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

Re: I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

Excellent review of an good noir! And to think the movie was going to be called 'Hot Spot' until the last moment, posters etc had already been made under that name...

Re: I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

Good God, yes, Hot Spot! I doubt the movie would be know nowadays with that title.

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

Re: I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

Not to take anything away from the excellent IWUS, but The Hot Spot is actually the name of a very sleazy, very good 1990 neo-noir directed by Dennis Hopper and starring Don Johnson.

Re: I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

The Hot Spot is a favorite neo-Noir of mine. I believe there was at least one review of it on this board a while ago. It had a great cast. I'd still say the title is a bit generic.

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

Re: I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

Wow! Top reviewing gal

I'll just piggyback to further sell it. Though I'm sure all on this board will have seen it, but we are also about enticing newbies of course.


They've got more wolves in New York than they've got in Siberia.

I Wake Up Screaming is one of the early entries in the film noir cycle that lays down noirish detective conventions. It's kicker is similar to that of Stranger On The Third Floor (1940), that of the chief suspect turning detective to try and prove innocence. Directed by Fox contract director H. Bruce Humberstone, the screenplay is by Dwight Taylor who adapts from Steve Fisher's novel of the same name. It stars Betty Grable (excellent in a rare dramatic role), Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Laird Cregar, William Gargan & Elisha Cook Jr. Picture is filmed as if in New York City, but although it's actually listed as the real location on other sources, it's more than likely just expert set construction. Edward Cronjager (Canyon Passage/Desert Fury) takes up cinematography duties.

The plot centers around cocky promoter Frankie "Botticelli" Christopher (Mature) who is accused of the murder of Vicky Lynn (Landis), a young actress he "discovered" as a waitress while out with his friends. Teaming up with Vicky's level headed sister Jill (Grable), Frankie finds the heat is on and it's getting hotter as the police, led by brooding heavy Ed Cornell (Cregar), are determined to put him in the electric chair, or "Hot Spot" (the film's original working title and a title held for the UK release of the film). Told in alternating flashbacks, nothing is ever quite what it seems, so with dark motives looming and deep suspicion enveloping our protagonists, the question is, just who will wake up screaming? It starts out rather briskly, jaunty music opens the piece up and one gets the feeling that this is very much going to be a standard Betty Grable picture. In fact when you consider that snatches of "Over The Rainbow" are used at frequent points in the movie, the makers have to be applauded for ultimately achieving the murky end product that I Wake Up Screaming becomes. There's very little "light" in the piece, what bright scenes there are serve as snippets of hope for our intrepid detectives, but outside of that it's deep shadows & dark interiors, perfectly given the high contrast treatment by the talented Cronjager.

This is very much Cregar's movie. A fine character actor before his sad and premature death, he had a hulking presence that dominated film's if given the material to work with. Here he gets a role to really unnerve the audience with. For although the character is watered down from the source novel, his Ed Cornell (apparently based on pulp novelist Cornell Woolrich) is creepy yet oddly garners sympathy too. Most of the best scenes involve the big man, I mean not many actors could dwarf Mature the way that Cregar does here, but the film is all the better for it as the characters persona's are unfolded in front of the audience. It helps of course that Humberstone & Cronjager get the best out of Cregar's shiftiness, semi-cloaking his face with window blind shadows or using his body shadow to act as another character bearing down on the latest person to be on the receiving end of his penetrative questions. While one sequence as Frankie sweatily wakes from a feverish nightmare will linger in the conscious as much as Cregar effectively lingers in the movie.

With devilish twists and turns and a genuinely hard to figure out "who done it" structure, I Wake Up Screaming is very much an essential movie for the Noir/Crime movie fan. And of course for those wishing to see just why Laird Cregar was so highly regarded. 8/10


I love the film and have had many great discussions about it over the years. C.J. and I used to be users on a specialist noir site, I brought it up on there a few years back and it was a great discussion. Definitely noir and the gateway term is very apt.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

Good review. It seems most people agree on the movie. I was wondering where the original title Hot Spot was coming from, I guess as a euphemism for electric chair it works.

It's about time I read the novel. I've been really getting into these old pulp novels, the great cover art always helps too, but have never read Steve Fisher. I'd like to know how Fisher described Ed Cornell.

This cover should certainly help to sell the book:
https://www.amazon.com/Wake-Up-Screaming-Steve-Fisher/dp/0679736778/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484837748&sr=1-1&keywords=i+wake+up+screaming

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

Re: I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

Hi Jess,I hope you had a good weekend and I want to say thank you for the excellent detailed review,with the Broadway trivia you gave being really fascinating. With you having enjoyed Screaming so much,I was wondering if you are planning to catch the remake Vicki?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicki_(film)

Re: I Wake Up Screaming (1941)

I have the movie, I'll probably watch it this weekend. Never seen it, but from what I've heard it doesn't compare.

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

I LED 3 LIVES "Public Idol' 1956 Red Scare Tv

CONTAINS SPOLIERS

I LED 3 LIVES "Public Idol' 1956

This is episode 31 from season 3 of the 3 year and 115 episode run, of the Red Scare series, I LED THREE LIVES. This 1953 to 1956 series is based on the exploits of, Herbert A. Philbrick. Philbrick spent 9 years undercover for the FBI keeping tabs on the Communist party. Richard Carlson plays the title role.

Carlson is contacted by one of advertising company clients for a job. The man, Gene Roth, wants Carlson to hire a former sports star to be a spokesman for his sporting goods stores. The man he wants is Mickey Simpson. Simpson is well known as a former commie who had come clean about his involvement with the party. The FBI has cleared him and he needs a job.

Carlson gets the man hired and then reports to his own cell leader, Ann Morriss. Of course the party is more than a little hot under the collar with turncoat Simpson. They start a campaign of letter writing to the sporting goods company saying it is wrong to hire the ex-commie. Company owner, Roth sees the letters for what they are and ignores them. Simpson is doing good work promoting his products.

The party is now really upset and calls Carlson in for meeting. They have a plan to get Simpson in deep trouble with the Police. Carlson is to get Simpson away from his home the upcoming weekend. The commie types are then going to kill Simpson's wife, Jeanne Cooper. They will make it look like Simpson had done the deed.

Carlson tries to let the FBI in on the plan but he is being too closely watched. The quick thinking Carlson though manages to foil the murder without giving himself away to the party.

This is actually a better episode than my rather slipshod review is suggesting. There is some genuine suspense here and a better than normal story. This being a "ZIV" production, who were known for doing things on the cheap, that is saying a lot.

Jeanne Cooper was the mother of actor Corbin Bernsen.

Noir TV mini-series The Witness for the Prosecution (2016)

7

* This review may contain spoilers ***

Seeing a number of fine adaptations on stage in 2015,I was disappointed in missing out on a new mini-series version of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None.Planning to catch up on films during the Christmas/New Year holiday,I was intrigued to find that a new mini-series of a lesser-known Christie was being shown,which led to me taking a seat in the witness box.

The plot:

Returning from WWI after joining the army with his son (who died in battle) solicitor John Mayhew goes round the prisons offering to work on cases at a low fee. Sticking his hands out of the bars, Leonard Vole cries for help. Struggling to cover costs with his wife Romaine Heilger,Vole becomes a "paid lover" for heiress Emily French,who has been found murdered. Seeing his son in Vole,Mayhew takes on a case where he will be judged by a prosecution on what he left behind.

View on the mini-series:

Coughed up in the aftermath of WWI, director Julian Jarrold lines the first ep and the outdoor scenes of the second in a thick green tint,which whilst subtly expressing the green with envy hidden in some and offering a touch of BBC Victorian Costume Drama atmosphere, drowns out all that try to rise above it. Playing on how people are perceived, Jarrold's green smog blocks out much of the facial details of the cast and the scope of the setting. Bringing a focus as Mayhew lays out the case,Jarrold peels away the green for a stylish gold which shines on the wealth that blinds Mayhew from the decayed envy retained underneath.

Sending this adaptation to post-WWI,the screenplay by Sarah Phelps brilliantly dips into Film Noir pessimism,as Mayhew's battle to bring justice to this world can't stop him being wrapped with the shadows of failure from the past. Keeping Christie's original ruthless ending sharp,Phelps wonderfully lays out the entangled relationships between Mayhew,Vole & Heilger,which are deliciously twisted into a final that recalls the Giallo sub-genre corrupt bourgeoisie.

Joined by a glamorous Kim Cattrall taking the Sex and the City socialites to a brutal death as French,the elegant Andrea Riseborough gives a fantastic performance as Heilger,whose brittle dialogue Riseborough smartly uses to carry an ambiguity with the character. Unable to free himself from the horrors of WWI, Toby Jones gives an excellent performance as Noir loner Mayhew,via Jones giving any sign of hope in Mayhew's life a harsh,isolated bitterness,as Mayhew becomes a witness to the wrong prosecution.

The Seventh Juror (1960s French film)

The Seventh Juror (1960s French film):

first viewing just now. What a great and disturbing film. At the start of the film, the main character is shown murdering a woman who was known for having affairs with many men of the town. (Okay, maybe a small city, but it was the sort of city/town where everyone seems to know everyone else.) Anyhow, the wrong man gets arrested for the crime and the main character is selected to be on the jury. During the court case, we get to see how the French court system works (or at least, how it worked back then).

I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just say that the scenes after the court case is done are extremely disturbing. Human nature at its "finest", for sure. And I sure don't mean that in a complimentary way.

10/10. Highly recommended!

By the way, who recommended this film to me? Spike? Gordon? Someone else? Whoever it was...thanks!

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

Re: The Seventh Juror (1960s French film)

Le septième juré (1962)

Great film. I reviewed it in 2015 and mdf reviewed it last year, copy courtesy of mel.


Grégoire Duval - The Pharmacist - The 7th Juror.

Le septième juré (The 7th Juror) is directed by Georges Lautner and adapted to screenplay by Pierre Laroche and Jacques Robert from the Francis Didelot novel. It stars Bernard Blier, Maurice Biraud, Francis Blanche, Danièle Delorme and Jacques Riberolles. Music is by Jean Yatove and cinematography by Maurice Fellous.

Horrible Crime Near Pontarlier!

Overcome by the sight of a nude lady sunbather, Grégoire Duval (Blier) forces himself upon her and in a panic strangles her to death when she begins to scream. Returning back to his hum-drum existence, Duval is shocked to find the victim's boyfriend charged with her murder on circumstantial evidence. He's even more shocked when he is chosen for jury service on that very trial...

Crime of a coward - or a madman?

A caustic and potent piece of French cinema, Le septième juré operates on many narrative levels. In parts it's a cracker-jack legal drama, featuring a court case of dramatic verve, while the observations about the sometimes folly of the law is brutally laid bare. At other parts it's a cutting deconstruction of small town mentality, of class distinction and standings, all of which are not favourably portrayed in the slightest.

First you must save your soul.

Firmly operating in the realm of film noir, the makers produce a clinically atmospheric picture. Georges Lautner opens with an ominous shot of a lone fisherman in his boat, out on a mist covered lake, the accompanying classical music amazingly in sync with the scenes. It's evident from this point we are in for some visual and aural treats. Blier provides a classic noir narration as we move among bohemian architecture, through smoky jazz clubs and clientèle exclusive bars. At night the streets are full of shadows, in daylight there's a muted tone to Maurice Fellous' photography, this is not a happy place to live - unless you be one of the secular bourgeois of course...

Othello was misunderstood too.

Other imagery strikes hard. A confession box sequence is brilliantly filmed, noir nirvana, a tilted mirror used during a key exchange between husband and wife is astute, and the pièce de résistance that involves grotesque reflections on a brandy glass. Haunting scenes drop in and out, normally involving the tortured Duval staring blankly out at someone, while the court case is a hot-bed of hurt and chaos, even turning to the macabre as the crime is reenacted at the actual murder scene. Lautner also likes pull away movements as well, and so do we!

Superbly acted, directed, scored and photographed, this is yet another French film that proves that although the first wave of American film noir had faded cum the start of the 60s, the French were keeping the flame alight well into the decade. From that opening misty lake scene, to the black twist finale that is crowned by a stunning ambulance light sequence, this is black gold cinema. Merry Christmas. 9/10


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Seventh Juror (1960s French film)

This film most definitely shows the worst of human nature, and I'm not just talking about the murder here.

spoilers ahead..........

As for the ending, the wife's actions definitely threw me off-guard. Not only does she want him locked up, but her REASONS for it...geez! As if she couldn't have just dumped him when he was carrying on with that other woman (when they were still engaged). She just didn't have to marry him!

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

Re: The Seventh Juror...second viewing

I finished watching this film again tonight. Two viewings in two days. Terrific film with a very disturbing ending. Well, the last half hour of the film is very disturbing. As I said before, human nature at its "finest".

Very atmospheric film. Nice soundtrack! The shots of the city/town were nicely done.

A pity that this movie isn't better known. If only TCM would air it. Then maybe more classic film lovers will see it.

By the way, I'm curious about something. You gave this film a 9/10. What didn't you like about it? Or do you just avoid giving out 10/10 too often?

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

LITTLE RED MONKEY 1955 Richard Conte

CONTAINS SPOILERS

LITTLE RED MONKEY – 1955

Someone is bumping off nuclear scientists in the UK, and the Reds are of course the prime suspects. Reports of witnesses at the scenes report seeing a small monkey of all things. The Police and MI-5 write this off to bad eyesight or a bit much to drink.

A defecting Soviet atomic scientist, Albert Marle, is whisked out of East Berlin and hidden in a hotel in London under Police guard. US agent Richard Conte arrives to protect Marle on his next stage of his flight to the US. Bad weather delays the flight for 24 hours.

Conte decides that a spot of sightseeing with hotel clerk, Rona Anderson is in order. Anderson is the niece of MI-5 type, Russell Napier, who is in charge of security. A few drinks and a pleasant walk through the park with Anderson, is soon arranged.

The Reds of course have been busy as beavers trying to discover the location of the defector, Marle. They plan on giving him a going away gift of a bullet or two in the back of the head. The two chief Red types, Bernard Rebel (complete with that all telling commie goatee) and Sylva Langova plot their next move.

While all this is going on, newspaperman, Colin Gordon, is starting to be a royal pain in the rear to the government types. He has published that the government has a defector hidden somewhere in London. The Reds decide to use the man for their own cause and feed him some info to publish. They hope that the Secret Service bunch will get upset and give away the hiding place.

The Reds do get a clue and go for a hit but end up killing a plainclothes Police officer instead. Conte and MI-5 man, Napier, decide to use the death as cover and announce that defector Marle was killed. They then move the man to another location till the weather clears and they can fly out.

The ploy with the dead copper however fails. The Reds kidnap Conte and Miss Anderson when they step out for a drink. They whisk them to a secret hideout for a spot of light chatting. This involves a large Red with anti-social behaviour problems, soundly beating Conte around the face and body. The Eastern Bloc types are hoping Conte will talk. After a half hour or so, and no luck on the violence front, they decide to change tact. They blindfold Conte and drive him off and dump him on the street with a message. Turn over the defector or the girl, Anderson, will die a most gruesome death.

Needless to say the government has no intention of making the swap. Conte, after a few quick repairs from a doctor, straps on his holster and gun. He wants a bit of pay back. He first visits newsman Gordon for a talk. He soon convinces Gordon to help. He has a possible lead as to where the Reds might be.

They hit the place and are soon embroiled in a full blown gun battle with the Commies. Newsman Gordon goes down in a hail of lead as do a few of the Reds. Conte manages to free Miss Anderson just as MI-5 and the Police come bursting through the doors.

They then rush to where the defector Marle is hidden. They do the nick of time thing again and dispose of a Soviet midget assassin. Yes a midget. Conte is now rushed to the airport with defector Marle to catch the US Air Force flight to Washington. Conte and Anderson blow kisses at each other as he leaves.

Not bad at all for a lower end budgeted spy thriller with a dash of noir thrown in. . The film was directed by veteran UK noir man, Ken Hughes. Writer, producer and director Hughes' work includes, WIDE BOY, BLACK 13, THE HOUSE ACROSS THE LAKE, CONFESSION, JOE MACBETH, WICKED AS THEY COME, THE LONG HAUL, THE SMALL WORLD OF SAMMY LEE. He also helmed the big budget features, CROMWELL and CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.

Re: LITTLE RED MONKEY 1955 Richard Conte

I have never even heard of this movie, and I'm a Richard Conte fan. Sounds quite interesting.

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

Re: LITTLE RED MONKEY 1955 Richard Conte

If you're a Conte fan, you'll probably like Hollywood Story (1951). He plays a movie producer doing a film about the unsolved murder of a famous director in 1929. It's a nice blend of noir, mystery and whodunit, with Conte doing his usual fine work.

Re: LITTLE RED MONKEY 1955 Richard Conte

Not noir, and you've likely seen it already, but I think conte is great in The Fighter (1952) - mexican boxing revolutionary flick with the bonus of Cobb as a revolutionary leader. Public domain. Also, it has some very fine cinematography by James Wong Howe and (uncredited) Floyd Crosby, along with plenty of mediocre stuff - budget.

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

Re: LITTLE RED MONKEY 1955 Richard Conte

Hi Gordon,it is good to read that you enjoyed the I Led Three Lives ep,and I want to say thank you for the terrific review (which I've ticked) of this Chitty Chitty Brit Noir.

Re: LITTLE RED MONKEY 1955 Richard Conte

Thanks!

Private Property (1960) Psychological California Smog Noir

Private Property was long thought lost. It is a lurid psychological noir thriller, based on a sleazy pulp fiction type premise.

It is the first feature written and directed by Leslie Stevens (writer and director of The Outer Limits TV series (1963-1964). The cinematography was by Ted D. McCord (The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Flamingo Road (1949), The Damned Don't Cry (1950), The Breaking Point (1950) and, I Died a Thousand Times (1955)). The films music was by Pete Rugolo (whose credits range from Richard Diamond, Private Detective TV Series (1957–1960), to This World, Then the Fireworks (1997)).

The film revolves around two down and out creepy and twisted drifters, hitchhiking their way to The Sunset Strip. The two become sexually obsessed over a hawt "California Girl" blond housewife driving a white corvette who casually stops for directions at a Pacific Coast Highway Veltex filling station near Malibu. (BTW the Veltex Gas is going for 8 cents a gallon in 1960).

One of these losers is a smart sociopath, a sexual predator called Duke, played by Corey Allen (The Night of the Hunter (1955), Rebel Without a Cause (1955), The Shadow on the Window (1957), The Big Caper (1957)). The other is the sexually dysfunctional dimmer bulb Boots, a mama's boy, played by Warren Oates (The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond (1960), The Outer Limits TV Series (1963–1965), In the Heat of the Night (1967), Dillinger (1973), Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974)).

The blond housewife Ann is played by Kate Manx the then wife of the director. She's sort of a mix of Stella Stevens and Barbara Eden. Another stock film noir veteran Jerome Cowan (The Maltese Falcon (1941), Moontide (1942), Street of Chance (1942), Deadline at Dawn (1946), The Unfaithful (1947), Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948), Scene of the Crime (1949)) plays a schlub salesman Ed who stops for gas at the filling station. Robert Wark plays Roger, Ann's husband and Jules Maitland plays the filling station owner.

We first spot Duke and Boots when they are climbing up a small bluff from a foggy beach onto the blacktop. “The Rock” a distinct road cut into the California Coast Range at the edge of Malibu rises as a hazy backdrop. Waves ominously break against the shore. The two either spent the night sleeping on the beach or where taking a midday dip. They cross the traffic to the Veltex station and bum some pop and cigarettes from the attendant (Maitland).

When Boots tells Duke about a wall calendar he saw in the station with a scantily clad girl wearing just a cowboy hat, Duke asks him if he's getting ready for a woman yet. Boots whines that Duke always steals the girl he wants, the last one being that redhead in the orange grove, so Duke promises to get him a woman, but not after questioning his manhood with the taunt "what are you waiting for a rich sugar daddy?"

An appliance salesman from Sacramento, Ed Hogate, drives up in his '54 Buick Skylark for gas. Boots and Duke begin to wash his windows and pump him for a ride into The City Of Angels. While so engaged with Ed, Ann drives up. Ann is curvaceous and cute. Duke asks Boots if she'll do for a woman. Boots says yes. Duke and Boots convince Ed to not only give them a ride but to tail Ann as she drives towards her home. When Ed wants to end the game and make his turn for Wilshire Blvd., Duke and Boots convince him to keep following the blond. They do this by threatening him with a switchblade that Boots pulls out of his pocket.

The boys get Ed to drop them off up the street, just after Ann pulls into her driveway. The two next break into the vacant house next door. From a second floor window the two begin to spy on Ann's comings and goings. The two voyeurs peep down on her when she skinny dips in her pool or sunbathes out on her patio.

Duke begins a plan to seduce Ann pretending to be an on the skids landscaper, who lives in his truck while looking for work. He shows up at her door whenever her husband leaves on his various business trips.

Duke slowly wears Ann's defences down by preying on her sympathies. Working in Duke's favor is the fact that her workaholic husband fails to appreciate her "ribbons and her bows". He shuns her advances, as she tries to get him to pay more attention to her sexual needs. This makes her ripe for plucking. Ann's frustrations in the film are semiotically depicted, at one point while speaking to her husband she strokes a burning (phallic) candlestick, later aroused by Duke she repeats the deed with the round stem of a plant. Other images also repeat, her husband's doffed tie she places around her neck as later she does the same with Dukes's belt. Is she subconsciously signifying that she is property?

Dukes plan is to get her hopelessly defenceless, sexually aroused, and liquored up enough to take her next door to empty house drop her on a mattress and let Boots rape her. At 79 min Private Property speeds along quickly down the highway to Noirsville.

Corey Allen's silver tongued devil Duke, is easily convincing as a womanizer, but you don't have to wonder why he never gained traction after this performance, the film opened without Code approval, was condemned by the Legion Of Decency and got slim to none distribution. Warren Oates underplays the malleable simple minded sexual neophyte Boots. Oates specialized most of his career in playing hopeless lowlifes doomed to wallow in eternal misery, always getting the *beep* end of the stick. Kate Manx excels as Ann with her portrayal ranging from "I Dream Of Jeannie" perky to that of sweet quiet desperation for the attention of her husband. Again one wonders how her career may have went if the film had had a regular release. Four years later she committed suicide, a waste.

So, does the title refer to trophy wife Ann, the house and pool, or the whole gaudy tinseltown world that only the others, the "elites" can inhabit? 7/10

Digital camera images caps of the newly restored Cinelicious Pictures from a TCM premiere here http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/01/private-property-1960-psychological.html

Re: Private Property (1960) Psychological California Smog Noir

I just saw this on TCM and found it very intriguing. It's the type of odd, offbeat film that could become a cult classic now that it's available. The performances by Corey Allen and especially Kate Manx were excellent. I was less impressed with Warren Oates, although that may be because his character was not developed enough so that we could really understand him.

The film was nicely photographed and has a rather strange feel to it. The bottom line is it's a nice addition to the late noir category.

The Long Wait (1954)

The Long Wait (1954)


The Lyncastle Lasso.

The Long Wait is directed by Victor Saville and adapted to screenplay by Alan Green and Lesser Samuels from the Mickey Spillane novel. It stars Anthony Quinn, Charles Coburn, Gene Evans, Peggie Castle, Mary Ellen Kay and Shirley Patterson. Music is by Mario Castelnuovo- Tedesco and cinematography by Franz Planer.

Johnny McBride (Quinn) is a amnesiac who manages to get back to his home town of Lyncastle where he hopes to unravel who he is. But pretty soon he finds himself in a quagmire of trouble and strife...

Every once in a while I come across an instance like this, where a film noir picture's reviews back upon its release were savage, and yet today the more modern noir lover is mostly positive about the pic. In fact IMDb's rating sits currently at 7.2, which as the site's users will attest to, is pretty good going. So where we at with this Spillane revamp?

The complaints back in the day about it being dull and boring smack to me of writers back then not exactly understanding the noir ethos, though it's noted that there is the odd modern reviewer sharing the same complaint. It's a film very much erring on the side of bleak and moody, dabbling in the complexities of the human condition, and it's done very well, though the screenplay is hardly minus plot holes and is full of incredulous set-ups.

We also have to buy into Quinn being catnip to the dames, four of them no less! But Quinn does angry and broody very well, and he gets to do lots of both here. The aura of a town paddling in its own muck is evident, the amnesia angle merely an excuse to keep things on the side of murky, for it's imperative that we feel Johnny McBride's confusion and mistrust, and we do. All of which is framed superbly by Planer's (Criss Cross) photography, which never misses a chance for shadows and low lights.

With salty villains and sultry dames, violence and choice dialogue, and a few superb scenes (one sequence in an empty warehouse is stunning), this is very much a noir for noir lovers to sample. But with that in mind, these warnings should be noted, that as is often the way in noirville, the ending is divisive and the overt misogyny could well offend. 6.5/10


The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Long Wait (1954)

Good review, I really liked that movie. Let me piggyback my review from a while ago. I'd rate it a bit higher than 6.5.

The Long Wait is a little-known almost-gem of a B Noir. It is grim, but also wonderfully pulpy, violent, sexy and quite lurid which isn’t surprising considering it’s based on a Mickey Spillane novel.
The movie ticks many Noir boxes, it has a morally ambiguous anti-hero, out of his depths most of the time due to amnesia, though thankfully he never becomes a sucker. It also has sadistic villains and duplicitous and seductive dames galore.

DofP was Franz Planer whose wonderful cinematography elevates what could easily have been a pedestrian effort.

Anthony Quinn plays the lead as a quasi-Mike Hammer. He is Johnny McBride who, after a car accident, loses his memory. Two years later he comes back to his old town just to discover that he is a suspect in a murder and bank theft. He sets out to discover the truth and has to come to the conclusion that a lot of people want him dead. He’s also looking for his lost love whose name was Vera, but who changed both her name and her face through plastic surgery. His quest for her has something mythical about it. His sanity and his life seem to hinge on finding her.

The movie features not only one or two but four good-looking and provocative dames, all candidates for Vera, who literally throw themselves at Quinn the second they lay eyes on him. Quinn does get a lot of action in this movie, after all he has to find out who the real Vera is, and in the best Spillane tradition roughs up the dames and makes love to them a second later.
The audience can never really be sure if Quinn is not the murderer after all, he is very quick with his fists and there is an underlying danger and violence about him which can erupt at any second.

Peggie Castle, as Venus, is definitively the sexiest of the dames. She had been in Spillane’s I, The Jury the year before, and the movie would have been better if Anthony Quinn had played Mike Hammer in it.

There is one seriously sexy scene towards the end where a tied-up Peggie Castle, after a beating from the bad guys, crawls to a tied-up Quinn to give him a final kiss. It could be right out of a surreal feverish S&M dream and was quite unexpected in a 50’s film.

The Long Wait demands quite a good bit of suspension of disbelief from the audience. We are not only supposed to swallow the amnesia angle, so popular in the 40’s and 50’s, but also that plastic surgery could change a person’s looks to the point of becoming completely unrecognizable (shades of Dark Passage here). But never mind, it's easily forgiven.

The only minor flaw is that the ending is too upbeat. Quinn finds his Vera and all’s well that ends well. It really shouldn’t have, but it is a small complaint.

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

Re: The Long Wait (1954)

Good stuff Jess. Have to say I much prefer my noirs with miserable outcomes So absolutely this upbeater itches a little.

Thanks for sharing

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Long Wait (1954)

I give it about a 6.5-7/10, the copy I saw wasn't great. I'll give it another go if a restored version shows up sometime.

Re: The Long Wait (1954)

Hi Spike,I hope you had a good weekend and I enjoyed reading your Pier 13 notes.It good to see that you enjoyed The Long Wait,with the comments in your terrific review (which I've ticked)that "Quinn does angry and broody very well" being something I completely agree with, (with the ending also nodding to The Screaming Mimi's S&M flavored dance number in '59)with this being what I wrote on the flick in 2014:

8

For their adaptation of Mickey Spillane's novel,writers Alan Green and Lesser Samuels smartly keep the audiences unrevealing of the past at the same distance that McBride is heading towards,which allow for each of the films sharp twist & turns to strike the viewer with the same shock that they hit McBride with.Whilst the ending is disappointingly up- beat,for the rest of the running time,the writers create a wonderfully grim Film Noir world.Giving some strong hints that McBride has shell shock from serving time in the war as he obsessively searches for his near-mythical dame,the writers paint the world that McBride attempts to remember as one that's rotten to the core,as McBride discovers to his horror that he may be linked to an underworld which has got a firm grip on the entire city.

Wrapping the city in shadows as McBride goes in search of his past, director Victor Saville and cinematographer Franz Planer build an atmospheric city which is covered in dirt,with Savile and Planer making every street look like it has been infected with the characters morals,as each building appears to be rotting away.Along with the filthy Film Noir streets,Savile and Planer cake McBride's (played by an amazing,rough Anthony Quinn) in sweat,which drips across the floor as he delves deeper into the underbelly of the city and uncovers the past which he has long waited to find.

Re: The Long Wait (1954)

What release of this did you see BTY? I have a crappy AVI file.

Re: The Long Wait (1954)

My disc copy is very good, looks like it was taken from something like a TCM showing years ago.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: I'm watching two foreign language films tonight.

I'm watching two foreign language thrillers tonight, both from the 1950s. Generally I watch one right after the other.

They are:

Elevator to the Gallows (French)

and

Night Train (Polish).

Both of those get two thumbs up from me.

Elevator to the Gallows is not only a thriller-noir, but it also seems to have some dark comedy elements to it. A man has been carrying on with his boss' wife and he's come up with a plan to murder her hubby and to run off with her. Then things start to go wrong...

Night Train is about a group of people on a train who realize that someone among them is a killer. The emphasis is on the interaction between the characters, but there is just enough time devoted to the crime to make this a great thriller. I am wondering if Robert Altman saw this movie and got the "emphasize the characters, de-emphasize the murder" idea for Gosford Park?

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

Re: Tonight: two Nicholas Ray films

Tonight: two Nicholas Ray films which I absolutely adore (and I also haven't seen them in a couple of years):

In a Lonely Place

On Dangerous Ground


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

Re: Tonight: two Nicholas Ray films

Two excellent choices! 👍

Re: Tonight: two Nicholas Ray films

Boy was Bogart ever intense in In a Lonely Place! Same with Robert Ryan in On Dangerous Ground. Two great actors, for sure. I love Ida Lupino in On Dangerous Ground as well. Very underrated actress.

Regarding On Dangerous Ground, at first the cop was quick to gang up on anyone who was a suspect. When he went out of town and met that woman, suddenly his tactics changed, but he couldn't stand the fact that the victim's father displayed similar behaviour to what he, the cop, had done in the city.

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

Re: Tonight: two Nicholas Ray films


I love Ida Lupino in On Dangerous Ground as well. Very underrated actress.

Agreed, she was a great actress. Lupino and Ryan also starred in another good noir, 'Beware My Lovely'.

Re: Tonight: two Nicholas Ray films

If I saw that film, I remember nothing about it. Either I didn't see it, or it didn't make any lasting impression on me.

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

Re: Tonight: two Nicholas Ray films

Fan of both these.

Re: The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

...and I'm about to start on the 1950 film The Asphalt Jungle. Great heist film in which a supposedly ideal plan goes all wrong.

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

Re: The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

As good as it gets in my book

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

It's definitely one of my favourite heist films.

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

Re: The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

Top flight noir.

female power

I think I'm going to go with two "female power" noirs tonight:

Undercurrent (1946), starring Katharine Hepburn

and

Lured (1947), starring Lucille Ball.

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

Re: female power

I wish Lucille Ball had played in more noirs, she's great in both 'Lured' and 'The Dark Corner'.

Re: female power

I tried The Dark Corner once and couldn't finish it. I think it's a film which I might enjoy more if I give it another fair chance. At least I'll enjoy Lucy's performance, if nothing else.

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

The Lost Moment (1947)

The Lost Moment (1947)


Dead among the living and living among the dead.

The Lost Moment is directed by Martin Gabel and adapted by Leonardo Bercovici from the Henry James novel, The Aspern Papers. It stars Robert Cummings, Susan Hayward, Agnes Moorehead and Eduardo Ciannelli. Music is by Daniele Amfitheatrof and cinematography by Hal Mohr.

Lewis Venable (Cummings) is a publisher who travels to Venice in search love letters written by poet Jeffrey Ashton. Insinuating himself into the home of the poets lover and recipient of the letters, Juliana Bordereau (Moorehead), Venable finds himself transfixed by the strangeness of the place and its inhabitants, one of which is Juliana's off kilter niece, Tina (Hayward).

A splendid slice of Gothicana done up in film noir fancy dress, The Lost Moment is hauntingly romantic and ethereal in its weirdness. It's very talky, so the impatient should be advised, but the visuals and the frequent influx of dreamy like sequences hold the attention right to the denouement. The narrative is devilish by intent, with shifting identities, sexual tensions, intrigue and hidden secrets the orders of the day. Cummings is a little awkward and his scenes with Hayward (very good in a tricky role) lacks an urgent spark, while old hands Moorehead (as a centenarian with an outstanding makeup job) and Ciannelli leave favourable marks in the smaller roles. Mohr's (The Phantom of the Opera) photography is gorgeous and bathes the pic in atmosphere, and Amfitheatrof's musical compositions are powerful in their subtleties. As for Gabel? With this being his only foray into directing, it stands as a shame he didn't venture further into the directing sphere. 7/10



The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Lost Moment (1947)

I've never heard of this movie, but it sounds worth seeking out! So thank you for the review.

Re: The Lost Moment (1947)

My absolute pleasure XX

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Lost Moment (1947)

I loved the tone, the oddity and the pervasive atmosphere of this film. It provides plenty of delights for the visually oriented. I thought Susan Hayward and especially Agnes Moorehead gave excellent performances. But I've always found Robert Cummings to be overly smarmy and cloying. It's not that he's bad here, but rather a personal thing where I've never been able to appreciate his talents.

As an aside, I think you would much appreciate a 1965 mystery/horror film called Dark Intruder. It's a Universal B that brims with atmosphere, shadows and creative photography. Even the opening credits were so impressive that I thought about them for days.

Re: The Lost Moment (1947)

Dark Intruder (1965)

Done a search for this and what disc availabilities that are out there are quite pricey. YouTube has a bunch of trailers for it but not the film. I have a guy in Scotland who "furnishes" me with many hard to get on disc delights so I'll add this one to the next carrier pigeon sent list.

I'll return the favour. I know you are friends with mel, so you may have come across Corridor of Mirrors (1948) before because I know he's also a fan, if not then seek it out. Also you will find rewards in The Mark of Cain (1947), both of these have the off kilter/pervasive atmosphere we both love.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Dark Intruder (1965)

I got this from Connors for $6.00. You probably already know about that source, but if not and you want specifics, PM me. And thanks for the recs, they sound right up my alley and I will track them down.

Re: The Lost Moment (1947)

I looked it up and it sounds great. Where did you find it?

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