Film Noir : What Film Noir did you see?:January/February Edition.

What Film Noir did you see?:January/February Edition.

Hi all I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and that with it now being 00:20 in the UK,I wish you all a Happy New Year

And what better way to kick the year off,then to say...

Hello to the Homme and Femme Fatales of the dark alleyways,and welcome to the latest edition of your bimonthly thread.This is where we all get a chance to post our views on Film Noir or films of a similar ilk from Nordic Noir to Giallo.Although we are primarily about the Noir world,post on your non-Noir viewings are all welcomed as well,in the spirit of good conversation.

"Hans le Marin" 1949 Some Lust and Death for the New Year

CONTAINS SPOILERS


"Hans le Marin" 1949 Aka "The Wicked City", "Hafenbar von Marseille"



An American freighter docks in Marseille and three sailors head for the red light district for drinks and a bit of the old in-out, in-out. The three hit a bar called the "KIT-KAT Club" to see if they can find both. The one sailor, Jean -Pierre Aumont, sees a dazzling beauty at the bar and dumps the "working girl" he is with. The beauty, Maria Montez, (Aumont and Montez were married at the time) agrees to have a couple of dances with Aumont. Aumont is completely smitten with Montez and off they go to Montez's rooms.

Aumont's ship is leaving next day so early in the morning Montez walks Aumont down to the docks. They stop at a café for a last cognac. Out of francs, he pays the bill in US dollars which catches the eyes of waterfront thugs, Jean Roy and Marcel Dalio. Aumont asks Montez to wait for his return from sea. Montez just smiles as she has heard this tune before.

They leave the café, Aumont is jumped by the thugs, beaten unconscious and relieved of his cash and papers. They give Montez a smile and take off. Aumont wakes up in a hospital with a splitting headache. The police arrive and ask how he ended up there. All he recalls is that one of the men that mugged him was whistling a strange tune.

Released from the hospital, he goes to the KIT-KAT to look for Montez. He is refused entry since he cannot pony up the 150 franc cover. Out into the street he goes. His ship left a week ago, he is broke, and has no papers. He tries the American Consulate but is turned away because he cannot prove who he is. No papers, no money and no way to get a work permit. What a mess. Several days go by and things are getting worse. No place to stay and hungry. A young street peddler slips him some oranges and a few clues about possible work.

Speaking several languages, Aumont finds he can get work as a hawker for the nightclubs. By directing sailors etc to the clubs he gets a piece of the cover. Every night he takes his wages and hits the KIT-KAT looking for Montez. She is never there. Aumont hears from the boss that Montez had struck gold and has a rich sugar daddy. Aumont does not believe it because he 'knows" she loves only him.

One night while walking the club's gypsy fortune-teller, Lilli Palmer, home, he hears some strange whistling. He pulls Palmer into the shadows and has a quick look down the alley. Sure enough, here come the two thugs who robbed him. Aumont ambushes the pair. Dalio escapes but Roy is killed when he cracks his head open on the pavement following an Aumont punch.

Palmer grabs Aumont and quickly rushes him to the gypsy camp where he is hidden in case the Police come. Palmer has a crush on Aumont which of course Aumont does not notice. The Police soon grab up the second thug, Marcel Dalio, once his dead partner Roy is found. He tells them about Aumont and that he will find him for the Police. The detectives give Dalio 5 days to deliver Aumont or they will charge Dalio with the murder.

Aumont learns from the young orange peddler that his ship has returned to Marseille. He pays the ship a visit and finds that the ship is leaving for the States that night. He signs on for the trip back. He also arranges with some of the crew to smuggle the orange peddler on board. He wants the kid to have a better life in the U.S. than he has here.

Aumont tells Palmer he is leaving. Palmer sighs and tells him it is best he leave because the Police had searched the camp that morning. Aumont grabs the kid and smuggles him on board with some wine casks. He returns the truck to the merchant and starts back to the docks. Needless to say he does not make it.

Just outside the docks he sees Montez sitting in an expensive car. The car takes off before he can reach it. Does he get on the ship or go after his true love? He makes for the KIT-KAT where he finds Montez showing off her prize mark. Montez ignores Aumont when he approaches with a big grin on his face. "But it is me darling!" Spouts Aumont. "Who?" Is Montez's answer. Aumont is stunned.

Also in the club is Dalio who grabs a phone and drops dime to John Law on Aumont. One of the bartenders warns Aumont that Dalio had ratted on him. Aumont exits in a hurry just as the cops arrive. He waits in the dark outside of Montez's rooms for her return. Montez shows and Aumont forces his way in.

Aumont says. "How can you ignore me after you said you loved me? Don't you remember?" Montez laughs and responds. "I don't even recall your name!" Needless to say that was the wrong thing to say. Montez quickly finds hands tightening around her throat. Finished, Aumont lets her lifeless body slip to the floor. He then slowly walks out of the apartment and into the arms of the just arrived Police.

The rest of the cast includes, Pierre Bertin, Roger Blin, Gregoire Aslam, Jean Marie Simon and Lita Rico.

Montez was in "Tangier" and "Portrait of an Assassin". Dalio worked both sides of the Atlantic with bits in "Grand Illusion", "Shanghai Gesture", Casablanca", Pepe Le Moko", "To Have and Have Not", "Snowbound", Razzia Sur La Chnouf" and "Portrait of an Assassin".

The director was Francois Villers. The d of p was Jean Bourgoin. His work includes, "Maneges", Dedee d' Anvers" and "Mr Arkadin".

The story and screenplay was by Aumont and Michel Arnaud.

Re: "Hans le Marin" 1949 Some Lust and Death for the New Year

Sounds good. A very good print is on youtube, though somehow some parts seems badly dubbed into English. I assume it is in French?

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: "Hans le Marin" 1949 Some Lust and Death for the New Year

I have two diff prints, one in English and one with decent eng subs. Not sure about the you-tube one.

Re: "Hans le Marin" 1949 Some Lust and Death for the New Year

Hi Gordon! thank you for the excellent review (which I've ticked) of this obscure French Noir.With your last obscure French Noir leading me to Dédée d'Anvers,I was wondering if you found Hans to be almost as good?

Re: "Hans le Marin" 1949 Some Lust and Death for the New Year

I liked it. While not the beauty Dedee is, it is well worth a watch.

New Noir Page.

Hi,I've created a new Noir page on Reddit,details are on the post at the top of this board.

Thanks,MDF/Chris.

IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967)

IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967)

- i didn't love it. the background score by quincy jones was great. great performance by ROD STEIGER. POITIER was a bit preachy. WARREN OATES in a supporting role. great atmosphere and loved the small town setting. loved the way the film looked, technicolor was great, i wonder why they did away with it. but it all felt a bit flimsy in the end. doesn't really work as a police procedural. the parts are better than the sum.

(7/10)

I get melancholy if I don't write. I need the company of people who don't exist

Re: IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (1967)

Long time since I last caught this.

Nightmare Alley 1947

A contract star at 20th Century Fox, Tyrone Power was tired of playing the swashbuckling, romantic lead. He had been a stage actor before going to Hollywood and wanted parts that would show that he was a serious actor doing meaningful films. He bought the rights to the pulp fiction novel Nightmare Alley and managed to get it produced as his follow up to The Razor's Edge, another film that was more in line with his ambitions.

Alley was not a low budget film, having top actors, a director with stage and writing experience, and one of the best cinematographers in the business, Lee Garmes. Garmes had worked with Joseph von Sternberg, photographing Marlene Dietrich in Morocco and Shanghai Express and his expressionist lighting techniques and camera work perfectly mirrored Alley’s bizarre and twisted plot and subject matter.

Power plays Stanton Carlisle, a carnival barker who uses his considerable charms with women to obtain the secret “code” to a mind reading act. He discards the woman who taught him the code, opting for a younger, better looking one for his new act, “The Great Stanton,” a mentalist who “reads” the minds of people in the audience. He soon meets the beautiful Dr. Lilith Ritter, a psychiatrist who records her sessions on tape, giving her a library of the deepest, darkest secrets of her patients. She finesses the charismatic, and by now famous, Stanton into a scheme using those secrets to extract money from her wealthy patients.

Stanton has successfully used two women on the way up but has met his match in the villainous Dr. Ritter. After she’s done using Stan his fall is quick and has no bottom. The startling transformation of the character is a brilliant piece of acting by Power who is unrecognizable in the last scene. Daryl Zanuck was shocked and worried what this film would do to his matinee idol star. The studio got nervous, underpublicized it and gave it only a very limited release. The film died, the rights went into a protracted legal fight, and was rarely seen until its release on DVD about ten years ago. Of course the film gained a cult status but is also considered to be one of Power’s best, if not the best, performance of his career.

No cops, gangsters or guns, Nightmare Alley is a noir deviant with a Twilight Zone feel about it and strong elements of horror. Highly recommended, this one is not for the faint of heart.

Re: Nightmare Alley 1947

I wrote a review about it not long ago and couldn't agree more. The film positively reeks of desperation and proves that Noir doesn't need detectives, femmes fatales, guns, gangsters and outright murder to be true Noir.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: Nightmare Alley 1947

Happy New Year Cole! It looks like your Noir year kicked off with a bang in your great review,I was wondering if The Razor's Edge shares many similarities with Alley?

These are my notes on the film from 2015:

9

For the first hour of Jules Furthman's adaptation of William Lindsay Gresham's novel,the screenplay focuses on building Carlisle's psychotic personality,with the carnival setting surrounding Carlisle with freaks & geeks who he mercilessly takes advantage of in order to grab the limelight,with no regard at all for the effect it will have on his fellow performers.Along with striking Carlisle's Film Noir personality across the screen, Furthman also begins to subtle lay down cards which get turned during the final round.

Furthman slowly has Carlisle develop an uneasy sense of doubt of the revelations of the Tarot cards, to Carlisle having strong feelings of grandeur over being able to dominate and con anyone that stands in his way.Whilst the psychotic Noir mood that Furthman has been threading is clipped for an optimistic final note which goes against Gresham's novel, (most likely due to the Hays Code still having some grasp on power) Furthman takes Carlisle out of the carnival,and places him in a ruthless urban circus,where Carlisle's former attention-grabbing tricks are no match for the psychologically quick-witted circus animals waiting to get Carlisle in their grasp.

Despite the ratings board leading to a (what now appears long lost) scene involving carnival geeks attacking a chicken being pulled from the title,director Edmund Goulding & cinematographer Lee Garmes are still able to unleash an excellent,off-beat Film Noir atmosphere.For the carnival sequences,Goulding and Garmes dim the circus lights in order to cast long dark shadows across the screen,which reveal the darkness hiding behind Carlisle's colourful tricks.Getting out of the carnival,Goulding and Garmes superbly use tightly held, stilted shots to tear apart the charming image that Carlisle has built for himself,in order to uncover the decaying animal lurking beneath the surface.

Going against his good-guy image, Tyrone Power gives an excellent performance as Carlisle,with Power impressively making Carlisle's carnival act a tense affair,despite the viewer being told how the magic tricks are done.Gradually peeling away Carlisle's showmanship,Power strikes a brutal intensity,thanks to Power showing Carlisle not care about what method he must use to get to the top,even if it plunges him deeper into being a Film Noir loner.Lighting up the screen with their beauty, Joan Blondell/Coleen Gray & Helen Walker each give fantastic performances,with Blondell giving Zeena an underlying sense of doubt over teaching Carlisle the act,whilst Gray counters Blondell's unease by giving Molly a sweet,naïve charm,as Helen Walker burns Carlisle's nightmare carnival down.

Re: Nightmare Alley 1947

Been a long time since I've last seen The Razor's Edge so not sure about any similarities to Nightmare Alley, other than they were both directed by the same guy and had the same star.

I didn't think the ending was that optimistic, certainly not enough to consider it to be a cop out - I mean it was 1947. Stanton Carlisle lost everything, reduced to a drunk, relegated to living out his days as a carny. And there was no way out as he had his enabler - his estranged wife who saw this as her opportunity to hold on to Stan - just as was the case at the beginning of the film with Zeena and Pete. At best, she was only going to "save" him from being The Geek. Stan was doomed. I thought it was an effective end to the story, going full circle from the opening.

I looked for Jessica's review of this but couldn't find it. But I did read it when it was posted, so thanks as that's the reason I watched this film. Definitely Top Ten in the dark and bleak category for me.

Re: Nightmare Alley 1947

I'm glad you watched it because of my review. I actually just posted it on this thread, not on the movie page. I could post it again, but I just looked at it again and I simply got carried away with my writing, the review is too long and rambling. It needs some serious editing.

I too didn't think the ending was optimistic. In the end, Molly and Stanton are simply the mirror image of Zeena and Pete, the nurturer and the hopeless down-and-out alcoholic for whom there is no salvation anymore. At best, Stan seems to have fallen into the position of Pete at the beginning of the film, rescued from oblivion by a woman who cares for him. But theirs was never a happy arrangement.
He is saved by Molly from becoming the “Geek”, for now at least, but his future doesn't exactly look bright. Maybe Stan has not become the Geek, but he has become Pete.
Stanton will end like Pete, dead of some bad liquor. And the love of a good woman will not save him. The films ends how it started.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: Nightmare Alley 1947

Well said, sir! It features nice work from both the cast and crew, with Power in particular, turning in a fine bit of acting.

Re: Nightmare Alley 1947

It's a personal favourite so it's great to see such a positive and intelligent review. I'll just piggyback your review with my own so as to add more weight.


Don't forget, to err is human- -to forgive- -divine.

Nightmare Alley is directed by Edmund Goulding and adapted to screenplay by Jules Furthman from William Lindsay Gresham's novel. It stars Tyrone Power, Coleen Gray, Joan Blondell, Helen Walker, Taylor Holmes and Mike Mazurki. Music is by Cyril J. Mockridge and cinematography by Lee Garmes.

The rise and fall of Carnival Barker, Stanton Carlisle……..

Picture opens with Cyril Mockridge's ominous music, sprinkled with carny strains, it's a portent of what is to come. The characters of this particular travelling carnival then enter the fray, boxed in by Lee Garmes' shadowy photography. Mood is set at dark, not even the sight of a handsome Tyrone Power can shift the feeling that there is bleakness coming our way. Thankfully, that is the case.

Due to a legal dispute, Nightmare Alley was out of the mainstream circulation for over fifty years. A crime that robbed a whole generation of film noir lovers the chance to sample this excellent picture. Power had himself purchased the rights to Gresham's novel, determined to expand his range and break free of his typecasting as a Matinée Idol, Power wanted to play bad and got his wish. In the process giving arguably his finest career performance as Stanton Carlisle, a small time hustler who gleefully casts away human feelings to rise to the top as part of a spiritualist/mind reading act. But this is film noir, and around the corner are people just as unscrupulous as he is.

Have I ever mentioned God in this racket?

Very talky for the most part, it's the backdrops to the story that serve the narrative so well. Be it the carnival and the assortment of characters that inhabit it, or the up market club where Stanton and his wife, Molly (Gray), use psychological trickery on the affluent members of society, there's a disquiet, a sadness even, to proceedings, with Goulding and Furthman also casting an acerbic eye on social institutions and religious fervour. The latter of which provoked complaints from religious orders. There's barely a good or level headed human being to be found for the whole running time, picture is full of phonies and con-artists, gullibles and straw clutchers, beasts and alcoholics, it's no wonder the suits at the PCA got all twitchy! This is a bleak world view, and had it finished two minutes earlier, then we would be talking about one of the finest of all film noir endings. Sadly 20th Century Fox chief Darryl Zanuck had Goulding tag on a coda to get past the PCA. Not a film killer, no sir, but a disappointment for sure.

Lilith: A female demon of the night….

The team assembled for the production is of a high quality. Power and Goulding may be out of place in the genre of film noir, but they both come out with much credit. The former is thoroughly absorbing and the latter knits it together without fuss; letting the actors fully form Furthman's (To Have and Have Not/The Big Sleep) seductively crisp screenplay, while Garmes (Scarface/Detective Story) brings the chiaroscuro, which makes a nice devilish bedfellow for Mockridge's (Road House) music. Benefiting most from Goulding's direction is Helen Walker (Murder in the Music Hall/Call Northside 777) as Lilith Ritter, an excellent portrayal of the icy cold psychiatrist who forms an intriguing axis between the three women in Stanton's life. Both Gray (Kiss of Death/Kansas City Confidential) and Blondell (Cry Havoc) earn their money as polar opposites jostling for Stanton's attentions, and Ian Keith gives a heart tugging performance as alcoholic Pete Krumbein, a critical character that spins the protagonist into a vortex of smug charlatanism-cum-self loathing.

Now available on DVD with a lovely transfer, this is worthy of a delve for the film noir dwellers. 9/10


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Nightmare Alley 1947

Good review of Nightmare Alley, Spike. I've seen it maybe twice in its entirety, like it but it's not a favorite. You may well have nailed it with your calling it "talky". The narrative drive just isn't there, or not for me anyway. The movie feels like a Ty Power vehicle, which it sort of is,--and it's one of his best--though it might have been better with a bit less Ty and a somewhat more Nightmare. Edmund Goulding was a fine director, and he did get some excellent performances out of his cast. My favorite is Ian Keith's as the dipso geek. His scenes are haunting. Yet overall, stylistically, the picture just doesn't jump off the screen.

Comparisons with Tod Browning's Freaks are near inevitable, but it's really a different sort of film. The Browning was sort of an exploitation art film horror, while the later film is more carny noir on steroids. Problem: the steroids don't kick in. I think it would be better to compare Nightmare Alley with Siodmak's The Killers and the Jules Dassin Brute Force. Those two rock; and in their best scenes they really do jump off the screen. Nightmare Alley feels too genteel for the kind of story it's telling; yet for all that, its gentility doesn't ruin the film, it just keeps it from being the classic it might have been with a stronger beat.

Re: Nightmare Alley 1947

Hiya tele

We obviously don't agree here, though I do like the carny noir on steroids remark

Thanks for taking the time to post and I enjoyed reading your reasonings

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Nightmare Alley 1947

You're welcome, Spike . I find your reviews always good to read, and your taste in films for the most part exquisite. Nightmare Alley certainly succeeds where it matters the most: it's haunting.

Noir page

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Thanks,MDF/Chris.

Re: Nightmare Alley 1947

If you liked the film you'll enjoy the 1946 novel by William Lindsay Gresham even more, the story is a lot sleazier and more twisted than what they could depict under the Hayes Code. It's worth seeking out.

Noir page.

Hi,I've created a new Noir page on Reddit,details are on the post at the top of this board.

Thanks,MDF/Chris.

Re: Nightmare Alley 1947

Fantastic film and seemingly one we should be grateful ever existed.

Pair it with Tod Browning's equally great FREAKS (1932) for a killer Carny Noir double bill.

Great performance by Power and any fans of Joan Blondell will not want to miss out on her tough dame. Also, fans of Power might want to check out the excellent Noirish Western he starred in called Rawhide, with Susan Hayward.

If to stand pat means to resist evil then, yes, neighbour, we wish to stand pat.

The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)


She's no good, but she's good for me!

The Man Who Cheated Himself is directed by Felix E. Feist and written by Seton I. Miller and Phillip MacDonald. It stars Lee J. Cobb, Jane Wyatt, John Dall and Lisa Howard. Music is by Louis Forbes and cinematography by Russell Harlan.

Ed Cullen (Cobb) is a cop who is having an affair with wealthy Lois Frazer (Wyatt). When Lois, in a fit of panic shoots dead her husband, it cause Cullen no end of grief. You see, he was there as well, a witness to the crime...

Don't forget to change your will.

This is a film noir entry that contains most of the elements that form that brand of film making. Something of an under seen - and undervalued - piece, it manages to rise above a few minor itches to play out as potent. Cullen (Cobb excellent) gets spun into a vortex of self inflicted trouble on account of his eye for a dame, essayed by a cast against type Wyatt. Both are unfaithful, she's unreliable and he's quick to break his own laws with dishonesty and a corruptible soul.

Things spice up when Cullen's younger brother, Andy (Dall), himself a police officer, joins his brother in investigating the "now" mysterious murder case. So we have a family crisis brewing as the younger Cullen tries to crack the case, all while his elder brother tries to throw him off the scent of his own complicity. Wonderful, because like a few other great noirs (Scandal Sheet, The Big Clock et al) we have a protagonist effectively investigating himself. And with the brothers being polar opposites in life values, it keeps things simmering nicely in the intrigue pot.

The dialogue is often clippy and the police procedural aspects are finely played with believable strokes. Close calls come and go as the detective work lurches from almost solved and closed to "hang on a minute something smells fishy here" , while tricky collusion's smile like a Cheshire cat. The great Russell Harlan (Gun Crazy/Riot In Cell Block 11) continually keeps things moody with shadows and low lights, whilst simultaneously bringing to life the splendid San Francisco locations. None more so than for the finale filmed out at a derelict and decrepit Fort Point, a perfect setting for noir if ever there was one (Hitchcock and Boorman thought so too!)

Wyatt is just about convincing enough as a femme fatale, but you can't help but ponder what one of the true noir actresses could have done with the role. While you can't get away from the fact that really both Cullen and Frazer simply had to front up for a self defence case at the beginning and there would have been no hassle. But as weak as that aspect is, there wouldn't have been this noir tale to tell, all of which is helmed with careful and knowing hands by Feist (Tomorrow is Another Day). 7.5/10


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

Still haven't seen it. It's on youtube so I will rectify this mistake soon. I'm interested in seeing Jane Wyman as femme fatale, it seems to be odd an casting choice.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

Wyatt not Wyman

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

Oops, that's the one I meant. Talk about odd casting choices, Angela Lansbury was cast twice as femme fatale. In Please Murder Me with Raymond Burr which I've seen and in A Life at Stake which is still on my list. I guess she pulled it off, barely though.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

A Life At Stake is in my top 5 worst noirs list. I've not yet watched the other 4...

I exaggerate... But it's pretty bad.

Re: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

Ouch. What exactly is so bad about it? Is it just Lansbury?

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

No, it's definitely not Lansbury. She's miscast as a sexy, alluring femme fatale but at least she can act. Her co-star Keith Andes can't (at least not in this movie), and there is zero chemistry... The story is also really pedestrian, and the overall directing and cinematography is mediocre at best. At least it has a ridiculous ending involving a door leading to almost literally nowhere, but still...

I enjoy low/no budget B-noirs, and some are pretty bad... Objectively speaking, they're probably worse than this movie. But I struggled to finish this movie, more than any other noir I've watched so far.

Future Noir.

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Re: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

I like that film! It makes me think of both Double Indemnity and Pushover - someone in a position of power/trust helps a femme fatale to commit a crime, and then he has to cover his (and her) own tracks.

~~~~~
Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Re: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

It was you who jogged me into seeking it out

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

Oh yes, I've mentioned that film on this board in the past.

Glad you liked it!

I recommend Pushover (1954) as well, if you haven't seen it.

~~~~~
Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Pushover

Big fan


Money isn't dirty. Just people.

Pushover is directed by Richard Quine and adapted to screenplay by Roy Huggins from stories written by Bill S. Ballinger and Thomas Walsh. It stars Fred MacMurray, Phillip Carey, Kim Novak, Dorothy Malone and E. G. Marshall. Music is scored by Arthur Morton and cinematography by Lester White.

Straight cop Paul Sheridan (MacMurray) is on the trail of the loot stolen in a bank robbery where a guard was shot and killed. He is tasked with getting to know Lona McLane (Novak), the girlfriend of the chief suspect in the robbery. But once contact is made, and surveillance set up over the road from her apartment complex, Sheridan begins to fall in love and lust with the sultry femme.

Comparisons with the superior Double Indemnity are fair enough, but really there is enough here, and considerable differences too, for the film to rightfully be judged on its own merits. Also of note to point out is that one or two critics have questioned if Pushover is actually a film noir piece? Bizarre! Given that character motives, destinies and thematics of plot are quintessential film noir.

A good but weary guy is emotionally vulnerable and finds his life spun into a vortex of lust, greed and murder. Yet the femme fatale responsible, is not a rank and file manipulator, she too has big issues to deal with, a trophy girlfriend to a crook, she coarsely resents this fact. The cop who never smiles and the girl who has forgotten how too, is there hope there? Do they need the money that has weaved them together? What does that old devil called fate have in store for them? Classic noir traits do pulse from the plot. True, the trajectory the pic takes had been a well trodden formula in noir by the mid fifties, where noir as a strong force was on the wane, but this holds up very well.

It isn't just a piece solely relying on two characters either, there's the concurrent tale of Sheridan's voyeuristic partner Rik McAllister (Carey), who has caught the eye of Lona's next door neighbour, Ann Stewart (Malone). Both these characters operate in a different world to the other two, yet the question remains if a relationship can be born out from such shady beginnings? The presentation of relationships here is delightfully perverse. The visual style wrung out by Quine (Drive a Crooked Road) and White (5 Against the House) is most assuredly noir, with 99% of the film set at night, with prominent shadows, damp streets lit by bulbous lamps and roof top scenes decorated sparsely by jutting aerials. The L.A. backdrop a moody observer to the unwrapping of damaged human goods.

Cast are very good, all working well for their reliable director. Novak sizzles in what was her first credited starring role, she perfectly embodies a gal that someone like Paul Sheridan could lose his soul for. MacMurray is suitably weary, his lived in face telling of a life lacking in genuine moments of pleasure. Carey, square jawed, tall and handsome, he is the perfect foil to MacMurray's woe. Malone offers the potential ray of light trying to break out in this dark part of America, while Marshall as tough Lieutenant Eckstrom and Allen Nourse as a copper riding the noir train to sadness, score favourably too.

It opens with a daylight bank robbery and closes in true noir style on a cold and wet night time street. Pushover, deserving to be viewed as one of the more interesting 1950s film noirs. 8/10


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Pushover

...and of course, I didn't mean to suggest that Pushover and Double Indemnity are identical. But there is something about both films (besides the leading man) which makes me associate the two movies with each other.

Great review, by the way!



~~~~~
Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Re: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

I still need to pop my copy in the dvd one of these days. Nice review.

Re: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

Do. It's well worth a look. Great overlooked noir.

~~~~~
Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Re: Lee J. Cobb in this film

By the way, when I first heard that Lee J. Cobb is the star of this film, I wondered how he would have pulled off playing an older cop who has what it takes with the ladies. He sure didn't have the appearance for it! Yet he was very convincing. Great job here by a terrific actor.

~~~~~
Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Re: Lee J. Cobb in this film

Yes, not blessed with conventional looks, much like Steiger, but what actors. Both of course from the grand school of scenery chewing!

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Lee J. Cobb in this film

Nobody makes scenery chewing more compelling and dignified than Cobb. Love the guy in Thieves' Highway, 12 Angry Men etc. Also playing an Italian pappy at a young age in that boxing flick with Bill Holden, Golden Boy - Joe love-a music-a - ha ha. Fantastic performance as far as I'm concerned. He must have been great on stage...?

If to stand pat means to resist evil then, yes, neighbour, we wish to stand pat.

Re: Lee J. Cobb in this film

I watched this film again last night, and honestly, his character was a bit sloppy. For one thing, why was he meeting his girlfriend so quickly after the murder? And once he was seen entering the bridge, why didn't he make up a reason for being there? Didn't he think that people might ask him? He should have also found another place to dispose of the gun, once he'd been seen.

~~~~~
Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

Re: Lee J. Cobb in this film

Haven't seen the film so cant comment on all that, MsEQ... maybe someone upthread?

If to stand pat means to resist evil then, yes, neighbour, we wish to stand pat.

Re: Lee J. Cobb in this film

Whoops...I should have replied to Spike!

Sorry 'bout that...

~~~~~
Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

New Year Noir.

I hope you are having a good 2017 Spike,and it looks like you set the Noir fireworks off with these two. For Denning, Alec Coppel was well placed to work with Hitchcock later on the script for Vertigo,some doctoring work on To Catch A Thief and also write some Present eps. With only having seen some bits from a rough TV print,how did you find the new Network version?

Re: New Year Noir.

My copy of Denning is recorded from a Ch4 showing in the early 1990s, put on to disc with adverts edited out, great print

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

Spike, after your nice review I watched it on youtube. I pretty much agree with your take on it. Best thing about is Lee J. Cobb who could save any movie just by his presence. John Dall was good in a nice guy role and obviously the San Francisco locations were beautiful.


Wyatt is just about convincing enough as a femme fatale

I actually thought she was completely miscast. Casting against type can work beautifully, here it doesn't. She is extremely histrionic in her scenes with both brothers when they come to investigate. With a different actress this film could have been a little gem.

The only time I thought she was convincing was in the last scene. A nice ending btw. Cobb has to realize he's been played for a sucker, his self-ironic smile says it all. His lady-love is already vamping her attorney to get off. For a second we wonder if she hadn't planned it like that from the beginning.

The picture would be a good candidate for a restoration.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950)

Yeah. Cobb is from the Steiger school of acting, scenery chewers for sure but they sure could inhabit roles.

Glad you saw it and listen mate, I wouldn't be putting up a fight about Wyatt, she gets by in my book but I would much have preferred a whole host of noir lady actors to have done it instead.




The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950) (viewing tonight)

Regarding The Man Who Cheated Himself - I'll be watching this tonight.

I just finished Pushover and I watched Double Indemnity yesterday. Somehow, I end up watching these three together.

~~~~~
Proud to be Canadian! 🇨🇦

Mr. Denning Drives North (1951)

Mr. Denning Drives North (1951)


The Denning Desperation.

Mr. Denning Drives North is directed by Anthony Kimmins and adapted to screenplay from his own novel by Alec Coppel. It stars John Mills, Phyliss Calvert, Eileen Moore, Sam Wannamaker and Herbert Lom. Music is by Benjamin Frankel and cinematography by John Wilcox.

A splendid collage of murder mystery, noir and thriller - with a slice of Hitchcockian black humour thrown in for good measure, Kimmins' film deserves to be better known. Plot finds Mills as the Mr. Denning of the title, who after accidentally killing his what he believes to be his daughter's unscrupulous boyfriend, dumps the body and then finds himself in a whirl of stricken conscience and panic.

To say more would be to spoil the fun for there are plenty of interesting roads on which the story travels, but it's safe to say the investigation of the missing body is gripping and has a delicious slice of ironic fate about it. Cast are excellent, particularly Mills, with the leads boosted by a roll call of British greats in supporting roles. Frankel provides a very lively musical score and Wilcox's photography has the requisite tonal accompaniments for the unfolding plot. Hats off also to Kimmins, who keeps a tight hold on things to let the drama flow naturally without histrionics.

From a nifty expressionistic opening to a very cheeky and fulfilling finale, this very much is one for murder mystery, noir, thriller fans to seek out. 7.5/10


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