Pavilion office.

 

The story un-spools as follows,  years ago Luane’s dead father scams $10,000 from Pete but dies before he can spend “the sugar“. The money is never recovered and Pete strongly suspects Luane of holding out on him. Pete and Rags decide that the best way to get The Pavilion off the skids is to turn it into a strip joint so Pete takes off down the Garden State Parkway  looking for a stripper. In some industrial section he spots local  talent Dannie Lee selling her a$$ on the street. Pete pulls over, gets out and  looks her over. Dannie Lee gets apprehensive as Pete physically twists her about checking her various assets, while asking her if she ever took dancing lessons. She indignantly tells him to f-off until Pete responds by asking “how would you like to make money standing up for a change”? Meanwhile, Bobbie scams Ralph out of his maintenance job at the Park and  gets Myra hooked on horse. 

 


Ralph married at 18 to Luane who was in her 30's have a bizarre open marriage, Ralph has one night stands with local teeny boppers and as long as Ralph tells Luane the details she’s cool with it, cool with it until Ralph gets bounced by Dannie Lee. You watch the train wreck unfolding with rapt interest. There are poignant yet equally touching moments throughout the film especially Dannie Lee's learning curve as a stripper and the love story that develops between her and Ralph. Also watch for the sequence where Luane vamps about her bedroom as Dannie Lee strips.

 

Every aspect of the film hits on all cylinders, the script based on Jim Thompson’s novel by Maggie Greenwald is ripe with good one liners. The music by Evan Lurie (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) tongue & grooves with the environs of the story well. The noir-ish cinematography by Declan Quinn (Leaving Las Vegas) enhances the dreary winter Raritan Bay seaside atmosphere and the low class shore bungalow interiors, especially when filtered through an old Xenon Entertainment Group VHS official release, the film can only improve with a proper DVD release. 

 


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  • 3 weeks later...

all excellent reviews, cigarjoe; profuse thanks.

 

i too must re-watch 'on dangerous ground' if only to see nita talbot.

 

she sure possessed a body that was built for speed.

 

Re-watched On Dangerous Ground today from the Warner Film Noir collection #3
 
1951 film noir directed by Nicholas Ray and produced by John Houseman. The screenplay by A. I. Bezzerides based on the novel Mad with Much Heart, by Gerald Butler. The drama features Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Ward Bond, Charles Kemper, Anthony Ross, Ed Begley, Cleo Moore, Olive Carey, and Nita Talbot.
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Rear Window (1954) Director: Alfred Hitchcock, Writers: John Michael Hayes (screenplay), Cornell Woolrich (based on the short story by) Stars: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr, re-watch a studio set NYC, fun story, would/could have been a great Noir if it had used those stylistics score by Franz Waxman. Anybody ever read the original story Cornell Woolrich's 1942 short story "It Had to Be Murder"? http://www.miettecast.com/woolrich.pdf  8/10

 

Mulholland Falls (1996) Director: Lee Tamahori, Stars: Nick Nolte, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Connelly, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Treat Williams, Daniel Baldwin, John Malkovich, Andrew McCarthy, Louise Fletcher,  Rob Lowe and Bruce Dern. Never seen this before, way better than Gangster Squad, I would even say I like it better than LA Confidential. It got the hats right, has a nice rendition of "Harbour Lights" by Aaron Neville, you gotta love that Buick Roadmaster convertible tooling across the gorgeous desert landscapes and also Jennifer Connelly's bOObs. I guess you gotta find out these things for yourself rather than go by critics, it's the reason I never checked it out. It reminds you of all the "B" LA based crime Noirs. The only fault is Nolte's mumbling, it's hard to understand him at times. Nice score by Dave Grusin 9/10

 

Hammett (1982) Director: Wim Wenders based on Joe Gores (novel), with quite the cast, Frederic Forrest, Peter Boyle, Marilu Henner, Roy Kinnear, Elisha Cook Jr., Lydia Lei, Jack Nance,  Royal Dano, Samuel Fuller and Hank Warden. Sort of an alcoholic stupor/dream of a PI flick, enforced by the storybook quality of the Zoetrope Studio sets. The story revolves around Dashiell "Sam" Hammett post Pinkerton during his Black Mask Pulp Fiction writer days, and one last case or is it just another hard boiled tale? Entertaining and a fun watch especially when you are well versed on Film Noir and can catch references, great score by John Barry, streaming on Netflix 7/10

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On MOVIES I saw the film Born Reckless.    Nice little gangster type film.   Not noir but I didn't know where else to post this.    I was impressed with Rochelle Hudson.  She was a peach.   I didn't remember seeing her in any other films until I found out she played Dean's mother in Rebel Without a Cause.

 

 

Born Reckless is a 1937 gangster film directed by Malcolm St. Clair and Gustav Machatý (St. Clair received sole directorial credit) and starring Brian Donlevy and Rochelle Hudson. Donlevy plays a race-car champion who infiltrates a mob-run taxi cab company. Barton MacLane plays the chief mobster.

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Thoroughly enjoyed watching the excellent THE NARROW MARGIN (1952) again this morning.  Well acted, fast paced, and full of twists and turns.  I love this movie.

 

!l-enigme-du-chicago-express_302978_27751!

 

I like this one too. Of course with these movies of the Golden Age there are innumerable smashingly beautiful women just about everywhere but that didn't stop me from admiring unsung Jacqueline White; in fact, I think I developed a slight crush on her, not only here but in Crossfire as well.

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I love The Narrow Margin but I've had people remark that the problem with this film is the plot.

 

SPOILERS 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? And why even use a train for the real girl? Send the decoy by train, the real girl by airplane.

 

 

I think the answers are all in the subtext, Meggs (Decoy Mrs Neal (Marie Windsor)) 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 compromised, 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" plot point becomes irrelevant 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 (Marie Windsor)) 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. Neal; the only place you slip up is with cops. I turned the deal down. 

Mrs. Neal: 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. Neal: 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. Neal, 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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THE NARROW MARGIN has a storyline similar to the Basil Rathbone/Sherlock Holmes film PURSUIT TO ALGIERS.  There is the  use of a "decoy" to hide the identity of the real target of the assassins. Here only  Holmes knows the real identities of those involved and keeps that secret even from his trusty assistant Watson. Watson's behavior then helps to convince the assassins of the identity of their target (a false identification) while the real man is surprisingly close by acting completely inconspicuously .  Charles McGraw is the "Watson" in THE NARROW MARGIN, and we really don't need a Holmes..

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THE NARROW MARGIN has a storyline similar to the Basil Rathbone/Sherlock Holmes film PURSUIT TO ALGIERS.  There is the  use of a "decoy" to hide the identity of the real target of the assassins. Here only  Holmes knows the real identities of those involved and keeps that secret even from his trusty assistant Watson. Watson's behavior then helps to convince the assassins of the identity of their target (a false identification) while the real man is surprisingly close by acting completely inconspicuously .  Charles McGraw is the "Watson" in THE NARROW MARGIN, and we really don't need a Holmes..

 

Well of course Holmes could be trusted.    While Watson could be trusted (i.e. he wouldn't take a bribe),  the way the series portrayed Watson as some type of goof ball,   having him spill the beans (but the wrong can of beans!),  fits that Watson persona.

 

In The Narrow Margin,  since a cop could be on the take it made sense to limit those in the know.

 

Of course that doesn't explain why the real target was on the same train;  To me the answer to that question is simple;  It made for a better ending!  

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I thoroughly enjoy listening to the gritty gravelly voice of Charles McGraw in THE NARROW MARGIN and every other movie he made.  What a cynical world-weary bring-it-on voice.  A tough all-American voice.  Not a voice one would ever mistake for a British upper class toff that is for sure. 

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Its also fun to hear the (possibly Howard Hughes inspired) digs at the railroad, a couple of McGraw's quips against the railroad:

 
Brown: This rattler hasn't stopped, they're still on it!
 
Brown: As soon as they pave this track accidents like this won't happen.
 
Also notice at the very end as Brown (McGraw) exits the Pullman there is a rack against the wall with brochures for TWA, way to go Howard...lol.
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I thoroughly enjoy listening to the gritty gravelly voice of Charles McGraw in THE NARROW MARGIN and every other movie he made.  What a cynical world-weary bring-it-on voice.  A tough all-American voice.  Not a voice one would ever mistake for a British upper class toff that is for sure. 

 

I also enjoy McGraw and he was 'built' to be in American noir films.    Have you seen His Kind of Women.   McGraw is also a world-weary cynic in that movie and there are many good scenes with Mitchum (a world class world-weary cynic) and McGraw in that film.

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Charles McGraw, what a great character actor, perfect in noir films and also in other roles in movies and tv. With that instantly recognizable voice (you know who it is before you see him) he almost always plays the authority figure (cop, military).  I just recently saw him in a guest role on an episode of Adam-12.  He has a major supporting role in one of my favorites, THE BRIDGES AT TOKO-RI.  He also shows up in THE BIRDS and even ITS A MAD, MAD,MAD, MAD WORLD.

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Charles McGraw, what a great character actor, perfect in noir films and also in other roles in movies and tv. With that instantly recognizable voice (you know who it is before you see him) he almost always plays the authority figure (cop, military).  I just recently saw him in a guest role on an episode of Adam-12.  He has a major supporting role in one of my favorites, THE BRIDGES AT TOKO-RI.  He also shows up in THE BIRDS and even ITS A MAD, MAD,MAD, MAD WORLD.

I always remember him as the cruel gladiator trainer who ended up being savagely drowned in a kettle of soup in SPARTACUS (1960) by Kirk Douglas if memory holds true.

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MFTitle_zpsafa02fb9.jpg

title sequence/stag film

 

Director: Lee Tamahori, Stars: Nick Nolte, Melanie Griffith, Jennifer Connelly, Chazz Palminteri, Michael Madsen, Chris Penn, Treat Williams, Daniel Baldwin, John Malkovich, Andrew McCarthy, Louise Fletcher, Rob Lowe and Bruce Dern.

 

The Wild West circa 1950s....

 

This film reminds you not only of all the "B" LA/Desert based crime Noir films but it also channels a very strong updated Western vibe with its quasi legal vigilante justice story line. Endorsed by the "chief" a nice cameo by Dern, the un-officially sanctioned Hat Squad, Hoover (Nolte), Coolidge (Palminteri), Hall (Madsen), and Relyea (Penn) are like modern day Earp Brothers riding around the boulevards of broken dreams in the ultimate Western "boom" town, The City of Angels, "tinsel town", LA. Their mission is to keep the vice rackets under local control and their territory/turf runs from the desert ranges of the Cal/Nev border country to the Pacific rim. Their targets are any organized crime mobsters from the Mid West or East Coast who they sort of run out of town by sundown by escorting them to Mulholland Falls, sort of like Niagara Falls without the water.

 

Hoover makes you think of Dashiell Hammett's Continental OP, a big imposing stocky cross between Noir icons Sterling Hayden and Raymond Burr. He wields justice with a sap, again reminiscent of the way Wyatt Earp would coldcock outlaws with his Buntline special, and re-enforcing the films Wild West vibe. His partner Coolidge reminds you of Joseph Calleia's character in Touch of Evil, is a slightly neurotic transplanted Easterner, the squads methods of vigilante justice are effecting his life to the point to where he is seeing a female psychiatrist. The attempts by Coolidge to deal with old school Hoover's wild mood swings and his admonitions to the squad about how they agreed that they weren't going do this or that again are quite humorous. Hall and Relyea are both more laconic, though Hall is the cockier of the two. 

 

Thisainttheairport_zps322c6350.jpgThe squad about to launch a victim off the "falls"

 

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mobster: You can't do this this is America.

Hoover: This ain't America, this is LA...

 

The catalyst to the decent into Noirsville is when the squad is sent to investigate the body of a woman who is embedded face down into the ground at a housing development in the hills above LA. She looks like she was run over by a steam roller, and when she is pried out and turned over her identity is known to Hoover who is visibly shaken.  His reaction is noticed by his squad mates. An autopsy indicates that she fell from a great height, like a cliff, but there are no cliffs at the site. An X-Ray has a curious blank section caused by a radio active piece of glass. Back at headquarters a film canister arrives addressed to Hoover and a screening reveals a stag film spliced with shots of a desert resort, a military instillation, a hospital ward and soldiers at a tactical atomic bomb test.

 

MFstag_zps9effe86b.jpgStag film

 

The stag film shows the films equivalent to the femme fatale, Allison Ponds (Connelly) a '56 Caddy love goddess, fatal in one way or another to all the men she touches. Connelly is like a brunette Marilyn Monroe and she displays her assets in all their glory. Allison in the film is screwing an unknown man, Hoover's reaction to the film spurs Coolidge to confront him about the girls identity, and Hoover confesses to having a six month affair with Allison, a high priced prostitute. In flashback we see Hoover, during a raid on an after hours club, walk in on Allison **** slapping a pimp who was about to shoot the teen aged girl laying on a bed behind her with junk. Hoover over doses the pimp dead with his own needle. 

 

PimpampAllison_zps04572999.jpgAllison defending an underage girl from the pimp who was about to shoot her up with horse.

 

Allison's best friend and neighbor is Jimmy Fields (McCarthy), a gay photographer, he sent the film footage to Hoover as both evidence of a government cover-up (the reason he thinks that Allison was killed) and for protection from her killers. He confesses to the existence of other films indicating that he also has a film of Hoover with Allison.

 

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Fields with Hoover in LAPD interrogation room

 

The radioactive glass and the film sends the squad like a posse, riding across the desert to a Nevada test site in a 49 Buick Roadmaster. This beautifully filmed sequence strongly enforces the contemporary modern setting with the classic Hollywood Western replacing horses with automobiles, while at the same time evoking classic era Western US Noirs,Detour, Highway Dragnet, Bad Day At Black Rock, Inferno, High Sierra, I Died A Thousand Times, Hitch-Hike, Raw Deal, Touch of Evil.

 

MFBuickRoadmastercomp_zps47e89afc.jpg

the posse in their trusty steed a '49 Roadmaster

 

Melanie Griffith playing against her usual type is convincing as Hoovers wife, the woman he done wrong. It nice to see her stretch her talent to vulnerable characters. The other players are all spot on Dern as mentioned previously, Baldwin as an FBI agent, Malkovich as General Timms, Williams as the rogue soldier and Louise Fletcher as Ester a police woman.

 


MFSedanCrater_zpsf28b3f08.jpg

Sedan Crater

 

MFPacific_zps84b8c851.jpgPacific Coast, Malibu

 

Classic Noir locations used are the Los Angels City Hall, the Pacific Coast at Malibu, Desert Hot Springs, and Mulholland Drive. The film adds to that list a neat googie style apartment with pool and what has to be a unique instantly iconic neo noir location, the Sedan Crater in Nevada, a spooky nuclear bomb test site. The nuclear test angle of the story is a nod to Kiss Me Deadly but I've read that the films original ending was for Hoover and Coolidge, after surviving an emergency landing too near a test site, were to be incinerated by a nuclear blast.  Now how utterly noir would that have been?

 

 MFImcoldMax_zps753a1850.jpgCoolidge & Hoover right before the rumored vaporizing original ending.

 

I say I like it better than LA Confidential, and more every time I watch it. The Cinematography by Haskell Wexler (In The Heat Of The Night) is gorgeous.

 

It got the hats right, it has a nice rendition of "Harbour Lights" by Aaron Neville, you gotta love that Buick Roadmaster convertible tooling across the gorgeous desert landscapes and also Jennifer Connelly's assets. I guess you gotta find out these things for yourself rather than go by critics, it's the reason I never checked it out. **** were they thinking? Is it because almost nobody wears fedoras anymore or drive dinosaur gas guzzlers?, or was it because the cast was all adults and smoking is frowned upon, who knows. It reminds you of all the LA based crime Noirs. The only small fault is Nolte's mumbling, it's hard to understand him at times. Nice enough score by Dave Grusin 9/10

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Romeo Is Bleeding (1993) Leonesque New York Neo Noir

 

“What is hell? Hell is when you should have walked, but you didn't. That's hell.”

 

HolidayDiner_zps37ae7b44.jpg

Jack/Jim in purgatory at The Holiday Diner, Nowheresville

 

Its not very often a film comes from way way out of left field and just blows me away, a film that actually holds interesting scenes knowingly long enough to allow you to drink them in. A film that lovingly caresses the essence of classic Film Noir, updates its violence conventions and very stylishly tells a picaresque tall tale that's so dangerously close to being over the top but yet is still believable enough to let it all roll. Romeo Is Bleeding is addictively compelling in the same manner that Sergio Leone re-imagined Westerns are, and you have to scratch your head and wonder what kind of opiate were the critics and the viewing public mainlining on when this accidental masterpiece of a film debuted. This has happened many times before not only in cinema, but even in the long history of the Fine Art world. Films that at first are panned and forgotten that finally through the filter of time get interpreted right.

 

Directed by Peter Medak (The Ruling Class) whose predominate body of work has been in TV, using a brilliant knowing script written by Hilary Henkin who seems to have dropped off the face of the earth, gorgeous cinematography by Dariusz Wolski (Dark City) editing by Walter Murch (Touch of Evil (1998 re-edit), Apocalypse Now, The English Patient, Cold Mountain) and with a smokey-jazzy score by Mark Isham that will become wonderfully evocative long after the film fades to black. 

 

A Neo Noir whose all star cast is excellent. Gary Oldham is Jim Daurighty/Jack Grimaldi, an empty shell burn out of a man doomed to spend an eternity staring at infinity at a bypassed desert fly speck in Nowheresville (the type of Noir character usually played by Dana Andrews, John Payne, Steve Brodie, or Edmund O'Brien). Annabella Sciorra plays Natalie Grimaldi, Jack's long suffering, high school sweet heart of a wife (reminiscent of the parts played by Noir babes Alice Faye or Jane Wyatt) , Michael Wincott as the raspy voiced, made man Sal is channeling a very strong Bogart vibe, Juliette Lewis playing Jack's current squeeze Sheri, comes off as a string bean Marilyn Monroe in her Bus Stop mode, Roy Scheider as decadent crime emperor Don Falcone is frighteningly ruthless, Dennis Farina as federal witness Nick Gazzara has a hilarious monologue while stuffing his face with spaghetti. Will Patton, David Proval, Gene Canfield, and Larry Joshua  play Jack's partners. Other cameos are from Tony Sirico (The Soprano's), James Cromwell (L.A. Cofidential), and Ron Pearlman, but actress Lena Olin steals every scene she is in.

 

The narrated story revolves around the decent of NYPD Sergeant Jack "Romeo" Gramaldi into Noirsville. Jack's voice over narration while a throwback to classic noir is also unique, it's comprised of two voices, sometimes the present one the good Jim (aka repentant Jack), sometimes the bad Jack, and  sometimes he listens to one head sometimes he listens to the other one.

 

somethingonlyyourtrueloveunderstands_zps

Jack and Natalie    

 ...something that only your true love understands

that you can whisper to her in the night,

and hold her tight. 

 

Jack looked just like anybody but inside he wasn't like anybody, he was going to do something about the dream. Jack supplies tips on the locations of safeguarded witnesses who will testify against the mob headed by Don Falcone. As Jack puts it he puts a quarter in a slot and $65,000 comes out of a PO Box. He takes the cash and feeds the drain hole he dug for it in the back yard of his Maspeth, Queens row house. Everything was going right until they started going wrong. 

 

Sal_zpsc6dede42.jpgJack and Sal

 

SheriampJack_zps0f71d846.jpgSheri

 

Jack's tip on Gazzara gets both Gazzara and federal agents massacred by "Queen of Queens" rackets mob hit woman Mona Demarkov. Olin is Mona, the pieces lithe, sexy, Russian Femme Fatale and she is a smart, devious, scary-sexy one at that. She flashes her sex like a neon sign at the bottom of a dead end road. Jack looks like a deer caught in her headlights. She probably scared the hell out of a lot of conservative prepubescent boy scouts out there with her animal like sexuality in 1994. That may be the reason the film did poorly upon release, the Zeitgeist was't ready for the likes of Mona.  She is feline, deadly, a fusion of Diana and Venus, and when she "presents" herself to Jack, he, and any of us out there that's got a pair of stones are goners. This film is one of the definitive depictions of the Female being deadlier than the Male. Jack is hypnotized between the allure of Mona and the money she baits him with. In the tradition of classic Noirs, its far more powerful a scene with what it doesn't show than say a similar sequence in Basic Instinct.

 

DennisFarina_zps8eac0027.jpgNick Gazzera

 

Mona_zpsdac2c0a2.jpgMona captured

 

MonaFlash_zps05a1c74c.jpgMona, the Female of the species on the attack

 

356c026f-fca4-43eb-bb99-9b0d53e2ea89_zps

Jack the quarry

 

Jackhypnotized_zpscb507e46.jpg

Jack - dead meat

 

After Demarkov is captured the second time she makes a deal with the feds to turn witness against Don Falcone. Sal asks Jack for her location Jack provides it but the info is wrong and Jack is summoned before Don Falcone who says he will make his wife ugly, burn his house down, and gut his girlfriend, and if he doesn't kill Mona he'll authorize it. On top of all this Jack fancies himself as a ladies man, a straying tomcat Romeo with women problems, both with his long suffering wife Natalie, and with dive waitress Sheri. Jack and Natalie have some poignant scenes together as their life together falls apart. Jack realizes too late that you don't own love, love owns you.

 

Natalie_zps686b0b1c.jpgNatalie

 

Romeo Is Bleeding features a New York City festooned with graffiti, during the era of the World Trade Center. Williamsburg, Bushwick, and the JMZ elevated line in Brooklyn, Maspeth, in Queens, and lower Manhattan are all featured in the film. Sal like a chain smoking bad Bogart, tells Jack outside of Coney Island, that it (New York City) is like the Fall of Rome out there, the streets are filled with animals. Don Falcone acknowledges that he knows the barbarians are outside the gates but tells Jack that that doesn't mean we have to leave the door open.

 

Weaved throughout the film both the sound design and the excellent mood pieces that make up Mark Isham's score fit so well to the scenes and overlaps creating a total atmosphere that I again recall the great collaborations of Leone/Morricone, Hitchcock/Herman  and Lynch/Badalamenti. The acting is top notch every aspect of the film works amazingly well. This is a hardcore/hardboiled Neo Film Noir about melancholy and regret. Upon multiple re-watches 10/10

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More screen caps from Romeo Is Bleeding

 

Williamsburgh_zps93e9980d.jpgWilliamsburg, Brooklyn, Williamsburg Bridge & J-Z-M line.

 

A lot of the NYC filming locations were in Williamsburg, with lower Manhattan and Maspeth, Queens also featured.

 

Noir-ish under the el

Surveillance_zpsdef5dd0f.jpg

 

undertheel_zps4eea9fc2.jpg

 

jackwatchingmonaampsal_zps92f98134.jpgJack watching Sal & Mona

 

Nods to Sergio Leone ​- In this film  the codes/conventions of Film Noir were amplified, much like Sergio Leone took the American Western amplified it's codes and mythologized it. But there are a few direct homage shots & sequences.MonteCarlo_zps276a3476.jpgsimilar shot in For A Few Dollars More

 

onegraveortwo_zpsdce9dfea.jpg"you can dig one grave or you can dig two" homage to the end of The Good The Bad And The Ugly 

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  • 2 months later...
The Man Between (1953) Dir Carol Reed, James Mason, Claire Bloom, Hildegard Knef, Aribert Wäscher, and Ernst Schröder, it's got a Third Man vibe with a love story, its entertaining and Noir-ish, the cityscapes of bombed out Berlin are impressive. 7-8/10

 

Pickup on South Street (1953) I love watching Thelma Ritter in this. 10/10

 

Killer's Kiss (1955) director Stanley Kubric, with Frank Silvera as sleazy dime-a-dance hall owner Vincent Rapallo, Jamie Smith as boxer Davey Gordon, Irene Kane as ballroom taxi dancer Gloria Price and Jerry Jarrett as Albert (the fight manager). Could very well be the quintessential New York Noir, from the opening scenes of the old Pennsylvania Station, the decadence of Times Square to the industrial alleys and rooftops of lower Manhattan, it speaks volumes of what can be accomplished in a short film on a shoe string using real locations, and of the talent of Kubric as a director, writter, cinematographer, and editor. 

 

<spoilers>

 

The story is basically, a prize fighter falls for the taxi dancer he peeps on from across the air shaft in his apartment house, juxtaposed cuts of him fighting a loosing bout in the ring and her fighting off the advances of her **** boss establish the dynamics of the story. He comes to her rescue after Rapallo accosts Gloria in her apartment, and they hit it off. Exchanging hard luck stories they decide to take a vacation from the city and to travel West to Seattle to a horse farm that Davey's uncle owns. 

 

Davey needs his money from his last fight and Gloria needs her paycheck. They arrange with Davey's manager to meet at the ballroom. All goes hay-wire and the events that propel the story to a memorable conclusion are started in motion.

 

Definitely on the A-list 10/10.
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The Man Between (1953) Dir Carol Reed, James Mason, Claire Bloom, Hildegard Knef, Aribert Wäscher, and Ernst Schröder, it's got a Third Man vibe with a love story, its entertaining and Noir-ish, the cityscapes of bombed out Berlin are impressive. 7-8/10
 
Pickup on South Street (1953) I love watching Thelma Ritter in this. 10/10
 
Killer's Kiss (1955) director Stanley Kubric, with Frank Silvera as sleazy dime-a-dance hall owner Vincent Rapallo, Jamie Smith as boxer Davey Gordon, Irene Kane as ballroom taxi dancer Gloria Price and Jerry Jarrett as Albert (the fight manager). Could very well be the quintessential New York Noir, from the opening scenes of the old Pennsylvania Station, the decadence of Times Square to the industrial alleys and rooftops of lower Manhattan, it speaks volumes of what can be accomplished in a short film on a shoe string using real locations, and of the talent of Kubric as a director, writter, cinematographer, and editor. 
 
<spoilers>
 
The story is basically, a prize fighter falls for the taxi dancer he peeps on from across the air shaft in his apartment house, juxtaposed cuts of him fighting a loosing bout in the ring and her fighting off the advances of her **** boss establish the dynamics of the story. He comes to her rescue after Rapallo accosts Gloria in her apartment, and they hit it off. Exchanging hard luck stories they decide to take a vacation from the city and to travel West to Seattle to a horse farm that Davey's uncle owns. 
 
Davey needs his money from his last fight and Gloria needs her paycheck. They arrange with Davey's manager to meet at the ballroom. All goes hay-wire and the events that propel the story to a memorable conclusion are started in motion.
 
Definitely on the A-list 10/10.

 

 

Pickup on South Street is a first rate noir.    Ritter is the glue that holds things together.    While she is selling out here fellows,  we still love her (as well as the folks she sells out!).    I also like how Jean Peters plays her part.   Compare her performance in Niagara as the housewife to that is POSS.    Convincing in both roles. 

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