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Ride Lonesome 1959 Poster.jpg

Ride Lonesome (1959) TCM On Demand-6/10

A bounty hunter (Randolph Scott) captures a wanted killer (James Best) but meets opposition along the way.

An interesting western, more talk than action but has some plot twists and dark moments. Scott's character is colder and ruthless than most others of the time. Karen Steele is the only woman in the cast, as a wife whose husband was station manager of the territory. She was in one of my favorite movies Marty (1955) as the long suffering wife who is stuck with having her bitter mother in law living with her. Pernell Roberts plays an old friend of Scott's, the same year he started Bonanza. James Coburn makes his debut as Roberts' partner. Lee Van Cleef shows up later as a nasty villain.

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On 8/14/2022 at 8:46 PM, cigarjoe said:

Frankenstein's Castle Of Freaks (1974)  

Amazon.com: Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks POSTER Movie (27 x 40 Inches -  69cm x 102cm) (1975): Posters & Prints

Good for a few laughs. Count Frankenstein (must a been a relative to the Baron), Rossano Brazzi is reanimating a dead Neanderthal (they still find a few living in the local caves, and they got to kill one every once in a while. The Count has three helpers one Hans (Luciano Pigozzi), the hunchback Kreegin (Xiro Papas), and the **** deviant dwarf played by Michael Dunn. It's a sort of a Sexploitation monster movie. I first caught some of it on "Elvira's Movie Macabre" Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks lol, and noticed it had a lot of censored ovals for a PG film, lol. Found it streaming.

I was always a big Michael Dunn fan from TV's The Wild Wild West. It's pretty ridiculous but had to watch a 4/10.  The Italian poster below

Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (1974) - IMDb

 

 

 


 

 

12 hours ago, Eucalpytus P. Millstone said:

M erda assoluta!

I drove 20 miles to see Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks during its original theatrical release. Its co-feature, The Mad Butcher, was also m erda. All in all, a lamentable waste of my time, effort, and gasoline.

Featuring  irrepressible "Boris Lugosi" (Salvatore Baccaro) as OOK!

 

tumblr_p06jvpc1is1w5dcofo1_640.jpg

 

maxresdefault.jpg

Per carità! Get me out of this turkey!!!

 

2 hours ago, Mr. Gorman said:

@Eucalyptus P. Millstone:  You spoke of FRANKENSTEIN'S CASTLE OF FREAKS and THE MAD BUTCHER on a 'Double-Bill'.   Did you know that in 1983 the 'BEST Film & Video Corp.' released both of those movies on 1 tape?   This small video company issued at least six 'TWIN-PACK' tapes with two movies on one videocassette.   And one of them was "Franky's Castle of Freaks/The Mad Butcher".  I bought 4 of them in years past because they were not expensive + I could use the spares for 'trading material' with other video collectors.  I still have 3 of the four all these years later . . .

It came in a clamshell case with insert artwork.  It had the company's address on the back of the insert art sleeve:

BEST FILM & VIDEO

98 Cutter Mill Road

Great Neck, NY 11021

Another of the 'TWIN-PACK' releases were the mid-70s drive-in movies "Hitchhike to Hell/Kidnapped Coed".    

The art sleeve heading says "FRIGHTFUL FLICKS" and then on the back of the insert sleeve it says "The Best keeps getting better!".  But the company does not appear to have lasted more than a couple of years before disappearing . . . too bad!  Those TWIN-PACKs were fun to collect.  To date, however, I have only found 4 of the 5 "FRIGHTFUL FLICKS TWIN-PACKs".  Meh!  I hate that I'm still missing one of the five after all these years; I should've found the last one I needed by now.  Nope.  

In regards to FRANKENSTEIN'S CASTLE OF FREAKS:  Over in England, the video company that released it was 'JVI'.  Javed Video International. I know some UK video collectors who've paid upwards and over £1000 Pounds Sterling to get hold of the JVI tape of "Franky".  There never seems to be a shortage of collectors who don't mind forking out insane amounts of dosh for a particular 'Horror' tape -- regardless of how good (or bad) the film is.  →The one thing is, however, that it changes owners frequently;  when a previous owner gets 'hard up' for cash he knows he can sell FRANKY'S CASTLE OF FREAKS for a fat lot of coin and often does.  In fact, I'd say all of the remaining VHS cassettes of FRANKY'S CASTLE OF FREAKS from JAVED have changed hands so often one cannot keep track.  Collectors spend a lot of dough . . . and then run out of dough . . . and so they sell FRANKY to get more dough!  A goofy ((circle))!  😜 📼

FYI, CINEMATIC TITANIC, a comedy troupe fronted by JOEL HODGSON of MST fame and including TV'S FRANK and MARY JOE PEHL, made fun of FRANKENSTEIN'S CASTLE OF FREAKS in a live show that is, I am pretty sure, available on youtube and I know is available on TUBI.

The multiple riffer format (8 instead of three people making fun of the film) works here.

funniest line, during an illicit bubble bath scene: (said ominously) "MR. BUBBLE'S CASTLE OF FREAKS."

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13 hours ago, Polly of the Precodes said:

Ex-Bad Boy (Moore, 1931): Robert Armstrong is disappointingly dopey as a small-town schlub who pretends to have A Past with film star "Letta Larbo," in hopes of impressing the daughter of his business partner (Jean Arthur). (Mind you, I don't think any other actor of the period could have pulled off this role. And it was interesting to see a Universal film of this period that isn't one of the horror classics.) Bonus for the habituees of this forum: George Brent as Larbo's director/jealous fiance, who has already beaten up some number of her ex-boyfriends.

 

!!!!!!

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15 hours ago, Polly of the Precodes said:

Capitolfest

Penrod and Sam (Beaudine, 1923): A nostalgia-drenched tale of small-town boyhood, in which a lean-to made of scrapwood is the ideal clubhouse, and the death of a dog is an earth-shaking tragedy. An adaptation of the Booth Tarkington novel, one of the best sellers of its day.

King Kong (Cooper & Schoedsack, 1933): Does anyone here need introduction to this film? Despite the well-worn film elements and the primitive special effects, this warhorse has life and entertainment the modern remakes can't touch.

thank you SO MUCH for all these lovely, concise reviews, many for films that TIME FORGOT (I've certainly never heard of many of them)

I have to comment here and there:

1. UGH BOOTH TARKINGTON!!!!!!! I am STILL P!SSED about how the novel ALICE ADAMS ends 30 years later.

2. I am a HUGE fan of 30's HORROR AND FANTASY, it is maybe my FAVORITE GENRE OF FILM. I live for LUGOSI, I bow at the altar of KARLOFF, I love WHITE ZOMBIE and THE WIZARD OF OZ, I have seen THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN 167 times (and it KEEPS GETTIN FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT!)...

but KING KONG leaves me absolutely cold- and it ALWAYS HAS- i feel NOTHING for it. I neither like nor dislike it, there is nothing that  provokes or stirs  me and- and nothing about it ever has since i first saw it at age 8 (or so.)

I've always had a little WERNER HERZOG NARRATION going on in my head EVERY TIME I'VE SAT THROUGH IT: "and now the monkey has been shot. and he is dead. and the meaninglessness of it all is impacted upon the city streets for the busy pedestrians to stop and ogle...." 

 

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15 hours ago, Polly of the Precodes said:

Capitolfest 19: Saturday, 13 August 2022

Seed (Stahl, 1931): A lot of people made the trip specifically for this, because Universal has kept this title out of the bootleggers' hands. Housewife Peggy, who loses her husband to scheming career woman Mildred, is the designated heroine of this potboiler. But the uneven and heavy-handed way she plays the martyr does not endear her to this modern viewer. As for Bette Davis, she's good as the grown-up version of daughter Margaret, but is given almost nothing to do.

that's interesting, because BETTE also has roles like that in WATERLOO BRIDGE (where she visibly SEETHES at being relegated to such a measly part) and THREE ON A MATCH.

it's easy to see just why THE LID BLEW OFF the way it did in OF HUMAN BONDAGE.

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55 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

that's interesting, because BETTE also has roles like that in WATERLOO BRIDGE (where she visibly SEETHES at being relegated to such a measly part) and THREE ON A MATCH.

it's easy to see just why THE LID BLEW OFF the way it did in OF HUMAN BONDAGE.

I have nothing but great things to say about Bette Davis, but Mae Clarke, IMO, gave a career performance in 1931's "Waterloo Bridge."

And I couldn't agree more as Davis all but set the screen on fire in "Of Human Bondage." It's an interesting contrast to Kim Novak's interpretation of the same role a few decades later. 

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1 hour ago, Fading Fast said:

I have nothing but great things to say about Bette Davis, but Mae Clarke, IMO, gave a career performance in 1931's "Waterloo Bridge."

Oh absolutely- in fact, MAE CLARK was better in the part than BETTE DAVIS would've been BUT...that still does not negate the fact that BETTE has such a crummy part in WATERLOO BRIDGE- she's in it for maybe 3 minutes as the hero's sister, her part could and should have been removed from the film since it adds nothing (maybe there was an intent or maybe there were cut scenes where the sister discovers MAE'S secret or befriends her, I don't know). but as it is, it's a very "will you be having wine with your dinner?" ** type part.

 

**that's a SOAPDISH reference, she doesn't actually say that in the film.

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7 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Man, GEORGE BRENT could probably kill a horse with one punch with the kinda heft he had to back him up.

For all the talk of liberty in the pre-code era, the filmmakers had to have known that small-town censors would NOT approve of Brent settling his beefs using b*tt-fu.

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3 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Oh absolutely- in fact, MAE CLARK was better in the part than BETTE DAVIS would've been BUT...that still does not negate the fact that BETTE has such a crummy part in WATERLOO BRIDGE- she's in it for maybe 3 minutes as the hero's sister, her part could and should have been removed from the film since it adds nothing (maybe there was an intent or maybe there were cut scenes where the sister discovers MAE'S secret or befriends her, I don't know). but as it is, it's a very "will you be having wine with your dinner?" ** type part.

 

**that's a SOAPDISH reference, she doesn't actually say that in the film.

Mae Clark in 1931 would've been better than Bette Davis in 1931 but that was only because 1931 was Davis's first year of making movies.    Davis was still very inexperienced.   I have to assume that Davis in, say,  1934,   would have given a better performance than Mae Clark could have ever given,  in any year.

 

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I have two long movie lists, one from TCM and one from Kanopy. This was from the latter. I chose it because it was the first one saved.

Let the Right One In (2008)

Cool film. Described on Wiki as a horror romance.

In Norway two 12 year olds meet and eventually fall in love. One has a bullying issue and the other- well lets just say a worse issue. 
 

Slow paced, yet not boring story. It's as if the romance angle balanced the rare intensity of the horror part.  

The movie has it's bloody scenes, but they are not too over the top. The romantic parts are appropriately gentle.

The young leads are good. An oddity though-one of the leads voice was actually overdubbed after filming because the director decided the character should have a deeper voice. 
 

Music written for the soundtrack was pretty. Cinematography was beautiful, movie was set in wintertime.

If you appreciate the horror genre, and want something a bit different this will fit the bill nicely.


 


 

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6 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

Thanks for the links, some good info there.


My county library is kind enough to offer Kanopy to anyone willing to have a library card.  That said, if they should have to discontinue the service because of cost, I'd rather they do that then drop some of the amazing community services they offer. 

That got me curious about my library's financial  condition. At least they are ok there, they are comfortably in the black as of their last report. 
 

I hope everyone in my county continues to benefit from one of the best public library systems around. And the same for your local community of course.
 



 

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9 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

enjoy that KANOPY while it lasts...i think it's on the way out as a service, a lot of libraries have protested it claiming that it costs them money.

A lot of tech-illiterate libraries--back in our 10's honeymoon with Instant Netflix--fell for a minor streaming service's sales pitch that "Now you can stream movies for free!" despite that most are pretty much the same out-of-copyright material you can find at home on Amazon Prime or TubiTV.  Which they managed to sell by promoting the indie/foreign titles, also out of copyright and haunting the backwaters of streaming.

If not enough customers used it to justify the scam costs to the library, you only have to use it to know why.

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image-w1280.jpg?size=800x

Act of Violence from 1948 with Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, Phyllis Thaxter and Mary Astor

 
 
How is Act of Violence not better known? It's easy to understand why, in 1948, just a few years after World War II and with the economy booming, Americans didn't want to watch a movie about two veterans, broken by the war in very different ways, smashing into each other with shattering consequences, but over time, this movie's reputation should have grown.
 
With a revenge-driven story, tight directing by Fred Zinnemann, spartan settings and a small talented cast, this 1948 noir plays almost like a Western.
 
Van Heflin's character is a young, successful and well-respected contractor and war veteran who lives in a small Southern California town with his pretty wife, played by Janet Leigh, and their baby. Quickly, though, we see Van Heflin is being stalked by a newly arrived in town and menacing-looking man with a limp played by Robert Ryan.
 
At this point, even though we don't understand the motives, we're pulled into the hunt with our sympathies all for good-guy Heflin and not scary Ryan. But why is Ryan stalking Heflin? 
 
Leigh, desperate to call the police, forces her husband Heflin to fess up. (This is not a spoiler as it comes up early, but knowing it will reduce the initial tension in the movie.) Heflin was Ryan's commanding officer in WWII where, when they were POWs, Heflin told their German captives about Ryan's plan to escape with other men.
 
Heflin also begged Ryan not to try the escape as he believed the men would all be killed. Heflin says he extracted a promise of leniency from the Germans for the men, but Heflin also admits he was rewarded with food in the starving prison camp. Of the six escapees, all were killed by the waiting-for-them and showing-no-leniency Germans except for Ryan, who was left with a crippled leg.
 
That is some tough stuff: was Heflin sincerely trying to save his men or did he really just want food for himself? Once he took the food, he muddled the morality, but life is a moral muddle. Ryan sees no muddle, though, as he - tightly wrapped in a trench coat, brandishing a large handgun and dragging one leg - is ruthlessly and single-mindedly trying to find and kill Heflin.
 
The rest of this taut cat-and-mouse thriller is Heflin running from Ryan as Heflin's wife, Leigh, tries to help her husband, while also coming to terms with the fact that her husband isn't the war hero she thought he was. 
 
Ryan, too, has a woman - a girlfriend played by the wonderful Phyllis Thaxter - trying to save him as she knows revenge has poisoned Ryan. The implication is Ryan once showed her love, but his mission of vengeance is consuming whatever humanity he has left in him after the war.
 
Having fled his hometown and now hiding out and desperate in Los Angeles, Heflin meets a down-and-out woman played by Mary Astor who takes a liking to Heflin - she immediately starts calling him "handsome" - and introduces him to some shady friends of hers whom she says can help him "deal" with Ryan.
 
She has, maybe, ten minutes of screen time, but this is one of Mary Astor's best performances as, with minimal makeup, she looks down and out (yet still pretty in a weary-and-worn way) with the implication being she's an aging-out-of-the-profession prostitute. She takes over the few scenes she's in while creating a tough yet sympathetic character you won't easily forget.
 
The climax of the movie is as close to a Western-style dual as you can get at a 1948 California train station. It's not an easy ending - there are no white-hat heroes in this tale - which also helps to explain why Act of Violence didn't go over well in post-war America. 
 
Today we understand war and veterans differently, but the cultural preference in 1948 was to see all the veterans as heroes who, having now returned, conveniently put the war behind them. But how many "heroes," back then, had mixed-up stories, maybe not as extreme, but similar to Heflin's? How many had grudges and grievances, again, maybe not as extreme as Ryan's, that they couldn't simply drop?
 
Act of Violence asks questions most of America wasn't ready to face in 1948, but today the movie's unvarnished look at the scars war leaves on those who fight it, and the damage it does to those who love them when they return, is still relevant and painful.  
 
With its incredibly talented cast - Ryan, Heflin, Leigh, Thaxter and Astor - all give moving performances and a spartan noir backdrop, Act of Violence is a gem of a movie, punching well above its modest budget, that deserves to be better known today.
 
MV5BMDdjMjBhZTMtNGUwOC00NzBmLWE0MTAtNmM3
 
N.B. #1 In how many movies does pretty Phyllis Thaxter play, as she does in Act of Violence, a woman insecure with her looks (she's so worried about losing her husband to Patricia Neal in The Breaking Point that she dyes her hair blonde to compete)? Only in Hollywood, where the standard for beauty is at a fantasy-high level, could a woman like Thaxter regularly play a "plain Jane" character. 
 
Robert Ryan and Phillis Thaxter:
Phyllis-Thaxter-and-Rober-008.jpg?width=
 
N.B. #2 Directors of Los Angeles located noir movies, like Act of Violence, smartly never miss the architectural opportunity of including a shot of Angels Flight, downtown LA's narrow-gauged, steep funicular railroad. Sure, it meets a transportation need, but the railroad's real contribution to the city is serving as a wonderful noir backdrop for all these cinematic tales of desperate people on the run in Los Angeles.  
 
Angels Flight:
E2nLLBeUYAEcM4I?format=jpg&name=4096x409
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12 minutes ago, Fading Fast said:

Act of Violence from 1948 with Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, Phyllis Thaxter and Mary Astor

How is Act of Violence not better known?

I know everything after that spoiler detailed post, no reason left to watch it. 😕

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Nomadland poster.jpeg

Nomadland (2020) On Demand-8/10

A widow (Frances McDormand) decides to live out of her van and live in nomadic communities.

The Best Picture Oscar winner of 2020. I thought this was an excellent slice of life film. It reminded me of 1970s films like Five Easy Pieces or Scarecrow. I recommend this to anyone who likes those kind of films.The story is about as real as a movie can get. We see the main character Fern taking seasonal jobs, making friends with fellow nomads (played by actual nomads), meeting up with family members. I was fascinated the whole way. McDormand won an Oscar for her subtle and all too real performance. Nothing much happens, we just take the journey along with Fern. We see a side of Americana few of us ever see. 

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16 hours ago, Grumpytoad said:

Thanks for the links, some good info there.

My county library is kind enough to offer Kanopy to anyone willing to have a library card.  That said, if they should have to discontinue the service because of cost, I'd rather they do that then drop some of the amazing community services they offer. That got me curious about my library's financial  condition. At least they are ok there, they are comfortably in the black as of their last report. I hope everyone in my county continues to benefit from one of the best public library systems around. And the same for your local community of course.

you know, I'm quite touched that you trusted me enough to click on that long and admittedly sketchy-looking link.

I live in SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA and unfortunately our downtown library two blocks away is basically a METHADONE CLINIC/ SHELTER where they let you borrow the books that happen to be there.

fun story: about 6 years ago, I checked out a copy of THE OLDE CURIOSITY SHOP only to discover that it had been stamped WILMINGTON COLORED LIBRARY (it had been in circulation that long)

I proceeded to have a four alarm MAUDE FINDLEY-level fit of rightous indignation right then and there.

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8 minutes ago, CinemaInternational said:

I started The Loved One (1965) yesterday, but I felt my patience waning with it the longer it went on. Just very tacky and not really clever. I didn't see the very end of it.

SOLIDARITY ON THIS ONE, MY BROTHER.

I don't hate this movie, but I'll be ****ed if I know what it's all about (Alfie.)

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3 minutes ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

also ROD STEIGER is the wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooorst.

i felt myself wincing in the scene with her mother eating the roast pig with gusto. I've known some people who were quite hefty over the years, but none of them had such horrible table manners.....

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7 hours ago, Fading Fast said:

image-w1280.jpg?size=800x

Act of Violence from 1948 with Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, Phyllis Thaxter and Mary Astor

 
 
How is Act of Violence not better known? It's easy to understand why, in 1948, just a few years after World War II and with the economy booming, Americans didn't want to watch a movie about two veterans, broken by the war in very different ways, smashing into each other with shattering consequences, but over time, this movie's reputation should have grown.
 
With a revenge-driven story, tight directing by Fred Zinnemann, spartan settings and a small talented cast, this 1948 noir plays almost like a Western.
 
Van Heflin's character is a young, successful and well-respected contractor and war veteran who lives in a small Southern California town with his pretty wife, played by Janet Leigh, and their baby. Quickly, though, we see Van Heflin is being stalked by a newly arrived in town and menacing-looking man with a limp played by Robert Ryan.
 
At this point, even though we don't understand the motives, we're pulled into the hunt with our sympathies all for good-guy Heflin and not scary Ryan. But why is Ryan stalking Heflin? 
 
Leigh, desperate to call the police, forces her husband Heflin to fess up. (This is not a spoiler as it comes up early, but knowing it will reduce the initial tension in the movie.) Heflin was Ryan's commanding officer in WWII where, when they were POWs, Heflin told their German captives about Ryan's plan to escape with other men.
 
Heflin also begged Ryan not to try the escape as he believed the men would all be killed. Heflin says he extracted a promise of leniency from the Germans for the men, but Heflin also admits he was rewarded with food in the starving prison camp. Of the six escapees, all were killed by the waiting-for-them and showing-no-leniency Germans except for Ryan, who was left with a crippled leg.
 
That is some tough stuff: was Heflin sincerely trying to save his men or did he really just want food for himself? Once he took the food, he muddled the morality, but life is a moral muddle. Ryan sees no muddle, though, as he - tightly wrapped in a trench coat, brandishing a large handgun and dragging one leg - is ruthlessly and single-mindedly trying to find and kill Heflin.
 
The rest of this taut cat-and-mouse thriller is Heflin running from Ryan as Heflin's wife, Leigh, tries to help her husband, while also coming to terms with the fact that her husband isn't the war hero she thought he was. 
 
Ryan, too, has a woman - a girlfriend played by the wonderful Phyllis Thaxter - trying to save him as she knows revenge has poisoned Ryan. The implication is Ryan once showed her love, but his mission of vengeance is consuming whatever humanity he has left in him after the war.
 
Having fled his hometown and now hiding out and desperate in Los Angeles, Heflin meets a down-and-out woman played by Mary Astor who takes a liking to Heflin - she immediately starts calling him "handsome" - and introduces him to some shady friends of hers whom she says can help him "deal" with Ryan.
 
She has, maybe, ten minutes of screen time, but this is one of Mary Astor's best performances as, with minimal makeup, she looks down and out (yet still pretty in a weary-and-worn way) with the implication being she's an aging-out-of-the-profession prostitute. She takes over the few scenes she's in while creating a tough yet sympathetic character you won't easily forget.
 
The climax of the movie is as close to a Western-style dual as you can get at a 1948 California train station. It's not an easy ending - there are no white-hat heroes in this tale - which also helps to explain why Act of Violence didn't go over well in post-war America. 
 
Today we understand war and veterans differently, but the cultural preference in 1948 was to see all the veterans as heroes who, having now returned, conveniently put the war behind them. But how many "heroes," back then, had mixed-up stories, maybe not as extreme, but similar to Heflin's? How many had grudges and grievances, again, maybe not as extreme as Ryan's, that they couldn't simply drop?
 
Act of Violence asks questions most of America wasn't ready to face in 1948, but today the movie's unvarnished look at the scars war leaves on those who fight it, and the damage it does to those who love them when they return, is still relevant and painful.  
 
With its incredibly talented cast - Ryan, Heflin, Leigh, Thaxter and Astor - all give moving performances and a spartan noir backdrop, Act of Violence is a gem of a movie, punching well above its modest budget, that deserves to be better known today.
 
MV5BMDdjMjBhZTMtNGUwOC00NzBmLWE0MTAtNmM3
 
N.B. #1 In how many movies does pretty Phyllis Thaxter play, as she does in Act of Violence, a woman insecure with her looks (she's so worried about losing her husband to Patricia Neal in The Breaking Point that she dyes her hair blonde to compete)? Only in Hollywood, where the standard for beauty is at a fantasy-high level, could a woman like Thaxter regularly play a "plain Jane" character. 
 
Robert Ryan and Phillis Thaxter:
Phyllis-Thaxter-and-Rober-008.jpg?width=
 
N.B. #2 Directors of Los Angeles located noir movies, like Act of Violence, smartly never miss the architectural opportunity of including a shot of Angels Flight, downtown LA's narrow-gauged, steep funicular railroad. Sure, it meets a transportation need, but the railroad's real contribution to the city is serving as a wonderful noir backdrop for all these cinematic tales of desperate people on the run in Los Angeles.  
 
Angels Flight:
E2nLLBeUYAEcM4I?format=jpg&name=4096x409

Good write-up and review.  I just got around to seeing Act of Violence a couple of months ago and was equally as impressed.  I was on a noir binge of sorts and having viewed all of the highly acclaimed noirs, I decided to search out other films and stumbled upon Act of Violence.  I purchased the Warner DVD as it wasn't available for streaming or elsewhere, and boy am I glad I did.

Act of Violence deserves to be mentioned alongside the very best the noir genre has to offer.  One of these days I'm going to get around to compiling my favorite noir list, and you better believe this taut little gem will be high on the rankings.

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7 hours ago, Fading Fast said:

image-w1280.jpg?size=800x

Act of Violence from 1948 with Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, Phyllis Thaxter and Mary Astor

 
 
How is Act of Violence not better known? It's easy to understand why, in 1948, just a few years after World War II and with the economy booming, Americans didn't want to watch a movie about two veterans, broken by the war in very different ways, smashing into each other with shattering consequences, but over time, this movie's reputation should have grown.
 
With a revenge-driven story, tight directing by Fred Zinnemann, spartan settings and a small talented cast, this 1948 noir plays almost like a Western.
 
Van Heflin's character is a young, successful and well-respected contractor and war veteran who lives in a small Southern California town with his pretty wife, played by Janet Leigh, and their baby. Quickly, though, we see Van Heflin is being stalked by a newly arrived in town and menacing-looking man with a limp played by Robert Ryan.
 
At this point, even though we don't understand the motives, we're pulled into the hunt with our sympathies all for good-guy Heflin and not scary Ryan. But why is Ryan stalking Heflin? 
 
Leigh, desperate to call the police, forces her husband Heflin to fess up. (This is not a spoiler as it comes up early, but knowing it will reduce the initial tension in the movie.) Heflin was Ryan's commanding officer in WWII where, when they were POWs, Heflin told their German captives about Ryan's plan to escape with other men.
 
Heflin also begged Ryan not to try the escape as he believed the men would all be killed. Heflin says he extracted a promise of leniency from the Germans for the men, but Heflin also admits he was rewarded with food in the starving prison camp. Of the six escapees, all were killed by the waiting-for-them and showing-no-leniency Germans except for Ryan, who was left with a crippled leg.
 
That is some tough stuff: was Heflin sincerely trying to save his men or did he really just want food for himself? Once he took the food, he muddled the morality, but life is a moral muddle. Ryan sees no muddle, though, as he - tightly wrapped in a trench coat, brandishing a large handgun and dragging one leg - is ruthlessly and single-mindedly trying to find and kill Heflin.
 
The rest of this taut cat-and-mouse thriller is Heflin running from Ryan as Heflin's wife, Leigh, tries to help her husband, while also coming to terms with the fact that her husband isn't the war hero she thought he was. 
 
Ryan, too, has a woman - a girlfriend played by the wonderful Phyllis Thaxter - trying to save him as she knows revenge has poisoned Ryan. The implication is Ryan once showed her love, but his mission of vengeance is consuming whatever humanity he has left in him after the war.
 
Having fled his hometown and now hiding out and desperate in Los Angeles, Heflin meets a down-and-out woman played by Mary Astor who takes a liking to Heflin - she immediately starts calling him "handsome" - and introduces him to some shady friends of hers whom she says can help him "deal" with Ryan.
 
She has, maybe, ten minutes of screen time, but this is one of Mary Astor's best performances as, with minimal makeup, she looks down and out (yet still pretty in a weary-and-worn way) with the implication being she's an aging-out-of-the-profession prostitute. She takes over the few scenes she's in while creating a tough yet sympathetic character you won't easily forget.
 
The climax of the movie is as close to a Western-style dual as you can get at a 1948 California train station. It's not an easy ending - there are no white-hat heroes in this tale - which also helps to explain why Act of Violence didn't go over well in post-war America. 
 
Today we understand war and veterans differently, but the cultural preference in 1948 was to see all the veterans as heroes who, having now returned, conveniently put the war behind them. But how many "heroes," back then, had mixed-up stories, maybe not as extreme, but similar to Heflin's? How many had grudges and grievances, again, maybe not as extreme as Ryan's, that they couldn't simply drop?
 
Act of Violence asks questions most of America wasn't ready to face in 1948, but today the movie's unvarnished look at the scars war leaves on those who fight it, and the damage it does to those who love them when they return, is still relevant and painful.  
 
With its incredibly talented cast - Ryan, Heflin, Leigh, Thaxter and Astor - all give moving performances and a spartan noir backdrop, Act of Violence is a gem of a movie, punching well above its modest budget, that deserves to be better known today.
 
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N.B. #1 In how many movies does pretty Phyllis Thaxter play, as she does in Act of Violence, a woman insecure with her looks (she's so worried about losing her husband to Patricia Neal in The Breaking Point that she dyes her hair blonde to compete)? Only in Hollywood, where the standard for beauty is at a fantasy-high level, could a woman like Thaxter regularly play a "plain Jane" character. 
 
Robert Ryan and Phillis Thaxter:
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N.B. #2 Directors of Los Angeles located noir movies, like Act of Violence, smartly never miss the architectural opportunity of including a shot of Angels Flight, downtown LA's narrow-gauged, steep funicular railroad. Sure, it meets a transportation need, but the railroad's real contribution to the city is serving as a wonderful noir backdrop for all these cinematic tales of desperate people on the run in Los Angeles.  
 
Angels Flight:
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Watched another movie a while ago showing Angels Flight. I like those old funiculars. Surprised to find out it still exists, but moved from its original location. 

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