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Hammett (1982) A Noir Lovers Wet Dream

 

Director: Wim Wenders and based on Joe Gores (novel) with gorgeous, magic/poetic realism, cinematography by Joseph F. Biroc, and a haunting score by John Barry. 

 

The film has quite the cast, Frederic Forrest (The Conversation (1974)), Peter Boyle (Taxi Driver (1976), Hardcore (1979)), Marilu Henner, Roy Kinnear, Elisha Cook Jr. (veteran Noir actor with roughly 12+ Classic Noir titles), Lydia Lei, Jack Nance (Blue Velvet (1986), Lost Highway (1997)),  Royal Dano (Under the Gun (1951), Sylvia Sidney (Street Scene (1931), Dead End (1937), Violent Saturday (1955)), Samuel Fuller (director Pickup on South Street (1953), House of Bamboo (1955),The Crimson Kimono (1959) Underworld U.S.A. (1961),Shock Corridor (1963) The Naked Kiss (1964) and Hank Worden (Undercurrent (1946), High Wall (1947), Crime Wave (1954).

 

Hammett is sort of an alcoholic stupor/dream of a PI flick, fully enforced by the storybook poetic/magic realism quality of the Zoetrope Studio sets and enhanced by a melancholy soundtrack. The story revolves around Dashiell "Sam" Hammett post his Pinkerton years, late 1920s, during his Pulp Fiction/Black Mask penny a word hack writer days, and the accounting of one last case or is it just another hard boiled tale?

 

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Wim Wenders and Zoetrope Studios managed to recreate a late 1920s San Francisco crammed with amazing details and populated by what seems like hundreds of extras. Our story begins with a slow zoom into a cheap walk up apartment. Sam Hammer (Fredrick Forest) a chain smoker, a lunger, and a heavy boozer prematurely gray, is pecking out the finale to a pulp story on what looks like an Underhill. While Sam is typing we see the tale as it unfolds. A voiceover narrates in true Hard Boiled Noir fashion.

 

It's a fog bound waterfront of docks and warehouses. A operative named Sue Alabama, has just double crossed her partner Jimmy Ryan.  Ryan dopes it out, gets the drop on Sue and recovers the pearl necklace. Sue asks Ryan to give her an hour for old times sake, he agrees, she takes off, but in his narration Ryan tells us he only gave her fifteen minutes and she was picked up at the station. His last line of narration is "Back in '26 Sue Alabama and I nearly got married. I suppose it's just as well we didn't.

 

Sam types The End, rolls out his last page, and adds it to the stack of the manuscript. He smiles grabs up the pages and stumbles over to his bed where he passes out. 

 

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Alcoholic stupor/lucid dream?

 

We fade to black then cut to Sam hacking and coughing his lungs up into the sink in his bathroom, until he collapses on the tile floor.

 

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Lunger

 

Waking up in the middle of the night Sam lights up a tar bar and sees a figure sitting in his easy chair.  It turns out to be Jimmy Ryan (Boyle) his partner from his Pinkerton days, and he reading his Continental Op manuscript. Ryan says "Sam I don't know wether to be flattered or embarrassed, .. How come the guy doesn't have a name?.... this guy does all the stuff I used to do"  

 

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Ryan reading the Continental Op

 

Ryan tells Sam that he's in San Francisco working an MP (a Missing Person Case) and that he needs Sam's help. Sam protests that he's done with all that. But Ryan tells the story about a young kid green on the job who would have got a bullet in the eye if Ryan hadn't stepped in the line of fire taking it in the shoulder. The kid tells Ryan that he owes him "saying any time any place " Well Ryan tell's Sam "the place is here, the time is now!" 

 

Ryan informs Sam that they are looking for a Chinese girl called Crystal Ling and since San Francisco is his burg and that he knows a little Chinese, Ryan is going to use him as a go between. The story cleverly works in the pornography plot from Chandler's The Big Sleep.

 

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Sam%2BFuller.jpgSam Fuller in Pool Hall

 

Hammett is the story of a half-decent man in a 9/10ths dishonest world of the cops, the crooks and the big rich. The rest of the tale involves an extortion plot and the various individuals connected, the film is a Noir lover's visual wet dream with a wonderful backlots and set designed by Dean Tavoularis

 

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The Maltese Falcon Quote

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Laura (1944) quote - Hagedorn (Roy Kinnear) in a recreation of the opening scene in Laura between Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb) in tub and Dana Andrews

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Frederic Forrest is excellent as Hammett, perfect and totally believable in the role of a hard drinking, chain smoking, lunger, ex detective. Marilu Henner is good as Kit. Crystal Ling is great as the story's femme fatale. David Patrick Kelly does well as the flakey gunsel. 

 

The rest of the cast perform well the films only faults are one, Peter Boyle, I feel that he is only adequate as Jimmy Ryan, the original casting choice was supposed to be Brian Kieth, who would have brought a ton of cinematic memory with him to the role, Boyle brings the wrong kind of baggage, he's played in too many comedies, he's almost but not quite spoofing the part, too bad. 

 

The second fault is with the problems with the production, From a Wiki article:

 

German director Wenders was hired by Francis Ford Coppola to direct this film, which was to be his American debut feature. "But," according to one source, "by the time the final version was released in 1982, only 30 percent of Wenders' footage remained, and the rest was completely reshot by Coppola, whose mere 'executive producer' credit is just a technicality."[2] Wenders made a short film called Reverse Angle documenting his disputes with Coppola surrounding the making of Hammett. As The A.V. Club review states, "A Coppola or Wenders commentary track might have sorted things out a bit—or at least settled an old score—but the bare-bones DVD release leaves viewers with a fascinating mess."[2] The reviewer, though, never says what the source of his information is, and the question of the degree and nature of Coppola's involvement in the directing of the film remains open. However, the confusion surrounding the making of the movie "would certainly explain some of the films’ oddities."

 

The DVD is out of print but well worth finding after multiple views an 8/10 To see full review with screencaps galore: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2015/12/hammett-1982-noir-lovers-wet-dream.html

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Union City (1980) Jersey Noir

 

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Director: Marcus Reichert, based on a Cornell Woolrich (short story "The Corpse Next Door"), screenplay by Marcus Reichert. Cinematography is by Edward Lachman (The Limey 1999). The film stars Dennis Lipscomb, Debbie Harry, Sam McMurray, Irina Maleeva, Everett McGill, Tony Azito, and Pat Benatar.

 

This low budget film beautifully captures the darkness, obsession and overbearing despair, of Cornell Woolrich's depression era story updated to 1953.  The stylistically Noir cinematography, with chiarosuro lighting, reflections, deep shadows and clashing color schemes enhance the foreboding atmosphere. 

 

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Harlan Comes Home

 

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Garish

 

The tale is about Harlan and Lillian an unhappily married  couple  who basically exist with each other. Harlan is an alcoholic accountant who works long hours and commutes to his job. Lillian is a bored and ignored housewife who cooks for him. Once dinner is over Harlan heads for the corner bar Taty's. During her day Lillian comes to life once hubby Harlan leaves for the office. She is fustrated and ripe for the plucking. 

 

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Harlan (Dennis Lipscomb)

 

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Lillian (Deborah Harry)

 

Lillian and Harlan's latest crisis is the theft of their milk. This story is set back in the time when milk was still delivered by a milkman. I grew up in New York City in the '50s and we had an aluminum box next to the front door of our two family house, and it was into this aluminum box that the milkman delivered our milk. In Union City the milkman delivers to an apartment house, and he carries the bottles of milk in a wire tray stopping at the doors of the various appartments on his route, dropping off full bottles, picking up empties left on the floor outside the appartments. 

 

For the last two weeks someone has been drinking Harlas's milk and leaving the empty bottle. Harlan becomes increasingly filled with anger in reverse proportion to Lillian's indifference. Harlan thinks it's someone who lives in their apartment house and he devises a scheme to catch him. 

 

The following evening, Harlan gets a un-opened bottle of milk from the refrigerator, ties a fishing line around the neck of the bottle, places the bottle outside the door and runs the fishing line back to the bedroom. Getting into bed Harlan winds the line around his finger turns off the light and goes to sleep.

 

A tug on Harlan's finger sends him running to the apartment door. Flinging it open Harlan finds a vagrant sitting on the floor guzzling down his milk. Harlan knocks the bottle out of the young vagrant's hand spilling the milk on the floor. There ensues a violent tussle between Harlan and the man ending with Harlan beating the man's head on the floor repeatedly until he stops struggling. A large flow of blood from the man's head sends Harlan into shock. He must do something with the body, the sound of the apartments elevator spurs Harlan into a panic. He drags the body into the empty apartment across the hall and hides it temporarily in a Murphy bed. 

 

When Harlan goes back to remove the body from the empty apartment after he has frantically cleaned up the blood and milk out in the hall, and thrown his bloody pajammas down the incinerator, he discoveres that he can't open the door to the Murphy bed, it's jammed. In the days that follow Harlan begins to go slowly insane hallucinating images and thoroughly neglecting Lillian.

 

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When no one has yet discovered the corpse and  the newlywed new tenants of the empty apartment show up Harlan  goes completely over the edge in true Noir fashion. 

 

Union City is a low budget production, but that fact contributes to the claustrophobic feel of the film which compliments the Woolrich story. The DVD from Fox Lorber  (from which these screen grabs are from)  is a poor  indicator of the original film supposedly the Tartan DVD  is the superior release. None of the actors really stand out aside from Dennis Lipscomb who gives off a demented Jack Lemmon vibe. This is a must for Cornell Woolrich fans, entertaining but a 6/10 for this DVD.

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Get reviews CJ, thanks for the background on two films I haven't seen, yet. Frederic Forrest seems a perfect choice as the pseudo-biographic Dashiell Hammett, as there's more than a passing resemblance. I'm thinking if Forrest combined this with a "Warren Oates characterization", he might have created a truly memorable portrait of Hammett. I'm sure you noticed this, but isn't that a Maltese Falcon acting as the base of the lamp . . . ?

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Get reviews CJ, thanks for the background on two films I haven't seen, yet. Frederic Forrest seems a perfect choice as the pseudo-biographic Dashiell Hammett, as there's more than a passing resemblance. I'm thinking if Forrest combined this with a "Warren Oates characterization", he might have created a truly memorable portrait of Hammett. I'm sure you noticed this, but isn't that a Maltese Falcon acting as the base of the lamp . . . ?

Yea I noticed it, it was a nice touch.

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Get Carter (1971) Micro Mini Skirt Neo Noir

 

Quite possibly the ultimate British Neo Noir. Directed by Mike Hodges. The film stars Michael Caine, Ian Hendry, Britt Ekland, John Osborne, Geraldine Moffat, Rosemarie Dunham, Petra Markham, Tony Beckley, George Sewell, and Bryan Mosley. The film was lensed by cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky and edited by John Trumper. The screenplay was adapted by Mike Hodges from Ted Lewis' 1969 novel "Jack's Return Home." 

 

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The film is highly artistic and indulgently stylistic, devoting quite a few segments throughout to these impressive flourishes, which garnish the story elements and makes this film stand quite apart from other British Neo Noirs made up to that point. It's almost on par with what the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone did in the mid 1960s for the tired American Western genre and you can not deny this influence in Get Carter, you see it in the cinematography and in various picaresque sequences. Perhaps because its studio, MGM was closing down its European operations, (the film became the last project green-lighted before the American company shuttered its Borehamwood studios), that it has this refreshing freedom to tell it's hard boiled tale the way it's director envisioned, in that magical period of untethered freedom (at least as seen in the American Release) between the Codes, i.e., end of the old Hollywood Hayes Code and the beginning of the corporate media PC code. 

 

The film takes place in that "fin de psychedelia" era of the late 60's early 70s. It's the story of London based hood Jack Carter (Michael Caine), a suave, mod-ish character who is cheeky enough to be doing his mobster boss Fletcher's girlfriend Anna (Britt Ekland) on the side. We open with Jack gazing out into an enveloping darkness at the penthouse apartment of mobster Fletcher. We can hear the sound of a desolate wind blowing through a bleak void. He is attending a sort of boys night out slide show of porn stills which flash upon a screen. Fletcher and the boys are bawdily joking around but Jack's mind is on other things. He wants to return home to his native Newcastle upon Tyne in Northern UK to find out why his brother Frank died. He's told by Fletcher (Terence Rigby) not to go, that it will cause trouble with the gangs in charge up North, Jack replies "I'll think about it". 

 

Jack decides to go North. 

 

Someone with a Noir lovers perspective will love the knowing references to the Film Noirs of the past. The title sequence evokes La bête humaine (1938), and it's American remake Human Desire (1954), also The Narrow Margin (1952), and Blast Of Silence (1961), Jack is even reading Raymond Chandler's "Farewell My Lovely" during his train journey. Another sequence later in the film again references The Narrow Margin (1952) with an escape through the clotheslines, and there's a nod to Point Blank (1967), there are probably others to discover. 

 

Hodges and Wolfgang Suschitzky film Jack entering a pup like a gunfighter would enter a saloon. Heads turn, and if there was a piano player the music would have stopped. They also use what I would call "extreme over the shoulder shots", Where the heads and shoulders of the actors with their backs to you either frame or at times even partially eclipse the face of the actor facing them. 

 

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Jack soon questions the circumstances of his brother Frank's death. There are two rival gangs, running the town by an uneasy truce, one outfit is run by flesh-peddler, porno king, Cyril Kinnear (John Osbourne). Kinnear lives on a country estate in a posh house, reminiscent of Hugh Hefner's mansion. It seems to have a continuously running house party of birds in micro minis and turtlenecked playboys. The other gang is led by Arcade Emporium Czar, Cliff Brumby (Bryan Mosley). He respectfully resides in a pseudo Tudor with an opulent goldfish pond. Both residences are in stark contrast to the crumbling industrial cityscape of wharves, elevated railway trestles serving waterfront coal docks, gray cobblestone streets flanked by red-gray brick houses, that resemble storm sewers in cross section, which seem to flush the human working class down to the gray waters of a cloaca maxima called the Tyne. All this against an equally gray polluted sky, a dreary world of total decay and decadence. 

 

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When Jack arrives up in this Wild North, he's back in what he calls the "crap hole". Jack acting like a noir detective, even to the point of wearing a black trenchcoat, soon shakes things up enough to force one of the gangs to make a move against him. Jack Carter is more vicious, violent, hair triggered, and amoral, than all those set in motion against him. He's your classic alienated and obsessed noir character, ready to explode at any inducement. Through brutal encounters with various underworld denizens both male and female Jack deduces that brother Frank had been working for Kinnear and was set up by Brumby who showed Frank a porno flick starring his own daughter Doreen. Frank was going to go to the police. It's hinted at that Doreen is actually Jacks illegitimate daughter. Jack goes totally Noirsville. 

 

The film's stylistic flourishes to note, are the sped up rail journey title sequence cross edited with normal speed in coach shots of Jack on the journey. The cross edited and varying focus phone sex sequence between Jack and Anna with Edna eavesdropping while in the same room with Jack and rocking furiously. Also there is a similar cross cut sequence between Glenda shifting a Sunbeam Alpine sports car and Jack and Glenda having sex all to the throaty roar of the Sunbeam's exhaust. 

 

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Michael Cain's Jack joins the Pantheon of anti-heroes. I do believe it's his best performance, it's a must view for serious Noir/Neo Noir aficionados. An easy 10/10 DVD caps are from the Warner Brothers DVD 

 


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C.J., an elegant and gritty depiction of "fin de psychedelia" England, which seems always to have gone about the business of daily life under a "gray polluted sky" and against the backdrop of "a dreary world of total decay and decadence", and things weren't likely to improve in the next twenty-plus years (dear, Maggie). I was wondering; as one who is less knowledgeable about neo-noir than her older sister, would you place Pulp (1972) with Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney in the same neo-category? I have tried to watch the film twice, but find myself giving up when Rooney's misogynistic character enters the storyline, not because I find it difficult to watch Andy Hardy as a fem-bashing S.O.B., but because he approaches it will such apparent enthusiasm. 

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C.J., an elegant and gritty depiction of "fin de psychedelia" England, which seems always to have gone about the business of daily life under a "gray polluted sky" and against the backdrop of "a dreary world of total decay and decadence", and things weren't likely to improve in the next twenty-plus years (dear, Maggie). I was wondering; as one who is less knowledgeable about neo-noir than her older sister, would you place Pulp (1972) with Michael Caine and Mickey Rooney in the same neo-category? I have tried to watch the film twice, but find myself giving up when Rooney's misogynistic character enters the storyline, not because I find it difficult to watch Andy Hardy as a fem-bashing S.O.B., but because he approaches it will such apparent enthusiasm. 

I haven't been able to get through it either, I think it's supposed to be a comedy of sorts. ;)

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This World, Then The Fireworks (1997) - White Trash Noir

 

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Directed By Michael Oblowitz with excellent cinematography by Tom Priestley Jr., written by Larry Gross; adapted from a story by Jim Thompson, edited by Emma E. Hickox; a complimentary soundtrack by Pete Rugolo. The film stars Billy Zane (Twin Peaks TV, Dead Calm (1989)), Sheryl Lee (Twin Peaks TV, Wild At Heart (1990) Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992) Mother Night (1996)), Gina Gershon (Bound (1997) Palmetto (1998)) looking like a dead ringer for Ava Gardner, Seymour Cassel ( The Killers (1964) Dick Tracy (1990)), Will Patton ( After Hours (1985) Romeo Is Bleeding (1993), William Hootkins, and Rue McClanahan (Angel's Flight (1965)).

 

A circa 1950s period piece This World, Then The Fireworks (the title, a Southern colloquial expression translating to basically "here and now then Hell") absolutely wallows in stylistic Noir atmospherics without the hinderance of the old Hollywood Hayes code censorship. It's a wide open anything goes story of a quite possibly genetically deficient, inbred, murderous screwed up family.

 

In a flashback sequence Marty Lakewood (Zane) narrates the traumatic event of their life.  On the occasion of his and his twin sister Carol's (Gershon) 4th birthday party they, along with their Mother (McClanahan) follow their neighbor into his house where he finds their father Mr. Lakewood naked in bed with his wife. During the heated confrontation Marty's father pulls a shotgun from beneath the bed and blasts the man in the face before his neighbor can pull the trigger of the gun he's brandishing. Marty's mother standing in shock is also hit by some stray buckshot and brains. Marty tells us how funny things looked especially his nakedfather and the naked neighbor lady and how the man had only half a head. Marty concludes telling us that his father was executed for murder and the neighbors wife committed suicide. All this left Marty, Carol, and Mom, what you may call seriously not quite right in the head. 

 

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The defining moment in the lives of the Lakewoods

 

Back in the present we learn that Marty has become a successful investigative reporter for a Chicago newspaper. He leads a somewhat normal life with a wife and two children, but he gets his info on police corruption underhandedly and illegally, from pushing morphine to informants. The corrupt police get wise, they gun down Marty's informant and almost trap Marty in a Chicago Blues Bar. Marty decides to skedaddle out of town and head to California where his mother and sister have moved.

 

Chicago Noir-ish

 

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Marty gets away

 

In a seaside town in California, Marty finds his mother an increasingly hopeless bible thumper and his recently divorced sister now a successful prostitute. In another flashback Marty relates the story of when a bunch of his cousins tried to gang rape Carol dragging her out behind the barn and holding her down on the ground. Marty came to her rescue with a two by four. Marty and Carol become close, real close, incestuously close. Marty's arrival and his renewed relationship with Carol under her own roof sends his mother very close to the edge.  

 

 

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Marty Lakewood (Zane channeling George Hamilton)

 

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Carol Lakewood (Gina Gershon channelling Ava Gardner) 

 

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Carol hooking at Clair's Cocktail Lounge

 

Marty gets a job at a local paper, his big city journalist career expertise soon increases circulation, but Marty is at heart a flake, he quits his job in quite spectacular fashion and soon becomes involved with a sexually frustrated police woman Lois Archer (Lee) who is a masochist. Marty happily dominates her and hatches a scheme to get her to sell the seaside house she owns with her brother (who is in the military and stationed in Hawaii) and abscond with the cash. Lois becomes sexually insatiable.

 

 

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Lois Archer (Sheryl Lee) the cold fish gets moist for Marty

 

Before Marty can put his scheme to sell Lois Archer's house into action. Marty gets side tracked when he spots a detective tailing Carol. Following the detective back to his office Marty pretends to be interested in hiring him for a job. Once the detective is at ease Marty brutally kills him.

 

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Detective office

 

If you think things are not depraved enough, before the film comes to its conclusion we witness a matricide, sister Carol literally screwing a man to death, Carol & Marty disposing the body, another murder and a botched abortion, This is one of those car wreck type of films where you stay hypnotized, rubbernecking in a trance to the very end.

 

The film's main flaw is that Billy Zane comes off as a bit too modern for the 50's, and not hard boiled enough for either the genre or the time period. Still the film is entertaining enough to keep you interested and it could be visual treat with a decent restoration, the sub standard screencaps are from an Orion VHS release (currently the only option) the colors are oversaturated on the tape. I used Corel Paintshop to desaturate them. This should definitely have a restored DVD release. 7/10 
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Angel's Flight (1965) A Smoggy Bunker Hill Noir

 

This film along with 1964's The Glass Cage are quite possibly the last of the Film Noir to feature Los Angeles' seedy Bunker Hill neighborhood before it was wiped off the face of the earth forever by the Community Redevelopment Agency.

 

Originally a wealthy residential suburb with panoramic views of the Los Angeles River and the Los Angeles basin, Bunker Hill retained its high tone exclusivity up to the end of the First World War. As the city exploded in growth and with commuting made easy by an extensive streetcar network, the original inhabitants absconded for greener pastures leaving the absentee landlord, crumbling old Victorian and Queen Anne mansions to be sliced and diced, converted into low rent apartments, rat trap rooming houses, residence hotels, and flops for the lower income denizens. The two funiculars Angels Flight, and a few blocks further North the Court Flight (which went defunct in 1943) provided easy access up the steep slopes of the Bunker Hill escarpment. This film even more so than The Glass Cage is particularly anchored to the intersections and buildings above the Third Street Tunnel at the top of the Angels Flight at Third & Olive.

 

During the Classic Film Noir period, a shot or sequence featuring Angels Flight in Bunker Hill was a Los Angeles visual signifier of desperation, poverty, decadence, the abode of winos, addicts, degenerates and criminals. It functioned, much like the Third Avenue El would do for New York City based Noirs, or the el's of Chicago's Loop. What's really a bonus, in this particular film for geographical nerds like myself, is that you can really get a sense of the physical layout of the neighborhood, you see the four corners of the intersections, the street signs, the buildings in reverse angles, the layout of the land so to speak, that you don't get in the fleeting shots from other Film Noirs that used Bunker Hill (Criss Cross, Cry Danger, Losey’s remake of M, The Hollow Triumph, Act of Violence, Kiss Me Deadly and The Glass Cage). 

 

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Angel's Flight was directed by Raymond Nassour and Kenneth W. Richardson. It was written by Dean Romano, and William Brownell. Cinematography was by Glen Gano, music by provided by Jaime Mendoza-Nava.  It stars Indus Archer as stripper Liz, William Thourlby (the original Marlboro Man) as alcoholic writer Ben Wiley, Michael Fox as Jake the Bartender, Rue McClanahan as B-girl Dolly.

 

Ex newspaper reporter and alcoholic Ben Wiley, scratches out a living typing out ten cents a word stories for pulp fiction rags. He drinks because he's trying to blot out the memory of his lost love who is dead. One night, while on a bender, as he stumbles his way in the dark back to his residence hotel he runs face to face into a fleeing woman who he calls an "Angel" a beautiful luminous blond who pushes him away and into some garbage cans hidden in the shadows. 

 

A loud clatter spills tin cans, bottles, and Ben himself off the curb and onto the pavement. His "Angel" looks back at him briefly before scurrying down an alley up a stairway. It's Liz a young troubled stripper who has just used a straight razor to slit the throat of a man who had the misfortune to pick her up. 

 

The loud crash is heard by the landlady of Ben's hotel. She sticks her kerchief and curler-covered head out of the window of her apartment and screams when she spots a dead man with his throat cut sitting on a bench under a pool of light. The landlady runs out of her apartment to the pay phone on the wall to call the police, passing in front of Liz who is just coming down the hallway.

 

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Ben stumbling his way home

 

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Ben in the Gutter

 

The next day we see Liz at the edge of Hill Street, crossing in front of the Third Street Tunnel. She then boards Angels Flight and rides to the top terminal at the intersection of Olive and Third. she appears to be in a daze. While she is in the car riding up, she attracts the notice of a man in a light linen suit and wearing a Panama Hat. Panama Hat pauses at the top to stoop over and get a drink of water from a public fountain, but he keeps his eye on Liz and watches as she crosses the street and enters the Angel's Flight Cafe/Bar kitty corner to the funicular.

 

At the cafe she is comforted by Jake the bartender a sort of surrogate father figure to Liz. He pours her a glass of orange juice and tells her to get out of the stripping business. You get the sense that he's told her this many times before to no avail. He also senses that something else is wrong. Panama Hat enters the cafe slides onto the stool next to liz and puts the moves on her. Jake is **** off and tells him to scram, but Liz slips Panama Hat a book of matches to the Third Street Strip, the dive where she works. Liz heads out the door. Panama Hat taunts Jake flipping the match book up in the air and catching it a couple of time as he too leaves backing out the door.

 

That night at the Third Street Strip, Panama Hat sits at a table leering at Liz while she does her act, she's not very good at it, just going through the motions, but her attraction is her youth and innocent look. In a bit of experimental cinematography (that's actually done much better in The Glass Cage the year before), we see a close up of Liz's eyes that are then superimposed by the twin flashing lights of a police cruiser that then fades to another slashing murder scene where we see Panama Hat laying at the portal of the Third Street Tunnel. There are a few other examples of this experimental camerawork/editing in the film.

 

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Liz 

 

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The top of the Angel's Flight Terminal (above center) where you see a water fountain, a 5 cents weight scale, and out of the frame to the left three phone booths. The building to the right is the Elk's Building which was converted to a residence hotel.

 

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The Angel's Flight Cafe.

 

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Noir-ish

 

Ben has sobered up and fallen in love with his vision when he finds out that Liz is a residence at the same hotel he approaches her. She is standoffish at first but they soon warm up into a relationship. While this is going on Ben's police detective friend offers him the opportunity to get back on track by helping with the slasher investigation, reasoning that he can use the story to get back to investigative reporting. The police want him to act as a decoy to see if he can attract the slasher who seems to only go after handsome men. 

 

There follows some humorous episodes where Ben approaches what he thinks is a hooker at a street corner only to be slapped in the face when she gets on the bus that stops to pick her up, and later at a bar a drunken B-Girl named Dolly (Rue McClanahan) causes a fight when she leaves the "date" she's with for what she thinks are greener pastures. A fight erupts and both Dolly's "date" and Dolly who is  kicking and screaming are hauled off in a police car.

 

While his decoy work is a bust, Ben makes progress with Liz but he is concerned about her because he discovers a series of portraits that she paints of the same face, a dark ominous man with a broken nose. Flipping through a True Crime magazine he comes across a photo of the same face done from a police description of a ****. He finds out that Liz was raped near the Angel's Flight half a year ago and he now knows that she is the slasher, killing the **** over and over again whenever a strange man approaches her.  Indus Arthur, is good in this film as the melancholy troubled young woman (it's her first film), the rest of the cast is adequate enough to be believable. 

 

The world depicted is the now lost world of the tobacco users and heavy drinkers, a time when sleazy women trolled dive bars for laughs and tricks. A low budget existence of greasy burgers and cheap beer, where you listened to torch singers, and strippers danced to live bands. It's Noirsville.

 

AF%2B35.jpg

 

AF%2B61.jpg

Noirsville

 

AF%2B76.jpg

 

This film is a visual treat for Noiristas, it definitely needs a restoration, these screencaps are from the Youtube upload, there is a DVD available from  http://Pressplayhouse DVDs I'll be picking this up for sure and see if the picture quality is any better, a 7/10.

 


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Detour (1945) Let's Blow This Trap

 

A shoestring 67 minute production that effectively distilled 100 proof Noir.While the credits roll we see the desolate landscape of the desert from a vehicle barreling down a two lane highway, What's unusual about this barren landscape is that we are driving away from it. The scenery is passing us and receding into the distance, we are leaving what we know behind and we don't know what lies ahead. We are on a Detour and speeding towards oblivion, a Detour that's a metaphor for Destiny. The Destiny of one Al the Piano Player, late of the Break o' Dawn Club, Upper West Side Manhattan. 

 

Confrontation%2Bcomposition.jpg

 

Al had a steady gig tickling the ivories of the coffin with a bunch of hep cats in a combo, nightly at the Break O' Dawn Club, a smoke choked West side hole in the wall lounge. What made it bearable was Sue the cute peroxide canary, a real looker, and love of his life, as Al put it, he was a healthy American male and she was a healthy American babe and they had a healthy romantic relationship. One night as the club is closing Al, smoking like a Con-Ed stack, is pounding out a classical tune solo while waiting for Sue to change. When she arrives she tells him that" he'll make it to Carnegie Hall someday," he snaps back cynically, "Sure, as a janitor. Maybe I'll make my debut in the basement, Yeah, someday if I don't get arthritis first." He closes the fallboard and with a cigarette sticking to his lower lip declares "Let's blow this trap." 

 

At%2Bthe%2BBreak%2Bo%2527%2BDawn.jpg

 

As they walk uptown through the Hudson River fog (a clever low budget sequence that show just the tops of passing street signs sticking up through the dry ice fog) Sue gives Al the brush, she tells him that she wants a shot at the Big Time, Hollywood, Tinseltown. 

 

For Al, life without Sue makes him feel blue and dejected, playing for the café society patrons nets him an occasional ten spot tip. After a few months he decides to blow, he calls Sue from the club's phone booth and finds out that she's a waitress slinging hash in a beanery. Al tells her that he'll be right out, but he doesn't tell that he has no bread and will have to hitch. 

 

In Arizona he gets picked up by a pill popping bookie driving a 41' Lincoln convertible, name of Charlie Haskell, and he's traveling from New Orleans to LA. It's Al's lucky day, or is it? 

 

Arizona.jpg

 

As they speed across the desert Charlie asks Al to get him the box of pills in the glove box, he does this a few more times apparently Charlie has some ailment. In the evening after buying Al a meal at a truckstop, Al notices some fresh scars above Charlie's wrist as he drives down the highway. Charlie notices Al looking, and tells him that a crazy broad he picked up gave them to him. A few hours later Charlie asks Al to drive. As Al tools along, in a nice noir stylistic sequence we see Al's eyes through the rearview mirror which segues into what is Al's last happy memory. We see Sue singing "their song" against a backdrop of shadow musicians. 

 

It's late night, Al is beginning to fall asleep at the wheel, we see his head nodding. A few sprinkles soon turns into a downpour. Al pulls over, they have to put up the top, hetries to wake Charlie who is unresponsive. Al gets out, and goes around to the passenger side, he opens the door and Charlie's dead body slumps out of the seat and caves his head in on a boulder. Al just bought a one way ticket to Noirsville. 

 

Al%2Bin%2Bthe%2Brain.jpg

 

Al panics in genuine fear and desperation, he reasons that dressed they way he is and with no scratch in his pockets the cops will tag him for Charlie's murder, they'll never believe his story of what actually happened. Al decides to drag Charlie into the bottom of a gully, grab his wallet, assume his identity and toss his own suitcase and wallet down in with Charlie. He'll take the 700 clams and drive the car to LA then sell it. 

 

Al pulls off at the next motel and gets a room, the next morning he's showered, shaved, and dressed in Charlie's clothes. Back on the road to LA, Al stops to add water to the radiator. He sees a woman, Vera, (Ann Savage) standing at the side of the road hitching and yells out to her, even though "she looks like she just got thrown off the crummiest freight train in the world". Deciding to give her a lift, that ticket to Noirsville just got upgraded to express. 

 

Vera.jpg

 

Vera looks like she was ridden hard and put away wet, greasy dirty blond hair, rumpled and stained sweater and skirt, a lot of rough miles on her chassis. She's quite at first almost stone like but turns verbally ferocious practically spitting and hissing her razor sharp dialog, your worst nightmare a 24 year old Medusa who will turn your heart to stone. Savage is, quite possibly, the most terrifyingly vicious Femme Fatale of Classic Noir. Vera's arrival brings the film to a whole new level 

 

Vera%2B05.jpg

 

Vera also brings one of the greatest Noir twists to the plot of Detour, if you thought it couldn't get any worse for Al, your in for a shock. Detour can also be deciphered from a different perspective, Al could be guilty as sin for both murders and all we see is a classic unreliable narrator tale. Its fun to watch whatever your take.

 

Detour, a "Poverty-Row" production was shot on a few cheap sets in 6 days. But it was a flare at the end of a dark tunnel showing a way to other cash strapped film-makers to make something out of nothing. Music by Leo Erdody, Sound engineer Max Hutchinson. a 9/10

 


 

Dead%2BVera%2B%2526%2BAl.jpg

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I Wake Up Screaming (1941) A Gateway Noir

 

i%2Bwake%2Bup%2Bscreaming%2Blobby%2Bcard

 

The biggest problem of some critics and chroniclers of Noir with the film I Wake Up Screaming is that they don't know how to categorize it. It doesn't fit the carefully crafted "German Expressionism" influence scenario that they have worked out as the origin of Noir. It's Director H. Bruce Humberstone, never made another Noir, it's brilliant cinematographer, Edward Cronjager, never filmed another Noir so conceptually and visually it's a one off, one of a kind.

 

I'm calling it a seminal "Gateway Noir" because the film serves the same purpose as a gateway drug, it functions as a sort of gateway to Noir for those unfamiliar, at that point in time, with what eventually came to be known stylistically, and hard boiled narratively, as Films Noir.

 

Look at the film in chronological context, only Stranger On The Third Floor (1940) approaches it in Noir visual stylistics, while The Maltese Falcon (1941) released only twenty eight days ahead of it on October 3, has the hard boiled story by Dashiell Hammett, but barely any of the signature visual stylistics. I Wake up Screaming not only was based on the hard boiled novel by Steve Fisher and also has the brilliant Noir stylistics in abundance but it has much much more. You can say that the film has dissociative identity, multiple genres if you will. It's also a bit of a Screwball Comedy, a Romantic Drama, and almost a Musical. This seamless genre bending provides the "gateway" for Comedy, Romance, and Musical audiences at that time into the films that eventually will be pigeonholed into the future Noir cycle.

 

IWUS%2B27.jpg

Cornell (Laird Cregar) 

 

My assertion is that if you've screened I Wake Up Screaming after the various other Noirs it will seem a strange hybrid indeed, because of the conceptions you've already amassed. But, experiencing it as audiences did in 1941 it would probably seem fresh and innovative.

 

I Wake Up Screaming was Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone, though the original novel was based in Hollywood the studio switched the film to a New York based Noir, and though filmed on 20th Century Fox Studio sets the film is given a real feel of NYC you could possibly say "informed" by NYC born cinematographer Edward Cronjager. The second unit rear projection shots of Times Square blend smoothly and complete the illusion. The film stars  Betty Grable, Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Laird Cregar, Alan Mowbray, Allyn Joslyn, and Elisha Cook, Jr.

 

The credits flash against a Noir New York Skyline the titles are written in marquee lights and we hear a the musical equivalent of a shrill klaxon horn blasting out a danger warning. It segues into Street Scene one of the signature New York City themes. Street Scene was used by 20th Century Fox for the films Street Scene, Cry of the City, Kiss of Death, Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Dark Corner, and as the overture to How to Marry a Millionaire. The story even actually starts with a street scene a newsboy hawking the murder of a model. We then cut to a dark police interrogation room bright spot lights are sweating a suspect, classic Noir.  Professional promoter Frankie Christopher (Victor Mature) is being grilled, surrounded by shadowy figures barking questions.

 

IWUS%2B03.jpg

 Frankie (Mature) above looking like Kramer (Michael Richards) from Seinfeld 

 

Frankie then begins to relate the story, and in a flashback we are transported to a Times Square restaurant and we are brightly lit again and into screwball comedy mode. Frankie and his two pals, over the hill actor Robin Ray (Alan Mowbray) and gossip columnist Larry Evans (Allyn Joslyn) flirt with hash slinger Vicky Lynn (Carole Landis). In a nod to Pygmalion Frankie makes a bet that he can transform Vicky into a celebrity inside of six weeks. Cut again to a classy nightclub where Frankie introduces Vicky, now dressed in evening gown and sable, to cafe-society. Throughout the film the sequences that feature Vicky or are in some way connected to her also have the Street Scene theme in various arrangements jazz, muted trumpet, etc., it becomes her leitmotif, and suggests the Musical genre. In a later sequence in a police projection room we see Vicky singing on her screen test.

 

IWUS%2B04.jpg

Vicky (Landis) with Robin (Mobray), Larry (Joslyn) and Frankie (Mature) at the Pegasus Club

 

We cut back to the police station, back to the present, and back into Noirsville. We now see Jill Lynn (Betty Grable) being questioned in the dimly lit squad room. As Jill tells her story we again go into flashback. She tells us how Vicky came home that first night and told Jill that she was through slinging hash and that from now on she had other things to sling. She had offers for modeling, commercials etc., etc. Jill tells her it's just easy money "your picture is on a magazine one day and in the ash can the next." Vicky is unfazed she snaps back that she knows what she wants and how to get it..

 

IWUS%2B12.jpg

 

The weeks pass and Jill finds herself falling in love with Frankie. Every time Jill and Frankie are together Over the Rainbow plays in one form or another as their "love" leitmotif another nod to musicals. Street Scene is not only Vicky's leitmotif but also it represents the New York, anything goes, sophisticate. The juxtaposition between it and Over The Rainbow which also brings to mind innocence is interesting for this Noir.

 

During another session with the cops Jill remembers a stranger she saw staring at Vicky throught the window of the restaurant one night. It turns out to be Lt. Cornell (the name a nod to Cornell Woolrich) who is unhealthily obsessed with Vicky Lynn. Cornell also has a moody, sinister leitmotif.

 

Cornell is trying hard to pin the murder on Frankie, going as far as withholding and planting evidence. Elisha Cook Jr. is Harry Williams the nervous Nellie desk clerk at the residence hotel where Vicky and Jill have their appartment.

 

IWUS%2B34.jpg

 

We get another Screwball Comedy sequence when Vicky tells her three "creators" that she's signed a long term contract for Hollywood and that she's leaving for the West Coast. We see Frankie, Robin, and Larry are seated on bar stools drowning their sorrows and taking pop shots at one another.

 

Frankie eluding the police shows Jill how to hide out at an all night Adult Theater it's a nice little sequence.  At one point a beat cop enters the theater, Jill has her shoes off and her legs up on the seat in front of her. Frankie sees the cop and begins to make out with her so that his face is not in showing. The cop goes down the aisle then  on his way back up uses his nightstick to tap her on the soles of her feet. He takes her for a hooker and tells her to "get your shoes on sister".

 

The cat and mouse game between Frankie and Cornell plays out to the end with some nice interesting twists. The screencaps are from the Fox Film Noir DVD. The film is like an early flyover Noirsville 9/10.

 

IWUS%2B36.jpg

 


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Somewhere In The Night (1946)

 

 

Somewhere%2Bin%2Bthe%2Bnight.jpg

 

In our POV we see a light, at first it's unfocused we hear the voice of John Hodiak wakening in a military field hospital. We find out in side conversations that he caught a grenade in the jaw, it's wired shut, he can't talk. In Hodiak's voice over narration we learn that he doesn't know who he is, but everyone keeps calling him Taylor, who is Taylor? An orderly comes by and gives him a shot of morphine, he goes under again the light goes out. He awakens in a military hospital he searches the draw by his bed and finds a wallet. It's George Taylor's wallet and in it is a hate letter from a woman who concludes with the line that she hopes he dies. We cut to s scene where Taylor is discharged and during his last interview he's asked if he wants his belongings shipped to his home town Los Angeles. Taylor hesitates since he doesn't know who he is or where he lives. The orderly conveniently reads off the name of the hotel he gave as his last LA address.

 

In this, the first of the amnesiac trope based noirs, George Taylor becomes an amateur detective trying to find out who he is. Now some may argue that 1942's Street of Chance was the first but in that film Burgess Meredith's hit on the head returns his memory, it's kind of in reverse.

 

somewhere-in-the-night.jpg

 

 

A Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation release Somewhere in The Night was directed and co-written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and based on Marvin Borowsky's original, unpublished story "The Lonely Journey" and his accompanying screenplay. Cinematography was by Norbert Brodine. The film stars John Hodiak (Desert Fury,  The Bribe)as George W. Taylor, Nancy Guild (The Brasher Doubloon ) as night club singer Christy Smith, Lloyd Nolan (Lady in the Lake ) as Police Lt. Donald Kendall, Richard Conte (12 Film Noir)  as nightclub owner Mel Phillips, Fritz Kortner (The Brasher Doubloon , Berlin Express ) as Anzelmo aka Dr. Oracle a con man spiritualist, Sheldon Leonard (Decoy,  The Gangster, ) as Sam, Margo Woode as hooker con woman Phyllis. The film also has cameos by Whit Bissell (Brute Force, Raw Deal, He Walked by Night, Side Street) as John the Bartender and Harry Morgan (The Gangster, Red Light, Appointment with Danger ) as the Public Bath attendant.

 

When George gets to LA he checks the hotel he gave as his address, they don't have a record of him. From the baggage he checked before entering the service he finds an automatic pistol and a letter of introduction to himself to a bank with $5000 in an account under his name that signed by a Larry Cravat. As he sleuths his way about LA's seedy side, a public bath, a skid row mission, a cellar nightclub, a phony fortune teller, a looney bin, and a come on from an overtly friendly hooker. He discovers that some people don't like him asking about Cravat and that others are looking for Cravat also.

 

Hodiack%2B-%2BGuild.jpg

 

Hodiack (Taylor) and Guild  (Christy)

 

Taylor befriends a chanteuse Nancy Guild after he breaks into her dressing room while on the run

from thugs. She introduces him to her nightclub owner/boss Richard Conte, and also to a friendly police detective Lloyd Nolan. 

 

woode.jpg

 

Woode as hooker Phyllis 

 

He finally discovers that the reason for all the interest in Larry Cravat is that he dissapeared with $2-million in Nazi money.  Lots of twists and turns in this entertaining film, some great lines also:

 

Phyllis: "Who is the character with the hair" (to Christy) "that is why I haven't seen you around" (to Taylor)

Christy: (to Phyllis) If its around I'm sure you'll get it".

 

Great Noir but not very stylistic, almost pedestrian, one location shot of what looks like The Sunshine Apartments on Bunkerv Hill, across from Angels Flight which does not make an appearance, most of the rest looks like backlot sets 8/10

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My firs

 

 

I Wake Up Screaming (1941) A Gateway Noir
 
i%2Bwake%2Bup%2Bscreaming%2Blobby%2Bcard
 
The biggest problem of some critics and chroniclers of Noir with the film I Wake Up Screaming is that they don't know how to categorize it. It doesn't fit the carefully crafted "German Expressionism" influence scenario that they have worked out as the origin of Noir. It's Director H. Bruce Humberstone, never made another Noir, it's brilliant cinematographer, Edward Cronjager, never filmed another Noir so conceptually and visually it's a one off, one of a kind.
 
I'm calling it a seminal "Gateway Noir" because the film serves the same purpose as a gateway drug, it functions as a sort of gateway to Noir for those unfamiliar, at that point in time, with what eventually came to be known stylistically, and hard boiled narratively, as Films Noir.
 
Look at the film in chronological context, only Stranger On The Third Floor (1940) approaches it in Noir visual stylistics, while The Maltese Falcon (1941) released only twenty eight days ahead of it on October 3, has the hard boiled story by Dashiell Hammett, but barely any of the signature visual stylistics. I Wake up Screaming not only was based on the hard boiled novel by Steve Fisher and also has the brilliant Noir stylistics in abundance but it has much much more. You can say that the film has dissociative identity, multiple genres if you will. It's also a bit of a Screwball Comedy, a Romantic Drama, and almost a Musical. This seamless genre bending provides the "gateway" for Comedy, Romance, and Musical audiences at that time into the films that eventually will be pigeonholed into the future Noir cycle.
 
IWUS%2B27.jpg
Cornell (Laird Cregar) 
 
My assertion is that if you've screened I Wake Up Screaming after the various other Noirs it will seem a strange hybrid indeed, because of the conceptions you've already amassed. But, experiencing it as audiences did in 1941 it would probably seem fresh and innovative.
 
I Wake Up Screaming was Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone, though the original novel was based in Hollywood the studio switched the film to a New York based Noir, and though filmed on 20th Century Fox Studio sets the film is given a real feel of NYC you could possibly say "informed" by NYC born cinematographer Edward Cronjager. The second unit rear projection shots of Times Square blend smoothly and complete the illusion. The film stars  Betty Grable, Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Laird Cregar, Alan Mowbray, Allyn Joslyn, and Elisha Cook, Jr.
 
The credits flash against a Noir New York Skyline the titles are written in marquee lights and we hear a the musical equivalent of a shrill klaxon horn blasting out a danger warning. It segues into Street Scene one of the signature New York City themes. Street Scene was used by 20th Century Fox for the films Street Scene, Cry of the City, Kiss of Death, Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Dark Corner, and as the overture to How to Marry a Millionaire. The story even actually starts with a street scene a newsboy hawking the murder of a model. We then cut to a dark police interrogation room bright spot lights are sweating a suspect, classic Noir.  Professional promoter Frankie Christopher (Victor Mature) is being grilled, surrounded by shadowy figures barking questions.
 
IWUS%2B03.jpg
 Frankie (Mature) above looking like Kramer (Michael Richards) from Seinfeld 
 
Frankie then begins to relate the story, and in a flashback we are transported to a Times Square restaurant and we are brightly lit again and into screwball comedy mode. Frankie and his two pals, over the hill actor Robin Ray (Alan Mowbray) and gossip columnist Larry Evans (Allyn Joslyn) flirt with hash slinger Vicky Lynn (Carole Landis). In a nod to Pygmalion Frankie makes a bet that he can transform Vicky into a celebrity inside of six weeks. Cut again to a classy nightclub where Frankie introduces Vicky, now dressed in evening gown and sable, to cafe-society. Throughout the film the sequences that feature Vicky or are in some way connected to her also have the Street Scene theme in various arrangements jazz, muted trumpet, etc., it becomes her leitmotif, and suggests the Musical genre. In a later sequence in a police projection room we see Vicky singing on her screen test.
 
IWUS%2B04.jpg
Vicky (Landis) with Robin (Mobray), Larry (Joslyn) and Frankie (Mature) at the Pegasus Club
 
We cut back to the police station, back to the present, and back into Noirsville. We now see Jill Lynn (Betty Grable) being questioned in the dimly lit squad room. As Jill tells her story we again go into flashback. She tells us how Vicky came home that first night and told Jill that she was through slinging hash and that from now on she had other things to sling. She had offers for modeling, commercials etc., etc. Jill tells her it's just easy money "your picture is on a magazine one day and in the ash can the next." Vicky is unfazed she snaps back that she knows what she wants and how to get it..
 
IWUS%2B12.jpg
 
The weeks pass and Jill finds herself falling in love with Frankie. Every time Jill and Frankie are together Over the Rainbow plays in one form or another as their "love" leitmotif another nod to musicals. Street Scene is not only Vicky's leitmotif but also it represents the New York, anything goes, sophisticate. The juxtaposition between it and Over The Rainbow which also brings to mind innocence is interesting for this Noir.
 
During another session with the cops Jill remembers a stranger she saw staring at Vicky throught the window of the restaurant one night. It turns out to be Lt. Cornell (the name a nod to Cornell Woolrich) who is unhealthily obsessed with Vicky Lynn. Cornell also has a moody, sinister leitmotif.
 
Cornell is trying hard to pin the murder on Frankie, going as far as withholding and planting evidence. Elisha Cook Jr. is Harry Williams the nervous Nellie desk clerk at the residence hotel where Vicky and Jill have their appartment.
 
IWUS%2B34.jpg
 
We get another Screwball Comedy sequence when Vicky tells her three "creators" that she's signed a long term contract for Hollywood and that she's leaving for the West Coast. We see Frankie, Robin, and Larry are seated on bar stools drowning their sorrows and taking pop shots at one another.
 
Frankie eluding the police shows Jill how to hide out at an all night Adult Theater it's a nice little sequence.  At one point a beat cop enters the theater, Jill has her shoes off and her legs up on the seat in front of her. Frankie sees the cop and begins to make out with her so that his face is not in showing. The cop goes down the aisle then  on his way back up uses his nightstick to tap her on the soles of her feet. He takes her for a hooker and tells her to "get your shoes on sister".
 
The cat and mouse game between Frankie and Cornell plays out to the end with some nice interesting twists. The screencaps are from the Fox Film Noir DVD. The film is like an early flyover Noirsville 9/10.
 
IWUS%2B36.jpg
 

 

My first Film Noir, I Wake Up Screaming - I recall watching around the age of 8 or 9.  My big sis and I would watch many great films on The Early Show in late 50's and early 60's with our mom and dad.  This one really stayed with me with wonderful cast and the undercurrent of sadness about Carole Landis's  life and eventual demise.  For Mom talked about her committing suicide, as Rex Harrisson did not want a divorce so he could marry her.  (As a kid I assumed that Carole had never been married and had a big crush on Rex.  No, this was wrong.  She had been married and divorced 3 or 4 times, and Rex was married to the lovely Lili Palmer).   My dad liked Elisdha Cooke and woud always point him out in films.  So around this time I got into Film Noirs, though they were not called that at the time.

 

THe next one I could never forget was Somewhere in the Night with John Hodiak, Lloyd Nolan, Richard Conte, etc.  What a great Film Noir with all star cast!   Wonderful reviews done here!

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Trapped (1949) "The only thing better than money are the plates that make it"

 

 

 

Trapped.jpg

 

 

Trapped has one of those dreary quasi documentary style, stentorian narrated intros with US Treasury Department stock footage showing the printing and inspection of money. Once the propaganda sequence is over we segue nicely to a vignette between a bank teller and a matronly woman who is trying to transact with a $20 dollar bill. The vigilant teller spots the fake bill and confiscates it from the protesting woman stamping it with a large "Counterfeit". He tells her something to the effect that "if you are handling a lot of cash it's your duty to make sure it's good". I guess she goes without the groceries for a week. 

 

A good 78 minute film noir from Contemporary Productions, by RKO contract director Richard Fleischer, who later filmed The Narrow Margin (1952). The film was written by Earl Felton and, George Zuckerman. Cinematography was by Guy Roe (Armored Car Robbery, The Sound of Fury) The film stars Lloyd Bridges, Barbara Payton, John Hoyt, Douglas Spencer, James Todd, and Russ Conway. 

 

Once we get that fake $20 at the bank it is sent to the Treasury Department where the agents determine that the counterfeit was a re-emergence of the same counterfeit bills from the Stewart Case. Tris Stewart (Bridges) is doing time, 14 years, in stir. In Atlanta The Treasury agents grill Stewart about the bills he replies "what do you think I'm doing, floating them out the window?" Stewart has been a model prisoner and is coming up for parole but the Agents tell him he'll do the rest of the 7 years if he cooperates. He tells them he's not a stoolie, but the agents are sure he'll come around. Bridges' Stewart, is handsome, smart, and suave, instead of smoking he's constantly chewing sticks of gum. Bridges reprises the same cocky character type in 1950's The Sound Of Fury. 

 

trap%2B01.jpg

 

A cross-country bus, with Kansas City on the destination board is stabbing the desolate dark with hi-beams. Inside Stewart is handcuffed to a sleeping officer. A sedan passes but pulls momentarily alongside and the driver gives a signal to Stewart. Stewart reacts by grabbing the officer's gun and telling the driver to pull over. The Sedan does a U-ie up ahead and drives back to the bus. Stewart hops in and they speed off. 

 

trap%2B05.jpg

 

The escape was a hoax for the Newspapers, Radio, and Newsreels. The sedan's driver was also a Treasury Agent. In return, Stewart and the agent will find Stewart's former partner Sam Hooker (Spencer) and suss out who's responsible for the new dough. Stewart fakes a cut from a broken glass and sucker punches the agent then lams out on the whole scheme. 

 

Stewart hit's smoggy Tinseltown and tracks his loser stupe of a partner Hooker to his seedy residence hotel flop. There is a great acting sequence where Douglas Spencer shows his range, his down and out wino character Hooker is in an alcoholic fog and at first doesn't recognise Stewart, then after a few slaps he does, paling up to Stewart, then breaks down in terror completely when Stewart smacks him around while bouncing him off the furniture. Hooker ran out of money blowing it on women, cards, and horses, then he sold the plates to gangster Jack Sylvester (Todd) whose legit cover is the Citrus Land & Investment Company. When Stewart asks for his cut from the plates he tells him pathetically "I lost it". 

 

trap%2B25.jpg

 

Meg Dixon (Payton) is Stewart's blonde gal pal with benefits. She's been biding her Tris down time trolling for tips by flashing her pins and breasts as a skimpily attired Chesterfield cigarette girl in the Chanteclair, an LA nightclub. Agent John Downey (Hoyt) is undercover as a dapper dan, putting the moves on her and tipping ten spots for decks of cigarettes. 

 

trap%2B07.jpg

 

He's first posing as a loaded oil man, then as really a gambler/confidence man who wants in on the deal with Stewart to buy counterfeit money. He has $30,000 (that a fake newspaper clipping claims Downey chiseled from the Mojave Club) that they will use to by the money from Sylvester. Downey has the genuine hots for Meg, but is another undercover G-Man. The treasury agents are covering all bases and also have Meg's digs bugged. 

 

trap%2B35.jpg

 

trap%2B42.jpg

 

With the deck stacked against Stewart, it all comes tumbling down. One fault of the script is that at the one hour mark the script switches the action from Stewart (Bridges) who gets booked in jail to Sylvester (James Todd) in the denouement, he doesn't quite measure up. The finale at the Los Angeles Trolley Car barn is a classic. It's a second tier Noir but still a good one. 7/10 

 


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The Nickel Ride (1974) Death of the Key Man

 

 

 LA Smog Noir, circa 1974, directed by Robert Mulligan (The Rat Race (1960), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962), Summer of '42 (1971),) Cinematography was by Jordan Cronenweth (Blade Runner (1982)). It was written by Eric Roth (The Drowning Pool (1975)) and stars Jason Miller as Cooper, Linda Haynes as Sarah, Victor French as Paddie, John Hillerman as Carl, Bo Hopkins as Turner, Richard Evans as Bobby, Bart Burns as Elias, Lou Frizzell as Paulie, Mark Gordon as Tonozzi.

 

Thenickelride-RobertMulligan1974.jpg

 

Cooper "Coop", is a small but successful cog in the LA underworld. He on top of his world, He is a fence, receiving stolen goods which he stores in the various warehouses around 5th Street in downtown LA. He is known as the "Key Man" for the large ring of keys he always carries. Business is booming, and there is a serious shortage of storage space.

 

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Coop

 

The film begins at night, a tractor-trailer backs up to a loading dock. The hijackers pile out and a hood in a seersucker suit and straw hat beats on the sliding steel door of a warehouse as the rest of the crew unload the goods. The watchman opens up the door and tells the hood in the seersucker there is no room.

 

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Cooper has been cobbling a deal to get "the block" a very large brick warehouse complex, 400,000 square feet, with rail spurs, comprising nineteen addresses, that sits on a full city block down in the 5th and Alameda district. It will be "like Grand Central Station". The word is out that the old street boss is losing control, if he doesn't deliver this block, 5th Street goes down the toilet and he'll go with it. The deal is in limbo because crooked LAPD official Elias and his downtown cronies are dragging ****, wanting more juice. Cooper's immediate boss Carl is putting pressure on him to get it done. Carl's bosses are a new breed, razor cuts, bookkeepers and lawyers who don't understand the streets.

 

Carl also has Coop lean on boxing manager Paulie. He wants, to have boxer Tonozzi, who has been making a bit of a comeback, take one last dive in his next bout. When Tonozzi doesn't deliver, Carl thinks Coop is slipping. Coop tells Paulie to leave town but Carl's goons get to him first. Carl also hires a goofy looking enforcer named Turner, a quasi hippy-ish, off-putting hayseed imported from Texas who wears a cowboy hat and boots with denim bell bottom jeans and a jacket embroidered with flowers on the front and a marijuana leaf on the back.

 

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Turner

 

Coop has been on the job for 19 years, an ex carney, con man who worked his way West to LA then up the crime ladder. He has a live in gal pal Sarah who was working as a keno gal in Vegas when he found her, but in one sequence she demonstrates some bumps and grinds to Coop and his long time friend Paddie, the owner of the local bar.  Coop's become a respected and loved 5th street neighborhood fixture, his friends and the patrons of Paddie's  even throw him a surprise birthday party. This respect and love proves his undoing, the new breed of crook wants to rule on fear and brutality and Coop is coming to the end of his nickel ride.

 

17.jpgThe Street

 

Jason Miller is practically a double for Charles McGraw without the gravelly voice, there are some great believable performances here from Victor French (who you won't recognize) he comes off as an interesting mix of Art Carney and Walter Matthau,  and from Linda Haynes the smalltown born, ex Vegas showgirl. The side story of Coop and Sarah and their affection for each other is well done. John Hillerman is the "Hollywood-ish" mob underboss, and Bo Hopkins is outlandish as the politely creepy "Cadillac Cowboy" hit man. This film builds slowly in tension much like Night And The City (1950) does.

 

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Sarah

 

The noir-ish cinematography is excellent, emphasising gritty, smoggy, downtown LA, an LA that's slowly succumbing to high rises and parking lots, but it also is juxtaposed by nicely composed 2.35 : 1 widescreen closeups and also throws in a sequence reminiscent of the Big Bear Lake segment featured in the Van Heflin-Robert Ryan Noir Act Of Violence (1948) The subtle soundtrack nicely compliments the storyline. 8-9/10. The DVD is from Shout Video. Full review with motr screen caps here:  http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-nickel-ride-1974-death-of-key-man.html

 

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Night Moves (1975) The Deconstructed Detective

 

 

Night Moves geographically spans from the classic haunts of Hammett, Chandler, and Ross Mcdonald, i.e., California, LA, Hollywood, to the aqua and coral pastels of John D. MacDonald's South Florida and it's Gulf Coast Keys. There is also a short stopover to a New Mexico film location.

 

Directed by Arthur Penn. Written by Alan Sharp, with cinematography by Bruce Surtees. The film stars Gene Hackman, Jennifer Warren, Susan Clark, Edward Binns, Harris Yulin, Kenneth Mars, Janet Ward, Anthony Costello, John Crawford, and it also has some outstanding early career appearances by James Woods and Melanie Griffith.

 

Night%2BMoves.jpg

 

The story reboots the classic hardboiled detective story up to the contemporary 1970's.  Harry Moseby (Hackman) runs Moseby Confidential a one man detective agency, a business that seems to putter along on vapors. He drives a 1967 Ford Mustang. Instead of being the usual ex WWI, WWII, Korean or Vietnam Vet, Moseby is an ex Oakland Raider football player, who has apparently invested some of his NFL contract doe into a PI dream.

 

Hackman%2BMoseby.jpg

 

Moseby is a Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe "knight of the streets" wannabe but rather than hard boiled, Harry is soft boiled at best, he is not tough or mean, he's more easygoing and disarming,  Harry is also a bit tarnished and maybe bit afraid. He is the hero, competent and dedicated, but even as his personal world dissolves around him he is still as Chandler said "a man of honor—by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world."

 

Our tale begins when Harry get's a case referred to him by one of his wife's Ellen's (Susan Clark) clients Nick (Kenneth Mars), a collector of Mayan antiquities. The job is to find and return the wayward daughter of a crumbling Hollywood C-list star, Arlene Iverson (Janet Ward). Iverson is a multiple marriage booze hound, getting a bit thick in the middle and living high on the hog off alimony checks in a hillside house above LA. She's specialized in banging movie stuntmen. She'll remind you of a caricature of a past the end of career Elizabeth Taylor. She comes on to Harry like a **** in heat every time he visits her to get the details of or report his findings on her daughter Delilah "Delly" (Melanie Griffith). Arlene wants her back because Delly has a sizeable trust fund.

 

Janet%2BWard%2BHackman.jpg

 

Harry from information he got from Arlene, confronts Delly's last boyfriend Quentin (James Woods) a movie crew mechanic who informs Harry that Delly left him in New Mexico for a stuntman pilot name of Marv (Anthony Costello).

 

The case is the real deal to Harry, it pays more, it's better than routine divorce cases, and better than working for a large agencies which, he remarks to Ellen, are no better than data collection services. While driving back through Burbank, and feeling good about himself, Harry passes the Magnolia Theatre where his wife and her gay business associate Charles (Ben Archibek) are exiting a film. Harry makes a U-ie parks and is about to call out to Ellen when he witnesses her leave the company of Charles to take up with another man Marty (Harris Yulin). Marty walks with the aid of a cane and he escorts Ellen into a Mercedes. They drive away. Harry jumps back in the Mustang and tails them to Malibu. Seeing Ellen have an affair is like getting kicked in the guts. Harry stakes out Marty's house and confronts him about the affair.

 

Leaving his personal life in tatters Harry copes by diving fully into the missing daughter case. He flies to New Mexico where he meets Delly's father stunt coordinator Joey Ziegler (Edward Binns). While at a bar with Joey, he's introduced to sleazy stuntman Marv (Anthony Costello). When Joey leaves the table momentarily Harry asks Marv about Delly. Marv says she headed for Florida to stay with her step dad Tom Iverson (John Crawford) then he offers his observation of the certain perspective a man gets when he sleeps with both the daughter (Delly) and the mother (Arlene). He snickers. 

 

Harry heads to the Florida Gulf Coast to track down Delly at her step dad's grungy off the beaten track guiding, fishing, retail business MidKay Supermarket and The Gulf Shore Cabins. There he meets free-spirited Paula (Jennifer Warren) a slinky, blonde, Southern beach trash, beauty who has among other endeavors has bar tended, waitressed, stripped, etc., etc. She takes him to meet Delly. Delly is introduced to us in homage to much like Brigitte Bardot was iconically introduced in Roger Vadim's And God Created Woman, naked behind a clothesline.

 

Melanie%2BGriffith.jpg

 

Delly is a 16-year-old, very in your face, out of control, round heels nymphomaniac, who gives the impression that she will screw anything with a dick. She constantly teases any man within her reach ready to strip off her clothes at the drop of a hat. As soon as Harry shows up he becomes the object of her constant attention.

 

Delly's step dad Tom Iverson (John Crawford) flies in on a seaplane soon after Harry arrives. When Harry tells him he's there to collect Delly and bring her back to her mother, Tom confides to Harry that she's a handful, and referring to her open sexuality states "there ought to be a law" to which Harry replies "there is."

 

noir-ish%2B02.jpg

 

Paula, Delly, and Harry decide to take the glass bottomed boat out for a recreational night dive on the reef. They turn the underwater lights on. Delly strips and jumps in while Paula and Harry watch. While Delly is moving about she discovers the wreck of a small seaplane. When she gets close to the cockpit she sees the body of a deadman, fish are feeding on his head eating his eye sockets, she panics bursting upwards to the surface and screams.

 

Seeing the dead man so disturbs Delly that she's ready to go back to California with Harry. Once back at Arlene's, Delly has a dysfunctional brouhaha with her mother, Quentin, and her mother's new lover in front of Harry as he is trying to leave after collecting his check.

 

Florida%2BNoir.jpg

 

Harry has misgivings, wondering if he did the right thing, a few day later his apprehensions prove out when Delly is killed in an accident on a movie set. After meeting with Joey Ziegler and seeing rushes of the crash Harry suspects Quentin was involved. Harry follows Quentin to Florida where in classic noir fashion everything unravels, and in not the way you expect.

 

In the old whodunnits, the detective would logically follow the clues and solve the case. In the hard boiled tales of Hammett and Chandler the detective takes the case shakes things up and sees what falls out. When Harry goes back to Florida he reaches the tipping point into full blown Noirsville.

 

The jazzy soundtrack is by Michael Small, 8/10. If the cinematography had a bit more style using Noir stylistics it would probably be higher, as is it doesn't quite match up to its potential vis a vis the story.

 


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Experiment In Terror (1962) San Francisco Tail Fin Noir

 

A neat 1962 Suspense-Thriller Noir that fits into that particular period from mid to late 1950's early 1960's that is visually defined on cars by the Space Age design feature the tail fin, and by Googie style signage and architecture. Released by Columbia Pictures, the film was directed by Blake Edwards, Mickey Spillane's 'Mike Hammer!' (TV Movie 1954) Days of Wine And Roses (1962), and written by Mildred and Gordon Gordon and was based on their 1961 novel, Operation Terror.

 

The film stars Glenn Ford (seven classic noir films), Lee Remick (Anatomy of a Murder (1959)), Stefanie Powers, and Ross Martin. Supporting cast Ned Glass, Anita Loo, Patricia Huston, Clifton James, Al Avalon, James Lanphier, and William Sharon. The film is greatly enhanced by the excellent cinematography by Philip H. Lathrop who was assistant camera on Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948), camera operator on (The Raging Tide (1951), Touch Of Evil (1958), lensed as cinematographer a couple of critically forgettable Paul Henreid directed films, and a string of TV series, (Rawhide, and the noir-ish, Mr. Lucky, Peter Gunn, and Perry Mason)

 

 

Experiment_In_Terror_poster.jpg

 

The film's night time opening title sequence is of Kelly Sherwood (Lee Remick), driving 58 Ford Fairlane Sunliner top down convertible across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. She is framed against a twinkling San Francisco skyline that features inky blacks pierced by strings of pearl streetlights and moving headlights becomes a harbinger of the noir stylistics to come, breathtaking contrasts, and unsettling camera angles.

 

SF%2BOak%2BBridge.jpg

San Francisco -Oakland Bay Bridge

 

Tailfin.jpg

Tailfins

 

Sherwood is a cute bank teller who lives on a hill overlooking the city with her 16-year-old sister (Stefanie Powers) in the Twin Peaks section of San Francisco. As we continue to follow her home from a party in Oakland to her house, she is grabbed from behind after she gets out of her car and is assaulted in her dark garage by a man with a raspy wheezing voice. The shot is in an uncomfortable extreme close-up. The Wheezer threatens to either kill her or her sister if she doesn't cooperate in his plan to rob her bank. The man ratchets up the terror factor by letting Kelly know that he has been stalking them for a while, he even emphasises the point that he even knows intimate things, i.e., her measurements. The way the scene plays out we know that he is fondling her as he calls out her hips, waist, and bust size by her reactions.  

 

terror%2B01.jpg

Wheezer attacks

 

When the man leaves, Kelly not very intimidated, goes into her house and dials up the FBI. She's switch boarded to Agent John 'Rip' Ripley (Glenn Ford) who is just able to get her name before the line goes dead.  It's The Wheezer, he assumed that she'd make her call for help and entering her house he's smacked her to the floor and hung up the phone. When Kelly comes to he tells her that she get's to make this one mistake, and she'd better follow his precise instructions from now. The Wheezer leaves again and an increasingly terrorized Kelly is immobilized by fear.  Lying in despair by the phone she is startled when it suddenly rings. It's the FBI, Ripley and the bureau has managed to suss out where she lives.

 

ripley%2BInterview.jpg

Ripley FBI

 

The film balances between being a policer and a suspense thriller that surprisingly keeps Kelly pretty level headed throughout, and doesn't fall into the now greatly over used "saviour becomes lover" trope. Ripley and the G men are all business. They search for similar MO's and chase leads. They even get a small break when one of The Wheezer's gal pals Nancy Ashton (Patricia Huston), who has a mannequin repair business, suspects something is up and nervously visits the FBI with her suspicions. Nancy fibs a bit telling Ripley that it's her friend that's in trouble, she even propositions Ripley for a date but again stressing professionalism Ripley begs off.  Nancy later works up some courage and phones Ripley to tell him that she has information and asks him to drop by but Wheezer kills her before Ripley arrives.

 

Ashton%2Bat%2Bwork.jpg

Ashton mannequin repair 

 

A police informant named "Popcorn" (Ned Glass in a nice cameo) who sells tips supplies more pieces to the puzzle telling the FBI that he's overheard phone conversations between a forger and man that fits their MO a man named Red Lynch. Lynch raped and killed a bank teller in Kansas after she would not go along with his scheme. Lynch's profile also shows that he is fond of Chinese females, which sends Ripley and the FBI into Chinatown with mug shots of Lynch.

 

The film even has a somewhat humorous sequence, when The Wheezer gives Kelly instructions to meet at The Gay Nineties Club, the place is packed with customers and also FBI men. As Kelly walks around trying to meet with Wheezer she is looking at various men and in tern attracting their attention while under surveillance . One guy approaches her thinking she is a hooker, and Kelly at first assumes that he is the Wheezer. She walks out of the club with him and to his car, as they drive away, followed by a convoy of FBI cars, he indicates that she should move closer and sit beside him. She balks saying that it's only business, the guy is thinking OK she wants money. When Kelly suddenly realizes he thinks she's a prostitute she bolts from the car and he is surrounded by FBI agents with drawn guns.

 

As the asthmatic schizophrenic killer Red Lynch (Ross Martin), practically steals the show. Martin isn't just a single layer - one note villain, he is eventually revealed as having a normal serious relationship with a Chinese woman named Lisa Soong (Anita Loo), serious to the extent of paying the hospital costs for her son's hip replacement operation. He even visits him at the hospital, bringing him expensive stuffed animals. This normality all proves his Achilles heel.

 

compositions.jpg

Ross Martin as Lynch

 

Stefanie Powers is perfect as Toby, Kelly's younger sister who is still a bit of an awkward teenager, still that has that little bit of baby fat, but you can see beyond to the beauty that she will become.

 

I can't express enough how much this late Film Noir is an addictive visual treat, it's full of striking compositions, skewed by unsetting camera angles, teeming with bizarre interior sets all added to wonderful San Francisco location shots.  The film also has a good score from long time Blake Edwards collaborator Henry Mancini. 9/10

 


 

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Experiment In Terror (1962) San Francisco Tail Fin Noir
 
A neat 1962 Suspense-Thriller Noir that fits into that particular period from mid to late 1950's early 1960's that is visually defined on cars by the Space Age design feature the tail fin, and by Googie style signage and architecture. Released by Columbia Pictures, the film was directed by Blake Edwards, Mickey Spillane's 'Mike Hammer!' (TV Movie 1954) Days of Wine And Roses (1962), and written by Mildred and Gordon Gordon and was based on their 1961 novel, Operation Terror.
 
The film stars Glenn Ford (seven classic noir films), Lee Remick (Anatomy of a Murder (1959)), Stefanie Powers, and Ross Martin. Supporting cast Ned Glass, Anita Loo, Patricia Huston, Clifton James, Al Avalon, James Lanphier, and William Sharon. The film is greatly enhanced by the excellent cinematography by Philip H. Lathrop who was assistant camera on Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948), camera operator on (The Raging Tide (1951), Touch Of Evil (1958), lensed as cinematographer a couple of critically forgettable Paul Henreid directed films, and a string of TV series, (Rawhide, and the noir-ish, Mr. Lucky, Peter Gunn, and Perry Mason)
 
 
Experiment_In_Terror_poster.jpg
 
The film's night time opening title sequence is of Kelly Sherwood (Lee Remick), driving 58 Ford Fairlane Sunliner top down convertible across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. She is framed against a twinkling San Francisco skyline that features inky blacks pierced by strings of pearl streetlights and moving headlights becomes a harbinger of the noir stylistics to come, breathtaking contrasts, and unsettling camera angles.
 
SF%2BOak%2BBridge.jpg
San Francisco -Oakland Bay Bridge
 
Tailfin.jpg
Tailfins
 
Sherwood is a cute bank teller who lives on a hill overlooking the city with her 16-year-old sister (Stefanie Powers) in the Twin Peaks section of San Francisco. As we continue to follow her home from a party in Oakland to her house, she is grabbed from behind after she gets out of her car and is assaulted in her dark garage by a man with a raspy wheezing voice. The shot is in an uncomfortable extreme close-up. The Wheezer threatens to either kill her or her sister if she doesn't cooperate in his plan to rob her bank. The man ratchets up the terror factor by letting Kelly know that he has been stalking them for a while, he even emphasises the point that he even knows intimate things, i.e., her measurements. The way the scene plays out we know that he is fondling her as he calls out her hips, waist, and bust size by her reactions.  
 
terror%2B01.jpg
Wheezer attacks
 
When the man leaves, Kelly not very intimidated, goes into her house and dials up the FBI. She's switch boarded to Agent John 'Rip' Ripley (Glenn Ford) who is just able to get her name before the line goes dead.  It's The Wheezer, he assumed that she'd make her call for help and entering her house he's smacked her to the floor and hung up the phone. When Kelly comes to he tells her that she get's to make this one mistake, and she'd better follow his precise instructions from now. The Wheezer leaves again and an increasingly terrorized Kelly is immobilized by fear.  Lying in despair by the phone she is startled when it suddenly rings. It's the FBI, Ripley and the bureau has managed to suss out where she lives.
 
ripley%2BInterview.jpg
Ripley FBI
 
The film balances between being a policer and a suspense thriller that surprisingly keeps Kelly pretty level headed throughout, and doesn't fall into the now greatly over used "saviour becomes lover" trope. Ripley and the G men are all business. They search for similar MO's and chase leads. They even get a small break when one of The Wheezer's gal pals Nancy Ashton (Patricia Huston), who has a mannequin repair business, suspects something is up and nervously visits the FBI with her suspicions. Nancy fibs a bit telling Ripley that it's her friend that's in trouble, she even propositions Ripley for a date but again stressing professionalism Ripley begs off.  Nancy later works up some courage and phones Ripley to tell him that she has information and asks him to drop by but Wheezer kills her before Ripley arrives.
 
Ashton%2Bat%2Bwork.jpg
Ashton mannequin repair 
 
A police informant named "Popcorn" (Ned Glass in a nice cameo) who sells tips supplies more pieces to the puzzle telling the FBI that he's overheard phone conversations between a forger and man that fits their MO a man named Red Lynch. Lynch raped and killed a bank teller in Kansas after she would not go along with his scheme. Lynch's profile also shows that he is fond of Chinese females, which sends Ripley and the FBI into Chinatown with mug shots of Lynch.
 
The film even has a somewhat humorous sequence, when The Wheezer gives Kelly instructions to meet at The Gay Nineties Club, the place is packed with customers and also FBI men. As Kelly walks around trying to meet with Wheezer she is looking at various men and in tern attracting their attention while under surveillance . One guy approaches her thinking she is a hooker, and Kelly at first assumes that he is the Wheezer. She walks out of the club with him and to his car, as they drive away, followed by a convoy of FBI cars, he indicates that she should move closer and sit beside him. She balks saying that it's only business, the guy is thinking OK she wants money. When Kelly suddenly realizes he thinks she's a prostitute she bolts from the car and he is surrounded by FBI agents with drawn guns.
 
As the asthmatic schizophrenic killer Red Lynch (Ross Martin), practically steals the show. Martin isn't just a single layer - one note villain, he is eventually revealed as having a normal serious relationship with a Chinese woman named Lisa Soong (Anita Loo), serious to the extent of paying the hospital costs for her son's hip replacement operation. He even visits him at the hospital, bringing him expensive stuffed animals. This normality all proves his Achilles heel.
 
compositions.jpg
Ross Martin as Lynch
 
Stefanie Powers is perfect as Toby, Kelly's younger sister who is still a bit of an awkward teenager, still that has that little bit of baby fat, but you can see beyond to the beauty that she will become.
 
I can't express enough how much this late Film Noir is an addictive visual treat, it's full of striking compositions, skewed by unsetting camera angles, teeming with bizarre interior sets all added to wonderful San Francisco location shots.  The film also has a good score from long time Blake Edwards collaborator Henry Mancini. 9/10
 

 

I did tlke this film a lot too which I remembered seeing in the 70's on TV. I remember the nail-biting suspense and love the cast too!  Lee Remick is lovely as ever and very good in her role, and the young Stephanie Powers was also very good as her innocent young sister. (Will love to re-watch this film again.  I like Ross Martin and had forgotten his pivotal role here).  I love Glenn's films too; this one and Gilda' plus some good Film Noirs from the early 50's. 

 

A great 40's (probably little-known Film Noir) I saw on TCM not  long ago with Glenn, Barry Sullivan and Janis Carter is called Framed which is a gem with several unique plot twists.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

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I Wake Up Screaming (1941) A Gateway Noir
 
i%2Bwake%2Bup%2Bscreaming%2Blobby%2Bcard
 
The biggest problem of some critics and chroniclers of Noir with the film I Wake Up Screaming is that they don't know how to categorize it. It doesn't fit the carefully crafted "German Expressionism" influence scenario that they have worked out as the origin of Noir. It's Director H. Bruce Humberstone, never made another Noir, it's brilliant cinematographer, Edward Cronjager, never filmed another Noir so conceptually and visually it's a one off, one of a kind.
 
I'm calling it a seminal "Gateway Noir" because the film serves the same purpose as a gateway drug, it functions as a sort of gateway to Noir for those unfamiliar, at that point in time, with what eventually came to be known stylistically, and hard boiled narratively, as Films Noir.
 
Look at the film in chronological context, only Stranger On The Third Floor (1940) approaches it in Noir visual stylistics, while The Maltese Falcon (1941) released only twenty eight days ahead of it on October 3, has the hard boiled story by Dashiell Hammett, but barely any of the signature visual stylistics. I Wake up Screaming not only was based on the hard boiled novel by Steve Fisher and also has the brilliant Noir stylistics in abundance but it has much much more. You can say that the film has dissociative identity, multiple genres if you will. It's also a bit of a Screwball Comedy, a Romantic Drama, and almost a Musical. This seamless genre bending provides the "gateway" for Comedy, Romance, and Musical audiences at that time into the films that eventually will be pigeonholed into the future Noir cycle.
 
IWUS%2B27.jpg
Cornell (Laird Cregar) 
 
My assertion is that if you've screened I Wake Up Screaming after the various other Noirs it will seem a strange hybrid indeed, because of the conceptions you've already amassed. But, experiencing it as audiences did in 1941 it would probably seem fresh and innovative.
 
I Wake Up Screaming was Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone, though the original novel was based in Hollywood the studio switched the film to a New York based Noir, and though filmed on 20th Century Fox Studio sets the film is given a real feel of NYC you could possibly say "informed" by NYC born cinematographer Edward Cronjager. The second unit rear projection shots of Times Square blend smoothly and complete the illusion. The film stars  Betty Grable, Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Laird Cregar, Alan Mowbray, Allyn Joslyn, and Elisha Cook, Jr.
 
The credits flash against a Noir New York Skyline the titles are written in marquee lights and we hear a the musical equivalent of a shrill klaxon horn blasting out a danger warning. It segues into Street Scene one of the signature New York City themes. Street Scene was used by 20th Century Fox for the films Street Scene, Cry of the City, Kiss of Death, Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Dark Corner, and as the overture to How to Marry a Millionaire. The story even actually starts with a street scene a newsboy hawking the murder of a model. We then cut to a dark police interrogation room bright spot lights are sweating a suspect, classic Noir.  Professional promoter Frankie Christopher (Victor Mature) is being grilled, surrounded by shadowy figures barking questions.
 
IWUS%2B03.jpg
 Frankie (Mature) above looking like Kramer (Michael Richards) from Seinfeld 
 
Frankie then begins to relate the story, and in a flashback we are transported to a Times Square restaurant and we are brightly lit again and into screwball comedy mode. Frankie and his two pals, over the hill actor Robin Ray (Alan Mowbray) and gossip columnist Larry Evans (Allyn Joslyn) flirt with hash slinger Vicky Lynn (Carole Landis). In a nod to Pygmalion Frankie makes a bet that he can transform Vicky into a celebrity inside of six weeks. Cut again to a classy nightclub where Frankie introduces Vicky, now dressed in evening gown and sable, to cafe-society. Throughout the film the sequences that feature Vicky or are in some way connected to her also have the Street Scene theme in various arrangements jazz, muted trumpet, etc., it becomes her leitmotif, and suggests the Musical genre. In a later sequence in a police projection room we see Vicky singing on her screen test.
 
IWUS%2B04.jpg
Vicky (Landis) with Robin (Mobray), Larry (Joslyn) and Frankie (Mature) at the Pegasus Club
 
We cut back to the police station, back to the present, and back into Noirsville. We now see Jill Lynn (Betty Grable) being questioned in the dimly lit squad room. As Jill tells her story we again go into flashback. She tells us how Vicky came home that first night and told Jill that she was through slinging hash and that from now on she had other things to sling. She had offers for modeling, commercials etc., etc. Jill tells her it's just easy money "your picture is on a magazine one day and in the ash can the next." Vicky is unfazed she snaps back that she knows what she wants and how to get it..
 
IWUS%2B12.jpg
 
The weeks pass and Jill finds herself falling in love with Frankie. Every time Jill and Frankie are together Over the Rainbow plays in one form or another as their "love" leitmotif another nod to musicals. Street Scene is not only Vicky's leitmotif but also it represents the New York, anything goes, sophisticate. The juxtaposition between it and Over The Rainbow which also brings to mind innocence is interesting for this Noir.
 
During another session with the cops Jill remembers a stranger she saw staring at Vicky throught the window of the restaurant one night. It turns out to be Lt. Cornell (the name a nod to Cornell Woolrich) who is unhealthily obsessed with Vicky Lynn. Cornell also has a moody, sinister leitmotif.
 
Cornell is trying hard to pin the murder on Frankie, going as far as withholding and planting evidence. Elisha Cook Jr. is Harry Williams the nervous Nellie desk clerk at the residence hotel where Vicky and Jill have their appartment.
 
IWUS%2B34.jpg
 
We get another Screwball Comedy sequence when Vicky tells her three "creators" that she's signed a long term contract for Hollywood and that she's leaving for the West Coast. We see Frankie, Robin, and Larry are seated on bar stools drowning their sorrows and taking pop shots at one another.
 
Frankie eluding the police shows Jill how to hide out at an all night Adult Theater it's a nice little sequence.  At one point a beat cop enters the theater, Jill has her shoes off and her legs up on the seat in front of her. Frankie sees the cop and begins to make out with her so that his face is not in showing. The cop goes down the aisle then  on his way back up uses his nightstick to tap her on the soles of her feet. He takes her for a hooker and tells her to "get your shoes on sister".
 
The cat and mouse game between Frankie and Cornell plays out to the end with some nice interesting twists. The screencaps are from the Fox Film Noir DVD. The film is like an early flyover Noirsville 9/10.
 
IWUS%2B36.jpg
 

 

Amid my typos galore earlier, I mentioned that I Wake Up Screaming was actually my first film noir seen on TV with family.  It made quite an impression on me (at around 8 or 9) and I was actually haunted by the early demise of the beautiful and talented Carole Landis. After the film I recall my mother mentioning Carole's sad life and eventual suicide.  It has been a long time since I first saw this film, but I still recall that it haunted me. I have now watched several of Carole's we set up on our DVR, but this continues to be my favorite. 

 

The outstanding cast including Betty Grable,  Victor Mature and the pathetic Laird Creegar's character and the scary switchboard operator (Elisha Cooke), etc. all enhance the film still further.  The touching part of Carole singing a lovely song for her screen test

and her sister remembering a man looking in the window of the diner at her sister all serve to make the film all the more suspenseful and intriguing.  In re-watching  recently I  also came to admire the excellent photography and skillful flash backing.

 

So that's how I began my long Film Noir career;  as a viewer,of course.  AT the time my parents called them Suspense or Murder Mysteries. 

 

In recent years I have returned to Film Noirs.   For me the lure of suspense films prevails and stems from seeing

this film and one other...

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Somewhere In The Night (1946)
 
 
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In our POV we see a light, at first it's unfocused we hear the voice of John Hodiak wakening in a military field hospital. We find out in side conversations that he caught a grenade in the jaw, it's wired shut, he can't talk. In Hodiak's voice over narration we learn that he doesn't know who he is, but everyone keeps calling him Taylor, who is Taylor? An orderly comes by and gives him a shot of morphine, he goes under again the light goes out. He awakens in a military hospital he searches the draw by his bed and finds a wallet. It's George Taylor's wallet and in it is a hate letter from a woman who concludes with the line that she hopes he dies. We cut to s scene where Taylor is discharged and during his last interview he's asked if he wants his belongings shipped to his home town Los Angeles. Taylor hesitates since he doesn't know who he is or where he lives. The orderly conveniently reads off the name of the hotel he gave as his last LA address.
 
In this, the first of the amnesiac trope based noirs, George Taylor becomes an amateur detective trying to find out who he is. Now some may argue that 1942's Street of Chance was the first but in that film Burgess Meredith's hit on the head returns his memory, it's kind of in reverse.
 
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A Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation release Somewhere in The Night was directed and co-written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and based on Marvin Borowsky's original, unpublished story "The Lonely Journey" and his accompanying screenplay. Cinematography was by Norbert Brodine. The film stars John Hodiak (Desert Fury,  The Bribe)as George W. Taylor, Nancy Guild (The Brasher Doubloon ) as night club singer Christy Smith, Lloyd Nolan (Lady in the Lake ) as Police Lt. Donald Kendall, Richard Conte (12 Film Noir)  as nightclub owner Mel Phillips, Fritz Kortner (The Brasher Doubloon , Berlin Express ) as Anzelmo aka Dr. Oracle a con man spiritualist, Sheldon Leonard (Decoy,  The Gangster, ) as Sam, Margo Woode as hooker con woman Phyllis. The film also has cameos by Whit Bissell (Brute Force, Raw Deal, He Walked by Night, Side Street) as John the Bartender and Harry Morgan (The Gangster, Red Light, Appointment with Danger ) as the Public Bath attendant.
 
When George gets to LA he checks the hotel he gave as his address, they don't have a record of him. From the baggage he checked before entering the service he finds an automatic pistol and a letter of introduction to himself to a bank with $5000 in an account under his name that signed by a Larry Cravat. As he sleuths his way about LA's seedy side, a public bath, a skid row mission, a cellar nightclub, a phony fortune teller, a looney bin, and a come on from an overtly friendly hooker. He discovers that some people don't like him asking about Cravat and that others are looking for Cravat also.
 
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Hodiack (Taylor) and Guild  (Christy)
 
Taylor befriends a chanteuse Nancy Guild after he breaks into her dressing room while on the run
from thugs. She introduces him to her nightclub owner/boss Richard Conte, and also to a friendly police detective Lloyd Nolan. 
 
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Woode as hooker Phyllis 
 
He finally discovers that the reason for all the interest in Larry Cravat is that he dissapeared with $2-million in Nazi money.  Lots of twists and turns in this entertaining film, some great lines also:
 
Phyllis: "Who is the character with the hair" (to Christy) "that is why I haven't seen you around" (to Taylor)
Christy: (to Phyllis) If its around I'm sure you'll get it".
 
Great Noir but not very stylistic, almost pedestrian, one location shot of what looks like The Sunshine Apartments on Bunkerv Hill, across from Angels Flight which does not make an appearance, most of the rest looks like backlot sets 8/10

 

Well, I just emoted about my beginning interest in FIlm Noirs as a child.  I Wake Up Screaming was my Intro. to the genre and the other film of note is Somewhere in the Night.  IT was a year or so later that I first viewed the latter film.  I love the cast and the intriguing story and even as a kid I felt really drawn into this haunting tale.  It really grabs you personally.

 

I have never seen a film where the put down is so absolute - in the beginning.  John Hodiak's amnesiac character is recovering from war injuries in hospital when he discovers a letter from a woman who totally dislikes him. 

 

After he is released the soldier pursues a quest to discover his identity.  The names Larry Cravat and eventually George Taylor surface.  His quest is often imperiled; danger and pathos - threats from the "dangerous" Fritz Kortner and an appeal from a lonely woman (Josephine Hutchinson) whose ailing father may have some of the answers.  There is murder along the way as "Larry" pursues his quest.  HE is attacked by an unknown person.  A lovely nightclub singer (Nancy Guild) places her trust in "Larry" and shields him from further attacks..    He stays at her apartment and meets various people.

I will not say more for those who have not seen the film . . .

 

THe story is enriched with a great cast as well; we have the pleasure of Lloyd Nolan and Richard Conte amid other notables.

 

Somehow I never forgot the name Larry Cravat either! 

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I Wake Up Screaming (1941) A Gateway Noir
 
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The biggest problem of some critics and chroniclers of Noir with the film I Wake Up Screaming is that they don't know how to categorize it. It doesn't fit the carefully crafted "German Expressionism" influence scenario that they have worked out as the origin of Noir. It's Director H. Bruce Humberstone, never made another Noir, it's brilliant cinematographer, Edward Cronjager, never filmed another Noir so conceptually and visually it's a one off, one of a kind.
 
I'm calling it a seminal "Gateway Noir" because the film serves the same purpose as a gateway drug, it functions as a sort of gateway to Noir for those unfamiliar, at that point in time, with what eventually came to be known stylistically, and hard boiled narratively, as Films Noir.
 
Look at the film in chronological context, only Stranger On The Third Floor (1940) approaches it in Noir visual stylistics, while The Maltese Falcon (1941) released only twenty eight days ahead of it on October 3, has the hard boiled story by Dashiell Hammett, but barely any of the signature visual stylistics. I Wake up Screaming not only was based on the hard boiled novel by Steve Fisher and also has the brilliant Noir stylistics in abundance but it has much much more. You can say that the film has dissociative identity, multiple genres if you will. It's also a bit of a Screwball Comedy, a Romantic Drama, and almost a Musical. This seamless genre bending provides the "gateway" for Comedy, Romance, and Musical audiences at that time into the films that eventually will be pigeonholed into the future Noir cycle.
 
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Cornell (Laird Cregar) 
 
My assertion is that if you've screened I Wake Up Screaming after the various other Noirs it will seem a strange hybrid indeed, because of the conceptions you've already amassed. But, experiencing it as audiences did in 1941 it would probably seem fresh and innovative.
 
I Wake Up Screaming was Directed by H. Bruce Humberstone, though the original novel was based in Hollywood the studio switched the film to a New York based Noir, and though filmed on 20th Century Fox Studio sets the film is given a real feel of NYC you could possibly say "informed" by NYC born cinematographer Edward Cronjager. The second unit rear projection shots of Times Square blend smoothly and complete the illusion. The film stars  Betty Grable, Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Laird Cregar, Alan Mowbray, Allyn Joslyn, and Elisha Cook, Jr.
 
The credits flash against a Noir New York Skyline the titles are written in marquee lights and we hear a the musical equivalent of a shrill klaxon horn blasting out a danger warning. It segues into Street Scene one of the signature New York City themes. Street Scene was used by 20th Century Fox for the films Street Scene, Cry of the City, Kiss of Death, Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Dark Corner, and as the overture to How to Marry a Millionaire. The story even actually starts with a street scene a newsboy hawking the murder of a model. We then cut to a dark police interrogation room bright spot lights are sweating a suspect, classic Noir.  Professional promoter Frankie Christopher (Victor Mature) is being grilled, surrounded by shadowy figures barking questions.
 
IWUS%2B03.jpg
 Frankie (Mature) above looking like Kramer (Michael Richards) from Seinfeld 
 
Frankie then begins to relate the story, and in a flashback we are transported to a Times Square restaurant and we are brightly lit again and into screwball comedy mode. Frankie and his two pals, over the hill actor Robin Ray (Alan Mowbray) and gossip columnist Larry Evans (Allyn Joslyn) flirt with hash slinger Vicky Lynn (Carole Landis). In a nod to Pygmalion Frankie makes a bet that he can transform Vicky into a celebrity inside of six weeks. Cut again to a classy nightclub where Frankie introduces Vicky, now dressed in evening gown and sable, to cafe-society. Throughout the film the sequences that feature Vicky or are in some way connected to her also have the Street Scene theme in various arrangements jazz, muted trumpet, etc., it becomes her leitmotif, and suggests the Musical genre. In a later sequence in a police projection room we see Vicky singing on her screen test.
 
IWUS%2B04.jpg
Vicky (Landis) with Robin (Mobray), Larry (Joslyn) and Frankie (Mature) at the Pegasus Club
 
We cut back to the police station, back to the present, and back into Noirsville. We now see Jill Lynn (Betty Grable) being questioned in the dimly lit squad room. As Jill tells her story we again go into flashback. She tells us how Vicky came home that first night and told Jill that she was through slinging hash and that from now on she had other things to sling. She had offers for modeling, commercials etc., etc. Jill tells her it's just easy money "your picture is on a magazine one day and in the ash can the next." Vicky is unfazed she snaps back that she knows what she wants and how to get it..
 
IWUS%2B12.jpg
 
The weeks pass and Jill finds herself falling in love with Frankie. Every time Jill and Frankie are together Over the Rainbow plays in one form or another as their "love" leitmotif another nod to musicals. Street Scene is not only Vicky's leitmotif but also it represents the New York, anything goes, sophisticate. The juxtaposition between it and Over The Rainbow which also brings to mind innocence is interesting for this Noir.
 
During another session with the cops Jill remembers a stranger she saw staring at Vicky throught the window of the restaurant one night. It turns out to be Lt. Cornell (the name a nod to Cornell Woolrich) who is unhealthily obsessed with Vicky Lynn. Cornell also has a moody, sinister leitmotif.
 
Cornell is trying hard to pin the murder on Frankie, going as far as withholding and planting evidence. Elisha Cook Jr. is Harry Williams the nervous Nellie desk clerk at the residence hotel where Vicky and Jill have their appartment.
 
IWUS%2B34.jpg
 
We get another Screwball Comedy sequence when Vicky tells her three "creators" that she's signed a long term contract for Hollywood and that she's leaving for the West Coast. We see Frankie, Robin, and Larry are seated on bar stools drowning their sorrows and taking pop shots at one another.
 
Frankie eluding the police shows Jill how to hide out at an all night Adult Theater it's a nice little sequence.  At one point a beat cop enters the theater, Jill has her shoes off and her legs up on the seat in front of her. Frankie sees the cop and begins to make out with her so that his face is not in showing. The cop goes down the aisle then  on his way back up uses his nightstick to tap her on the soles of her feet. He takes her for a hooker and tells her to "get your shoes on sister".
 
The cat and mouse game between Frankie and Cornell plays out to the end with some nice interesting twists. The screencaps are from the Fox Film Noir DVD. The film is like an early flyover Noirsville 9/10.
 
IWUS%2B36.jpg
 

 

This movie was a bit bizarre for me to watch because of Betty Grable.  She did not feel comfortable in this kind of movie and this was the only time she was in a serious film.

 

RE: Landis's tragic life:

I was born in the 1970s, so by the time I knew who a lot of artists were, thy were either dead or old.  As such, I cannot help but have in the back of my mind any tragic event when I am watching a serious movie.  Somehow, I am not as bothered by this in comedies.  I have always  had a hard time watching landis movies because of how and why she died.  I have to suspend my thoughts on Rex H. when I see his movies -I quite often base my movie options on who the entire cast is.

 

I have never been able to enjoy a Sharon Tate movie.

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This movie was a bit bizarre for me to watch because of Betty Grable.  She did not feel comfortable in this kind of movie and this was the only time she was in a serious film.

 

RE: Landis's tragic life:

I was born in the 1970s, so by the time I knew who a lot of artists were, thy were either dead or old.  As such, I cannot help but have in the back of my mind any tragic event when I am watching a serious movie.  Somehow, I am not as bothered by this in comedies.  I have always  had a hard time watching landis movies because of how and why she died.  I have to suspend my thoughts on Rex H. when I see his movies -I quite often base my movie options on who the entire cast is.

 

I have never been able to enjoy a Sharon Tate movie.

 

Interesting;  I really like Grable performance in this early noir.      Her character wasn't comfortable in the setting of the film because she was a fish out of water when it came to dealing with police and crime just like she was with dealing with celebrities, showbiz and her sisters' quick rise to fame.   

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Delusion (1991) Christmas In The Desert Neo Noir

 

A low budget spaghetti western-ish Death Valley Neo "B" Noir with lots of twists. A Cineville production, directed by Belgium born Carl Colpaert, written by Carl Colpaert and Kurt Voss. Starring Jim Metzler (River's Edge (1986)), Jennifer Rubin, Kyle Secor (Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)), Jerry Orbach (Cop Hater (1958)), Robert Costanzo, and Tracey Walter. With a budget of supposedly $1,000,000 Delusion is a bare bones Film Soleil Noir.

 

George O'Brien (Metzler) is a yuppie executive of some type of LA based computer software company that's been bought out by buy a bigger fish. George is not taking the ensuing events well, and in classic noir fashion, he decides to take a walk on the wild side.  O'Brien is a cultured metrosexual, one scene has him and a cohort sitting in a spa/hot tub with mud facials, they calmly discuss embezzling a large sum of cash by faking expenses in the takeover confusion, then crossing the Nevada state line and setting up shop with a new company in Reno.

 

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Yuppies George O'Brien (Metzler) rt.

 

It's Christmas time, and O'Brien is soon on his way from smog shrouded LA to Reno with a gift to himself of a half million in the spare tire well of his tres hip silver 1990 Volvo 760. He is cruising across a barren desert on a two lane highway. With all the moola he's carrying in the trunk George is a bit apprehensive, a bit on edge. In his rear view he scopes a red '71 Olds Cutlass weaving erratically across the centerline through the heat waves behind him. It's coming up fast like an interceptor. He breathes a sigh of relief when the Olds barrels on past. A mile or two further on he sees the Olds crest a rise and disappear, but a cloud of yellow dust suddenly boils up against the desert sky.

 

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The Desert

 

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Chevy and Patti and wrecked Olds Cutlass

 

When George tops the hill he sees the Olds **** up, wheels spinning, and a man and a woman scrambling out of it. Good Samaritan George pulls off the road to offer them help. The woman is all legs, showgirl/escort/femme fatale Patti (Jennifer Rubin) traveling with her pet lizard (which she keeps in a glass jar), and a ****, cornball, Vegas hit man Chevy (Kyle Secor). He's on his way to deliver a holiday whack to his old mentor Larry (Jerry Orbach) at his mob provided silver Airstream desert pothole "safe house" hideaway.

 

It's hinted at that Patti was administering some "road head" to Chevy and that caused the wildly careening Cutlass to veer off the loose gravel shoulder and roll.  George offers Patti and Chevy his car phone and a ride into the Noirsville Twilight Zone.

 

George drives Patti and Chevy to a state line truck stop. He figures his good deed is done, he figures wrong, Chevy pulls out an automatic and instructs George to head South, the pavement ends and they lay down a dust contrail across the desert.

 

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Hijacked

 

When they blow into Larry's, Chevy tells him that he's got a contract to take out George. George naturally thinks it's because of hot loot in the trunk. Larry happy to see company offers to barbecue some steaks for George's last meal. But it's all BS, the contract was really on Larry and Chevy used George as cover to get his guard down. George is soon digging two graves way out in the desert, he's toast, right? No, Chevy pulls the trigger on George and gets just an audible click. He is out of bullets.

 

A quick thinking Patti, (who has been visibly warming up to George) quickly tosses what's left of Chevy's bullets in the cartridge box out into the sand.  Chevy has no choice but to push George off a nearby bluff and leave him to the buzzards. He and Patti head to the Death Valley Junction Motel in the Volvo. Chevy leaves Patti at the room and heads to Vegas to pick up his hit loot from his mob boss.

 

Larry%2B%2526%2BChevy.jpg

Larry (Jerry Orbach) greets his mob protégé Chevy (Kyle Secor) rt.

 

George is rescued from the dead by a motorcycle mamma scavenger who spots him sticking out like a sore thumb against the drab landscape. She brings him back to Larry's Airstream where he cleans up, grabs Larry's clothes, revolver, and pickup truck and by hitting redial on the phone tracks Chevy and Patti to the motel. George is now in full Noir payback mode.

 

airstream.jpg

George (in full noir mode) in Larry's Airstream drinking straight from the bottle, 

a pathetic Christmas tree in the b.g.

 

The entire film is dominated by the burnt umber, yellow ochers, and the bleached whites of an immense desert laughingly juxtaposed, whenever we see the barest traces of habitation, with the most minisculely pathetic looking Christmas decorations imaginable. Character actor Tracey Walter is in a nice cameo as the desert rat owner of a Death Valley Junction fly speck-dump. The film has an interesting soundtrack, by Barry Adamson, though in retrospect a soundtrack of Diegetic sounds of say Country-Western Christmas tunes blaring from radio stations would have probably been eerie-er.  For an extremely low budget "B" a 10/10 for effort, it may be a future Neo Noir Detour, needs a widescreen DVD restoration/release. The crappy screencaps are from a Sony Pictures Home VHS tape.

 

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Spaghetti Western-ish Showdown

 

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The 7th Commandment (1961) Bizarre Evangelical Noir

 

A great little "C" Noir Directed by Irvin Berwick, screenplay written by Irvin Berwick and Jack Kevan. What makes The 7th Commandment even more relevant is this year's (2016) Republican presidential race and the competition for the evangelical vote with the candidates vying for the "holier than thou" crown with pious one up-manship. It's definitely a "Weird Noir".

 
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Poster & Film Title (two different spellings)
 
The film stars Broadway veteran character actor Kurt Richards billed as Jonathan Kidd, Lyn Statten a New York City actress, Film Noir bit part actor John Harmon (They Made Me a Killer (1946), Fall Guy (1947), Moonrise (1948), Flaxy Martin (1949), The Crooked Way (1949), Southside 1-1000 (1950),  along with lots of Crime TV in the '50S ), and Frank Arvidson. Cinematography is by Robert C. Jessup.
 
A 40-ish square john, Ted Mathews (Jonathan Kidd), is rolling the dice on a second shot at life, he has just graduated from night school, The Radburn Extension College of San Francisco. He's giving the valedictorian to his class, he seems to be riding high on entrance ramp to Easy Street. Outside a 53 Chevy convertible drives up out of the dark to the entrance with Terry James (Lyn Statten) a blond bombshell behind the wheel. Man looks like this guys has it all right? Wrong. As one noir pundit put it "the blonder they are on the outside the badder they are on the inside". After primping, re-lipsticking, and checking herself out in the mirror, this hot tomato Terry slides over the bench seat towards the passenger side and assumes a recline pose that displays her obvious charms.
 
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Ted Mathews (Jonathan Kidd)
 
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Terry (Lyn Statten) displaying her obvious charms
 
With one wink from Terry the former confident Ted looks like a deer in the headlights. He is out classed, and obviously in over his head in lust with Terry, **** stupid, whipped, so to speak. He bops around to the driver's seat and heads to their "special place" at a good clip. During a torrid tonsil hockey session speeding down a two lane with his eyes off the road, Ted and Terry almost have a head on. Both cars swerve off the road and into the tulies. Ted wakes up slumped over the wheel checks on a moaning Terry and then goes off to scope out the other car.
 
Dead%2BMan.jpg
He's killed a man
 
The other vehicle has slammed into a tree, it's drivers side door is open, a man is hanging half out with what looks like his head through the windshield and blood running down his arm, he looks permanently chilled. Ted thinks he's killed the man. Ted is first horrified then shell shocked. His screen image wavers stylistically indicating a transformation. Ted goes back to Terry's car and shakes her, she is unresponsive. Ted trance like just walks off into the dark leaving the scene of the accident.
 
Ted wakes up in an idyllic setting, laying back against a moss covered tree with the sun shining and the birds chirping. He stumbles to his feet and climbs up to an itinerant preachers truck. A crude hand painted plywood sideboard proclaims "Noah's Ark".  Noah Turnbull, (Frank Arvidson) is a simple evangelist tent preacher who is sitting on a canvas seat by a campfire having a cup of joe. Ted approaches Noah and is welcomed to join him. When Noah asks Ted's name, Ted hesitates, he doesn't remember, when he asks where he's from he doesn't remember, the accident has given him amnesia. Noah notices that Ted's ring has the initials "TM" so he starts to rattle off names that begin with "T". When Noah says Tad, Ted nods like a bobble head doll. Noah then goes through surnames again getting a reaction when he gets to Morgan, so Ted Matthews becomes Tad Morgan.
 
After Tad threatens to bean Noah's unpaid tent raising helper, with a tree branch. The man had the audacity of asking to be paid, Noah advises Tad to repent his violent reaction, making him recite the Lord's Prayer with him, during the course of which in another stylistic foreshadowing, the teacher Noah is surpassed by his pupil Tad.
 
Apparently getting your bell rung not only gives you amnesia but also turns you, seven years later, into an evangelical faith healer raking in the big bucks. To paraphrase an old Cheech and Chong line Ted used to be **** up on women, now as Tad, he is **** up on the Lord. Noah has now become a sort of business manager/advisor and Tad is the star attraction billed as "The Orpheus Of The Pulpit". We see Tad, after a typical faith healing session, admonishing to his flock that he doesn't want to hear the clinking of coins in the offering baskets he wants to hear the rustle of green leaves, i.e. folding money.
 
We switch channels, so to speak, and seven years later also finds big changes with Ted's ol' gal pal Terry. She is now a sloven floozy shaking up with fellow booze hound Pete (John Harmon) in a fleabag "residence" hotel that looks right out of the Honeymooners. We see her in a bathrobe and nightgown sitting on a couch with her feet up on the kitchen table, staring at the door, she impatiently stabs out her butt in a cup of coffee and exclaims "where is that bum?"
 
After%2Bthe%2Bbender.jpgTerry the floozy 
 
When Pete comes in the door with a bottle of booze wrapped in a newspaper, she asks "what took you so long I've been sitting here for over an hour drinking this cruddy coffee." Pete replies "I got back as soon as I could" Terry: "yea I bet you ran all the way", Pete: "would you knock it off, you said you wanted a bottle, I had to roll a drunk to get enough dough." Terry: "my hero."
 
Terry unwraps the bottle and is about to pour herself a shot she spots Ted's familiar face in an ink ad. She tells Pete that she knows this guy, his name is not Tad Morgan, it's Ted Maxwell. Terry tells Pete that Ted is the bum that ditched her and let her take the 6 month rap for drunk driving. She snags some change from Pete and makes a call to "Tad". Tad says he doesn't know who she is, so Terry decides to head to San Francisco and see for herself.
 
We cut to another of Tad's revivalist-faith healing sessions. As soon as Tad spots Terry in among his congregation he looks as if he's seen a ghost, his memory comes flooding back and he remembers that he killed a man. He just walks off the stage. Tad tells Noah that he knows that he's Ted Maxwell and that he's a sinner, but Noah replies in weird evangelical logic that it must have been God's will, and that he should not give himself up to any authority, i.e. the police.
 
Back in his office Terry tells Ted that he's got a nice racket going. She especially likes the "green leaves" part of his sermon. Ted replies that I suppose you'll tell the police that I killed a man, which surprises Terry because in reality the other driver lived.  Terry not missing a beat, tells Ted that she can be saved real nice for a grand, telling him she'll be happy with that. Tad/Ted pays her off glad to get rid of her.
 
I%2Bcan%2Bbe%2Bsaved%2Breal%2Bnice%2Bfor
I can be saved real nice for a thousand bucks
 
Terry heads home with a new wardrobe and a case of booze for Pete.  Terry tells Pete that Ted thinks he killed the other driver and that Ted's gonna be our Santa Claus. They celebrate opening up the case and drinking out of "His" & "Her" bottles. They go on a bender. When they finally sober up and find out that they are out of booze, Pete tells Terry that "you might have to make another trip to the North Pole.... and maybe next time Santa Claus will come across with a couple of grand" Terry laughs and tells him she has a better idea she'll marry him. Pete explodes and smacks her around the kitchen. Terry screams that marriage is like insurance, if Ted finds out that he didn't kill the guy I'll still have my hooks in him, he'll still be our meal ticket.
 
Over%2Bthe%2Btheshold%2Band%2Bto%2Bbed.j
 
Terry drops a dime on Ted to tell him she needs more money. Ted who has been doctor ordered to take a vacation for his heart condition, says he'll be out of town. Terry tells him that that's OK then he can stop by on his way to his destination. When Ted arrives to write her another check, he becomes Terry's virtual prisoner. She rips up the check and tells him he's staying. It's not long before Terry gets the old fires raging again in Ted's loins, but she holds out, not letting him round the bases until he drinks some booze. Drink some booze, get some sex. Using booze and sex she can regulate Ted into a semiconscious stupor. She hires an off the wagon preacher to perform the marriage ceremony.
 
Terry is holding Ted up for the vows and as soon as they are pronounced man and wife, she lets go and Ted drops to the floor. When the preacher leaves, she drags Ted to the sofa. Pete arrives soon after and he carries Terry over the threshold to the wedding bed while Ted is passed out. The 7th Commandment is broken.
 
The early next morning Terry wakes Ted and tells him she's ready to meet his flock as his new wife the Mrs Reverend Tad Morgan. Ted is stunned, but soon begins to scheme a way out. He almost strangles her at one point, but decides on another plan. He tells her he wants to walk to the station. While crossing the long bridge across a river, Terry stops to rest her feet. She takes off her pumps and sits up on the railing. Terry asks Ted to massage her feet. He does, and then grabbing her feet tosses her into the drink, disregarding the 6th Commandment. Ted then throws her shoes and her tar bar in after her. He then heads back to San Francisco.
 
resting.jpg
About to be tossed in the drink
 
Terry actually survives and tries to get revenge. The film has quite a few more entertaining twists and turns as it reaches it's over the top bizarre preachy finale. A nice sound design by S.F. Brownrigg. Available on Something Weirds Six Weird Noirs DVD. 7/10
Edited by TCMModerator1
Edited for language
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