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Film Noir Fridays: Can't Hardly Wait !


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I agree, NoraCharles, and let's not leave out one more Raft film in which he was effectively cast - as trucker driver Joe Fabrini in that wonderful Warners working man drama, They Drive By Night. Maybe it was because Raoul Walsh was the director and in those days everyone seemed so good when they worked with Walsh. Whatever the reason, I've always thought that that film was one of the real highlights of George Raft's career - even without the coin flipping.

 

So let's at least give Raft credit for this - not only did he look good as a dapper cop in Nocture or a dapper gangster in Scarface, but he was also credible as a working man in this drama. No one will ever call him a great, or even, good actor, but, as you say, he did have screen presence as well as a certain stoney faced elegance and was convincing when his character had to throw a punch. (Mind you, Raft probably a little practice with the latter in his private life).

 

Julie%20London%20and%20George%20Raft.jpg

 

This is Raft on the set when they were shooting The George Raft Story, circ 1961. His show biz career was pretty well over by this time but there he is with Julie London, looking like he still had a few smoothie dance moves.

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NoraCharles wrote: So here's my great question regarding Larry Ballentine in They Won't Believe Me - do *you *believe one word of his story?

 

Hell, no. What a loser this guy is.

 

Anybody know who are host is tonight?

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Oh c'mon now, Tom! Even I COULD fake a few decent moves if I had MY arms around the sultry Miss London there! And I'd EVEN be able to move my FACIAL muscles TOO!

 

(...of course in MY case those "facial muscles" would have been in the form of a big ol' smile on my face while thinkin' what a lucky guy I was!)

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Reading Lewis Yablonski's bio of Raft. Mr. Raft was a very interesting man. A good man, despite the rumors of him being associated with gangsters. Although he was! He cut out of school at the age of 12 and immediately went to work, sometimes driving bootleg. I was bowled over when I read that he and Betty Grable were an item. Then again, Mr. Raft was an item with several women.

I love his movies. I do.

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> {quote:title=NoraCharles1934 wrote:}{quote}

> So here's my great question regarding Larry Ballentine in They Won't Believe Me - do *you* believe one word of his story? ?:|

 

I would tend to believe him only on the basis that he did not appear to be a blithering idiot and he had goodly time to conceive and polish a more credible story. Truth is Stranger than Fiction and all that. :)

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*Janet0312 wrote:* {font:arial, helvetica, sans-serif}*Anybody know who are host is tonight?*

 

Our host is Eddie Muller who, if you care to take a look, has been gracious enough to participate on this thread a couple of times.{font}

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>Growing up in the 60's, I never thought of Fred MacMurray as an acomplice to murder

 

Yep Janet, a very common take on the guy amongst us Boomers.

 

However, once you also catch Fred as the weaslly Naval officer in "The Caine Mutiny" and his turn as the philandering executive in "The Apartment", you'll soon think of Fred in a whole new light.

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> {quote:title=Janet0312 wrote:}{quote}

> Growing up in the 60's, I never thought of Fred MacMurray as an acomplice to murder.

 

It was not until approx. a year and a half ago that I became acquainted with his television work and I found it hard to believe him as a family-oriented man. :)

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Man what an awesome night that was!!!! I crashed about half way through the night, but woke early to finish up and it was just so cool! Really appreciated Eddie Muller's comments before and after each flick! And man, Raft, I was just riveted to the screen in what was just a fair mystery film, but livened up considerably by his screen presence!!! As has been mentioned, Raft is not gonna win any acting awards, but his screen presence...man, I love that tough mug!! Just watching him walk around is fun to watch for me!!! One scene in the flick is indelibly imprinted on my noir imaginings: When Raft is casing the joint and Torp walks by and lights up a stogie, Raft is silhouetted in the alley/background...man, that's a trademark image for film noir right there!!!

 

Then the other 3 flix...all totally awesome as well! I already can't wait for next Friday!!! Righteous!

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Dargo, I did watch *Nocturne* last night and did tape it, so I may view it again and maybe I'll change my mind. I have to agree with you. Raft has never been one of my all time favorites, I much preferred him in his younger days. I thought *Nocturne* was a bit of a bore. The photography WAS Great in the film., but I just didn't care for Raft in this one, and I didn't care for the story. I thought the scenes with his mother were silly, even if she gave him the aha to solve the crime. What was with that shot in the end of the film,that seemed to go on forever from the table in the restaurant that Raft and Virginia Huston and Lynn Bari were sitting at, to Fingers at the piano .The table and piano were barely 2 feet away from each other, and yet the shot went on and on from the table, to the piano. Somebody want to explain the significance of that? the only thing I can think of ( don't want a to do a spoiler) but, was that it was suppose to represent how long it took to finally get to the solution of the mystery? Just a stab, trying to get why that shot that seemed to take forever was necessary.

 

Now with all that said, the film definitely had that great noir look to it, the music was great, and I thought the opening did grab the viewer. Just didn't think the film carried thru the expectation I had because of that attention grabbing opening.

 

Edited by: lavenderblue19 on Jun 22, 2013 9:33 AM

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Lavender and others who saw Nocturne last night:

 

I agree with mark, that while George Raft was not a particularly good actor, he had a certain presence, one which really fits the atmosphere of this film.

It's not the greatest noir, we all seem to agree about that .Maybe not even all that great a movie, period.

 

 

But a couple of things about it stood out for me:

 

 

That piano player ! (SPOILER) The one who really did it ! He had such an unusual face, he looked so world weary and blase. His voice reflected that too. And I thought it was hilarious, the way the big thug would move both the piano and its player around to whatever table had made a song request. (Something kind of like that in Casablanca. except Sam gets up and moves his own piano, which looks a lot more dignified than sitting on the stool while someone gives you a ride on it.)

In his "outro", Eddie Muller gives full credit to this actor (not the thug, the piano player) for elevating the noirish mood of the film, and tells us how the man went on to become a director.

 

 

Also: the very eerie scene where Raft explores the photographer's studio/apartment. Now this scene in itself was fantastic, I thought. It was so creepy. Everything was so quiet, except for that unnerving sound of the shutters banging against the wall. It had a bit of a horror movie vibe to it. The way it was shot, silence and emptiness everywhere, but an uncannily expectant feel as well. Then when he finds the man's body - at first the shadow of the man's body, which is used a lot in movies, that hanging shadow, but I always find it shocking and gasp-worthy, even when I'm expecting it - it completes the suspense.

I think if for nothing else, the director and cinematographer should get credit for the highly effective atomosphere of this particular scene.

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MissW, the actor to whom you referred was Joseph Pevney. He would also be quite effective the year after Nocturne's release, when he played John Garfield's friend in Body and Soul.

 

Agreed, Nocturne, while visually quite striking at times, was a minor noir. One of the scenes in the film that I did enjoy, though, took place when Raft was questioning Lynn Bari at her apartment, and she suddenly calls out to a hulking bodyguard to throw the cop out. Raft knocks the hulk down, who then gets to his feet, ready to inflict his full body fury upon Raft.

 

At that moment, however, character actress Dorothy Adams bursts into the apartment, lecturing everybody for keeping her baby awake next door. The big hulk becomes contrite and concerned, apologizing to Adams.

 

"We didn't intend no harm to the baby, missus," the goon says, as he leaves the apartment with Raft.

 

Raft is his usual deadpan self through all this and as he walks down the stairs outside beside the hulk tells him that he wants to question him some more. The camera remains on the staircase as the two actors walk out of camera range.

 

We then hear the hulk say to Raft, "I don't think little baby can hear us now."

 

CRASH! BAM!

 

The next scene we see is of Raft having his face bandaged by a doctor.

 

Now that's funny.

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Yes, that scene when they are going into the alley out of ear shot of the baby was funny, and so was the thug schlepping Fingers and the piano around.and yes all the scenes MissW and you have cited were photographed beautifully. I think I already mentioned that. Joseph Pevney as Fingers was quite effective with that deadpan look on his face. I think he was also a director at some point in his career.

 

Still, I thought the film dragged and Raft, I don't know, just kind of sluggish in this one. As I wrote earlier, great photography, great music, great opening that just didn't carry thru the rest of the film for me.

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I hear Pevney's name, I think of MEET DANNY WILSON, in which he, as director, couldn't keep Sinatra and Shelley Winters from each other's throats.....Every time I see Raft in a film, I say to myself, "This is one of the worst actors there ever was".

 

Edited by: finance on Jun 22, 2013 11:57 AM

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Unfortunately I didn't see They Won't Believe Me in its entirety last night, so I'll need a little help piecing together what may have been missing. One thing for certain, there are two entire scenes deleted immediately following the accidental meeting of Janice (Jane Greer) and Verna (Susan Hayward) at the nightclub. In this version, it dissolves to a shot of Larry (Robert Young) coming home with a voiceover: "A few night later, coming home late from work, I noticed a light still on..." Greta (Rita Johnson) then reveals that she knows about the reappearance of Janice, and her suspicions that he's seeing Verna as well.

 

MISSING: After the nightclub scene... Verna gets very flirty with Larry in his office, he surprises her by saying "What makes you think you have a claim on me?" Verna had thought she was prying Larry loose from Greta, but now realizes that he only intends to keep her on a string. He breaks off a date they have that night, saying that he has to escort Greta to a concert. CUT TO:

 

Concert Hall. Piano recital. Larry is with Greta but notices Verna sitting nearby with his boss, Trenton (Tom Powers). She taunts Larry by acting lovey-dovey with Trenton, which gets under Larry's skin. Greta notices. At intermission, Greta seeks out Trenton to ostensibly talk business, but to really size up Verna. While Trenton and Greta talk Larry slyly trails Verna to the Ladies' Room. He confronts her, clearly riled that she's playing up a possible engagement to Trenton. She reminds him about his comment that she had no "claim" on him and tells him it goes both ways. Her ploy works: Larry pulls her behind the drapes and kisses her passionately. Fade out.

 

Next scene begins with Larry coming into the house" "A few nights later, coming home late..." In all, the two deleted scenes amount to a little more than 4 minutes.

 

QUESTION: Was the scene with the oily Funeral Director in the film last night? He confronts Larry as he's sneaking out of the hospital after the car accident and wants money to handle the "remains." The scene is about 80 seconds. I'm not sure this is in every print.

 

Otherwise, last night's film was the same as my 90 minute version, except that several scenes fade out more quickly, throughout. It was Latimer's style as a writer to give actors "out" lines to finish off a scene, and in the 80 minute version, quick fade-outs eliminate many of these little bits of business. It's impossible, however, that these deletions could add up to five minutes of screen time.

 

So ... the version TCM has definitely has 2-3 scenes missing, but there's still a mystery due to the stated running times. Also, I have to say, for the record, that the print shown last night was not the best. As they say in the biz, it was not "timed" very well, with the exposures of certain shots ot matching within the same scene. The reprinting of this film for reissue was obviously a quick and dirty job, and did not serve the film well.

 

Final thoughts: Robert Young had some of the best ties ever in this film, and Rita Johnson may be the skinniest woman I've ever seen onscreen. FYI: the print I showed in Croatia last week was intact—except for the CU of Greta's face when Larry finds her dead by the waterfall. Censors in Yugoslavia cut that image out. Weird.

 

Edited by: Eddie_Muller on Jun 22, 2013 2:16 PM

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Thanks again, Eddie Muller, for taking the time to participate on these message boards. (As I said before, I feel a little like Laura must have felt when Waldo Lydecker shows up to endorse her pen. I just mean the "how gratifying" aspect to it - someone very famous and respected paying attention to a person they don't even know. Although clearly I'm no Laura Hunt and you are most certainly no Waldo Lydecker ! I just couldn't think of a better analogy in noir.)

 

I feel like an idiot, I cannot remember if an undertaker approaches Young or not. I don't think so, though.

Regarding the comment you made, " Rita Johnson may be the skinniest woman I've ever seen onscreen." :

This actress reminded me a little of Cloris Leachman- they both had the same kind of face, and yup, both very skinny. I'm still trying to figure out if she was supposed to be a sympathetic character or just pathetic, (without the "sym".)

 

Edited by: misswonderly on Jun 22, 2013 4:00 PM

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No, that scene was not in the film. Policeman and another man with the death certicate are by Larry's bedside in the hospital. the other man is not introduced as a funeral director. Cop asks questions about the accident, was Greta driving, who was diving. Larry says he was driving.Cop tells Larry to sign the death certificate, Larry asks the cop when he can leave (the hospital) cop says that's up to the doc. No sneaking out of the hospital, we don't see him leaving the hospital, no funeral director.Next scene is Larry on the bus holding the wedding ring between his fingers. The scene goes from his hospital bed, directly to the bus scene.

 

Tom can address the rest.

 

Mr. Muller- I'm loving this series, learning so much and I Thank You for bringing these films and your film noir expertise to us. :)

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>Dargo, I did watch Nocturne last night and did tape it, so I may view it again and maybe I'll change my mind. I have to agree with you. Raft has never been one of my all time favorites, I much preferred him in his younger days. I thought Nocturne was a bit of a bore. The photography WAS Great in the film., but I just didn't care for Raft in this one, and I didn't care for the story. I thought the scenes with his mother were silly, even if she gave him the aha to solve the crime. What was with that shot in the end of the film,that seemed to go on forever from the table in the restaurant that Raft and Virginia Huston and Lynn Bari were sitting at, to Fingers at the piano .The table and piano were barely 2 feet away from each other, and yet the shot went on and on from the table, to the piano. Somebody want to explain the significance of that? the only thing I can think of ( don't want a to do a spoiler) but, was that it was suppose to represent how long it took to finally get to the solution of the mystery? Just a stab, trying to get why that shot that seemed to take forever was necessary. Now with all that said, the film definitely had that great noir look to it, the music was great, and I thought the opening did grab the viewer. Just didn't think the film carried thru the expectation I had because of that attention grabbing opening.

 

Yep, as you'd probably expect, I agree with your overall assessment of the film, Lavender. Yep, the cinematography was by far the best thing about it, except I did enjoy Mabel Paige's turn as Raft's mother in it, as I thought HER acting was better than anyone else's in it.(and even though it brings up the idea that a 40-something "tough guy" bachelor still living with Mommy kinda sorta undercuts the idea that Raft WAS a "tough guy"! ) LOL

 

And yes, I do agree that the very opening shot of that Richard Neutra-esque style Mid-Century house and with the camera slowly moving toward and into it in that Hitchcockian manner starts off the proceedings in such an interesting way that unfortunately the rest of the movie's plot doesn't fulfill its hopeful promise. The acting of Edward Ashley as the pianist/murder victim being the very first clue to me that the rest of the film might not be as good as that opening shot.

 

(...oh, and yeah, I also agree that the scene just before Pevney confesses his crime to Raft does seem to go on much too long...but I have a feeling the whole idea behind THAT was so he could play the complete version of the song "Nocturne" before doing his confession)

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*Eddie Muller wrote:* {font:arial, helvetica, sans-serif}*Final thoughts: Robert Young had some of the best ties ever in this film, and Rita Johnson may be the skinniest woman I've ever seen onscreen.*

 

Yes, but did Rita look any fuller in the Croatian print that you showed? Sorry, I guess that print can only be so much better. ;)

 

Thanks, Mr. Muller, for being kind enough to take the time let us know what was missing from that TCM print of the film. One day hopefully, maybe, we'll see the full version. (Without a trip to Croatia, that is).

 

Lavenderblue certainly has an accurate description of the way the film shifted from the hospital room to the bus, with no funeral director anywhere in sight. The only thing that I would add is that there is no abrupt cut. There is a dissolve between the two scenes, with the hospital room fading away as we then see a fade-in of the bus coming down the road. The print was professionally altered so that no one (excluding an expert like yourself, of course) would know that a scene had been cut.

{font}

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Joseph Pevney, aka Ned the piano player in *Nocturne*, had a prolific career as a TV director, including 5 eps of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, and 14 eps of the original Star Trek, including some of the best eps of the series.

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> {quote:title=SansFin wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=NoraCharles1934 wrote:}{quote}

> > So here's my great question regarding Larry Ballentine in They Won't Believe Me - do *you* believe one word of his story? ?:|

> I would tend to believe him only on the basis that he did not appear to be a blithering idiot and he had goodly time to conceive and polish a more credible story. Truth is Stranger than Fiction and all that. :)

So if the story's wacky enough, it's got to true, huh? ;)

 

I think it's open to interpretation. Maybe the prosecutors have it right - Greta was the auto victim and Verna ended up in the pool. I can see an ego like Larry's preferring a version of the story where the sexy redhead meets her demise setting off into the sunset with him (especially if the alternative makes him the sap in a blackmail set-up).

 

Or maybe that part of the story was true. But Greta's little accident still seems awfully convenient. In any case, I find it interesting to contemplate that we could be watching a movie consisting almost entirely of a (insert explicit of your favor) trying to worm his way out of a murder rap - only to lose faith in his powers of persuasion a trifle prematurely.

 

Thank you again to Mr. Muller for filling us in on the missing footage. I do hope TCM can show the extended version at some point (because, sadly, I'm not getting over to Croatia anytime soon :( ).

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