Film Noir : Neo-Noir Quest 2

Re: In Cold Blood (1967) A Noir/Neo Noir Masterpiece

Great review. I'm a fan, but it's one of those films where I have to steel myself before watching. I've seen it twice, and read the book, and it's nothing you can just sit down, watch and forget. I also wouldn't watch it by myself when I'm home alone. Too horrific and chilling.

I see you got a little lecture on the CFB when you posted this. :) It's so unfortunate that the CFB has become such an annoying board.

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

Re: In Cold Blood (1967) A Noir/Neo Noir Masterpiece

I don't ever look for hidden agendas in films, but there are folks out there who see everything in black and white, good and bad, who think they are the watchdogs of the culture. I just ignore it.

The main point of my reviews is the Visual thread that runs through these films that's sort of why they are heavy on screenshots. The exceptional ones are are works of art.

Re: In Cold Blood (1967) A Noir/Neo Noir Masterpiece

That particular poster is extremely knowledgable on film, I mostly enjoy his posts, but he's also very very pedantic and humorless.

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

One Shoe Makes It Murder (1982)

One Shoe Makes It Murder (1982): Robert Mitchum is a private eye who has given up on life. He's hired by casino owner Mell Ferrer, someone has been cooking his books and he thinks his wife might be in danger because of it. Mitchum finds her quickly enough, but minutes after he leaves her apartment he witnesses her fall from her balcony to a sudden death. Inspector Jose Perez thinks it's murder due to one of her slippers being nowhere near the balcony while she was wearing the other one, and isn't crazy about Mitchum acting like a clam. Ferrer re-hires Mitchum however, this time to find out what happened to his wife. He eventually discovers that ex-hooker and barfly Angie Dickinson, who's been throwing herself at him ever since he stepped into the casino, might be the key to unlock the mystery.

This is a decent but unremarkable made-for-TV movie, which stands out due to the presence of Mitchum ('Out Of The Past') and Dickinson ('The Killers'). Mitchum plays the type of role he was made for, as a broken man who's so jaded by his past (which includes a failed suicide attempt) that he cannot even get it up for the sexy and affectionate Dickinson. Dickinson is good and gives her character a genuinely warm side, but because of it, the impact of her character on the dead wife's past is never really felt. The 'kindred spirit' chemistry between Mitchum and Dickinson works really well however, it is there, but neither character really knows how to act on it, and fall back in their old ways. Their scenes together, as well as Mitchum's world-weary lines and voice-over narration which is used extensively throughout this movie, are what make this movie stand out.

The movie itself plays out at a very leisurely pace, and doesn't really 'thrill', even tho it's competently made. It's just not an edge-of-your-seat mystery/thriller. Pretty routine work from director William Hale and DoP Terry K. Meade, with only an occasional creative shot such as when Mitchum witness the fall. The plot, based on a novel, is also pretty straight-forward and not too surprising. Watch this one for Mitchum and Dickinson's scenes. 6/10

This TV movie can be found on youtube in decent quality in its original 4:3 aspect ratio (the version I watched), but it has also been released as a widescreen DVD.

Re: One Shoe Makes It Murder (1982)

Saw it back in the late 80' late night on the tv. Do not recall if I liked it. (a bad sign normally) On the re-watch list it goes.

Blood Simple (1984) The Bad Detective

"The world is full o' complainers. An' the fact is, nothin' comes with a guarantee. Now I don't care if you're the Pope of Rome, President of the United States or Man of the Year; somethin' can all go wrong. Now go on ahead, y'know, complain, tell your problems to your neighbor, ask for help, 'n watch him fly. Now, in Russia, they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else that's the theory, anyway. But what I know about is Texas, an' down here you're on your own."

All I can say is Wow! What a debut film of the Coen Brother's. This film has got STYLE. Directed by Joel Coen, (& Ethan Coen (uncredited)) (Miller's Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), No Country for Old Men (2007)), and written by both Joel Coen & Ethan Coen. The films cinematography was by Barry Sonnenfeld (Raising Arizona (1987), Miller's Crossing (1990)) and the music was by Carter Burwell (Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), No Country for Old Men (2007), Mildred Pierce (TV Mini-Series)).

The film stars John Getz (The Fly (1986)) as Ray, Frances McDormand (Fargo (1996), Lone Star (1996), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001)) as femme fatale Abby Marty, Dan Hedaya (True Confessions (1981), Tightrope (1984), Mulholland Dr. (1999)) as Julian Marty, M. Emmet Walsh (Midnight Cowboy (1969), Serpico (1973), Straight Time (1978), Blade Runner (1982), Narrow Margin (1990)) as private investigator Loren Visser, Samm-Art Williams (Dressed to Kill (1980), A Rage in Harlem (1991)) as Meurice, and Deborah Neumann as Debra.

P.I.'s are arguably, along with the femme fatale, probably the two top icons of Noir, but in the totality of the Noir/Neo Noir canon there are surprisingly, contrary to popular perception, not very many films that actually do feature your classic hardboiled private detective. Oh don't get me wrong there is sleuthing going on in quite a bit of Film Noir, but it's done by a plethora of characters, newspaper reporters, the falsely accused, the amnesiacs, the framed, cabbies, tabloid photographers, secretaries, taxi dancers, average joe's, even kids. Out of those films that do actually have P.I.'s, I can only think of four with private detectives that have gone bad, Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) in, Out Of the Past, J.B. MacDonald (Raymond Burr) in Pitfall, Kerric (Raymond Burr) in Abandoned, and hayseed sheetkicker Loren Visser (M. Emmet Walsh) in this film Blood Simple, which takes "The Bad Detective" to a whole new level.

Blood Simple starts off with sleazy bedroom dick Visser's voice over about there being no guarantees in life. Visser was hired by Julian Marty who owns Neon Boots a honkey-tonk/strip bar. Marty wants Visser, to keep tabs on his "funny: acting wife, Abby. Julian suspects some hanky panky is going on between Abby and one of his barkeepers, either "Motown" Meurice or "Cowboy" Ray.

On a rainy night Ray offers to drive Abby to Houston on his day off. Abby spills the beans to Ray about her screwed up marriage. Ray replies that he's always liked her.

Abby: He gave me a little pearl-handled .38 for our first anniversary.
Ray: Uh-huh.
Abby: Figured I'd better leave before I used it on him. I don't know how you can stand him.
Ray: Well, I'm only an employee, I ain't married to him.

One thing leads to another and Abby ends up repeatedly batter-dipping Ray's corn dog in a variety of positions in a cheap roadside hot sheet motel. Visser who has been tailing them all along in his VW bug is able to indulge in one of his perverted kinks, peeping and photographing their dirty deeds. Visser takes particular pleasure rubbing Julian]s nose in his armature porn shots of Ray and Abby.

Private Detective Visser: [about a photo of Ray and Abby] I know a place you can get that framed.
Marty: What did you take these for?
Private Detective Visser: What do you mean? Just doin' my job.
Marty: You called me, I knew they were there, so what do I need these for?
Private Detective Visser: Well, I don't know Call it a fringe benefit.
Marty: How long did you watch her?
Private Detective Visser: Most of the night They'd just rest a few minutes and then get started again. Quite something.

Julian stews over the revelations, confronts Ray and Abby to little effect, then decides to make Visser an offer.

Marty: I got a job for you.
Private Detective Visser: Uh, well, if the pay's right, and it's legal, I'll do it.
Marty: It's not strictly legal.
Private Detective Visser: [Thinks for a second] Well, if the pay's right, I'll do it.

Julian offers Visser 10 Gs to kill Ray and Abby and get rid of the bodies.

Of course this being a Neo Noir nothing goes down quite as expected, and when it does go down, it's with great style. The film is full of twists, double crosses and a healthy helping of bizarre black humor.

Dan Hedaya and M. Emmet Walsh are both in top form as the films unforgettable two sleazeballs around which this picaresque universe revolves. The soundtrack and score compliment the action. Review is of 2000 re-release. 9/10

Review with screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/11/blood-simple-1984-bad-detective.html

Farewell My Lovely (1975) The Good Detective

This post Hays (Motion Picture Production) Code and pre PC "code" version of Raymond Chandler's "Farewell My Lovely" is probably the closest version to the novel we are going to see, it's firing on all cylinders. It pulls no punches, it's serious, dialog wise, doing justice to the novel.

In the previously adapted for film 1944 version Murder, My Sweet, Dick Powell was great as wisecracking Marlowe, he's pretty much as I pictured him in my mind's eye as I read the book. Mitchum at 58 years, in this film, is just a tad too old to fit the Marlowe of the novel. He's also a tad too iconic, Mitchum is playing Mitchum playing Marlowe, but the script reflects at least this age difference, he's written as an older wiser Marlowe, a weary character who realizes he's over the hump and sort of coasting. This small change becomes very believable as Mitchum settles into the part. He's still the knight of streets but now he creaks and is just a bit more tarnished.

Farewell My Lovely was ably directed by Dick Richards just like an old studio "B" production picture without any noticeable in your face style.

The features Robert Mitchum (Film Noir Icon in no less than eight classics) as the definitive private detective Philip Marlowe. The film also has Noir star John Ireland (a vet of at least six classic noirs where he either played the bad guy, the good guy, or the not so bad guy) as Detective Lt. Nulty.

Charlotte Rampling (Angel Heart (1987)) as Femme Fatale Helen Grayle, Sylvia Miles (Murder, Inc. (1960), Naked City (TV Series), Terror in the City (1964), Midnight Cowboy (1969)), as Jesse Halstead Florian, Anthony Zerbe (Naked City (TV Series), Cool Hand Luke (1967), The Laughing Policeman (1973)), as Laird Brunette gangster/gambling ship operator. Harry Dean Stanton (The Wrong Man (1956), In the Heat of the Night (1967), Dillinger (1973), Paris, Texas (1984), Wild at Heart (1990)), as Detective Billy Rolfe LAPD, Jack O'Halloran as Moose Malloy.

The rest of the cast has, Sylvester Stallone (Cop Land (1997)), as Jonnie, Joe Spinell (The Godfather (1972), The Seven-Ups (1973), Taxi Driver (1976)) as Nick, Burton Gilliam as Cowboy. Kate Murtagh (87th Precinct (TV Series)) in a part channeling Hope Emerson, as Frances Amthor, L.A.'s whorehouse madam/drug dealer (Believed they say to be based on Brenda Allen whose arrest in 1948 triggered a scandal that led to the reform of the L.A.P.D.). John O'Leary as Lindsay Marriott, Walter McGinn as Tommy Ray washed up jazz man. Jim Thompson (hardboiled novelist) as Judge Baxter Wilson Grayle, Logan Ramsey (Something Wild (1961), Naked City (TV Series)) as the Police Commissioner, and what was left of Greater Los Angeles of the 1940s.

The hardboiled tale starts with Marlowe's smoky voice over as he's looking out the warped glass window of a downtown LA dive hotel. He's holed up there waiting for his case to break.
When Detective Lt. Nulty, LAPD arrives at his flop Marlowe begins to lay out the case from the beginning, which we see in an extended flashback.

After successfully tracking down a wayward teen at a dime a dance hall, he is almost roughed up by The Moose, a giant ex con who did a six year stretch for armed bank robbery. He watched Marlowe deliver the girl to her folks and gets obsessed with having Marlowe find his missing Velma. Moose slips Marlowe a fifty as a retainer. Velma, Moose tells Marlowe was "Cute, cute as lace pants".

It turns out Velma used to be a stripper/B-girl/hooker who worked out of a dump on Central called Florian's. In the time that Moose was in the joint, Mike Florian died and the neighborhood turned black. When Moose and Marlowe get to Florian's, it's in the hood and the clientele is all black. During a tense confrontation, Moose kills Mr. Montgomery, the current owner, and they find out nothing about Velma. Moose scoots, leaving Marlowe to call the cops and deal with Nulty.

After telling the cops the details of what went down at Florian's, Marlowe slips out and spies a fleabag hotel, The Crescent, across the avenue. He crosses the pavement to the sidewalk and up into the hotel lobby. Marlowe finds out that Tommy Ray a bandleader, (Tommy Ray and The Sun Rays) who used to work at Florian's has rooms upstairs.

From Tommy, Marlowe finds out Jesse Florian's address, and the tip that a fifth of booze will be his best friend. Jesse is a bit of an alkie, and Sylvia Miles does an extraordinary portrayal of Jesse that is subtle, touching, and heart wrenchingly sad. After Marlowe plays a little footsie with Jesse, she decides that he's alright and calls Tommy Ray who slips him a picture of Velma from the old days. Only it's a bum steer, flashing the picture at Burly Q's, and agents gets a name, but it isn't Velma, it's a dead end to a catatonic at Camarillo, the State Mental Hospital.

Before the end of the film Marlowe gets his mellon thunked while Lindsay Marriott gets dead on a bungled jewel theft payoff. He gets his noodle wet with a horney Mrs. Grayle, and gets geezed up with junk at Amthor's Hollywood whorehouse.

The film is also a visual treat to Noir Lovers.

Mitchum and Ireland are Noir pros, just the cinematic Film Noir memory that they exude, gives the film natural gravitas. For instance, they didn't have to practice learning how to light, smoke, and hold a cigarette. They've done it most of their lives. Their dangling cigarettes are the real deal, not part of the performance. Ireland is the tired, cynical, conflicted LAPD detective, who is told by the corrupt police commissioner to lay off the case. Mitchum is strong, steady, human, sarcastic, romantic. He displays self depreciating humor, humility, and is doggedly loyal to his friends and clients.

Charlotte Rampling the films Femme Fatale, plays Mrs Grayle as sultry and conniving, she gives off a bit of a Lauren Bacall vibe. She is however the films one false note, she's not quite convincing as an American chippy, a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, hell she was born on the wrong side of "the pond", Sturmer, England, and it's just off. Lesley Ann Warren would have been a better choice for the role. We also don't quite get enough of Rampling to get comfortably acquainted with the duality of her character. I would have liked to see some of Moose's flashbacks to his time with Velma Valento, it would have been a nice juxtaposition to Rampling's performance as Mrs. Grayle, and just another plus for the film.

The real revelation in Farewell My Lovely is Jack O'Halloran's Moose Malloy, in this film version Moose actually becomes more than a cartoon bad guy. You really feel sorry for the big lug and the torch he carries for his lost hooker girlfriend. Moose doesn't care that Velma fingered him for the job and took off with the loot. He just wants to be back in that sweet spot. O'Halloran gives off a Laird Cregar vibe, if we had been in a full blown Noir revival both Jack and Sylvia Miles would have been two of the major new stars, out of this cast only Harry Dean Stanton went on to really make a name in Neo Noir. The film also features Sylvester Stallone in one of his first roles.It's the definitive Marlowe in the correct time period 9/10.

Full review with Screencaps from the ITV Studios DVD here http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/12/farewell-my-lovely-1975-good-detective.html.

Too Late (2015) A "Tarantinian" Neo Noir

A nice discovery, right before Christmas, Too Late was actually first brought to my attention by a review in The New York Times. A review that I stumbled upon while doing a search online for something else almost a half year ago. It was well after Too Late left the few theaters it was screened at. I just discovered it's available to watch now on Netflix streaming. Neo Noir is alive and doing well.

Too Late is a surprisingly brilliant addition to the Private Eye & Neo Noir Pantheon. This film passed well under practically everyone's "noir-dar" when it was debuted on March 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California, followed on the 25th in New York City. With all the current zeitgeist going towards blockbusters, "celebrities" and oscar bait, and this having an extremely limited release, hardly anyone has seen much less heard of this fantastic modern take on Noir.

The film was directed and sharpley written by Dennis Hauck, the cinematography was by Bill Fernandez, and has an eclectic smorgasbord of music by Robert Allaire. Upon first viewing you'll see obvious nods to Sergio Leone's narrative style from Once Upon A Time In America that Tarantino homaged in Pulp Fiction. This is coupled with some intelligent and, if you pay attention, clue filled dialog vis-à-vis again, Tarantino. It also uses split screen in some sequences (Marlowe (1969)) and is loaded with other subtle noir and film references, i.e., an interesting off beat quote from Altman's Short Cuts (1993). There are probably more. The film was shot not only in 35mm Techniscope, but also in five Acts, twenty-two minute individual takes, with no hidden cuts or other editing.

Too Late stars John Hawkes (D.O.A. (1988), Winter's Bone (2010), The Pardon (2013)) as a damaged, pushing 60, hawk-nosed, rough, weary, stringbean freelance Private Detective Mel Sampson, he's also a smoker, a toker, and a boozer. Crystal Reed (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (TV Series 2010)) as Dorothy, Vail Bloom (Angel of Death (2009)) as ex stripper, femme fatale Janet Lyons, Jeff Fahey (Impulse (1990), Planet Terror (2007), Machete (2010)), as "Cowboy" Roger Fontaine, Gordy's muscle, Robert Forster (Jackie Brown (1997), Mulholland Drive (2001), Hotel Noir (2012)) as Gordy Lyons mobbed up strip club owner, Joanna Cassidy (The Outfit (1973), The Laughing Policeman (1973), Blade Runner (1982) ) as Eleanor Mahler, Natalie Zea () Brett Jacobsen as "Skippy" Fontaine, Dichen Lachman as Jilly Bean, Dash Mihok as Jesse, Sydney Tamiia Poitier as Veronica, and Rider Strong as Matthew.

L.A., 2015. In some perverse joke of the gods, Bunker Hill rises in its skyscraper reincarnation, dwarfing the stubby spike of the Los Angeles City Hall. The view is from Radio Hill, and down across a yellowish, smog shrouded Chinatown. A woman, Dorothy, calls Mel Sampson P.I. for help. He's Too Late. She's dead.

What follows, time jumps between the present, seven years in the past, and five days ago, and is wondrously Noirsville.

A bizarre confrontation on a hilltop patio between Sampson, Gordy, Fontaine, and Fontaine's and Gordy's less than classy ex stripper wives, Veronica, and the half naked Janet.

A stripbar cute meet between Sampson, Dorothy, and Sampson's future gal pal Jilly Bean, followed by a late night nightcap at a C&W bar.

The reveal in an L.A. hotel room between Sampson, and Mary and Eleanor Mahler.

The botched attempted murder of a witness.

The acting in the film by all the principles is impeccable. John Hawkes' Mel Sampson is the anti Hollywood pretty boy hero, it took me a few reflective hours to put my finger on who he reminds me of. If you grew up in the late 60's and were a part of the counterculture and read many of the seminal works of the underground comix movement you'll see the visual resemblance to comix icon R. Crumb. He downplays his part, making him accessible and believable.

Neo Noir vet Robert Forster is a nasty piece of work as the hard barked stripclub owner. Jeff Fahey is teddy bear-ish, good ol' boy enforcer with a broken leg. Vail Bloom is touching as the wound a bit too tight, ex stripper beauty, who crumbles disastrously, when her world comes tumbling down. Natalie Zea is heartbreaking in the part of Mary.

Too Late is at the moment available on Netflix streaming. If I have to point out any minuses I would say it could have used a bit more outdoor location footage, but that's me. A thinking man's Noir 9/10.

Full review with NSFW screencaps here http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/12/too-late-2015-tarantinian-neo-noir.html

The Mechanic (1972)

Hi Spike,with you being back,I'll give this superb thread a boost.

7


"Murder is killing without a license-and everybody kills."


* This review may contain spoilers ***

Despite a family friend being a big fan of their work,I've never had the chance to catch a glimpse of Michael Winner/Charles Bronson's collaborations.Checking updates on Netflix UK,I found out that one of their team-ups was going to be taken off the site in a few days,which led to me fixing things up with the mechanic.

The plot:

Cutting out any connection to a social or personal life, Arthur Bishop trains himself to be a mechanic/hit-man for a group which demands the very best from their assassins. Successfully following an order to kill a member of the group,Bishop attends the funeral of his victim. During the funeral,Bishop crosses paths with the victims son Steve McKenna. Finding McKenna to have a detachment to life that matches his,Bishop begins to think that McKenna has the tools to be a fellow mechanic.

View on the film:

For someone who always sounded like the life of the party in interviews,director Michael Winner displays an unexpected ear for silence,with Winner breaking Bishop's merciless Film Noir loner veins with extended sequences featuring no dialogue,which strike at the cold, soulless emotion Bishop feels towards his job. Whilst screenwriter Lewis John Carlino complained over the hard-nosed script being softened,Winner keeps the Noir chill at the frozen heart of Bishop, shining in stylish scatter-gun tracking shots keeping track of the mechanical nature of Bishop's kills.

Bringing an outsider in to join Bishop and sending them both to Italy,Winner pushes the Noir shoulder aside for a dash in Italian Crime,that despite bringing some frantic chase moments in,does leave to a pause in looking at the empty reflection of Bishop. Opening Bishop's bag of tools for the final,Winner whips the title back to the dour Noir soul of Bishop,in a richly cynical ending that delivers a burning parting shot from Bishop. Stuck with a smug Jan- Michael Vincent as Steve McKenna, Bronson cuts a note of pure Noir class as Bishop. Slithering in the shadows of his victims, Bronson brilliantly expresses in silence the coldness Bishop feels towards each murder,as Bishop sets his target on another mechanical kill.

Road Movie (1974) Road Noir

Via, The Road, La Strada, the ancient conduit of Civilization. Updated to circa 1974. The place, Arena Diner Truck Stop, meadowlands *beep* halfway between Newark and Jersey *beep* New Jersey.

Road Movie, a Neo Noir no one has heard of, was directed by Joseph Strick (one of the directors of The Savage Eye (1959), and director of The Big Break (1953),Tropic of Cancer (1970)). Strick was a Braddock Pennsylvania native, who has had a successful career primarily as a documentary filmmaker. The Savage Eye which won 1960 BAFTA Flaherty Documentary Award is often considered to be part of the cinema vérité movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

The film was credited as being written by Judith Rascoe (Who'll Stop the Rain (1978)), and by Joseph Strick (story). Cinematography by was by Don Lenzer (Woodstock (1970), Street Scenes (1970)). The excellent melange of blues and country music was by Stanley Myers (The Deer Hunter (1978).

The film stars Regina Baff (Escape from Alcatraz (1979)), Robert Drivas (Cool Hand Luke (1967), Route 66 (TV Series)), Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)), David Bauer (Dark of the Sun (1968), Diamonds Are Forever (1971)), David Challis, Rodney Cleghorn, Beatrice Colen, Rik Colitti, Eileen Dietz, Laura Esterman and the great American road.

Janice (Baff) is a whore. Started young.A born slut. Teeny Bopper with hot pants. Arcade photo booth. Janice nude under her coat. Taking nudie shots of her pink canoe. Prints sell to perves. Caught! Taken to the office. Owner threats to call the cops. Janice tells him "I got one good reason why we shouldn't go to the cops" and she opened her coat giving the owner an eye full and Janice does it with the creep, does it all right in the office. A new career launched.

Road Movie has an opening credit sequence that beautifully captures vignettes along the transient mileposts in the lives of modern teamsters. The film begins with a tearied eye Janice. She's arguing in a car with a john or her pimp. He kicks her out at the Arena Diner Truckstop. He tells her she'll have to work trucks. A highway hooker.

She goes into the diner. She heads for the ladies room. She straightens her wig. She freshens up. She then heads back out into the lot. She's a bitch. She's a survivor. She'll sell her ass to truckers.

Rolling out of the lot in their Peterbilt with a reefer load of beef, are veteran driver Gill (Robert Drivas) jaded, divorced, woman beater, and Hank (Barry Bostwick) greenhorn trying to follow in his trucker father's wheel tracks, two independent truckers. Gill spots Janice and tells her they are headed to Chicago. Janice says a hundred, Gill counters fifty.

Janice hops in the sleeper, a ride for a ride, a cooze for the cruise. During the trip West, Hank gets friendly. Gill gets rough, and Janice gets revenge.

Revenge for Janice is monkeying around with the reefer unit on the truck, losing the refrigeration means they got to dump their load for a loss at the nearest meat locker in Pittsburgh. Janice tells them she can get them a load through her mob connections. Of course the road ahead spiral curves into downtown Noirsville.

Road Movie is a great primer on independent truckers, on all the crapola they steer around and all the hoops they drive through. It's also a depressing 1974 ride through the decaying industrial neighborhoods and the sign polluted retail strips of American cities. We get drive bys of the strip mines of coal country, the refineries, junk strewn lots, auto salvage graveyards, chain link fences netting windrows of trash and desperate roadside attractions. The film evokes both the Classic Noirs Detour (1945) and The Hitch-Hiker (1953).

Regina Baff's Femme Fatale Janice is a spunky piece of work. She is audacious, bitter, destitute, hair triggered and self sufficient. Baff really displays her acting chops as she's degraded, beat up, pushed around, bares her straight razor claw during a mugging, offers her body to highway weigh station officers, and shows her dogged ferocity when Gill finally casts her off. Baff's Janice is the soul mate to Ann Savage's Vera.

Robert Drivas' rough edged Gill has the "life's a bitch and then you die" mantra of a life on autopilot, he wants to own nothing to nobody. Barry Bostwick's gentle Hank is the romantic, a dreamer, the down homeboy trying to follow a dream. Both are convincing.

Road Movie is a nice Noir slice of the 70's, the cinematography, music, the sound design, even the diegetic sound of holy roller radio preachers shucking bleeding heart of Jesus statues that actually squirt blood, while the ephemera of cast off americana kitsch constantly rolls past our view is both depressingly bleak and amusingly entertaining. Screenshots are from the Image Entertainment DVD. 7/10.

Full review with screencaps here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/12/road-movie-1974-road-noir.html

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Hi Spike,whilst this ain't a "traditional" Noir,I think that a strong case can be made for this being a superb slice of Sci-Fi Neo-Noir.

10

** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hearing fear-mongering stories about "Reds under the bed" (or in this case,web) on the news web recently, reminded me of the paranoia allegorically dissected in the Body Snatcher films. Whilst finding Kevin Williamson's riff on the story with The Faculty to be a hip teen Horror and Abel Ferrara's very good 1993 take linked to the then-popular "the truth is out there" paranoia,I've never seen any of the two "major" versions. Looking at Netflix UK,I found that the 1978 version was about to leave the site!,which led to me joining the body snatchers.

The plot:

Talking to her co-worker Matthew Bennell, Elizabeth Driscoll mentions that after taking some flowers home that boyfriend Geoffrey Howell has been acting rather strange. Going to Bennell's friend David Kibner for advice,Bennell and Driscoll are stopped on the road by a mad man screaming about an invasion. Initially laughing it off,the mood soon changes when the man gets run over. Rushing over,Bennell and Driscoll are horrified to find all the pedestrians showing no emotion to the death,and almost appearing to act like aliens.

View on the film:

Keeping the paranormal activity grounded, director Philip Kaufman & cinematographer Michael Chapman give the invasion an "on the spot" news report rawness spanning jagged tracking shots hiding in the crowd of body snatchers. Unleashing the aliens in all their gooey, practical effects Body Horror delight, Kaufman webs the fantastic screeching nightmare soundtrack with a blistering Film Noir atmosphere,lit in suffocating shadows being the lone areas of hope that Bennell and Bellicec can hide from the decaying light of a society drowning the screams of " dissidents."

Following the original film in going for an ending different from Jack Finney's novel,the screenplay by W.D. Richter brilliantly turns the "Red" fear into unrelenting Sci-Fi Noir anxiety. Cleverly making the "aliens" be people Bennell and Bellicec knows,Richter goes off the Richter Scale in drilling fear of society becoming "one voice" and corrupting Noir loners and voices of opposition into transforming into a system that they have fought against.

Facing a Sci-Fi monster a year before the acid mouth of Alien would set its lips on her, Veronica Cartwright gives a great performance as Nancy Bellicec,whose intelligent idea to blend in allows Cartwright to keep Nancy's fears under wraps until they are torn out in a devastating scream. Joined by Jeff Goldblum getting his first taste of Body-Horror and Leonard Nimoy his warm Star Trek image as the creepy,Noir-style "boss" Dr. David Kibner,the beautiful Brooke Adams (who also appears naked) gives an extraordinary performance as Elizabeth. Tangled with Bennell in fighting against the enemy within,Adams delicately expresses Elizabeth desperation to not become entranced by the invaders. Fighting against a system/alien rooted in his own decayed society, Donald Sutherland gives a thrilling performance as Bennell,thanks to Sutherland capturing the anxiety of Bennell being a burnt-out Noir loner who sees all his friends being invaded.

The Cry of the Owl (2009)

Hi Spike,after seeing them co-star (but not share scenes) in the Bourne movies,I looked forward to seeing Paddy Considine and Julia Stiles team up.

9




"Like Jimmy Stewart's banister."


** This review may contain spoilers ***

Looking back at my viewings this year,one of the highlights was finally catching the Bourne franchise. Checking BBC iPlayer over Christmas,I was thrilled to discover a Patricia Highsmith Neo-Noir adaptation starring Bourne co-stars Paddy Considine and Julia Stiles,which led to me getting ready to hear the owl cry.

The plot:

Stuck in a bitter divorce, Robert Forrester begins spying on Jenny Thierolf,due to the image Forrester sees of Thierolf being of blissful happiness. Succeeding in not being spotted when her boyfriend Greg Wyncoop is in, Forrester's tracks get spotted by Thierolf.Telling her about his recovery from mental illness (always a good ice breaker!) Forrester gets set for the cops to be called. Understanding his issues, Thierolf invites him in,and starts a relationship with Forrester. Furious over his lover leaving him, Wyncoop starts making plans for Forrester to hear the "crying owl of death" as Thierolf lets slip how she met Forrester.

View on the film:

Looking ill at ease in every encounter, Paddy Considine gives an excellent,skin-crawling performance as Neo-Noir loner Forrester. Carry a well handled fake US accent, Considine expertly makes Forrester completely uncomfortable in his own skin,which is squeezed into every dark corner by Considine,whose ill-fitting clothes barely hide the shrunk view Forrester has of himself. Replacing Sarah Polley at the last moment, Julia Stiles gets an impressive grip on rural Femme Fatale Thierolf. Giving Thierolf an outer, emphatic appearance,Stiles digs into one of Patricia Highsmith major theme of a "good" character having a narrow vision and being blind to the Noir decay seeping in.

Flying from music Videos to a Noir adaptation,writer/director Jamie Thraves dissects an icy Neo-Noir that cuts deep into Highsmith's major themes,with Thraves making every Noir loner be "detached" and unable to connect with the shattered conditions of each other. Uncoiling a possible murder, Thraves sharply tugs at Forrester's fragile mental state and pushing down to hit Forrester with a freezing shark of Noir serendipity.

Walking on the pure snow with Forrester,director Jamie Thraves & cinematographer Luc Montpellier melt it with a blistering evil under the sun Noir atmosphere,cracking the pristine image of Thierolf by stepping into the dark side street Forrester is trapped in. Bringing acid snow down with a blunt use of violence, Thraves releases pure Noir magic of switching the point of view to the audience,who are given the chance to stalk and look into Forrester finally having a "blissful" view,as Forrester hears the cry of the owl.

The Informant (2013)

Hi Spike,after reading the interesting review from IMDber GUENOT PHILIPE a while ago,I've finally seen this shocking Neo-Noir.

10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reading reviews by a fellow IMDber in the run-up to Christmas,I found a review for a "ripped from the headlines" French Neo-Noir. Not having many X-Mas viewings planned,I was pleased to find the title in the handful of French flicks on Netflix UK,which led to me listening in on the informant.

The plot-

Gibraltar 1987:

Fleecing his boss, Marc Duval leaves with his family and bags of cash for Gibraltar.Wanting to have a dream family life,Marc buys a boat and opens a café (both of which end up costing far more than the cash he stole.) Due to disagreements between the UK and Spain over who owns "the rock" Marc notices shady characters visiting his café,who appear to think that there is no risk of the underworld drug deals being broken. Tracking Marc down,French customs officer Redjani Belimane offers to help Marc pay his bills,in exchange for spying on his customers. Accepting the offer,Marc soon finds his life on the rocks.

View on the film:

Sailing to Gibraltar with the Duval's,director Julien Leclercq & cinematographer Thierry Pouget present a golden paradise of warm,sand colours layered on the café,and vast helicopter shots placing Gibraltar at the entrance of the underworld boarders. Taking the offer with the hope it will brighten his family life, Leclercq shakes Marc into a brittle Neo-Noir choke-hold,that drains the colours from Marc's life into dry dirt and low-hanging shadows closing down Marc's hopes in the café. Pushing Marc deeper into the Noir tar pit, Leclercq holds back from presenting the violence lavishly,to instead deliver it in short shocks which shakes Marc's Noir loner awareness over what he is now trapped in.

Ripped from the headlines,the screenplay by Abdel Raouf Dafri makes his adaptation of Marc's own book a terrifying Noir tale,which is still unfolding (one of the gangsters who was up and running in '87 was finally arrested in Spainin 2010!) Peeling open the "issues" Marc had with cash, Dafri puts the pieces of his Noir life down piece by piece, clattering with the fantastic dry atmosphere of underhanded deals being typed up by Marc and Belimane,being thrashed by the sobering anxiety of Marc having to prove to the underworld that he is one of them. Joined by a brilliantly shifty Tahar Rahim as Belimane, Gilles Lellouche gives an extraordinary gritty performance as Marc. Open and relaxed round the café, Lellouche knocks the wall down to a Noir dread which closes Marc off into a loner,with Lellouche pressing the law and the unlawful on his shoulders,as the informant becomes misinformed.

The Big Sleep (1978) Café au lait Noir (White Coffee)

"What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a stagnant lake or in a marble tower on the top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that."

1978's The Big Sleep is best watched cold turkey. If you have never read Raymond Chandler's novel, and didn't know that the original tale took place in 1939, in Southern California, nor ever seen Hollywood's Bogart/Bacall 1945 Film Noir interpretation, you may find this version quite enjoyable.

Comparatively, Chandler's The Big Sleep (1945) with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall was retooled to take advantage of the chemistry that arced across the screen between Bogart and Bacall, the studio added a love story angle and the accompanying dialog.

The Big Sleep (1978) with Robert Mitchum in the Philip Marlowe role, doesn't have that Bacall/Bogart love story, it follows the novel more closely with it's original dialog, and isn't hampered by the Hayes Code. It's biggest complication is the whole story is shifted to The United Kingdom and updated to the present 1978. Instead of ramshackle, decrepit and shabby it wallows in old world opulence. Marlowe drives a '71 BMW instead of a 1930's Marmon.

All this modifying and Anglify-ing is interesting considering that Chandler was sort of modified and Anglicized himself, born in 1888 in Chicago, Illinois, he spent a few years in Nebraska living along the Missouri River with relatives and then moved with his mother at the age of 12 in 1900 after his father abandoned them to a borough of London in the UK. He flipped back again ending up in the States, moving first to San Francisco, then Los Angeles.

So I'll repeat, if you don't know that the original story was supposed to be all taking place in 1939 and was supposed to be in Los Angeles you'll actually find it a pretty good film, the story updates pretty much flawlessly. Marlowe in this version, is an ex US soldier who stayed on in the UK after WWII to open a Commercial and Civil Investigations Agency and all the supporting cast is actually top notch. I can guess that being an English Production, with mostly English actors and with a modest budget in mind it was far easier to update the story to the present and change the local. But what makes all this an even bigger shame was Mitchum played a top notch Marlowe three years earlier in Farewell My Lovely (1975) a remake of 1944's Murder My Sweet. the '75 film kept the story to the year 1941, and it was also not hampered by either the Hayes code nor by the unofficial PC "code" that seems prevalent today . If they would have just followed the previous film there could have possibly been a whole series of Marlowe films that would have been true to Chandler's novels in the correct time period, i.e., The High Window 1942, The Lady in the Lake 1943, The Little Sister 1949, and The Long Good-bye (1953).

The film was directed by Michael Winner (Lawman (1971), Chato's Land (1972), Death Wish (1974)) the screenplay was by Michael Winner based on Raymond Chandler's novel. Cinematography by Robert Paynter (The Mechanic (1972)) and the music was by Jerry Fielding (The Wild Bunch (1969)).

The film stars Robert Mitchum (eight Classic Noir, Farewell My Lovely (1975)) as a 61 year old Philip Marlowe Sarah Miles (Blow-Up (1966), Ryan's Daughter (1970), The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing (1973)), as Charlotte Sternwood Regan, Richard Boone (Man on a Tightrope (1953), Vicki (1953), I Bury the Living (1958)), as Lash Canino, Candy Clark (American Graffiti (1973), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Zodiac (2007)Twin Peaks, TV Series (2017 )), as Camilla Sternwood, Joan Collins (Judgment Deferred (1952), The Slasher (1953), The Good Die Young (1954)), as Agnes Lozelle, Edward Fox (The Day of the Jackal (1973), Never Say Never Again) as Joe Brody, John Mills (The Gentle Gunman (1952), The Long Memory (1953), King Rat (1965)), as Inspector Jim Carson, James Stewart (Call Northside 777 (1948), Rope (1948), Rear Window (1954), Vertigo (1958), Anatomy of a Murder (1959)), as General Sternwood, Oliver Reed (Wild for Kicks (1960), The Hunting Party (1971), Gladiator (2000)) as Eddie Mars, Harry Andrews as Norris, Colin Blakely (This Sporting Life (1963)), as Harry Jones Richard Todd (Chase a Crooked Shadow (1958) Never Let Go (1960) Why Bother to Knock (1961)), as Commander Barker, Diana Quick as Mona Grant, James Donald (King Rat (1965)), as Inspector Gregory, Martin Potter as Owen Taylor, and John Justin as Arthur Geiger.

The film stylistically lets you know right from the get-go credit sequence you're not in sunny SoCal. It's diffuse light, sunless and somber, a gloomy cloudy day. And it's all a bit off (at least to this Yank). A POV from the cockpit of a 1971 BMW 2500. We are cruising down the blacktop and taking an exit from what looks like an "M" designated high speed motorway, the highway markings are strange, you are driving on the right and exiting on the left, and you continue downshifting through various grades of road, through intersections, including a circle till we steer into the driveway of a country estate.

The plot of Chandler's "The Big Sleep" was cannibalized from his Pulp Fiction, particularly his Black Mask short stories, "Killer in the Rain" (1935) and "The Curtain" (1936). Both stories have powerful fathers with wayward daughters. Chandler did some sifting of "Finger Man" (1934) and "Mandarin's Jade" (1937) into the mix also.

Mitchum is great throughout, most of the cast is fine in their parts. Aside from Jimmy Stewart's figiting, Candy Clark is a bit too over the top she plays Camilla more like a 13 year old who has just discovered she has boobs rather than a tantalizing seductress. I enjoyed all of the vehicular action sequences with Mitchum tooling around the countryside and negotiating the narrow London streets in his BMW, it's a nice touch. The film has it's own bit of style, it's noir lite, café au lait, it's more jolly ol' England than foggy bleak London, but it's a fun ride.

It took me about three viewings to really warm to the film, to forget where and when it was supposed to take place and just enjoy it for what it is, another Chandler novel adapted to the screen is always a bonus. I like it a bit better than it's companion 70's update take on Marlowe, Altman's The Long Goodbye (1973) with mumbling Elliott Gould. 7/10

Full review with NSFW screencaps from the ITV Studios DVD here. http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-big-sleep-1978-cafe-au-lait.html

Re: The Big Sleep (1978) Café au lait Noir (White Coffee)

Watched this one a while ago, I found it a pretty awkward viewing experience at times. It almost feels like they filmed it as a 40s movie set in the 70s, disregarding any difference in era, lingo and location, rather than updating it to the era (something which 'The Long Goodbye' did much better in my opinion, even if it's also not a favorite of mine). Maybe I also need a few more viewings to appreciate it more? For now, I rated it 6/10.

Anything with Mitchum in it is worth watching at least once tho. But watching James Stewart in this movie was depressing and sad, he was having health issues at the time and it really showed.

Re: The Big Sleep (1978) Café au lait Noir (White Coffee)

You just have to forget it was supposed to be the 40s completely. Gould driving the Marmon in the '70s gives me that same awkward feeling, why bother? ;-)

Re: The Big Sleep (1978) Café au lait Noir (White Coffee)


You just have to forget it was supposed to be the 40s completely.

I'll try to do that next time :)

Re: The Big Sleep (1978) Café au lait Noir (White Coffee)

Great review and nice screen shots. I have always avoided this movie for just the reasons you mention. The change of locale and time is simply strange to me. But maybe I should give it a try.

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

Re: The Big Sleep (1978) Café au lait Noir (White Coffee)

Its well done just not seedy enough. It's the reverse of Chandler's famous quote. "They took murder out of the hands of those that really did it well and put it back in the English tea garden"

The Town (2010)

The Town (2010): Ben Affleck lives in Charlestown, a suburb of Boston that is supposedly a hotbed for robbers and such. He's one of them, part of a 4-man crew working for 'the Florist', Pete Postlewaite. During a bank robbery they take bank manager Rebecca Hall hostage as collateral, and release her once they're safe. They find out she lives in their neck of the woods however and Affleck decides to check up on her, to see what she knows. They grow close however, and Affleck starts to envision a new life, free of crime. But FBI agent Jon Hamm is on their tail, and boss Postlewaite has more robberies lined up for them, including a big one, robbing Fenway Park stadium during broad daylight. There's even more trouble in paradise when Hamm informs Hall of Affleck's real identity and connection to the robbery, and he also has to deal with fellow crew member, and close friend, Jeremy Renner who's a loose cannon not afraid to kill, something Affleck is not so willing to resort to.

Story-wise, this heist movie is not all that surprising, and mimics earlier classic ones. The story is similar to that of 'Heat', but for instance Mann's 'Thief' also comes to mind (particularly with Postlewaite's character and Robert Prosky's in 'Thief'). Hommage or rip off? The movie's based on a novel by Chuck Hogan tho, which I haven't read, so who knows Either way, actor/director Ben Affleck (his second movie as director after 'Gone Baby Gone'), who also co-wrote the screenplay, manages to deliver a solid, if derivative, movie. It's not a fast or action-packed movie (despite 3 robberies and a chase sequence), but the slower pace helps with the different story lines, altho it still felt some characters were underdeveloped/had scenes cut from the original cut. Affleck's original unreleased cut was 4 hours long tho, but he cut it down to just over 2 hours (with an extended cut approaching 3 hours also available). The cinematoraphy by Robert Elswitt ('There Will Be Blood', 'Nightcrawler') is solid but the grittiness of the movie comes more from the crummy blue collar neighborhood environment and inhabitants than the way it's shot.

Acting-wise, Affleck doesn't disappoint either, and neither do the rest of the cast, with Postlewaite ('The Usual Suspects') giving an especially chilling performance, as well as Chris Cooper ('The Bourne Identity') who excels in a small role as Affleck's dad who's a lifer in prison. Renner ('The Hurt Locker') even got an Oscar nomination for his part, altho I am not sure why Solid? Yes Amazing? Nah Anyways, solid acting, and Affleck seems to have encouraged the cast to use thick Boston accents which I appreciated, even if Renner and Postlewaite were sometimes difficult to understand to my Dutch ears (subtitles help tho, hah).

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie (and I will definitely check out the extended cut), but a more pronounced noir-ish visual style could've really elevated this movie (aside from the rehashed story). Still, I can recommend 'The Town' if you enjoy a good heist movie (and haven't watched 'Heat' in recent times). 8/10

Aussie Noir: Mystery Road (2013)

* This review may contain spoilers ***

After watching the superb "ripped from the headlines" Aussie Noir mini-series Deep Water recently,I read reviews by a fellow IMDber. Nearing the end of a page,I noticed a tantalising Aussie Noir title.Finding the name of the flick familiar,I found out that it was about to air on TV! Which led to me going down the mystery road.

The plot:

Returning to his old small town where his ex-wife and daughter live, aboriginal Detective Jay Swan is sent to investigate the body of an aboriginal teenage girl found at an "unofficial pit-stop." Learning that her name was Julie Mason,Swan finds out that Mason was an addict,who was a hooker that had sex with truckers at the stop. Searching for info from Mason's pals,Swan tracks down her phone,and finds messages from his daughter. Whilst trying to find out what his daughter is caught up in,Swan begins to notice that a number of his fellow officers appear very keen in stopping from going down a road that gets to the heart of the case,and the town.

View on the film:

Retaining the way he could give a calm situation an underlying sense of menace in the first Matrix flick, Hugo Weaving gives a chilling performance as cop Johnno,whose "friendly" small-talk and shoulder taps to Swan crackle with a sinister unease,whilst Ryan Kwanten (minus his fake Deep South accent from True Blood) gives a creepy performance as Pete Bailey,with Kwanten using space to open the uncomfortable mood between Bailey and Swan. Gliding in wearing cowboy boots and hat, Aaron Pedersen gives a marvellous performance as lone Noir "cowboy" Jay Swan,as Pedersen gives Swan a Noir gravitas over the horrific treatment of fellow aboriginals,with a rebellious kick to clear the town of all the outlaws standing on the road.

Stroking the brittle Noir tension with coiled crane shots scanning the decayed wilderness for figures wanting Swan to not uncover the full mystery,writer/director/editor/cinematographer/composer Ivan Sen breaths unrelenting dread into the landscape,with lingering looks at Swan's face displaying the shot of anxiety cast across his face,as Swan finds himself a Noir loner in a town that wants to keep its mystery.

Hitting Swan with bullets of racism,the screenplay by Sen exposes the mistreatment of aboriginals in its rawest form,where people who live in run-down housing projects are treated like dirt,and Swan's aboriginal roots are mercilessly leaned on for threats. Pulling Mason's body from the roadside,Swan drives down a cracking Noir mystery Thriller. Limiting the violence to short rounds of bloodshed,Sen brilliantly uses the scorching hot setting to give the dialogue a heaviness that is pulled by the murky underbelly that Swan finds under the mystery road.

Re: Aussie Noir: Mystery Road (2013)

Sounds interesting.

Re: Aussie Noir: Mystery Road (2013)

Good news Doc, I have this recorded on one of my DVB boxes

Thanks for the review, really sells it strongly

The Spikeopath - Hospital Number 217

Body Double (1984)

Body Double (1984): Struggling actor Craig Wasson just lost his job due to his claustrophobia and is out on the streets after catching his gf, who owns their apartment, in bed with another man. He catches a lucky break when fellow actor Gregg Henry, who's taking care of a fancy apartment for a friend, has to leave town for several weeks and asks Wasson to look after the apartment for him. He shows Wasson a telescope pointing at a neighboring house where each night Deborah Shelton does a sexy dance. Wasson becomes infatuated, and when he spots a menacing looking guy also watching Shelton, he senses danger, even more so when he sees the guy follow Shelton the next day. He follows them as well, but cannot prevent the guy robbing Shelton of her purse, stealing the key card to her apartment. That night he sees the guy in her apartment, but he's too late to prevent Shelton from getting killed. Distraught he spends the night watching late night TV, where he sees a trailer for porn actress Melanie Griffith's latest movie. Doing the exact same dance he's been watching the past few nights! Convinced it's her he's been watching and not Shelton, he tries to get in touch with Griffith, to find out who hired her

I watched this movie on TV many years ago, before I really knew about De Palma, neo-noir, Hitchcock, etc And it felt incredibly forced and ridiculous. What I didn't like back then tho, I love now, having already gained an appreciation for De Palma and his (earlier) movies. The guy wears his influences on his sleeve and likes to throw everything but the kitchen sink into his movies, but he also knows how to direct (both a movie as well as the viewer). In a way this movie is a follow-up to his earlier 'Dressed To Kill', which also took more than a few elements from Hitchcock's 'Vertigo', and he combines it here with another Hitch classic, 'Rear Window'. He creates a voyeuristic thriller that seems intent on making the viewer uncomfortable, with a protagonist who's not just a loser, but an actual creep who even keeps one of Shelton's discarded panties in his pocket. Yet we're supposed to root for him, and be a peeping tom alongside him. Wasson's journey into the hardcore porn business only adds to the movie's weirdness and even gives it a kitsch flavor, with British popband Frankie Goes To Hollywood performing their classic track 'Relax' on set as Wasson and Griffith shoot a hardcore porn scene for her next movie. If you didn't understand the lyrics to that song before, you will now (the band also used this scene for an alternative version to the regular video clip). De Palma also has some fun with Hollywood and film making in general by not just 'accidentally' showing the crew in a door mirror in this scene (as well as having a Gloria Swanson/Norma Desmond lookalike at the start of the porn scene), but also in the scenes involving Wasson as an actor for a cheapo horror movie (with Dennis Franz ('Dressed To Kill', 'NYPD Blue') as the director/De Palma).

Wasson ('Malcolm X') is pretty convincing in his role, it's a shame this movie didn't lead to more opportunities for him. Henry ('Payback') is great as always in the type of role he's made for, the moment you see him you know he's up to no good. Griffith ('The Bonfire Of The Vanities') is also great as a pornstar who's not ashamed of her profession (she did have De Palma destroy the original footage of her nude scenes tho), while Shelton, who did mostly TV work besides this, doesn't have a lot to do besides be very pretty and sexy. Griffith & Shelton also add to the overall creepiness of Wasson's character. At first he becomes infatuated with Shelton, but as soon as she's dead and out of the picture, he sees Griffith on TV and his infatuation is directed towards her. He's a lot of things, but a knight in shining armor saving the damsel(s) in distress he's not.

I've seen the movie listed on various neo-noir lists, but for me its noir-ness lies in the protagonist and the story, and not so much in the visuals. While the movie is very stylish, and De Palma and DoP Stephen Burum ('Carlito's Way') make effective use of long/wide shots vs cramped shots to create a visual discrepancy between the rich splendour of Shelton's world and the less glamorous world of Wasson's, it's not very noir-esque visually. It works tho, also because they use the camera to disorient the viewer, by showing things from Wasson's POV. The movie offers a sleazy ride that occasionally veers into kitsch territories and the end result is definitely not standard material, but it always entertains and fascinates. Recommended! 8+/10

Aussie Noir 2:Deep Water (2016)

Hi Spike,hope you enjoy Mystery Road (a sequel of which came out in 2016: www.imdb.com/board/14911996/?ref_=tt_trv_cnn) and for an Aussie Noir double bill,I would highly rec this 3 and a half hour mini-series/one-off film. After reading up on the real cases,writing this review for last 2/3 weeks,I've decided to just stick to first 10 mins of the plot.

10

Region 2 DVD:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deep-Water-DVD-Noah-Taylor/dp/B01N0CAUFX


The real case:

www.smh.com.au/nsw/police-to-review-88-possible-gayhate-deaths-20160519-goz7x6.html

* This review may contain spoilers ***

Ordering the 2002 Aussie Comedy The Nugget for a family friend,I asked if there were any other Aussie titles that they were after.Whilst checking up other Aussie flicks,I got told about a 4- part Aussie Noir mini-series currently airing on the BBC. Finding a number of Aussie Noir (which include The Rover and Square) to be incredibly gritty,I decided to swim into the dark waters of Aussie Noir.

The outline of the mini-series:

Whilst the official ruling was suicide,police officer Tori Lustigman has always had doubts over the ruling of her brother's death in 1989,due to his death taking place when a serial killer was murdering gay men (a case,which due to a mix of disinterested and homophobia in the force remains unsolved.) Stuck in a messy divorce, Lustigman decides to return to her home city. Sent on the beat with Nick Manning,they get told of dead body found on the beach. Recognising marks on the victim, Lustigman starts to fear the killer has come back to shore.

View on the mini-series:

Closely based on what is still a partly unsolved case, (with there being 88 "gay-hate" victims whose deaths remain unsolved) director Shawn Seet & cinematographer Bruce Young sway between the pristine present and the Disco lights of the 80's. Cruising into the gay underground scene of the 80's,Seet rolls out a tense Aussie Noir atmosphere,where the dazzling lights from the discos are unable to reach the corners where the killer lurks. Turning the Disco lights off,Seet gives the present a stylish shine,as slow motion and jagged tracking shots pull the past up with Lustigman. Bringing the past back into focus, Seet and Young pour ultra-stylised blood-red water over the present to reflect the murky dealing hidden underneath.

Examining the attitude cops have towards gays,the script by Kris Wyld and Kym Goldsworthy cuts deep into the homophobia under the "clean" veneer of the police,via the dialogue having a confrontation edge perfectly fitting the cops wanting to be seen as Noir "tough guys." Whilst the mentions of her divorce feel well-worn,the writers give Lustigman and Manning a magnetic evil under the sun mood,where modern tech (such as a dating app) are cleverly used to coil the murders of the past into the fading sun of the present.

Attempting to turn from the Aussie Noir rules of the "old boys club" Noah Taylor gives a fantastic performance as Nick Manning,who Taylor threads with a focus of solving the case,whilst staying in the good books with "the boys." Causing a ripple across the deep water, Yael Stone gives an excellent performance as Lustigman,thanks to Stone striking a gritty emotional gravitas over uncovering the full events that led to the death of her brother,as Lustigman finds herself at the Aussie Noir deep end.

The Conversation (1974) Surveillance Noir

The film is about a Surveillance P. I., Harry Caul (Hackman) an electronics nerd who incrementally becomes paranoid, alienated, and obsessed. Caul is "tops" in his field on the West Coast, a thorough and meticulous, snoop. His headquarters is in a chain link cage in the corner of an empty warehouse floor, at the edge of the rail freight yards of San Francisco. His workbench holds an array of audio equipment. He makes his office calls from various random payphones.

His standoffishness is manifest in the lack of details in his barren relationship with his girlfriend Amy (Garr). Harry has told her nothing of his past, he remains a stranger. When he calls on her, he sneaks to her flop door, putting his key quietly into the lock then flinging open the door as if to catch her doing something. He's a friendless, secretive, overly cautious schlub who wears a cheap plastic raincoat on sunny days, has installed four separate locks on his flat door, and gets anxious flashbacks to the young couple his work has put in jeopardy during a momentary power interruption on a streetcar. His only two release/retreats seem to be the confessional at his church and his saxophone, which he plays to the accompaniment of Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Lady spinning on his turntable.

During a big and intricately involved high tech eavesdropping surveillance job on a target couple Ann (Williams) and Mark (Forrest) in Union Square, San Francisco, Caul neglects the first rule of surveillance and begins to get personally involved. His past nagging guilt about previous assignments begins to gnaw on his conscience. As he works on the recordings and transcripts he begins to ponder if this job going to physically hurt or possibly kill the couple under surveillance as happened to others in another job in a similar situation.

Hackman gives a great performance as the wound a bit too tight, idiosyncratic loner. The cast comprising Caul's peers are equally eccentric and nerdy. The rest of the players are more peripheral with only Harrison Ford standing out as an ominous flunkie of the nameless "director." The soundtrack is excellent. 9/10

Screencaps with full review are from the 2010 DVD here:http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/01/the-conversation-1974-surveillance-noir.html

Noir TV:The Witness for the Prosecution (2016)

Hi Spike,after watching both parts a second time,I've done some notes on this very good Noir mini-series.

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.

Re: Noir TV:The Witness for the Prosecution (2016)

Thank you for your excellent review, which I ticked. I didn't realize it had been made into a mini-series, I'll try to check it out!

Have you seen the 1957 movie with Tyrone Power and Marlene Dietrich? It's excellent (altho I have no idea how close it is to Agatha Christie's play).

Re: Noir TV:The Witness for the Prosecution (2016)

Could be interesting. I'll check it out. It's hard to beat the 1957 version which differs from Christie's story a good bit, it has just been elaborated a lot. There was also a 1982 TV movie with Diana Rigg, Ralph Richardson and Deborah Kerr. It followed the 57 version very closely.

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

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

What Doesn't Kill You (2008)

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"It's like when they slurp coffee thinking it's going to change the temperature but it doesn't."



** This review may contain spoilers ***

After first seeing him in Zodiac on the big screen,it has been wonderful to see Mark Ruffalo become a part of major franchises and Oscar winning Dramas,whilst also noticing Ethan Hawke get back on track with a mix of Horror (the first Purge and Sinister) and major Art House projects such as Boyhood. Talking to a family friend about films he recently recorded off TV,I was shocked to find out about a rarely mentioned title that teams Ruffalo up with Hawke(ye),that led to me finding out what doesn't kill you.

The plot:

Growing up poor in Boston,teenage friends Brian Reilly and Paulie McDougan become petty criminals for gangster Pat Kelly. Growing up with Kelly, Reilly and McDougan become a part of his inner circle over the years,with the only thing that the guys turn down being armoured vehicle robberies. Trying to keep a family together with his wife Stacy,Brian finds the temptations too much to resist,and becomes a druggie. Whilst picking up some TVs that "fell" off the back of a truck,the guys are caught by an undercover cop who has had his eyes on them for years. Sent down for 5 years in the big house,Brian and Paulie start to find out that what doesn't kill you, will make them stronger.

View on the film:

Running out of hospital in the freezing cold for another "hit" Mark Ruffalo gives an incredible raw performance as Reilly.Spending his whole life working for Kelly with McDougan,Ruffalo subtly captures Reilly's awareness of being in a Noir tar pit,but also a burnt-out mind-set of getting free from the next mob/drug hit. Joined by a wonderfully expressive Amanda Peet as Reilly's wife Stacy, (plus a side order of two Wahlberg's for some Boston spirit) Ethan Hawke gives a great fragile performance as Paulie,who Hawke makes stand out to Reilly by holding Paulie with an optimism that is always on the horizon,but never reached.

Bringing his life story to the screen,co-writer/(with Donnie Wahlberg and Paul T. Murray) co-star (playing his former boss!) director Brian Goodman & cinematographer Chris Norr (who reunited with Hawke for Sinister) roll into Boston on a wave of blue collar Neo-Noir hovering above a frosty atmosphere of streets covered in snow that give Reilly and McDougan's "tasks" an ice cool shine. Cracking the door open to Reilly's fractured married life, Goodman gives the title a rustic tone,picking up corners of fading walls and keeping a distance to show the full misdeeds of the Noir duo.

Falling into cinemas as the studio went bust,the screenplay by Donnie Wahlberg/Paul T. Murray and Goodman fittingly presents a Noir Drama whose edges bleed with an impending sense of doom. Spanning 8 years,the writers brilliantly bring the world pushing Reilly and McDougan's out into the Noir darkness into focus with clever underhanded ways,from the cost of living in their old neighbourhood becoming un-affordable,to Reilly completely missing major family events behind bars. Tightening the grip drugs and crime have on the friends,the writers strip any darkness to expose the hopeless Noir pit that they are trapped in,as Reilly and McDougan discover what does kill you.

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

The Girl on the Train (2016)

Hi Spike,after staying away from the film due to it getting a massive kicking from reviews,I got the chance to see it this weekend,and found it to be a fantastic surprise. One of the main things that I think the movie suffered from was being pushed as a "Thriller",when to quote a headline a fellow IMDber gave it,the title is actually a "Suburban Noir." For the review,I stuck to the opening 15 minutes.

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UK DVD:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Train-DVD-Emily-Blunt/dp/B01LO7PJOE

* This review may contain spoilers ***


Note:I've not read the book.

View on the film:

Getting on-board during early stage of her pregnancy, (kept secret from cast/crew!) Emily Blunt gives a blistering anti-Femme Fatale Film Noir loner performance as Rachael. Dimly looking at the "perfect" couples across the tracks with eyes caked in black,Blunt superbly unseats the staggered nature of the Noir loner, pouring Watson out in bitter blends of over-confidence in protecting her "perfect" images,and a Noir pit that lands Watson with harsh reality. Joining in this prime cut "Women's Picture" Neo-Noir and also taking a liking to twitchy Justin Theroux's Tom, Rebecca Ferguson and Haley Bennett give excellent performance as Anna and Megan,with Bennett making Megan a bundle of sexy Neo-Noir temptation, whilst Ferguson fractures Anna's suburban, picket-line fence image created by Rachel,to release the bubbling Noir Fury.

Changing tracks from the London setting of Paula Hawkins's book to New York,the screenplay by Erin Cressida Wilson corkscrews the thrills for a simmering Neo-Noir atmosphere. Dovetailing fragmented flashbacks to Rachael going off the rails,Wilson presents with a sharp clarity the slurring state of Rachel,lit in sudden turns of aggression and a tense piecing together of her "forgotten" train ride. Opening the bottle to Tom's various relationships,Wilson cuts into an evil under the sun Noir mood, shining from a subtle, gradual changes in perspective,seeping a crisp Noir awareness under the nails of Anna and Rachael.

Buying a Noir Thriller ticket for the first time in his credits,director Tate Taylor & cinematographer Charlotte Bruus Christensen stylishly tap at the burnt Noir loner state of Rachael with grubby low-lighting opening the blackened,decayed wounds of Rachael. Backed by a shimmering score from Danny Elfman,Taylor layers the darkness with chilling stylisation of slow-motion rain hitting the frosty tracks,and screams from a horror-like nightmare linking Rachel's torn ticket memories.

White Sands (1992) Andy of Mayberry meets Marv and Jules

Deputy Sheriff Ray Dolezal (Willem Dafoe) has a dead body and a half million dollars sitting at the edge of the Rio Grande Gorge in the New Mexico desert.

So begins White Sands a Film Soleil Noir directed by Roger Donaldson (The Getaway (1994)) and written by Daniel Pyne (Miami Vice (TV Series)1984 - 1986)). Cinematography was by Peter Menzies Jr. (The Getaway (1994)), and music by Patrick O'Hearn.

The film stars Willem Dafoe (To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), Wild at Heart (1990)) as Ray Dolezal, Mickey Rourke (Body Heat (1981), Angel Heart (1987), Barfly (1987), Sin City (2005), Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)), as Gorman Lennox, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Scarface (1983), Slam Dance (1987)) as Lane Bodine, Samuel L. Jackson (Ragtime (1981), Sea of Love (1989), Goodfellas (1990), True Romance (1993), Pulp Fiction (1994), Hard Eight (1996), Jackie Brown (1997), ) as Greg Meeker, M. Emmet Walsh (Midnight Cowboy (1969), Serpico (1973), Blade Runner (1982), Blood Simple (1984)) as Bert Gibson, with James Rebhorn as Agent Flynn, Maura Tierney as Noreen, Beth Grant as Roz Kincaid, and Mimi Rogers as Molly Dolezal.

The film is initially captivating, the body, discovered by an Apache helicopter pilot hauling two amateur archaeologists, is lying in an adobe ruin, with his brains blown out. Coroner Bert Gibson declares "It's a suicide," made even more probable with the discovery of a half million dollars in an attache case. The banter between Gibson and Dolezal about Dolezal's new cowboy hat is amusing. This reprises later at the autopsy where a phone number is discovered on a piece of wax paper as part of the undigested stomach contents. The dead man is named Spencer.

Normally in Classic Noir the protagonist starts to make stupid decisions that propel the film down the road to Noirsville. In White Sands though there are way too many of these implausibilities to believe. Combined that with interesting but un important characters that appear then just vanish and unnecessary plot complications and you have a film that goes a bit off the rails.

Dolezal, posing as Spenser, calls variations of surrounding area codes plus the number and when he finally gets a connection he is instructed to go to a meeting set up at a motel. So what does he do?

He leaves his wife and son and drives off in his highly conspicuous blue 1966 Chevrolet Corvette, with a half million bucks without any backup to the meeting, implausibility number 1.

At the motel he is robbed by two women and instructed to meet a man named Gorman Lennox at a restaurant. FBI agent Greg Meeker intercepts Dolezal and informs him that Spenser was an undercover agent, an FBI mule carrying money for a payment. Since Dolezal has carelessly lost the money, Meeker tells Dolezal to posing as Spenser to recover the money or help arrest Lennox.

Dolezal meets Lennox (Rourke in a "That's one fine coat you're wearing" long coat) and his deal broker Lane Bodine. Since Lane knew Spencer she knows that Dolezal is an imposter, but since she gets a percentage of the deal she lets him slide implausibility number 2.

The money is for illegal arms. Needing more money when the arms merchants renege on the original deal, Dolezal has to romance Lane so she will attract rich humanitarian donors to fund the increase asking price on the deal implausibility number 3.

Willem Dafoe puts in a good performance but there is a lot of hesitation evident in which way the director wanted to go. M. Emmet Walsh's character is built up nicely then disappears entirely from the rest of the film, Dolezal's wife and son are treated likewise. Later two apparent lesbian goons assault Dolezal in a motel room then also are never really part of the film except as background. There are a lot of dead ends. Expectations are dangled in front of us but never followed through. White Sands, New Mexico, BTW, makes a very brief appearance in the last 5 minutes, what's up with that?

It probably would have worked better if it would stayed a bit simpler. The sum is not as good as it's parts, there was a good film in there someplace. 6.5/10 Full review with more screen caps here http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2017/01/white-sands-1992-andy-of-mayberry-meets.html

Europa, Lars von Trier, 1991

This film was a big hit at Cannes winning two awards, but that wasnt enough for von Trier who thought it should have got the Palme dOr and let everybody know how he felt, giving the jury the finger when they announced that Barton Fink was that years winner.

Europa is a beautiful film to look at using classical film techniques including Dutch angles, rear projections, front projections, double exposures and bits of color in its black and white photography for effect in some scenes think blood red. Then there is the hypnotic voice over by the great Max von Sydow: as the lens speeds down a spotlighted railroad track the voice says, On the count of ten you will be in.Europa! Ten!. Its all more than a bit strange but it adds up to a mesmerizing cinematic expression of a shattered and disoriented Germany at the end of WWII.

Leopold Kessler is a young, idealistic American of German descent who comes to the old country to be part of the reconstruction because, he says, maybe we should be nice to Germany. Leo is not ready for the people he's about to meet and never fully understands what's going on around him. His uncle gets him a job as the sleeping car conductor aboard Zentropa Railways a company that, of course, had only recently been transporting doomed passengers. Zentropa is headed by the Hartmann family whose patriarch is of questionable loyalties in occupied Germany. His niece, the also questionable Katarina, seduces naive Leo and draws him into a multi layered web of espionage and counter-espionage that involves a pro-Nazi terrorist organization known as Werwolf; and a US Army colonel who wants the young American to spy for the army.

The story is a mess (which is not a problem for me) and the acting a bit skewed giving the film a Lynchian feel. The film only makes illusions to the US/German business interests during the war, the camps, the Allied occupation, etc., without dragging us down into some allegory on the moral tragedy of the whole thing. So it gets an extra .5 pt. for that. 8.0/10

Re: Neo-Noir Quest 2

Live By Night (2016/2017)

This will probably be my last review on this board

Live By Night (2016/2017): Prohibition era Boston. Small-time Irish crook Ben Affleck doesn't want to get caught up in the territorial war between Irish gangster Robert Glenister and Italian gangster Remo Girone. But when he falls for Sienna Miller, an inside woman for one of his jobs, it's too late as she's also Glenister's mistress. When a robbery goes wrong and some cops end up dead, and Glenister gets the word about Miller and Affleck, it's only because of Affleck's dad, a police captain who knows everything about everyone in Boston, that Affleck ends up doing some hard time in prison rather than go to the chair or get killed by Glenister. But Miller's dead and when Affleck gets out again, he wants revenge and turns to Girone. Girone sets Affleck up in Florida where Glenister's been moving in on his liquor business. Affleck does well there and manages to take over most of Glenister's business. But Florida isn't just run by gangsters, it's also run by the KKK

Bloody awesome! If you enjoy the 30s and 40s gangster movies starring James Cagney and Lawrence Tierney (Affleck looks so much like him at times, I am convinced he based his physical demeanor in this movie on him), this movie will bring a smile to your face. While Affleck's character is never quite as ruthless or cold as Cagney's and Tierney's trademark roles, he definitely embodies that same kinda spirit. The movie also touches upon the more political/racial/religious aspects of the era, such as where police captain Chris Cooper tells Affleck he will turn a blind eye as long as he keeps his business to the bad (read: non-white) part of town (and of course there's the KKK as already mentioned above).

While Affleck is far from the greatest actor ever, he seems very aware of his limitations and makes them work to his advantage here. It also helps that he's supported by an excellent cast. And the movie looks absolutely stunning with some great sets and set pieces, and tons of beautiful 20s/30s cars (including a great car chase in and around Boston). Affleck, who also directed this movie, and DoP Richard Richardson, as well as the set & art directors, give this movie a great and authentic look, which by itself is worth the price of admission.

If there's a negative to this movie, it's that Affleck (also the screenplay writer!) wants to bring too much of Dennis Lehane's source novel to the table. Because of the sheer amount of plotlines some get a bit lost in the shuffle and not given too much attention (I also left out some rather important ones in this review, hah). I assume that similar to his 2010 movie 'The Town' his original cut is way longer than the current 2h9m runtime tho, so hopefully at some point a 'director's cut' of 'Live By Night' sees the light of day. For me however, the 2 hours flew by, and I was on the edge of my seat from the first second to the last. I can't recommend this movie enough, and I am even considering seeing it again in the cinema. Let me say it again: Blood awesome! 9/10

Re: Live By Night (2016/2017)

Thanks for that. I probably missed it because I'm not a Ben Affleck fan, but I'll check it out.

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

Re: Live By Night (2016/2017)

If you can still catch it in the theaters (it seems to be a big commercial flop unfortunately), please do, I think (hope) you'll be pleasantly surprised :)

Just in case, here's a trailer:

Re: Live By Night (2016/2017)

Sounds like I'll have to check it out too. thanks

Brit Noir: Faces in the Dark (1960)

Hi Spike,with this being from 1960,I'm not sure if it is a Neo-Noir or one of the last Film Noir's.

8

** This review may contain spoilers ***

Discussing French Film Noir with the very generous IMDber dbdumonteil,I asked about adaptations of novelists Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac,due to the three that I've seen (Eyes Without A Face,Vertigo and Diabolique) being absolute classics. Catching me by surprise, dbdumonteil told me about a British Film Noir adaptation. Gathering up titles for my birthday viewing,I was thrilled to find it on Ebay £2.50!,which led to me unmasking the faces in the dark.

The plot:

Completely absorbed in his work, businessmen Richard Hammond puts his eyes on inventing a new light-bulb in his factory. Trying out a prototype, Hammond gets caught in an explosion which permanently blinds him. Fearing that he might go mad,Hammond is told by the Dr that he must trust his long suffering wife Christiane and "loyal" friend/co-worker David Merton to take care of him. Returning to his country home, Hammond is horrified to find himself constantly needing to be "corrected" by Christiane that things have not been moved around in the house. Standing outside,light begins to enter Hammond's blind vision when he smells pine trees,despite no pine trees having ever been near his house.

View on the film:

Unmasking this near-forgotten title, Renown present a sparkling transfer,with the dialogue and Mikis Theodorakis's off-beat wah-wah score being clear,and there only being a few specs of dirt on the images of the dark.

Ridding Hammond of his sight in the first 5 minutes (!) of this Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac adaptation,the screenplay by Ephraim Kogan & John Tully cuts a lean and mean British Film Noir. Changing sight of the original novel limiting the pov to the darkness of Hammond's mind,the writers brilliantly retain the isolation Noir spirit,with sharp-tooth inner monologues bringing to light the mad darkness Hammond is trapped in,and the echoes of doubt he now has of those out of sight. Playfully nodding to the French to English transfer,the writers hit a fantastic ambiguous note for Hammond's friends and family, shining in the clipped exchanges Christine has with her husband,which carry (some) element of care with a decayed frustration over Hammond's blindness to other points of view.

Spraying the dark mist of the original novel across the screen,director David Eady and cinematographer Ken Hodges turn Hammond's upper-crust country house into a Noir maze,via ever winding ultra-stylish shadows guarding Hammond from seeing the darkest events taking place. Largely staying away from any Gothic "monster" lighting for Hammond, Eady looks into his burnt eyes with coiled close-ups stabbing the pompous outlook he had on life,with a new Noir loner grasp from Hammond to catch an eyeful of the true feelings of those around him. Joined by an elegant, thoughtful Mai Zetterling as Christiane, John Gregson gives a fantastic performance as Hammond,thanks to Gregson punching Hammond's narrow bitterness with a gradual Film Noir fear of lies coming from the faces in the dark.

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