"It's like when they slurp coffee thinking it's going to change the temperature but it doesn't."
The Tremerrion Tribulations.
The Sign of the Ram is directed by John Sturges and adapted to screenplay from Margaret Ferguson's novel. It stars Susan Peters, Alexandev Knox, Phyllis Thaxter, Peggy Ann Garner, Ron Randell, Dame May Witty and Allene Roberts. Music is by Hans J. Salter and cinematography by Burnett Guffey.
Wheelchair bound Leah St. Aubyn (Peters) manipulates everybody around her...
"It's the sign of the ram. People born under this sign are endowed with a strong will power and obstinacy of purpose"
The setting is a cliff top mansion, a lighthouse is nearby, its purpose is to steer ships out of the fog and away from harms way. This is the fictitious Cornish place known as Tremerrion, and our play unfolds in the mansion known as Bastions. It's film that has proved to be a bit illusive to pin down, for whatever reasons, and that is a shame because there are plenty things for fans of such devilish dramas to be excited about. The backstory of its leading lady is itself tragic, for Susan Peters would be paralysed from the waist down after a freak hunting accident, this would see her appear in her last film, she gave up on life, tortured by pain and the loss of her ability to walk, she would stave to death and pass away four years later. Thankfully, and it's not sympathetic praise here, she's excellent, leaving a fitting farewell to the movie world.
"Haven't you sensed it? The undertone, like a warning drumbeat"
Stripped down it's the story of a woman who manipulates everyone close to her, cunningly so, her reasons deliberately shaded in grey, and the question constantly gnaws away as to just how come her family and confidants can't see it? Sooner or later something is going to give, and it's the waiting that gives the pic an edginess that's most appealing. This woman has no shame, we are told by her loyal spouse that she's not bitter about her accident, but she so is, but wears it well. She's not only spell bindingly pretty, but she's pretty spell bindingly devious too. The fog rolls in, the waves crash against the coast to marry up with the psychological discord being set loose in Bastions. Salter's music swirls and bites, while genius cinematographer Guffey turns in some class frames (one scene involving criss cross shadows is film noir nirvana).
"They will stop at nothing to accomplice their purpose - and sometimes meet a violent death"
Pulsing with jealousies, betrayals, suspicions and a whole host of devious machinations, this be a crafty old devil, a pic deconstructing the human condition with malicious glee. 7/10
I'm right back where I started. Nowhere!!
Framed (AKA: Paula) is directed by Richard Wallace and adapted to screenplay by Ben Maddow from a story written by Jack Patrick. It stars Glenn Ford, Janis Carter, Barry Sullivan and Edgar Buchanan. Music is by Marlin Skiles and cinematography by Burnett Guffey.
Mike Lambert (Ford), down on his luck and fed up of getting nowhere in life, meets sultry waitress Paula Craig (Carter) and things will either get better or worse?
There's a road sign in this that grabs the attention, it reads DANGEROUS CURVES! Now that initially is in reference to a perilous road - with roads featuring prominently as dangerous parts of the play - but it quite easily could be, and in all probability is, a sneaky reference to Janis Carter's femme fatale. Paula Craig in Carter's hands dominates the film, not that Ford or Sullivan are pointless fodder, but it is both the actress and her character's show.
After a burst of pacey excitement opens the pic, action moves on to a cafe, from where we are introduced to Guffey's talents, from this point on almost everything is atmospherically shot. Slats and shads, lamps and cell bars, all get the Guffey lens treatment that's sitting superbly with the unfolding psychological dynamics. Very early on we are delivered two characters who basically are a cheater and a viper, while the main man of our story is a guy who's struggling with his identity in life. He also likes a drink, but with that comes memory loss, which is never a good thing when you are holed up in a noirville town.
Stripping it back for examination you find the story is very simple, which is surprising and a little disappointing given the screenplay writer also did The Asphalt Jungle. Yet the characters and the actors performances, helped by some classy tech work, more than compensates - that is until the finale, which for some (me for sure) is a bad choice for character tone. But it's not a film killer, for we get everything from orgasmic glee shown in the process of a callous crime being committed, to characters either in need of a soul or facing their days of judgement. 7/10
Farewell, My Lovely (1975) - I NEEDED A DRINK AND ALL THE BARS WERE CLOSED - Raymond Chandler
Farewell, My Lovely is a film that can be enjoyed for the visuals alone, especially the awesome set design. Dick Richards the director treats us to a pallet of neon, blue and yellow lights. even though some of the rooms and alleyways are dinghy, you wish that you lived during the time. The lush score by David Shire (who also did the score for The Conversation) evokes the smell of alcohol and cigarette smoke in a bar.
Robert Mitchum is very good as Marlowe, though maybe a bit too old. Obviously a lot of the clever dialogs were written by Chandler for his novel. The plot is preposterous but the dialogs and the visuals keep you going.
Jack O Halloran who played Moose Malloy didn't really cut it. Nobody can replace Mike Mazurki in Murder, My Sweet (1944). Sylvester Stallone makes an impression in a guest appearance as one of the heavies who kidnaps Mitchum. Charlotte Rampling was smoking hot though I'm not sure if she looked very American. I liked this film a lot.
Don't tell me your conscience is bothering you?
The locket is directed by John Brahm and based on a screenplay written by Sheridan Gibney, which in turn is adapted from the story "What Nancy Wanted" written by Norma Barzman. It stars Laraine Day, Brian Aherne, Robert Mitchum and Gene Raymond. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca.
Story tells of how a bride to be, who as a child was traumatised by a false charge of stealing, grows up to badly affect the men who wander into her life.
"You don't know the truth from lies, you are just a love sick quack"
A psychological melodrama with film noir flecks, The Locket turns out to be a most intriguing picture. Director Brahm brings into the production not only his baroque know how, where his Germanic keen eye for mood is so evident in films like The Lodger and Hangover Square, but also a dizzying array of flashbacks in a collage of psychological murkiness. Structured as it is, film can be disorientating if one isn't giving the film the undivided attention it needs. But for those all in with it, it delivers rewards a plenty, even if some daft touches stop it from being an essential picture for the genre seeker. Essentially the film is a case study of one young female mind deeply affected to the point that it has great implications on those who become involved with her.
Story raises some queries about the treatment of mental health patients, and their place in society, while some of the characterisations have good dramatic worth. Sheridan Gibney does a very good job with the screenplay, the tricky subject is given some thoughtful consideration whilst toying with the audience's loyalties about possible femme fatale, Nancy (Day), the ambivalence of which makes the ending from a writing standpoint far better than it probably has any right to be. Credit is due to Brahm, then, for bringing it home safely after employing such a tricky narrative device, it's far from being up with his best work, but it does showcase what a talent the German Ã©migrÃ© was - the visual grab of the finale a case in point.
Of the cast it's the very pretty Laraine Day (latterly of I Married a Communist) who shines in a tricky role, while there's a nice stern performance in the support slots from Katherine Emery as Mrs. Mills. Mitchum was yet to find his acting marker (which would come the following year in Out of the Past and Crossfire), and here he's a touch miscast and gets by on presence alone - with his character getting one of the films' duffer leaps in logic moments, literally! and Aherne is passable and easy to listen to, but never really convinces as a psychiatrist. Musuraca photographs in suitable black and white shadowy tones, but like Brahm and Mitchum, this is far from the upper echelons of his best work.
If you can get past some daft touches and crucially pay attention, The Locket is well worth the time spent with it. 7/10