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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. 


Background info on Lightning Louie:



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Joe, the link doesn't work for me.  I love this film ( Widmark , Jean,  and Thelma all are great) so you aroused my curiousity .     I looked  up "Lighting Louie"  and see that the actor playing the role was a "professional" pick pocket"  so obviously he was a "consultant"  for the film teaching Widmark how to look right doing the act.  I wonder how Sam Fuller knew where to find this guy?  And he made several appearances on tv shows demonstrating his talent.

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The Tattered Dress (1957) Very provocative opening noir-ish sequence of Elaine Stewart in the "tattered" dress of the title followed by a standard courtroom drama, too bad it fizzled out like it did, with  Jeff Chandler, Jeanne Crain, Jack Carson. 6.5/10
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Probably been said before, but MoviesTV network shows Noir on Saturday nights.  Basically about eight hours sometime between 10PM and 8AM.

They show the full movies, but extend the times to allow for commercials, rather than editing for commercials.  They also tend to almost immediately start next feature at end of previous one.  So, hard to time each one individually.

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Probably been said before, but MoviesTV network shows Noir on Saturday nights.  Basically about eight hours sometime between 10PM and 8AM.

They show the full movies, but extend the times to allow for commercials, rather than editing for commercials.  They also tend to almost immediately start next feature at end of previous one.  So, hard to time each one individually.


Yea,  I find myself watching MOVIES on Saturday  (they typically show 3 'noir' movies but yea with those commercials it is about 7 hours of programming),  but they do show a lot of repeats.   A lot.   e.g. The Big Heat,  or Human Desire are shown every other Saturday.     Also on Sunday they have their Mystery movie theme.   A lot of Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto,  but also a noir from time to time.


They also censor content;  e.g. The Dark Corner ending where they block out the b oo bs of a 17th century statue.   The movie wasn't censor when it was released in America in the 40!


So each time I ask myself why am I watching this station?  It is because most of the 40s and 50s Fox noirs are very cool movies and TCM rarely, if ever,  shows them. 

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The High Wall (1947) Director: Curtis Bernhardt Stars: Robert Taylor, Audrey Totter, Herbert Marshall.




Robert Taylor, suffering from a recurring brain injury, appears to have strangled his wife. Making a confession, he's committed to an understaffed county asylum, Dr. Lorrison (Audrey Totter) is initially skeptical about his story but she begins to doubt his guilt, nice rainy noir atmosphere courtesy of the cinematography by Paul Vogel (Lady In The Lake, Dial 1119, The Sellout, The Tall Target.) 7/10
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Hit Me (1996) Director: Steven Shainberg, Writers: Denis Johnson, Jim Thompson (novel) Stars: Elias Koteas, Laure Marsac, Jay Leggett, William H. Macy, Philip Baker Hall, Kevin J. O'Connor, and Bruce Ramsay. (full review)



Hit Me


Been on a Jim Thompson adaptation kick recently, both novels and film adaptations. This film captures his small time screwed up loser desperation universe perfectly, I don't know how close to the book A Swell Looking Dame, it is, it is next on my to read pile, but as a stand alone film it works. It's a great Neo Noir and I got a bit of a  Blue Velvet Lynch-esque vibe from it, though a comparatively low key vibe but in a good way.


Elias Koteas performance as Sonny the goofball night bellhop really shines. Sonny stuck in a dead end job is reduced to swiping hotel VHS players and cases of hotel booze to make ends meet. He is supporting, on his own, his mentally challenged older brother. Sonny occasionally even pimps hookers to lonely business men out of  hotel rooms. After multiple viewings a fragment of cinematic memory finally "hit me", think of what a good, serious, tragic-comedic Red Skelton performance may have looked like in a film noir, some of Koteas' facial expressions are that dead on, but other comedians like Huntz Hall also come to mind. This probably flew over the heads of the then current (1996) film demographic for most of whom Skelton and Hall are non entities.  But Koteas goes even further creating his own believable lunatic of a character who constantly talks to himself and habitually is physically pumping up his ego for various tasks by acting out and letting fly with compulsive manic gestures.





Koteas as Sonny


Laure Marsac as Monique Roux simmers delectably, a soiled dove-ish French Canadian griffter/hostess/hooker, the femme fatale of the film. The seemingly incessant Tacoma rains depresses her character to the point of despair. Marsac ranges all the way from waifish crumbling beauty, to sloe eyed temptress, and finally boils as a deadly Diana in an explosive chase sequence set in the streets of a deserted warehouse district. Her sole life quest focusing her character, seems to be to get to "Gay Paree" any way she can by any low life means possible. She carries an Eiffel Tower tchotchke that lights up and plays her leitmotif. It acts as a sort of dream navigation beacon to mother ship Paris. She's fun to watch.





Marsac as seductress Monique


Jay Leggett plays Sonny's childlike dependent older brother Leroy, practically house bound in a "crazy house" dwelling strewn with food containers & decorated with discarded toys. He is way over weight, a good natured human Muppet who tells Sonny that he wants to go to Foster Care because there he can eat all the ice cream he wants. 



Leroy and Sonny at home


Kevin J. O'Connor is  Cougar, a harelip scarred, sadistic thug of a  loan shark who has recently become the hotel security man, Bruce Ramsay is Del a former bellhop buddy of Sonny who has hit the big time. He connives Sonny into a plan to rob a high stakes illegal poker game.


Philip Baker Hall is great as Lenny Ish, the hotel's biggest client and the local mobster who grouses that he used to live in "a five star country".


William H. Macy unexpectedly shows up in a great little cameo as a homicide detective. J. C. Quinn and Haing S. Ngor play Sonny's fellow night shift employees.


The studio sets capture the cheapo 2-3 star hotel world, and a nice opening montage shows Sonny schlepping through his various dead end bellhop job duties in the bowels of hotel housekeeping, accompanied by a plucky melody that becomes Sonny's leitmotif. Later when Sonny & Monique make love their two leitmotifs combine into a nice score by Peter Manning Robinson. 


Of course, being a Neo Noir everything goes terribly wrong for ridiculously simple reasons, in this case a change of diet, and the film leaves Sonny and Leroy setting off on a trip to Nowheresville, sitting in their rusty, trusty beater Chevy, orbiting the edge of the Twilight Zone in the universe of lost dreams. 




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I saw Night and the City on MOVIES-TV (as part of their Saturday noir night).


What a harsh film.   Widmark has some of his Kiss Me Deadly persona in this film but he is also introspective as it relates to his girlfriend (Gene Tierney, who I'm not sure was right for the part). 


The various character in the film and their relationships (father and son,  husband and wife, crooks with crooks)  are very interesting.     This is as noir as a film can get (even with the London setting which, with the focus on the gritty side of the town could have been NYC). 


What didn't work was all of the commercial breaks after the incident leading to the chase.  The tension of the chase was broken by those dang commercials.   

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I saw Night and the City on MOVIES-TV (as part of their Saturday noir night).


What a harsh film.   Widmark has some of his Kiss Me Deadly persona in this film but he is also introspective as it relates to his girlfriend (Gene Tierney, who I'm not sure was right for the part). 


The various character in the film and their relationships (father and son,  husband and wife, crooks with crooks)  are very interesting.     This is as noir as a film can get (even with the London setting which, with the focus on the gritty side of the town could have been NYC). 


What didn't work was all of the commercial breaks after the incident leading to the chase.  The tension of the chase was broken by those dang commercials.   

Yea that is a problem for sure, but on the other hand its sometimes a good way to sample a film to see if it's worth a buy with out making a blind purchase.


You should check out The Nickle Ride (1974) same type of build up as in Night And The City but comparatively low key and yet the tension is incredible, it stars Jason Miller, who is practically a double for Charles McGraw without the gravelly voice.

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The only real wholesome relationship in NIGHT AND THE CITY was the love between mobster Kristo and his father, wrestler Gregorius. As long as Harry Fabian could hide behind the old man, Harry was safe from Kristo.  For using the old man in that way, Harry risked the wrath of Kristo. When the old man died (you can debate whether that was Harry's fault or not) that made Harry a dead man.  Gene Tierney's character was rather weak in this film, this was made when Gene was struggling with her personal issues.  Another actress  may have done better, or Gene may have been better under more favorable  circumstances.  For my money this  film is one of the very best "noirs" and Widmark is at his best.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Hickey & Boggs (1972) Smog Noir


Directed by Robert Culp, Written by Walter Hill, Starring Bill Cosby, Robert Culp, Rosalind Cash, Isabel Sanford, Sheila Sullivan, Carmencristina Moreno, Louis Moreno, Robert Mandan, Michael Moriarty, Bill Hickman, Vincent Gardenia, Ed Lauter, and James Woods. 
HampB%20Superchief_zpslkusqg28.jpgSuper Chief arriving at Union Station
Al Hickey (Cosby) and Frank Boggs (Culp) are two ex LAPD cops scrapping the bottom of the barrel trying to make ends meet as PI's in the brown haze of the smoggy gas guzzler dominated LA of the seventies.  Their office is a back room accessed from a parking lot through a dilapidated peeling panel door, they can't pay their phone bill and the answering service so they opt for the service which they can check from phone booths. They dine on chillidogs from a street vendor and strategize the case at their local bar. Hickey drives a '62 Chevy Nova and is estranged from his wife & daughter, Boggs is a boozer, has a dented '61 T-bird, watches his ex-wife Elaine dance at a Live Nude Girl joint enduring her "eat your heart out" verbal jabs, and pays prostitutes at 20 bucks a pop. 
The film nicely transitions through Tinseltown's classic Film Noir icons of the past, the classic streamlined silver Super Chief "F" units, Union Station, and the Los Angeles City Hall to the smog shrouded broken dream downtown of 1970s.
The City Of Angels (with Carmencristina Moreno top right)
The tale starts when a creepy pedophile-ish lawyer named Rice hires the team to just find his "wife" Mary Jane (Carmencristina Moreno). Rice works for Leroy the head of a black power organization. Mary Jane is really the wife of Quemando (Louis Moreno) who held up a federal reserve bank in Pittsburgh for $400,000. She just hit town on the Super Chief and is trying to unload the hot money to various factions around SOCAL by mailing $1000 dollar samples to them, one of which is syndicate mobster Brill (Robert Mandan) who bankrolled the original heist. 
Given a list of leads, Hickey & Boggs begin a strange journey through the miasma of decadence and decay of The City Of Angels that one usually never saw, LA's chamber of commerce should have had a coronary. The film is filled with the ambient sounds of roaring freeway traffic, passing disembodied conversations and pounding surf.  
The various leads our boys encounter make a nice cross section weird characters, nobody seems normal except for the  the Mexican American family and they are the bank robbers.
Hickey in the course of the tale discovers a dead lead and then Boggs uncovers a hidden envelope containing the sample bills in his house. After reporting the murder to the police and the discovery of the bills the authorities match the serial numbers to the Pittsburgh heist Hickey & Boggs are informed of a $25,000 reward. Now the boys have a motivated goal.
HampB%20Elane%20comp_zpsu9qogdwx.jpgBoggs and ex wife/Live Nude Girl Elaine
Gardinia and Lauter
Living on the edge LA style
The detectives Hickey & Boggs are similar to their earlier counterparts in spirit but here in this film they have lost the power to change their situations. In part I think this is more the fault of the screenplay. Whether the original Walter Hill screenplay or Bill Culp's changes or studio suits are to blame is worth investigating. In classic hard boiled stories the confrontations were small scale, the stories convoluted but still simple. Here, our two **** are out gunned in three confrontations even battling helicopter mounted machine guns at the final denouement. This may be an effect of the increasing popularity of the Action Genre in the 70's and trying to modernize a traditional noir story into an action film rather than any statement of the ineffectuality of a private dick in the modern world. But they do win in the end but at a big cost.
A film not without faults 8/10.
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True Romance (1993) Once Upon A Time In Detroit


Director: Tony Scott, Writer: Quentin Tarantino Stars: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Michael Rapaport, Bronson Pinchot, Saul Rubinek, Dennis Hopper, James Gandolfini, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, and Samuel L. Jackson.




A heart beat of Noir.


The title sequence for True Romance magically conveys us to the bleak cold desolate vortex of the Rust Belt 1990’s Detroit, but also back a million plus years to the time when fantastic tales were spun by ancient man around the first campfire. Only in the here and now, the fire is scrap wood fed and in an oil drum in a vacant lot surrounded by hobos, outcasts, and scavengers and the fantastic tale is offered with rising sparks and smoke up to the eternal  night.  A Neo Noir tale.






Very few of the classic noirs used the female voice over, one that readily comes to mind is Claire Trevor’s in Raw Deal. This neo noir story is triggered in one long flashback by a voice over narration by ex-call girl femme fatale Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette). 






Alabama's Intro




Eating pie at Rae's




In the comic book store


Arquette here is downright outstanding, if ever there was a character that captured that effervescent spirit of Marilyn Monroe’s various characters (and updates that quality to the 90s and makes it her own) in a film it’s Arquette’s Alabama in True Romance. She is a blond, buxom, bombshell, a “firecracker” the “shot from the front” sequence where she jiggles down the courthouse steps rivals Marilyn’s classic “shot from behind” wiggles from Some Like It Hot and Niagara.



You just sense that if this were still the big studio days and she was under contract she would have been typecast into many of these kind of parts in quick succession at the peak of that phase of her beauty, Arquette might have become iconic but would the price have been tragedy as it was for Marilyn? As it is her performance is just a one off. The studio days are long gone and the atmosphere is catch-as-catch-can and Arquette did not get another similar Neo Noir role until her double parts as Alice & Rene in Lost Highway. I guess time will be the judge if contract stars of the Studios or those of the new corporate deal system will be best remembered in the long run.  Arquette here ranges from sweet and coy, to desperate and deadly, her transformation into Athena with her Amazonian like war scream is chilling. 






The tale unfolds as quasi comic book/martial arts/Elvis geek Clarence gets shot out of the saddle by a B-girl at a local tavern. Later at a late-night triple bill Sonny Chiba show, Alabama, in a contrived maneuver spills her popcorn over the seat on Clarence. She expresses her dismay in an instantly loveable cutesy/ditzy manor and is soon climbing over the seat and settling in beside him. They soon connect and later over pie and coffee in a diner begin to fall for each other. Clarence takes her back to his pad above the comic book store where they make love. Later Alabama confesses that she is a call girl and was paid and sent by Clarence’s boss as his birthday present. Clarence is not mad at all says it’s the best present he ever had and that it was not just the physical part but he never had so much fun with a girl ever before in his life. They pledge their love for each other and get married. The whole sequence is wonderfully written and rings so true that you suspect it is somewhat biographical. 






Clarence, (Christian Slater) in probably his best role, watch his dialogs with Alabama and his father. He is “cooler than cool” as he follows his personal rockabilly espirito Elvis in the way he deals with situations and travels life’s highways. . Elvis tells him to confront Alabama’s pimp Drexl and it’s this meeting that sends the tale spiraling into Noirsville. 




Clarence and Alabama in LA


The rest of the cast is superb, Michael Rapaport as Dick Ritchie a struggling want to be actor who lives with stoner Floyd (Brad Pitt) who has a plastic honey bear  bong. Bronson Pinchot is the weasel  Hollywood yes man  Elliot Blitzer to producer Lee Donowitz (Saul Rubinek). Dennis Hopper is Clifford Worley, Clarence’s security guard father who sings Country Western songs while making his rounds and lives in a trailer park wedged between the river and the railroad tracks. Mafioso Don Vincenzo Coccotti (Christopher Walken ) is a capo for Blue Lou Boyle. Virgil (James Gandolfini ) is a reflective hitman. Gary Oldman  is delightfully over the top as courier and pimp Drexl Spivey. Chris Penn as Detective Nicky Dimes and  Tom Sizemore as Detective Cody Nicholson are Gung ho LA cops. Samuel L. Jackson is Big Don a **** druggie with some memorable lines, and Val Kilmer is "Mentor" (Elvis).




On to Mexico


Ably directed by Tony Scott with beautiful cinematography by Jeffrey L. Kimball. A great soundtrack by Hans Zimmer stitches all the segments together. True Romance is one of those films that prove that every once in a while Noir has a pulse. A fun flick with abundant eye candy (definitely not for Hayes Code aficionados) :D 9/10

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Shaft (1971)   Great NYC PI flick - Soul Noir


One neat little bonus of going on a Neo Noir hunt is finding those diamonds in the rough that come completely out of left field. Sometimes a film is hyped so fully as one thing that its never looked upon or considered as any thing else. This film especially so since its considered one of the first of its own genre.


Shaft (1971) has been called the first blaxploitation flick, screw that and it's derogatory connotations (think Sergio Leone vs the majority of "Spaghetti" Westerns as a reference point), its actually not only a great PI film, directed by Gordon Parks (acclaimed photojournalist for Life magazine )  but also shot in a very noir-ish style by Urs Furrer. Between the eye of the director and the skill of the cinematographer the film looks beautiful. The shots of Manhattan, The Village, Harlem circa 1970 are gorgeous. It's sleazy Times Square/42nd Street at fin d'une époque, before Disneyfication eradicated it all.








Establishing shot,  an aerial view of  7th Avenue Manhattan looking North towards Broadway and Times Square. A cacophony of traffic blares skyward, we look down upon madly scintillating 42nd Street theater marquees, classic Hollywood product, Lancasters The Scaphuters, Redfords’s Little Faus And Big Halsey competing with triple X features He And She, School for Sex and The Wild Females, this ain’t Busby Berkeley Territory anymore.  




Isaac Hayes’ soul and funk-styled iconic theme song begins to pulsate  the title appears over a subway entrance as leather clad Shaft glides up to the trash littered gum stained sidewalk and jaywalks his way across the main stem.  This title sequence segues into the beginning of the story when Shaft is alerted by Marty the blind news stand paper seller that two cats were looking for him. 


Shaft is based on an Ernest Tidyman and John D. F. Black  screenplay from a book by Tidyman. The dialogs are all spot on in 70‘s hip jive. It's co-produced by Stirling Silliphant (who wrote late classic noirs, 5 Against the House, Nightfall, The Lineup and also neo noir -ish  In The Heat Of The Night). 


What's sad is Shaft gets right what practically every Mike Hammer, the quintessential NY P.I, based  film neglects, and that is a real feel for the gritty noir, on location, underbelly side of New York City. (save Allen Baron’s 1961 Blast Of Silence, and Armand Assante's I, The Jury(1982)) and even the latter doesn't spend near enough time in the streets.














Shaft is a very plausible re-imagining of the classic private eye flick. The P.I. was always about cool this go round it is about back COOL. Richard Roundtree is perfect as the suave hip protagonist John Shaft, a good detective, grudgingly getting  genuine respect from all. 




Moses Gunn is incredibly good as tough crime boss Bumpy Jonas showing quite a bit of range as he pleads with Shaft to take his case. Charles Cioffi as Androzzi Shaft's NYPD detective cop buddy holds his own and runs interference between Shaft and the department. Drew Bundini Brown is Bumpy henchman Willy, Christopher St. John is Ben Buford a former hood rat friend of Shaft who is now a black militant, Antonio Fargas is great as streetwise Bunky. Character actor Lee Steele plays a blind news vender.  Shaft is a Neo Noir New York City wet dream, it hits on all cylinders, check it out. 10/10



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  • 2 months later...

The Wrong Man (1993) The Good, The Bad, And The Heartbreaker


This one is way off the radar or "noirdar". Probably because its never seen or has been dismissed or mislabeled as fluff.  It's probably forgotten for two reasons, one it was a Showtime film (much like The Last Seduction was an HBO premiere), and two, it had a lot of adult T&A but its all germane to the story, its T*I*T*S & A*S*S with CLASS believe it or not. It can be done and done well. It's also as noir a tale as you can get.




Kevin Anderson plays a young 30-ish American, Alex Walker, a sailor on the run after a fight over a woman that went seriously wrong. He's fleeing from a manslaughter charge in Massachusetts, he says he didn't want to spend 10 years picking up cans along the highways.  His cargo ship The Starfish is working the Gulf coast of Mexico, think of the classic Noir roles that went to a young Steve Cochran, William Holden,  Glen Ford, etc.






John Lithgow plays a chain smoking "ne plus ultra" Ugly American John Mills, channeling Henry Fonda and touches of other classic Noir performances, you see a bit of Jimmy Stewart and get impressions of Broderick Crawford, he's so very entertaining in the role, an excellent performance.






Rosanna Arquette plays Missy the Heartbreaker, Mills' younger wife/common law friend with benefits, a real sweatheart Floozy of a Femme Fatale. Missy's past is shrouded in Noir. She spins a honey dipped, storybook fantasy background, but we learn later that she "worked" at an infamous Georgia highway truck stop in probable salacious endeavors "giving the best business in hash house history".  Arquette is playing the exact type of exhibitionist, free spirit role that in the late 50s early 60s would have been given to Brigitte Bardo, Arquette is smoking-ly sultry in this film and beautiful to watch, a siren luring men to their fate.






There is also a good policier angle that is nicely fleshed out of a young ambitious Mexican Criminal Law graduate Ortega played by Ernesto LaGuardia, who will remind you of a young Ricardo Montalban, vs. the old school Police Chief Diaz,  played excellently by Jorge Cervera Jr. who gives off a John Wayne/Harry Carey vibe. The cinematography is outstanding, the noir sequences to die for, the  Mexican locations humidly hypnotic.


Cervera Jr






Robert Harper is also excellent as the ex pat fleece joint operator in Tampico, he has some memorable sequences, I think Timothy Carey or Dan Duryea as I watch him.





Our story begins at the rain gray edge of the Gulf of Mexico a languid tropical sea, the primordial soup bowl of the Americas. The Starfish makes port and Walker takes shore leave in Tampico. While doing the town he steps into the street and stumbles right into Noirsville. Walker passes through a swinging bat-wing door and upon an immanent showdown at Felix's Dorado Cantina and becomes in the process "the wrong man". 


I'm starting to believe that what makes Neo Noirs authentic Neo Noirs for me,  is not only a heavy dose of Noir stylistic cinematography along with a simple Noir storyline, but also a bit of cinematic memory, when you can picture the stars in these Neos as inheritors of Classic Noir star parts, or see a nod to Classic Noir type locations combined with an old school, without bells & whistles, low budget, "B" film artistry you reach the tipping point into full blown Noirsville. 


All the action sequences are done very well and all low key, mostly on foot, no automatics, no car chases, no explosions, just good choreography on existing location, Bravo! 


Watch for the "Duello of the Wrong Man" sequence, "The Death Of Felix" sequence, "The Ballad of the Heartbreaker" and "The Dance of the Siren". You wont be disappointed.




I had to order this off Ebay from Hong Kong, it's worth it. It's equal to the best Neo Noirs of the 90s, a great, great soundtrack by Los Lobos too, 10/10 enjoy.

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Re Neo noir:  It seems to me that Michelle Pfeiffer played a few femme fatale rolls that might have been sort of "noir" ish. Also, does anyone else see some noir elements in the Godfather movies? I realize production values are way different, etc, but I kept seeing characters in the noir films who might have been models for Godfather characters. And wasn't the Pacino character pretty alienated in the end? Of course, there was never anything moral about him, so he wouldn't be a Raymond Chandler hero, at all. 

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Re Neo noir:  It seems to me that Michelle Pfeiffer played a few femme fatale rolls that might have been sort of "noir" ish. Also, does anyone else see some noir elements in the Godfather movies? I realize production values are way different, etc, but I kept seeing characters in the noir films who might have been models for Godfather characters. And wasn't the Pacino character pretty alienated in the end? Of course, there was never anything moral about him, so he wouldn't be a Raymond Chandler hero, at all. 

Definitely see some noir stylistics in The Godfather. I just watched Once Upon A Time In America coincidentally today and noticed that the whole opening sequence is very noir-ish.


See if you can pin down the Michelle Pfeiffer femme fatales I'd like to check therm out.

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  • 1 month later...
Two suggested Policier Neo Noir Films from classic Noir era directors. (Hustle, is listed under Neo Noir in "Film Noir The Encyclopedia", while Dirty Harry is listed in "Detours And Lost Highways a Map Of Neo Noir" by Foster Hirsch) 


Dirty Harry (1971) Dir. Don Siegel stars Clint Eastwood, Andrew Robinson, watching it through Noir tinted glasses, it's listed on some lists of Neo Noir films, it is dark in tone, and Harry and Scorpio are obsessed and alienated individuals. The night time sequences are just night time sequences you could say some shots suggest or are slightly Noir-ish, the sequence where Harry is getting a bead on Scorpio with the Jesus Saves sign looming in the b.g. is a great example, the sequence of the money drop with it's climax at the concrete cross is similar, but that shot where a dazed Harry looks up at the cross would have been a no brainer to shoot at a Dutch angle, but no it's squared to the frame. There are some nice noir-ish shots of San Francisco's sleazy, porno, tenderloin district, and the Kezar Stadium sequence culminating with the finding of the nude girls body with the Golden Gate in the b.g. It's Noir -Lite, as a Neo Noir it's visually a 6/10 as a film it's 9/10 (according to Hirsch, it's only marginally noir, I concur.) 



Hustle (1975) Directed by Robert Aldrich stars Bert Reynolds, Catherine Deneuve, Ben Johnson, and Paul Winfield. This is also on Neo Noir lists and deservedly so, it does look like a Noir lots of shots with out a fill light and with copious amounts of other Noir-ish segments. Its problem is that it's almost too character driven and the only believe-able characters are Johnson and Winfield. I don't buy the Deneuve-Reynolds relationship for a minute. Reynolds past baggage i.e., his Southern goof off, good old boy persona is so engraved in my mind that it overpowers, he can't overcome it for me. Some times you get stereo typed/branded too strongly. You could say the same thing about Eastwood only his baggage is of a bad a$$ and that's an asset in Crime Noir. Reynolds best film for me (that I've seen) is still Deliverance he didn't talk a whole lot in that. As Neo Noir its visually an 8/10 as a stand alone film it misses for me, 6/10.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Aroused (1966) New York City Pulp Noir meets sexploitation



The un-cute meet - Hooker Ginny with switchblade about to avenge the murder of her gal pal.


So where did noir go after 1959? There was a definite decline in Crime Genre films (of which Film Noir was, in great part a sub-genre though it did infiltrate other Genres also). If you check the year by year Genre lists its obvious that they were in decline, in 1959  there were 5, 1960 and 1961 had a last spike of 8 and 6 , 1962 had none, 1963 had one, 1964 had 3, (these are from Wiki so there may be some omissions) add in also that Hollywood was closing down "B" productions. A good portion of Crime migrated over to TV, but there it was still sanitized by the Television Code and its "Seal of Good Practice" which functions much like the Hayes Code. Interestingly though, there were some independent productions that combined a Film Noir style with the looser restraints in the industry that brought along the advent of the sexploitation films, that were the mainstay of the Grindhouse theaters . 





Aroused (1966) is one of those directions, and it's a real gem. Directed by Anton Holden, written by Holden and Ray Jenkins from a story developed by Holden and Robert Shull. It stars for all intense and purposes nobodies, Janine Lenon, Steve Hollister, Joanna Mills, Fleurette Carter, Ted Gelanza, and Tony Palladino, and  these nobodies do a pretty good job of keeping it all believable. Janine Lenon is great as hardboiled Hooker/Femme Fatale, Ginny Neff or Smith.  It takes two homicide detectives to wrestle a switchblade out of her hand while she does her best to stomp their feet with her stilettos, before she realizes they are cops and not killers. She swears to a cop that she will castrate whoever killed her lover Pat. Watch for her touching monologue about her lesbian relationship with Pat , it's very well done and a nice contrast to her hard as nails hooker persona. 


 A good log line would be "Psycho meets a female Mike Hammer." 


There is another great sequence with Fleurette Carter that I call The Streetwalker we follow her as she struts her stuff down Broadway and it looks like a hidden camera is following her catching candid come on-s from men, its a nice slice of 1965-66 NYC. 


Ginny%20amp%20Johnny%2001_zpsfprqlccl.jpThe heroine Ginny  with Detective Johnny


The story is simple, a peeping tom psycho with a mother-who-was-a-prostitute fetish follows NYC hookers around, kills them and then violates them. Detective Johnny of NYPD is assigned to the low publicity case (who cares about hookers) The latest dead prostitutes hard as nails bi/hooker girlfriend Ginny teams up with well meaning but screw-up Detective Johnny to track down the psycho. The whole story plays out within a subculture of streetwalkers who live and die against a backdrop of an inky black Manhattan.



The Nosferatu quote


This is the second Neo Noir in the vein of as a friend of mine put it "Noir meets sexploitation flick" that I've seen (there are probably more out there) the first being Satan In High Heels a leather fetish Noir (1962), but the sex isn't anything you don't see nowadays and the film is artistically done with beautiful chiaroscuro Noir stylistics, a shout out to Gideon Zumbach director of photography (as Anibal Paz, I wonder if Argentinian cinematographer Aníbal Gonzá**** Paz was visiting NYC in 1965-66). This film is exponentially better, it's highly stylized, with a wonderfully Noir aesthetic. It's on the cheap but has good direction and a descent plot both furnished by Director Anton Holden. 


Chiaroscuro screen caps








Dutch Angle screencaps






Aroused  is extremely Noir  styled with not much sex and no full frontal nudity (sexploitation is probably a misnomer in this day and age). It's a cheap production with no name actors albeit, but if I had to compare it to a similar flick I would say Eastwoods Tightrope (1984) has the same aesthetic. 


Another reviewer on IMDb states that it references the 'shadow hand' running down the window from Nosferatu, eine Symfonie des Grauens, the shower scene with curtain (and the face that is behind it) from Psycho and the use mannequins in Killer's Kiss and I'd also say Experiment in Terror.  



The Psycho quote


Killers Kiss - Experiment In Terror quote


The way the street shots are shot suggests that possibly it was shot guerrilla style with no permits but they look great, and bring back memories of that time period. I noticed a street location from The Incident (1967) that I just recently watched which used the Bronx Biograph Studios so some of it may be shot also in that borough and studio. I'll give it a 8/10 for accomplishing so much with so little has a bargain basement, low rent, jazzy score to boot that dovetails nicely with the material. It could be on a triple bill with Blast Of Silence and The Incident ;-) 


Available on DVD from Something Weird Video.

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The Glass Cage (1964)  Experimental Noir



Main Title


Directed by Antonio Santean written by Antonio Santean and John Hoyt. It stars Arlene Sax, John Hoyt (The Unfaithful, Brute Force, The Bribe, Trapped, Loan Shark, and The Big Combo also a long stretch of  TV appearances) Bob Kelljan, King Moody and a nice cameo by Elisha Cook Jr. who of course had  about roughly twelve Film Noir in his CV at this point in his career. Cinematography was done by Jean-Philippe Carson.  


Flip a smoggy LA neighborhood over like a rock and see what crawls out.. The Glass Cage is a very Noir-ish styled Mystery with some great experimental cinematography. The tale begins at night in a Los Angeles' Bunker Hill neighborhood. At a low rent dump called The Melvin, a "housekeeping apartments" converted victorian apartment house. An attempted break in is abruptly thwarted. We see a hand break open a screen door we see a revolver in extreme close up. A muzzel flash. A man is shot. He tumbles doing a back flip down a flight of stairs breaks through the railing on a landing and falls vertically head first to the concrete pavement two stories below. A stream of blood flows quickly from his corpse towards a sewer drain.


A crowd gathers and the LAPD arrives. A meat wagon is called in and a corpse is removed. In a macabre touch one of the coroners men, after they load the dead man on a wheeled gurney, sings dirge like "merrily we roll a long, roll a long, roll a long" as they glide off into the darkness. 


Two detectives are assigned to the case  Lt. Max Westman (Hoyt), the by the book veteran and Sgt, Jeff Bradley (Keljan). The dead man turns out to be a local business man and not a burglar as suspected. The beautiful young woman Ellen (Sax) who shot him tells a story that conflicts with the facts, but Jeff is smitten by Ellen who comes off as sweet and demure and he believes her while Max stays aloof and by the book. Sax, later known as Arlene Martel, was a staple of 50s-60s TV. 



Jeff and Max rt., talking to witnesses.


Ellen claims the intruder was in the kitchen when she shot him. When contradicted with the facts by Max she claims she really doesn't remember. When asked where she got the gun she says that her sister Ruth gave it to her for protection that same night. When questioned about any other relatives she says that her father is living in Arizona, Asked what he does for a living she says that he's an evangelist in a tone of voice that one would use to say he's a card carring communist. Ellen is a troubled woman with serious daddy issues. 


Split%20ellen_zps1b6ydnmc.jpgA nice visual foreshadowing of  Ellen's true state.


King Moody who will remind you a bit of Timothy Carey is Tox, a kooky troubled beatnik artist who lives across the alley from Ellen. The police question Tox because he witnessed the events after the gunshot. Tox knows the score with Ellen Jeff doesn't. 


Crime scene investigation reveals that the gun Ellen had in her possession was the murder weapon but paraffin tests reveal that she didn't fire it. The Detectives head over to Ruth's house with a search warrant. They toss the place but come up empty handed but they do find a portrait of Ruth.


Meanwhile Jeff begins courting Ellen having lunch with her, taking her to the zoo, they also go for a float in a rowboat on a park lake and ride the merry-go-round. Tox ever surveillant of the goings on in Ellen's apartment starts to haves issues with Jeff moving in on his "good thing". 

He drops over later that day to "borrow a cup of sugar", but it isn't the granular kind that he's looking for. 


The rape of Ellem triggers a flashback/nightmare sequence where she is dressed in her prom gown carrying a bouquet and running through crowds of people away from an ominous man who walks with a cane. This sequence features experimental cinematography combined with Noir stylistics part of the chase sequence features the The Bradley Building an iconic location for Classic Noir.




The sequence ends back in reality with Tox gone and  a disheveled Ellen/Ruth laying across her sofa clutching a doll in her hand, She wears Ruth's evening gown over Ellen's housdress. 

Her evangelist father (Elisha Cook) arrives at the apartment in a very noirish sequence



Elisha Cook Jr. the evangelist, Ellen's father


Ellen is the persona who wakes up and she is startled to see her father sitting there watching her. The confrontation with her father again changes the girl from a cowering Ellen back to her Ruth persona and with this she turns the tables and does battle with the evangelist, triggering another brief flashback. 



I love the derisive way Arlene Sax says "Daddy" during this sequence.


Ruth tells the story of how Ellen all dressed for the prom comes down the stairs of their house and is confronted by their evangelist father who in a righteous rage strips the gown from her body. Ellen runs half nude back to her room. Her father follows up and euphemistically "saves" her. In the Classic Noir tradition, it's left to our imagination what her father did to "save her", but in the very next scene Ellen has returned and she is on her knees between her father's legs.


Jeff arrives at the end of all this drama and finds his gal has a serious screw loose. Jeff's sudden appearance distracts Ellen's father and allows Ellen/Ruth to run past him out of the Melvin. She hops in her car and drives to the zoo and the finale. 


I was pleasantly surprised, the film was produced by Futuramic Productions whose only other efforts was Squad Car (1960) and Come Spy with Me (1967). Its Available on DVD from Sinister Cinema, it could use a full restoration 7/10 


To see the review with more screen caps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2015/11/the-glass-cage-1964.html

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Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia (1974) Mexican/Western/Gonzo Noir


Dir. Sam Peckinpah and starring Warren Oates, Isela Vega, Robert Webber, Gig Young, Emilio Fernandez, Helmut Dantine, Kris Kristofferson, Chano Urueta, & Funky Donnie Fritts 



Peckinpah's Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974) updates Film Noir's obsessed looser and alienated anti-hero from the traditions of Huston's "Treasure of the Sierra Madre", Bogart's "Casablanca", Mitchum's mercenary in Mexico flicks, Sergio Leone's "Dollars trilogy", and re-incarnates him as "Bennie" a decadent, gonzo, sleaze-ball piano-player/tourist clip-joint bar owner **** looser, on a quest for a $10,000 bounty on the head of an old acquaintance. The quest that becomes a spiral into Noir madness. ----- 


A family scandal (a unwed pregnant daughter) causes a wealthy and powerful Mexican rancher (Fernandez) to make the pronouncement--'Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia!' Causing a flurry of activity. Two of the bounty-hunters dispatched Robert Webber and Gig Young encounter a local piano-player Bennie (Oates) in their hunt for information. The piano-player does a little investigating on his own and finds out that his hooker girlfriend Elita (Vega) knows of Garcia's death and last resting place. Thinking that he can make some easy money and gain financial security for he and his (now) fiancée, they set off on this goal. ------


You just feel, after watching this, that all the over extravagant Hollywood versions of expat Americans in far off lands and their bars/nightclubs are way way too antiseptic and safe and the women in them way too virginal. This film made between the end of the Hayes Code and before PC hits the nail on the head. You get a feeling that this was more like it would have been. ----- 


Peckinpah's twisted take on Rick's Place in "Casablanca", Bennie's Tlaquepaque tourist bar sequence. Bennie in control perched back against the wall playing the piano singing the tourists out and watching the impeccably dressed Sappensly(Webber) and Quill (Young) enter and question his cartoonishly costumed staff and watching their reactions to the photo of Alfredo. Bennie in total control "First drinks on the house, gentlemen" calling them over to see what they want, waiter arrives and Bennie saying to Paulo "take care of those gentlemen" giving the cue signal, prompting his bar crew into what looks like a well rehearsed course of action, the two whores arrive one for arm of each hit man. The first hint of trouble registering when he asks Sappensly and Quill "something for the ladies" implying they buy the whores a drink and Quill replies "burro ****".





alfredogarcia11.jpgSappensly(Webber) lt. and Quill (Young) rt.


What Eastwood & Leone did for "Joe, Manco & Blondie" in the "Dollars trilogy"... an unshaven face, a squint, a cigar, and a poncho. Peckinpah & Oates do for a hard drinking "Bennie", a bell-bottomed leisure suited mustachioed, small time club owner wearing a ridiculously large pair of shades, that manage too look very cool. Think of a cross of between a lounge lizard and a used car salesman. A Tom Waits who's also surprisingly, very good with a pistol, on a bargain basement quest for a bit of immortality. Benny can be elevated to the Pantheon of Anti-Heroes.



Elita and Bennie


No product placement here, instead of a horse, Bennie's pimp-mobile of choice is what-else man...., a beat to **** mid 60's, oil burnnin', red Chey Impala convertible that's seen way better days, and leaves a contrail of blue smoke as it barrels Benny down the black tops and dirt tracks of rural Mexico straight down on a descent into hell. 



The 62 Chey Impala convertible


What really elevates this film are the Mexican locations, the writing (the high points being Bennie's and Elita's tragic love story, Oates' one liners, and the absolutely from the heart great dialog's that ring true (and are unforgettable) and finally Oates' & Vega's acting.


pro%2B02.jpgFrom the heart


Its got a lot of references to Film Noir and Spaghetti Western iconography, that cinematic memory magic, is working in this flick, so any Western & Neo Noir aficionados will feel right at home in this updated version of the Noir Film soleil/Western. There are enough plot twists, bizarre and surreal situations that any David Lynch, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez and Cohen Brothers fans will get a kick out of this film too, Bravo!




Mexican Standoff the modern Western






You've either got them, or you don't.


Sam Peckinpah had the guts to bring a

new kind of violent reality to the screen in

The Wild Bunch and Straw Dogs.

He's been praised and panned, awarded

and attacked. And he's kept on making

his kind of movies, his way.


His newest, set in modern-day Mexico, is a

story of violence and greed and revenge. . .

and love and courage and loyalty. It tells of

a desperate man risking everything on a

last, desperate chance. . . and a much-used

woman accepting lust only to discover love.


It's bound to provoke controversy. . .

cheered by some as a new classic in the 

mold of "Treasure of Sierra Madre" . . .cursed

by others as a bloody and brutal hymn to

machismo. On one point, all can agree.

Like its maker, Sam Peckinpah,

Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia

is uncompromising, unyielding, uncensored.


In short, it's got guts




So I brought this down a few years ago to my old high school buddy who lives in East Atlantic Beach on Long Beach Island and it litterally blew him away. He couldn't stop talking about how you never see films like this anymore and how things have gotten too PC. It was as if he'd been sleep walking through the last 30 years and had forgotten how different films used to be. 




He kept mentioning how you'd never see a scene like the "Bennie discovers he got the crabs after sleeping with Elita" sequence or the hero driving a beatup piece of crap Chevy, or the hero looking like Warren Oates for that matter. His wife just cracked up over the "turning Elita around so she can sleep eternally with the headless Al" grave sequence. 


It was great seeing the light go on in his head. Try it out sometime.


A true companion piece in spirit to Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia is The Wrong Man (1993) 

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Girl On The Run (1953) Carnival Noir


Dirs: Arthur J. Beckhard (writer Border Flight), and Joseph Lee, Writer: Arthur J. Beckhard and Cedric Worth. A third string Film Noir that actually may be the best of the Carney based Film Noir. 

As much as I like Nightmare Alley (1947),  this carnival film never leaves the midway much like Todd Browning's Freaks (1932).  It's a great capture of the gritty atmosphere of a traveling carnival of tent and plywood, lit by strings of bare light bulbs. Victor Lukens cinematographer, creates a gritty claustrophobic carny setting,  with convoluted passageways between tents, the midway, plywood arcades, cramped backstage warrens,  along with trailers, and other equipment.



Carney in town.



The rubes 


Strippers%2Bchourus.jpgCarnival Strippers


Most of the cast are playing carnies, Charles Bolender shines as the Carney Boss Blake, a cigar chomping little person who runs the show. Bolender deploys great ways of evening the keel whenever he has to deal with other people often ending up higher and looking down on them. 


Bolender%2B%2526%2BCoogan.jpgRichard Coogan as Bill Martin lt, and Bolender as Boss Blake rt.


Veteran actor Frank Albertson (Mantrap, Nightfall, Physco, Shed No Tears, They Mane Me A Killer, It's A Wonderful Life) plays Boss Blakes right hand man. Scott Hale is the local cop on carnival duty. Harry Banister an early TV vet plays the local corrupt politician Reeves, he sounds a bit like Clifton Webb.


The story's catalist is that a a newspaper is investigating local corruption and the possible connection with white slavery. Though is is never stated out loud enough hints are dropped in conversations that allude to the carnival being the possible transporter of, as the 1910 Mann Act states, "any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose"  This being made under the Hayes Code restrictions hits are probably as far as they could go. 


Coogan%2B%2526%2BPettit.jpgCoogan and Rosemary Petit as Janet


Veteran TV  Western Actor Richard Coogan (Vice Raid) is Bill Martin, a falsely accused of murder reporter who takes refuge at the carnival. Rosemary Pettit (Walk East On Beacon) plays Janet his girl who gives off a Gene Tierney vibe. She is forced to hide out with a chorus of carnival strippers, the de-facto "Girl On The Run" mothered by veteran early TV actress Edith King (Calcutta). Pettit is great as the good girl who has to be a quick study learning how to jiggle along with the rest of the strippers. 


not%2Bbad.jpgNot bad


Rounding out the rest of the cast John Krollers and other un-credited actors play carnival barkers, you can see a bit of Phil Silvers in Krollers look and hear a bit of Bud Abbott in his voice. For all I know I wouldn't be surprised if they were real carnival barkers. Mike Dowd is Bats a washed up prize fighter who stick is getting rubes to go three rounds with him. 


A shout out to Renee de Milo (her only credit) where ever she may be, she plays the headliner stripper Gigi. She does a complete dance and is so good at it that I suspect that she was an actual carnival stripper. She does her act without removing her bikini type outfit but she's got the moves down so good that you can easily imagine what she'd display. Check out Carnival Strippers - Early Years (1971-1978) | by Susan Meiselas for a reference work.


De%2BMilo%2B06.jpgRene De Milo as GiGi


The Chorus Grils


The film also has an early Steve McQueen as an extra. The score is carnival music inter-spaced with jazz for the dance routines. This low budget Noir delivers, I go as high as a 6.5-7/10. If it did have A list actors for the two lovers, and say Bud Abbott or Phil Silvers as the barkers it could have been an 8/10.


For a review with more screencaps here: 


A post script From John Kelly's Washington article titled In another era, 14th Street's nightlife was pretty naughty:"


You could catch Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong at the Blue Mirror, Nat King Cole, the Ink Spots and such now-forgotten entertainers as Lisa Alonzo and Her Tropicaires, who in 1950 introduced a new dance style to Washington: the mambo. "It's kind of South American bebop with lots of rhythmic ad libbing," wrote The Post's Georganne Williamson.


This was the heyday of a certain kind of Washington nightlife scene, when live music seemed to spill from every other door: jazz, Dixieland, bluegrass. . .


In the late 1950s, however, the tenor of the Blue Mirror changed, as it did for so many of the clubs along 14th Street: Casino Royal, the Merry-Land, Benny's Rebel Room. The management turned to burlesque. A 1961 Post story counted four strip houses and two belly dancer clubs in the neighborhood. The author noted the Blue Mirror's beginnings as a jazz club: "But jazz didn't pay so they turned to the money makers, the girls."


A Blue Mirror ad from the time touted seven featured dancers, including Renee de Milo."6'4" of Sex, Song and Satire.""
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Two Men In Manhattan (1959) NYC Tail Fin Noir


In French ( Deux hommes dans Manhattan) is a 1959 New York City based French film-noir directed by Jean-Pierre Melville. Starring, Jean-Pierre Melville, Pierre Grasset, Music by Martial Solal, Christian Chevallier Cinematography by Nicolas Hayer




Jean-Pierre Melville filmed both a Noir love letter and, almost a time capsule video documentary of 1958 New York City. From the opening bars of the jazzy score and Googie style credits that run over a wonderful (looking out the back window of a cab) trip down through traffic, a traffic of tail fin adorned cars, traveling South along Broadway, and then on 7th Avenue right  through the heart of manically lit Times Square you know you are in for a special visual treat.



Times Square


Melville's New York is the real deal. Its not some Hollywood backlot dressed up like New York City. Melville's New York is a dreary smoggy winter sky New York. The old New York that bleched black coal smoke by the ton into the atmo, a New York of  steaming man holes in streets that were choked with Buses and  Checker Cabs. Melville's New York was a  holiday day  New York festooned with Christmas decorations two days before December 25th.


East%2BRiver%2BCityscape.jpg East River, East Side Manhattan, Con Ed stacks, smog


Our story begins when a French diplomat Fèvre-Berthier fails to show up to cast a vote at a United Nations meeting. A news blurb about the absent diplomat is sent to the French Press agency whose office is in Rockefeller Center. Further invetigations by phone reveal that the man did not show up at home the night before. 


Jean-Pierre Melville plays Moreau the press agent who just about to get off work and making plans for the evening gets unfortunately assigned to the case. He suggests to his boss that this paparazzi acquaintance, Delmas (Pierre Grasset) knows his way around the sleazy side of New York and may be of service in tracking down Fèvre-Berthier.  


At the French public relations office Moreau crosses paths with Anne Fèvre-Berthier the missing man's daughter. The public relations officer tells Moreau to check with Fèvre-Berthier's secretary who lives down in the Village (Greenwich Village). Morreau heads to the subway for the ride downtown.


Moreau%2Bon%2BSubway.jpgMoreau straphanger 


In the Village Moreau confronts Fèvre-Berthier's personal secretary. She is a lesbian and has no information. This setback finally sends Moreau to the apartment of his friend Delmas a good potographer but also a notorious drunk and womanizer. Moreau walks into Delmas' digs and finds a trail of woman's undergarments that all lead to a bed that contains the passed out Delmas and a naked woman.



Delmas and his gal pal


Moreau wakes up Delmas makes coffee and gives him the scoop about Fèvre-Berthier, and asks him what he knows about his girlfriends. Delmas shrugs and comes up with three photographs an actress, a singer, and a stripper, and our two journalists now become de facto detectives running around Manhattan and the outer boroughs trying to track down Fèvre-Berthier.








The big test of Moreau and Delmas tenuous relationship is when Delmas realizes that the pictures and the story of what happened is worth millions while Moreau wants to keep the whole thing under wraps.


 Pierre Grasset is great as the smart alek Delmas his picaresque portrayal is very effective playing against Melville who is relatively somber. The film has but few flaws, probably the most notable for me are the interior shots of the E.D.D.I.E. whorehouse, the actresses playing the hookers seem to be speaking English phonetically, and ditto for the stripper Bessie Reed. The excellent soundtrack is by Christian Chevallier and Martial Solal.


Two Men In Manhattan is available on DVD from Cohen Films its in French with English subtitles.



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