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Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017) Vigilante Neo Noir

 
A Coen-esque Dark Comedy Neo Noir 

Written and Directed by Martin McDonagh, with Music by Carter Burwell and Cinematography by Ben Davis.

Stars: Frances McDormand (Blood Simple (1984), Fargo (1996), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), ), Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killers (1994), Palmetto (1998), True Detective
TV Series (2014–  No Country for Old Men (2007)), Sam Rockwell (Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989), ), Lucas Hedges, Abbie Cornish, John Hawkes (Too Late (2015)), Michelle Monaghan (True Detective TV Series (2014– )) and Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent (2003)).

Mildred Hayes (McDormand) is grieving over the rape and murder of her teenage daughter, Angela. Particularly she is heartsick over the fact that on the night of the tragedy she denied letting her daughter use the car, to which the daughter told her, something along the lines of fine, I'll hitch-hike and I'll probably get raped. To which Mildred replied sarcastically I hope you get raped too. 
 
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Flashback daughter Angela  (Kathryn Newton)"I hope I get raped."
 
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the three billboards
 
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Mildred (McDormand)
Seven moths pass and there is no resolution of the case. Mildred marriage dissolves, her husband Charlie (Hawkes) is screwing a 19 year old to cope in his own twisted way. Mildred decides to rent three disused billboards to vent her frustrations. The three aligned billboards (sort in a similar vein to the old Burma Shave signs), say "RAPED WHILE DYING", "STILL NO ARRESTS?", and "HOW COME, CHIEF WILLOUGHBY?"
 
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The billboards upset Chief Bill Willoughby (Harrelson) who is suffering from cancer and his deputies, particularly Officer Dixon (Rockwell) an alcoholic who has a reputation for being a racist and violent. Mildred and Robbie (Hedges) her son are both harassed and threatened. Some town folks make their disapproval known.
 
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Officer Dixon (Rockwell)
 
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Dixon goes on a personal rampage threatening Red Welby (Caleb Landry Jones) the man who rented out the billboards to Mildred and arresting Mildred's friend Denise on minor marijuana possession charges. Even Charlie visits Mildred with his new girlfriend to question her sanity.
 
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Chief Bill Willoughby (Harrelson) and Mildred

 

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Charlie (John Hawkes)
After Mildred has a confrontation with her disapproving dentist (she drills a hole in his thumb) Willoughby brings her in for questioning. Willoughby coughs up blood during the interview. He checks into the hospital. He leaves the hospital when he gets the bad news. He then heads home to spend a last good day with his wife and daughters, then goes out to the horse barn that night and blows his brains out.
 
 
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These events send Dixon off the deep end. He heads across the street and throws Welby out of his second story window. Dixon gets fired by temporary Chief Abercrombie. Willoughby has sent out letters that arrive postmortem. One to Mildred tells her that she did not cause him to commit suicide and informs her that he paid an extra month for the rent of the billboards.

The three billboards are set on fire and Mildred escalates by Molotov torching what she thinks is the unoccupied the police station. However, Dixon is inside wearing ear buds so that he doesn't hear the phone call Mildred places to check. He's reading the letter he got from Willoughby which tells him
 to let go of hate and learn to love, as the only way to realize his wish to become a detective. Dixon grabs Angela's case file out of a cabinet but suffers severe burns as he escapes the flames.
 
 
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James (Dinklage)  putting out the flames
James (Dinklage) sees Dixon run out and collapse on the street and puts out the flames. He later covers for Mildred giving her an alibi claiming that they were out on a date that night and came around to corner to find the police station in flames.

The billboard messages are restored with spares, and Dixon is eventually released from the hospital. While getting ****-faced in a local bar he overhears a conversation with two guys in a booth. One is  bragging about having rapped and killed a girl. Dixon goes out and notes the Idaho licence plate. He  then starts a fight with them by scratching the braggers face with his fingernails. He gets the **** beat out of him but also now has some DNA evidence.

The DNA proves negative but Dixon and Mildred go Noirsville heading to Idaho on a vigilante mission to kill the bragger.

Noirsville
 
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Dixon and his Momma (Sandy Martin)
 
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The dark humor is provided the reactions along with some of the music cues and the sharp dialogues between Charlie and Mildred, Dixon and his fellow officers, Dixon and his geezer Momma (Sandy Martin), Mildred and Willoughby, Mildred Charlie, and Charlie's teenybopper girlfriend and Mildred and James.

Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri won 90th Academy Awards for Best Actress (McDormand) and Best Supporting Actor Sam Rockwell. 8/10 Full review with more scree caps here Noirsville
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Wonder Wheel (2017) Coney Island Noir

 
"Once a luminous jewel, but growing relentlessly seedier as the tides roll in and out" (Mickey Rubin)

Written and directed by Woody Allen. A Coney Island Neo Noir - Sort of A Streetcar Named Desire meets the Honeymooners with a dash of The Sopranos. Cinematography was by maestro Vittorio Storaro who shot the film in a kaleidoscope of carnival colors. It's offsetting at first but grows on you.  Storaro gifted us with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970), Last Tango in Paris (1972), Apocalypse Now (1979), The Last Emperor (1987) Dick Tracy (1990), The Sheltering Sky (1990). The vintage soundtrack was comprised by a selection of oldie goldies.


Between the late 1800's and roughly 1945 Coney Island was the largest amusement park in the US. Millions of visitors visited the three major attractions Luna Park, Dreamland, and Steeplechase Park. It was fed by four BMT subway elevated lines the West End Line, the Sea Beach Line, The Gravesend-Culver Avenue Line, and the Brighton Beach Line. The Coney Island smiling "Funny Face" logo, dates from Steeplechase Park which opened in 1897. In 1900 New York City condemned land to replenish the beach and also built a boardwalk. On the hottest summer days, over a million people would head to the cooling beaches of Coney Island. Dreamland Park opened in 1904 and burned down in a fire in 1911. Luna Park opened in 1903 but fell on hard times during the Great Depression.  Steeplechase alone had kept itself financially profitable. In 1916, Nathan Handwerker started selling hot dogs at Coney Island for a nickel each the beginnings of the Nathan's Famous hot dog chain.

Coney Island's later attractions Deno's Wonder Wheel opened in 1920, the Riegelmann Boardwalk Amusement opened in 1923,  the Coney Island Cyclone opened in 1927, and the Parachute Jump in 1939.

Coney Island

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Wonder Wheel stars Kate Winslet as Ginny Rannell, she is Humpty's wife, Richie's mother, and Carolina's stepmother. She's a cross between Blanche DuBois and Alice Kramden she's an ex actress and closet alkie tragically looking for love in a crumbling "dreamland" second marriage. She "acts" as a waitress in a clamhouse on the boardwalk. Her second marriage was one of convenience to alkie on the wagon, Humpty Rannell (Jim Belushi) a Coney Island carousel operator. Did they meet at some AA meeting? Who knows. Humpty has the looks and some mannerisms that are a dead ringer for Jackie Gleason's in The Honeymooners. They live in a space near The Wonder Wheel that housed at one time a freak show or some other Coney Island attraction. It's quite appropriate since it still houses a freak Ginny's son Richie (Jack Gore) from her previous marriage who is a budding pyromaniac. His punctuating creative blazes provides some of the humor in the film.
 
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Moma's little pyro Richie (Jack Gore)

Mickey Rubin (Justin Timberlake) is the summer beach life guard for "bay seven" a section of ocean along the boardwalk. He is a wanna be playwright and the film's raconteur.
 
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Mickey Rubin (Justin Timberlake)
 
 
The tale and incidentally the film, Rubin tells us, starts with the arrival of  Carolina Rannell (Juno Temple), who is Humpty's quite beautiful grown daughter from his first marriage. At that point in time Rubin has been playing hide the sausage "under the boardwalk" with Ginny (Kate Winslet) every chance they can while Humpty spend hours with his buddies fishing off the pier at Sheepshead Bay.
 
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 Carolina Rannell (Juno Temple)
 
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 Ginny Rannell (Kate Winslet)
 
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Humpty Rannell (Jim Belushi)
Our Soprano's reference is provided by two familiar grease balls, 'Big ****' Steve Schirripa here playing a wiseguy named Nick and  Paulie 'Walnuts' Tony Sirico playing Angelo. They arrive about halfway through the film looking for Carolina.
 
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Nick (Steve Schirripa)
 
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Angelo (Tony Sirico)
Carolina it seems was married to a mob up **** named Tony. She got tired  or scared of the life and ratted Tony out to the Feds. She splits the scene and goes to hide out in Coney Island with her father Humpty. Carolina figures that Tony will never think of looking for her there because Humpty basically thought she was throwing her life away and he practically disowned her as a result.

The dialog in the first meeting between father and daughter after five years is some forceful screenwriting and I was very impressed with Belushi's delivery in the scene.
 
 
 
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She found this-this greaseball exciting. He wasn't even good-lookin'! He was a punk.
Humpty: ****. What the hell do you expect to happen when you marry a cheap hoodlum?
Carolina: I was twenty. I didn't know better. I'm sorry.
Humpty: Why didn't you go to the police?
Carolina: I told the police too much, that's the problem.
Humpty: Why the hell you open your mouth?
Carolina: The police told me that I could be looking at five years if I didn't cooperate.
Humpty: What the hell do you know? Since when do you know what happens inside the rackets?
Carolina: How could I not know? Can't be married to one of those guys and not pick up on what's going on.
Humpty: Jesus Christ! I told you not to marry that racketeer! I told you he was all mobbed up. He stank of murder. She found this-this greaseball exciting. He wasn't even good-lookin'! He was a punk.
I need a drink!
Ginny: Forget it, Humpty.
Humpty: I need one, ****!
Ginny: Calm down.
Humpty: Jesus Christ. God damn it, she could've married a few guys from school, from the neighborhood, all of 'em. Decent kids. We raised her nice. Your mother and I we broke our backs
out of workin' so you could go to college and-and you know, you didn't. You threw it all away! Look at ya-- you're such a beautiful girl! You had your pick.
Carolina: I loved Frank, okay?
Humpty: And all the guys you hand-picked for me, they were-- dull, colorless, boring guys. All of 'em, honest men, every one of 'em. Christ! Your mother's last dying request on her deathbed was that you didn't run off with that slime, Frankie Adatto. You wouldn't give her that one bit of satisfaction, would ya? You wouldn't let her die in peace.
Carolina: I loved him. I was twenty, I... I wanted more. More.
Humpty: More. More what?
Ginny: Jesus, Humpty. There's a world out there.
Humpty: This does not concern you. All I know is you lost your head. Your head was in the clouds
over that gutter guinea that flashy, cheap, flashy little ****. You didn't think I knew he carried a gun up here? Huh? He'll know... He'll know you came here.
Carolina: No. It's the last place he'll look. He knows how you feel about me.
Humpty: Yeah. You mean he knows how much he hated me for callin' it the way I saw it. Christ.
I counted on you when she died. I was lost. You dumped me for that trash.
Carolina: That's why he wouldn't think I'd come here. He knows that we haven't exchanged words in five years 'cause bad blood between us ran too deep.

Humpty agrees to take her in on the condition that she save her doe and go back to school. Ginny gets Carolina a job as a waitress at the Clam House where she works. All is well until Mickey runs into Ginny and Carolina on the boardwalk. Mickey's dilemma is that he falls hard for Carolina while still boinking her stepmom Ginny.
 
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Love at first sight
What could go wrong?

It goes Noirsville when Carolina begins to confide in Ginny about the details of her encounters with and her evolving feelings for Mickey. The icing on the cake is when the two mob Guidos show up on the boardwalk.

Noirsville 
 
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All the performances are bathed an expressionist glow of carnival colors, infusing some sequences in orange and red others in blue and indigo. Vittorio Storaro provides a wonderfully hypnotic expressionism in what's essentially a Kitchen Sink Carney/Coney Island Noir. 8/10

Fuller review with more screen caps here Noirsville

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Confessions of a Psycho Cat (1968) Sexploitation Roughie

 
"Cat" is leftover beatnik speak for a person.
The person is a woman. The woman is Virginia Marcus (Eileen Lord) and she is a psycho-cat. Marcus is a wealthy whacked out big game huntress with an incredibly over stuffed trophy room. It looks like a storage closet with some furniture. She is apparently bored with hunting animals, she now wants to hunt the biggest game man.

The film starts with a shot of seeing her brother Anderson off on a trip from Manhattan by ocean liner (of course, how else is a big game hunter supposed to travel you are not getting your trophies back to the USA by plane).

Which reminds me of a funny story. I was working on a land survey for an owner up in the Shawangunks of New York State.  He was a nice little guy with these coke bottle glasses who it turned out was one of these big game hunters. He had a trophy club house, sort of a converted garage detached from the main residence that was part of the survey. Well he invited us in to see the trophies. It was filled with heads, stuffed bears, mountain lions, etc., etc. It dawned on me while looking at his prizes that through some type of psychological cause and effect this guy was compensating for the fact that without his glasses he would be essentially food for all the former trophies, hah!

We first see Virginia walking down the interior of a Hudson River pier seeing her brother off for a safari. She usually tags along herself but she's had a nervous breakdown and her shrink recommends rest.

We cut to a ridiculous **** scene at Ronnie's where, it being a sexploitation feature targeting the raincoat crowd and bound for at a grindhouse theater run, we get a lame-o 1968 depiction of an ****. Which means in 1968 no full frontal nudity and the men bare chested and all wearing their underwear, it's basically all T&A with the occasional fleeting glimpse of bush. You can just fast forward through all the tedious stuff.  (see the full review)
 
 
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Buddy (Frank Geraci)
Buddy a minor drug dealer and one of our stars is supposed to make a score of some drugs and get back to what I guess is supposed to be a hippie ****. We cut to see Buddy being chased across Central Park by Virginia who is hunting him with a crossbow. When he does arrive at Ronnies he has a crossbow bolt in his leg. In flashback mode Buddy tells his story.
 
 
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The case in Central Park
Virginia invited Buddy, a Broadway Actor Charles Wheeler, and a retired wrestler Rocco Bonito played by middleweight world champion boxer Jake LaMotta, to the trophy room. They were all the subjects of a magazine article describing them as killers who got away with their crimes for various reasons.

 
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In the he Trophy Room with Buddy, Charles Wheeler and Rocco (Jake LaMotta)
 
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Virginia (Eileen Lord)
 
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Charles
 
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Rocco
In a flashback within a flashback we see Charles the actor kill in self defense the husband of a woman he's having an affair with.

Charles Flashback
 
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Buddy accidentally gave a girlfriend a heroin overdose. Rocco accidentally killed a man in the ring.
 
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overdosed
 
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Rocco in the ring
Since Virginia was prevented from accompanying her brother she decides to hunt the three men. She offers them each checks for $100,000 post dated 24 hours, that they can cash if they manage to live. They will be her prey.

Buddy figures its a cinch since he's had practice hiding out from the cops.

Virginia manages to hunt down Charles even after he sent a friend as a decoy dressed and made up to look like him to a neighborhood bar. Virginia's plan was to lure Charles out with a offer of work. He shows up for an appointment at a theater for a revival of one of his old plays. Virginia spears Charles through the heart.

Rocco, Virginia lures out by questioning his bravery. The big dope goes to her rooftop apartment where she, dressed as a matador, challenges him in a bull fight. It's a pretty stylistic fight that ends with Rocco very dead.

Buddy is itchin' for a fix even though he could make the 24 hour challenge and be $100,000 fat, he decides to go back out on the street to score. The only thing he scores is another meeting with Virginia.
 
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The start of Virginia's psychosis

We find out (in still another flashback) how Virginia's psychosis all started. It seams Anderson, her brother, when they were kids, killed her puppy by tossing him off the penthouse terrace.

Noirsville
 
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Psycho Virginia 
 
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Rocco as a bull in a bullfight with Virginia
 
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Buddy shooting up in a men's room stall
 
 
 
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the dying bull....
 
 

Directed by Herb Stanley (his only credit if that is even his real name). Written by Bill Boyd. The stylistic claustrophobic Cinematography was by Paul Guffee, his use of a fish-eye lens was quite effective. It doesn't look as if he filmed any of what looks like in comparison the inserted **** sequence. The only redeeming factor for shooting a sex scene would be to shoot it artistically and creatively.

The film stars Eileen Lord as Virginia Marcus, Jake LaMotta as Rocco, Ed Garrabrandt as Anderson, Frank Geraci as Buddy, and Dick Lord as Charles Freeman. The acting is amateurish but it's got to be expected with a low budget effort, it's nice seeing Jake LaMotta.

"FILM NOIR HAD AN INEVITABLE TRAJECTORY…
THE ECCENTRIC & OFTEN GUTSY STYLE OF FILM NOIR HAD NO WHERE ELSE TO GO… BUT TO REACH FOR EVEN MORE OFF-BEAT, DEVIANT– ENDLESSLY RISKY & TABOO ORIENTED SET OF NARRATIVES FOUND IN THE SUBVERSIVE AND EXPLOITATIVE CULT FILMS OF THE MID TO LATE 50s through the 60s and into the early 70s!" 
The Last Drive In (thelastdrivein.com)

Confessions of a Psycho Cat is another missing link between the demise of Classic Hollywood Noirs and the Neo Noirs that began to emerge in the 1970s. I call them Transitional Noir. Available from Something Weird Videos. A curiosity 5-6/10.

Full review with more screen caps here Noirsville

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Death Wish (1974) The Original Vigilante Noir

 
Shootout on the Broadway-Seventh Avenue Express

I had left New York City and was living for two years in Montana when Death Wish came out.

Ten years later in a life imitates art incident on December 22, 1984, three days before Christmas, Bernhard Goetz gave four teenagers, Barry Allen, Troy Canty, Darrell Cabey and James Ramseur lead Christmas presents on a NYC Broadway–Seventh Avenue Downtown No. 2 Train Express. These four punks each with previous arrest records were on their way to rob a Playland or Fascination Video Arcade in downtown Manhattan.

The train of  R22 subway cars pulls into 14th Street Station and squeals to a stop. People get off. About fifteen or twenty stay on board car number 7657, it was the seventh car of a ten car train.

At 14th Street Bernie Goetz gets on through the rearmost sliding door. He crosses the aisle and takes a seat on the long bench facing the same door. Canty was laying down on the bench alongside the right side of the same door. Allen was seated on the short bench on the other side of the same door. Ramseur and Cabey were on the same side of the train as Bernie right of the door next to the conductors cab.

As the the doors whooshed shut, the train pulls out increasing its speed on the express track heading towards the next stop at Chambers Street. The train passes local stations Christopher and Houston. Somewhere near Canal Street, Canty asks Bernie 'How you doing?" Bernie responds "Fine."

Then the four men give signals to each other and Canty and Allen get up and go to the left of Bernie blocking him off from the other passengers on the train. Canty then demanded "Give me five dollars!"

"I'll give ya five!"

Gotez stands up pulls a Smith & Wesson Model 38. An aluminum-framed, carbon steel cylinder and barreled, 5-shot revolver loaded with 38 Specials. He fires four quick shots. The first shot hits Canty in the chest, shot two gets Allen in the back as he's trying to get away from that crazy mother ****. Shot three goes through Ramseur's arm and into his side. The fourth shot missed Cabey standing in the corner by the conductors cab. It deflects off the wall. Cabey sits down. Gotez pauses, looks over the carnage sees that Cabey was still functioning either tells him tells him or thinks to himself,  "You seem to be all right, here's another," and shoots him with his last shot.

The rest of the passengers, terrified, knock over two women and run to the end of the car and through the connecting doors between. Train stops in the tunnel. The two women on the floor of the car were immobilized by fear. Goetz walks over to them to see if they were OK.  The conductor arrives and Goetz tells him that "They tried to rob me."  The conductor asks Goetz if he is a police officer. Goetz tells him no. Gotez then jumps to the tracks and runs South along the tunnel to Chambers Street. He heads up to the sidewalk and hurries for home. There, he packs a bag rents a car and splits for Bennington. Vermont. He gets rid of the gun, burns his blue jacket, he drives around New England hiding out in dive motels and paying cash.

On December 29, Goetz calls his neighbor, Myra Friedman. She tells him the police are looking for him. He tells Myra his side of the story.

"Myra, in a situation like this, your mind, you're in a combat situation. Your mind is functioning. You're not thinking in a normal way. Your memory isn't even working normally. You are so hyped up. Your vision actually changes. Your field of view changes. Your capabilities change. What you are capable of changes. You are under adrenaline, a drug called adrenaline. And you respond very quickly, and you think very quickly. That's all. ... You think! You think, you analyze, and you act. And in any situation, you just have to think more quickly than your opposition. That's all. You know. Speed is very important."

Goetz hits the city on December 30th. He returns the rental, picks up some clothes, rents another car and heads  appropriately to Concord, New "Live Free or Die" Hampshire to give himself up.

Goetz was charged with attempted murder, assault, reckless endangerment, and several firearms offenses. A jury found him not guilty of all charges except for one count of carrying an unlicensed firearm. Goetz served eight months of a one-year sentence.

"Bernhard Goetz said that three years earlier in 1981, while transporting electronic equipment, he was attacked in the Canal Street subway station by three youths in an attempted robbery.The attackers smashed Goetz into a plate-glass door and threw him to the ground, permanently injuring his chest and knee.  Goetz assisted an off-duty officer in arresting one of them; the other two attackers escaped. Goetz was angered when the arrested attacker spent less than half the time in the police station spent by Goetz himself, and he was angered further when this attacker was charged only with criminal mischief for ripping Goetz's jacket.  Goetz subsequently applied for a permit to carry a concealed handgun, on the basis of routinely carrying valuable equipment and large sums of cash, but his application was denied for insufficient need. He bought a 5-shot .38-caliber revolver during a trip to Florida.

The incident sparked a nationwide debate on race and crime in major cities, the legal limits of self-defense, and the extent to which the citizenry could rely on the police to secure their safety. Goetz, dubbed the "Subway Vigilante" by the New York press, came to symbolize New Yorkers' frustrations with the high crime rates of the 1980s. He was both praised and vilified in the media and public opinion. The incident has also been cited as a contributing factor to the groundswell movement against urban crime and disorder, and the successful National Rifle Association campaigns to loosen restrictions on the concealed carrying of firearms. (1984 New York City Subway shooting - Wikipedia)


So obviously you got to ask was Bernie Goetz influenced by Death Wish?

Directed by Michael Winner who directed two of the great Charles Bronson post Once Upon A Time In The West Westerns,/ Lawman (1971), and Chato's Land (1972). Death Wish was based on the novel Death Sentence by Brian Garfield, the screenplay was written by Wendell Mayes, Gerald Wilson (uncredited) , and Michael Winner (uncredited).

Cinematography was by Arthur J. Ornitz known for The Pusher (1960), Rod Serling's Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), and Serpico (1973). The Music was by Herbie Hancock best known as a piano player, jazz star, and a composer, Round Midnight (1986).

The film stars 1950's noir vet Charles Bronson (The People Against O'Hara (1951), The Mob(1951), Crime Wave (1953), Big House, U.S.A. (1955) and Man with a Camera TV Series (1958–1960)) as Paul Kersey, Hope Lange (Bus Stop (1956)) as Joanna Kersey, Kathleen Tolan as Carol Toby, Vincent Gardenia (Cop Hater (1958), Murder, Inc. (1960), Mad Dog Coll (1961), Moonstruck (1987)) as NYPD Lt. Frank Ochoa, William Redfield as Samuel "Sam" Kreutzer, Steven Keats as Jack Toby, Stuart Margolin (Kelly's Heroes (1970), The Rockford Files TV Series (1974–1980)) as Ames Jainchill, Jeff Goldblum as "Jughead" Freak #1, Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck (1987)) as Cop at the precinct, and 1974 Manhattan.
 
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Queensboro Bridge
 
 
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Paul Kersey (Charles Bronson)
Paul Kersey is an architect living on the upper West Side ofn Manhattan with his wife Joanna. One day Joanna and his married daughter Carol are followed home from D'Agostino's market by three punks. Jeff Goldblum is billed as Freak # 1 he wears a hat like Jughead does in the old Archie Comics. I'll call him Jughead.
 
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Joanna (Hope Lange) and Carol (Kathleen Tolan)
 
 
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Jughead (Jeff Goldblum) lt.
 
 
Note don't ever have your groceries delivered. The punks know the address from the grocery receipt. They pretend to be the delivery boy. They ring the bell.
 
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Carol opens the door. Mayhem ensues. The women only have seven dollars between them. Jughead and his buds beat the **** out of Joanna and orally rape Carol.  
 
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When Paul gets the call he heads to the hospital to find out that Joanna has died from her injuries. His daughter is suffering from what we now call PTSD. Shortly after the funeral Paul gazing out his apartment window watches as a gang of punks break into a car on his street. He decides to protect himself with two rolls of quarters in the toe of a sock. It proves handy as he uses it to smack a mugger upside his head.

Paul's boss sends him to work on a project in Arizona. There he meets Ames Jainchill who invites him to his gun club. There, Paul gets to shoot various handguns. Jainchill is impressed with Paul's accuracy. Paul tells him he was an avid hunter as a kid until he dad was killed in a hunting accident.
 
 
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 Ames Jainchill  (Stewart Margolin)

Pleased with Paul's work on his real estate project Ames' gives Paul a revolver as a thank you present. Back in Manhattan Paul finds out that his daughter has become catatonic.
 
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Paul loads the revolver and takes a stroll along a walking path in Riverside Park. He gets mugged at gunpoint. Paul, turning towards his attacker has his gun out and blasts the mugger. It turns out he's an ex con. Paul is in shock but gets over it quickly. The next night he heads out again dispatching violent criminals in the act all around the city.
 
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NYPD Lt. Frank Ochoa is put in charge of investigating the vigilante killings. The squad gathers a list of suspects based on their having a family member recently murdered by muggers who are also war veterans.
 
 
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NYPD Lt. Frank Ochoa (Vincent Gardenia)

They get the war vet idea from the eye witness accounts of the vigilante's accuracy. As a consequence of the vigilante activity, crime statistics show a dramatic drop in muggings.

Paul is on the list. Soon Ochoa suspects that Paul is their man. However the police commissioner does not want to make Paul a martyr. He doesn't want the publicity he just wants Paul to go away.

Noirsville
 
 
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Of course the film was panned by many critics because of it showing vigilantism in a good light. Author Garfield was so disappointed in the 1974 film adaption that he wrote the sequel Death Sentence the following year.

Nice New York City locations, with a controversial and interesting story 7/10  

More screenshots in Noirsville

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Crime Wave (1953) Masterpiece of L.A. Location Noir

 
"How come the smart guys are inside and the dopes outside?" (Steve Lacey)

The first time I saw Crime Wave I saw something done so well that it became a favorite, it was that memorable. Crime Wavenot only has some spectacular on location day and night cinematography but it also has a interesting and compelling story with both the leads and character actors to do it justice.

Directed by André De Toth (Pitfall (1948)). The film's screenplay was written by Cane Wilbur from an adaptation by Bernard Gordon and Richard Wormser of Criminal's Mark, a story by John and Ward Hawkins. The films cinematography was by Bert Glennon (Red Light (1949), and the music was by David Buttolph.

The film stars Sterling Hayden  as toothpick chewing hard boiled Det. Lt. Sims. Tall imposing Hayden was a veteran of seven Classic Film Noir and quite a few Westerns. Hayden served in WWII as an As OSS agent under the alias John Hamilton, his World War II service included sailing with supplies from Italy to Yugoslav partisans and participating in behind the lines action parachuting into fascist Croatia. He's probably most remembered for the role of off his rocker General Jack D. Ripper in Stanley Kubrick's Transitional Noir Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964). He also played a memorable part in Robert Altman's Neo Noir The Long Goodbye (1973).
 
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toothpick chewing L.A.P.D. Det. Lt. Sims. (Sterling Hayden) rt.
Gene Nelson ( who also appeared in Transitional "Tail Fin" Noir 20,000 Eyes (1961)) as ex con Steve Lacey. Phyllis Kirk (House Of Wax (1953)) as his wife Ellen Lacey.
 
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Ellen Lacey ( Phyllis Kirk) abd Steve Lacey (Gene Nelson) 
Six Classic Film Noir vet Ted de Corsia as 'Doc' Penny,
Charles Bronson (Death Wish (1974)) as Ben Hastings, four Classic Film Noir vet Jay Novello as Dr. Otto Hessler, Ned Young as Gat Morgan, James Bell as Daniel O'Keefe, Dub Taylor as the Doris Day loving gas station attendant Gus Snider, Fritz Feld as Jess the bandaged man at City Hall.

Hank Worden, made a living from Westerns and was memorable as quite a character from many John Ford/John Wayne Westerns usually playing an off the wall "not quite right in the head" hombre. He was in Film Noir appearing mostly in bit parts, Undercurrent (1946), High Wall(1947), Cover Up (1949), and Neo Noir Hammett (1982). In Crime Wave he is Sweeney, Steve's seemingly speech impediment challenged boss, at the Grand Central aircraft repair company. Worden's last role was in Twin Peaks TV Series (1990–1991). Timothy Carey, plays a more modern Worden contemporary, crazy grinning prototypical beatnik Johnny Haslett he's the scary type with a perpetual leer that explodes into a **** eating grin, completely 180 from the loveable Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver) of six years later.
 
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Doc Penny (Ted de Corsia) and Steve Lacey (Gene Nelson)
 
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Gat Morgan (Ned Young) 
 
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Dr. Otto Hessler (Jay Novello)
 
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Ben Hastings (Charles Bronson)
 
 


The story dramatically begins when Doc' Penny (Ted de Corsia) Ben Hastings (Charles Bronson) and Gat Morgan (Ned Young) pull a gas station stick up on Maple Avenue between 7th and 8th in downtown Los Angeles.

The Stickup
 
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Gus Snider (Dub Taylor)
 
They crashed out of San Quentin and are heading steadily South towards to border. The stickup goes well until a Los Angeles City Motor Patrol motorcycle cop passing by on Maple gets suspicious and swings back into the station.
 
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The cop questions Gat Morgan as to the whereabouts of Gus (Dub Taylor) the night gas jockey. Gat pulls a gun and shoots him down. The officer returns fire seriously wounding Gat.

Doc stakes Gus with some cash and tells him to ditch the car and contact Dr. Otto Hessler (Jay Novello) another ex con who is a veterinarian who acts as a sort of mob doctor. Doc and Ben take off on foot.

Gus who was knocked out during the holdup comes to and phones the police.The case is assigned to Detective Lieutenant Sims (Sterling Hayden). After the holdup car is found ditched nearby, Sims wants a list of all the ex cons within a two mile radius of the crime scene.

Steve Lacey (Gene Nelson) is a suspect. He's an ex con who has been out on parole for two years. He been working as an aircraft engine mechanic at Grand Central Aircraft Company and lives with his wife Ellen (Phyllis Kirk). Being an ex con means that he gets phone calls from ex cons trying to put the bite on him for a stake or a place to crash. That night he gets a call from Gat who is checking to see that he's home. Gat hangs up without talking. Gat next calls Doc Hessler and tells him to meet him at Steve Lacey's address.
 
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Gat rings the bell on the Lacey's apartment and ends up dying in their living room chair. Doc Hessler shows up pronounces him dead. He tells the Lacey's that he wont touch the body, he their problem, He takes a C-note off the corpse and splits.
 
Steve and Ellen Lacey are left with an ex con corpse on their hands. Steve decides to call his parole officer Daniel O'Keefe (James Bell). O'Keefe tells Steve that he'll call the police but they are already pulling up on the street outside the apartment house.

Ellen Lacey: But you haven't done anything! You're innocent!
Steve Lacey: Once you do a stretch, you're never clean again! You're never free! They've always got a string on you, and they tug, tug, tug! Before you know it, you're back again!
 
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Sims grills Steve about what happened, Sims doesn't believe him. He thinks "once a crook, always a crook." He sticks Steve in the slammer for a few days to refresh his memory about what it's like.
 
Meanwhile Doc and Ben pull some of the same type of chump change heists down towards San Diego. It looks as if they are heading toward the Mexican border.

Sims lets Steve out but tells him he wants to help catch Doc Penny and Ben Hastings if they show back up. Steve goes home and back to his job.

Doc and Ben show up at Steve's apartment. They have a scheme to rob a bank and then use Steve's flying skills to escape. Hessler shows up spying for Sims, Doc sends Ben out to tail him when he leaves. Ben uses Steve's hot rod and leaves it at Hessler's after he murders him.
 
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They force Steve to go along with the bank job by taking Ellen hostage and leaving her under the care of beatnik nut job Johnny Haslett (Timothy Carey) in a hideout in Chinatown.
 
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Ellen is being "watched" by Johnny Haslett (Timothy Carey)
Of course it all goes Noirsville.

Noirsville
 
 
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Union Station
 
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A plug for Howard Hughes' TWA Airline a Lockheed Constellation


 
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Notice the low rent cardboard box lampshade nice detail
 
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This is a great late period quickly paced Noir shot in crisp Black and White that hits on all cylinders. The acting by the cast is riveting. A must film for any Film Noir collection. The use of The City Of Angels circa 1953 for both exterior and (in the case of City Hall) interior shots make it highly valuable as a time capsule of what used to be. We get Glendale, Burbank, Chinatown, the Gas Works, Owl Drugs and Union Station to boot.

After watching these on location Films Noir, The Naked City (1948) New York City, Call Northside 777 (1948), Chicago,  The Third Man (1949) Vienna, Act Of Violence (1949) Los Angeles,  Night And The City (1950) London, Crime Wave (1953) Los Angeles, Rififi (1955), Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Los Angeles Paris, The Lineup (1958) San Francisco, Two Men In Manhattan (1959) New York City, it's harder to believe the old backlot sets. They just can't substitute for reality. This is jarringly  displayed in 1965's The Money Trap where the location shoots and what looks like a NYC street set filling in for a Los Angeles ghetto set look as if they are parts of two different movies. Bunker Hill Hollywood's real ready made ghetto location was being demolished in the 60's.

Anyway watch Crime Wave for the various vignettes of suspects being booked, the dispatch room, the Chinatown dive flop where Timothy Carey uses a box top for an ersatz lamp shade with a drop cord plug, class. All this attention to the details by De Toth and crew makes this film something special.

More screen caps from Warner Brothers Crime Wave DVD at Noirsville

Included on the DVD is a not to miss commentary track by Eddie Muller and James Ellroy. 10/10

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The Blue Gardenia (1953) Café au lait Women's Noir

 
The credits run over a montage of the City of Angels and probably the San Bernardino Freeway built in 1948, it's one of the first Film Noir to show one that I can remember.

Directed by Fritz Lang and based on a novella by Vera Caspary. The cinematographer was Nicholas Musuraca, and the music was by Raoul Kraushaar.  An independent production released by RKO.

A Woman's Noir a chick flick. The three main characters are three single women getting by in the City Of Angels. Ann Sothern is the continually tar bar sucking Crystal Carpenter. Jeff Donnell is Sally Ellis, the kid sister type addicted to the pulp fiction of a Mickey Spillane clone hard boiled detective novelist. Our heroine is torch carrying Norah Larkin played by Anne Baxter who is in love with a GI serving in Korea.

 Richard Conte plays newsman Casey Mayo his sidekick photographer is Al played by Richard Erdman, Raymond Burr is playboy Harry Prebble, George Reeves is the L.A.P.D. Police Capt. Sam Haynes, Ruth Storey is Rose Miller, Ray Walker is Homer, and Nat King Cole plays himself.
 
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Casey Mayo (Richard Conte)
 
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Al (Richard Erdman)
We see newsman Casey Mayo (Richard Conte) and his photographer Al (Richard Erdman) pull up in front of the West Coast Telephone Co. Casey hops out and into the lobby. Casey is doing a piece about the phone company for the Daily Chronicle. He takes an elevator up to switchboard central, for a tour. There he meets switchboard operators and roomies, Crystal Carpenter (Ann Sothern), Norah Larkin (Anne Baxter) and airhead Sally Ellis (Jeff Donnell).
 
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Harry Prebble (Raymond Burr) Chrystal Carpenter (Ann Sothern) Casey Mayo

 

He also meets calendar cheesecake artist Harry Prebble (Raymond Burr) who is doing a sketch of Crystal. Prebble is your typical playboy putting the moves on Crystal then expertly switching track to Norah when she shows up with Sally to lunch with her roommates. They take off. Harry Prebble gets a frantic call from a woman. She tells him that he's got to help her. He tells her to take it easy and hangs up.

Later that night at the apartment it's Norah's birthday. She plans on having a romantic dinner for two. Her and her fiance George. He's in Korea but she has his photo on the table and his last letter she received. She douses the lights, sits at the candlelit table set for two, opens the champagne, toasts her fiance and takes out his letter.....
 
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Norah Larkin (Anne Baxter)
 
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Later that night at the apartment it's Norah's birthday. She plans on having a romantic dinner for two. Her and her fiance George. He's in Korea but she has his photo on the table and his last letter she received. She douses the lights, sits at the candlelit table set for two, opens the champagne, toasts her fiance and takes out his letter.....

Cue the cheap piano music...
 
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In voice over we hear George tell her that he's been thinking a lot about her and also about an army nurse he met in Tokyo where he took a load of commie shrapnel they gave him in Korea. Her name is Angela. She supplied the strength and courage to pull him through. He tells Norah that he didn't want it to happen but it's the real McCoy, and that he's going to marry Angela as soon as he gets out. It's a Dear Jane letter.
 
As soon as she finishes the letter coincidentally the phone starts ringing. The studio "B" units knew how to move a story along.
 
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It's Harry on the phone looking for Crystal. He asks Norah thinking she's Crystal to "how about slipping into something comfortable, like a few drinks and some Chinese food?"
 
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Norah tells him alright she will. He tells her to meet him at the Blue Gardenia on Vine right off Hollywood. 
Norah tells Sally that she's going out, with a man. Sally is perplexed until Norah leaves and she reads the letter.

At the Blue Gardenia, Harry is ordering dinner for two, he tells the waiter to keep the Polynesian Pearl Divers coming and to tell the barman to go heavy on the rum. Hey every playboy knows candy is dandy but liquor is quicker, no? While Harry wanders around the Blue Gardenia waiting for his date, he runs into Casey at the bar.

Norah shows up and surprises Harry, who tells her he was expecting Crystal.
 
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Norah tells him she had answered the phone. She tells Harry that it was a silly impulse. Harry tells her impulses are never silly and to sit. As soon as they sit the waiter delivers two Polynesian Pearl Divers.
 
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getting drunk on Polynesian Pearl Divers


Harry Prebble: [speaking about a Polynesian Pearl Diver cocktail] These aren't really drinks. They're trade-winds across cool lagoons. They're the Southern Cross above coral reefs. They're a lovely maiden bathing at the foot of a waterfall.

Norah tells Harry she wants to forget the earlier part of the evening. Harry leers. he buys her a blue gardenia from a flower lady and Nat King Cole breaks into the song of the same title.
 
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Nat King Cole
 
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showing Harry some cleavage

Norah is getting tipsy. She's showing Harry quite a bit of cleavage. Harry drives her to his place. He breaks out the champagne. He spins a platter of Nat King Cole singing "Blue Gardenia." Harry kills the lights. Norah gets comfy on the couch. Harry gets a bit too frisky. Norah fights him off. She grabs a poker from the fireplace stand and beans him with it. Norah passes out.
 
 
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Harry sits down on the couch beside Norah and gets a bit too frisky. Norah fights him off. She grabs a poker from the fireplace stand and beans him with it. Norah passes out.
 
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blacking out....
Norah comes to a few hours later and runs barefoot out of Harry's house and into the rainy night. The next morning his cleaning lady finds Harry's body.
 
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Coming to...
 
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running out into the night....

At the girls apartment Crystal sees Norah's clothes are strewn upon the floor. She wakes up Norah who is sleeping in the raw. Crystal mentions she must have had quite the night. Norah tells her she blacked out and doesn't remember anything.

The police find clues at Harry's, a pair of size five women shoes, a fireplace poker, a blue gardenia. The cleaning lady did her job, she moved and cleaned the evidence before finding the body so no fingerprints are found. Their investigations though do lead them to the telephone company operator pool, which was Harry's favorite "hunting ground" for his models.

The police begin to question the girls who posed for Prebble. Norah thinks she may have killed Prebble.

Casey Mayo begins to investigate and write a series of columns about what he dubs the "Blue Gardenia Murderess." He snoops out that the killer was a blonde, had a quite gentle voice, and wore a black taffeta dress. When Norah reads about the dress, she burns hers in the incinerator.

Casey's next stunt is to write a "Letter to an Unknown Murderess," calling for her to turn herself in. He gets a lot of nuts replying to it.
 
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Here director Lang has a nice sequence of Casey answering the crank calls of disillusioned and slightly disturbed ladies who crave attention. We get close-ups of the pathetic women building up their possible legitimacy in the viewers eyes, only to have Casey dash their accounts as lies.
 
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When Norah finally calls in Casey figures correctly that she is the one. When they meet Norah tells Casey she is there for a friend. Casey tells Norah that he's willing to pay the attorney fees if her friend gives herself up. It all goes Noirsville when the police show up at a lunch counter where Casey and Norah arrange another meeting.
 
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betrayed....
Norah thinks Casey betrayed her.

Noirsville
 
 
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Rose (Ruth Storey)
 
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The cast does an admirable job with a routine story. Of course being made under the Motion Picture Production Code, all the references to why Rose is frantically trying to speak with Harry are reduced to subtext references. Harry, apparently, supplied Rose with enough Polynesian Pearl Divers to successfully dive  down on her "pearl," getting her pregnant in the process. She wants Harry to make her an "honest" woman, in the parlance of the times, to marry her. Oh, how quaint and innocent the Hollywood Studio powers were (on the outside) in the straight-laced 1950's and how the sexual Pandora's Box was nuked open by Sexploitation in the late 1960s.

I personally get a kick out of Anne Baxter's very convincing tipsy woman sequences at the Blue Gardenia and at Harry's studio/pad. Sothern is a hoot with a cig perpetually dangling from her bottom lip, Burr is appropriately slimey, and it's always great seeing Nat King Cole. Screen caps are from a TCM streamer. Café au lait Noir 7/10 

Full Review with more screencaps in Noirsville.

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Ms.45 (1981) Vigilante Redux

 
Directed by Abel Ferrara (The Driller Killer(1979), Bad Lieutenant (1992)).

Written by Nicholas St. John (screenplay) (as N.G. St. John). The cinematography was by James Lemmo credited as James Momel. The music by Joe Delia.

The film sort of homages Death Wish (1974), Seven Beauties (1975), and Taxi Driver (1976).

The film stars Zoë Tamerlis as Thana, Albert Sinkys as Albert, Darlene Stuto as Laurie, Helen McGara as Carol, Nike Zachmanoglou as Pamela, Abel Ferrara as First Rapist (credited as "Jimmy Laine") Peter Yellen as The Burglar and Editta Sherman as Mrs. Nasone.

Another vigilante Neo Noir, this time with a post traumatic stress disorder twist.

Thanta, a drab, mute, mousey, seamstress working in some fashion line house in Manhattan's Garment District is raped on her way back home after work.
 
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Thanta ( Zoë Tamerlis )
 
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Pulled into and alley
 
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raped
Meanwhile, coincidently, a burglar has broken into Thanta's apartment and he is rummaging around looking for money and valuables. He's still there when the traumatized Thanta arrives home.
 
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The burglar (Peter Yellen)
 
He asks for her money, she can't reply, so he pulls his gun and rapes her also.
 
 
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raped again
During this second rape Thanta is able to grab a glass paper weight off a table and smack the burglar upside the head. While he's knocked out, Thanta grabs her iron and finishes the guy off then drags him into her bathroom and dumps him in her tub. His .45 she puts into a side table draw.
 
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She goes back to work the following day never revealing what happened. Her coworkers do notice that she is acting strange. Thanta while watching someone replace a plastic bag in a trash container gets an idea of how she can dispose the body.

She gets a serrated knife and cuts the guy up. Wrapping the pieces up in newspaper and stuffing him into plastic bags. These, after dumping out the food, she puts in her refrigerator.
 
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Over the next few weeks she drops the pieces all over the city. In garbage cans, in empty lots, even in the open trunk of a guy packing luggage for a trip.
 
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getting rid of the burglar
 
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Thanta while outwardly looking clam however is deeply troubled. She hallucinates her attackers. Mrs Nasone her landlady also picks up on Thanta's strange behavior and Phil her can smell the "cold cuts" in the fridge and beings to incessantly bark.
 
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Phil smelling meat
 
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Phil and Mrs Nasone (Editta Sherman)
During one of her body disposal trips a guy who is hitting on every woman who passes him notices Thanta drop a paper bag among debris in a trash pile. He picks up the bag and runs after Thanta who flees down a dead end alley.
 
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than one
Cornered, she pulls out the .45 and blasts the guy when he catches up to her.

Now she begins a vendetta against men she deems as threatening.
 
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She even changes her appearance putting on makeup wearing more seductive clothes all to attract men.
 
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 Her plan works but it all goes Noirsville when she attends a Halloween Party given by her boss Albert.

Noirsville
 
 
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Albert (Albert Sinkys)
 
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As Thanta, Zoë Tamerlis' performance is intriguing it's all facial expressions and physical body language. Editta Sherman as Mrs. Nasone the wacky looking landlady is memorable.

The film was initially critically panned on its theatrical release. Now it get pretty high maks from  underground and independent film fans. Screen caps are from a Youtube screener. Worth a look 7/10

Full review with more screencaps at Noirsville.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Reservoir Dogs (1992) Low Budget Neo Noir Masterpiece

Not much new or original can be said of Reservoir Dogs.

It premiered during that Neo Noir renaissance that ignited in the 90's after smouldering and building up nicely during the 80's. The 80's gave us memorable and visual gems like De Palma's Dressed to Kill (1980)  Kathleen Turner's Body Heat (1981), SyFy Noir Blade Runner (1982), period piece Hammett (1982), Vice Squad(1982), the Coen's Blood Simple (1984), Wim Wenders  Paris, Texas (1984), Eastwood's Tightrope (1984), Smog Noir To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986), Supernatural Noir's Angel Heart (1987) and little seen Siesta (1987), and John Dahl's Kill Me Again (1989). Sleeper period noir Union City (1980) with Debra Harry, and Martin Scorsese's New York City Screwball Ensemble Noir After Hours (1985)

The 90's caught a breeze and Neo Noir flared up with The Grifters (1990), The Hot Spot (1990), Wild At Heart (1990), Impulse (1990), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), Red Rock West(1993), Romeo Is Bleeding (1993), True Romance (1993), The Wrong Man (1993), The Last Seduction (1994), Pulp Fiction (1994), Natural Born Killers (1994), Se7en (1995), Fargo(1996), Hard Eight (1996), Mulholland Falls (1996), Hit Me (1996), Jackie Brown (1997), L.A. Confidential (1997), Lost Highway (1997), This World, Then the Fireworks (1997), and Dark City (1998) and Screwball Ensemble Noir The Big Lebowski (1998). There were even more that I haven't mentioned, and cable TV's Showtime had a period Film Noir anthology series called Fallen Angels beginning in 1993 . Neo Noir was going through a very creative period.

In Reservoir Dogs Quentin Tarantino earned his Neo Noir punch card. It's an exceptionally stylistic  film. You can see Sergio Leone's influences in the fractured storylines (Once Upon A Time In America), the picaresque humor (For A Few Dollars More) and the three way Mexican Standoff (The Good The Bad And The Ugly) in a lot rent brick warehouse in Highland Park, City Of Angels. You can hear the brilliance of Tarantino's organic sounding dialogue and enjoy the audio punctuations that accompany the interesting camera movements and angles. It's a hoot.

The cast can boast six Classic Film Noir veteran actor Lawrence Tierney and Neo Noir vets Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen, Steve Buscemi. Of the rest Chris Penn, and Tim Roth's careers really took off, Randy Brooks and Kirk Blatz are still pretty active and only real excon Edward Bunker sort of stayed on the back burner (and probably out of trouble) careerwise. All the actors in the film are intense and compelling.
 
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Michael Madsen and Edward Bunker
 
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Harvey Keitel
 
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Lawrence Tierney    
 
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Steve Buscemi 
Bunker has quite the story. He started his crime spree at age 3 with destruction of private property. He took a claw hammer to a neighbor's incinerator.. At 4 he graduated to arson, setting fire to either the same neighbor's garage or one of the others. A bit more violent at 15 he jabbed a fork in another boy's eyeball. By 17 after a series of assaults and robberies, punctuated by the stabbing of a guard he impressed a judge enough to be sentenced to San Quentin as its youngest inmate.

Noirsville
 
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low angle style
 
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A flat-ish Dutch angle a sweet slide on the pave to hell
 
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Leone reference:  Above, Buscemi and Keitel doing the Tuco and Blondie parts at Sad Hill Cemetery while Madsen appears suddenly in Angel Eye's mode below.
 
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Tim Roth
 
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low angle style
 
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Another Leone reference: Il Triello with low angle style
 
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reflections

 

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Kirk Blatz
 
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If you haven't seen it, do so. 10/10

Review with more screen caps here Noirsville

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The Kill-Off (1989) Jersey Noir

 
(origin - SLWB, August 03, 2014, 03:12:30 PM ) Surprisingly I neglected to published this here as I usually do.
 
A spider nest on the Jersey Shore.

A flyspeck (Keansburg) covered with the glistening webs of utility wires. It's an attraction. A run down amusement park town in the dead of the off season is the bleak setting for The Kill-Off an excellent, off the radar, low budget, Neo Noir based on Jim Thompson’s novel of the same name.

The story is updated to postcode late 1988, Newbie Director Maggie Greenwald does a fantastic job re-creating a Neo Noir milieu effectively, with limited sets and aside from Jorja Fox (Myra), William Russell (Rags), and Cathy Haase  (Dannie Lee), for the most part a majority of great but career-wise, comparatively flash-in-the-pan actors. Produced in 1988 by Palace Pictures.

The cast of practically all looser slime balls include, Luane (Loretta Gross), a bedridden hypochondriac, a black widow who has sat for years in the center of a web of telephone lines. Her poison tongue gossip and innuendos about the various denizens of the town results most recently, in the twin suicides of  a brother & sister when she suggests that the sister has her siblings “bun in the oven“.  The telephone Luan holds is a powerful weapon in the hands of a skillful equivocator.
 
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Luane (Loretta Gross)
 
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Ralph (Steve Monroe) is Luane’s slow on the uptake “stupe” of  husband. Pete (Jackson Sims) is  the owner of The Pavilion a boardwalk skid row dive bar who needs money, Rags (Russell ) is Pete’s on the wagon, head bartender, Myra (Fox) is Pete’s rebellious daughter, Bobbie (Andrew Lee Barrett) the “skell” drug pusher after Myra  who is dealing out of The Pavilion. Myra gives Bobbie blowjobs in the front seat of his parked '69 Chevy Impala. And the last to be introduced is a full figured ex prostitute turned stripper, Dannie Lee (Hasse) who is wonderfully spot on as one of the femme fatales who triggers The Kill Off.
 
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Ralph (Steve Monroe)
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Pete (Jackson Sims) 
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Rags (Russell)
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Myra (Fox)
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Bobbie (Andrew Lee Barrett)
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Dannie Lee (Hasse)
The story un-spools as follows,  years ago Luane’s dead father scams $10,000 from Pete but dies before he can spend “the sugar“. The money is never recovered and Pete strongly suspects Luane of holding out on him. Pete and Rags decide that the best way to get The Pavilion off the skids is to turn it into a strip joint so Pete takes off down the Garden State Parkway looking for a stripper. In some industrial section he spots local  talent Dannie Lee selling her **** on the street in front of a gutted building. Pete pulls over, gets out and looks her over. Dannie Lee gets apprehensive as Pete physically twists her about checking her various assets, and asking  her if she ever took dancing lessons. She indignantly tells him to f-off until Pete responds by asking “how would you like to make money inside.... standing up for a change?” Meanwhile, Bobbie gets Myra hooked by Bobbie on horse and scams Ralph out of his winter maintenance job at the Park.
 
 
 
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"Why'd you do it Bobbie?"


Ralph: Why'd you do it Bobbie?
Bobbie: I needed a job.
Ralph: I had that job for ten years.
Bobbie: Too bad.
Ralph: Taking the bread out of peoples mouths.
Bobbie: So what?

Ralph married at 18 to Luane who was in her 30's have a bizarre open marriage, Ralph has one night stands with local teeny boppers and as long as Ralph tells Luane the details she’s cool with it, cool with it until Ralph gets bounced by Dannie Lee. You watch the train wreck in Noirsville unfolding with rapt interest.

Noirsville
 
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“how would you like to make money inside.... standing up for a change?”
 
 
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There are poignant yet equally touching moments throughout the film especially Dannie Lee's learning curve as a stripper and the love story that develops between her and Ralph. Also watch for the sequence where Luane vamps about her bedroom as Dannie Lee strips.

Every aspect of the film hits on all cylinders, the script based on Jim Thompson’s novel by Maggie Greenwald is ripe with good one liners. The music by Evan Lurie (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle) tongue & grooves with the environs of the story well.

The noir-ish cinematography by Declan Quinn (Leaving Las Vegas) enhances the dreary winter Raritan Bay seaside atmosphere and the low class bungalow interiors, especially when filtered through a murky unofficial DVDr, the film can only improve with a proper DVD release.  7/10 and going up with a proper release.  Full review with more screencaps at 

Noirsville

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Girl In Trouble (1963) New Orleans Tail Fin Sexploitation Noir

 
 
"New Orleans Sexploitation Sinema"

TAMMY CLARK is a Girl in Trouble, a Farmer's Daughter from the sticks who runs off to the Big City in search of "glamour, bright lights, pretty clothes, and excitement" but, instead, becomes a maybe-murderess-lingerie-model-turned-stripper named "Jane Smith" in this fun, shot-in-New-Orleans melodrama-with-titty that's sleazy, nasty, and often downright hilarious! (Handsome Harry Archer - Something Weird)

Directed by Brandon Chase (credited as Lee Beale) who is better known as a New-Orleans based producer. Written by Anthony Naylor (screenplay), and Brandon Chase (as Lee Beale). The film boasts some great Cinematography was by Leo J. Hebert but has no Music credit just a sound department.
 
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Judy Collins (Tammy Clarke)
The film stars Tammy Clarke as Judy Collins/Jane Smith, Ray Menard as John Watson, Neiomi Salitech as Mona,  Larry Johnson as Mr. Joe Smith, Martin Smith as Harry Calhoun, Bettina Johnson as Loni, Charles Murphy as the Hotel Clerk, and "The Crescent City."

Once again, out of the lurid pulp fiction paperback kiosks and newsstands, comes a film based on a plethora of "girl in trouble" titles that titillated young male psyches, including mine, in the 50s and 60s.

It's starts like the old public service warning films about marijuana, or other vices. The opening shot is of a letter written to a friend warning of how big city life has caused poor Judy Collins to sin, and how she wishes she could get back home.

This is followed by a nicely filmed sequence of a frenetic ambulance ride shot from the top of the vehicle behind the gumdrop emergency light through the streets of New Orleans. The story is told in flashback.
 
Judy Collins is a hayseed from hicksville Louisiana. The place is called Springfield. She's just graduated, her boy friend John wants to get married but Judy 's been taking care of her father, cooking, cleaning and washing clothes and she doesn't want to just make a square trade off and start do it all for John. She tells John no and sneaks off at night for New Orleans. She wants adventure and bright lights.

So Judy is walking into town with a suitcase. It's night. She twists her ankle and begins to limp.
 
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Judy with John Watson (Ray Menard)
Up drives a Lincoln Continental with a good Samaritan Joe Smith. He's a traveling salesman. He offers her a lift into town. She accepts. He asks if she's going to the bus station or the train depot. Tammy hasn't thought that far ahead. Joe tells her that she may have a long wait. He then suggests that since he's driving to New Orleans she might as well ride with him it's 2-300 miles he tells her. Tammy is reluctant at first but true to form dumb as a stump. She gets in the Continental.
 
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Joe Smith (Larry Johnson)
 
Tired, Judy falls asleep. The traveling salesman takes a dirt road detour with some backwoods **** in mind. He figures a ride for a ride. He drags Judy kicking and screaming out of the car.
 
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He throws her to ground and tries to wet his noodle. Judy wants none of his al dente pasta. In a sort of updated switched gender homage to Detour Judy kisses him in the head with a rock. A blood covered Judy scoots out from under limp Joe.

Judy V.O. narration: I didn't know if he was dead or not! I was past thinking!

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Judy jumps in Lincoln and drives herself in a downpour to New Orleans. It's a nicely filmed sequence.
 
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In the "Crescent City" Tammy ditches the car grabs her suitcase and checks into The Lynrose a fleabag hotel tucked in between the New Orleans Vending Company and Julio Lopez's Press Bar and Cocktail Lounge in the Raymond's Beach section of New Orleans.
 
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A leering old geezer desk clerk gives her a card. Thinking she better cover her tracks she signs it Jane Smith. Judy heads up to her room. The desk clerk has sunk up into an adjoining room and is spying on her. Judy strips down to her panties,stockings and garter belt.
 
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She's washing the blood off her dress and bra. When she notices the peeping tom she freaks out grabs her suitcase and handbag and splits. Down it the lobby the clerk tells Judy that she better be nice to him or he'll tell the cops about the bloodstains.

Cut to Judy walking down a tree lined street. She spots a room for rent sign and decides to get it. She makes friends with Mona a hooker who's been around the block quite a few times. Judy goes job hunting getting turned down most places because she has no experience.
 
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Judy and Mona (Neiomi Salitech)
 
Judy settles for a job as a waitress. When Judy doesn't put out for the owner he fires her. Mona gets Judy a job modeling lingerie. All goes well until a special out of town buyer Mr. Calhoun wants a girl to "model" up in his hotel room. Judy reluctantly agrees to do the job.
 
It all starts to go really Noirsville when Calhoun jumps her bones **** her in the bedroom.
 
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When Judy gets back to the rooming house she packs up her belongings and is about to leave when she meets Mona who again offers her some comfort and more advise. Mona suggests since she has the body for it she might as well show it off for money.
 
Mona: What do ya got to loose? Oh I'm sorry kid, what I mean is let 'em look, but make them pay for it.
Judy: I guess you're right, I've got to do something.

Judy now a genuine "soiled dove" goes along with Mona's idea to become a Bourbon Street stripper at her friend Nick's place, the Club Flamingo.
 
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Noirsville
 
 
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Here is another Tail Fin Noir with decent comparably decent acting that gets unfairly dumped in with all the Sexploitation dregs. The acting is adequate enough for a low budget film and the cinematography and seedy locations intriguing. The archival nature of the New Orleans of 1963 worth the watch alone. Screencaps are from a Something Weird streamer 6.5-7/10. Full review with more screencaps here Noirsville
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M (1951) A Visual Archive of 50s L.A.

 
"If they're 'psychos', how come the hospitals turn 'em loose?"

There is already a plethora of learned scribblings devoted to M.

The 1932 version crafted by Fritz Lang is a masterpiece. A case history of a psychopathic child killer, a chilling subject. It was produced by Seymour Nebenzal. That twenty years later, Nebenzal again turned to the same material and remade a bona fide classic took a lot of balls. This version was of course hampered by the Motion Picture Production Code. The queasy subject of molestation had to be cloaked, hinted at with visual metaphors, and yet the film is taut, the acting amazing and the pace exciting. The murderer makes off with trophies, the little girls shoes (stand ins for probably the obvious i.e., their panties). A metaphor for their innocence, their virginity.

Director Joseph Losey with writers Norman Reilly Raine, Leo Katcher and Waldo Salt, do justice updating Fritz Lang and Thea von Harbou vision. The Cinematography was by Ernest Laszlo the  Music by Michel Michelet. Of the actors David Wayne gives an amazing tour de force performance. Howard da Silva,  Martin Gabel, Luther Adler, John Miljan, Raymond Burr, Glenn Anders, Steve Brodie, Karen Morley, and Janine Perreau all acquit themselves admirably.

For me I enjoy it all and especially the visuals of a mostly gone forever L.A.


Angels Flight

The film opens with a night ride up Angels Flight from Third and Hill Street, to Third and Olive Street. We learn of the child murders from the screaming headlines of the bundled papers tossed in the funicular car by a news delivery man.
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The ride up Angels Flight beginning at bottom Hill Avenue & entrance to Third Street Tunnel
 
 
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Looking East down Third Street
Visual Metaphors

During the credit sequence, that follows, because of the Motion Picture Production Code visual metaphors were used. The Losey version makes a point of stating that the killer does not "violate" his victims, but if you watch the title sequence it says something else, there are some very explicit visual clues of what he does do.

A little girl is standing by a vending machine that has a mirror we first see David Wayne in the mirror he's playing with a toy called a "whizzer" he pulling on it stretching and releasing it at crotch level no less.  It attracts the attention of the little girl, she's curious about it. It's not much of a stretch to say its a visual metaphor for exposing himself to the child. He's pulled out and playing with his ****, playing with it, stretching it and making it grow.
 
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Another sequence follows a little girl is attempting to drink from a fountain. David Wayne approaches. His back is to the camera, looks again like he's exposed himself. We first see a stream of water, again at crotch level its as if he is peeing. He again attracts the curiosity of the girl. The very next image has the little girl bending over towards his crotch. This suggests the possible performance of oral sex. The oral metaphor is enhanced by Wayne playing a toy flute throughout the film, a sexually deviant pied piper.
 
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Another sequence finds Wayne watching a little girl take off her shoes, later we know that he collects the shoes of his victims, makes and sense? no. But this is code Hollywood, and Wayne is a pedophile sex maniac from the aforementioned visual clues. So obviously the shoes have to be a metaphor for the girls panties. 
 
One of the final shots in the title sequence has Wayne leaning up against a boardwalk rail with his body in a very twisted almost "S" shape. He's a "Sicko." seriously twisted.
  
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We then  creepily follow the pedophile on his hunts for new victims....
 
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bingo! Elsie Coster and her ball
 
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Bunker Hill
 
Wayne's latest victim resides with her mother in the Alta Vista Apartment house at the West end of the Bunker Hill section of Third Street just above and North of the tunnel portal. The Alta Vista was the setting for the 1939 novel "Ask The Dust" by Italian-American author John Fante It was set during the Great Depression-era in Los Angeles. The novel is an American classic.
 
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The Alta Vista Apartments 255 South Bunker Hill Avenue
 
 
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Mrs Coster, (Karen Morley) in an Alta Vista apartment.
 
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Interior hallway looking up...
 
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...and down
When her little girl Elsie does not come back from school with the other children Mrs. Coster is frantic.
 
 
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Above,  Mrs Coster along side the Alta Vista, looking for Elsie. To her right is the small terrace park above the West Portal of the Third Street Tunnel. Note the clothesline with wash hanging between the palm trees, how L.A.
 
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Sunshine Apartments on Clay Street and Third and behind the Hillcrest Hotel
 
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David Wayne's apartment house at 315 South Bunker Hill Ave
 
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a 1950 Studebaker Commander 
 
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David Wayne above West Portal of Third Street Tunnel
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Hope Street headwall above Third Street Tunnel. 
 
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Hope Street Stairway
 
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Third Street Tunnel West Portal
 
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Angels Flight and Third Street Tunnel East Portal
 
For the rest of the images of the L.A. Gas Works, Ocean Park Pier, and the Bradbury Building check full review at Noirsille.
 
The remake like it's predecessor is more about how society reacts to the shocking murders than the murders themselves. It in this respect mimics the hysteria of the hunt for the "card carrying commies" by the House Un-American Activities Committee. Director Losey and other in the cast were under investigation during the principal photography.

The remake suffers from being relatively unknown until fairly recently, eclipsed by Lang's original masterpiece on one hand and from it being shelved by Columbia Pictures soon after release. 8/10
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Bullitt (1968) San Francisco Noir Masterpiece

Bullitt directed stylishly and masterfully by British director Peter Yates.

It was his first US film. Yates had started out as a TV director noted for The Saint TV Series (1962–1969) and Danger Man (original title) known in the US as Secret Agent Man (starring Patrick McGoohan) TV Series (1964–1967).

Yates was tapped for the job at the request of star Steve McQueen. McQueen had screened Robbery (1967). It was Yate's first film. A film that in it's opening sequences depict the robbery and a very stylistic and exciting high speed getaway through the streets of London using 1966 Jaguar MK 2s. You can see the genesis of the iconic car chase in Bullitt. I'm sure it gave McQueen a jonze to do something similar.

Yates later helmed The Friends of Eddie Coyle, and stuff as diverse as Breaking Away to 1983's The Dresser 

What makes Bullitt a masterpiece is the paella of talent present.

Bullitt was written by Alan Trustman and Harry Kleiner. They based their screenplay on Robert L. Fish's novel Mute Witness which Fish wrote under the pseudonym of Robert L. Pike. The novel BTW interestingly takes place in New York City with the crooked witness in the novel coming from the West Coast. In the film the witness is coming from Chicago to the West Coast to testify.

The film showcases the cool jazz music of Argentinian born pianist of Lalo Schifrin known for The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission Impossible TV series among others and films Once a ThiefCoogan's BluffCool Hand LukeDirty Harry, and Mission: Impossible (1996).

The amazing stunt car driving by Steve McQueen, and veteran stunt drivers Carey Loftin, Bud Ekins, Loren Janes, the great Bill Hickman also driver in The French Connectionand The Seven-Ups.

The actors along with Steve McQueen, include Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Vaughn ((Mike Hammer TV Series (1958–1959), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. TV Series (1964–1968,  The American Side), the destined for future greatness Robert Duvall, late Classic Film Noir vet, Simon Oakland (I Want to Live!, Psycho, and The Night Stalker TV film and later series), and Norman Fell (The Violators (1957), Ocean's 11 (1960), The Killers (1964), Catch-22 (1970), Charley Varrick (1973)). The final character is 1968 San Francisco.
 
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Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen)
 
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Captain Bennet (Simon Oakland)
 
 
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Delgetti (Don Gordon)
 
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Bullitt and Chalmers (Robert Vaughn)
 
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Baker (Norman Fell) and Chalmers
 
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Cathy (Jacqueline Bisset)
What makes Bullitt a noir masterpiece is the excellent cinematography by William A. Fraker (Rosemary's BabyCoonskinThe Killer Inside Me (1976), who used the new lightweight Arriflex cameras available which contributed greatly to the films in your face style and exciting location footage, juxtaposed with dark claustrophobic sequences. The Academy Award winning editing was by Frank P. Keller.

So here's the low down.

Walter Chalmers (Vaughn) a politico, oozing sleaze, has a star witness Johnny Ross a bent Chicago mobster, that he's gonna showpiece at a big Senate subcommittee organized crime shindig being held in San Francisco. Chalmers wants Ross put in protective custody under Frank Bullitt (McQueen) a notorious hard as nails SFPD detective and his crack team of Delgetti (Don Gordon) and Stanton (Carl Reindel). They take Ross to a seedy dive hotel that was specifically chosen by Chalmers.
 
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dive hotel
 
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It's 1:00 AM. It's Stanton's shift. He gets a call that Chalmers is coming up to speak with Ross. Stanton calls Bullitt to check in. While Stanton is distracted on the phone, Ross unlocks and unchains the door.
 
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shotgun

Instead of Chalmers, two hitmen crash open the door and the one with a sawed off automatic shotgun (Paul Genge) shoots both Stanton and Ross with double aught buckshot. The two hitmen split. However they were sloppy. The hit is not successful for both Stanton and Ross are still alive but barely.  
 
 
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Instead of Chalmers, two hitmen crash open the door and the one with a sawed off automatic shotgun (Paul Genge ) shoots both Stanton and Ross with double aught buckshot. The two hitmen split. However they were sloppy. The hit is not successful for both Stanton and Ross are still alive but barely.
 
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Chalmers is understandably upset. However while riding in the ambulance with the wounded Stanton, Bullitt learns from him both what the hitmen looked like, and that it was Ross that unlocked the door to let them in. ****. It was a setup and Bullitt suspects something fishy is going on with Chalmers.

Later, Bullitt is at the hospital guarding Ross and worried about Stanton. Bullitt is alerted by hospital personnel when a stranger matching the description he got from Stanton, was asking the whereabouts of the gunshot victim Ross. Bullitt foils another attempt on Ross chasing the hitman down through the hospital and into the basement. The hitman gets away.
 
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The hitman (Paul Genge)
 
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After returning to the intensive care unit Bullitt discovers that Ross has gone into cardiac arrest. After repeated attempts at resuscitation Ross dies. Bullitt decides to keep the death a secret and has the body transferred as a John Doe to the morgue. He figures correctly that the hitmen will now tail him to try and find where Bullitt has Ross hidden and try and make another attempt to kill him.

Meanwhile Bullitt begins backtracking Ross' movements before he voluntarily went into police custody. He does that by using Sunshine Cabs. Weissberg (Robert Duvall) is the cab driver who  picked up Ross from the airport. Bullitt has him re-drive the route and Bullitt asks him to remember everything Ross did. Bullit finds out that he made two phone calls from a pay phone and that one of those calls was long distance.
 
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Cab driver Weissburg (Robert Duvall)


From one of Bullitts stooley's in the rackets, he finds out that Ross stole two million from the wiseguys in Chicago and that there was an attempt to whack him there also. Ross agreeing to be a  witness testifying against the mob was part of a protection deal with Chalmers.

Bullitt gets in his 68 Mustang. He spots a suspicious car in his rear view. A 68 Dodge Charger is tailing him.  Stepping on the gas Bullitt quickly is able to circle around the block and is now tailing the two hitmen. As soon as the hitmen notice Bullitt behind them the iconic benchmark chase sequence up and down the hills of San Francisco begins.
 
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airborne
 
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It all goes Noirsville when Bullitt discovers that the body in the morgue is just a Ross look-a-like and Chalmers is in on the switcheroo for a cut of the dough.

Noirsville
 
 
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Bullitt is considered one of the 1000 best movies ever made. Screencaps from TCM cablecast 10/10 Full review with more screencaps here Noirsville
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Ironweed (1987) Halloween - Skid Row Noir

 
"On All Hallows Eve, the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead was thin. It allowed the souls of the dead  to come back to earth and walk among the living." (Holiday Insights) 

Ironweed was directed masterfully by Brazilian native Héctor Babenco, (PixoteAt Play in the Fields of the Lord).

The screenplay was by William Kennedy based on his the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. The cinematography was by Lauro Escorel, and the music was by John Morris.

Babenco shot most of the film on location in the upper Hudson Valley of New York State. The gritty locations include the seedy sides of, Albany, Glenville, Athens, Slingerlands, Troy, Watervliet, and Hudson. Hudson by the way was the town that filled in for the town of Melton in Classic Noir Odds Against Tomorrow.

When I saw this film back in 1987 I wasn't remotely into Film Noir, I was a Western aficionado. I wasn't appreciating what I saw at the time. Two down and out characters that a thirty-four year old found un-relateable and slightly repulsive.

Watching this film again just the other night was a eye opener. I never appreciated it at the time I saw it. I needed to acquire a sense of noir-ish cinematic memory. You only achieve this by getting quite a few Film Noir and Transitional Noirs under one's belt. Then you start to appreciate the iconography, see the tropes, the patterns, the archetypes, the full range of the Noir spectrum. When all the right ingredients are there your mind clicks. Noir is a drug for the mind, you know it when you watch it. Noir stimulates aesthetic, emotional and occasionally erotic feelings.

Ironweed not only makes great use of the above mentioned locations but Babenco's moody style uses both eerie gin soaked flashbacks and slightly disorienting DT hallucinations.

Ironweed is just one relentless downward spiral of melancholy and regret.

Jack Nicholson as Francis Phelan actually will blow you away.  Nicholson gives what is one of his best performances. He's an on the skids has been ballplayer.....
 
 

Wind, the great outside. A slow thundering steam locomotive leaves a freight yard it brought a cargo of broken dreams. It whistle a call of the wild-**** ones. The losers, the dreamers, the vagabonds, ones that were just plain unlucky to be in the right place at the wrong time. The ones...  kissed with life's wrench. Living literally on the Earth.

From the steam to the clouds to the Moon and  Milky Way to the sounds of morning. An edifice, a building, a man made cliff. Wind the atmospheric river's current. A flock of birds.
 
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A bum sleeping in the wind shadow at the edge of the mythic "la strada," the road, on the grass. He's lying in a shallow notch. A building corner, up against the bricks. He's camouflaged by soot, grime, dust, grease, and dirt. He's wearing a fedora, a blanket over a rumpled suit, and cardboard. He's causing a drift of leaves and trash. He blends with the cityscape. If he doesn't awaken he'll be just a piece of life's trash.

The pile stirs. So begins Ironweed.

He sits up. Raises he right arm clutching a bottle of booze. Checking the dregs. He's a hobo stew-bum delivered by the nightly freight drag. He's Frank Phelan, Albany hometown boy, a has been ball player, who deserted his family after he couldn't get his mind around the tragedy that in 1916 he accidentally dropped and killed his infant son.

He didn't know if the four beers he'd had or the fact that he was dead tired from work had something to do with it. He was, because of this unanswered question, haunted by guilt. Though his wife  forgave him, it still drove him away from his family, out on the road, and into a bottle to try and maintain. There are other ghosts in Franks closet.
 
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Frank makes his way along the wall to a main stem. He travels up the middle of the asphalt. He he's heading for a rendezvous. A bum rendezvous, centered around the arrives at the Mission Of Holy Redemption. At an oil drum fire the topic is the weather. Frank's back in town looking for Helen (Merle Streep).
 
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A bum rendezvous, centered around the arrives at the Mission Of Holy Redemption. At an oil drum fire the topic is the weather. Frank's back in town looking for Helen (Merle Streep).
 
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Frank Phelan (Jack Nicholson)
We are treated throughout the film to the unofficial tramp, bum, hobo, wino, derelict, etc., etc., merit badge shtick. Tying broken shoes together with long pieces of twine. Hanging out at the Salvation Army to score a new set of dead man's clothes. How to avoid getting your **** eat off by packs of wild dogs. How to work together with another bum to make enough money for a jug and a place to flop. Helen even learns she can get to sleep in a bums semi abandoned car and out of the cold, by jerking him off in the morning.

 
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Rudy (Tom Waits)

Frank recruits Rudy (Tom Waits) to work with him at the cemetery, gravediggin'. When they get done at sunset and are waiting for the truck to take them back, Frank visits his own family's neighborhood in the bone yard.
 
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At the grave of his infant son he breaks down in a compelling performance by Nicholson. Pee Wee questions Frank, Frank haltingly spills the beans.

Rudy: You know somebody that's buried up there?
Frank:  Yeah, a little kid.
Rudy: Little kid? What'd he do, die young?
Frank: Pretty young, yeah.
Rudy: What happened?
Frank: He fell.
Rudy: Fell where?
Frank:  On the floor.
Rudy: Fell on the floor? I fall on the floor about twice a day. I ain't dead yet.
Rudy: Fell on the floor, I fall on the floor twice a day and I ain't dead yet.
Frank: That's what you think.

On the bus back to the mission Frank passes his old house. Frank tells Rudy that he used to live there.

Rudy: Who lives there now?
Frank: Some people I used to know.
 
After dark while Rudy sleeps, Frank begins to flashback on the bus to the trolley strike, and the **** (Nathan Lane) he killed with a rock.
 
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In the first hallucination Frank converses with the **** about how they were taking away their jobs and keeping us from feeding our families. The **** replies that that is odd logic coming from a man who abandoned his own family. Frank tells the specter that he dropped his baby son and he died, he couldn't face that.
 
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**** (Nathan Lane)
He comes out of the hallucination screaming in the back of the bus.

The Mission of the Holy Redemption, Frank tells us is full of men who "don't believe in nothin', they's just hungry."
 
At the mission Frank gets a lead on another job for a rag picker, and while he's having a bowl of soup in walks Frank's gal pal Helen.
 
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Helen (Merle Streep)
Helen lays into Frank about how **** up he gets on whiskey, sayin' that he's bad enough on wine. She clams up when Frank tells her he's got six bucks. A small fortune during the depression. Helen gets testy with the preacher, apparently having something against Methodists. For six bucks, Helen tells Frank, that they could get their suitcases and phonographs out of hock and get a place. Helen's tale is one of quiet desperation a once upper class chanteuse whose career was a shooting star flash in the night never making the big time. She drinks to forget. She carries her dignity around in her suitcase, that, when out of hock and in a flop, she empties the contents, decorating her room like an Egyptian decorates a tomb for the after life, placing personal items around in the approximation of a normal life.

A bum at the mission tells Helen and Francis that Oscar Reo (Fred Gwynne) is in town, he used to sing on the radio like Helen. He was the most musical drunk they ever saw and he blew his career with booze. But he's back as a singing, on-the-wagon, bartender at The Gilded Cage. They arrive and listen to Oscar crooning.
 
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Oscar Reo (Fred Gwynne)
At the bar, when Helen reminds Oscar that she used to sing also. Oscar encourages her to belt one out. Frank buys Helen a flower and Helen reminisces about when they were lovebirds and had an apartment on Hamilton street. When Helen starts to sing it triggers her hallucination. She/s back in a nightclub singing "He's My Pal," and the swells are applauding. Reality is she's lost her voice and can't hit the high notes. Frank meanwhile is seeing dead men.
 
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Helen sings
 
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dead men
They head for a couple friends, fellow drinking buddies they know that have an apartment. They try to finagle a stay for the night but Helen blows it.

Finally Frank takes her to a bum that's got himself an abandoned car for a crash pad.

Helen can stay as long as he gets to cop a feel and then wacks him off in the morning. She's done the routine before. Frank heads to his old neighborhood.
 
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In the morning Helen pays off her debt with a hand-job.
 
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hand-job
 
 
Frank gets a job with a rag-man. This is a private carting enterprise that hauls away newspapers, rags, trash, and junk.
 
 
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Rag Man Rosskam (Hy Anzell)
 
 
When they get to Franks old neighborhood he gets a flashback of his first lay. She was an oversexed Victorian lady, who seduces Frank by coming out of the ornate gingerbread house naked.

When they arrive at Franks street he asks for his money and hops off the rag wagon. With some of the cash he buy's a turkey and calls on his wife Annie Phelan, (Caroll Baker). They haven't seen each other in 22 years. It's a touching reunion.
 
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Annie Phelan (Carroll Baker)
Of course, things continue to slowly go Noirsville.

Noirsville
 

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Ironweed got mixed reviews. Not many could relate to the downer story line but Nicholson, Streep, and Baker were amazing. Screencaps are from an online streamer. It's a downer but worth a watch 8/10

 

Full review with more screencaps here Noirsville.

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Nightmare Alley (1947) Carney/Spook Racket Noir Masterpiece

 
"How can a guy sink so low?
             He reached too high..."
Another Classic Film Noir that's today highly regarded.

Nightmare Alley is based on the 1946 novel of the same title, written by William Lindsay Gresham. Gresham has stated that the genesis of Nightmare Alley started with his early fascination with the sideshow attractions he found at Coney Island. And later with stories he swapped with a former sideshow employee, Joseph Daniel "Doc" Halliday, during the Spanish Civil War. He wrote the novel while working as a true crime editor for Fawcett Publications most likely Daring Detective or Dynamic Detective. Gresham also penned a nonfiction book about carnies entitled Monster Midway.

A movie rights dispute had kept this masterpiece out of the public eye for quite awhile. It was finally resolved back in the early 2000s and was brought out on DVD in Fox Home Entertainment's Film Noir DVD series.

A real "Debbie Downer" of a film that was released just after the end of WWII. Possibly the general public was craving mindless sugar coated pap after the long dreary war years.

Directed by Edmund Goulding and written by Jules Furthman. The films exquisite cinematography was by Lee Garmes (Scarface (1932), Shanghai Express (1932), Caught(1949) among others).

Nightmare Alley is one of a handful of Films Noir based in part on carnivals or have extended scenes occuring in amusement parks and other attractions, others are Girl On The Run, Strangers on a Train, Man in The Dark, Shanghai Express, Ministry of Fear, and Gun Crazy. There are probably more, I even remember a good French Noir, its title escapes me, that has a fiery end at a gypsy type trailer at a Paris street carnival.

Carnivals popup overnight on the edge of nice little towns like toadstools on a lawn....

Nightmare Alley in a way has a circular story line. Stanton "Stan" Carlisle (Tyrone Power) is a barker at a traveling carnival who loves the life of a carny. He works gathering up a crowd of rubes for Mademoiselle Zeena, a sideshow mentalist attraction. Zeena works with her alkie husband Pete. They were once in the big time.
 
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Stan Carlisle (Tyrone Power)
 
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Zeena (Joan Blondell)
 
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Pete (Ian Keith)
 
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They had a headlining vaudeville act and traveled the country. Zeena and Pete had a secret code that they used between them Pete was able to pass relevant info to Zeena. However Zeena was quite the beauty and attracted men. Zeena's flirting with them drove Pete to hit the bottle hard. The act deteriorated due to Pete's alcoholism to what it was now, a sort of simple switcheroo.
 
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Stan collected the audiences questions which they wrote on note paper. The pieces of note paper that Stan collected were then placed in a bowl with an open bottom This hole fed them to Pete sitting under the table where Zeena performed. To the audience it appeared that the collected notes were still in the bowl which Stan then set a fire with wood alcohol. Pete would read the notes and write the questions on a chalkboard. When Zeena looked down at her crystal ball she could see what Pete had written on the chalkboard. The info would astound the audience.

At an incident where a county sheriff is about to close down the carnival Stan beautifully cons the sheriff by quoting scripture and giving the sheriff a cold reading. Stan talks him into letting the show go on.
 
 
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Molly: You ought to have heard Stan spout the gospel to that old hypocrite. It was like being in Sunday school.
Zeena Krumbein: You must have been raised pretty religious.
Stanton Carlisle: Yeah, in a county orphanage.
Molly: Didn't you have any folks?
Stanton Carlisle: If I did, they weren't much interested.
Zeena Krumbein: Where'd you learn all this gospel?
Stanton Carlisle: In the orphanage. That's what they used to give us on Sunday after beating us black-and-blue all week. Then when I ran away, they threw me in the reform school. But that's where I got wise to myself. I let the chaplain save me, and got a parole in no time. Boy, how I went for salvation! Comes in kind of handy when you're in a jam. Many's a judge I've talked right out of his shirt.

Stan begins to get chummy with Zeena and Pete. Zeena tells him about their stories of past glories and she also reveals that there are many showbiz acts still wanting to buy the code. Zeena is sort of holding on to it as Zeena and Pete's piggy bank. After Stan accidentally gives Pete a bottle of wood alcohol and he drinks it and dies, Zeena to keep her act going starts teaching Stan the code.
 
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Molly (Coleen Gray)
 
While all this has been going on Stan has been romancing Molly (Coleen Gray) the electric girl. When the two become an item the carnies find out about it they force them to marry.
 
 
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Stan and Molly leave the carnival and use the code to start their own act, "the Great Stanton." Molly works the crowd while Stan plays the mentalist. They are a hit working Chicago nightclubs.
 
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It all starts to go Noirsville when Stan gets conned by a bigger con psychologist Lilith Ritter (Helen Walker) into working the Spook Racket.
 
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Lilith Ritter (Helen Walker)
 
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Stanton Carlisle: "The Spook Racket, I was made for it!"

Lilith has made secret recordings of all of her sessions and has a treasure trove of personal information on many wealthy patients that can be used by Stan in pretending to communicate with their dearly departed. The big fish, Ezra Grindle, is guilt ridden over the death of his college sweetheart Dorrie.
 
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Dorrie
She died of complications during a back alley abortion that Grindle wanted her to have. Stan plays on that guilt by bringing the spirit of Dorrie to Grindle in a series of seances. When the final seance goes bad unexpectedly it sends Stan and Molly on the run.
 
Noirsville
 

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Electra/Molly ()
 
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Ezra Grindle (Taylor Holmes)
 
 
 
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Tyrone Power played against type. I wonder if audiences reacted back then the same way as my friends and I did when, as kids, we watched arch Western villain Lee Van Cleef emerge as the good guy in Leone's For A Few Dollars More, or gasped when we saw Henry Fonda as a child killer in Once Upon A Time In The West.

It's fascinating to watch Power's evangelistic like performance, he's in top form, and you marvel at how there is not much difference in the lingo, speech cadences, and **** between the two (siratulists and evangelists). There must be a reason "con" is a part of the word congregation. Power sells his part with zeal.

The Legion of Decency and Motion Picture Production Code combating objectionable content in motion pictures of course mandated that a horrendous avengement will be the inevitable repercussion for those who would mockingly attempt to play God, however notice that quack psychologist Lilith Ritter gets away scot free. Just like in today's world some televangelists, doctors, and now billionaires if they belong to one particular tribe seem to be above the law.

Joan Blondell as carny mentalist Zeena Krumbein is convincing as the reflective sideshow performer and caretaker for Ian Keith her drunkard once top billed headliner husband. Keith's performance is also quite compelling. Coleen Gray as Molly, plays a waifish sideshow attraction billed as "Electra," who Stan woos on the side while cosying up to Zeena. Mike Mazurki is strongman act Bruno, he runs around sporting a blond pompadour and a leopard skin costume. Helen Walker is phoney psychiatrist Lilith Ritter she plays Ritter cold and heartless. Taylor Holmes plays a wealthy industrialist Ezra Grindel who is duped into thinking he's communicating with a long lost love from beyond the grave.

It's interesting to note that the novel is quite vividly lurid and a bit salacious.

<spoilers>

For example in the film Stan convinces Molly to impersonate Ezra's lost love Dorrie. They do this in a darkened grove on Ezra's estate. Stan is with Ezra. They are gazing down two parallel rows of trees towards a distant fountain. Molly appears wearing a glowing costume of turn of the century clothing complete with floradora hat and a parasol. Ezra is beside himself with joy. When Molly gets closer to Ezra, he  begins to lose control spouting religious phrases that makes her feel sacrilegious and it freaks Molly out. She breaks character, and tells Stan that she can't do it. Outraged, Ezra grabs at Stan. Stan punches him and Molly and Stan escape.

In the novel....
 
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First edition 1946 l book jacket
 
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1949 paperback cover 


it goes down like this.....

     When night had come there was a tap on the door and Carlisle entered carrying in both hands a votive candle in a cup of red ruby glass. "lets go to the chapel."
      Grindle had never seen that room before.... the entire room was hung in folds of dark drapery. If there were any windows they were covered.
     The clergyman led his disciple to the divian; taking his hand he pressed him back against the cushions. "You are at peace. Rest, rest."
     Grindle felt foggy and vague. The bowl of jasmine tea which he had been given for supper had seemed bitter. Now his head was swimming lightly and reality retreated to arm's length.....
     Carlisle was chanting something which sounded like Sanskrit, then a brief prayer in English which reminded Grindle of the marriage service; but somehow the words refused to fit together in his mind.....
     They waited.
     From far away, from hundreds of miles it seemed came the sound of wind, a great rushing wind or the beating of giant wings. Then it died and there arose the soft tinkling notes of a sitar.....
     Ghostly music began again. From the curtains before the alcove a light flashed, then a sinuous coil of glowing vapor poured from between them, lying in a pool of mist close to the floor. It swelled and seemed to foam from the cabinet in a cascade....
     The pool of luminous matter began to take form. It swayed as a cocoon might sway from a moth's emerging. It became a cocoon holding something dark in it's center. Then it split and drew back toward the cabinet, revealing the form of a girl, lying on a bed of light, but illuminated only by the stuff around her. She was naked, her head resting on one bent arm.
     Grindle sank to his knees. "Dorrie-Dorrie-"
     She opened her eyes, sat up and then rose, modestly drawing a film of glowing mist over her body. The old man groped forward awkwardly, reaching up to her. As he drew near, the luminous cloud fell back and vanished. The girl stood white and tall, in the flicker of the votive candle across the room, and as she gazed down at him her hair fell over her face.
     "Dorrie-my pet-my honey love-my bride..."
     He picked her up in his arms, overjoyed at the complete materialization, at the lifelike smoothness of her body-she was so heartbreakingly earthly.
     Inside the cabinet the Re. Carlisle was busy packing yards of luminous-painted China  silk back into the hem of the curtains. Once he put his eye to the opening and his lips drew back over his teeth. Why did people look so filthy and ridiculous to anyone watching? Christ!
     The second time in his life he had seen it. Filth.
     The bride and bridegroom were motionless now.
     It was up to Molly to break away and get back to the cabinet. Stan turned the switch and the rhythmic, pounding heartbeat filled the room, growing louder. He tossed one end of the luminous silk through the curtains.
     The quiet forms on the divan stirred, and Stan could see the big man burrowing his face between Molly's breasts. "no-Dorrie-my own, my precious-I can't let you go! Take me with you, Dorrie-I don't want earth life without you..."
     She struggled out of his arms; but the bridegroom seized her around the waste, rubbing his forehead against her belly.
     Stan grabbed the aluminum trumpet. "Ezra-my beloved disciple-have courage. he must return to us. The force is growing weaker. In the city-"
     No! Dorrie-I must-I-once more..."
     This time another voice answered him. It was not a spiritual voice. It was the voice of a panicky showgirl who has more than she can handle. "Hey, quit it, for God's sake! Stan! Stan! Stan!
     Oh the dumb ****!
     The Rev. Carlisle tore the curtains apart. Molly was twisting and kicking; the old man was like one possessed. In his pent-up soul the dam had broken, and the sedative Stan had loaded into his tea had worn off.
    Grindle clutch the squirming girl until she was jerked from his hands.
     "Stan! For God's sake get me out of here! Get me out!"
     Grindle stood paralyzed. For in the dim flickering light he saw the face of his spiritual mentor, the Rev. Stanton Carlisle, it was snarling. Then a fist came up and landed on the chin of the spirit bride. She dropped to the floor, knees gaping obscenely.
     Now the hideous face was shouting at Grindle himself. "You goddamned hypocrite! Forgiveness? All you wanted was a girl!" Knuckles smashed his cheekbone and Grindle bounced back on the divian.

Screencaps are from a TCM streamer. 10/10  Full review with  more screencaps at Noirsville  

McGraw  Final Carnival Owner: Wait. I just happened to think of something. I might have a job you can take a crack at. Course it isn't much and I'm not begging you to take it, but it's a job.
Stanton Carlisle: That's all I want.
McGraw  Final Carnival Owner: And we'll keep you in coffee and cake. Bottle every day, place to sleep it off in. What do you say? Anyway, it's only temporary, just until we can get a real geek.
Stanton Carlisle Geek?
McGraw  Final Carnival Owner: You know what a geek is, don't you?
Stanton Carlisle Yeah. Sure, I... I know what a geek is.
McGraw  Final Carnival Owner: Do you think you can handle it?
Stanton Carlisle: Mister, I was made for it.
 
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"I was made for it!
 
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Kiss Me, Stupid (1964) Dark Bizarro Comedy/Romance - Playboy Noir

 
"Last Night she was knocking on my door for forty-five minutes. . .

But I wouldn't let her out."(Dino)


My wife hates this film, and she is a big lover of romantic comedies.

That's a big clue right there. It's not the same ol' same ol', about boy "cute" meets girl, they clash at first or weird fates intervene, they find each other or make up at last, and live happily ever after tried and true Hollywood formula.

This is a perverse romantic comedy from the dark side. It's a crime is against status quo uptight 1950s morality. It's The Playboy philosophy. It's kind of about what used to be called "Swinging." Playboy magazine was pushing boundaries, it was a progressive cultural spearhead in the sixties and well into the seventies. The fifties square johns didn't know what hit them.

Kiss Me, Stupid deals with womanizing, prostitution, deception, lighthearted wife swapping, shows that no real harm was done, everyone was cool with it, and life continues on after all the above, as if nothing happened.
 
 
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What woman in real life would react so calmly to her husband having casual sex with a hooker/waitress on their fifth anniversary. Yea it's before AIDS, but for some reason it must not have been as scary as "the powers that be" have made sexually transmitted diseases today. It's almost like a new form of morality that accomplishes the same thing less casual sex. At least they promote safe sex.

In Kiss Me, Stupid a woman with a reputation for "action" recommended by the bartender for, "putting out," known notoriously as "Polly The Pistol." Polly thinks $25 dollars is a good price for an all niter. On the other hand, to be fair, the real wife also cuckolds her husband by having sex with the man who was her idol during her teenage years to the extent of being president of his fan club. She BTW. gets paid five hundred dollars for "doing it." They all get away with it, how culturally Noir is that. It must have been scary for the bluenoses.

This bizarre black comedy with all the above baggage still manages to be hilarious, with funny one liners, insider jokes, and quite a few single and double ententes. It's so "Tail Fin," Playboy/Rat Pack sixties.

The screenplay was written by Billy Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond and it was based on the play L'ora della fantasia (The Dazzling Hour) by Anna Bonacci.

That play was manipulated into the screenplay for the Italian film, Wife For a Night (Moglie per una notte, 1952), that starred Gina Lollobrigida. In that film, a Count mistake's, by design a courtesan, for the wife of a struggling musician. The musician is related to the Mayor. The Mayor tells the courtesan to only submit to the Count after he promises to stage her fake husbands (the Mayors nephews) opera.

Kiss Me, Stupid, debuted just past the end of straight-laced Eisenhower fifties, and during the crumbling drawn out demise of the Motion Picture Production Code. Obviously Hollywood, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas were a bit ahead of the curve on where the culture was going. Kiss Me, Stupid was a tad bit premature, it was right before the 60s sexual revolution hit the scene.

The film was condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency (the second film that got that designation, the first being Baby Doll with Carroll Baker (1956)), and was banned in various bluenose cities. United Artists even decided to distribute it using their foreign language film subsidiary Lopert Pictures.

Looking at the film in hindsight it's quite tame and a tad silly comparatively to what was coming on the horizon. But got to wonder what was going on with the zeitgeist in the country. Think about it. Some Like It Hot, had cross dressers, Marilyn complaining about how she always gets the fuzzy end of the lollipop, and it's classic final lines...

Jerry: But you don't understand, Osgood! Ohh...[Jerry finally gives up and pulls off his wig]
Jerry: [normal voice] I'm a man!
Osgood: [shrugs] Well, nobody's perfect!

Out there without it being said.

The Apartment was about a boss screwing his secretary and using an employee as a de facto hot sheet motel room provider. Irma la Douce was about a Paris prostitute, and an ex-policeman who beats up her pimp thus becoming her new pimp, and then setting her up with the same client (the ex-policeman in disguise) every night. Maybe this film got a pass because the characters were all French. Was Kiss Me, Stupid too direct, too irreligious, too cynical, it crossed some line. Maybe the line was that nothing happened bad to any of the characters.

In classic crime Film Noir, crime didn't pay, the crooks always got either caught or killed. Maybe Kiss Me Stupid would have gotten the thumbs up from the Catholic Legion of Decency if Dino, Zelda, Polly, and Orville, while riding in Dino's Dual-Ghia had driven off a cliff or gotten into a fiery head on collision with a semi that sent them all burning to hell, no?

Directed by Noir master Billy Wilder who brought us Film Noir classics Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, The Lost Weekend, and Ace in the Hole.
 
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Dino (Dean Martin)

The film stars Dean Martin as "Dino" essentially debuting with some polishing, his super cool, suave playboy, who's inescapable charisma was soon to be in everybody's living room on TV's Dean Martin Show on NBC Thursday nights at 10:00 that began the very next year in 1965.
 
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Polly The Pistol (Kin Novak)
 
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Orville Spooner (Ray Walston)
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Barney Millsap (Cliff Osmond)
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Zelda Spooner (Felicia Farr)
Kim Novak plays Polly the Pistol in her first film in two years after a sex comedy with James Garner Boys' Night Out (1962). Novak appeared in classic Noirs Pushover, 5 Against the HouseThe Man with the Golden Arm, and Vertigo.  Ray Walston (popular from TV's My Favorite Martian) played song composer/piano teacher Orville Spooner. Felicia Farr (very memorable from 3:10 to Yuma ) plays his wife Zelda Spooner, Cliff Osmond as song writer/garage mechanic Barney Millsap, Barbara Pepper as dive bar owner Big Bertha, Doro Merande as Mrs. Pettibone, Howard McNear (Floyd the Barber from the Andy Griffith Show) as Mr. Pettibone, John Fiedler as Reverend Carruthers, and Mel Blanc as Dr. Sheldrake and the voice of Polly's parrot. Blanc was the voice of iconic Warner Brothers cartoon character Bugs Bunny and many others.

Joseph LaShelle, spoofing his own noir-ish cinematography from (Fallen Angel, Hangover Square, Laura, Dangerous Crossing, Storm Fear, The Apartment), filled Kiss Me Stupid with a plethora of Venetian blinds used for both shot compositions and for the shadows they throw. These, along with musical leitmotifs by André Previn, were used to emphasize Orville Spooner's building jealousy Zelda. Previn also has a sexy leitmotif for Polly. Composer Ira Gershwin wrote lyrics to a few of his brother George's unpublished pieces. The new songs were "Sophia," "I'm a Poached Egg," and "All the Livelong Day." These were used in the film as examples of Spooner and Millsap's dust-pan alley compositions.

The Story
 

Las Vegas. The Sands. playboy "Dino" (Dean Martin) is headlining a casino floor show. We get a nice Dino shtick. Some singing, some jokes and a chorus line of buxom beauties. Backstage, after the number Dino strategically lines up the girls for various evening rendezvous time slots. But he's not intending of keeping any of them, Dino is skipping town for The City Of Angels.

In the flyspeck town of Climax, Nevada, a nerdy piano teacher Orville Spooner (Ray Walston) is having a series of jealous anxiety attacks. He's married to Zelda (Felicia Farr) the most beautiful woman in town, and now after five years feels unsuccessful, inadequate, and threatened by anyone wearing pants. While giving a piano lesson Orville can't help but spy on his wife in the kitchen. He watches her write a note to the hunky blonde milkman. Suspicious, Orville flies out of the door when the milkman arrives to intercept the note, which is just an order for more milk and a dozen eggs. He covers his embarrassment by telling the milkman that Zelda forgot the buttermilk. The sequence sets up a sight gag later on.

Orville next cross examines his wife when she appears nicely dressed and ready to leave the house. Orville asks casually if she's going somewhere? Zelda answers. "Yes and I'm late I don't want to keep him waiting." Orville pick up on the "him." She tells him that she  has a dentist appointment.

She asks him to zip up her dress and after doing so Orville catches his student ogling Zelda. When he accompanies her to the door he asks where the flowers in the vase came from? Zelda tells him his student Mulligan brought them. Orville now suspects Mulligan of hanky-panky. He ends up chasing his student out of the house.

Across the street Orville's pal and songwriting partner Barney runs the towns filling station. Barney comes by after Orville chases Mulligan down the street. He's got new lyrics for a tune that Orville composed "I'm a Poached Egg."

Orville is down in the dumps because they've written 50 songs and have gotten nowhere. Barney cheers him up by telling Orville how other nobodies made it. With money Orville would be able to lavish Zelda in furs and fly her to Acapulco.

While they are singing the new lyrics, Orville stops and calls Dr. Sheldrake (Mel Blanc) the dentist to check on his wife. The Dentist is applying laughing gas and telling jokes to a patient. He tells Orville that she doesn't have an appointment until next Wednesday. Orville doesn't pick up on that at first, continuing to play but we anticipate the joke and the music cue delivers as it dawns on Orville that his wife lied to him.

Meanwhile Dino, because of a detour caused by a traffic pileup on the main highway, drives into Climax  and, low on gas, up to Barneys pumps.


Dino BTW is driving a 1957 Dual-Giah convertible. (The tail finned car was based on a Dodge concept car, and had a Dodge drive train with an Italian built body. Retailing at $7,500 it was $200 more than a Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz.)

When Barney goes out to service the car he see's that its Dino.

Barney: Hey do you know who you are?
Dino [shadow boxing and making like Cassius Clay/Mohamed Ali]: Sure the greatest and the prettiest.
 
Barney realizes that this is their big break. Their songwriting career problems are over. All they have to do is sell Dino a song.

A bunch of shenanigans ensue as they try to pitch Dino a song. When he's about to split once his tank is full Barney sabotages the Dual-Ghia by disconnecting the fuel line. In a sequence that's a nod to Kirk Douglas in Wilder's Ace In The Hole, Dino is brought back to the station riding in his car hauled by a tow truck.
 
 
Dino now stuck in Climax is invited by Orville to stay at his house (Barney tells Dino that a skunk got into the air-conditioner at the local motel). They now have more time to work on Dino. Dino accepts the offer and asks Orville where is the action in town. Dino tells Orville that he's gotta have action every night or the next day he wakes up with a headache.
 
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When Orville puts Dino up in the sewing room Dino immediately notices the breasts on Zelda's well shaped dress dummy. Dino tells Orville that he's a "lucky dog," while staring intently at those voluptuous breasts. Orville gets jealous of Zelda's dummy and gets worried when he realizes that Dino may come onto Zelda. Orville grabs the dummy covers it with his sweatshirt and hides it in the closet.

Zelda comes home and gets cross-examined by Orville. She was picking up an anniversary cake. All is temporarily well. Zelda then casually tells Orville that she though she saw Dino driving through town. She also mentions that she was president of his fan club. When Zelda tells Orville that she wants to finish the nightie she's sewing, Orville trying to keep her out of the sewing room tells her that she doesn't need a nightie. Zelda giggles mentioning that it's the middle of the day and heads for their bedroom.

Zelda then casually tells Orville that she though she saw Dino driving through town. She also mentions that she was president of his fan club.
 
When Zelda tells Orville that she wants to finish the nightie she's sewing for their anniversary, Orville ,trying to keep her out of the sewing room tells her that she doesn't need a nightie. Zelda giggles mentioning that it's the middle of the day and heads for their bedroom.

Dino decides to take a shower and grab a nap. While he's showering Zelda comes into the bathroom and thinking it's Orville pats his **** through the shower curtain. Soon after when Zelda is taking her shower Dino comes into the bathroom and pats Zelda on the **** it's a cute sight gag.

Barney arrives with the makings for an Italian dinner for Dino. But now Orville wants Dino out and tells Barney that Dino is a sex maniac. Barney salvaging the situation gets the idea to replace Zelda with a chippy from the local dive The Belly Button. Orville goes along with it, but he wonders how hes gonna get rid of Zelda. Barney tells him that easy, "hit her." Orville can't to that so more word play and clever shenanigans ensue to get Zelda out of the house while Dino ratchets up his threatening lecherous lounge lizard persona.

Barney gets Polly The Pistol (Kin Novak) out of the Belly Button for $25 dollars for the night.

Polly from Jersey City was a manicurist who ended up in Climax when she met a hula hoop salesman. They bought a second hand car and trailer and drove to Nevada to get hitched. They spent the night in Climax but the guy took off in the morning with the car and Polly's money. She has been stranded there ever since.

Polly is up for it, she needs the money, she tells Barney about an outdoor "private party" she once did on the Fourth Of July, a bachelor barbecue. They raffled her off eighty-three dollars, the next morning the check she got bounced and all she got out of the gig was poison ivy.

Meanwhile back at the Spooners, Orville finally **** off Zelda and she goes home to mother. The plan is coming together.
 
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  Mr. Pettibone (Howard McNear) Mrs. Pettibone (Doro Merande) and Zelda 

 

At her folks place Zelda gets monotonously lectured to by her mother. Zelda can't stand it for long and heads back home to Orville.

Orville, Polly, and Dino have dinner and drink Chianti, then Orville plays the songs while Dino is getting handy with Polly. We get more hilarious sight gags and double ententes.

 
 
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When Zelda gets home she hears Orville and a strange woman's voice laughing and she see's Barney spying through the Venetian blinds. When she takes a peak she see's Orville dancing around with Polly, missing Dino who is down out of sight on the floor beneath the window.
 
Zelda gets into her car and  drives to The Belly Button to get drunk. When Zelda gets sick Big Bertha the owner of The Belly Button puts her up out back of the place in Polly's empty trailer.
 
Back at the Spooners, everyone is getting tipsy on the Chianti wine. Orville however finds himself now hopelessly jealous of his fake wife and he throws Dino out of his house. Orville and Polly have sex.

 Dino ends up at The Belly Button looking for action. The bartender tells him to check out Polly, but he doesn't see her working, so he tells Dino to check out back, it's probably her night off and she's probably in her trailer. Dino heads to the trailer and finds Zelda who he thinks is Polly. Zelda is at first reluctant but with her strong attraction to Dino and Orville fooling around with Polly, Zelda partly drunk, partly in attraction and partly in revenge has sex with Dino.

Noir-ish
 
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There are quite a few highlights to watch for. Dino trying to seduced Polly, Doro Merande's hilarious monologue as Zelda's mother. Orville and Barney's songs. Plenty of sight gags. A huge phallic crane pointing to a Dino marquee at The Sands opens the film. Also in the beginning casino floor show  sequence, watch Billy Beck as waiter at The Sands watching  Dino's act dead pan, not getting any of Dino's jokes. He gets ribbed by the two waiters on either side but still clueless thinks he's got his towel on the wrong arm.
 
More jokes, a Highway Patrolman tells Dino there is a pileup up ahead and he's go to take a detour. Tells Dino you come out at Barstow by way of...

Highway Patrolman: Warm Springs, Paradise Valley, and Climax.
Dino: It's the only way to go.

The original cast intended for the film was quite different. Orville Spooner was originally offered to  Jack Lemmon. He was tied up in other projects.  It would have been interesting to see him playing opposite his wife Felicia Farr. Peter Sellers was signed instead and shooting began but Sellers had a heart attack and Ray Walston filled in, re-shooting all his scenes. Polly The Pistol was originally intended for Marilyn Monroe, but she overdosed in 62. Then Jane Mansfield was tapped but she got pregnant. Kim Novak was finally decided on and she is either definitely channeling Marilyn a bit or the material is so spot on Marilyn that it just comes out that way. I've also read that Frank Sinatra was considered for the Dino part, probably playing "Frankie."  

In On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder, by Ed Sikov.  Wilder is quoted as saying "I don't know why the film shocked people. It's the most bourgeois film there is. A man wants a career and the person who wants to help him wants to sleep with his wife. He replaces his wife with another, but when he is nearest to success, he refuses it and throws the guy out."  But, Billy, he still sleeps with the hooker and his wife gets boned by Dino. lol.

It wasn't the hip Tinseltown audience you were rubbing "stuff" with that was complaining, obviously, it was square john fly-over country, filled with devout Catholics and the revivalist bible thumpers, who must have considered it shocking and vulgar.

You even got to wonder where NY Times critic Bosley Crowther was coming from, he blamed Kiss Me, Stupid for giving American movies the reputation of "deliberate and degenerate corruptors of public taste and morals." At the same time we had lynchings and segregation down South, morals and common decency were already corrupt, tell us about it Bosely.

TV Guide reviewer Michael Scheinfeld got it right, he gave the film 3½ stars. "A kind of cinematic litmus test that separates the casual Billy Wilder fan from the true connoisseur" and "a monument of satirical tastelessness that . . . in retrospect, is now seen as one of Wilder's most fascinatingly original films." He added, "Amid the [original] furor, it's easy to miss the film's comedic accomplishments, which are considerable. Its idiomatic wordplay and social satire is vintage Wilder, and the opening sequence where Dino performs in a nightclub is one of the funniest things that Wilder has ever done. Sprinkling in bad jokes and Rat Pack references, Dean Martin's comic timing and delivery is impeccable . . . The rest of the cast is equally superb, right down to the smallest bit part . . . although Ray Walston's relentless mugging becomes a bit much."

 J. Hoberman of The Village Voice discussed Kiss Me Stupid when in 2002 the Film Forum in Manhattan ran a restored print. "Kiss Me, Stupid's mutually redemptive adultery is closer to the grown-up world of John Cassavetes's Faces than to Wilder's adolescent Seven Year Itch — but it's ultimately a more knowingly tolerant, not to mention funnier, movie than either."

Kiss Me, Stupid is like an antidote to anyone overdosed on Rock Hudson - Doris Day films.

Comedy Noirs were out there. Ensemble/comedy and quasi-comedy Classic Noirs like Grand Central Murder (1942)  Deadline at Dawn (1946), Manhandled (1949), His Kind of Woman(1951), Shack Out On 101 (1955), and even Lady In The Lake (1946), has some of this quality. There are probably a few others lurking in the classics. Neo Noir contenders are Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Seven Beauties (1977), The Late Show (1977) After Hours (1985), Down By Law (1986), Delicatessen (1991) and The Big Lebowski (1998).

Kiss Me, Stupid, Is it Noir? In a cultural rather than crime way it clicks Noir for me, it may not for you, or it just may teeter right on the brink, the cusp or Noir so to speak, for others. Watch it next go round with your noir-dar on. Then you decide for yourself.

Felicia Farr stands out as a surprising cutie holding her own, which is an accomplishment, considering Novak's passionate and complex performance in the lead. Novak pulls off a melancholy husky voiced Jersey City version of Marilyn Monroe. Ray Walston has his best film part. Cliff Osmond is hilarious as the desperate lyricist who instigates the whole wife swapping scenario, and Dean Martin is just fantastic as Dino. If you loved The Dean Martin Show, Martin does an exaggerated variation of his on tube personality. It's probably my all time favorite performance of his. Screen caps are from a Amazon Prime streamer. 8/10 Full review with more screencaps at Noirsville
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Pale Flower (1964) This noir/yakuza film, directed by Masahiro Shinoda, lives up to its classic reputation. Yakuza hitman Muraki (Ryo Ikebe), just released from prison, is jaded and tired.  He finds a reconfigured landscape, as his boss has joined forces with a rival gangster to counter a new syndicate intent on taking over.  On nocturnal trips to illegal gambling houses, he meets Saeko (Mariko Kaga), a mysterious, carefree beauty who likes driving recklessly fast and is in constant pursuit of bigger adventures. As the only woman in a dangerous, male-dominated environment, she hypnotizes those in her company, no one more so than Muraki, which is made powerfully clear in the film’s haunting ending.  Pale Flower is a stylized, dreamlike commentary on the yakuza ethos and Japanese postwar ennui. Muraki and Saeko are worthy successors to American film noir archetypes as portrayed by Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer.

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On 6/5/2019 at 7:00 AM, cigarjoe said:

Nightmare Alley (1947) Carney/Spook Racket Noir Masterpiece

 
"How can a guy sink so low?
             He reached too high..."
Another Classic Film Noir that's today highly regarded.

Nightmare Alley is based on the 1946 novel of the same title, written by William Lindsay Gresham. Gresham has stated that the genesis of Nightmare Alley started with his early fascination with the sideshow attractions he found at Coney Island. And later with stories he swapped with a former sideshow employee, Joseph Daniel "Doc" Halliday, during the Spanish Civil War. He wrote the novel while working as a true crime editor for Fawcett Publications most likely Daring Detective or Dynamic Detective. Gresham also penned a nonfiction book about carnies entitled Monster Midway.

A movie rights dispute had kept this masterpiece out of the public eye for quite awhile. It was finally resolved back in the early 2000s and was brought out on DVD in Fox Home Entertainment's Film Noir DVD series.

A real "Debbie Downer" of a film that was released just after the end of WWII. Possibly the general public was craving mindless sugar coated pap after the long dreary war years.

Directed by Edmund Goulding and written by Jules Furthman. The films exquisite cinematography was by Lee Garmes (Scarface (1932), Shanghai Express (1932), Caught(1949) among others).

Nightmare Alley is one of a handful of Films Noir based in part on carnivals or have extended scenes occuring in amusement parks and other attractions, others are Girl On The Run, Strangers on a Train, Man in The Dark, Shanghai Express, Ministry of Fear, and Gun Crazy. There are probably more, I even remember a good French Noir, its title escapes me, that has a fiery end at a gypsy type trailer at a Paris street carnival.

Carnivals popup overnight on the edge of nice little towns like toadstools on a lawn....

Nightmare Alley in a way has a circular story line. Stanton "Stan" Carlisle (Tyrone Power) is a barker at a traveling carnival who loves the life of a carny. He works gathering up a crowd of rubes for Mademoiselle Zeena, a sideshow mentalist attraction. Zeena works with her alkie husband Pete. They were once in the big time.
 
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Stan Carlisle (Tyrone Power)
 
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Zeena (Joan Blondell)
 
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Pete (Ian Keith)
 
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They had a headlining vaudeville act and traveled the country. Zeena and Pete had a secret code that they used between them Pete was able to pass relevant info to Zeena. However Zeena was quite the beauty and attracted men. Zeena's flirting with them drove Pete to hit the bottle hard. The act deteriorated due to Pete's alcoholism to what it was now, a sort of simple switcheroo.
 
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Stan collected the audiences questions which they wrote on note paper. The pieces of note paper that Stan collected were then placed in a bowl with an open bottom This hole fed them to Pete sitting under the table where Zeena performed. To the audience it appeared that the collected notes were still in the bowl which Stan then set a fire with wood alcohol. Pete would read the notes and write the questions on a chalkboard. When Zeena looked down at her crystal ball she could see what Pete had written on the chalkboard. The info would astound the audience.

At an incident where a county sheriff is about to close down the carnival Stan beautifully cons the sheriff by quoting scripture and giving the sheriff a cold reading. Stan talks him into letting the show go on.
 
 
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Molly: You ought to have heard Stan spout the gospel to that old hypocrite. It was like being in Sunday school.
Zeena Krumbein: You must have been raised pretty religious.
Stanton Carlisle: Yeah, in a county orphanage.
Molly: Didn't you have any folks?
Stanton Carlisle: If I did, they weren't much interested.
Zeena Krumbein: Where'd you learn all this gospel?
Stanton Carlisle: In the orphanage. That's what they used to give us on Sunday after beating us black-and-blue all week. Then when I ran away, they threw me in the reform school. But that's where I got wise to myself. I let the chaplain save me, and got a parole in no time. Boy, how I went for salvation! Comes in kind of handy when you're in a jam. Many's a judge I've talked right out of his shirt.

Stan begins to get chummy with Zeena and Pete. Zeena tells him about their stories of past glories and she also reveals that there are many showbiz acts still wanting to buy the code. Zeena is sort of holding on to it as Zeena and Pete's piggy bank. After Stan accidentally gives Pete a bottle of wood alcohol and he drinks it and dies, Zeena to keep her act going starts teaching Stan the code.
 
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Molly (Coleen Gray)
 
While all this has been going on Stan has been romancing Molly (Coleen Gray) the electric girl. When the two become an item the carnies find out about it they force them to marry.
 
 
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Stan and Molly leave the carnival and use the code to start their own act, "the Great Stanton." Molly works the crowd while Stan plays the mentalist. They are a hit working Chicago nightclubs.
 
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It all starts to go Noirsville when Stan gets conned by a bigger con psychologist Lilith Ritter (Helen Walker) into working the Spook Racket.
 
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Lilith Ritter (Helen Walker)
 
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Stanton Carlisle: "The Spook Racket, I was made for it!"

Lilith has made secret recordings of all of her sessions and has a treasure trove of personal information on many wealthy patients that can be used by Stan in pretending to communicate with their dearly departed. The big fish, Ezra Grindle, is guilt ridden over the death of his college sweetheart Dorrie.
 
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Dorrie
She died of complications during a back alley abortion that Grindle wanted her to have. Stan plays on that guilt by bringing the spirit of Dorrie to Grindle in a series of seances. When the final seance goes bad unexpectedly it sends Stan and Molly on the run.
 
Noirsville
 
 
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Electra/Molly ()
 
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Ezra Grindle (Taylor Holmes)
 
 
 
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Tyrone Power played against type. I wonder if audiences reacted back then the same way as my friends and I did when, as kids, we watched arch Western villain Lee Van Cleef emerge as the good guy in Leone's For A Few Dollars More, or gasped when we saw Henry Fonda as a child killer in Once Upon A Time In The West.

It's fascinating to watch Power's evangelistic like performance, he's in top form, and you marvel at how there is not much difference in the lingo, speech cadences, and **** between the two (siratulists and evangelists). There must be a reason "con" is a part of the word congregation. Power sells his part with zeal.

The Legion of Decency and Motion Picture Production Code combating objectionable content in motion pictures of course mandated that a horrendous avengement will be the inevitable repercussion for those who would mockingly attempt to play God, however notice that quack psychologist Lilith Ritter gets away scot free. Just like in today's world some televangelists, doctors, and now billionaires if they belong to one particular tribe seem to be above the law.

Joan Blondell as carny mentalist Zeena Krumbein is convincing as the reflective sideshow performer and caretaker for Ian Keith her drunkard once top billed headliner husband. Keith's performance is also quite compelling. Coleen Gray as Molly, plays a waifish sideshow attraction billed as "Electra," who Stan woos on the side while cosying up to Zeena. Mike Mazurki is strongman act Bruno, he runs around sporting a blond pompadour and a leopard skin costume. Helen Walker is phoney psychiatrist Lilith Ritter she plays Ritter cold and heartless. Taylor Holmes plays a wealthy industrialist Ezra Grindel who is duped into thinking he's communicating with a long lost love from beyond the grave.

It's interesting to note that the novel is quite vividly lurid and a bit salacious.

<spoilers>

For example in the film Stan convinces Molly to impersonate Ezra's lost love Dorrie. They do this in a darkened grove on Ezra's estate. Stan is with Ezra. They are gazing down two parallel rows of trees towards a distant fountain. Molly appears wearing a glowing costume of turn of the century clothing complete with floradora hat and a parasol. Ezra is beside himself with joy. When Molly gets closer to Ezra, he  begins to lose control spouting religious phrases that makes her feel sacrilegious and it freaks Molly out. She breaks character, and tells Stan that she can't do it. Outraged, Ezra grabs at Stan. Stan punches him and Molly and Stan escape.

In the novel....
 
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First edition 1946 l book jacket
 
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1949 paperback cover 


it goes down like this.....

     When night had come there was a tap on the door and Carlisle entered carrying in both hands a votive candle in a cup of red ruby glass. "lets go to the chapel."
      Grindle had never seen that room before.... the entire room was hung in folds of dark drapery. If there were any windows they were covered.
     The clergyman led his disciple to the divian; taking his hand he pressed him back against the cushions. "You are at peace. Rest, rest."
     Grindle felt foggy and vague. The bowl of jasmine tea which he had been given for supper had seemed bitter. Now his head was swimming lightly and reality retreated to arm's length.....
     Carlisle was chanting something which sounded like Sanskrit, then a brief prayer in English which reminded Grindle of the marriage service; but somehow the words refused to fit together in his mind.....
     They waited.
     From far away, from hundreds of miles it seemed came the sound of wind, a great rushing wind or the beating of giant wings. Then it died and there arose the soft tinkling notes of a sitar.....
     Ghostly music began again. From the curtains before the alcove a light flashed, then a sinuous coil of glowing vapor poured from between them, lying in a pool of mist close to the floor. It swelled and seemed to foam from the cabinet in a cascade....
     The pool of luminous matter began to take form. It swayed as a cocoon might sway from a moth's emerging. It became a cocoon holding something dark in it's center. Then it split and drew back toward the cabinet, revealing the form of a girl, lying on a bed of light, but illuminated only by the stuff around her. She was naked, her head resting on one bent arm.
     Grindle sank to his knees. "Dorrie-Dorrie-"
     She opened her eyes, sat up and then rose, modestly drawing a film of glowing mist over her body. The old man groped forward awkwardly, reaching up to her. As he drew near, the luminous cloud fell back and vanished. The girl stood white and tall, in the flicker of the votive candle across the room, and as she gazed down at him her hair fell over her face.
     "Dorrie-my pet-my honey love-my bride..."
     He picked her up in his arms, overjoyed at the complete materialization, at the lifelike smoothness of her body-she was so heartbreakingly earthly.
     Inside the cabinet the Re. Carlisle was busy packing yards of luminous-painted China  silk back into the hem of the curtains. Once he put his eye to the opening and his lips drew back over his teeth. Why did people look so filthy and ridiculous to anyone watching? Christ!
     The second time in his life he had seen it. Filth.
     The bride and bridegroom were motionless now.
     It was up to Molly to break away and get back to the cabinet. Stan turned the switch and the rhythmic, pounding heartbeat filled the room, growing louder. He tossed one end of the luminous silk through the curtains.
     The quiet forms on the divan stirred, and Stan could see the big man burrowing his face between Molly's breasts. "no-Dorrie-my own, my precious-I can't let you go! Take me with you, Dorrie-I don't want earth life without you..."
     She struggled out of his arms; but the bridegroom seized her around the waste, rubbing his forehead against her belly.
     Stan grabbed the aluminum trumpet. "Ezra-my beloved disciple-have courage. he must return to us. The force is growing weaker. In the city-"
     No! Dorrie-I must-I-once more..."
     This time another voice answered him. It was not a spiritual voice. It was the voice of a panicky showgirl who has more than she can handle. "Hey, quit it, for God's sake! Stan! Stan! Stan!
     Oh the dumb ****!
     The Rev. Carlisle tore the curtains apart. Molly was twisting and kicking; the old man was like one possessed. In his pent-up soul the dam had broken, and the sedative Stan had loaded into his tea had worn off.
    Grindle clutch the squirming girl until she was jerked from his hands.
     "Stan! For God's sake get me out of here! Get me out!"
     Grindle stood paralyzed. For in the dim flickering light he saw the face of his spiritual mentor, the Rev. Stanton Carlisle, it was snarling. Then a fist came up and landed on the chin of the spirit bride. She dropped to the floor, knees gaping obscenely.
     Now the hideous face was shouting at Grindle himself. "You goddamned hypocrite! Forgiveness? All you wanted was a girl!" Knuckles smashed his cheekbone and Grindle bounced back on the divian.

Screencaps are from a TCM streamer. 10/10  Full review with  more screencaps at Noirsville  

McGraw  Final Carnival Owner: Wait. I just happened to think of something. I might have a job you can take a crack at. Course it isn't much and I'm not begging you to take it, but it's a job.
Stanton Carlisle: That's all I want.
McGraw  Final Carnival Owner: And we'll keep you in coffee and cake. Bottle every day, place to sleep it off in. What do you say? Anyway, it's only temporary, just until we can get a real geek.
Stanton Carlisle Geek?
McGraw  Final Carnival Owner: You know what a geek is, don't you?
Stanton Carlisle Yeah. Sure, I... I know what a geek is.
McGraw  Final Carnival Owner: Do you think you can handle it?
Stanton Carlisle: Mister, I was made for it.
 
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"I was made for it!
 

I love Helen Walker's expression as she's sizing up her prey.

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Hardcore (1979) L.A. Skin Trade Noir

 
"Turn It Off!"

Written and directed by Paul Schrader.

Schrader was one of Hollywood's top screenwriters. He had a good run in the seventies and early eighties. He wrote The YakuzaTaxi DriverRaging Bull and directed American Gigolo, and the recently reviewed here Neo Noir Auto Focus (2002). Cinematography in Hardcorewas by Michael Chapman (The Last Detail, Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and The Fugitive). Music was by Jack Nitzsche (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Moulin Rouge!).

The film stars, George C. Scott (Anatomy of a Murder, The HustlerDr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb) as Jake Van Dorn, Peter Boyle (The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Taxi DriverHammett) as P.I. Andy Mast, Season Hubley (Vice Squad) as Niki, Dick Sargent as Wes DeJong, Leonard Gaines as porn producer Bill Ramada, Dave Nichols as  Kurt, Gary Graham as Tod, Larry Block as Detective Burrows, Marc Alaimo as Ratan, Leslie Ackerman as Felice, Charlotte McGinnis as Beatrice, Ilah Davis as Kristen Van Dorn, Paul Marin as Joe Van Dorn, Will Walker as **** Jim, and Hal Williams as Big Dick Blaque.
 
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Jake VanDorn (George C. Scott)
 
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Grand Rapids, Michigan
 
 
Square john Jake Van Dorn is a single parent, a Calvinist. A Calvinist believes that God causes everything down to the minutest detail. There is no free will under Calvinism. This critique is according nut job believers of other equally suspect religious sects. But it really doesn't matter to the tale anyway, his strict religious beliefs are just a counterpoint to any big city's open culture of freedom. Jake owns a company that manufactures wood furniture in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jake is
wound so tight that even what he considers loud colors are a tad too much for him.
 
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Kristen lt. (Ilah Davis)
Jake's teenage daughter Kristen goes on an church sponsored field trip to Bellflower, California and disappears. She splits for the bright lights of the big time. When Jake gets the call from the chaperones, he flies to California. Nobody from the group has a clue. The local police suggest he head down to L.A. cause that's the magnet for runaways, they tell him to check with the L.A.P.D. The missing persons bureau hits him with statistics on how many runaways are reported each year.
 
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Andy Mast (Peter Boyle)
 
 
In L.A. Jake hires a private detective Andy Mast. Andy armed with photos starts to snoop around and eventually turns up an 8mm stag loop "Slave of Love" starring his daughter and two guys. Jake asks who made it.

Andy Mast: Nobody makes it. Nobody shows it. Nobody sees it. It's like it doesn't even exist.
 
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Andy rents a small adult theater for a private viewing. Jake views the loop with much angst, practically rending his garments, no, just kidding.
 
 
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Jake VanDorn: Turn it off! Turn if off! TURN IT OFF!


Andy Mast: A lot of strange things happen in this world. Things you don't know about in Grand Rapids. Things you don't want to know about. Doors that shouldn't be opened.

That Kristen would prefer to make a living doing porno films rather than live with the strict Jake is a testament to the degree of his repression, and of the confines of the strict religious society in which she resided. Jake can't handle the truth.

He directs Andy to continue on the case and he flies back to Grand Rapids. After no word from Andy for a few months, Jake heads back to L.A.

In The City Of Angels, Jake pays a surprise call on Andy where he finds him doing "research" with a stag film actress. Jake goes ballistic and fires Andy. Jake begins to "investigate" himself. His Odyssey takes him into the sleazy porn underworld of adult bookshops, massage parlors, peep shows, sex shops and theaters. His uptight look and bull in a china shop approach pretty much translates as "cop." Forgedaboudit, he gets nowheresville.
 
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Jake eventually gets the idea to pass himself off as a wanna be porno investor as his ticket into the biz. He makes an appointment a porn producer named Ramada (Leonard Gaines). Ramada is all decked out in the latest hipster outfit. He has a standard issue gofer/yes man, following him around like a puppy dog. Ramada invites Jake to a shoot. When Jake remarks on the abilities of the cameraman Ramada exclaims "The kids a good director, U.C.L.A! baby." It's an inside joke, director Paul Schrader was a graduate of U.C.L.A.
 
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Ramada
 
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"U.C.L.A. Baby!"
 

Jake picks up the lingo and gets a handle on how to act and poses as Jake de Vries a porn producer, getting himself decked out in a loud shirt a wig, a fake porn-star mustache, sunglasses, love beads and gold chains. He looks a bit over the top ridiculous.
 
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Jake VanDorn as Jake de Vries
 
Anyway Jake runs an audition add in the Los Angeles Free Press. He stars to interview male actors looking for the dudes in the film with his daughter. The sequence is amusing.

Finally an actor who goes by the moniker **** Jim who was on of the actors in the film with his daughter Kristen shows up and Jakes lays into him. From ****, Jake gets a lead to a hooker/porn actress named Niki (Season Hubley) who may know where Kristen is. Jake hires Niki to help him search for Kristen.
 
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Niki (Season Hubley)
 
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Niki (Season Hubley)
 On the search for Kristen
They hear a rumor that Kristen is making porn films in Mexico so they head down to San Diego and check into a motel. During this symbiotic relationship Jake gets a more nuanced inside scoop of the porn rackets while Niki feels like she's got the kind of protection she'd get from having a pimp without the attached strings. Jake confides in Niki, and tells her about his wife leaving him. They talk about sex.
 
Niki: Look, how important do you think sex is?
Jake VanDorn: Not very.
Niki: Well then we're just alike. I mean, you think it's so unimportant that you don't even do it. I think it's so unimportant that I don't care who I do it with.

Jake also explains to Niki his TULIP Calvinist beliefs. ****? you ask.

OK here they are, the five points in a nutshell (apologies if they are not quite spot on), Total Depravity (people are born basically bad), Unconditional Election ( God saves whomever He is pleased to save.), Limited Atonement (redemption of specific sinners was an eternal plan of God), Irresistible Grace (divine operation called rebirth or regeneration is the work of God alone), Perseverance of the Saints (If you have it—that is, if you have genuine faith and are in a state of saving grace—you will never lose it. If you lose it, you never had it.). 

Niki: And I thought I was **** up.... So I guess we're both ****, huh? Least you get to go to heaven. I don't get ****.

The trek takes Niki and Jake to San Francisco. There they get a lead that Kristen may be with an S&M and "snuff film" maker named Ratan.

Meanwhile Mast is back on the job hired by Jake's best friend Wes DeJong (Dick Sargent) to act as a bodyguard.
 
Now that they are close to their goal Niki thinks sugar-daddy Jake'll cut her loose. She wont tell Jake the address of the connection to Ratan. Jake gets angry and smacks her around until she spills the address of Tod. Tod is forced by Jake and Mast to tell them where Ratan hangs out. They go to a live sex show it all goes Noirsville when Jake finds Ratan and Kristen.

Noirsville
 
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Scott's performance as Jake VanDorn is effective up until he begins posing as a porn producer, his transformation is a bit too good, he's too resourceful. Like a duck takes to water. I find it the one discordant note. He should have been played a bit more fumblingly inept and clumsy at it. Peter Boyle is believable as the crummy bottom of the barrel P.I.

Hal Williams playing a porn actor known as "Big Dick Blaque, has an amusing sequence at Jake's porn audition describing his sexual prowess, when Jake tells him he's looking for another "type" Big Dick accuses him of being a racist.

Season Hubley was excellent as Niki, the hooker/porn actress who was banking on a way out with the help of Jake, but her hopes are dashed when Jake finds Kristen. She's discarded like yesterdays trash. The ending seems a bit too pat.

Kristen at first tells Jake that she wants to stay and be with the people who love her. But then she abruptly changes her mind and leaves with him. But, I'd doubt that Jake would change all that much especially back in his cloistered religious community, or that Kristen will be allowed to be independent enough to strike a balance between the two totally different lifestyles. Will she really be content, as they used to say "back on the farm now that she's seen Paris."

The seedy sides of L.A. and other California locations are well depicted as is the adult entertainment industry with its adult bookstores, peep shows, massage parlors, trippy drug using actors and prostitutes.

Some interesting trivia (from IMDb) 
 
  • Paul Schrader originally had Scott's character discover that his daughter has been killed in a totally unrelated car crash, at which point he simply goes back home. He changed it to Scott finding her against his better judgment.
  • Real adult actress Marilyn Chambers was considered for the role of "Niki" but was turned down because producers felt she didn't look enough like a porn star.
  • The movie was based on a real true life story. As a high school student, writer-director Paul Schrader had heard about a local teenage girl in Grand Rapids, Michigan who went missing and who eventually was found to have appeared in an adult movie. This local mini scandal organically evolved into the screenplay for this picture.


Screen caps are from an online screener. 7-8/10  Full review with more screencaps here Noirsville.
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Rafles sur la ville (original title) Sinners of Paris (1958) Paris Noir

 
Directed by Pierre Chenal. Written by Paul Andréota, Pierre Chenal, and Jean Ferry.

It was based on a novel by Auguste Le Breton. Cinematography was by Marcel Grignon, and music was by Michel Legrand.

Charles Vanel is crime boss Léonce Pozzi known as "Le Fondu", and no it doesn' mean the "hot melted cheese dip, lol, it means "Mr. Fade." Vanel's first film credit was in 1910. I first saw him in The Wages Of Fear, then in Diabolique. Mr. Fade's ace up the sleeve is his trademark hand grenade that he carries between his legs, sort of like a third ****.

Bella Darvi is Mr. Fade's stipper/dancer gal pal Cri Cri who dances at the Pegasus Club in the Pigalle According to her mini bio on IMDb Darvi was "a self-destructive brunette beauty, her life was full of misfortune. Of Polish/French descent, she miraculously survived the tortures of a WWII concentration camp as a youth, only to get caught up in the phony glitter and high-living style of Monaco's casinos as a young adult in Europe. An inveterate gambler and drinker, she was, by chance, "discovered" by movie mogul Darryl F. Zanuck and his wife, Virginia Fox, who thought she had a foreign cinematic allure à la Ingrid Bergman. Despite her lack of acting experience, the Zanucks paid off her gambling debts and whisked her away to Hollywood to be groomed for stardom. Her marquee name "Darvi" was derived from the combined first names of her mentors.... After three high profile roles in The Egyptian (1954), Hell and High Water (1954) and The Racers (1955) opposite three top male films stars (Victor Mature, Richard Widmark and Kirk Douglas, respectively), Darvi's limited abilities were painfully transparent. Not only was she hampered by an ever-so-slight crossed-eyed appearance, she had a trace of a lisp which, combined with a foreign accent, made her speech appear slurred and difficult to understand. It didn't take long for the actress to go off the deep end. Within a short time, a major sex scandal involving Mr. Zanuck had wife Virginia packing Darvi's bags and any "career" she once had here in America was over."
 
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Léonce Pozzi "Le Fondu" (Charles Vanel)
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Cri Cri  (Bella Darvi)
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Le commissaire divisionnaire Brevet (Jean Brochard) and L'inspecteur Vardier (Michel Piccoli)
Michel Piccoli is L'inspecteur Vardier, de la P.J. his  breakthrough came after Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt (1963) he was also in Is Paris Burning?Belle de Jour, and The Phantom of Liberty.
 
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Lucie Barot (Danik Patisson)
Danik Patisson (The Accident (1963)) who was usually cast as a vamp, is vixen "Loose Lucie" Barot, the roundheels wife of François Guérinis (Eyes Without a Face (1960)) who plays L'inspecteur Gilbert Barot, de la P.J.
 
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 Lucien Donati "Le Niçois" (Marcel Mouloudji)
 
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Vardier and LouLou (Monique Tanguy)
Marcel Mouloudji is pimp Lucien Donati, aka "Le Niçois" translated "Mr. Nice." Jean Brochard (Diabolique (1955)) is Le commissaire divisionnaire Brevet, de la P.J., Georges Vitray is L'inspecteur Albert taillis, de la P.J. Georges Douking (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie(1972)) is "Le fou" "The Fool," Marcel Lupovici  is Dédé, and Monique Tanguy is the young prostitute of Mr. Nice Lucienne, aka "Loulou."

The Story
 
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Mr. Fade, a French mobster, is in a hospital room with barred windows. A nurse comes in and checks on him. He looks bad, but as soon as she leaves he's hopping out of bed and getting dressed.
 
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There is a police officer with a machine gun on guard. Mr. Fade goes to the door and opens it. Curious the police man enters and is hit over the head with a chair. Mr. Fade grabs his machine gun covers it with his jacket and slips down the hallway and out of sight.
 
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Mr. Fade heads up to the roof and while trying to cross to another building and make his escape that way he collapses. A cop following his trail comes upon Mr. Fade laying on the roof. Mr. Fade calls out that he's done for.
 
The cop approaches and Mr. Fade machine guns him down. The dead cop was the long time partner of  Inspector Vardier. Vardier vows to get Mr. Fade, but they have no idea of where he's holed up. Mr. Fade has a lot of underworld friends.

Vardier besides dealing with trying to locate Mr. Fade is also burdened with a rookie partner fresh out of the police academy, Inspector Gilbert Barot. Barot has a pretty young wife Lucie who catches Vardier's eye.

 
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Old Hooker

Vardier now has to contact his stoolies, and try and get a line on Mr. Fade. He contacts The Fool, who works as a bartender in the Quartier Pigalle. It's on the border between the 9th and the 18th arrondissements. The Pigalle is the Paris equivalent of Times Square. The district is full of theaters, sex shops, strip tease joints, con artists, and hookers. The Moulin Rouge is in the Pigalle. During WWII it was called "Pig Alley" by the allies soldiers.


From The Fool Vardier finds out that Mr. Fade has a nephew Lucien Donati who is a pimp who goes by the nickname "Le Niçois," Mr. Nice and that he operates out of a Pigalle hotel. As soon as Vardier splits however, The Fool makes a call to the brother of Mr. Fade, and tells him to tell Mr. Fade to be careful of Mr. Nice.

Vardier traces Mr. Nice down to a dive hotel where he is shacked up with LouLou his hooker. Vardier and a squad arrest them and haul both down to headquarters.
 
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Vardier through bribery finagles Mr. Nice and LouLou into signing incriminating documents against each other. Vardier uses this leverage over Mr. Nice to get him to rat out where his Uncle Pozzi "Mr. Fade" is hiding out. Mr. Nice tells Vardier he doesn't know where he is hiding nor has he heard from him. Vardier tells him to start looking.
 
Meanwhile Vardier occupies his partner Barot with interviewing various underworld figures, while Vardier starts an affair with Barot's wife Lucie.

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Mr. Nice visits Cri Cri at the Pegasus Club but she tells him that she hasn't seen Mr. Fade.
 
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Cri Cri hasn't seen Mr. Fade
 
 
Eventually He goes to visit his shopkeeper uncle and asks him about his brother Mr. Fade. Down in the basement Mr. Fade who has been hiding there for weeks is hanging out with his girlfriend Cri Cri a Pigalle stripper. Mr. Fade shows himself to Mr. Nice and tells him he's moving out. Mr. Fade wants Mr. Nice to drive him to his new hideout.
 
 
It's a test. When Mr. Fade enters the building of his new hideout, Mr. Nice takes off for the nearest phone and calls Vardier.
 
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Mr. Nice ratting out Mr. Fade
A police raid is set in motion but Mr. Fade is staked outside watching the police enter the address, and he knows Mr. Nice set him up. Mr. Fade goes looking for Mr. Nice. He finds him at a poker game. Mr Fade tells Mr. Nice that he changed his mind and he wants Mr. Nice to drive him to a new hideout.
 
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police raid
 
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Mr. Fade watches the action
 
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Lets go for a ride...
Mr. Fade is taking Mr. Nice for a ride. In some remote French Noirsville back alley Mr. Fade tells Mr. Nice to stop. Mr Fade tells Mr. Nice its a shame because he liked him as he blasts away with his automatic.
 
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goodbye Mr. Nice
 
 
Will Vardier find Mr. Fade? Will Barot discover his wife's infidelitis? Will Mr. Fade use his third ****? There are some nice twists, turns and surprises leading to the denouement.

Noirsville
 
 
 
 

 
 
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Sinners of Paris was a nice surprise to find. Its a routine policer that manages to stay interesting. There's got to be a lot more out there mostly unknown to aficio-noir-dos. They never had international releases and probably are in French only. 7/10
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The Moving Finger (1963) Beatnik Noir

Directed by Larry Moyer.

Written by Carlo and Larry Moyer with cinematography by Max Glenn music by Shel Silverstein and Teddy Vann.

The film stars Lionel Stander (Call Northside 777, narrator Blast of SilenceOnce Upon a Time in the West) as Anatole. With Barbara London, Art Smith (Framed, Brute ForceRide the Pink Horse, Body and SoulT-MenCaughtManhandledQuicksandIn a Lonely Place, The Killer That Stalked New York, and The Sound of Fury) as Doc Savartz, Wendy Barrie, Alan Ansara, and Barry Newman (Vanishing Point).
 
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Cafe owner Anatole (Lionel Stander)
 
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Doc Savartz (Art Smith) 
 
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Bank robber (Alan Ansara?)
 
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Anatole's gal pal Angel Barbara London ?
 
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Mason (Barry Newman) lt.

The Story

Bank robbery gone wrong. Three men rob a downtown bank in Manhattan. They filter in and at the designated time pull their guns.
 
 
 
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Go time!
 
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The robbers empty out the cash draws. One of the guards starts shooting back. The robbers take off out the door and out on to the streets.
 
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Unfortunately for them a squad car is nearby and gives chase...
 
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Two of the bank robbers are killed trying to scale a wall. The third one wounded with a gut shot headed in a different direction and gets away with the sack of loot. $90,000 dollars.
 
 
The wounded robber Ansara gets away on a Greenwich Village bound tourist bus.
 
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Anatole (Lionel Stander) is a cat who runs a dive Village beatnik, tourist trap, coffee house.  A tourist bus is on the way. His workers are a bunch of actors he hires for the real beatnik atmo. They get get three hots and share cots with each other and their pet rat that they keep in a bird cage. (I wonder if they inherited one of Ralphie's pet rats from Blast Of Silence)
 
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Anatole and the beats it's almost time for the tourist bus
 
 
Anatole heads to the basement to rouse his weed smoking crew.
 
The tourist bus passes street artists their works against fences/walls, Washington Square, etc., etc. It pulls up
Down at the coffee house Anatole is reading his poetry, the actors are at the tables as square john tourists filter in. The bank robber sneaks down into the basement crash pad.
 
The lights go down and Anatole recites one of his god awful poems, Howl it ain't.
 
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Tourists
 
 
A police detective arrives at the end of Anatole's recital. The detective uses Anatole as a sort of watchdog. The police are canvasing the neighborhood businesses asking to keep an eye out for anyone suspicious.
 
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Anatole and Police Detective

Anatole: Your're becoming a regular customer.
Police Detective: Hello Anatole.
Anatole: I know you didn't come down here for the poetry.
Police Detective: It's about the bank job.
Anatole: So?
[Lt hands Anatole a picture of the robber]
Waitress [bringing coffee looks at it]: He's not bad looking for a bank robber.
Anatole: A bank robbery is good for the Village it builds up business tourists love it.
Police Detective [taking a sip of coffee]: This coffee is the worst.\
Anatole:Whata ya expect the Waldorf-Astoria? They don't come down here for the coffee. They can get that at home. They come here to suffer makes 'em feel artistic.
Police Detective: Well anyway I would like you to keep your eyes open because I figure he's still in the Village somewhere. A lot of people come through your place especially the weird ones. If you hear anything let me know.
Anatole: Look, I have enough trouble trying to make a living down here without trying to play cops and robbers. That's your problem.
Police Detective: As a personal favor I'd like to get it over with before my vacation starts.
Anatole: OK if he comes down here and orders a cup of espresso I'll send up a smoke signal.
Police Detective: Thanks, I'll see ya.

The detective heads out to speak with other denizens of the Village. He approaches Moondog a real genuine NYC character who dressed up in a Viking outfit.
 
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Moondog
 
Moondog was the real deal. I actually knew Moondog. Though for me it was three years later than this film. I knew him between 1966-1970. I used to pass him on my way to school. In 1966 he stood like a medieval viking sentinel rain or shine on the Northeast corner of 6th Avenue and 54th Street in Manhattan right in front of the Warwick Hotel. My friends and I would always say "Hi Moondog."

Moondog's real name was Louis Thomas Hardin (May 26, 1916 – September 8, 1999), and he was an American musician, composer, theoretician, poet and inventor of several musical instruments. He was blind from the age of 16. He often just standing silently on the sidewalk. But occasionally he played music or sold music.  He was widely recognized as "the Viking of 6th Avenue."  

He was no bum. He had an apartment someplace uptown and a country house upstate. He rubbed shoulders with the likes of  Leonard Bernstein, Arturo Toscanini, as well as legendary jazz men Charlie Parker and Benny Goodman. This was back when he used to stand on the corner of "The Street," the 52nd Street jazz -nightclub -strip club Mecca. 

He had a strong interest in Nordic mythology, and maintained an altar to Thor in his country home in Candor, NY. 

BTW, some of Moondog's music was used in The Big Lebowski read more here Moondog

Back to the film......

When the tourist bus and it's passengers takes off the actors take off back to their crash pad in the basement. They find the loan surviving bank robber hiding out. They are cool with it, being anti-establishment etc., etc., they let him crash on a mattress, and bandage him up and get drug dealing pharmacist Doc Savartz played by Art Smith to give him morphine for the pain.
 
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Art tells Mason that it doesn't look to good for the robber.

So, the beats do their various counterculture beatnik things, like crashing gallery openings to stuff  their faces from the deli platters, stealing milk bottles in the early mornings from in front of apartment doors. Getting stoned. Popping pills. Showering regularly with friends, i.e. altogether at a rich old art patrons digs when they are dirty. Attending wild  avant-garde loft parties, etc., etc. The film is sprinkled with candid Neo Realist sequences of real people doing their thing.

All the characters, Anatole and Angel included, while doing all this, keep checking on the robber down in the basement and the $90,000 he has. They all want a piece of it.  He is sinking fast. but is functional enough to still be able to wave around his revolver.

Noirsville
 
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Angel: It's against the law.
Anatole: The bank took it from its customers, the hood took it from the bank, we take it from the hood- that's life, the survival of the fittest, the law of the jungle

 
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Its a piece of preserved Greenwich Village Beat nostalgia that has crappy coffee house bad poetry readings, jazz music, folk music hootenannies, weed smoking joint passing sessions, belly dancers, gay couples, authentic Village weirdos and as a bonus has some real footage of Little Italy's Feast of San Genaro Festival. Watchable 5-6/10

Won the Golden Gate Award in San Francisco for Best Director in 1963. Full review with more screencaps at Noirsville
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  • 2 weeks later...

The True Story of Lynn Stuart (1958) Tail Fin Noir

 
This was the final film of Lewis Seiler.

At Warner's Seiler directed quite a few gangster films (his only other Noir was Over-Exposed (1956)). This film was based on the newspaper articles of Pat Michaels concerning what the police fed him as the "official" true story of the woman known as Lynn Stuart who in reality went undercover for 6 years. The film makes it look like a couple weeks. In the real story she was actually involved in mob activities including drug purchases. The screenplay was by John Kneubuhl.

Cinematography was by Filn Noir vet  Burnett Guffey (Guffey lensed My Name Is Julia RossNight Editor, Framed, Johnny O'Clock, In a Lonely Place, All the King's Men, The Reckless Moment, The Undercover Man, Knock on Any Door, Private Hell 36, Human Desire, The Sniper, Scandal Sheet, and Sirocco).

The film stars Betsy Palmer (The Tin Star (1957) a mostly TV actress but she made a comeback in 1980 to films in Friday the 13th) as Phyllis Carter, also known as Lynn Stuart, Jack Lord (another mainly TV actor Hawaii Five-O)as Willie Down. Barry Atwater as Lt. Jim Hagan, Edmund G. Brown as Himself, and Gavin MacLeod as Turk, and John Anderson as Doc, among others.
 
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Lynn Stuart (Betsy Palmer)
 
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Willie Down (Jack Lord)

The Story 

The film is a quasi police procedural so we get a law enforcement prologue by future California Governor Edmund "Pat" Brown. He was the state's Attorney General at the time.
 
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Orange County, California
 
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A high speed car chase
 
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A tragic end
Orange County. A police car chase. A crash. Two teens are killed. In the wreck we see a box with syringes and packets of heroin. Druggies! Both were high as kites. At the coroners inquest the aunt of one of the boys, Phyllis Carter is upset enough to denounce the weak police efforts to combat illegal drugs.


 
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Phyllis consoling her sister
So Phyllis is so enraged that she volunteers out of the blue to become an undercover narcotics agent for the police, yea sure.

There has got to be more to it that the police have sealed away for ever. Lets with our gritty sleazy noir shaded glasses on go over some of the possibilities.

Maybe it was her husband who sold the teens the heroin or was some other way involved. Maybe Phyllis was one of those part time housewife prostitutes who turned tricks for dress money or extra cash, got busted and this deal with the police was her to stay out of jail, keep that arrest out of the papers and a way out doing jail time. Maybe Phyllis or her husband or both got busted for making stag loops, or got picked up on lewd and lascivious conduct and this was a way to avoid the publicity and shame. Maybe Phyllis' husband was a **** who got arrested and etc., etc., see above.

It's too far fetched as the tale plays out in the film, it may have been swallowed by fifties audiences, but an awful lot of truly bizarre scenarios have come to light in the last sixty years, we're too cynical to believe that official bull **** now.

Meanwhile.....
 
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a tip off to the police

According to the film the Orange County sheriff's office accepts Phyllis' offer after one of their stoolies is gunned down in a phone booth in Tijuana while he's making a tip off.
 
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Santa Ana City Hall

So we are made to believe that now of course they happily reconsider the offer of a mere housewife with no training and a young child at home, as if there were no police women anywhere in Southern California that could do it, yea sure. So they give Phyllis an alias as an ex con Lynn Stuart out of West Virginia who did a stretch of 18 months for bank robbery, and a job in Stan's Drive In, that's a known drug dealer hangout.
 
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A Stan's BTW was also featured in an earlier Film Noir The Crooked Web (1955) with Frank Lovejoy and Mari Blanchard. The Googie style architecture Stan's was a chain of burger joints in the Los Angeles area in the 50's and 60's.
 
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Phyllis/Lynn meets Willie Downs
Phyllis is quite a piece of eye candy. While on the job she finally attracts dealer Willie Down (Jack Lord). Phyllis becomes his girlfriend. Yea sure. Again, here you got to ask yourself how she managed to keep the hoods attention without putting out. It's highly implausible that it was a platonic relationship. Especially when you are aware of the fact that the real "undercover" job went on for six **** years.
 
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Phyllis/Lynn Bowling on a date with Willie
 
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reporting in to the police
So Phyllis integrates herself into the gang, getting the skinny on the drug operations and tipping off the police to what is going on. In the film the fact that she's married is played down with her husband meekly agreeing to everything she does. The dynamics of her relationship with her husband is never really satisfactory explained. We just have to guess. So I'll noir-ishly guess she possibly told Willie that her husband was either impotent, or a closet fairy. Whatever it was, Willie bought it.
 
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Its OK dear Willie's junk ain't anywhere as big as yours.....
and besides it's only been five years.


So in the film we get this dramatic build up and then right before a drug run which will be a big police breakthrough, Phyllis husband chokes and wants her to quit. However she can't because Willie shows up unexpectedly and whisks her away.  They are going to hijack a drug shipment from a competing mob.
 
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setting up the ambush
 
 
So they use Phyllis as a decoy. She plays a lady in distress with a broken down car blocking the roadway. It all goes Noirsville when Willie murders the two truck drivers when they get out to help.
 
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Phyllis already distraught by the killings has the drama is turned up to high by the screenwriter adding the sudden sickness (pneumonia) of her only child. (In real life remember she had two) This is accomplished by the improbable "over the radio" bulletin announcing that the police are searching for Phyllis Carter, whose son is very ill.
 
 

The big showdown in a nice touch takes place at a motel.

Noirsville
 
 
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John Anderson as Doc rt.

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In the film it's the death of her nephew that triggers her quest to go undercover, in the "official" real story she sited that it was just her fear that her sons may get addicted when they became teenagers. Sounds a bit too far fetched and you got to wonder what the hell was up with her husband to agree to go along with the whole scenario. Me thinks there was a lot more going on that we don't know about.

Was she a True Crime fanatic? A Police Junkie?, or did the police catch her or her husband or both, doing something he, she, or they shouldn't have been doing, and this was their way out, an "I'll, we'll, do anything, anything, to keep this out of the papers" deal. That scenario seems way more plausible than the "good citizen volunteers to go way, way, above and beyond their public duty to turn in drug dealers" pap. Whatever, back in 1958 the public bought this explanation but looking at it from a 2019 perspective and knowing all the shenanigans that went on in law "enforcement," it sounds way too pat. Watch and see what you think.

The film is a decent watch with nice cinematography, Palmer and Lord are good in their parts. 6/10. Review with more screencaps in Noirsville.

Here is a good example of a story that could very well be remade today into a very sleazy fictional period Neo Noir.
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Looking For Mr. Goodbar (1977) Date Noir

Written and Directed by Richard Brooks.

Brooks (directed Classic Film Noir (Deadline - U.S.A. (1952), Transitional Noir In Cold Blood (1967), and was screenwriter of notably The Killers (1946) (un-credited though), Brute Force (1947), Crossfire (1947), Key Largo (1948), Mystery Street (1950), Storm Warning(1951), Deadline - U.S.A. (1952), and In Cold Blood(1967)).

Brook's screenplay was based on the novel by Judith Rossner which in turn was based on an article she wrote about the real life murder of Roseann Quinn. The piece was intended for a special woman's issue of Esquire magazine. However the Esquire editors got cold feet for possible legal ramifications and decided not to publish. Rossner then used the material she researched in her novel.

Cinematography was by William A. Fraker (Bullitt (1968), Coonskin (1975), The Killer Inside Me (1976)), music was by Artie Kane.

The film Stars Diane Keaton as Theresa Dunn, Tuesday Weld as Katherine Dunn, William Atherton as James, Richard Kiley as Mr. Dunn, Richard Gere as Tony, Alan Feinstein as Martin, Tom Berenger as Gary, Priscilla Pointer as Mrs. Dunn, Alexander Courtney as Arthur, Joel Fabiani as Barney, Julius Harris as Black Cat, Richard Bright as George, LeVar Burton as Cap Jackson, Brian Dennehy as Surgeon, Richard Venture as Doctor, and Elizabeth Cheshire as Young Theresa.
 
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Diane Keaton as Theresa Dunn
 
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Tuesday Weld as Katherine Dunn
 
 
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Richard Kiley as Mr. Dunn and Priscilla Pointer as Mrs. Dunn
 
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Alan Feinstein as Martin
 
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Richard Gere as Tony
 
 
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William Atherton as James
 
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Tom Berenger as Gary
The film's credit sequence is a nice Noir-ish Black & White montage of the singles scene.

Story

Theresa Dunn is a young Irish/Polish, former Catholic school girl growing up in a big city. Right there are two clues that anyone familiar with Catholic school girls knows, sort of instinctively, how this is going to play out. It's either going to be A Nun's Story or Girl Gone Wild.

The real story happened in New York, this film never states the city it does show a glimpse of the Chicago el, and some Chicago neighborhoods but then also shows what looks like your typical L.A. strip. The strip of course is always strategically filmed at night. So it's any big city USA.
 
Back to the film. Theresa now a college senior and pretty much off her religious and parental leash is out in the real world. She has a crush on Martin her English professor. She works in his campus office after class as a sort of secretary. Is he a sort of a benign serial sexual predator, who just takes advantage of gullible naive females who are experimenting with their sexuality, or is he a genuine falling in love with falling in love type of guy with willing females who are helped on their way to becoming well adjusted women. Both parties benefit from the relationships. Theresa looses her virginity to Martin.
 
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Anyway they have a hot steamy affair.
 
Meanwhile during the depiction of their affair, we get a glimpse of Theresa's past and home life. She had scoliosis as a child. Had an operation, and spent a whole year in a full body cast, and as a result is a bit self conscious about her scars.
 
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Young Theresa - Elizabeth Cheshire
 
 
Theresa has one sister Brigid who is a baby factory, another Katherine is the "perfect" beauty. Katherine is a jet setter stewardess.

Katherine, while home for Christmas, confesses to Theresa that's she's been living with a man in New York and another in Chicago. The current problem is that she's one month pregnant and doesn't know who the father is. She tell's Theresa that she's going to get an abortion down in "the islands."
 
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When Katherine gets back she announces to her family that she is engaged to a Jewish man she met on her resent trip. Her family is not approving. Vivre la révolution sexuelle!
 
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Teaching the Deaf
Martin breaks off the relationship with Theresa. She graduates. Takes a job teaching deaf children. She's good at it. Theresa starts to feel too corralled by her overly strict parents rules.  Katherine convinces her to move out of her folks home and into an apartment in her building. Free to do as she pleases Katherine starts hitting the singles bars.
 
 
 
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Tony and Theresa

 

At one of the watering holes she meets Tony, today we'd classify him with having ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder), he acts like a nut job. Theresa inexplicably says that's for me.

 
Theresa is intrigued enough with Tony's antics to invite him up to her apartment, she sleeps with him, takes cocaine with him, and pops a Quaalude when he leaves. She's late for school the next day when she oversleeps. When she begins to hit the single bars again she finds that Tony has disappeared from the club scene. Was he just a one night stand?

Theresa next meets through a student at her school, a welfare case worker named James. He's an Irish Catholic boy. They being to date. He gets her family's good seal of approval. He appears stable and looks like husband material. Their dates end up in heavy petting make-out sessions that leave Theresa unfulfilled and unsatisfied.

James represents the traditional family values corner. He wants to just court her and put off having  sex until their wedding night. Theresa is comparatively, light-years ahead of all that noise. Theresa doesn't commit. It frustrates James. Theresa meanwhile is still shopping around, hitting the singles clubs during their relationship. James now obsessed with Theresa is becoming her stalker.

Meanwhile sister Katherine and hubby are becoming quite the swingers often having all night weed and booze parties watching porno stag loops followed by group sex. They try and entice Theresa to join in.

Theresa becomes a regular "round heels" having sex with practically everyone she takes a fancy to. In the film it's either again a Theresa daydream fantasy or its actually hinted at that Theresa is accepting money for sexual favors, basically becoming a sort of amateur recreational hooker. It's not clear and this one along with other sudden daydream episodes is one of the minor quibbles people have with the film.

Tony reappears during one of these trysts that Theresa is having in her apartment. He jimmy's the lock on Theresa's door and runs off the "john." Tony becomes a control freak and starts to stalk and harass Theresa to the extent that he even shows up at the school for the deaf. The brother of one of Theresa's students roughs Tony up. Theresa fearing revenge, imagines Tony ratting her out to the police, she heads home and flushes all her drugs down the toilet.

Another New Years Eve. Theresa is out trolling the bars. She got a New Years resolution to change her life after one last fling. She spies an attractive stranger named Gary she approaches him as he's playing pinball.
 
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Gary is a "sexually confused" ex con, in other words a weirdo. Is he gay, is he straight, is he Bi? Gary has recently been a boy toy for old queens living off their "gifts."  Gary, somewhat equally attracted to Theresa tells her that he's got a pregnant wife living in Florida. They split for Theresa's pad and there it goes Noirsville.

Noirsville
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Brooks paints a cautionary tale, multiple casual hook-ups can get your *a*s*s* in a jam. In the code days women were either Madonnas or whores, in our post code world they can be both. Keaton and Weld are both excellent.

The only two critiques I've heard of the film are one, Brooks use of Theresa's confusing daydream sequences disrupting the flow of the story, and the initial decision to discard the part the real victim Rosanne Quinn played in her own demise. In the film Theresa Dunn is shown as basically picking her partners on whims or attraction.

In the true story Roseann Ouinn was shown to possibly be a bit of either a thrill seeking masochist. But questions remain. Was she picking her partners because they displayed damaged egos that she could manipulate, or maybe was it a warped extension of her help giver profession that she channeled into the realm of the sexual help? Or was she just kinked that particular way and was looking for rough sex and trouble, and maybe that, was her antidote to being the overly sugary sweet, well loved teacher. Who knows. She just picked the wrong guy, once. Screen caps are from an online screener. 7/10 Full review with more screencaps in Noirsville. 
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Cruising (1980) Gay/Fetish Neo Noir

 
"Subversive and Controversial"

Written and Directed by William Friedkin. Friedkin directed (The French Connection (1971), To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), and the relatively recent Killer Joe (2011)). Based on a novel by New York Times reporter Gerald Walker. Cinematography was by James A. Contner and Music by Jack Nitzsche and Egberto Gismonti

The film stars Al Pacino as Steve Burns, Paul Sorvino as Captain Edelson, Karen Allen as Nancy Gates, Richard Cox as Stuart Richards, Don Scardino as Ted Bailey, Joe Spinell as Patrolman DiSimone, and Powers Boothe as Hankie Salesman.

Here is a film that pretty much fell off the face of the Earth once it's theater run was over. This was my first viewing and what sparked that decision was the reviews I glanced at that mentioned it's dark and gritty nature.  I've since found out that the eight week shooting of the film was fraught with controversy, and blamed on a negative piece written by The Village Voice columnist Arthur Bell.

In a New York Times interview Friedkin feels that the gay community "have labeled him, unjustly, as homophobe. “Anyone who knows me or knows anything about me knows that I am not antigay,” he said. “I don't make a film because I'm against something. For that matter, I don't make a film because I'm for something —don't make propaganda. If anything, all the films I've made are enormously ambiguous."

Friedkin goes on to say that "The book struck me as a very unusual murder mystery,” he said. “Not unusual from the standpoint of homosexuality, but because of the way the three main characters were poised against one another.”

In researching the book for the film Friedkin, with the help of his NYPD friends from his The Fremch Connection shoot, "he began to visit the best‐known New York bars that cater to sado‐masochistic posturing." He was fascinated. "What struck me was the level of energy, and the total dedication to this fantasy world. It seemed to me to be very exciting. And unusual. And outside my own experience. Whenever a group of people are giving themselves over to something completely, whatever it is, it's of interest to me. Avidity is something that interests me. Obsession ‐ there was true obsession in these places. All the films I've made in one way or another deal with characters who are obsessed, driven, perhaps sexually confused, given over to a macho image, which is generally bluff, and living on the edge of danger.”

 
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Al Pacino as patrolman Steve Burns
 
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Steve Burns with Paul Sorvino as Captain Edelson,
 
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Karen Allen as Nancy Gates
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Don Scardino as Ted Bailey

The Story

Body parts are beginning to show up floating about in New York harbor. The victims are gay men. NYPD Captain Edelson assigns patrolman Steve Burns to go undercover into the kinky underworld of gay leather bars down along the border of the West Village and the appropriately named "Meat Packing" distinct. Burns matches the over all general description of the victims. Edelson wants him to be the bait. Burns is instructed to tell no one not even his girlfriend Nancy Gates. The reward that's dangled in front of him is a promotion to detective.
 
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A grisly find
 
 
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discussing the case

The serial killer picks up men at various bars takes them to cheap flop house apartments has sex, ties them up and stabs them to death telling them that "you made me do this."

The M.O. a casual pickup
 
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The movie plot is a mess. It purposely leaves quite a bit of questions about the depth of Burns' involvement into the sadomasochistic leather fetish Gay subculture. Is he Bi? Is He Gay? Is he just **** up in the head? Burns as depicted is an enigma.
 
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Richard Cox as Stuart Richards,
During the course of the investigation Burns rents an apartment, befriends a gay neighbor, Ted Bailey,  where the subject is treated in a mature and surprisingly up to (today's) date manner, and starts to be the bait. He gets a few false positives. He's exposed to some police brutality. Finally following a new lead from a college yearbook Burns zones in on the real killer Stuart Richards who attacks him with a knife. After Burns takes him into custody it all goes Noirsville when Ted's body is found with multiple stab wounds.
Noirsville
 
 
 
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Joe Spinell as Patrolman DiSimone
 
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The ambiguous treatment of the Burns character as already mentioned was an artistic decision that weakens the piece. The open ending Friedkin included because in the real police case that the movie is based upon it was determined that in fact there was more than one killer.
 
The strange sexually charged underground leather fetish S&M world was probably pretty frightening to a certain latent segment of square john America back in the day and probably still is. No denying its dark Noir-ish-ness.  Hence the reason, besides of course, also having a lot of hairy musclebound **** on display, that the film has been off the radar screens.

The whole scene looks pretty bizarre on first look but then upon repeated glimpses throughout the film they look like quasi Nazi/Biker mirror shaded leather god worshipers in some desperately outré Halloween costume party.

Anyway, the interesting NYC locations include Hotel St. James, Central Park, Christopher Street, Greenwich Village,  Claremont Avenue, Manhattan, Chelsea, Manhattan, Broadway & 116th Street, Manhattan, Columbus Circle, Eleventh Avenue, Greenwich Village, Jones Street, Police Plaza, Manhattan Municipal Building, and West Street.

Screencaps are from an online screener 6/10 Full Review with more screencaps at Noirsville
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The Blue Lamp (1950) Gritty London Police Noir

 
"Classic British Noir"

Directed by Basil Dreaden (Cage of Gold(1950), Pool Of London (1951)). Written by T.E.B. Clarke, with Jan Read and Ted Willis credited for original treatment. Additional dialogue was by Alexander Mackendrick. Cinematography was by Gordon Dines.

The film stars Jack Warner as PC George Dixon, Jimmy Hanley as PC Andy Mitchell, Dirk Bogarde as hood Tom Riley, Peggy Evans as Diana Lewis, Patric Doonan as hood Spud, Bruce Seton as PC Campbell, Gladys Henson as Mrs. Dixon, Frederick Piper as Alf Lewis, Tessie O'Shea as herself, and Sam Kydd as Bookmakers Assistant White City (uncredited)

A very good police procedural Noir that equally focuses on the criminals also. This is a film that is basically unknown in the U.S. It hasn't been shown on cable anytime recently that I know of and it's not available on a Region 1 DVD. As far as UK based Noirs it is usually rated among the top ten.

Like most procedural's it begins with a voice over narration stating that the rise in crime is directly related to insufficient numbers of constables on patrol.
 
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A PC sergeant and PC George Dixon
 
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PC Andy Mitchell, center and Gladys Henson as Mrs. Dixon
From there we are introduced to PC George Dixon a veteran who is about to retire and his charge a 25 year old rookie PC Andy Mitchell. Dixon and his wife have lost a son during WWII and have an empty room, George suggests to his wife, after he invites Andy over for dinner that they ought to take Andy in as a lodger, which they do.

 Reminiscent of later TV formula ensemble precinct cop shows, The Blue Lamp in various vignettes gives you a taste of the camaraderie, routines, and off duty diversions the Paddington Green police station personnel. One interesting bit of trivia that I picked up was the use of the vertical black and white stripped cloth brassards or arm band "duty bands," that the constables wear while on active duty.
 
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On a tea break notice the duty bands worn on the left sleeve cuff

The story of the two young hoods Spud and Tom Riley that eventually are the subjects of a citywide manhunt, are hooked into a runaway daughter, Diana Lewis, vignette.
 
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Patric Doonan as Spud  lt, Dirk Bogarde as Tom Riley rt. 
 
 
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Andy takes out his notepad to write down the details that Peggy's mother provides to him about her daughter
Diana flees her crowded typical "kitchen sink" precursor type flat to shack up with boyfriend Tom Riley. The boys use Peggy as the inside finger "woman" who scouts out their various planned robberies.

 
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Tom, Peggy Evans as Diana Lewis, Spud
The first being the robbery of a jeweler who Peggy tells them is carrying on an affair with a woman. The boys break into the apartment, knock the jeweler out, steal the girlfriends pearls and the keys to his shop which they use loot the business.
 
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The robbed jeweler
 
 
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a confrontation at the jewelers
The second job is the robbery of the box office payroll of a movie theater where Peggy has just gotten a job. The boys for an alibi, go to a nearby music hall to catch Tessie O'Shea.
 
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Tessie O'Shea

They go to the lounge and order two drinks, but when Tessie starts her number they tell the barkeep to hold their drinks while they go watch her performance. Spud and Tom then head to the gentleman's lounge, slip out the window and drive a stolen car to the cinema to rob the box office.
 
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Tom robbing the box office
 
 
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PC Dixon confronts Tom
During the hold up two movie patrons see the holdup in progress and get the nearby patrolling PC Dixon to investigate. It all goes Noirsville when Tom panics and blasts him with a pistol.

Noirsville
 
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The film boasts a couple of great high speed auto chases through the Paddington district of West London. It was, for me anyway, a bit ear opening to hear a loud double clank bell sound coming from the pursuing police "wireless" car rather that a wailing siren. It's reminiscent of the sound of the type of thumb activated bell that a kid would have attached to the handlebar of a tricycle, only much louder.

The Blue Lamp is also a bit similar to M where both the police and the professional criminals join forces to apprehend a cop killer.

All the actors are excellent, and the story is nicely balanced. It provides a great archival snapshot of 1949/50 London. Screencaps are from the Vintage Classics Studio Canal Blu. 9/10 Fummreview with more screencaps at Noirsville
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Boogie Nights (1997) Porn Biz Noir

 
“There are shadows in life, 
baby.''
(Jack Horner)

Written, produced and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Hard Eight (1996), There Will Be Blood (2007)). Cinematography by Robert Elswit, Music by Michael Penn.

The film stars Mark Wahlberg as Eddie Adams/"Dirk Diggler", Julianne Moore (The Big Lebowski (1998)) as Maggie/"Amber Waves," Burt Reynolds (Deliverance(1972)) as Jack Horner
Don Cheadle (Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)) as Buck Swope, John C. Reilly (Hard Eight (1996), Gangs of New York (2002)) as Reed Rothchild, William H. Macy (Fargo (1996), Hit Me (1996)) as "Little" Bill Thompson, Heather Graham as Brandy/"Rollergirl", Nicole Ari Parker as Becky Barnett
Philip Seymour Hoffman (Hard Eight (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), Before the Devil Knows You're Dead (2007)) as Scotty J., Luis Guzmán as Maurice Rodriguez, Philip Baker Hall (Hard Eight (1996), Hit Me (1996)) as Floyd Gondolli, Thomas Jane (The Punisher (2004), Give 'em Hell Malone (2009), Dark Country (2009)) as Todd Parker, Robert Ridgely as the Colonel James, Robert Downey Sr. as Burk, Nina Hartley as "Little" Bill's wife, Melora Walters as Jessie St. Vincent, Alfred Molina as Rahad Jackson, and Ricky Jay as Kurt Longjohn.
 
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Burt Reynolds as Jack Horner
 
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Mark Wahlberg as Eddie Adams/"Dirk Diggler"
 
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William H. Macy as "Little" Bill Thompson
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Don Cheadle as Buck Swope
 
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Heather Graham as Brandy/"Rollergirl"
 
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Julianne Moore as Maggie/"Amber Waves,"
 
 
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Philip Seymour Hoffman as Scotty J
Boogie Nights begins at the height of the "Porno Chic" Era before the "Golden Age Of Porn" began to lose its luster. The era stretched from 1969 to 1984. It was a time when sexually explicit films went mainstream, got a mentioned and joked about on late night talk shows and when even some of it's slang terns became part of the national lexicon.

During the gradual demise of the Motion Picture Production Code independent film directors and producers began to push the envelope of what was allowed to be shown. Their films were labeled Exploitation because they exploited the new found freedom. In the hierarchy of Exploitation films dealing with sex the stages were Nudie Cuties, Sexploitation, Roughies, Rough Core, and finally the White Coaters. White Coaters functioned as the old Public Service films showing what was forbidden in the guise of doctors studies and cautionary warnings about sex. The next step was plain straight Hard Core loops that were common at smokers and stag parties.

 "Porno Chic" Era began when leading pop artist Andy Warhol directed and released Blue Movie(1969) an artistic cut above a plain Hard Core loop, and that was followed by Mona (1970). They were the first two adult erotic films depicting explicit sex to receive wide theatrical release. Notable hits of "Porno Chic" were 1972's notorious Deep Throat starring Linda Lovelace directed by Gerard Damiano, and Behind The Green Door starring Marilyn Chambers, followed by 1973's The Devil in Miss Jones also by Damiano, and 1976's The Opening of Misty Beethoven by Radley Metzger. Warhol had once stated that Blue Movie was an influence for Brando's Last Tango In Paris (1972) an international hit that was nominated for two Academy Awards and which won seven other US and international awards.
 
The Story

1977, Torrance, California. Eddie Adams, loser. Still living at home with his mom and stepdad. His real dad skipped out years ago. Mom's a whack job, abusive. Stepdad is a classic wimp. Eddie works as a busboy/dishwasher at a nightclub called the Resada. The club is owned by Maurice Rodriguez a player who rubs shoulders with California pornographers.
 
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Rumors are going around that Eddie has a "big" package.
 
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The package
Anderson probably based Eddie on John C. Holmes or Johnny Wadd . Holmes was renowned for his unusually large ****. It was supposedly the longest, thickest, hardest, and longest lasting in the adult film industry. It was rumored to be between 10 and 13 inches.

"John Holmes was to the adult film industry what Elvis Presley was to rock 'n' roll. He simply was The King." (Cinematographer Bob Vosse in the documentary Wadd: The Life & Times of John C. Holmes).
 
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So these rumors of Eddie's junk get to the ears of a porno filmmaker Jack Horner. Horner auditions Eddie with one of his porn actress proteges Roller Girl. Roller Girl always has sex with her skates on, it's her trademark. Jack lives with porn actress Amber Waves. Amber eventually also becomes a filmmaker in her own right. Anderson may have been basing Jack and Amber on porn pioneers Michael and Roberta Findlay.
 
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Horner likes what he sees. Eddie after partying all night finally gets home only to be smacked around by his mom, who in the process trashes his room. Eddie having enough of that noise, splits for Jack's place in the San Fernando Valley.

Jacks place is a sort of halfway house for porn stars and various other flunkies. A modest flop with a pool.

It all goes well at Jack's place. Eddie befriends other actors in the biz. His porn biz name is Dirk Diggler. He becomes something of a phenom with his big tool. Dirk's able to buy house and a '77 Chevy Corvette. With fellow porn actor Reed Rothchild he stars in a series of action hero porn flicks. Dirk even wins a sort of porno Academy Award
 
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With fellow porn actor Reed Rothchild he stars in a series of action hero porn flicks. Dirk even wins a sort of porno Academy Award

Here again Anderson borrows from the John Holmes template. Holmes starred in a series of adult films built around a private investigator named Johnny Wadd.

The film nicely delves into the various idiosyncrasies of the "artistic" personnel of the porn biz. The small vignettes are very entertaining. Porn star Buck Swope is a stereo salesman on his day job, he longs for his own store eventually. We see him doing his sales pitch, and later watch his travails when he applies for a loan. Later he gets a Tarantino-esque Deus ex machina that solves all his problems.

Buck Swope: See this system here? This is Hi-Fi... high fidelity. What that means is that it's the highest quality fidelity.

A few more vignettes depict the problems between Little Bill Thompson and his nymphomaniac wife. Little Bill constantly finds her having sex with strangers. In one sequence he finds his wife (played by real life porn star Nina Hartley, who started in the biz when she was 25 in Educating Nina (1984)) having sex out in the driveway surrounded by onlookers.
 
Little Bill walks away and is confronted by cinematographer Kurt who wants to discuss a new zoom lens.
 
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Little Bill with Ricky Jay as cinematographer Kurt Longjohn.

Things go well until they don't At the end of the '70s, during the 1979-1980 New Years Eve party Jack Horner's assistant director, Little Bill Thompson, once again discoverers his porn star wife having sex with another man. Thompson loses it shooting them both dead and then blowing out his brains. Happy New Year!
 
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Dirk and Reed begin heavily using drugs with "Peruvian Marching Powder," aka cocaine their preferred brand. The narcotics begin to affect his performance on the set. Horner seeing the writing on the wall hires a new stud. In 1983 after a big **** match with Jack, Dirk is fired.
 
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"You're not the boss of me"

Dirk: You're not the boss of me, Jack. You're not the king of Dirk. I'm the boss of me. I'm the king of me. I'm Dirk Diggler. I'm the star. It's my big dick and I say when we roll.

Dirk and Reed get a bright idea to start rock 'n roll careers but are stymied when they can't come up with the $5,000 scratch they need to get their recording tapes from the studio.

It all of course goes Noirsville. The porn industry is changing. The advent of cheap videotape, low production costs and the adult bookstore home video market destroys the Grindhouse Theater business. Why go into dubious neighborhoods and sit in dank dilapidated theaters with sticky floors when you can beat off in the sanctity of your own home.
 
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Philip Baker Hall as Floyd Gondolli, 
Floyd Gondolli: This here's the future. Videotape tells the truth.
Jack Horner: Wait a minute. You come into my house, my party, to tell me about the future? That the future is tape, videotape, and not film? That it's amateurs and not professionals? I'm a filmmaker, which is why I will *never* make a movie on tape.

Porn once again regressed basically to simple direct to video "loops" once known as stag films. With all aspects of the business  changing, Jack has go with the flow. He has to abandon film and begin shooting on tape. Former high priced porn stars are replaced by amateurs, high concept films are replaced with gimmicky hooks, and everyone has to cope with the new reality.

Noirsville

 
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Nina Hartley as "Little" Bill's nymphomaniac wife
 
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Burt Reynolds gives one of his best performances since Deliverance. I've never cared for the majority of all his good ol' boy, corn pone shtick movies, that seemed to be his go to persona, between these two films. I'll admit maybe I missed something but that is because Burt being in a film was never a drawing card for me. I have enjoyed a few of his Westerns. Notable in the ensemble cast are, Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, Heather Grahame, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly, William H. Macy, and Ricky Jay.

The rest of the massive also acquit themselves admirably, they give humanity to countless similar real life Sexploitation/early Porn makers who nowadays are mostly just forgotten names on IMDb lists if the titles even show up. (Note IMDb must have a filter in their search a lot of titles will not come up when you use IMDb's search, however the links appear when you do a Google search).
 
Doing research for Noirsville during the 1960-70 Transitional Noir period, I've come to recognize some of the early Sexploiraion "Noir" directors and talent that spearheaded and forged what was to come. The very composited fictional people that Anderson depicted in this film.

Directors, the Findlay's with their art house beat generation roots, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Lee Frost, Barry Mahon, Anton Holden, Joseph W. Sarno, and Kemal Horulu are some of my faves. Sexploitation actresses of note were, Janine Lenon in Aroused, Roberta Findlay, June Roberts, Fleurette Carter, and Victoria Astor (Hot Skin and Cold Cash). Some actors that impressed were Bob O'Connell as the demented mob boss in Some Like it Violent, Joe Santos in Flesh and Lace and mob pickup men Wes Bishop and Stefan Zema in The Pick-Up.

For a film about the Porn Industry there is not a whole lot of nudity or sex, you have to go to the source films for that  commodity and particularly those from the vintage year of 1969 . That was the year where full frontal nudity and simulated sex first was allowed. It would be today's equivalent of and NC-17. Boogie Nights is not even a hard "R." Where in real Sexploitation  it was all about the most you could get away with, Anderson is just telling an interesting story of Bizarro Hollywood.

Anything more than the "T&A" in Boogie Nights would earn it that economically disastrous, for the box office, NC-17 rating. The prosthetic **** of Dirk isn't real, lol.

Anderson does give us a quite a bit of style, and some homages to other films. Entertaining 8/10 Fuller review with more screen caps at Noirsville.
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