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Impulse (1990)  A Walk on the Wild Side
 
Directed by Sondra Locke is a gritty story of an Los Angeles femme fatale vice cop Lottie Mason (Theresa Russell) and her "Walk On The Wild Side" of cusp of Noir. It is a dance with with death, love, power and temptation. It's probably one of the Last of the Warner Brothers Noirs.
 
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A piano riff dissolves the blackness into an elevated view of a sleazy Hollywood, hot sheet motel block, at the corner of Las Palmas and Sunset Blvd., one of those all look alike City of Angels low profile strips. Time the late '80s, Madonna is in vogue. The scene is accented by wet pavement reflecting neon. A long ringletted blonde "angel" is strutting her stuff in tight gold Lamé snakeskins, but this celestial Femme Fatale has clipped wings. She's trolling the midnight drift, a lure with hooks. Lonely sad losers cruise the mainstem scoping the fast skirts that will get them a shot at 20 minutes of ecstasy. The opening title sequence displays the workings of the vice stakeout with the excellent noir-ish stylistic cinematography of Dean Semler. The piano riff repeats and become a leitmotif for Lottie's darkside.
 
Back%2Bfor%2Banother%2Bcast%2Bon%2Bthe%2a moving violation in gold Lamé 
 
Impulse is set strictly in Squaresville, it's a story of the world of hard working cops doing their everyday busts. Lottie's night in and night out tolling the low company is affecting her personal life. Her various Vice assignments, i.e., impersonating a streetwalker, a junkie, a B-girl hooker, a drug dealer has her visiting the division PR office and the psychiatrist/counselor on a regular basis for an hour session mandated by Internal Affairs. They want to know if having to lie and deceive on a regular basis is affecting her job. Her Doctor, Dr. Gardner seems more interested in her personal life her debts and her love life. Lottie when questioned about her torpedoed relationships states that she's only been with cops and she rattles off squads, Vice, Homicide, and Bunco rather than names.  Gardener asks about Lottie's quasi-stalker encounter with Lt. Joe Morgan (George Dzundza) an ex boyfriend that she didn't report. Lottie says it's because he'd say she encouraged it. But Lottie makes a confession that she is mainlining on the power of her femininity while staring at her reflection in the window in a great sequence:
 
Lottie: Lately... sometimes... working Vice... strangers.... the way they look at you, you feel that power over them... make them pay... it's frightening... I just... want them to look at me... to just do it... be a trollop.
 
reflections.jpgreflecting "you feel that power over them... make them pay" 
 
Another assignment has Lottie going undercover as a heroin junkie in a shooting gallery, this combined with a second storyline concerning a 2 year old case, a witness protection program witness and a double cross drug deal in NYC brings a District Attorney named Stan (Jeff Fahey) into Lottie's world. Stan is attracted to her and they have an affair though Lottie is still a bit standoffish a bit gunshy.
 
Lottie%2Bthe%2BB%2Bgirl.jpgLottie as B girl
 
After an adrenaline rush chase down a highrise and shootout with two drug trafficking perps in a grocery, Lottie is on stressed and on edge, Stan tries to comfort her but she wants him to back off and give her space. She takes off in her Camaro to unwind. She gets a flat tire drives into a service station and while the tire is changed drops into the bar across the street and into Noirsville.
 
At the bar she's picked up by Tony Peron (Shawn Elliott) who is coincidentally and unbeknownst to Lottie, the drug dealer partner of the man Stan has in witness protection. He asks her if there was anything in the world she could do what would it be. Lottie tells him "I'd get on a plane and go somewhere I'd never been". Tony pulls out a deck of hundred dollar bills and counts off ten, Lottie tells him she wants to go "first class". Tony adds another five, but tells her that first she'll have to go to his house. On impulse Lottie picks up the dough and follows him out to his Beverly Estates house.
 
When Tony gets her to his place he begins to get busy with it. Lottie holds him off telling him she wants to freshen up. Tony tells her to use the upstairs bedroom bath. Lottie has second thoughts as she stands by vertical blinds in a nice sequence. Afterwards while washing her face she hears two gunshots, and peering down the stairway spots Tony dead on the tile floor. The shooter is actively searching the house. Since her gun was confiscated after the recent shooting Lottie scrambles to hide from the killer. 
 
vertical%2Bblinds.jpgHaving second thoughts
 
The shooter leaves the house and Lottie checks out Tony popped twice in the head. She goes through his clothes finding a locker key in his jacket. She wipes down all the surfaces she touched calls the cops disguising her voice and splits. At the airport the next day she opens the locker and finds a suitcase with close to a million dollars.
 
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Sondra Locke did a wonderful job at directing this little Neo Noir gem. The writing by John DeMarco and Leigh Chapman, is competent and consequently the  characters are very well developed. This is Theresa Russell's best performance. The rest of the cast are Jeff Fahey as Stan, George Dzundza as Lt. Joe Morgan, Lynne Thigpen as Dr. Gardner, and Shawn Elliott as Tony Peron. The music by Michel Colombier is great along with the various pieces that comprise the soundtrack. Again I can't say enough about the Noir stylistic cinematography which is excellent.
 
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Is Stan going to resolve his case and find the killer? Are Stan and Lottie going to continue to be an item? Is Lottie going to keep the money? The DVD is from the Warner Archives. 9/10
 
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Full review with lots of screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/02/impulse-1990-walk-on-wild-side.html

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I've not seen this Walk on the Wild Side, Cigarjoe, but the title reminds me of a wonderfully dark movie of the same name.

 

Walk on the Wild Side starring Barbara Stanwyck and a young Jane Fonda.  It's the source of the song "Walk on the Wild Side."

 

I'd love to see it again.

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I've not seen this Walk on the Wild Side, Cigarjoe, but the title reminds me of a wonderfully dark movie of the same name.

 

Walk on the Wild Side starring Barbara Stanwyck and a young Jane Fonda.  It's the source of the song "Walk on the Wild Side."

 

I'd love to see it again.

TCM has played Walk On The Wild Side it also stars Laurence Harvey and Capucine.

 

1990 film is Just called Impulse the Walk On The Wild Side part of the title is like a summary.

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The Spider (1945)

 

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Was able to watch a poor quality copy of this yesterday, it's nothing special but it's rare. Directed by Robert D. Webb Starring Richard Conte, Faye Marlowe, Kurt Kreuger (The Dark Corner 1946), Ann Savage (Detour 1945), Mantan Moreland, John Harvey, Martin Kosleck and Walter Sande. Interesting low budget film that was Richard Conte's first Noir, set in New Orleans. He plays a private detective who is hired to retrieve a letter for a client. The letter is held by his sometime partner Ann Savage who unfortunately is soon murdered. Mantan Moreland provides some eye popping stereotypical shtick as Conte's associate. It does have some nice noirish cinematography but it really isn't anything to actively seek out, it's more for noir aficionados. 5/10

 

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Noirish Creole Bar

 

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Ann Savage and Richard Conte

 

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Kurt Kreuger

 

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Mantan Moreland and Richard Conte

 

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Noirish

 


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The Beat Generation (1959) You Rang?

 

 

Another Tail Fin Noir (barely), a curiosity on the cusp of Classic Noir/Neo Noir, Directed by Charles F. Haas, and stars, Steve Cochran, Mamie Van Doren, Ray Danton, Jackie Coogan,  Fay Spain, Louis Armstrong, James Mitchum, Cathy Crosby, Ray Anthony, Dick Contino, Maila Nurmi (Vampira) "Slapsie" Maxie Rosenbloom and Sid Melton. 

 

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The Beat Generation is somewhat in the vein of Detective Story (1951) the ensemble film that takes place in a New York City Police Precinct Detective squad. In Detective Story, Kirk Douglas plays an embittered morally superior cop McLeod who crusades against NYC's lowlifes. In the course of his pursuit of a Doctor Schneider who is an abortionist he discovers that his wife Mary, whom he had assumed was virginal and pure on the day of his marriage has had an abortion after she had a liaison with a racketeer named Giacoppetti.  Mary confesses this her husband, and asks his forgiveness. McLeod tells her in a misogynist rage that "he'd rather die than find out his wife is a tramp." He then asks if her infertility was caused by Schneider's abortion.

 

 

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Part of the title sequence with Louis Armstrong with title bongo with beat stereotype artwork 

 

 

In The Beat Generation Steve Cochran plays a Sergeant of Detectives Culloran, who is after a serial rapist dubbed "The Aspirin Kid" Stan Hess, (Ray Danton) a quasi "Beat" coffee house guru, who charismatically attracts women but is in reality a misogynist.  The Kid's M.O. is to impersonate the friend of his victim's husband, boyfriend, etc., etc., by saying that he's there to pay back some money that he borrowed. He then gains entrance to their house by saying he needs a pen to write his check. Once inside he fakes a headache, and asks the victim for a glass of water so that he can take a aspirin. While the victim is out of the room he puts on leather gloves and lies in wait, attacking them from behind and **** them upon their return.

 

Leaving his latest victim The Kid is lightly hit by a car driven by Culloran, when he jaywalks out in the road, he's picked up and innocently given a ride to an emergency room. While making small talk Culloran reveals that he's married but is working late nights on the Aspirin Kid Case. The Kid spots a letter addressed to Culloran and memorises his address, writing it down. The Kids next victim is Culloran's wife. She subsequently gets a "bun in the oven", and Culloran begins to show his own misogynist streak, blaming the women victims for getting raped. His wife wants to get an abortion, which puts Culloran  into destructive obsessed overdrive trying to solve the case so that he can find out The Aspirin Kid's blood type. This all alienates him from his wife and friends.

 

Both Detective Story and The Beat Generation are examples of films with slim to none Noir visual stylistics, they are NIPOs, Noir In Plot Only type films that get listed in the Noir Canon more for the dark subject matter (at that time period) of their plots than for the cinematography.

 

The film opens in a Daliesque festooned coffee house The Golden Seallion, Louis Armstrong and his Allstars playing to a Beat crowd.

 

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Golden Seallion

 

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Beat Crowd with Louis Armstrong and his All Stars

 

Detective Jake Baron: It's summer alright that's when these cages get heavy...  the trees are green the birds are on the wing and all the nuts are coming out of the woodwork.

 

The Beats are your stereotypical Maynard G. Krebs beatnik's dressed in torn sweatshirts, goatees, black sweaters, berets, sunglasses, horizontal striped shirts, ponytails and leotards, Some are grooving to the jazz some are stone still. Other's walk around dazed carrying abstract sculpture. Stan Hess dressed in black is sitting at a table reading Schopenhauer. Meg a blonde in spaghetti straps is beside him. We get full frontal beatnik jive dialogue heavily seasoned with the culture's Zeitgeist of impending nuclear destruction.

 

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Meg And Stan Hess

 

Meg: I wish I didn't have to make the scene with that plane tonight. I wish I never had to go back East. I wish I wish....

Hess: Hey hey play it cool chick, like play it like cool. You got to go, everybody's got to move. I mean we can't stand still and wait for the next mushroom cloud now you dig.

Meg: Crazy, but as soon as I cut out you'll forget me.

Hess: Oh Meg you're the most, but there's no tomorrow not while the sky grooves radiation gumdrops, man you got to live for kicks, right here and know that's all there is.

Meg: You know in all the months I've know you you never even held my hand.

Hess: The love and marriage bit I put that down. That's for the Rat Race and the squares, Schopenhauer says and I agree with him, lovers are traitors who seek to perpetuate the whole want and druggery of life..... That cat Schopenhauer also says that this world which is so real with all it's sunsets and milky ways is nothing.

Meg: It's the only world we got.

Hess: Crazy.

 

fay%2Bspain%2Band%2Bsteve%2Bcochran.jpgFay Spain and Steve Cochran

 

The huge ensemble cast has some standouts, watch for Jackie Coogan (pre Uncle Fester from The Addams Family) in a serious turn as Culloran's best friend and fellow detective Jake Baron. James Mitchum, doing his daddio's eyelids at half mast schtick. Sexpot Mamie Van Doren as a divorced women on the make who turns the tables on Mitchum, Maila Nurmi (Vampira, pre Ed Wood's  Plan 9 From Outer Space) reciting poetry with a pet rat on her shoulder, Slapsie Maxie Rosenbloom the wrestling beatnik, and a guy billed as just Grabowski.

 

Mamie%2Bexits%2Bsea%2Blion.jpgMamie Van Doren

 

The film has a bit of crossdressing humor as the Coogan and Sid Melton in drag try to bait a lovers lane bandit . It also seems to cram in some of society's in things of 1959, hula hoops, California mussel beach blanket culture, even references to TV's Sea Hunt with a scuba sequence, I'm surprised it didn't have some surfing too. Like a lot of Hollywood films that attempted to replicate the 60's you get the impression that the Beat Generation wasn't just a man with a goatee and beret reciting nonsensical poetry and playing bongo drums or a base without strings, while ponytailed babes wearing black leotards dance in abandonment. lol. Soundtrack is Jazz, torch songs, bongo music. As a visual Noir it's a 5/10 it's pretty hard to get that claustrophobic atmosphere in a film shot in 2.35:1 CinemaScope, as an entertaining window onto a frozen moment of a quickly changing culture filtered through a Hollywood reflection  7/10. Crazy Man, Dig?

 


 

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The Honeymoon Killers (1969) Lonely Heart Noir

 

Directors: Leonard Kastle, Donald Volkman (uncredited) written by Leonard Kastle. Stars Shirley Stoler (Seven Beauties (1975) Miami Blues (1990)), Tony Lo Bianco (The Seven Ups (1973) The French Connection (1971)), Mary Jane Higby, Marilyn Chris, Mary Breen, and Doris Roberts.

 

A couple of truly revolting, sleazeball, human scum prey relentlessly and mercilessly upon the most desperate, pathetic, and lonely women who are looking for love and companionship.

 

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The film is based on a true story of Raymond Martinez Fernandez and Martha Jule Beck an American serial killer couple who are believed to have killed as many as 20 women during their murderous spree between 1947 and 1949. They became known as "The Lonely Hearts Killers" for meeting their victims through lonely hearts ads in Romance magazines. Hawaiian born Fernandez served a stint in Spain's Merchant Marine and then British Intelligence during World War II during which a steel hatch fell on top of him, fracturing his skull and injuring his frontal lobe. This injury may well have affected both his judgement and his social and sexual behavior. He eventually moved to New York City and began a lucrative con business answering personal ads posted by lonely women. He would wine and dine them, then steal their money and possessions. Most were too embarrassed to report the crimes. In 1947, he answered a personal ad placed by Martha Beck.

 

Martha Seabrook due to a glandular problem as a child was overweight and underwent puberty prematurely. Martha studied nursing but had trouble finding a job due to her weight. She was  undertaker's assistant and prepared female bodies for burial. She moved  to California, where she worked in an Army hospital as a nurse, there she became pregnant. The father refused to marry her, and she returned to Florida and had a child. She became pregnant again and married a Pensacola bus driver named Alfred Beck but divorced six months later. She found employment at the Pensacola Hospital for Children and found escape in the fantasy world of Romcoms, Romance mags, and novels. She placed a Lonely Hearts ad in 1947 that was answered by Raymond Fernandez.

 

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Ray Fernandez (Tony Lo Bianco)composing his letter 

 

In The Honeymoon Killers the story is updated to the 1960s and the film begins with an overweight, chocolate gobbling, Martha Beck (Shirley Stoler) sloging away working as a head nurse in Mobile, Alabama rather than Pensacola.  She lives alone with her mother (she has no kids in the film version). A friend, Bunny (played by Doris Roberts) writes in Martha's name to a "lonely hearts" club ad. Ray Fernandez (Tony Lo Bianco) a professional con artist lothario who has been preying on lonely women for quite some time has his scam down to a science. He filters out the most susceptible women. He answers Martha's letter, writing that this is his "first" foray into the Lonely Hearts Club world, and that he has never ever done this before. This is his standard M.O., he writes the same letter to all his marks, it;s his hook.

 

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Martha Beck (Shirley Stoler) reading Ray's letter

 

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Tony skedaddles back to New York 

 

Ray visits Martha and seduces her. Ray doing his usual shtick gets some loot from Martha and skedaddles.  Martha distraught and desperate calls Ray at the of Bunny and tells him she tried to commit suicide when he left. Ray touched by such devotion tells Martha that she'll have to get rid of her mother and come to New York if she wants to be with him. Martha dumps her mother in a nursing home follows Ray to New York. Tony reveals to Martha his true profession and she begins to assist him in selecting his victims, writing his letters, and accompany him on his jobs. He passes her off as his sister. Martha smoothly slides into the grift.

 

Lonely lady after lonely lady are seduced by the slick and suave attentions of Ray who promises Martha he will never sleep with any of the other women. Things get complicated when he marries a pregnant woman Myrtle Young (Marilyn Chris). Myrtle and Martha sleep in one room while Tony sleeps next door. Myrtle is a pretty **** bride and she sneaks off to the other room where Ray is sleeping to jump his bones, all the while Martha is pretending to sleep.

 

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Martha spies on them spies on Myrtle and Ray

 

Martha becomes enraged and gives Tony a dose of pills to pass on to Myrtle who had earlier in the evening asked Martha if she had some "happy" pills to celebrate her wedding. The next day Tony puts a very sick and disoriented Myrtle on a bus telling her that he will drive her car and belongings to their new home. Myrtle doesn't make it, she's D.O.A.

 

Their next victim is the elderly Janet Fay of Albany, New York, (Mary Jane Higby). They go up to Albany and check into a hotel. They go and meet Janet and after getting acquainted for a few days they drive her to the house he shares with Martha in Valley Springs, Long Island. There Martha and Ray put their plan into action.

 

Ray on blank sheets of paper has Janet write "SURPRISE" and then sign her name at the bottom of the sheets. He tells her that he will mail the letters to all her friends and that when they get the letters they will all call each other to ask about what the surprise is. Later after they are married, he and Janet will call her friends and tell them that they are married and that that was the surprise. In reality they white out the Surprise and will use the signed sheets to conduct whatever business they need to.

 

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It's OK Janet the door is stuck I'll go around to the outside basement door"

 

Janet also signs three checks totaling $10,000, but then becomes suspicious of the two when after Janet asks him to hide the check and he and Martha take them down to the basement to a "hiding place". When Janet has second thoughts and tries to call her friends and family, Ray and Martha become violent and  Martha hits her in the head repeatedly with a hammer while Ray strangles her to death.

 

Ray and Martha plant Janet down in the basement tossing into the hole on top of her body the two pictures of Jesus that Janet as Martha declares sarcastically "always took with her." The two dirtbags then hop in their sled and head off to Michigan and their next victim. They spend a few months living with Rainelle Downing (Mary Breen) and her young daughter.

 

When Ray takes the daughter to pick up a puppy Rainelle tells Martha that she wants her to help her convince Ray to marry her as quick as possible because she has missed her period. Martha gets out her pills and tells Rainelle to take them and that it will solve her problem. Rainelle takes a few but gets sick, she runs to the bathroom and comes out telling Martha that it all was a false alarm, apparently she had her period. Martha, now openly in a jealous rage, tries to force the rest of the pills down her throat. At this moment Ray and the daughter return, the daughter sees Martha struggling with Rainelle and screams. Martha grabs the girl and takes her out of the room while Ray gets Rainelle's revolver and blows her brains out.

 

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Let's go see mommy and the puppy down in the cellar

 

Later down in the cellar, when Ray wants to drop the daughter off at the Salvation Army, Martha nixes the idea saying that she'll blab, and that they have to get rid of her. Martha looks over at the slop sink and turns on the faucet.

 

Fernandez and Beck were convicted of Janet Fay's murder—the only one for which they were tried—and sentenced to death. On March 8, 1951, both were executed by electric chair in Sing Sing.

 

DVD is available from the Criterion Collection, 8/10.

 

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The story was reworked again as Lonely Hearts (2006) telling the story from the police investigation angle, and placing the story back in the correct time frame, however the svelte Salma Hayek cast as Martha Beck was quite ridiculous.
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To Live And Die In L.A. (1985) Smog Noir in the City Of Angels

 

 

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Directed by William Friedkin (The French Connection (1971)), written by former U.S. Secret Service agent Gerald Petievich (novel), screenplay by William Friedkin and Gerald Petievich. Outstanding cinematography by Robby Müller (Paris, Texas (1984), Barfly (1987)) the film stars quite the cast, William Petersen (Thief (1981), Manhunter (1986)) , Willem Dafoe (Wild at Heart (1990)), John Pankow, Michael Greene, John Turturro (Miller's Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), The Big Lebowski (1998)), Darlanne Fluegel (Once Upon a Time in America (1984)), Dean Stockwell (The Arnelo Affair (1947), (Compulsion (1959), (Paris, Texas (1984), (Blue Velvet (1986)), Robert Downey Sr., and Jack Hoar.

 

Beautifully bleak and highly stylistic. This film actually makes a lethally smoggy industrial West Coast/LA sunrise jaw droppingly gorgeous, perverting the normal aesthetic. Palm trees compete with power poles and high tension lines that diffuse into a yellowish soup. Rail yards and wrecking yards are bathed in golden light. All this segues into a montage of a series of varied illegal counterfeit $20 bill transactions.

 

(On a personal sidebar, in the late 60's early 70's, I lived in New York City and used to commute back and forth into Manhattan from Queens by elevated subway. I can vividly remember standing on the Queensboro Plaza station and watching the unearthly crazy colored polluted sunsets I saw over the Manhattan skyline violet, sea greens, fuschia, and pink.)

 

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The tale is about three US Secret Service Agents who are headquartered in L.A. When not providing security for a visiting POTUS (President of the United States) they do field investigation work for the US Treasury, targeting counterfeiters.

 

Richard Chance (Petersen) and Jim Hart (Greene) are top notch agents. Chance the **** of the walk, is a bit reckless, a bit overconfident, a bit of a jock, a bit shady, he even shacks up in a "safe house" with a stripper Ruth Lanier (Darlanne Fluegel) that he uses as a "stoolie with benefits". He holds her probation and the ability to see her daughter as leverage.

 

Ruth Lanier: What would happen if I stopped giving you information on Masters?

Richard Chance: Why?

Ruth Lanier: I'm just curious.

[pause]

Richard Chance: I'd have your parole revoked.

 

Agent Hart is the veteran, steadfast, partner who is almost a father figure to Chance.

 

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Chance and Hart have just busted up an assassination attempt on President Reagan. The stress of the details are getting too much for Hart who is soon going to retire and go fishing. Chance unwinds by bungee jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge over L.A. Harbor (though in the film he calls it B.A.S.E. jumping). A day after Hart's retirement party at the Dog Run Bar, and with only a few days left on the clock, Hart heads off on one last surveillance assignment. He drives out into the desert to check on a warehouse suspected of housing counterfeiting equipment. With binoculars he checks out the site belonging to counterfeiter Rick Masters (Dafoe).

 

Hart, thinking the site is deserted approaches and jumps the fence. He starts to poke around and finds a trash bag full of cropped currancy paper in a dumpster. Masters and Jack, his bodyguard, surprize and kill Hart. Leading a team of agents to Masters desert warehouse Chance discovers a pool of blood soaking into the dirt from Hart's body lying in the dumpster.

 

Chance gets assigned a stuffy new partner John Vukovich (Pankow), a no nonsense by the book professional. Chance tells John that he is making taking down Masters a personal vendetta.

 

The two new partners begin putting the screws to Masters. They start by setting up a tag team surveillance post in a church across from attorney Max Waxman a well known shady shyster associate of Masters. During Vukovich's turn on watch he falls asleep, Masters shows up and whacks Waxman.

 

Arriving at the unsecured crime scene Chance takes a notebook belonging to Waxman, which is apparently a payoff record. Vukovich tell's Chance that he's tampering with evidence but later back at headquarters the two come to an uneasy truce. Vukovich says he won't rat him out, but the agents now work two different angles. Chance uses the coded payoff book and his relationship with Ruth to get the inside skinny on underworld transactions. Vulkovich on the other hand arranges a meeting with Masters private attorney Bob Grimes (Dean Stockwell) in a downtown L.A. bar.

 

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Vukovich and Grimes (Dean Stockwell)

 

Bob Grimes: I don't have a lot of time. I'm in the middle of a trial.

John Vukovich: What kind of trial?

Bob Grimes: It's a dope case. Client got busted smuggling fifty pounds of cocaine. I should be able to get him off, though. Seach warrant's weak.

John Vukovich: Weak?

Bob Grimes: Color of the house is listed as brown in the warrant, when in fact it's beige and yellow.

John Vukovich: You should be ashamed of yourself.

Bob Grimes: I don't make any apologies for being an attorney. If I didn't accept the case, somebody else would, without a doubt. Without a doubt.

 

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homage to the Charles McGraw film Roadblock (1951) the L.A. River

 

Grimes, agrees to set up a meeting between Masters and the two agents. The agents will pose as bankers from Palm Springs interested in Masters' counterfeiting services. Masters is reluctant to work with them, but ultimately agrees to print them a million worth of fake bills for $50,000. The problem is that the Treasury Department only allows payouts of $30,000. From Ruth, Chance gets the skinny that a money deal is going down and that a bag-man is coming by Amtrak from San Francisco. He tells Vukovich that they are going to steal it.

 

John Vukovich: So now you want to commit a robbery?

Richard Chance: I wouldn't call it that.

John Vukovich: What would you call it?

Richard Chance: Taking down a **** bag who's trying to break the law.

 

Unfortunately, the info is wrong the bag-man Thomas Ling is in reality an undercover FBI agent on a sting operation, after Chance and Vukovich abduct him they drive him to the rail yards along the Los Angeles River. There they break open the suitcase only to find a phone book. Chance knows hes carrying and finds that he has a money belt, the FBI agents that are shadowing him accidently kill Ling after a freak accident while they are trying to save him.

 

Chance and Vukovich not knowing what's coming down run for their car and they try to evade a swarm of FBI men. What follows is one of the greatest car chases on film easily equal to those in Bullitt (1968), The French Connection (1971), The Seven-Ups (1973), and it's also an homage the car chase after Charles McGraw in the L.A. River in the Classic Film Noir Roadblock (1951). 

 

By luck Chance and Vukovich manage to evade their pursuers. At their daily Treasury Dept. briefing they are read an FBI bulletin that reveals that Ling and FBI agent was kidnapped, robbed, and killed by two unidentified men driving a cream colored car. Vukovich becomes guilt ridden, but Chance is still focused on getting Masters. Vukovich concerned with saving his own skin goes back to sleazeball attorney Bob Grimes, who advises to turn himself in and rat on Chance. Vukovich refuses that advice.

 

Chance and Vukovich meet Masters for the the money exchange. The agents attempt to arrest Masters when they get the evidence but Jack Pulls a shotgun and in an exchange of fire both Chance and Jack are killed. Masters escapes in the mayhem and Vukovich is stunned by his partners death.

 

The film has a 80's techno Wang Chung pounding beat. The cast at that time (save for Dean Stockwell) where pretty much all unknowns. The mayhem ratchets up nicely and unpredictably throughout the film. It's and anti buddy cop film.

 

The Noir ending, has the now jaded Vukovich visiting Ruth as she's packing up to get the hell out of Dodge.  He knows Chance gave her ten G's as her cut. Ruth used it to pay off her debts. She's his b*i*t*c*h now.

 

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Gritty, flamboyant, caustic, beautifully bleak 9/10 Review with more screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/03/to-live-and-die-in-la-1985-smog-noir-in.html
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CORNERED (1945):

 

Film Noir seen for the first time I recorded from TCM starring Dick Powell, Walter Slezak, Jack La Rue (ironically not the bad guy here), and various character actors whose names don't ring a bell but their faces do.

 

The identity of the head of the group who killed  the wife of Canadian retired military man Powell is what's on his mind. He wants to kill him.  He has to go through a lot of travelling and a lot of people to do it.

 

The actor who plays this man is not listed in the opening credits.  He is listed at the end of the film just like in Experiment in Terror.

 

It is amazing how excellent a career Dick Powell had twice. First as a song and dance man and then as a noir tough guy.

 

Similar to other noir films he made, Powell spends a lot of time being woozy and passing out.

 

One thing that ran through my mind as I was watching it:

 

In film noir, despite the fact that everyone is suspicious of everyone else with just cause people continue to accept drinks that are offered and take their eyes off of people.  It is just what people do in the genre.

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I wrote this blurb about Cornered a while ago.

 

On being demobilized at the end of the war, Canadian flyer Laurence Gerard returns to France to track down who ordered the killing of a group of Resistance fighters including his new bride in a convoluted plot that has Buenos Aries as its centerpoint. RKO's back lot is not a very distinctive Buenos Aries, not much atmosphere no diegetic music that would have helped.  Still a 7/10.

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The Hot Spot (1990) "I can find it in the dark"

 

Not for those TCM viewers who are on the more timid, restrained side. This film would have been definitely CONDEMNED back in the day. Stop reading here.  :o

 

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Directed by Dennis Hopper (Colors (1988) as actor, Blue Velvet (1986), River's Edge (1986), Black Widow (1987), Red Rock West (1993), True Romance (1993)), based on a hard boiled 1952 novel "Hell Hath No Fury" by Charles Williams, with a screenplay by Charles Williams and Nona Tyson updated to 1989. Cinematography was by Ueli Steiger. An outstanding bluesy soundtrack by John Lee Hooker, Miles Davis, Taj Mahal and many others.

 

Wind. We see an incandescent sun rising. The gust patterns ripples on naked sand. Broiling heat, a parched desert, enveloping dunes, a topography of the bottom of an ancient evaporated ocean. A silent inferno scored by wind. Our desolate view is pierced by a fleeting raptor. But this raptor is a '50s relic, a sleek, black mechanical sled, chromium trimmed with tail fins. Genus Studebaker, Species Silver Hawk. It cruises. A mirage shimmering down a two lane blacktop. A highway being erased, swallowed by sand and sagebrush. It's driver, a drifter named Harry Madox (Johnson) occasionally stops to take a leak. Dust devils swirl across the landscape. The place Dog Dick, West Texas, the town Landers, the time 1989. So begins The Hot Spot.

 

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Sensuous Dunes

 

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Harry Madox, Don Johnson

 

The film stars Don Johnson as Harry Madox a cool, suave, shady, drifter. He's a silver tongued devil Don Juan, who makes one too many pit stops in the road movie of his life. Madox, with just C-note in his pocket, blows into Landers for gas. In short order he gets a fill up, a cool beer at a strip joint, a full eyeball of Gloria Harper, and slickers his way into a used car salesman job at Harshaw Motors.

 

Jerry Hardin bulls about as George Harshaw a town big shot, a wheeler dealer businessman and used car czar. Charles Martin Smith nails Lon Gulick a nebbish, numbnuts used car salesman, in the kind of part that in Classic Noir would have been reserved for Elisha Cook Jr. or Strother Martin. Jack Nance (Blue Velvet (1986), Barfly (1987), Wild At Heart (1990), Lost Highway (1997)) is Julian Ward a goofy, frail, bank manager by day and a salacious tittie bar lounge lizard by night. Barry Corbin plays the Sheriff.

 

Jennifer%2BConolly.jpgJennifer Connelly as Gloria Harper

 

Jennifer Connelly (Once Upon A Time In America (1984), Mulholland Falls (1996), Dark City (1998) Requiem For A Dream (2000)), plays the sweet nineteen year old Gloria Harper a doe eyed, demure, damsel in distress. She's the townie girl next door with a past. Frank Sutton (William Sadler) is an oily sidewinder who scratches out a living at his backwoods shack doing Landscaping, Oil Field Service, Deer Processing. He's a squirrel eating, desert pack rat, dirtbag.

 

Sutton, an amateur photographer, is also supplementing his income slinking about as a window peeper and voyeur taking nudie pics of the members of Landers Ladies Club making him a squirrel eating, desert pack rat, BLACKMAILING dirtbag.

 

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Dolly Hardshaw (Virginia Madsen) about to pounce on Harry

 

Virginia Madsen torches this hicksville down as Dolly Harshaw the round heels trophy wife of George. She cruises the main drag in a hot pink 59 Caddy convertible passing out **** tickets everywhere she goes. As soon as Dolly sees Harry she's dripping ready to play hide the salami.

 

Dolly Harshaw: There's only two things to do in this town. You got a TV?

Harry Madox: Nope.

Dolly Harshaw: Well then, you're down to one. Lotsa luck!

 

Only Harry, has already been scoping out his drilling prospects with Gloria. Giving Dolly the impression that she's getting the brush for Gloria sets up a classic "hell hath no fury as a woman scorned" plot point. Dolly doubles down on her seduction of Harry who's all to happy to do the deed with her while chipping away at Gloria.

 

Noirish%2B03.jpgDolly and Harry

 

While all this is going on at night, Harry is scheming during the day about robbing the Landers bank. You see back when Harry was a "just got in town Jasper" there was a fire at the local burger joint. The whole town went to watch, and the tellers were all volunteer firemen leaving the bank empty save for Julian Ward (Nance) the manager who was taking a dump. Harry had stepped in to open an account, and talky Julian revealed that they hadn't hooked up the surveillance system yet. From that day on Harry began cooking up a plan to set another fire and clean out the cash.

 

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Harry

 

Harry succeeds at freeing Gloria from Sutton"s clutches but at a terrible price. As in the best Noirs events go spiraling out of control for Harry. Dolly proves to be more than his match, she's better and more ruthless at it, and in the end they both reach their own level. Torrid sex, lustful losers, sleazy insinuations, along the highway of broken dreams. Bravo Dennis 9/10

 

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For the unexpurgated review with lots of screen caps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/03/the-hot-spot-1990-i-can-find-it-in-dark.html

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The Money Trap (1965) The Last Classic Studio Noir?

 
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Directed by Burt Kennedy, written by Walter Bernstein (Kiss the Blood Off My Hands) based on the novel of the same name by Lionel White (The Killing). This film has quite the line-up of Classic Film Noir actors, Glenn Ford and Joseph Cotten ( both with 8 Classic Film Noir each), Rita Hayworth (Gilda (1946), Affair In Trinidad (1952), Lady From Shanghai ( 1948)), Ricardo Montalban (Border Incident (1949), Mystery Street (1950)), Ted de Corsia (7 Film Noir to his record) and Elke Sommer (Daniella by Night (1961)). Cinematography was by Paul Vogel  High Wall (1947),  Dial 1119 (1950), The Tall Target (1951), The Sellout (1952) the bongo/jazz/beatnik score was by Hal Schaefer.
 
Catching%2Bthe%2Bsqueal.jpgCatching the squeal
 
This could be the last Studio "B" Noir. We hear a crazed bongo beat on the soundtrack. The Story: Two LAPD Homicide Detectives Joe Baron (Ford) and his Mexican partner Pete Delanos (Montalban) catch a squeal to investigate the murder of a **** at a downtown cat-house. It's pouring, it's night, it's Noir. Arriving at the address they climb a staircase and pass a landing lined with rubber necking prostitutes. The Mexican victim was secretly moonlighting as a hooker to bring in extra income. She was murdered by her enraged husband who had just found out. He hung her like a piñata from the handiest light fixture, left her swinging, and vamoosed. This is the dark and "sleazo" underworld of our ever on call detectives.   
 
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But Joe Baron , off the job, is living high on the hog. In bright contrast to the night before we see him drive up in a '65 Plymouth Fury to an impressive terraced hillside house, in the driveway is a '61 Jaguar XK-E. In the backyard a pool, in the pool a blonde bombshell trophy wife. Lisa Baron (Sommer) is young, 25-ish, bubbly, socialite, about half the age of hubby Joe who has a weary hangdog look that vanishes simultaneously as he sheds his hard exterior emotional armor and enters his castle. He caresses the Jag in the driveway, then lovingly embraces Lisa poolside, and they settle scandalously together she on top into a lounge chair under the bright sunshine.
 
But their playhouse is about to come tumbling down. Lisa gets a letter from her father's estate lawyer stating that they won't be paying a dividend this year. 
 
Joe asks Lisa to remember where he lived when they first met, and if she'd like living there with him. She replies that something will work out. This is the Money Trap of the title.
 
I%2527ve%2Bgot%2Beverything%2BI%2Bwant.jThe wife I want
 
Back on the case Joe and Pete question the sister-in-law of the dead hooker, she lives in a crowded Bunker Hill flop house apartment. She tells them that the wife only did it for her little girl Amaya after her husband lost his job. Joe and Pete decide to set up a continuous stake out of the house to catch the father if he shows up to see his daughter.
 
Bunker%2BHill%2BStakeout.jpgFlop House (Brousseau Mansion)
 
Meanwhile, crap happens and our two flatfoots catch another squeal at the home of Dr. Horace Van Tilden M.D. (Cotten). It seems the good doctor shot a house burglar in an upstairs bedroom after he broke into a safe. That safe was empty the doctor states, the one he keeps in his office downstairs has the important papers. Joe & Pete smell something rotten, the brass is there to smooth things over, the safe wasn't cracked, the perp was a small time hood. Joe makes him as Phil Kenny, a junkie not a box man, why would he go to a bedroom if he needed a hit. 
 
Joe begins his missing millions investigation by tracking down Kenny's wife Rosalie (Hayworth). She's working as a cocktail waitress in a downtown grill. Be prepared for a shock, Hayworth looks terrible, frumpy and overweight, age, smoking, bad marriages, Hollywood and alcoholism have taken a heavy toll and she's only 47 in this flick, but looks twenty years older, the Hayworth of Gilda is a long faded memory.  I hope that part of her look was just makeup for the role, if it is it's very convincing.
 
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Rosalie Kenny (Hayworth)
 
Pete suspects Joe is holding out. Pete gets right in Joe's face and tells he wants in on the money. Joe is **** that Pete has followed him. Pete tells Joe that not putting down interviewing Rosalie in his report is falsifying evidence. But he won't report it if they split the money, and besides who is Van Tilden going to go to, the police?
 
A very interesting film for Film Noir fans. The flop house where Amaya lives is the old run down Brousseau Mansion at 238 South Bunker Hill Avenue. By 1965 the Bunker Hill redevelopment had cleared out most of the houses. That's why the house is surrounded by empty lots. Ford then tails the aunt and Amaya to Third & Olive and rides with them down Angels Flight, which is also surrounded by empty lots, the end of an era along with the end of a Classic Noir location.
 
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On Angels Flight
 
Joe and Pete plan to crack Van Tilden's safe and make off with the two bags of moola. They find out that he's taking off for a week of fishing in Acapulco and go for it. But Van Tilden is a step ahead of them faking the trip and catching them in the act. There's a shootout in the dark and Pete is hit but they get the loot. Joe brings Pete to his house where they find that one of the bags has a half a million the other bag has a half million in heroin.
 
Pete needs a doctor and the only crooked doctor Joe knows is Van Tilden. He'll trade the dope for Pete's life. Of course it all goes Noirsville.
 
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Noirsville
 
A last Noir call for Noir greats Ford, Hayworth, Cotton, de Corsia, Montalban. It's entertaining nevertheless, DVD from Warner Archive Collection. 7/10
 
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Sadly, Cigarjoe, it was not just the make up with Hayworth.

 

Something happened to her between the time she married the Prince and the divorce.  She was very nervous and her acting ability had started to leave her.  It had been five years since she was on the screen that she and Ford reunited for Affair in Trinidad which is a rehash of Gilda.  She was perfectly natural in her dancing but when she was not dancing, she was stilted.  Even working with Ford did not help this.

 

Of course, in retrospect we know now that she had early onset Alzeimer's (can't spell that without looking it up), but at the time no one knew about dementia in general, LET ALONE IN ONE SO YOUNG.

 

She would have panic attacks in public and people thought she was drinking again.

 

 

 

Check out SEPARATE TABLES.  I believe it was her last  -perhaps second last appearance.

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The American Friend (Der amerikanische Freund) (1977) Euro Noir

 

Director: Wim Wenders (Hammett (1982), Paris, Texas (1984)), story by Patricia Highsmith (novel), screenplay by Wim Wenders. Beautiful cinematography by Robby Müller (Paris, Texas (1984), To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), Barfly (1987).  Music by Jürgen Knieper.

 

The film stars Dennis Hopper (Blue Velvet (1986), Black Widow (1987),  Red Rock West (1993), True Romance 1993), Bruno Ganz (Wings of Desire (1987)), Lisa Kreuzer, Gérard Blain, Nicholas Ray (director of Classic Noirs They Live by Night (1948), In A Lonely Place (1950)), Samuel Fuller (director of Classic Noirs, Pickup on South Street (1953), House Of Bamboo (1955), The Crimson Kimono (1959), and Lou Castel A Bullet For The General (1966).

 

The story is pretty basic. Tom Ripley (Hopper) is an American who lives in Hamburg. He wears a cowboy hat and is known as the "Cowboy of Hamburg". He is a shady character with a dark past. His current scheme is posing as an art dealer bringing over paintings done by a supposedly dead NYC artist named Derwatt (Ray), he's also is involved in rigging auctions to bid up the same paintings to artificially drive up the price.

 

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Ripley (Hopper) The Cowboy Of Hamburg

 

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Derwatt (Nicholas Ray)

 

Jonathan Zimmermann (Ganz) was a talented art restorer, a rare blood disease has affected his ability to restore, and he is now reduced to working as art framer, albeit a good one. However the lifestyle of Jonathan and his family has gone seriously downhill and they are reduced to living in a cheap apartment in a building on a block that's being demolished.

 

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Jonathan & Marianne

 

Jonathan meets Ripley at the auction of one of Derwatt's paintings that he framed. Ripley is aware of Jonathan's condition, and Jonathan knowing something of Ripley's shady nature and not quite feeling himself he comes off as gruff when they are introduced. Ripley, not liking being snubbed, does not forget. Later an associate of Ripley, Raoul Minot (Blain) from Paris, calls on Ripley to call in a debt. He wants a hit put on an enemy. Ripley concocts an elaborate rouse to get Jonathan to do the job. While Ripley gets on Jonathan's good side, he sends a fake telegram to Jonathan from a friend who had just left for Canada telling him that he's sorry about his worsening condition. At the same time he has Minot call Jonathan telling him that knowing the graveness of his condition he will pay him a great deal of money if he whacks this gangster, and that this will provide for his wife and son.

 

Jonathan calls his doctor to see what is going on and the doctor assures him that nothing has changed, but he should not get excited because excitement aggravates his condition.  Ripley arranges for Minot to set up an appointment for Jonathan with blood specialists in Paris. Jonathan arrives for the test and Minot fakes the results, despondent Jonathan agrees to do the hit.

 

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The First Hit Sequence in Paris Metro

 

After successfully doing the job Jonathan has 97,000 Deutschmarks in his account. Jonathan tell his wife Marianne (Kreuzer) that he is being paid by doctors to undergo experimental treatments. Minot visits Ripley again to give a thumbs up with Jonathan's performance. Ripley, who has now begun to like Jonathan, is dismayed when Minot tells him wants Jonathan to assassinate two American gangsters, this time on a train bound for Hamburg.

 

Jonathan agrees but while on the train the bodyguard of the second target catches Jonathan. Ripley who was on the train shows up and overpowers him. Both Jonathan and Tom execute both target and bodyguard. Ripley confesses to Jonathan that he was the one that set him up.

 

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Fuller.jpgSam Fuller

 

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Minot shows up at Jonathan's after his apartment is blown up in Paris telling Jonathan that the mafia is after them. Ripley picks up Jonathan and they drive to Ripley's mansion to wait for the assassins. Of course all this excitement is just what Jonathan didn't need and things go Noirsville. Criterion Collection DVD 9/10.

 


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  • 2 weeks later...
The Incident (1967) New York Subway Noir

 

Westinghouse%2BWhiteways%2BThe%2BInciden

Musante and Sheen notice the distinctive  Westinghouse Whiteways streetlights 

 

A triumvirate of native New Yorkers, director Larry Peerce (Goodbye, Columbus (1969)), veteran Noir cinematographer, Gerald Hirschfeld ('C'-Man (1949), Guilty Bystander (1950), Fail-Safe (1964) and writer Nicholas E. Baehr, all add a big city garnish of authenticity and atmospherics to this dark tale of events going out of control on a late night Bronx IRT Jerome Avenue el train heading downtown towards Manhattan. (Reports have been posted though, that most of the actual outdoor scenes of the train (below) were filmed on and around the Bronx section of the IRT Third Avenue Line which was demolished in 1973. I haven't been able to confirm this.) 

 

Baehr adapted The Incident from his earlier teleplay, which had been previously adapted as TV movie Ride With Terror (1963) which starred Vincent Gardenia, Gene Hackman and coincidentally Tony Musante who reprises his role of Joe Ferrone in The Incident. It would be interesting to someday make a side by side comparison. 

 

The Incident is a true ensemble Noir much in the vein of Deadline at Dawn (1946) His Kind of Woman (1951), and The Girl in Black Stockings (1957). 

 

The film stars Robert Bannard, Beau Bridges (Force of Evil (1948)), Tony Musante (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), The Detective (1968)), Martin Sheen (The Naked City, TV (1962), Ed McMahon, Donna Mills (Play Misty for Me (1971)), Brock Peters (The Pawnbroker (1964)), Jack Gilford (Mister Buddwing (1966)) Victor Arnold (Shaft (1971), The Seven Ups (1973)), Mike Kellin (The Naked City, TV (1959-1963)), Robert Fields (They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969)) Diana Van der Vlis (The Girl in Black Stockings (1957)) , and Henry Proach. 

 

Four Classic Noir actors provide some very effective cinematic memory to The Incident, Ruby Dee (No Way Out (1950), The Tall Target (1951), Gary Merrill (Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), A Blueprint for Murder (1953), Night Without Sleep (1952), Witness to Murder (1954), Thelma Ritter, (Call Northside 777 (1948), Pickup on South Street (1953), Rear Window (1954)), and Jan Sterling (Caged (1950), Union Station (1950), Appointment with Danger (1951), Ace in the Hole (1951), Split Second (1953), and The Harder They Fall (1956). 

 

The Story: 

 

It's the 60s, dig, it's The Bronx. Late Sunday night early Monday morning. Two blitzed deadbeats, one Joe Ferrone, and one Artie Connors are up to no good. Ferrone (Musante) has a sport jacket with his shirt unbuttoned down to his navel, wears a medallion, carries a blade, and has pointy sideburns, a real wannabe Italian stallion. Connors (Sheen) is threading it mod wears a jacket with a turtleneck. These sick puppies are gassed and really amped to make a bad scene. 

 

They close down the ten table Academy Pool Hall. Then, down on 170th Street looking for kicks, they begin to check door handles for unlocked cars. These two punks next taunt a couple on the sidewalk and then decide to mug the first cat that comes by. 

 

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Waiting for the victim

 

They hide in a basement stairwell. When a lone square comes down the concrete stroll they dart out pull him into the cellar. Mugging him for all the bread he's got, a measly eight bucks. They then beat the *beep* out of him for fun, nice guys. Not ready to call it a night these two *beep* decide to book downtown to Times Square. They head to the elevated station just down the block at Jerome Avenue. 

 

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Noirish

 

In flashback we see the Wilks', Bill (McMahon) and Helen (Van der Vlis). Bill is shlepping their sleeping daughter home from a birthday party. He's a tight wad who won't spring for a cab back to Queens. He ops for the el and while waiting for the train gets into an argument with Helen about not wanting more kids cause they're too expensive. A downtown number 4 train pulls in. They go to get on the last car. One of it's three sliding doors is out of order. The Wilks' have to step around a sleeping drunk (Proach) who is crashed out on the rattan covered bench seat by the working door 

 

El%2Btrain%2BIRT%2BWH%2BR-12%2BThe%2BInc

el

 

Tony Goya (Arnold) has "pantalones calientes" for Alice Keenan (Mills). Tony is grease-ball swarthy, and he can't keep his hands to himself. Alice is cherry, blond, all show and no go. Alice wears a short pleated mini skirt that swooshes tantalizingly from side to side as she walks showing lots of creamy white thigh. **** Tony's got his eyes on the prize, Alice's golden gate. 

 

Alice is driving Tony plumb loco, they are continually swapping spit, but Alice is constantly applying the brakes. She won't go all the way, and "pobrecito" Tony has a serious case of blue balls. He tells her he's had it, she tells him next time, maybe. He says he'll try and get some wheels, a car's got a back seat you know he's thinking. 

 

They get on the train and into the same car as the Wilks family at Bedford Park Boulevard Station, and begin to mess around. It's not easy to get laid in New York City when you are young and broke. 

 

Sam Beckerman (Guilford) is a bitter man he constantly kvetches to his wife Bertha that his own son won't give him five hundred bucks to fix his teeth, so he "can eat like a human being," but he'll blow that much at the track. Bertha (Ritter) is ambivalent and looking very tired of it all. They get on the train at Kingsbridge Road. 

 

Army buddies Pfc. Phillip Carmatti (Bannard) and Pfc. Felix Teflinger (Bridges) have just finished a nice family dinner at the Carmatti's apartment. They head out the door and to the el station. Phillip is going to see his wounded pal Felix off at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan. Felix is heading home first to St. Louis, then South from there. They get on the train at Fordam Road in the last car with the Wilks, Tony, Alice, Sam and Bertha. 

 

Harry (Kellin) and Muriel (Sterling) Purvis' marriage is going Skidsville. They were at a high rise cocktail party with their old friends, all of whom have been way more successful than they are. Harry is a nerdy uptight prim and proper history teacher who is happy with his lot in life. He's wearing a pocket protector, black rim glasses, carries a briefcase and an umbrella. He's a poster boy for the geek squad. Muriel is dressed all in black as if she went to a funeral. Her locks are pinned up, she wears a hair net and pearls. She is wound a little bit too tight with resentment. She is sexually frustrated, emotional exhausted, and envious of their affluent friends. She resents her priggish husband. They get on the train with the rest at Burnside Avenue. 

 

Mike%2BKellin%2Band%2BJan%2BSterling%2Bu

Harry Purvis (Kellin) with fedora, pocket protector,umbrella and briefcase and Muriel (Jan Sterling)

 

Douglas McCann (Merrill) is a recovering booze hound who is haunted by the loss of his job, his family his future. He drifts down the sidewalk towards the neon lights of a bar like a storm tossed ship to a lighthouse. He falls off the wagon at a dive on 176th Street. 

 

Gary%2BMerill%2Bneon%2BportraitThe%2BInc

Gary Merrill

 

Kenneth Otis (Fields) is a closet gay who's looking for a real good buddy. He's clueless about how to go about it. He's is in the same bar with McCann. In the men's room Kenneth tries to get chummy with Doug and is ignored. Doug finishes his drink and heads up the stairway to the platform pausing at the stations coin booth area to drop a dime on an old boss about an upcoming interview. While Doug is on the phone Kenneth has also come up the stairs and gets into Doug's space standing right behind him like a love sick puppy. Doug tells him to get lost. They both go up the the platform and Kenny follows Doug into the same car with the rest of our cast of characters. 

 

At Mt. Eden Station an African-American couple Arnold (Peters) and Joan (Dee) Robinson buy tokens for the train. An innocent transaction with the change clerk goes sour and Arnold goes ballistic. Arnold is a wannabe black militant who gets exaggeratedly offended at the slightest provocation railing against the man in general. Joan is slightly exasperated at his self righteous misbegotten belligerence. 

 

Calm%2Bbefore%2Bthe%2Bstorm%2BThe%2BInci

The calm before the storm

 

At the point in time when the train arrives at the next station, 170th Street, the flashback ends and real time begins as Joe Ferrone and Artie Connors board the last car. 

 

Now if you are not a native New Yorker this fact of big city survival may not be apparent. The one thing you do not do, and you were taught this back in the day not only by family and friends but also learn it day in and day out by basic instinct, is to NOT make eye contact with strangers, and especially with crazy strangers, either on the street, on the bus, on the subway. That's just asking for trouble, and when trouble happens you stay out of it. Even a good deed can turn deadly. 

 

Joe and Artie burst into the car at 170th Street, Artie is laughing, riding piggy back on Joe. Everyone of course looks but immediately everyone instinctively ignores. They are just two lit up rowdies out for a good time. Joe and Artie spin around a pole cackling, then run up and down the car. Joe plops down in an empty seat and swigs from his pint bottle. Artie stands near the bum. 

 

Their first victim is the bum. Artie tries to give him a hot foot sticking a match between the sole and top leather of his shoe. He lights the match and watches with gleeful anticipation. It burns down. The bum is in La La Land, there is no reaction. Artie redoubles his efforts putting unlit matches between the derelicts lips. Doug McCann, perhaps seeing the drunken bum as his personal Ghost of Christmas Future, tells Artie to knock it off. He's the first of the passengers to stand up to the punks but when no one else joins in he backs off. 

 

(Let's just pause for a moment to discuss the setup of the final act. The subway car that our characters ride has a total of eight doors. It has two manually operated doors at each end, but since this is the end car of the train the door at the tail end is locked. The manually operated door at the opposite end is broken and wont open. If it did open you could pass between cars while the train is running. So that leaves six automatic sliding doors three on the right side of the car and three on the left. Since this train is a local the doors only operate on the right side of the car. On this particular car one of those doors is broken and inoperable. When Joe and Artie effectively take the car over they use the shoe of the unconscious bum to wedge another sliding inoperable leaving only one way in and out of the car.) 

 

In this claustrophobic environment Joe and Artie systematically degrade, terrorize and humiliate all the passengers. Joe is the sociopath, the bigger jackass and more aggressive. Artie is Joe's sidekick more of a follower aping his moves. 

 

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Jack Gilford, Thelma Ritter, Tony Musante

 

Joe and Artie have their way until they go one victim to far in the claustrophobic confines of the subway car. 

 

In an ironic bit of prescient commentary on today's current events when the cops finally get to the car they immediately try to arrest Arnold the only black man. 

 

Tony Musante is frightening as Joe. Jeff Bridges is heroic as Felix. Brock Peters is outstanding showing some great range as Arnold. Gary Merrill is great as the down and out alkie, Jan Sterling equally as the crumbling beauty facing a stagnant life. Mike Kellin is a wonderful as the dweeb. Martin Sheen, Ruby Dee, Victor Arnold, Jack Gilford, Diana Van der Vlis, and Ed McMahon are all believable. Donna Mills is pretty much eye candy. Thelma Ritter who always seemed to play a feisty older woman here really is old and she looks tired, this was her second to last film, she died 15 months after this was released. 

 

The Incident is the best NYC Subway based psychological thriller film out there. Music was by Charles Fox and Terry Knight. Sound by Jack C. Jacobsen. There is no current R1 or R0 video available for The Incident. Screen caps were from the R2 Simply Media. 9/10 a 10/10 with a restoration. 

 


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A Rage In Harlem (1991) Stylish Soul Noir/Black Comedy

 

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Stylishly directed by Bill Duke, with screenplay by John Toles-Bey and Bobby Crawford based on Chester Himes novel "For the Love of Imabelle". Beautiful cinematography by Toyomichi Kurita. Music by Elmer Bernstein and Jeff Vincent. The film looks great thanks to the Production Design by Steven Legler,  Art Direction by Nina Ruscio and Set Decoration by K.C. Fox.

 

Title Sequence illustrating The Harlem Renaissance

 

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A  Rage In Harlem stars a large ensemble cast, Forest Whitaker, Gregory Hines, Robin Givens, Zakes Mokae, Danny Glover, Badja Djola, John Toles-Bey, Tyler Collins, Ron Taylor, Stack Pierce, Claude X, Reynaldo Rey, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, George Wallace and many many more.

 

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This film is loosely based on Chester Himes first "Harlem Cycle" novel "For The Love of Imabelle" The novel (I haven't read it yet so this is from various reviews) is basically about Jackson who works for an undertaker and his scheming girlfriend Imabelle who  sets him up in a confidence scam run by Imabelle's common law husband, the gang leader Slim. Jackson gets his brother Goldie, another con artist and police stoolie to get cops Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones to track down his girlfriend and the money.

 

The film has greatly expanded the original basic plot almost to the point of ridiculousness. Imabelle (Givens), a **** and the Femme Fatale of dubious morals, is now a member Slim's Natchez, Mississippi based gang  and the main squeeze of Slim (Djola). The gang has stolen a chest of large gold nuggets and is in the process of fencing them off for cash when a shootout with the police occurs. Imabelle is able to hop in the 49 Chevy pickup and drive off with the chest while the bullets are flying. She heads to Harlem by train where she knows she can trade the gold for folding money. In Harlem she checks into a fleabag hotel and attempts to unload the nuggets to whoever in the Harlem Mob can come up with the jack. She meets numerous underworld characters, Easy Money (Glover) who fronts a ballroom dance hall, Goldy (Hines) who is a con man, Big Kathy (Mokae) who is a transvestite and runs a bordello

 

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Jackson (Whitaker) is a heavy set square John who wears glasses, religiously says his prayers every night, and works for a funeral parlor. He meets Imabelle at Easy Money's ballroom, and when Imabelle needs a safer haven than the hotel she shacks up with virgin Jackson. After Imabelle shows Jackson around the world He becomes hopelessly devoted to her.

 

When Slim and his Mississippi gang show up all hell breaks loose between them, the Harlem hoodies. and the two NYPD detectives Coffin Ed (Pierce) and Gravedigger Jones (Wallace). 

 

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The film's biggest flaw is the immensity of the cast, with so many characters it's hard to get them all adequately fleshed out, and they are so tantalizingly intriguing that you wish that somehow they could have been. Two additional problems is first the needless complication of the original tale, and second the sometimes heavy handed see-saw swings between comedy and seriousness. It may have worked better if it was handled in a more picaresque manner.

 

It takes it's place alongside other Noir-ish comedies, spoofs, and satires, i.e., Delicatessen (1991), The Big Lebowski (1998), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), Seven Beauties (1975), After Hours (1985), Barton Fink (1991), Pennies From Heaven (1981), Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982), Something Wild (1986), Serial Mom (1994)

 

On the plus side the film is very stylistic, homaging both Film Noir and The Harlem Renaissance artwork of Archibald Motley and others, it's beautiful to look at. It does NOIR better than it's companion piece Devil With A Blue Dress (1995). An extra bonus is the performance by Screamin Jay Hawkins at the Undertaker's Ball. Cincinnati Ohio's Over-The-Rhine neighborhood fills in nicely for 1950's Harlem.

 

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The screencaps are from the Echo Bridge Home Entertainment DVD. could have been even better, 7/10.

 

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Natural Born Killers (1994) Noir On Acid

 

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A surreal, satirical, Neo Noir, sensory overdose. A psychedelic, acid road trip to Hell. 
 
"It's a little ditty about Mickey and Mallory 
Two American kids breaking bad in the heartland" 
 
Directed by Oliver Stone, based on a Quentin Tarantino story, with in-you-face cinematography and videography by Robert Richardson, juiced with the labyrinthine crosscut editing of Hank Corwin and Brian Berdan. Music was by Brent Lewis with soundtracks ranging from haunting to hypnotizing by, to name a few, Leonard Cohen, Chris McGregor, Duane Eddy, The Shangri-Las, Patti Smith, Cowboy Junkies, Bob Dylan, Duane Eddy, Patsy Cline, Nine Inch Nails, Diamanda Galás, Peter Gabriel, and Marilyn Manson. 
 
The film Stars Woody Harrelson (Mickey Knox), Juliette Lewis (Mallory Knox), Tom Sizemore (Scagnetti), Russell Means (Old Indian), Tommy Lee Jones (Warden Dwight McClusky), Rodney Dangerfield (Dad), Edie McClurg (Mom), Balthazar Getty (Gas Station Attendant), Robert Downey Jr. (Wayne Gale), O-Lan Jones (Mabel), and Everett Quinton (Deputy Warden Wurlitzer). 
 
It's a bizarre black comedy satire of the American 24 hour news cycle celebrity/violence culture, much in the vein of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) satire of mutual assured destruction, and A Clockwork Orange (1971) satire of ultra violence. 
 
Believe it or not I'd never seen this film until last year. I hadn't even heard of the controversy surrounding the film. I can see why though. It's because it hits too close to home, it's too real, it touches a nerve, there's an inconvenient veracity of cause and effect to it all. Is it Nature, a frightening genetic component of human beings that is in all of us. Or is it Nurture, as is illustrated through the fragments of flashbacks we get of Mickeys and Mallory's abominable family life, that causes them to go off the rails, if the wrong code buttons are pushed? 
 
I've been going through the Neo Noir lists from various sources and either viewing or acquiring those titles that I'd either never heard of or just missed. I believe my experience of watching this was all that more enhanced since I've begun delving into Noir and Neo Noir so heavily. This personal steeping in everything Noir has given me a huge visual catalog of cinematic memory ripe for discharge. This film may not work the same going into it cold turkey. 
 
Natural Born Killers, gets my synapses sparking. My RPMs are red lining. Like a delayed strobe the film sporadically flashes between Black & White and Color film, it has these insanely canted Dutch Angles while at other times they tilt, back and forth, teeter-totter like along with other visual Noir stylistics. It uses documentary style footage and live breaking news parodies, animation, TV sit com satire, super 8 film sequences, TV quasi News Special Bulletins, and music video style promos. It is hyper violence mixed with cultural and natural Iconography all in a assault on the senses. Every potential affront to sanity and integrity is exploited. It's an indictment of the media feeding frenzy we have with disasters, mass murder, terrorist attacks, and public executions. It's INSANITY, with a complimentary soundtrack, and it's as American as apple pie. 
 
They got their kicks on Route 666. Our tale begins with the desert and a montage of natural born killers, a wolf, a rattler, a hawk, it then segues to the human kind. 
 
At the 5 to 2 Cafe, we first meet Mickey and Mallory already well into their maniacal Highway 666 murder spree. 
 
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Two cowboy **** enter the cafe the third sees to their overheating pickup truck. Mallory is dancing to the juke box. One of the **** attempts to dance with her, while another says to Mickey that "that's what I call p---y" indicating Mallory. Mickey turns to him and tells him that "her name is Mallory". Mallory beats the crap out of the dancing **** for trying to make a pass, but the massacre is triggered when the cowboy sitting by Mickey gets up to join in. By the time it's all over three **** are dead, the waitress and the cook. Only the pinball playing cowboy is spared so that he can tell the world that Mickey and Mallory did it. 
 
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Mickey and Mallory continue down their road to Hell with intensely paced montage sequence recalling Classic Noir or Noir locations. 
 
Natural Born Killers is full of these little "just killing", (as Donald Trump uses the phrase) picaresque noir vignettes and others, that flesh out the characters and propel the tale forward, that stick in my mind amidst all the designed chaos. Here are just a small selection. 
 
It has an I Love Mallory TV sitcom sendup sequence (complete with laugh track) with Rodney Dangerfield (Dad) as Mallory's incestuous father and Edie McClurg (Mom) as her battered do nothing about it, pathetic mother. Dad is leeringly squeezing Mallory's ****, "if you live in this house, your **** is my ****" and tells her to "go upstairs and take a shower and make sure it's a good shower, cause I'm going to come up and check how clean you are." Mallory leaves, and in a perverted aside to his wife and Mallory's brother says "she won't see my face for an hour." 
 
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The sequence also includes the first meeting of Mickey and Mallory. Mickey is delivering a meat order and it's love at first sight when he sees Mallory on the stairs. They take off together stealing her father's car. 
 
Another nice sequence is the Mickey & Mallory take their marriage vows. They are standing on a high bridge over a canyon it's shot with a tongue in cheek tenderness which is temporarily shattered when a pickup full of jeering hecklers drives by. Mickey keeps it under control in truly warped solemnity saying "I will not murder anybody on my wedding day". 
 
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Another sequence you can call Mallory The 1990s Femme Fatale, where a jealous Blondie-Mallory goes off half cocked away from Mickey. During a love making session Mickey is paying more attention to the pretty hostage they have tied up in their motel room that to her. 
 
Mallory ends up seducing a town pump gas jockey on the hood of a Corvette in the garage bay. She hops up on the hood of a Corvette Stingray and wants him to "go down". He starts to do so but loses control jumping up on her. Mallory frustrate-edly pushes him off pulls a revolver out of her bag and blows him away. She then grabs her shed panties and flings them at the corpse exclaiming "that was the worst head I ever got"! and stomps off. 
 
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A following related vignette has Jack Scagnetti the sadistic detective on their trail recreating the crime scene at the town pump. He picks up the panties and smells them then tosses them to a deputy. 
 
Seeing the imprint of Mallory's a-- on the hood he remarks that it's a "fine a--", then makes note of the saliva drops in an obviously related location. He then leans over the corpse and extracts a **** hair from the dead man's teeth and exclaims "Mallory meet Jack Scagnetti". 
 
Welcome to the 90s. We are post code but the film is still using dialog and suggestive images to jumpstart your imagination, but it actually has very little overt nudity in the whole film, your imagination fills in the rest just like it did during Classic Noir. 
 
Other times these vignettes are just brief homages to the past cinema. When Mickey and Mallory are dancing at the diner the sequence changes from full traditional lit color to a silhouette reminiscent of Astaire & Rogers Musicals shot in low key chiaroscuro. We also see Horror and Monster movie clips. 
 
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The vast pans of the Southwest deserts, and a prison farm escape during a Wizard of Oz tornado, recall countless Westerns. 
 
Again, over all, Natural Born Killers is not about Mickey and Mallory but about the infamy of their killing spree and the nutjobs they attract. A Geraldo Rivera inspired TV expose program American Mainiacs, is hosted by a shock journalist Wayne Gale who affects a Robin Leach accent and provides a live Lifestyles of the Depraved commentary on the hunt for Mickey and Mallory, their capture, trial and a year later on a prison riot. The program as Wayne Gale puts it is " for all the morons watching out there in zombieland." 
 
Tom Sizemore is Jack Scagnetti a high profile celebrity cop, author of "Scagnetti on Scagnetti" who is seriously warped. Tommy Lee Jones is **** Prison Warden Dwight McClusky and Everett Quinton is Deputy Warden Wurlitzer who does a pretty good impression of Hugh Cronyn in Brute Force. 
 
You'll find yahoo's on either end of the spectrum will superficially either embrace this film for all the wrong reasons or condemn it, rather than see it for the statement it makes about the sick state of the media news cycle trap that feeds current society where even the really wicked sometimes, get off scot- free. 
 
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Caution this film will not be for everyone. Artistically intellectualized chaos, everything is over the top in this film, what a trip 9/10 
 
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Seven Beauties (1975) Noir Italian Style

 

 

Original title Pasqualino Settebellezze, director, Lina Wertmüller, screenplay by Lina Wertmüller, cinematography by Tonino Delli Colli, jazzy music by Enzo Jannacci. The film stars Giancarlo Giannini as Pasqualino Frafuso, Shirley Stoler as The Prison Camp Commandant, Piero Di Iorio as Francesco, Elena Fiore as Concettina, Ermelinda De Felice as Pasqualino's Mother, Enzo Vitale as Don Raffaele, Mario Conti as 18 Carat Potono, Fernando Rey as Pedro the Anarchist, and Francesca Marciano as Carolina. 

 

Seven Beauties unforgettable credit sequence with historic WWII footage and jazz track by Enzo Jannacci

 


 

The film's non linear story structure begins during World War II. Pasqualino and fellow Italian soldier Francesco are on a troop train. The train is fire bombed by the Allies while on it's way to the Russian Front. During the ensuing chaos they run off through the explosions into a forest. Pasqualino is disgusted with the war, he fakes being wounded, resenting the fact that he is ill equipped, and being sent off to fight with cardboard shoes. Francesco was going to be shot for commandeering two trucks and sending his men back to Italy. 

 

On the loose and running for their lives they stumble upon an SS mass execution. Men women and childern are striped of their clothes, lined up and machine gunned into a mass grave. Pasqualino and Francesco look at each other, "we are as guilty as they are". 

 

While heading South back towards Italy, Pasqualino relates to Francesco that all his problems started with a woman. and the story flashes back to the 1930s. 

 

Pasqualino Frafuso is a small time, wanna be macho big shot. He packs a revolver under his belt to "command respect." To Pasqualino appearances are everything. He's slick, suave, excessively debonair. He is a charmer. He dresses sharply, strutting his stuff around Naples, with a cigarette holder jutting rakishly out of his jaw. He has a reputation for being irresistible to women, a playboy, and has acquired the dubious nickname Settebellezze (Seven Beauties). 

 

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While on a stroll through Naples he meets an organ-grinder, Carolina a young girl who sings along with the music and has a fortune telling parrot con. She and her brother are getting scolded by their mother who tells her "What's the matter with you? What the hell do you think you're doing? Don't stop singing we need the money!" Pasqualino asks her why she's crying, she says she can't sing on key and all the men bother her make fun and tease. He tells her to tell them that you're engaged to Pasqualino Seven Beauties. She replies that it's not true, but Pasqualino say it could be true never try to predict the future. 

 

But Pasqualino is a poor man who has a mother and seven sisters to protect. They all share a crowded work loft with another large family and they make a living by stuffing mattresses. Pasqualino's problems start when he's forced to defend, as a "man of honor", the family name when his oldest sister Concettina falls into the clutches of a notorious Neapolitan pimp "18 carat Potono". His solution to this problem, and all the resulting domino effects combined with WWII, send Pasqualino spiraling down into an unforgettable hell. 

 

Pasqualino's oldest sister Concettina is more than ugly, she's ****. Potono her "boyfriend" has sweet talked her into performing in a girly show. Pasqualino finds out and the sequence is grotesquely humorous. 

 

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Pasqualino confronts his sister backstage. Concettina tells him that Potono has agreed to marry her. Pasqualino says that he'll give him one month to do so, or he will kill him. A few weeks later Pasqualino is summoned to the galleria to talk to the local mafioso Don Raffaele. The Don tells him that his family honor is in the toilet, "18 Carat" Potono, has bought Concettina a pair of shoes with "red bows" on them and put her in The Polonetto Whorehouse for life. 

 

What follows is one of the early picaresque highlights of the film. Pasqualino enters the Polonetto, smacks Concettina around while fighting off the other whores. "Stupid ****, what a disgrace , you brought dishonor on us" he screams that if she becomes a **** what do you think is going to happen to your sisters? As he's kicking Concettina's **** out the door, she turns to Pasqualino and states "But I looooooove him", exasperated Pasquale shouts "va fa in ****!" 

 

When Pasqualino turns around he see's that "18 Carat" Potono has arrived. What follows is a classic sequence, a "Neapolitan" Standoff accompanied by a frantic Spanish guitar fandango and absurd machismo yodelling. 

 

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"18 Carat" sucker punches Pasqualino, with a chain wrapped around his fist, knocking him out. He dumps a dustpan of cigarette butts on him, an symbolically sweeps a broom at him, like he's a piece of garbage. Then he steps over Pasqualino's prone body on his way out. When Pasqualino comes to, he swears he's going to kill him. 

 

Later that night Pasqualino slips through a window into 18 Carat's room while he's sleeping. He wakes him up, and while waving his automatic nervously, tells him to get a gun. While 18 Carat is fumbling in his jacket the gun goes off killing him. 

 

Not finding Potono's gun, Pasqualino cannot claim self defense, he goes back to Don Raffaele to ask what to do. The Don says he made a mistake, he should have brought an extra gun. The Don goes through various options of disposal for a body, the cement overshoes, the king-size coffin, and the adding of the cleaned bones to a local catacomb ploy. He tells Pasqualino to be creative and he'll make a name for himself. 

 

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Pasqualino's solution is to cut Potono's body up into pieces put it in three suitcases and ship them to three different cities. The sequence is both grotesque and picaresque and, effectively left, like in Classic Noir's, mostly to the imagination. 

 

He calls the Don and tells him "You know that shipment of provolone, it's been sent off Palermo, Milano, and Genoa, and goodnight. I don't think we'll hear about it anymore." 

 

Of course Pasqualino gets caught by the carabinieri and everything goes Noirsville. He is brought before a judge for a hearing. He confesses to the crime. His lawyer tells him that nobody confesses to this, you get the death sentence for sure and face the firing squad, so make a choice your stupid honor or your life. 

 

So he fakes insanity while awaiting his court date by pretending he is Mussolini. He goes to trial and is found insane and sent to an asylum. Pasqualino has retained a bit of his precious honor, he boats to a fellow prisoner that he is an "ax-murderer. The Monster of Naples." 

 

During both the hearing and the trial whenever we see shots of Pasqualino's family, we see that more and more of his sisters have dyed their hair blond and have become whores. 

 

At the asylum he's gets under the good graces of his female head doctor, and is assigned a job as an orderly. He loses his privileges when he gets caught in bed with a nymphomaniac. He's then subjected to shock treatment, hydrotherapy, straitjacketed and housed with the general population. He get's a reprieve when Italy needs soldiers for WWII. 

 

Back in the present Pasqualino and Francesco are caught after the looting the well stocked kitchen of the country house of a German Frauline. They are sent with fellow Italian deserters to a concentration camp run by a very large, brutish, totally unattractive woman who is all too aware that her master race is on the losing side of the war. She has no hesitation in killing Italians. 

 

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At the height of despair Pasqualino vows that he'll find a way to get out. He gets a "vision" remembering a truth his mother once told him "A woman is a woman, and a woman even one who is an evil person, has a little good for someone who can reach her heart. There's a bit of sugar always there." all you have to do is stir it up like sugar in a cup of coffee to bring to your lips what's sweet and fine. 

 

And so Pasqualino to the abject horror of his fellow inmates begins to try to seduce the camp commandant, with sidelong glances, stares, humming songs, etc., etc. He tells them that he knows women, womanizing was what he was good at. The commandant isn't fooled, but she is starved for affection and pasqualino tries his best but when Pasqualino can't get it up because he has "no energy for an erection," she gets him a bowl of food. "After you eat we screw, if you can't you're finished". Their love making has to be one of the most ridiculously disturbing sequences ever filmed. 

 

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After Pasqualino performs, she calls him "Garbage, you disgust me. Your thirst for life disgusts me. Your love disgusts me. You, you sub-human Italian, you found the strength for an erection. And because you were strong you'll manage to live on and eventually you'll win. Miserable creature, lacking in ideals and ideas. And we-We who thought to create a master race....are doomed to failure." 

 

The commandant makes him the barrack capo but he must choose six men to execute. He tells her that he can't do that, and she counters that if he doesn't the whole barrack will be executed. 

 

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So Pasqualino survives but at a horrible price. Life is not black and white, there are lots of grey areas, lots of the lesser of two evil choices. There are no clear answers when choices are made under extreme stress. What would you do to survive hell? Wertmuller leaves it unresolved. Maybe the answer is that we are all whores if the price is great enough. 

 

Nominated for 4 Oscars in 1977, 10/10 Review with screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/04/seven-beauties-original-title.html

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Tightrope (1984) Neo Orleans Noir

 

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"There's a darkness inside all of us..., you, me, and the man down the street, some have it under control, others act it out, the rest of us try and walk a tightrope between the two." 

 

Noir is currently a new/old craze, a fad, the in-thing, "cool", Noir has a certain cachet that can add to sales for a particular film, and you'll find that there are films that are "no-brainers" as their being no question "mainline" Noirs that aren't even mentioned by the list makers, while others, that are a real stretch at being classified as so, are included. It makes you wary, it makes you question the author's knowledge, the extent of their research, or if there is a hidden agenda. There are quite a few that make lists are NIPOs, Noir In Plot Only devoid of any Noir Stylistics or may have a token Noir sequence, which, in my book makes them just CRIME genre films. All this makes you curious to explore on your own. 

 

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Recently I re-watched a Don Siegel/Clint Eastwood collaboration Dirty Harry (1971), Siegel was one of the last of the Classic Noir directors, and the film did have some noir-ish sequences it's a good film but for my tastes, Noir lite. One thing it did was that it got me thinking and I remembered a much better Eastwood Neo Noir candidate. It's not usually thought of because it wasn't your typical Eastwood vehicle, he played against type, he doesn't even shoot a gun on screen. 

 

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Tightrope was written and directed by Richard Tuggle, though there are rumors that Eastwood either helped out or took over at some point. But judging from the comparison of style between this and other Eastwood directed films something doesn't quite wash. This film is very dark in subject matter and stylistically extremely Noir, more so than anything else ever directed by Eastwood so something must be attributed to Tuggle and a definite shout out to cinematographer Bruce Surtees. Right now, I'd say it's one of the best Neo Noirs set in New Orleans, others, that come to mind are The Big Easy, Angel Heart, and The Drowning Pool. 

 

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The film stars Clint Eastwood as Wes Block, Geneviève Bujold as Beryl Thibodeaux, Dan Hedaya as Det. Molinari, Alison Eastwood as Amanda Block, Jenny Beck as Penny Block, Marco St. John as Leander Rolfe, Rebecca Perle as Becky Jacklin, Regina Richardson as Sarita, Randi Brooks as Jamie Cory, Jamie Rose as Melanie Silber, Margaret Howell as Judy Harper and Graham Paul as Luther. 

 

The Block's, Wes (Clint Eastwood), Amanda (Alison Eastwood), Penny (Jenny Beck) 

The story, a recently divorced and somewhat alienated (from average women) homicide Detective Wes Block is raising two daughters on his own. He enables his inner "demons" and gets his various sexual outlets/kicks with prostitutes in the Latin Quarter/Bourbon Street red light district of New Orleans. 

 

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A lot of us compartmentalize our lives, we show one face at work, another with our friends. We may look like square johns on the outside but have our kinks on the inside. Your wife may be a saint in the streets and a **** in the sheets. It how we get along it's how we let off steam. 

 

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As lead detective Wes and his partner Molinari investigate the murders the serial killer beings to focus on his pursuer Wes. Soon the regular hookers Wes frequents in his district start showing up dead, sexually violated and strangled. 

 

The serial murders has the Press, the Mayor, and the police brass, demanding quick results. Another complication for Wes is Beryl Thibodeaux, who is head of a Rape Crisis Center and also friends with the mayor. Beryl is interested in protecting women and she tries to get Wes to acknowledge that she can help alert women about the maniac. At first Wes macho puts her off, and the two are quite opposites in personalities, but as often is the case, opposites attract, and soon the two are spending time together. Their initial sharp exchanges are excellent and their segue into mutual attraction believable. 

 

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Another excellent aspect of this film is the relationships depicted between Block and his daughters. The chemistry is real. Alison Eastwood as Amanda is Eastwood's daughter and it shows, and Jenny Beck as Penny is equally very believable. 

 

Wes at first suppresses his connection to the victims, possibly questioning his own sanity, but as the serial killer gets closer to hearth and home, clues and detective work ultimately close the case in a denouement that you could say homages the ends of classic Noirs, Act Of Violence, The City That Never Sleeps, and Highway 301. 

 

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This film just WALLOWS in Noir. It's got a great jazzy/bluesy score by Lennie Niehaus too boot. It's easily a 10/10 for me. Screencaps are from the Warners DVD. 

 


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Something Wild (1961) New York Kitchen Sink Noir

 

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A psychological noir directed by Jack Garfein, written by Jack Garfein and Alex Karmel, stars Carroll Baker (Baby Doll (1956), Ralph Meeker (Kiss Me Deadly (1955)), Mildred Dunnock (Kiss of Death (1947), Baby Doll (1956)), Jean Stapleton, Martin Kosleck (The Spider (1945)), Clifton James, and Doris Roberts. Cinematography was by Eugen Schüfftan (Port of Shadows (1938)) and music by Aaron Copland.

 

The tale is about a young woman Mary Ann (Baker). She still lives at home with her mother (Dunnock) and step father.  She is attending college in New York City. One night after riding the Jerome Avenue line subway back to Kingsbridge Road Station, she takes a shortcut home through St. James Park.

 

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Near the Southeast corner she is grabbed from behind. Dragged into the bushes she is brutally raped up against a retaining wall by a grunting panting slob. Bruised, sore, and traumatized, she gathers up her books and belongings and runs home.

 

She quietly enters her house and tells no one. In her bathroom, frightened and shivering, she strips her clothes off, gets into a tub, and washes away all the evidence. She takes scissors and cuts the soiled clothes and undergarments into small pieces and flushes them down the toilet.

 

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She hides the rape from her parents and tries to carry on with her life. She now recoils from physical contact with all people. While riding the subway to school, the crush of people in the morning rush hour is too much for her to bear. Felling sick she rushes from the train and faints on the platform of the 103rd St. Station. The NYPD brings her back home and her uptight, whining, insensitive mother who is always concerned about "what the neighbors think", is mortified that she has been brought home in a police car.

 

Continuing in the following days to wallow in a morass of self deprecation and despair Mary Ann snaps. She just takes off from her Morningside Heights school, leaves her books on a sidewalk bench and walks downtown through Harlem, The Upper West Side, Times Square, Greenwich Village to the Lower East Side.

 

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In the Lower East Side she rents, from sleazy slumlord (Kosleck), a five dollar a week flop in his rundown tenement, and finds a twenty-five dollar a week job at a five-and-dime. She has a loud, obnoxious, two bagger prostitute, Shirley (Stapleton) as a next door neighbor, who offers to fix her up with some "gentlemen friends."

 

Interior%2BNoirish%2B09%2BSomething%2BWi

 

Continuing her downward spiral she becomes increasingly alienated from the world and decides to end it all. To Mary Ann the conveniently nearby Manhattan Bridge has a big imaginary sign that says "JUMP ME." As she climbs up on the rail about to go over she is stopped by by Mike, an alkie, sad sack, slightly whacked in the head auto mechanic. Her knight in rusty armor has a few screws loose himself. He walks her back to the Manhattan side and talks her into resting at his place while he goes to work. He doesn't trust her in the condition that she's in, thinking that she try something again, so he locks her in his basement apartment. Mike, slow on the uptake, never quite understands why Mary Ann doesn't want to be held there against her wishes.

 

saved%2Bby%2BMike%2B01%2BSomething%2BWil

 

When Mike comes home late that night sloppy drunk he tries to get a little "friendly" with Mary Ann but with what she just went through and in the condition she's in she naturally totally freaks and kicks him in the eye. When Mike comes too the next morning he has no recollection of the night before thinking he got into a fight at a bar. He's a blackout boozer. He loses the eye as a result of her kick and has to wear an eye patch.

 

dinner.jpg

 

When Mary Ann tells Mike that she has to go back to work, he offers to match what her boss pays her at the store. So we ask ourselves why does Mike behave this way? Did he also contemplate doing a brodie into the East River? Is he aware, on some gut level, of the certainty that letting her go now in this condition would be fatal, but just mentally disabled enough not to realize the "benies" of getting her professional medical attention. He "knows" in some weird way that fate has bound them together. He  actually NEEDS her in his own twisted way.

 

So Mike continues to hold Mary Ann prisoner, telling her that he likes "the way you look here." She is held there in Mike's apartment for months having, at times, surreal nightmares. One night Mike does it up big, he cooks steaks, buys wine sets the table with flowers, and fixes a nice dinner for the both of them. He proposes to Mary Ann and she rejects him. She tells him that it was she who kicked him in the eye. Mike says that he didn't know, but insists the she is "his last chance." Mike is a damaged person also. He gets up heartbroken and goes out the door leaving it ajar.

 

Mary Ann grabs her coat and is out the door. Free at last she wanders the city eventually sleeping in Central Park. Her destructive funk is cured and she returns to the apartment to be back with Mike. These two damaged souls manage to find each other and bring into the equation what the other needed.

 

They get married and as our story ends Mary Ann has a bun in the oven. Life is strange indeed, there are a million stories in the Naked City.....

 

Upshot%2BSomething%2BWild%2B1961.jpg

 

The cast is excellent, the first half of the film is pretty much all Baker, and besides the obvious iconic Classic Noir creds that Ralph Meeker brings to the table, watch for a bit of cinematic memory, Mildred Dunnock played Rossi's mom, the one that Tommy Udo sent down the staircase in the wheelchair in an iconic Noir sequence from Kiss Of Death.

 

Screencaps are from the MGM limited edition DVD. Aaron Copland's score is adequate, but I would have preferred something more jazzy/bluesy that would have fit NYC better, hell I would have loved say a variation of the NYC classic Street Scene, another bit of cinematic memory.

 

Depending on my mood a 7-8/10.

 


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Something Wild (1961) New York Kitchen Sink Noir
 
something-wild-movie-poster-1962.jpg
 
A psychological noir directed by Jack Garfein, written by Jack Garfein and Alex Karmel, stars Carroll Baker (Baby Doll (1956), Ralph Meeker (Kiss Me Deadly (1955)), Mildred Dunnock (Kiss of Death (1947), Baby Doll (1956)), Jean Stapleton, Martin Kosleck (The Spider (1945)), Clifton James, and Doris Roberts. Cinematography was by Eugen Schüfftan (Port of Shadows (1938)) and music by Aaron Copland.
 
The tale is about a young woman Mary Ann (Baker). She still lives at home with her mother (Dunnock) and step father.  She is attending college in New York City. One night after riding the Jerome Avenue line subway back to Kingsbridge Road Station, she takes a shortcut home through St. James Park.
 
MA%2BRape%2B03%2BSomething%2BWild%2B1961
 
Near the Southeast corner she is grabbed from behind. Dragged into the bushes she is brutally raped up against a retaining wall by a grunting panting slob. Bruised, sore, and traumatized, she gathers up her books and belongings and runs home.
 
She quietly enters her house and tells no one. In her bathroom, frightened and shivering, she strips her clothes off, gets into a tub, and washes away all the evidence. She takes scissors and cuts the soiled clothes and undergarments into small pieces and flushes them down the toilet.
 
Destroying%2Bevidence%2B01%2BSomething%2
 
She hides the rape from her parents and tries to carry on with her life. She now recoils from physical contact with all people. While riding the subway to school, the crush of people in the morning rush hour is too much for her to bear. Felling sick she rushes from the train and faints on the platform of the 103rd St. Station. The NYPD brings her back home and her uptight, whining, insensitive mother who is always concerned about "what the neighbors think", is mortified that she has been brought home in a police car.
 
Continuing in the following days to wallow in a morass of self deprecation and despair Mary Ann snaps. She just takes off from her Morningside Heights school, leaves her books on a sidewalk bench and walks downtown through Harlem, The Upper West Side, Times Square, Greenwich Village to the Lower East Side.
 
Bum%2B01%2BSomething%2BWild%2B1961.jpg
 
In the Lower East Side she rents, from sleazy slumlord (Kosleck), a five dollar a week flop in his rundown tenement, and finds a twenty-five dollar a week job at a five-and-dime. She has a loud, obnoxious, two bagger prostitute, Shirley (Stapleton) as a next door neighbor, who offers to fix her up with some "gentlemen friends."
 
Interior%2BNoirish%2B09%2BSomething%2BWi
 
Continuing her downward spiral she becomes increasingly alienated from the world and decides to end it all. To Mary Ann the conveniently nearby Manhattan Bridge has a big imaginary sign that says "JUMP ME." As she climbs up on the rail about to go over she is stopped by by Mike, an alkie, sad sack, slightly whacked in the head auto mechanic. Her knight in rusty armor has a few screws loose himself. He walks her back to the Manhattan side and talks her into resting at his place while he goes to work. He doesn't trust her in the condition that she's in, thinking that she try something again, so he locks her in his basement apartment. Mike, slow on the uptake, never quite understands why Mary Ann doesn't want to be held there against her wishes.
 
saved%2Bby%2BMike%2B01%2BSomething%2BWil
 
When Mike comes home late that night sloppy drunk he tries to get a little "friendly" with Mary Ann but with what she just went through and in the condition she's in she naturally totally freaks and kicks him in the eye. When Mike comes too the next morning he has no recollection of the night before thinking he got into a fight at a bar. He's a blackout boozer. He loses the eye as a result of her kick and has to wear an eye patch.
 
dinner.jpg
 
When Mary Ann tells Mike that she has to go back to work, he offers to match what her boss pays her at the store. So we ask ourselves why does Mike behave this way? Did he also contemplate doing a brodie into the East River? Is he aware, on some gut level, of the certainty that letting her go now in this condition would be fatal, but just mentally disabled enough not to realize the "benies" of getting her professional medical attention. He "knows" in some weird way that fate has bound them together. He  actually NEEDS her in his own twisted way.
 
So Mike continues to hold Mary Ann prisoner, telling her that he likes "the way you look here." She is held there in Mike's apartment for months having, at times, surreal nightmares. One night Mike does it up big, he cooks steaks, buys wine sets the table with flowers, and fixes a nice dinner for the both of them. He proposes to Mary Ann and she rejects him. She tells him that it was she who kicked him in the eye. Mike says that he didn't know, but insists the she is "his last chance." Mike is a damaged person also. He gets up heartbroken and goes out the door leaving it ajar.
 
Mary Ann grabs her coat and is out the door. Free at last she wanders the city eventually sleeping in Central Park. Her destructive funk is cured and she returns to the apartment to be back with Mike. These two damaged souls manage to find each other and bring into the equation what the other needed.
 
They get married and as our story ends Mary Ann has a bun in the oven. Life is strange indeed, there are a million stories in the Naked City.....
 
Upshot%2BSomething%2BWild%2B1961.jpg
 
The cast is excellent, the first half of the film is pretty much all Baker, and besides the obvious iconic Classic Noir creds that Ralph Meeker brings to the table, watch for a bit of cinematic memory, Mildred Dunnock played Rossi's mom, the one that Tommy Udo sent down the staircase in the wheelchair in an iconic Noir sequence from Kiss Of Death.
 
Screencaps are from the MGM limited edition DVD. Aaron Copland's score is adequate, but I would have preferred something more jazzy/bluesy that would have fit NYC better, hell I would have loved say a variation of the NYC classic Street Scene, another bit of cinematic memory.
 
Depending on my mood a 7-8/10.
 

 

I saw this not  long ago on TCM where it was discussed how it was not understood by American Audiences until after 9/11, but that European audiences always understood it.  It is an excellent film.  Leading lady and director were married at the time.  BRutal story.  Ultimately, it is a story about survival.

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Blast of Silence (1961) New York Tail Fin Noir

 

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Director was Allen Baron, the film was written by Allen Baron (screenplay), Waldo Salt (narration). Starring Molly McCarthy (Lori), Allen Baron (Frankie Bono), Larry Tucker (Big Ralphie) (Shock Corridor 1963)), Peter Clune (Troiano) Danny Meehan (Petey), Charles Creasap (Contact Man) Dean Sheldon (nightclub bogo singer), Bill DePrato (Joe Boniface), New York City in all its gritty glory, and a Voice Over, second person narration by Lionel Stander (uncredited). Cinematography was by Merrill S. Brody and cool jazzy score by Meyer Kupferman. 

 

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Blast Of Silence didn't quite come out of nowhere. Allen Baron was an artist who attended the School of Visual Arts and was an illustrator, he got the bug to make a movie after visiting a soundstage in Hollywood. He learned rudimentary camera work while working on a film down in Havana in 1959. 

 

Blast of Silence was mostly shot "guerrilla style" without permits on the streets of New York City for roughly 20,000 dollars. This de facto neorealism imbues the film with an aura of believability that bigger Hollywood productions often did not acquire. 

 

On a side note, I've written countless times that most of the films depicting New York's quintessential Film Noir hardboiled detective Mike Hammer, are less "New Yorkie" than eight films that are not Hammer films, but films that captured both a Film Noir Style and wallow in the true gritty NYC ambiance that every Hammer film demanded. These eight are The Naked City (1948), Killer's Kiss (1955), Two Men in Manhattan (1959), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)* only partially set in NYC, Blast of Silence (1961), Something Wild (1961), Aroused (1966) and The Incident (1967). Watch these and see what could have been. 

 

When bar room buddie of Allen Baron, actor Peter Falk who had agreed to play the lead for a deferred salary, actually got a paying gig for Murder Inc (1960) Baron was left without a star. Mel Brody, a school chum of Baron's, who was converting an old firehouse into a sound studio (which the production utilized), suggested that Allen himself act the part of Frankie Bono in the film. As Allen put it, “…I was the best actor available to me at the time, and I was the only one I could afford. So I wrote it, directed it, and was forced to act in it. The truth is I didn't want to play the role.” 

 

Lionel Stander the only bona fide Hollywood star connected with the film, though uncredited, was trying to get his career back on track in 1960 after being Blacklisted by HUAC. Again quoting Baron, “Lionel Stander was a blacklisted actor. He did the narration, and he wanted $1000 if we used his name. Or, $500 if we didn't use his name. Well, naturally, with the amount of money we had we took the $500 deal. So that’s why he doesn't receive a credit.” 

 

"Baby Boy" Frankie Bono (Baron), an icy hearted contract killer out of Cleveland, has arrived in New York City to give second string syndicate boss Troiano (Clune) a Christmas "gift" in the form of a couple of rounds of lead in the head. 

 

GG1%2BPennSta%2B01%2BBlast%2BOf%2BSilenc

 

But Frankie was raised in an orphanage in New York City, so this trip is a sort of a reluctant homecoming and also a reckoning with his past. The whole commercial holiday ambiance, i.e., Christmas carols played on the intercom in Penn Station, the Salvation Army Bands on the streets, the decorations in the store fronts all bring back sour memories of a kid who had nothing, was alone in the world, who grew up tough with some hard bark. Christmas gives him the creeps. 

 

Frankie checks into a dump, the Valencia Hotel. Heads downtown. He rides the Staten Island Ferry to meet his wise guy contact. The contact asks for a light. He gets 25 G's and photos of his mark. He gets the other 25 G's when the job is done. Sounds like cake. 

 

So Frankie does what he always does. And what Frankie does he does best. He tails Troiano. He dopes out his patterns. He eliminates possibilities. He hones in on others. Troiano lives out in Nassau County. He's always picked up by bodyguards. Guys with HOODS stamped on their foreheads. 9:30 on the dot. Always drives into the city. Cross Island Parkway, Grand Central Parkway, Triboro Bridge, Harlem. Or the deviation, Northern Boulevard, Queensboro Bridge, Greenwich Village. Troiano runs the girls, the dope, the book, and the numbers. The type of guy Frankie hates. Frankie has got to make the hit when Troiano is alone. 

 

Harlem%2B04%2BApollo%2BBlast%2BOf%2BSile

 

Frankie needs a piece for the job. .38 with silencer. He goes to see an old Harlem *beep* Big Ralphie. Big Ralphie is a skel, a gavoon, a real fat slob. He lives in a one room flop. He keeps sewer rats for pets. He's got their cages all Christmas doodad-ed. He's eating pizza with his rats. He skeeve's out Frankie big time. But Ralphie's got contacts. He wants half a G. Frankie says two bills. They compromise on three. Frankie say he'll go him a yard and a half now and the rest on delivery. Ralphie squeals. Frankie throws in another fifty. Deal done. 

 

Frankie%2Bfeeding%2BNancy%2BBlast%2BOf%2

 

But Frankie can't pick up the gun till after Christmas, he kills time walking around Rockefeller Center. Remembering. While eating dinner on Christmas Eve it's Frankie's misfortune to run into pal Petey from the orphanage. He's about to give him the brush when Petey's sister Lori shows up. Lori was something special, Lori is Frankie's femme fatale. Frankie makes the mistake of going to Lori's Christmas Eve Party and having a good time. His second mistake is falling all over again for Lori, who is definitely hot to trot with him too. But Frankie, out of normal circulation for so long, is speeding down love's highway way over the limit, trying get past third base way too quickly. He gets rough. Forghedaboudit. Lori shoots him out of the saddle. 

 

Dancing%2BBlast%2BOf%2BSilence%2B1961.jp

 

Frankie with Christmas out of his system is back on the job and finally finds out where Troiano is alone. Troiano has a "gumare" a babe he shacks up with that he keeps in a brownstone down on East 30th St. When he's with her he's alone. 

 

Shadowing Troiano, Frankie ends up at the Village Gate, a "Beat" nightclub with a bongo playing vocalist and band. Troiano is giving a party. Unfortunately for Frankie going right in before checking the joint out was his third mistake. Ralphie spots him watching Troiano. Ralphie dopes out the hit. Frankie is going after "big Game". Ralphie braces Frankie in the john. Ralphie wants "luxury prices." Frankie tells Ralphie forghedaboudit. 

 

Frankie%2Band%2BRalphie.jpg

 

**** that Ralphie is trying to skive their deal, Frankie leaves and stakes out the club and waits. Ralphie jets. Frankie tails. Ralphie is loaded. Ralphie waddles back to his pad. He fumbles the door open. He crashes on his bed. Frankie is out in hall. Frankie spots the fire ax. Frankie is going to cusinart Ralphie. Ralphie takes a chop, His left arm dangles. He grabs Frankie by the neck. The rat cages smash. Rodents scatter. Frankie grabs a lamp. Lamp smashes Ralphie's head. Frankie gets both hands on Ralphie's neck. Ralphie's eyes bulge. Ralphie is rat food. 

 

Frankie%2Band%2BAx%2BBlast%2BOf%2BSilenc

 

Killing Ralphie of course flushes everything down the toilet to Noirsville. Frankie gets the job done but getting spotted by Ralphie at the Village Gate and its final consequences broke his contract. 

 

Noirish%2B15%2BBlast%2BOf%2BSilence%2B19

 

The film belongs to that late '50s early '60s group of Noirs I like to designate "Tail Fin Noirs" for the predominate auto design feature that's unmistakeable and visually quite prominent. 

 

Blast of Silence is a character study of loneliness, obsession and alienation. It's noir pulp poetry that's cinematically illustrated expertly, on the cheap. A classic that can sit comfortably right beside poverty row's Detour (1945). Bravo Allen Baron! 10/10 

 


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Body Heat (1981) Irresistible Impulse

 

Jazz. Smoke. The slow lazy roiling of a decaying fire. Bodies writhe in silhouettes.

 

Body_heat%2Bposter.jpg

 

Directed by Lawrence Kasdan, written by Lawrence Kasdan and stars William Hurt as Ned Racine, Kathleen Turner as Matty Walker,  Richard Crenna as Edmund Walker, Ted Danson as Peter Lowenstein,  J.A. Preston as Oscar Grace, Mickey Rourke as Teddy Lewis, Larry Marko as Judge Costanza, Kim Zimmer as Mary Ann. The jazzy/bluesy score is by John Barry, the stylistic cinematography by Richard H. Kline (The Boston Strangler (1968)) .

 

Ned%2BRacine%2Blow%2Brent%2Bplayboy%2BBo

Ned Racine low rent playboy

 

An Anachronistic Noir. A Southern Noir. Once upon a time Lawrence Kasdan created a noir-ish world of one part James M. Cain's Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice, one part, the tropical pulp of John D. MacDonald with a dash of Raymond Chandler. Shake in a cocktail mixer and pour over rotting ice. It's a 50's atmosphere that doesn't know that 30 years has passed. It's hazy, foggy, smokey. Body Heat exists in it's own world, a world where certain modernities have gotten stuck in time. More artifacts, as the years pass seem to be added, amusingly so. But yet the film remains timeless.

 

Beach%2BBody%2BHeat%2B1981.jpg

 

The Florida Treasure Coast. Miranda Beach (Lake Worth) and Pinehaven (Manalapan), straddling the Inter Coastal. The towns are stuck in a monumental heat wave. It's Hot. It's Humid. It's Sweaty. It's Sultry. Air conditioners seem scarce, like back in the Fifties only theaters, bars, and diners seem to have them, and feeble ones at that. Or it seems as if  our strange noir landscape is plagued by an eternal brown out. Fans are the cooling technology in vogue. They are everywhere. A certain whirling madness is just hanging there.

 

Our yarn is about a bottom feeder. Lowest of the low. A lawyer, what else. Attorney at Law, Ned Racine (Hurt). Ned gets by comfortably on the misfortunes of his clients. He lives high enough on the hog to have an office and a receptionist. He's treading water. Winning a few losing a few. He's not the sharpest tool in the lawyer shed but hey, he's arrogant. He's reached his level and is living at it. He's smug, a little bit slimey a bit of a shyster. He is cynical. Ned seldom smiles. He smokes. A cigarette coolly dangles from his lip. He sports a porn star mustache. Drinks Bourbon on the rocks. Drives a 1964 Chevrolet Corvette. **** magnet. A low rent playboy. Nails all the squab in town. Law clerks, secretaries, nurses, waitresses. Doesn't discriminate. Doesn't commit. You know the type. Get's more **** than a toilet seat.

 

Cool listless jazz. Hot breeze. Dark Night. Ned prowling the boardwalk. He's casting eyeball for tail. Outdoor concert crowd. Programs fanning. Matty (Turner) is a higher class babe. She is alluring. She has money. She arises from the audience transcendent. Venus from the half shell. She is unmistakably the film's center. Her clothes cling in the sea breeze. She's gorgeous. She's sultry. She is sexually intoxicating. She is desirable. She knows it. She is way out of Ned's class. The 100 proof Femme Fatale.

 

Matty%2B%2BBody%2BHeat%2B1981.jpg

the sea  breeze caresses her tresses

 

Matty glides past an awestruck Ned to pause at boardwalk rail. She strikes a come hither pose. The sea breeze caresses her tresses. She dangles the bait. She's a feline in heat. Her motor runs hot. Ned is lured. Ned can't help it. Its an irresistible impulse. He stands by her. He's nonchalant. He plays his best game.

 

Matty and Ned converse as adults without the old Hayes Code, "coded words" to get around the obvious, conventions of Classic Noir. There's no cute allusions to racing horses, or of how fast your going over the sexual speed limit. It's sharp direct, naturalistic dialog that is mature, clever, and refreshing.

 

Ned: You can stand here with me if you want but you'll have to agree not to talk about the heat.

Matty: I'm a married woman.

Ned: Meaning what?

Matty: Meaning I'm not looking for company.

Ned: Then you should have said I'm a happily married woman.

 

Matty drifts along the boardwalk. Ned shadows.

 

Matty: You aren't too smart, are you? I like that in a man.

Ned: What else do you like? Lazy? Ugly? ****? I got 'em all.

Matty: You don't look lazy.

 

After buying her an ice...

 

Ned: I need someone to take care of me, someone to rub my tired muscles, smooth out my sheets.

Matty: Get married.

Ned: I just need it for tonight.

 

Matty does a spit take getting a stain on her blouse.

 

Matty: Would you get me a paper towel or something? Dip it in some cold water.

Ned: Right away. I'll even wipe if off for you.

Matty: You don't want to lick it?

 

Ned comes back. Matty's ankled. Split. But mission accomplished. Ned got a taste. Ned is hooked. Ned is obsessed. Ned will be her patsy. He spends a week of searching before she lets him find her again.

 

Body Heat was Turner's first film. She plays her part with a confidence way beyond her 27 years as if she has been 27 for a thousand years. She is every woman that ever lived, a sensual, ageless, eternal female. Her voice is husky, smoky, silky, enchanting. She is the embodiment of every Femme Fatale that ever used sex to get what she desired rolled into one. She knows exactly what buttons to push.

 

Ned "finds" Matty at the Pinehaven Tavern. Ned's libio is in overdrive. Matty leaves. Ned follows. Corvette tailing Mercedes.

 

At the big house. Matty teases Ned.  She gives green light/red light signals. She tells him to leave. Ned is ****. She locks him out. He prowls about like big cat. She stares. She smoulders. He breaks in. She ignites.

 

Sizzlin'

sexual%2Banimals%2B04%2BBody%2BHeat%2B19

 

Matty arouses a lust in Ned that is practically insatiable. This longing is a powerful drug that addicts Ned to her varied charms. Like a junkie Ned will do whatever it takes to keep mainlining on Mattie.

 

Hurt is excellent in this, he plays, very convincingly, the over **** dope who is literally screwed stupid, and completely out maneuvered by a much more conniving manipulator who has had years to adjust her twisted moves.  Matty hangs back and gives Ned just enough reins to let him think he's coming up with the ruthless plan to kill her husband.

 

Noirish%2B21%2B%2BBody%2BHeat%2B1981.jpg

 

Matty turns up the heat. Ignition. She wants out. She wants MONEY. A prenup screws her out of it. Hubby must die. Ned must do it. Ned complies. Ned plans. Edmund owns the Breakers. A beachfront property. The place is abandoned. A fire bug magnet. Make it look like arson. Make Edmund the torcher. Make it looked botched.

 

It went well.  An inferno. Edmund a crispy critter. Everything's copacetic. Days pass. Edmund pushing up daisies. Ned nailing Matty. Openly, with regularity. But something's WRONG. There's a call from a lawyer. There's a new will. Ned drew it up. Witnessed by Mary Ann. ****. Ned didn't draw it up. It's a mess. Ned looks bad. The will is null and void. Matty gets it ALL. GREED.

 

But there's more. A tip. Police are stirred. Hornets nest. Edmunds glasses. Where are they? They should have been seared into what was left of his face. Arrows point to Ned.

 

 It's going bad. It's going NOIRSVILLE.

 

Matty%2Bportrait%2B%2BBody%2BHeat%2B1981

Matty (Turner)

 

The supporting actors in the film are very believable. Mickey Rourke is a professional arsonist who in a great sequence tries to give his lawyer some good but unheeded advice. Richard Crenna is Matty's husband he's an unscrupulous businessman. Ted Danson is Peter, a D.A., a good buddy of Ned's whose quirk is a penchant for Fred Astaire dance routines. There is another excellent night scene where Danson briefs Ned on the case building against him. J.A. Preston is great as Oscar the cop, another good friend of Ned, who reluctantly must go after him and then later listens sympathetically as Ned tries to explain.

 

A curio of the film is the depiction of our dwindling tribe of Tobacco Smokers. Practically everybody smokes, it's emphasized. Is tobacco a drug that balances euphoria with anxiousness. Was it a gateway drug for promoting an artificially induced culture that prevailed everywhere?  Is it an ancient sacred sacrament of the Americas, exploited and degraded from ritual to banality? These thoughts run through my mind.Think about it.

 

“Here’s what film noir is to me. It’s a righteous, generically American film movement that went from 1945 to 1958 and exposited one great theme and that theme is you’re f-d, You have just met a woman, you’re inches away from the greatest sex of your life but within six weeks of meeting the woman you will be framed for a crime you did not commit and you’ll end up in the gas chamber and as they strap you in and you’re about to breath the cyanide fumes you’ll be grateful for the few weeks you had with her and grateful for your own death.” 

 

-James Ellroy 

Novelist, L.A. Confidential 

 

In my opinion, Body Heat is the Noir where, Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice wished they could have gone if they had been untethered from the Hayes Code. Not for prudes, not for everyone. An adult noir done artistically, easily a 10/10

 

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