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I like it too, but its not very noir, the story doesn't quite make sense, and Jane does look puffy and has bags under her eyes. Originally Lizbeth Scott was going to play the part but the drug bust made Mitchum persona non grata to film careers. I just don't get the explosive chemisty between Mitchum and Greer in this as in the previous film.

 

PS Thanks for the auto info I fixed it in the previous post ;)

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You are right, and I don't really consider *The Big Steal* to be a noir, although you can see where the storyline hints at a noir. The story is really very simple. The army payroll is stolen and Mitchum is the fall guy. Mitchum is chasing the guy who stole it from him, and Mitchum in return is being chased by his own superior officer who is convinced that Mitchum is the thief. To say anymore is to give the ending away to those who haven't seen the movie. The girl gets involved because she is also a victim of the real thief. As you say, no actress (or their agents or studios) wanted to work with Mitchum on this because of the potential bad publicity. Jane Greer volunteered out of loyalty to Mitchum and it also helped get her out of Howard Hughes' dog house. As I said on another thread sometime ago, this whole back story about Mitchum and the making of *The Big Steal* could be used to make a movie.

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Yes, caught *The Sellout* (1952)today on TCM its not listed as a Noir but The Big Steal is go figure.

 

 

Director Gerald Mayer. With, Walter Pidgeon, John Hodiak, Audrey Totter, Paula Raymond, Cameron Mitchell, Karl Malden, Everett Sloane, Thomas Gomez. Big-town newspaper editor Pidgeon finds himself in over his head after getting stopped in a speed trap and then tries to get the goods on corrupt county officials and sheriff (Gomez). Great cast and the film is entertaining, Audrey Totter is looking good in this one as a "B" Girl/Torch singer but she is not used enough, too bad. I couldn't give the film my undivided attention but hopefully it will air again.

 

Its considered a not well known noir http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film3/dvd_reviews52/the_sellout.htm

 

 

 

 

 

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*The Turning Point* (1952)Director: William Dieterle, with great Noir cast William Holden, Edmund O'Brien, Alexis Smith, Tom Tully, Ed Begley, Ted de Corsia, Neville Brand, Carolyn Jones, Whit Bissell, and many more a lot with just brief cameos. The story is that a special prosecutor John Conroy (O'Brien) is appointed to tackle organized crime in a fictitious city (some scenes show NYC's Bishop Crook Lamps probably back lot studio sets, but others on location are obviously of the Bunker Hill Section of LA so you can sort of call it New LA).

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O'Brien appoints his cop father Matt as chief investigator who is reluctant to take the post. Reporter Jerry McKibbon ( Holden) boyhood friend of Conroy knows why, he's seen Matt with mob lieutenant Harrigan (de Corsia) and figures he's on the take. John's girl Amanda (Smith) falls for McKibbon complicating the friendship. Meanwhile, as the crime commission ratchets up the heat the threatened racketeers increasingly resort to violent means of defense.

LOL the movie poster (above) deceptively shows Carolyn Jones at the bottom right, as if she has a huge part as a hooker/madam/ floozy?, its really never explained, she has at most a minute, a minute and a half of screen time (whether or not her part got left on the cutting room floor is unknown, she gets pulled in as a witness at the crime commission hearings gets asked a few questions and her answer is "men give me money" that is it). Truth in advertising would make her about a 1/4 inch on that poster.

Below is the beginning of the sequence where Matt Conroy gets elaborately bumped off in a staged holdup.

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This Noir starts off slow but builds momentum, and once the action really begins, the on location cinematography and interesting studio sets dovetail into a seamless entertaining tableau that satisfies.


Below a screen shot of the natural gas storage tanks in LA the contents of which provides the ignition material to a gang planned arson sequence.

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The exciting big set piece ending where hit man (Brand) sets out to assassinate Holden takes place at a crowded boxing arena. Streaming on Netflix 8/10
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*5 Against The House* (1955) Director: Phil Karlson, with Guy Madison, Kim Novak, Brian Keith, Kerwin Mathews, William Conrad and Alvy Moore.


Synopsis: Four college buddies enjoy a night at a Reno casino and overhear a cop saying that robbing the casino "cannot be done." That gets the brainiest rich kid among them thinking up a plan for the perfect robbery. He convinces the others to join in when they hear that it will only be a college hoax, his plan being to let the police know where the money is afterwards.


Its watchable, part of the Columbia Film Noir Collection Volume 1, its a bit hard to believe that four of the "5" are college students they almost all are in their thirties, aside from Novak who is actually 22 in this film but looks thirty with that hairdo. Yea two of them are Korean War Vets (Kieth & Madison) but to make it believable the parts of Mathews and Moore should have been played by younger actors.


Novak I've always found hit or miss in films. But I've not seen all that many of her filmography. I'm not overly fond of short hair on women and she's almost always cropped in short hair, it gives her an older look. Of her films, I like "Vertigo", "Bell Book & Candle", "Picnic", "The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders", "Boys' Night Out ", "Kiss Me Stupid" (possibly my fave), and she looks great in "The Legend of Lylah Clare" but the film is terrible. I've seen "Jeanne Eagels", "The Notorious Landlady", but don't remember them well.


Regardless "5 Against the House" is a pretty hokey story that takes an awful long time to get in gear, and it's not very interesting visually, nor very Noir in style, until the aftermath of the heist sequence in a 4 story parking garage. 5/10 (hopefully this is the worst of the the three I hadn't seen before, the other two being Murder By Contract & The Sniper) of the Columbia Collection.

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Matthews was actually teaching speech and drama at Beloit College before he had a film career. He went from teacher to student - I wonder if he found that amusing.

 

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*The Lineup* (1958) Director: Don Siegel with Eli Wallach, Robert Keith, Richard Jaeckel, Warner Anderson, Mary LaRoche, William Leslie, Emile Meyer, Marshall Reed, Raymond Bailey, and Vaughn Taylor. This film is actually based on a police procedural TV program "The Lineup" and the first 20 minutes reflect that, appropriating a lot of the conventions that the TV program used.


This is a great crime film about psychopathic mob hit-men on the loose in San Francisco, all the action takes place in one day as they travel around collecting fragments of a shipment of heroin that arrived aboard a passenger ship from the orient. Since it takes place in a single day its not very dark (save for the psyches of the characters of Wallach and Kieth) or stylistically Noir, but can boast some fantastic outdoor "neorealism" using San Francisco landmarks as touchstones, and it caps everything off with one of the great chase scenes in cinema since 1949's "The Big Steal". It may also be not very noir-ish because again its trying to reflect the TV Program and TV lighting in general.


Wallach plays a memorable nut case and also quite refreshing is the diversity of the rest of the various unique characters portrayed rather than today's affectation for metro-sexual pretty boy same old same old blandness. Anyway you can enjoy this film twice, first as the theatrical release and second with the hilarious and informative running commentary by Eddie Muller and James Ellroy.


Viewed the Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classic Vol 1 a easy 9/10 one point dropped for not being very noir-ish.

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*Berlin Express* (1948) Director: Jacques Tourneur. With, Merle Oberon, Robert Ryan, Charles Korvin, Paul Lukas, Robert Coote and many others. It’s a fairly suspenseful spy story set in post WW2 Europe, it begins on the Berlin Express and finishes in a bombed out Frankfurt. During the course of the film members of various Allied nations combine efforts to Dr. Bernhardt a German diplomat/professor who apparently has some sort of vision of a unified postwar Germany and is en route to a conference in Berlin to present it to the allies at a conference. There's a faction of Germans (ex-Nazi’s) who oppose him. The sort of the usual cold war dynamics going on the British & Americans do not trust the Russians.

 

 

Its interesting but not outstanding film, sort of misses more than hits marks caught it today on TCM 6.5/10

 

 

 

 

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*The Window* (1949) Dir, Ted Tetzlaff with Bobby Driscoll, Barbara Hale, Ruth Roman, Arthur Kennedy and Paul Stewart, based on a story by Cornell Woolrich.


Story is basically a small boy (Driscoll) with a reputation for telling whoppers observes a murder committed in an upstairs apartment. He tells his parents (Kennedy and Hale) who do not believe him. He also runs to the local precinct house and reports what he sees to the police who also don’t quite believe him either, but they do send a man to check out the upstairs apartment. This arouses the suspicions of the murderers.


The couple who live upstairs are played by Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman. Apparently Roman acting like a B girl or hooker or something along those lines lures a john up to the apartment and gets him drunk enough to roll him for his money. This time the man awakens while Stewart is going through his billfold a scuffle breaks out and Roman stabs him with a scissors in the back killing him. They hide the body in an abandoned brownstone down the block.


It’s a simple story but also very noir-ish, Its also got some nice NYC location shots around E67th St, and E106th Street and makes use of the 3rd Avenue El, which is present in some bg, shots, though the story is supposed to take place somewhere in lower Manhattan on a “name” Street.


Good movie, Driscoll does a great job, entertaining 8/10


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*The Sniper* (1952) Director: Edward Dmytryk with, Arthur Franz, Adolphe Menjou, Marie Windsor, and Gerald Mohr. A man (Franz) released from prison who has been a looser with women all his life, starts on a trail of murder with a high-power rifle targeting brunettes. The police are baffled by the apparently random killings until a police psychologist sets them on the right trail. Produced by Stanley Kramer its definitely a "message" film one of Kramers trademarks but an enjoyable one. However the message is a bit camouflaged. If you imagine each shooting to be a sort of codified rape, it makes a bit more sense when the police are talking about the killings as sex crimes. Its both weird and compelling. The scenes of the women being shot are excellent and disturbing.

 

Marie Windsor playing a comely nightclub piano player unintentionally sets Franz off on his serial killing spree and in the process becomes his first victim. The script and acting by Franz as the sniper" with his mannerisms and facial tics is extremely convincing.

 

A lot of on location San Francisco adds to the enjoyment of the film. Saw this as part of the Columbia Pictures Film Noir Collection Vol 1 it has an excellent and informative commentary by Eddie Muller whom novelist James Ellroy has dubbed him "The Czar of Noir". So the film can be enjoyed twice 8/10

 

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*The Amazing Mr. X* (The Spiratulist) (1948).Director: Bernard Vorhaus.

With Turhan Bey, Lynn Bari, Cathy O'Donnell, Richard Carlson, Donald Curtis, and Virginia Gregg.

 

The story is a very rich widow Christine Faber (Bari), walking on the beach one night, thinks she hears her late husband Paul calling out of the surf. She then is surprised by Alexis (Bey) a spiritualist, who seems to know all about her past. After participating in some seances, Christine and younger sister Janet become infatuated with Alexis; but he in an interesting twist in turn finds himself manipulated.

 

Its sort of a high society melodrama Noir, that lacks the gritty, sleazy, underworld characters that I favor in Film Noir. Its entertaining with some nice cinematography. Caught this on a copy of a French subtitled R2 DVDr that came from Paris 7/10.

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*Hells Half Acre* (1954) Director: John H. Auer, with a surprisingly great cast, Wendell Corey, Evelyn Keyes, Marie Windsor, Jesse White, Nancy Gates, Keye Luke, Phililip Ahn, and Elsa Lanchester. Hells Half Acre is the ghetto district of Honolulu, full of a rats nest of clubs, gambling joints, and dime a dance joints.?

 

Story opens with a couple planning to be married, Corey and Gates, sitting in Corey's nightclub. Corey has a burn scar on the left side of his face. A Hawaiian band and floor show is honoring them by playing Corey's song, he's something of a composer. While they listen, a sinister oriental passes a threatening note to Gates who excuses herself to meet him in the clubs office. He tells her that he is going to blackmail Gates she puts a bullet in his head. Gates goes back and tells Corey what she did and he tells her that he will take the rap for her but that she is to leave for the mainland with his money to give to a lawyer buddy of his to get him off.?

 

Cut to a record store in LA. Keyes is sitting mesmerized listing to the same Hawaiian song. She buys the record and runs home, one of the lines is exactly the same as an inscription her dead sailor husband wrote to her on a picture she has on a table.? Still believing that her husband who was on the USS Arizona when it was bombed at Pearl Harbor may be alive, She wants to talk to the composer.? So she flies to Hawaii to check things out.? So beings an interesting convoluted story of murder, shady characters, and the Hawaiian underworld.?

 

Keyes is very cute in this (DJ check this one out), mascarading as a taxi dancer at one point, waking up naked in a bed at another, Marie Windsor is also great and equally good looking as sort of a Femme Fatale, and Elsa Lanchester is a blousy woman cab driver. Jessi White plays Windsors alcoholic husband and Ahn is Windsor's Chinese lover.

 

Wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised. Some nice noir-ish sequences, but not a lot of them. Caught it streaming on Netflix, check it out. 7/10

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*Cry Vengeance* (1954) Director: Mark Stevens starring Mark Stevens, Martha Hyer and Skip Homeier, Cheryl Callaway, Mort Mills, Warren Douglas, Douglas Kennedy, Mike Walters, Don Haggerty, and John Doucette. Here is another off the radar Noir, its not listed in the Encyclopedic Reference to American Film Noir but its no doubt a Noir though "noir light" most of the action takes place in Ketchican, Alaska and the film has great locations and action sequences using the town and its environs making full use of the waterfront docks and the paper mill.

 

Story is ex cop Vic Barron (Stevens) was not only framed (and sent up for 3 years) by the mob, but also had his face partly blown off while his wife and child were killed in a a car explosion, is out of prison and looking for vengeance. He's looking for mob boss Morelli (Kennedy) who has changed his name and is living as a model citizen with is young daughter and a bodyguard in Ketchican. Mob hit man Roxy (Hormeier) is sent by San Francisco racketeer to take care of all three.?

 

Martha Hyer & Cheryl Callaway provide some nice eye candy, the daughter of mob boss takes a liking to Barron a bit too easily (different times compared to today's zeitgeist of not trusting strangers) but its nothing that will detract from the film if you keep the times in mind, streaming on Netflix 7/10

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*Red Light* (1949) Directed by Roy Del Ruth with George Raft, Virginia Mayo, Henry Morgan, Arthur Franz, and Raymond Burr. IMDB synopsis: Nick Cherney (Burr), in prison for embezzling from Torno Freight Co., sees a chance to get back at Johnny Torno (raft) through his young priest brother Jess (Franz). He pays fellow prisoner Rocky (Morgan), who gets out a week before Nick, to murder Jess...who, dying, tells revenge-minded Johnny that he'd written a clue "in the Bible." Frustrated, Johnny obsessively searches for the missing Gideon Bible from Jess's hotel room who's first occupant after Jess was Carla (Mayo), who he hires to help track down the rest of the trasients. Meanwhile, Nick himself gets out with murder still in his heart. But another factor is in play that none of them (except the murdered Jess) had planned on.

 

Another Noir I've never seen and never heard of before but this one is listed in the An Encyclopedic Reference to American Style Film Noir (ERASFM). With this one the ending is sort of telegraphed way ahead of time if you can read the obvious "code" but it has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing to the end . Never the less once we cross the tracks into Noirville it stays there and doesn't disappoint in the visual department, there are some great sequences that impress. The red light in the films title refers partly to the large Torno Trucking sign that figures in the final denouement . Forget what you see and read on the poster above Mayo provides no cheesecake of any sort and she really doesn't take anything either a bit of false advertising. Caught this on TCM today Another 7/10.

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*The Big Combo* (1955) Directed by Joseph (H) Lewis. With Cornel Wilde, Jean Wallace, Brian Donlevy, Richard Conte, Lee Van Cleef, Robert Middleton, Earl Holliman, Jay Adler, Helene Stanton, and Helen Walker. Director of photography on this is John Alton and its very dark and stylistically lighted as a result. The story is: Obsessed New York 93rd Precinct cop Diamond (Wilde) is after sharp dressed rapidly staccato talking sadistic Brooklyn mobster Brown (Conte) who's often repeated philosophy is "First is first and second is nobody"! Jay Adler is Wilde's partner who shadows the girlfriend of Conte and her two slightly "light in the loafer" escorts about town.

 

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McClure (Donlevy) is his second banana who he inherited when he took over the racket from Grassi who left suddenly for Sicily. Van Cleef & Holliman are Conte's not very bright musclemen who spend most of their time chaperoning Conte's cute, cultured, blonde, chapping at the bit, bombshell girlfriend Susan (Wallace) around town. Walker who shows up rather late in the film is Brown's ex-wife.

 

 

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Stanton plays a voluptuous brunette burlesque dancer Rita (a Marie Windsor look-a-like) who is stuck on Diamond. Diamond seems to be just using her for sex. Wilde really needs to see a shrink, he doesn't know a good thing when he sees it, but he also becomes obsessed with saving "soiled" dove Susan.

 

 

Wilde on way to Burlesque House to blow off some steam or whatever

 

 

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Wilde and statuesque Rita (can't fix stupid, no?)

 

 

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Its a gritty, violent film noir about persistent cop Wilde going up against cunning, dapper racketeer Conte. Wilde is such an overly obsessive righteous prick, you catch yourself rooting for Conte to dump him in the East River with a set of cement overshoes. Conte is just as obsessed with power and with Susan, at one point we see them after a confrontation putting the "kink" on. Conte kisses her hard, one of his hands drop out of sight we see her eyes practically rollup into her head before the cut Conte starts heading "south", and you don't need a paint by the numbers picture with arrows to figure out where "things" are going.... and according to the story they have been going.... on for about four years.

 

 

Another Conte kink was always wanting Susan to wear virginal white

 

 

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Conte & Susan getting on the kink

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A very cult/kinky film indeed, stylishly lit and directed the whole film has a consistent dark halo around it as if you are peeping on the characters from out of a sewer "sewerscope", The Big Combo has it all, not one but two obsessed characters, the Femme Fatale, a lot of the classic noir's dark diegetic world, sexual inuendos, stylistic lighting and Donlevy's demise is just icing on this cake. There are one or two far-fetched plot points but the film is so overwhelmingly compellingly sleazy that you just go with the (sewage) flow. Contains one of the iconic frequently referenced Film Noir sequences (still below).

 

 

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Its got a nice opening jazzy score also as it pans the New York City night, 9/10 upon third viewing.

 

Edited by: cigarjoe on Oct 20, 2011 6:37 PM coined "sewerscope" to define the dark halo effect, lol.

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So, Jean Wallace was Brown's girl, the one Cornel Wilde was obsessed with? To put it indelicately, I'm afraid she stunk. Oh, she looked clean enough - but her acting was only so-so, and she was fairly ordinary-looking. Pretty yes, and certainly very blonde - but I couldn't see anything about her that had both Brown and Diamond besotted with her.

I've seen *The Big Combo* several times, and I always wish they'd cast someone else as Susan. It's the only noticeable flaw in an otherwise great noir.

 

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I wonder how Gloria Grahame would have worked out? I know the "Susan" character is supposed to be "pure" ( at least before Brown got a hold of her) , classical pianist and all that. But G.G. is so sexy and likeable, and she can do "high class" sometimes ( *In a Lonely Place*.) I'm not a huge fan of Lisabeth Scott, but maybe... Or Jane Greer, or Ida Lupino - or one of my favourite noir actresses who gets very little attention, Jan Sterling.

But Jean Wallace has no "charisma", no electricity, no screen presence. It's too bad, because she's in just about every other scene.

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*The Big Combo* is the way all noir should have been shot, nearly all scenes are dark (I think they briefly are outside in daylight twice in this one), very shadowy, the guys almost all look crooked, even the cops.

 

The Jean Wallace part is different, she has to be someone outside of the typical crime circle, that is the allure. Wanting someone you can never be, I would have liked to see her be 24 to 26 years old but she comes off OK for me.

 

Lots of this movie reminds me of *The Big Heat*, except this one takes it with dirtier characters and a more convincing script, plus the noir lighting.

 

I also like that the detective was wrong about who died on the boat for a while, the head guy killed his boss instead of his wife.

 

Great ending, putting the spotlight on crime. The two bad guys sleeping together was a strange twist too, left something else to think about. Overall a real noir just how I like it.

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