Film Noir : Neo-Noir Quest 2

Re: Prime Cut (1972)

The film was actually shot here in Calgary, Alberta. My youngest brother is in one of the crowd shots. The big Hotel, "The Palliser", featured was one I worked at in 1978-79 as a bartender. The cattle ranch was just a few miles from my uncle's place north of Calgary. Decent film with plenty of violence.

Re: Prime Cut (1972)

The big Hotel, "The Palliser", featured was one I worked at in 1978-79 as a bartender.

thats very interesting. you should recount some of your experiences if its allright. are there really characters like the ones in the movie where you lived?

Re: Prime Cut (1972)

Just google THE PALLISER Calgary images and you can see how flipping big the place is. It was one of the top hotels in North America back in the 30's. The hotel was built in 1914.

The bars at the other end of the scale were the nasty ones. I worked 18 years in various bars and taverns here in Calgary. They are all gone except the Palliser. I hope to write a book about the lowlife dives.

Re: Prime Cut (1972)

I have heard of it, and own it, it came in a double pack with Charley Varrick. Not watched yet, but well reviewed and well sold, Pimps, looking forward to it now.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Albino Alligator (1996)

Albino Alligator (1996)

Haven't seen this one mentioned in Neo-Noir circles, but sounds promising. Even though your review, and the IMDb rating, suggests otherwise!

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

Legend mdf

You going to watch Marcella (2016)?

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

A Rage In Harlem (1991)

Director Bill Duke, stars: Forest Whitaker, Gregory Hines, Robin Givens, Danny Glover, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, a fun Crime -Comedy film, that been on some Neo Noir lists.

The director and cinematographer Toyomichi Kurita have a better handle on Noir than Devil In A Blue Dress. Nice sequences with Screamin' Jay Hawkins. The production values are top shelf, wish it would have been more humorous/picaresque than comedy, it's sort of unbalanced swinging from serious to comedy, as is still a 7/10

A Rage In Harlem (1991) Stylish Soul Noir/Black Comedy

Full review

Stylishly directed by Bill Duke, with screenplay by John Toles-Bey and Bobby Crawford based on Chester Himes novel "For the Love of Imabelle". Beautiful cinematography by Toyomichi Kurita. Music by Elmer Bernstein and Jeff Vincent. The film looks great thanks to the Production Design by Steven Legler, Art Direction by Nina Ruscio and Set Decoration by K.C. Fox.

A Rage In Harlem stars a large ensemble cast, Forest Whitaker, Gregory Hines, Robin Givens, Zakes Mokae, Danny Glover, Badja Djola, John Toles-Bey, Tyler Collins, Ron Taylor, Stack Pierce, Claude X, Reynaldo Rey, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, George Wallace and many many more.

This film is loosely based on Chester Himes first "Harlem Cycle" novel "For The Love of Imabelle". The other great black hardboiled author is Walter Mosley, though Mosley's Easy Rawlins stories are set in LA. The novel (I haven't read it yet so this is from various reviews) is basically about Jackson who works for an undertaker and his scheming girlfriend Imabelle who sets him up in a confidence scam run by Imabelle's common law husband, the gang leader Slim. Jackson gets his brother Goldie, another con artist and police stoolie to get cops Coffin Ed and Gravedigger Jones to track down his girlfriend and the money.

The film has greatly expanded the original basic plot almost to the point of ridiculousness. Imabelle (Givens), a hottie and the Femme Fatale of dubious morals, is now a member Slim's Natchez, Mississippi based gang and the main squeeze of Slim (Djola). The gang has stolen a chest of large gold nuggets and is in the process of fencing them off for cash when a shootout with the police occurs. Imabelle is able to hop in the 49 Chevy pickup and drive off with the chest while the bullets are flying. She heads to Harlem by train where she knows she can trade the gold for folding money. In Harlem she checks into a fleabag hotel and attempts to unload the nuggets to whoever in the Harlem Mob can come up with the jack. She meets numerous underworld characters, Easy Money (Glover) who fronts a ballroom dance hall, Goldy (Hines) who is a con man, Big Kathy (Mokae) who is a transvestite and runs a whorehouse.

Jackson (Whitaker) is a heavy set square John who wears glasses, religiously says his prayers every night, and works for a funeral parlor. He meets Imabelle at Easy Money's ballroom, and when Imabelle needs a safer haven than the hotel she shacks up with virgin Jackson. After Imabelle shows Jackson around the world He becomes hopelessly devoted to her.

When Slim and his Mississippi gang show up all hell breaks loose between them, the Harlem hoodies. and the two NYPD detectives Coffin Ed (Pierce) and Gravedigger Jones (Wallace).

The film's biggest flaw is the immensity of the cast, with so many characters it's hard to get them all adequately fleshed out, and they are so tantalizingly intriguing that you wish that somehow they could have been. Two additional problems is first the needless complication of the original tale, and second the sometimes heavy handed see-saw swings between comedy and seriousness. It may have worked better if the humor was handled in a more picaresque manner.

It takes it's place alongside other Noir-ish comedies, spoofs, and satires, i.e., Delicatessen (1991), The Big Lebowski (1998), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), Seven Beauties (1975), After Hours (1985), Barton Fink (1991), Pennies From Heaven (1981), Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982), Something Wild (1986), Serial Mom (1994).

On the plus side the film is very stylistic, homaging both Film Noir and The Harlem Renaissance artwork of Archibald Motley and others, it's beautiful to look at. It does NOIR better than it's companion piece Devil With A Blue Dress (1995). An extra bonus is the performance by Screamin Jay Hawkins at the Undertaker's Ball. Cincinnati Ohio's Over-The-Rhine neighborhood fills in nicely for 1950's Harlem.

It could have been even better, 7/10.

Check out the NSFW screencaps with review here:

Re: A Rage In Harlem (1991) Stylish Soul Noir/Black Comedy

Not thought of too highly on this site but it does have some strong support in neo circles, which is why I imagine you sought it out? It's really expensive over here, though the VHS option is doable.

Big cast a problem, then? A more mature director could have done better I wonder?

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: A Rage In Harlem (1991) Stylish Soul Noir/Black Comedy

The cast is too big hence the characters are pretty thin drawn, it could have been trimmed of characters and tightened up story-wise, but it looks great, better than in that visual department than Devil In A Blue Dress.

I'm sort of curious about the Chester Himes book now to see what the actual story line was supposed to be.

He's got a whole series of novels featuring the two cops Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed, it might have made a great mini-series with all the characters fleshed out.

Knock Knock (2015)

Knock Knock (2015)

Just say no!

Eli Roth directs and co-writes the screenplay with Nicolás López and Guillermo Amoedo. It stars Keanu Reeves, Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas. Music is by Manuel Riveiro and cinematography by Antonio Quercia.

Reeves plays Evan, a devoted husband and father of two, who while he is left home alone, is visited by two young women soaked and apparently lost. Letting them in to his home as an act of kindness, things quickly spiral out of control.

You do wonder if Eli Roth sits at home looking at the reaction to his movie and giggles like a schoolboy. It's invariably a distinctly average film, but it does get a reaction from the audience, something which Roth is gleefully aware of. Pic is actually a remake of Peter S. Traynor's 1977 movie, Death Game, which starred Sondra Locke and Colleeen Camp, both of whom lend their names to production for this release.

At times it feels like we are part of one of Roth's wet dreams, or conversely one of his sick jokes. Yet as the cast struggle to instill acting gravitas (the girls actually become more annoying than frightening), and Roth chooses psychological themes over blood and guts, there's a deft whiff of a moral fable hanging in the air. While also of note is the nods to film noir, both in story and visuals. It isn't enough to save the piece, but it's interesting enough as an aside to the chaos inside the house. 5/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Natural Born Killers (1994) Noir on Acid

A surreal, satirical, Neo Noir, sensory overdose. A psychedelic, acid road trip to Hell.

"It's a little ditty about Mickey and Mallory
Two American kids breaking bad in the heartland"

Directed by Oliver Stone, based on a Quentin Tarantino story, with in-you-face cinematography and videography by Robert Richardson, juiced with the labyrinthine crosscut editing of Hank Corwin and Brian Berdan. Music was by Brent Lewis with soundtracks ranging from haunting to hypnotizing by, to name a few, Leonard Cohen, Chris McGregor, Duane Eddy, The Shangri-Las, Patti Smith, Cowboy Junkies, Bob Dylan, Duane Eddy, Patsy Cline, Nine Inch Nails, Diamanda Galás, Peter Gabriel, and Marilyn Manson.

The film Stars Woody Harrelson (Mickey Knox), Juliette Lewis (Mallory Knox), Tom Sizemore (Scagnetti), Russell Means (Old Indian), Tommy Lee Jones (Warden Dwight McClusky), Rodney Dangerfield (Dad), Edie McClurg (Mom), Balthazar Getty (Gas Station Attendant), Robert Downey Jr. (Wayne Gale), O-Lan Jones (Mabel), and Everett Quinton (Deputy Warden Wurlitzer).

It's a bizarre black comedy satire of the American 24 hour news cycle celebrity/violence culture, much in the vein of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) satire of mutual assured destruction, and A Clockwork Orange (1971) satire of ultra violence.

Believe it or not I'd never seen this film until last year. I hadn't even heard of the controversy surrounding the film. I can see why though. It's because it hits too close to home, it's too real, it touches a nerve, there's an inconvenient veracity of cause and effect to it all. Is it Nature, a frightening genetic component of human beings that is in all of us. Or is it Nurture, as is illustrated through the fragments of flashbacks we get of Mickeys and Mallory's abominable family life, that causes them to go off the rails, if the wrong code buttons are pushed?

I've been going through the Neo Noir lists from various sources and either viewing or acquiring those titles that I'd either never heard of or just missed. I believe my experience of watching this was all that more enhanced since I've begun delving into Noir and Neo Noir so heavily. This personal steeping in everything Noir has given me a huge visual catalog of cinematic memory ripe for discharge. This film may not work the same going into it cold turkey.

Natural Born Killers, gets my synapses sparking. My RPMs are red lining. Like a delayed strobe the film sporadically flashes between Black & White and Color film, it has these insanely canted Dutch Angles while at other times they tilt, back and forth, teeter-totter like along with other visual Noir stylistics. It uses documentary style footage and live breaking news parodies, animation, TV sit com satire, super 8 film sequences, TV quasi News Special Bulletins, and music video style promos. It is hyper violence mixed with cultural and natural Iconography all in a assault on the senses. Every potential affront to sanity and integrity is exploited. It's an indictment of the media feeding frenzy we have with disasters, mass murder, terrorist attacks, and public executions. It's INSANITY, with a complimentary soundtrack, and it's as American as apple pie.

They got their kicks on Route 666. Our tale begins with the desert and a montage of natural born killers, a wolf, a rattler, a hawk, it then segues to the human kind.

At the 5 to 2 Cafe, we first meet Mickey and Mallory already well into their maniacal Highway 666 murder spree.

Two cowboy rednecks enter the cafe the third sees to their overheating pickup truck. Mallory is dancing to the juke box. One of the rednecks attempts to dance with her, while another says to Mickey that "that's what I call pussy" indicating Mallory. Mickey turns to him and tells him that "her name is Mallory". Mallory beats the crap out of the dancing redneck for trying to make a pass, but the massacre is triggered when the cowboy sitting by Mickey gets up to join in. By the time it's all over three rednecks are dead, the waitress and the cook. Only the pinball playing cowboy is spared so that he can tell the world that Mickey and Mallory did it.

Mickey and Mallory continue down their road to Hell with intensely paced montage sequence recalling Classic Noir or Noir locations.

Natural Born Killers is full of these little "just killing", (as Donald Trump uses the phrase) picaresque noir vignettes and others, that flesh out the characters and propel the tale forward, that stick in my mind amidst all the designed chaos. Here are just a small selection.

It has an I Love Mallory TV sitcom sendup sequence (complete with laugh track) with Rodney Dangerfield (Dad) as Mallory's incestuous father and Edie McClurg (Mom) as her battered do nothing about it, pathetic mother. Dad is leeringly squeezing Mallory's ass, "if you live in this house, your ass is my ass" and tells her to "go upstairs and take a shower and make sure it's a good shower, cause I'm going to come up and check how clean you are." Mallory leaves, and in a perverted aside to his wife and Mallory's brother says "she won't see my face for an hour."

The sequence also includes the first meeting of Mickey and Mallory. Mickey is delivering a meat order and it's love at first sight when he sees Mallory on the stairs. They take off together stealing her father's car.

Another nice sequence is the Mickey & Mallory take their marriage vows. They are standing on a high bridge over a canyon it's shot with a tongue in cheek tenderness which is temporarily shattered when a pickup full of jeering hecklers drives by. Mickey keeps it under control in truly warped solemnity saying "I will not murder anybody on my wedding day".

Another sequence you can call Mallory The 1990s Femme Fatale, where a jealous Blondie-Mallory goes off half cocked away from Mickey. During a love making session Mickey is paying more attention to the pretty hostage they have tied up in their motel room that to her.

Mallory ends up seducing a town pump gas jockey on the hood of a Corvette in the garage bay. She hops up on the hood of a Corvette Stingray and wants him to "go down". He starts to do so but loses control jumping up on her. Mallory frustrate-edly pushes him off pulls a revolver out of her bag and blows him away. She then grabs her shed panties and flings them at the corpse exclaiming "that was the worst head I ever got"! and stomps off.

A following related vignette has Jack Scagnetti the sadistic detective on their trail recreating the crime scene at the town pump. He picks up the panties and smells them then tosses them to a deputy.

Seeing the imprint of Mallory's ass on the hood he remarks that it's a "fine ass", then makes note of the saliva drops in an obviously related location. He then leans over the corpse and extracts a pubic hair from the dead man's teeth and exclaims "Mallory meet Jack Scagnetti".

Welcome to the 90s. We are post code but the film is still using dialog and suggestive images to jumpstart your imagination, but it actually has very little overt nudity in the whole film, your imagination fills in the rest just like it did during Classic Noir.

Other times these vignettes are just brief homages to the past cinema. When Mickey and Mallory are dancing at the diner the sequence changes from full traditional lit color to a silhouette reminiscent of Astaire & Rogers Musicals shot in low key chiaroscuro. We also see Horror and Monster movie clips.

The vast pans of the Southwest deserts, and a prison farm escape during a Wizard of Oz tornado, recall countless Westerns.

Again, over all, Natural Born Killers is not about Mickey and Mallory but about the infamy of their killing spree and the nutjobs they attract. A Geraldo Rivera inspired TV expose program American Mainiacs, is hosted by a shock journalist Wayne Gale who affects a Robin Leach accent and provides a live Lifestyles of the Depraved commentary on the hunt for Mickey and Mallory, their capture, trial and a year later on a prison riot. The program as Wayne Gale puts it is " for all the morons watching out there in zombieland."

Tom Sizemore is Jack Scagnetti a high profile celebrity cop, author of "Scagnetti on Scagnetti" who is seriously warped. Tommy Lee Jones is redneck Prison Warden Dwight McClusky and Everett Quinton is Deputy Warden Wurlitzer who does a pretty good impression of Hugh Cronyn in Brute Force.

You'll find yahoo's on either end of the spectrum will superficially either embrace this film for all the wrong reasons or condemn it, rather than see it for the statement it makes about the sick state of the media news cycle trap that feeds current society where even the really wicked sometimes, get off scot- free.

Caution this film will not be for everyone. Artistically intellectualized chaos, everything is over the top in this film, what a trip 9/10

Review with screencaps here:

Re: Natural Born Killers (1994) Noir on Acid

It's the only film I have ever walked out on, left the cinema at the 45 minute mark.

And believe it or not, I'm a Stone fan

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Natural Born Killers (1994) Noir on Acid

Like I mentioned it's not for everyone, I'd never seen it until last year, but by then I have all this cinematic noir memory stored up that I could get a lot of visual references.

If you weren't into noir back when you first viewed it you may see it differently now. You know I think gordon156 told me he had the same reaction.

Re: Natural Born Killers (1994) Noir on Acid

You know I just remembered that people said the same thing about A Clockwork Orange.

Re: Natural Born Killers and walking out on films.

I hate to comment on a film I haven't seen but it didn't sound appealing at the time and I have no plans on seeing it. It was panned at the time by the critics - all of them not just Stone hater and well known righty, Michael Medved. Sounds dreadful and mg's "it's not for everyone" will have to include me.

The only film I ever walked out on was David Cronenberg's Crash (1996). I think I made it all the way to the recreation of the Jayne Mansfield crash. Did Jayne make any movies worth watching? She photographed beautifully:

Re: Natural Born Killers and walking out on films.

I wouldn't say all the critics Roger Ebert gave it four stars here is his take:

As far as Jayne Mansfield I like The Girl Can't Help It (1959) is decent also has Julie London, and a lot of great music. Promises Promises (1963) is supposed to be good but I've never seen it.

Re: Natural Born Killers and walking out on films.

Jayne Mansfield made a couple of good noirs, Female Jungle (1956) and The Burglar (1957). She was also in the trashy, has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed Italian crime caper film called Dog eat dog! aka When Strangers Meet (1964). The opening scene shows her writhing in ecstasy on a bed covered with stolen $100 bills, and proceeds to get even weirder as the story unfolds.

Re: Natural Born Killers and walking out on films.

I forgot about her noirs, I like The Burglar a lot and saw The Female Jungle just in September, though don't remember that much about it.

Dog eat dog! sounds pretty wild.

Re: Natural Born Killers and walking out on films.

She was also in the trashy, has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed Italian crime caper film called Dog eat dog! aka When Strangers Meet (1964). The opening scene shows her writhing in ecstasy on a bed covered with stolen $100 bills, and proceeds to get even weirder as the story unfolds.

That sounds like a melvelvit film to me!

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Natural Born Killers and walking out on films.

Actually, I think I first heard about the film from reading one of Mel's posts.

Seven Beauties (1975) Noir Italian Style

Original title Pasqualino Settebellezze, director, Lina Wertmüller, screenplay by Lina Wertmüller, cinematography by Tonino Delli Colli, jazzy music by Enzo Jannacci. The film stars Giancarlo Giannini as Pasqualino Frafuso, Shirley Stoler as The Prison Camp Commandant, Piero Di Iorio as Francesco, Elena Fiore as Concettina, Ermelinda De Felice as Pasqualino's Mother, Enzo Vitale as Don Raffaele, Mario Conti as 18 Carat Potono, Fernando Rey as Pedro the Anarchist, and Francesca Marciano as Carolina.

Seven Beauties unforgettable credit sequence with historic WWII footage and jazz track by Enzo Jannacci

The film's non linear story structure begins during World War II. Pasqualino and fellow Italian soldier Francesco are on a troop train. The train is fire bombed by the Allies while on it's way to the Russian Front. During the ensuing chaos they run off through the explosions into a forest. Pasqualino is disgusted with the war, he fakes being wounded, resenting the fact that he is ill equipped, and being sent off to fight with cardboard shoes. Francesco was going to be shot for commandeering two trucks and sending his men back to Italy.

On the loose and running for their lives they stumble upon an SS mass execution. Men women and childern are striped of their clothes, lined up and machine gunned into a mass grave. Pasqualino and Francesco look at each other, "we are as guilty as they are".

While heading South back towards Italy, Pasqualino relates to Francesco that all his problems started with a woman. and the story flashes back to the 1930s.

Pasqualino Frafuso is a small time, wanna be macho big shot. He packs a revolver under his belt to "command respect." To Pasqualino appearances are everything. He's slick, suave, excessively debonair. He is a charmer. He dresses sharply, strutting his stuff around Naples, with a cigarette holder jutting rakishly out of his jaw. He has a reputation for being irresistible to women, a playboy, and has acquired the dubious nickname Settebellezze (Seven Beauties).

While on a stroll through Naples he meets an organ-grinder, Carolina a young girl who sings along with the music and has a fortune telling parrot con. She and her brother are getting scolded by their mother who tells her "What's the matter with you? What the hell do you think you're doing? Don't stop singing we need the money!" Pasqualino asks her why she's crying, she says she can't sing on key and all the men bother her make fun and tease. He tells her to tell them that you're engaged to Pasqualino Seven Beauties. She replies that it's not true, but Pasqualino say it could be true never try to predict the future.

But Pasqualino is a poor man who has a mother and seven sisters to protect. They all share a crowded work loft with another large family and they make a living by stuffing mattresses. Pasqualino's problems start when he's forced to defend, as a "man of honor", the family name when his oldest sister Concettina falls into the clutches of a notorious Neapolitan pimp "18 carat Potono". His solution to this problem, and all the resulting domino effects combined with WWII, send Pasqualino spiraling down into an unforgettable hell.

Pasqualino's oldest sister Concettina is more than ugly, she's fugly. Potono her "boyfriend" has sweet talked her into performing in a girly show. Pasqualino finds out and the sequence is grotesquely humorous.

Pasqualino confronts his sister backstage. Concettina tells him that Potono has agreed to marry her. Pasqualino says that he'll give him one month to do so, or he will kill him. A few weeks later Pasqualino is summoned to the galleria to talk to the local mafioso Don Raffaele. The Don tells him that his family honor is in the toilet, "18 Carat" Potono, has bought Concettina a pair of shoes with "red bows" on them and put her in The Polonetto Whorehouse for life.

What follows is one of the early picaresque highlights of the film. Pasqualino enters the Polonetto, smacks Concettina around while fighting off the other whores. "Stupid bitch, what a disgrace , you brought dishonor on us" he screams that if she becomes a whore what do you think is going to happen to your sisters? As he's kicking Concettina's ass out the door, she turns to Pasqualino and states "But I looooooove him", exasperated Pasquale shouts "va fa in culo!"

When Pasqualino turns around he see's that "18 Carat" Potono has arrived. What follows is a classic sequence, a "Neapolitan" Standoff accompanied by a frantic Spanish guitar fandango and absurd machismo yodelling.

"18 Carat" sucker punches Pasqualino, with a chain wrapped around his fist, knocking him out. He dumps a dustpan of cigarette butts on him, an symbolically sweeps a broom at him, like he's a piece of garbage. Then he steps over Pasqualino's prone body on his way out. When Pasqualino comes to, he swears he's going to kill him.

Later that night Pasqualino slips through a window into 18 Carat's room while he's sleeping. He wakes him up, and while waving his automatic nervously, tells him to get a gun. While 18 Carat is fumbling in his jacket the gun goes off killing him.

Not finding Potono's gun, Pasqualino cannot claim self defense, he goes back to Don Raffaele to ask what to do. The Don says he made a mistake, he should have brought an extra gun. The Don goes through various options of disposal for a body, the cement overshoes, the king-size coffin, and the adding of the cleaned bones to a local catacomb ploy. He tells Pasqualino to be creative and he'll make a name for himself.

Pasqualino's solution is to cut Potono's body up into pieces put it in three suitcases and ship them to three different cities. The sequence is both grotesque and picaresque and, effectively left, like in Classic Noir's, mostly to the imagination.

He calls the Don and tells him "You know that shipment of provolone, it's been sent off Palermo, Milano, and Genoa, and goodnight. I don't think we'll hear about it anymore."

Of course Pasqualino gets caught by the carabinieri and everything goes Noirsville. He is brought before a judge for a hearing. He confesses to the crime. His lawyer tells him that nobody confesses to this, you get the death sentence for sure and face the firing squad, so make a choice your stupid honor or your life.

So he fakes insanity while awaiting his court date by pretending he is Mussolini. He goes to trial and is found insane and sent to an asylum. Pasqualino has retained a bit of his precious honor, he boats to a fellow prisoner that he is an "ax-murderer. The Monster of Naples."

During both the hearing and the trial whenever we see shots of Pasqualino's family, we see that more and more of his sisters have dyed their hair blond and have become whores.

At the asylum he's gets under the good graces of his female head doctor, and is assigned a job as an orderly. He loses his privileges when he gets caught in bed with a nymphomaniac. He's then subjected to shock treatment, hydrotherapy, straitjacketed and housed with the general population. He get's a reprieve when Italy needs soldiers for WWII.

Back in the present Pasqualino and Francesco are caught after the looting the well stocked kitchen of the country house of a German Frauline. They are sent with fellow Italian deserters to a concentration camp run by a very large, brutish, totally unattractive woman who is all too aware that her master race is on the losing side of the war. She has no hesitation in killing Italians.

At the height of despair Pasqualino vows that he'll find a way to get out. He gets a "vision" remembering a truth his mother once told him "A woman is a woman, and a woman even one who is an evil person, has a little good for someone who can reach her heart. There's a bit of sugar always there." all you have to do is stir it up like sugar in a cup of coffee to bring to your lips what's sweet and fine.

And so Pasqualino to the abject horror of his fellow inmates begins to try to seduce the camp commandant, with sidelong glances, stares, humming songs, etc., etc. He tells them that he knows women, womanizing was what he was good at. The commandant isn't fooled, but she is starved for affection and pasqualino tries his best but when Pasqualino can't get it up because he has "no energy for an erection," she gets him a bowl of food. "After you eat we screw, if you can't you're finished". Their love making has to be one of the most ridiculously disturbing sequences ever filmed.

After Pasqualino performs, she calls him "Garbage, you disgust me. Your thirst for life disgusts me. Your love disgusts me. You, you sub-human Italian, you found the strength for an erection. And because you were strong you'll manage to live on and eventually you'll win. Miserable creature, lacking in ideals and ideas. And we-We who thought to create a master race.are doomed to failure."

The commandant makes him the barrack capo but he must choose six men to execute. He tells her that he can't do that, and she counters that if he doesn't the whole barrack will be executed.

So Pasqualino survives but at a horrible price. Life is not black and white, there are lots of grey areas, lots of the lesser of two evil choices. There are no clear answers when choices are made under extreme stress. What would you do to survive hell? Wertmuller leaves it unresolved. Maybe the answer is that we are all whores if the price is great enough.

Nominated for 4 Oscars in 1977, 10/10 Review with screencaps here:

Re: Seven Beauties (1975) Noir Italian Style

Pasqualino Settebellezze (1975)

I had never heard of it and it's very popular and well thought of. Seems very much a genre blender. A most interesting looking film, thanks for the read C J.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Seven Beauties (1975) Noir Italian Style

It's a great film.

The Hot Spot (1990)

The Hot Spot (1990)

If you fall out of bed again the cockroaches are gonna start talking.

The Hot Spot is directed by Dennis Hopper and adapted to screenplay from the Charles Williams novel, "Hell Hath No Fury", by Nona Tyson and Charles Williams. It stars Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, Jennifer Connelly, Charles Martin Smith and William Sadler. Music is by Jack Nitzsche and cinematography by Ueli Steiger.

Dennis Hopper loves film noir, he has been in some bona fide classic neo-noirs, whilst also turning his hand to directing that style of film making. The Hot Spot may not be a total success as such, but it is a superb effort that lovers of all things noir can feast upon. Story pitches Johnson as drifter Harry Madox, who lands in a Southern state town, bluffs his way into a car salesman job, plots a robbery, and then finds that two local ladies - of very different qualities - are about to change his life forever

I found my level and I'm living it.

Hopper turns in a honest and faithful tribute to the first wave of film noir, but armed with the fact this was his era of film making relaxations, he gets to sex things up. Blending noir with erotic thriller conventions allows Hopper to pile on plenty of sizzle, which comes in the form of Madsen, who as Dolly Harshaw gives neo-noir one of its finest femme fatales. Overtly sexual and on the surface a ditz, an easy lay, it's only when this part of noirville shows its hand - in true old school fashion - does the character become memorable still further.

On the flip side is Connelly's more straight laced Gloria Harper, who Madox coverts, yet there's baggage there as well (is she virginal?), baggage which adds more potency and trickery to this smouldering hot spot hot-pot. The girls are great, but so is Johnson, he broods and has a raw masculinity most fitting for this type of role. It's a shame he didn't do more neo-noir because he has the tools for the trade. Hopper brings sweat, sweaty close ups and noirville fans, while the photography and musical accompaniments are superbly compliant to the required atmosphere.

The editing is a let down, so many scenes needed to have the linger factor, but it's not enough to kill this fine slice of noir pie. A sexy guy in over his head, devious machinations from both sexes, robbery, arson, deaths, ignorance and stupidity, The Hot Spot is far from being boring! The deliberate slow burn pacing has alienated the casual "crime/erotic thriller" film fan, but for those who love and know their noir, the fireplace cinders approach is a joy because the pay off delivers all that we hoped. 8/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Hot Spot (1990)

Nice write up Spike.

Re: The Hot Spot (1990)

I was stunned to see some of the reviews here on site claim it's too slow and boring! I don't think I'm a film noir snob, but some people simply do not get what a film noir structure is about.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: The Hot Spot (1990)

The pace is just fine, it just could be a generational thing, you'll notice that some new reviewers will claim they don't like Westerns because they are slow paced. Sometimes it just nice to drink in landscapes or locations long enough to absorb them get filled with the atmospherics of the shots. People even complain about the grainy-ness of film as opposed to video, we are raising a generation of imbeciles, lol.

I've read that with a lot of the CGI stuff they can't hold a shot to long or you can see its fake, hence the quick cuts, shaky cam, etc.

Tightrope (1984) Neo Orleans Noir

"There's a darkness inside all of us, you, me, and the man down the street, some have it under control, others act it out, the rest of us try and walk a tightrope between the two."

I really love when this happens. As a serious Noir Aficionado when I get interested in a subject, i.e., Noir, I investigate all aspects of it, its sources and influences, hard-boiled detective and crime novels, pulp paperbacks, Black Mask and True Crime/Detective Mags, the Jazz age, the culture at the end of prohibition and WWII, the Blacklist and the transition to the Cold War, etc, etc,.

And, like me, I'm sure you all also check out or buy every book you can get your hands on about Noir to acquire more insight, more background, more films to pursue to fill your appetite. I enjoyed TCM's Summer of Darkness, also, participating in the class, the discussions and getting to re-watch some of the great, and see for the first time some of the forgotten Noirs.

I happy to say I've seen a lot of Noirs over the last five years easily over 300, and the new ones I find now, are either marginally noir or very low budget. For instance The Female Jungle, it's not listed in Selby's Dark City The Film Noir, it's not in the first edition of Film Noir An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style it did make the 2010 edition. So, there are still films out there waiting to be seen and re-discovered and added to the canon.

The same goes for Neo Noirs, but with Neo's it's even worse, Noir is a new craze, a fad, the in-thing, Noir has a certain cachet that can add to sales for a particular film, and you'll find that there are films that are "no-brainers" as their being no question "mainline" Noirs that aren't even mentioned by the list makers, while others, that are a real stretch at being classified as so, are included. It makes you wary, it makes you question the author's knowledge, the extent of their research, or if there is a hidden agenda. There are quite a few that make lists are NIPOs, Noir In Plot Only devoid of any Noir Stylistics or may have a token Noir sequence, which, in my book makes them just CRIME genre films. All this makes you curious to explore on your own.

Recently I re-watched a Don Siegel/Clint Eastwood collaboration Dirty Harry (1971), Siegel was one of the last of the Classic Noir directors, and the film did have some noir-ish sequences it's a good film but for my tastes, Noir lite. One thing it did was that it got me thinking and I remembered a much better Eastwood Neo Noir candidate. It's not usually thought of because it wasn't your typical Eastwood vehicle, he played against type, he doesn't even shoot a gun on screen.

Tightrope was written and directed by Richard Tuggle, though there are rumors that Eastwood either helped out or took over at some point. But judging from the comparison of style between this and other Eastwood directed films something doesn't quite wash. This film is very dark in subject matter and stylistically extremely Noir, more so than anything else ever directed by Eastwood so something must be attributed to Tuggle and a definite shout out to cinematographer Bruce Surtees. Right now, I'd say it's one of the best Neo Noirs set in New Orleans, others, that come to mind are The Big Easy, Angel Heart, and The Drowning Pool.

The film stars Clint Eastwood as Wes Block, Geneviève Bujold as Beryl Thibodeaux, Dan Hedaya as Det. Molinari, Alison Eastwood as Amanda Block, Jenny Beck as Penny Block, Marco St. John as Leander Rolfe, Rebecca Perle as Becky Jacklin, Regina Richardson as Sarita, Randi Brooks as Jamie Cory, Jamie Rose as Melanie Silber, Margaret Howell as Judy Harper and Graham Paul as Luther.

The Block's, Wes (Clint Eastwood), Amanda (Alison Eastwood), Penny (Jenny Beck)
The story, a recently divorced and somewhat alienated (from average women) homicide Detective Wes Block is raising two daughters on his own. He enables his inner "demons" and gets his various sexual outlets/kicks with prostitutes in the Latin Quarter/Bourbon Street red light district of New Orleans.

A lot of us compartmentalize our lives, we show one face at work, another with our friends. We may look like square johns on the outside but have our kinks on the inside. Your wife may be a saint in the streets and a whore in the sheets. It how we get along it's how we let off steam.

As lead detective Wes and his partner Molinari investigate the murders the serial killer beings to focus on his pursuer Wes. Soon the regular hookers Wes frequents in his district start showing up dead, sexually violated and strangled.

The serial murders has the Press, the Mayor, and the police brass, demanding quick results. Another complication for Wes is Beryl Thibodeaux, who is head of a Rape Crisis Center and also friends with the mayor. Beryl is interested in protecting women and she tries to get Wes to acknowledge that she can help alert women about the maniac. At first Wes macho puts her off, and the two are quite opposites in personalities, but as often is the case, opposites attract, and soon the two are spending time together. Their initial sharp exchanges are excellent and their segue into mutual attraction believable.

Another excellent aspect of this film is the relationships depicted between Block and his daughters. The chemistry is real. Alison Eastwood as Amanda is Eastwood's daughter and it shows, and Jenny Beck as Penny is equally very believable.

Wes at first suppresses his connection to the victims, possibly questioning his own sanity, but as the serial killer gets closer to hearth and home, clues and detective work ultimately close the case in a denouement that you could say homages the ends of classic Noirs, Act Of Violence, The City That Never Sleeps, and Highway 301.

This film just WALLOWS in Noir. It's got a great jazzy/bluesy score by Lennie Niehaus too boot. It's easily a 10/10 for me. Screencaps are from the Warners DVD.

Full review with screencaps here:

Re: Tightrope (1984) Neo Orleans Noir

I totally agree. It's a great neo in so many ways, not the least of which is the way it just oozed atmosphere.

Re: Tightrope (1984) Neo Orleans Noir

I think it's a cracker as well, definitely one of Eastwood's most under valued films.

The Doppleganger Disease.

Tightrope is directed by Richard Tuggle and Clint Eastwood, Tuggle writes the screenplay. It stars Eastwood, Genevieve Bujold, Dan Hedaya, Alison Eastwood and Rod Masterson. Music is by Lennie Niehaus and cinematography by Bruce Surtees.

New Orleans and Detective Wes Block is plunged into a hunt for a rapist serial killer that brings out his own deviant peccadilloes.

One of Eastwood's best movies also happens to be one of his most under appreciated, the actor challenging himself to explore a darker characterisation than the iconographic ones he was most famed for. Wes Block is a damaged man, a divorced father of two girls, who he adores but they are uncomfortably at arms length due to his work. He's afraid of affection, to be touched in a gentle manner by a member of the opposite sex, preferring to indulge in seamy sex by way of prostitutes who frequent the dark abodes of Orleans' French Quarter.

If you knew what's ahead

Enter the doppelganger effect, as a mysterious serial killer is at large murdering the ladies of the night that Wes takes his pleasure with, the guilt factor hanging heavy on his haunted shoulders. As Wes tries to bring down the killer, he is battling to realign his mindset about the female sex, his daughters and also Beryl Thibodeaux (Bujold), the latter the rape counsellor who was once his sparring adversary, but is now a potential lover if Wes can put everything back on an even keel.

Tuggle, Eastwood and Surtees bring plenty of film noir touches to their picture. Surtees' photography is strong in colour but dark in shading, perfectly embodying the seamy side of The Big Easy. Between them, actor and director fill out this fascinating tale with classic noirish scenes. A Mardi Gras warehouse is eerie, as is a chase through a cemetery, then there's clowns and balloons, things that are associated with childish fun but so often in noirville carry a sinister edge. The sleazy dives that Wes frequents are foreboding places of sin, more so when the killer is stalking his prey. While a railroad location is used to great effect as well.

It has some problems, Hedaya is wasted and the Wes and Beryl relationship is telegraphed a mile away. While the formula of such movies inevitably means the culmination of tale is no surprise, but the journey is a dark and interesting one and Tightrope is a damn fine movie. 8/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Minority Report (2002)

Minority Report (2002)

Spielberg does Tech-Noir!

The year is 2054 and the murder rate in Washington is zero, the reason? Three Pre-Cognitives whose combined abilities witness murders before they actually occur. Apparently faultless, it's then something of a surprise to Pre-Crime chief John Anderton (Tom Cruise) when the Pre-Cogs predict he is to murder a man named Leo Crow. Forced to go on the run, and haunted by a family tragedy, Anderton must evade the system he so perfectly executed himself. Can he find a flaw? Or is he actually about to commit a murder?

Everybody Runs! That was the tag line that accompanied the explosive trailer for Steven Spielberg's, Tom Cruise starer, Minority Report. This marketing tool indicated that the great bearded one had adapted from the Phillip K Dick short story and created an action monster? He hadn't, he had in fact created something far far better than popcorn fodder.

Minority Report was the next project for Spielberg following the equally dark and intriguing AI: Artificial Intelligence, both films serving to note that Spielberg was capable of thought provoking science fiction outside of the crowd pleasers that many critics love to decry. In fact, it's arguable that Spielberg may have hit his creative peak with Minority Report, for the messages and crawling dystopian bleakness on show paint a picture not so much as a future far away in our lives, but of one we live in now. Big thematic points of reference dot themselves throughout the piece. Such as the changing of eye balls, or that in these post 9/11 years we yearn, and always will, to be safer.

Here in this bleached shadowy world, a world of metallic tones and visual stings (ace cinematographer Janusz Kaminski on duty), we are safe under Pre-Crime, yet still it's a world without soul, it has no heart, it's almost as if inhuman in itself, suggesting that the World's problems are not easily vanquished by technology - a total sacrifice of the World's inhabitant's souls. Spielberg of course is well served by the supreme professionals he has at his disposal, he has also managed to garner a great performance from Tom Cruise, something that critic and fan favourite directors have not managed to do previously. Believable grief, action work as strong as ever, it is however with his ability to imbue a tortured film noir protagonist where Cruise excels the most.

Alongside Cruise and operating with great impact, are Samantha Morton as Pre-Cog Agatha, and Max Von Sydow, who adds that touch of experienced know how needed for his particularly important character. the odd casting choice appeared to be Colin Farrell as the meddling, almost vindictive Danny Witwer, but he plays well off of Cruise, this even if he veers dangerously close to comic book villainy at times (check out a holy smoke Batman scene). What action there is is first rate, from a jet back pack pursuit, to car jumping heroics, the sequences are crafted with Spielberg's deft eye for an action sequence. While the sick sticks (yes you read right) metal spiders and a brilliant Peter Stormare cameo should hopefully have you squirming and grinning in equal measure.

Which brings us to the finale, an ending that may not be a complete surprise (yet it still doesn't cop-out in context to Anderton's tragedy), but things are rounded off in true classic noir tradition, closing down a thinking man's tech-noir. Superb. 9/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Something Wild (1961) New York Kitchen Sink Noir

A psychological noir directed by Jack Garfein, written by Jack Garfein and Alex Karmel, stars Carroll Baker (Baby Doll (1956), Ralph Meeker (Kiss Me Deadly (1955)), Mildred Dunnock (Kiss of Death (1947), Baby Doll (1956)), Jean Stapleton, Martin Kosleck (The Spider (1945)), Clifton James, Doris Roberts, and New York City in all it's 1960-61 glory. Cinematography was by Eugen Schüfftan (Port of Shadows (1938)) and music by Aaron Copland.

The tale is about a young woman Mary Ann (Baker). She still lives at home with her mother (Dunnock) and step father. She is attending college in New York City. One night after riding the Jerome Avenue line subway back to Kingsbridge Road Station, she takes a shortcut home through St. James Park.

Near the Southeast corner she is grabbed from behind. Dragged into the bushes she is brutally raped up against a retaining wall by a grunting panting slob. Bruised, sore, and traumatized, she gathers up her books and belongings and runs home.

She quietly enters her house and tells no one. In her bathroom, frightened and shivering, she strips her clothes off, gets into a tub, and washes away all the evidence. She takes scissors and cuts the soiled clothes and undergarments into small pieces and flushes them down the toilet.

She hides the rape from her parents and tries to carry on with her life. She now recoils from physical contact with all people. While riding the subway to school, the crush of people in the morning rush hour is too much for her to bear. Felling sick she rushes from the train and faints on the platform of the 103rd St. Station. The NYPD brings her back home and her uptight, whining, insensitive mother who is always concerned about "what the neighbors think", is mortified that she has been brought home in a police car.

Continuing in the following days to wallow in a morass of self deprecation and despair Mary Ann snaps. She just takes off from her Morningside Heights school, leaves her books on a sidewalk bench and walks downtown through Harlem, The Upper West Side, Times Square, Greenwich Village to the Lower East Side.

In the Lower East Side she rents, from sleazy slumlord (Kosleck), a five dollar a week flop in his rundown tenement, and finds a twenty-five dollar a week job at a five-and-dime. She has a loud, obnoxious, two bagger prostitute, Shirley (Stapleton) as a next door neighbor, who offers to fix her up with some "gentlemen friends."

Continuing her downward spiral she becomes increasingly alienated from the world and decides to end it all. To Mary Ann the conveniently nearby Manhattan Bridge has a big imaginary sign that says "JUMP ME." As she climbs up on the rail about to go over she is stopped by by Mike, an alkie, sad sack, slightly whacked in the head auto mechanic. Her knight in rusty armor has a few screws loose himself. He walks her back to the Manhattan side and talks her into resting at his place while he goes to work. He doesn't trust her in the condition that she's in, thinking that she try something again, so he locks her in his basement apartment. Mike, slow on the uptake, never quite understands why Mary Ann doesn't want to be held there against her wishes.

When Mike comes home late that night sloppy drunk he tries to get a little "friendly" with Mary Ann but with what she just went through and in the condition she's in she naturally totally freaks and kicks him in the eye. When Mike comes too the next morning he has no recollection of the night before thinking he got into a fight at a bar. He's a blackout boozer. He loses the eye as a result of her kick and has to wear an eye patch.

When Mary Ann tells Mike that she has to go back to work, he offers to match what her boss pays her at the store. So we ask ourselves why does Mike behave this way? Did he also contemplate doing a brodie into the East River that day? Is he aware, on some gut level, of the certainty that letting her go now in this condition would be fatal, but just mentally disabled enough not to realize the "benies" of getting her professional medical attention. He "knows" in some weird way that fate has bound them together. He actually NEEDS her in his own twisted way.

So Mike continues to hold Mary Ann prisoner, telling her that he likes "the way you look here." She is held there in Mike's apartment for months having, at times, surreal nightmares. One night Mike does it up big, he cooks steaks, buys wine sets the table with flowers, and fixes a nice dinner for the both of them. He proposes to Mary Ann and she rejects him. She tells him that it was she who kicked him in the eye. Mike says that he didn't know, but insists the she is "his last chance." Mike is a damaged person also. He gets up heartbroken and goes out the door leaving it ajar.

Mary Ann grabs her coat and is out the door. Free at last she wanders the city eventually sleeping in Central Park. Her destructive funk is cured and she returns to the apartment to be back with Mike. These two damaged souls manage to find each other and bring into the equation what the other needed.

They get married and as our story ends Mary Ann has a bun in the oven. Life is strange indeed, there are a million stories in the Naked City..

The cast is excellent, the first half of the film is pretty much all Baker, and besides the obvious iconic Classic Noir creds that Ralph Meeker brings to the table, watch for a bit of cinematic memory, Mildred Dunnock played Rossi's mom, the one that Tommy Udo sent down the staircase in the wheelchair in an iconic Noir sequence from Kiss Of Death.

Aaron Copland's score is adequate, but I would have preferred something more jazzy/bluesy that would have fit NYC better, hell I would have loved say a variation of the NYC classic Street Scene, another bit of cinematic memory.

Depending on my mood a 7-8/10.

Review with an abundance of screencaps here:

Re: Something Wild (1961) New York Kitchen Sink Noir

Something Wild (1961)

Not come across this one before in neo circles. Looks interesting and daring. Cheers C J

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Passion (2013) Brian De Palma

After his latest, De Palma fans are still wondering if he's ever going to equal some of his early stuff or at least put out something close in the 21st Century. This one is a remake of Alain Corneaus 2010 French-language thriller Love Crime starring Kristin Scott Thomas. Ad exec Christine (Rachel McAdams) is manipulative, cunning, totally incapable of sincerity and loves playing games. Shes in the middle of a bizarre love triangle that she creates herself as part of a plan to destroy the other woman, her protégé at the agency, Isabelle, played by Noomi Rapace. Its totally unclear what Christines game is (other than shes crazy) and the seemingly fragile Isabelle melts down under the pressure. Workplace noir of the strangest kind.

While the script wastes too much time getting us to the point where the whole thing enters the bizarro world, the last act goes well: there is a twist, De Palma uses his tried and proven It's-a-dream-it's-not-a-dream scenario and the knife scene does not disappoint. He gets terrific work out of McAdams, but Rapace on the other hand just didnt get it and gives an uninspired performance. The movie is a complete mess, but like Femme Fatale and The Black Dahlia, it's a completely entertaining mess.

I like De Palma and other directors who make up their own film language. I dont care about unexplained plot points, lack of continuity, holes in the story, bizarre ellipses and other devices that drive The Plausibles crazy. As Hitchcock famously said to his bewildered Vertigo star Kim Novak after she asked in exasperation, Why would she do that? Why would she go up the stairs?: Kim, its only a moovie.

Entertaining messes!

Well I'm a De Palma fan, I think any lover of noir and the off shoots of such can at the very least appreciate his obviously love of the form. I have still not seen this one, so it's prolly time to put that right.

Thoroughly enjoyed your post, you say things I have often found myself saying about movies. Plus you have managed to sell Passion (2012) to me!

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

Hi Spike,I've just caught a superb 2006 Neo-Noir on iPlayer just before it went.

Although it is not out in UK,it is on R1 DVD.

My summing up would becheck out that cast!:

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

It's out in other parts of Europe if you need/want a R2 DVD (I have a Dutch DVD, from the stock of an old video rental store). I wasn't too impressed with the movie tbh, it's nicely made, but I couldn't really get into it. It's been years tho since I've seen it, so maybe it's time for a revisit. :)

First Snow

First Snow (2006)

Looks great, sounds right up our street As you know I'm not averse to various Region code purchases so I'll defo put this on my list. Can't say I'm at all a fan of Perabo but Pearce is almost always good value, especially in anything noirish.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Blast Of Silence (1961) New York Tail Fin Noir

Director was Allen Baron, the film was written by Allen Baron (screenplay), Waldo Salt (narration). Starring Molly McCarthy (Lori), Allen Baron (Frankie Bono), Larry Tucker (Big Ralphie) (Shock Corridor 1963)), Peter Clune (Troiano) Danny Meehan (Petey), Charles Creasap (Contact Man) Dean Sheldon (nightclub bogo singer), Bill DePrato (Joe Boniface), New York City in all its gritty glory, and a Voice Over, second person narration by Lionel Stander (uncredited). Cinematography was by Merrill S. Brody and cool jazzy score by Meyer Kupferman.

Blast Of Silence didn't quite come out of nowhere. Allen Baron was an artist who attended the School of Visual Arts and was an illustrator, he got the bug to make a movie after visiting a soundstage in Hollywood. He learned rudimentary camera work while working on a film down in Havana in 1959.

Blast of Silence was mostly shot "guerrilla style" without permits on the streets of New York City for roughly 20,000 dollars. This de facto neorealism imbues the film with an aura of believability that bigger Hollywood productions often did not acquire.

On a side note, I've written countless times that most of the films depicting New York's quintessential Film Noir hardboiled detective Mike Hammer, are less "New Yorkie" than eight films that are not Hammer films, but films that captured both a Film Noir Style and wallow in the true gritty NYC ambiance that every Hammer film demanded. These eight are The Naked City (1948), Killer's Kiss (1955), Two Men in Manhattan (1959), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)* only partially set in NYC, Blast of Silence (1961), Something Wild (1961), Aroused (1966) and The Incident (1967). Watch these and see what could have been.

When bar room buddie of Allen Baron, actor Peter Falk who had agreed to play the lead for a deferred salary, actually got a paying gig for Murder Inc (1960) Baron was left without a star. Mel Brody, a school chum of Baron's, who was converting an old firehouse into a sound studio (which the production utilized), suggested that Allen himself act the part of Frankie Bono in the film. As Allen put it, I was the best actor available to me at the time, and I was the only one I could afford. So I wrote it, directed it, and was forced to act in it. The truth is I didn't want to play the role.

Lionel Stander the only bona fide Hollywood star connected with the film, though uncredited, was trying to get his career back on track in 1960 after being Blacklisted by HUAC. Again quoting Baron, Lionel Stander was a blacklisted actor. He did the narration, and he wanted $1000 if we used his name. Or, $500 if we didn't use his name. Well, naturally, with the amount of money we had we took the $500 deal. So thats why he doesn't receive a credit.

"Baby Boy" Frankie Bono (Baron), an icy hearted contract killer out of Cleveland, has arrived in New York City to give second string syndicate boss Troiano (Clune) a Christmas "gift" in the form of a couple of rounds of lead in the head.

But Frankie was raised in an orphanage in New York City, so this trip is a sort of a reluctant homecoming and also a reckoning with his past. The whole commercial holiday ambiance, i.e., Christmas carols played on the intercom in Penn Station, the Salvation Army Bands on the streets, the decorations in the store fronts all bring back sour memories of a kid who had nothing, was alone in the world, who grew up tough with some hard bark. Christmas gives him the creeps.

Frankie checks into a dump, the Valencia Hotel. Heads downtown. He rides the Staten Island Ferry to meet his wise guy contact. The contact asks for a light. He gets 25 G's and photos of his mark. He gets the other 25 G's when the job is done. Sounds like cake.

So Frankie does what he always does. And what Frankie does he does best. He tails Troiano. He dopes out his patterns. He eliminates possibilities. He hones in on others. Troiano lives out in Nassau County. He's always picked up by bodyguards. Guys with HOODS stamped on their foreheads. 9:30 on the dot. Always drives into the city. Cross Island Parkway, Grand Central Parkway, Triboro Bridge, Harlem. Or the deviation, Northern Boulevard, Queensboro Bridge, Greenwich Village. Troiano runs the girls, the dope, the book, and the numbers. The type of guy Frankie hates. Frankie has got to make the hit when Troiano is alone.

Frankie needs a piece for the job. .38 with silencer. He goes to see an old Harlem *beep* Big Ralphie. Big Ralphie is a skel, a gavoon, a real fat slob. He lives in a one room flop. He keeps sewer rats for pets. He's got their cages all Christmas doodad-ed. He's eating pizza with his rats. He skeeve's out Frankie big time. But Ralphie's got contacts. He wants half a G. Frankie says two bills. They compromise on three. Frankie say he'll go him a yard and a half now and the rest on delivery. Ralphie squeals. Frankie throws in another fifty. Deal done.

But Frankie can't pick up the gun till after Christmas, he kills time walking around Rockefeller Center. Remembering. While eating dinner on Christmas Eve it's Frankie's misfortune to run into pal Petey from the orphanage. He's about to give him the brush when Petey's sister Lori shows up. Lori was something special, Lori is Frankie's femme fatale. Frankie makes the mistake of going to Lori's Christmas Eve Party and having a good time. His second mistake is falling all over again for Lori, who is definitely hot to trot with him too. But Frankie, out of normal circulation for so long, is speeding down love's highway way over the limit, trying get past third base way too quickly. He gets rough. Forghedaboudit. Lori shoots him out of the saddle.

Frankie with Christmas out of his system is back on the job and finally finds out where Troiano is alone. Troiano has a "gumare" a babe he shacks up with that he keeps in a brownstone down on East 30th St. When he's with her he's alone.

Shadowing Troiano, Frankie ends up at the Village Gate, a "Beat" nightclub with a bongo playing vocalist and band. Troiano is giving a party. Unfortunately for Frankie going right in before checking the joint out was his third mistake. Ralphie spots him watching Troiano. Ralphie dopes out the hit. Frankie is going after "big Game". Ralphie braces Frankie in the john. Ralphie wants "luxury prices." Frankie tells Ralphie forghedaboudit.

Pissed that Ralphie is trying to skive their deal, Frankie leaves and stakes out the club and waits. Ralphie jets. Frankie tails. Ralphie is loaded. Ralphie waddles back to his pad. He fumbles the door open. He crashes on his bed. Frankie is out in hall. Frankie spots the fire ax. Frankie is going to cusinart Ralphie. Ralphie takes a chop, His left arm dangles. He grabs Frankie by the neck. The rat cages smash. Rodents scatter. Frankie grabs a lamp. Lamp smashes Ralphie's head. Frankie gets both hands on Ralphie's neck. Ralphie's eyes bulge. Ralphie is rat food.

Killing Ralphie of course flushes everything down the toilet to Noirsville. Frankie gets the job done but getting spotted by Ralphie at the Village Gate and its final consequences broke his contract.

The film belongs to that late '50s early '60s group of Noirs I like to designate "Tail Fin Noirs" for the predominate auto design feature that's unmistakeable and visually quite prominent.

Blast of Silence is a character study of loneliness, obsession and alienation. It's noir pulp poetry that's cinematically illustrated expertly, on the cheap. A classic that can sit comfortably right beside poverty row's Detour (1945). Bravo Allen Baron! 10/10

Full review with screencaps here:

Re: Blast Of Silence (1961) New York Tail Fin Noir

Great review. Somehow this film has eluded me. I'll try to track it down.

I agree with you about New York movies. It's so wonderful to see old shots of the city. The way it has changed a lot but then again, not changed at all.

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

Re: Blast Of Silence (1961) New York Tail Fin Noir

I had to finally break down and buy the (standard) DVD from Criterion a few months back. I'm happy that I did though, it's a great movie.

Re: Blast Of Silence (1961) New York Tail Fin Noir

Yes it is. I'd like to see his next feature film Terror in The City (1964)

Re: Blast Of Silence (1961) New York Tail Fin Noir

That does look interesting. Hmm, I think Lee Grant would be pretty hot in that role.

Thanks for the great review of Blast Of Silence by the way. Your reviews are always very informative and I'm not saying that just because I like your tastes.

Re: Blast Of Silence (1961)

Big fan right here, we had a successful communal run with it on the board a couple of years back.

Blast of Silence (1961)

The Hate of Harlem.

Blast of Silence is written and directed by Allen Baron, he also stars along with Molly McCarthy, Larry Tucker and Peter Clume. Music is by Meyer Kupferman and cinematography by Merrill Brody.

It's Christmas week and hit man Frankie Bono (Baron) blows into New York City from Cleveland to take out a mobster who has gotten above his station. Casing locales and plotting his course of action, Frankie is shaken out of his dead cold approach to his work by a couple of faces from his past

Blast of Silence beats a black heart, stripped down to the basics it's a film about one man who hasn't known what it is like to be human. Frankie Bono is case study of self-loathing, of how to hate everything around him, his biggest crime may not actually be the hits he carries out with cold blooded efficiency, but that of being born in the first place. But now Frankie, in all his miserable glory, has strolled into the Big Apple and hitched a ride to noirville, and those well balanced ice chips on his shoulders are starting to melt.

The air is pungent, reeking of fatalism, pessimism and of course nihilism. New York City is a place of towering construction wonders, we can see that, but Baron and Brody film it as a foreboding entity, with a cold grey veneer befitting our hit man rattled out of his cemented equilibrium. The constant gravel voiced narration by Lionel Stander is in the second person, it's also in Frankie's head, mocking him, reminding him of failures and pitfalls, of impending misery. While over the top is Kupferman's jazzy score, where at times it's like a panzer attack (that ferocious double bass is just magnificent), at others a melancholic lament to a life never lived.

The low budget and use of every day Joe actors helps keep the film grounded, which is just perfect for the tale. There's no need for histrionics or visual tricks here, Baron and Brody use the naturalism of the actors and the city surrounds to great effect, covering proceedings in a semi-documentary style. Blast of Silence is a hard picture, it isn't trying to cheer you up, this is not a Christmas movie for annual pleasures. From the super opening of a speeding train birthing out of a tunnel, to the bleak finale, it's a film noir movie of considerable class. Don't let anyone tell you film noir ended in 1958 9/10

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Blast Of Silence (1961)

After all this praise it looks like I have to invest the money for a DVD.

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

Re: Blast Of Silence (1961)

You definitely need to see it Jess

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Re: Blast Of Silence (1961)

Spikehave you, or anyone else who has been commenting here on BOS, noticed how strikingly similar the ending is to Elvis' noir, King Creole (1958)?

Re: Blast Of Silence (1961)

No, I barely remember King Creole


The final location setting is very much similar, only the turn of events is different. Both great films.

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217