Film Noir : What Film Noir did you see?:November/December Edition.

What Film Noir did you see?:November/December Edition.

Hi everyone I hope you all had a good Halloween and that with Christmas on the way and the nights starting to go dark,it is the perfect time to say

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

Fear in the Night (1972)

* This review may contain spoilers ***

Being a fan of Hammer Horror and the Giallo sub-genre I started talking to a friend about Horror flicks to view in October. Whilst being aware of Hammer's late Psycho-Thriller/Giallo era,I was surprised to get told of a Hammer psycho which co-starred Peter Cushing,which led to me fearing the night.

The plot:

Preparing to move to a secluded boys' boarding school that her husband Robert Heller will be working at,Peggy is attacked by a stranger wearing black gloves.Waking up from the attack,Peggy finds no proof that an attacker was in the house,and starts to wonder if she is imagining things. Going to the school with Robert,Peggy meets headmaster Michael Carmichael,whose quiet behaviour puts Peggy on edge. Attacked (and knocked out) again,Peggy wakes up to find Robert asking what she thinks might be causing her to faint.Fearing her sanity,Peggy decides to relax and walk round the school.Hearing the sound of school children,Peggy walks into the school and is horrified,when she finds it to be completely empty of kids.

View on the film:

Reaching the screen after originally being written in 1963,co- writer/(along with Michael Syson) director Jimmy Sangster gives the horror a sly middle class shell,dressed in crisp surroundings and prim clothes which allow for the psychological terror to lurk underneath. Dissecting Hammer studios major theme of female hysteria with Giallo black gloves,the writers brilliantly mix haunted Gothic Horror memories of a past that has long gone with a rich Film Noir pessimism.Tearing Peggy Heller away from being a "Scream Queen",the writers use the disbelief in Peggy's visions to cast her as a Film Noir loner,whose hysteria over what she is experiencing is clouded by the meek middle class façade Robert covers her eyes with.

For the final Hammer Horror he would direct, Sangster and cinematographer Arthur Grant set the mood tranquillity,by giving the opening morbid,stilted camera moves casting a shadow of something long forgotten. Cosying up in the Heller's house, Sangster sits in with corned shots on the household which lock Peggy in and make the sudden shots of violence smash the image of Peggy's life with a mighty Hammer.

Also making his final Hammer outing, Ralph Bates gives a wonderful performance as Robert,whose mature manner Bates makes just that bit eerily off. Joining in on the Giallo Horror game, Peter Cushing walks a fine line in his performance as "The Headmaster" whose gentlemen manner is undermined by Cushing blinding him with shards of cold emotion across his black glasses.Delivering a scream with fear to match the best of Hammer's Girls,the elegant Judy Geeson wonderfully turns Peggy into a burnt-out Film Noir loner,whose chirpy middle class heart is worn down by Geeson into a hysteria which leads to Peggy being numb to the outside world,as Peggy discovers that fear is the key.

Re: Fear in the Night (1972)

And needless to say, a tick is on the way. Good job.

Shakedown (1950) "Ace In The Hole" meets "Nightcrawler"

Directed by Joseph Pevney. Written by Nat Dallinger (story), Martin Goldsmith, Alfred Lewis Levitt and Don Martin (story). Cinematography by Irving Glassberg. It was a UI release.

The film Stars Howard Duff as Jack Early, Brian Donlevy as Nick Palmer, Peggy Dow as Ellen Bennett, Lawrence Tierney as Colton, Bruce Bennett as David Glover, Anne Vernon as Lita Palmer, Charles Sherlock as Sam, Rock Hudson as Ted, the nightclub Doorman, Peggie Castle as Hat Check Girl, and Joseph Pevney as Keller the Reporter.

The San Francisco Bay Area tale begins with a shadowy figure running across a waterfront railyard. He got three wiseguys on his ass. He runs across tracks and around the end of a boxcar. He drops off a camera on the coupler of the boxcar then speeds off.

The three goons close in. At the edge of the bay, they catch up to the man they are chasing. They grab him but not before he tosses a camera identical to the one he dropped off at the boxcar, into the drink. The wiseguys still beat the *beep* out of him and leave him lying unconscious across a street railway track with a steam switcher locomotive chuffing down towards him. He regains his senses and drags himself out of the way. Recovered even more, he walks over to the boxcar and retrieves the real camera. All this happens within the first two minutes.

Howard Duff plays a savvy photographer Jack Early, who is obsessed and desperately trying to break into the big time. He's not interested in just selling pictures, he wants a newspaper job. He gets some sympathy and a serious come on from a blonde female employee Ellen Bennett (Peggy Dow), who invites him to dinner at her place.

Ellen plays it hot and cold when Jack makes some feeble moves on her. She's engaged she tells him to Dentist in Portland, and tells Jack that he better leave. Shot out of the saddle Jack makes some small talk at the door, he then leans forward to kiss Ellen she raises her lips, but Jack does the unexpected kissing her on the forehead as he leaves. A slightly disappointed Ellen leans up against the door.

Hopping into a cab Jack lucks into another story as they follow a wildly careening car to its plunge into San Francisco Bay. Jack gets another exclusive picture of the victim who he has leaning out of the car window for a picture. He does the same at a fire where he stops a woman from jumping out of the burning building in order to get the pic. Jack is basically a jackass. Jack's only bump in the road in Newspaper Editor David Glover (Bruce Bennett).

So the paper hires him and he gets a big break when he convinces a "Dapper Dan" mobster, Nick Palmer (Donlevy) to let him take his picture. Nick takes a shine to Jack and invites him over for dinner the next day. Nick gives Jack a tip about a rival gang's upcoming bank job, Nick will pay Jack a $1000 down to take a picture of the robbers and another $1000 after the picture is published. The bank job is being executed by a goon named Colton, (Lawrence Tierney) he runs his operation out of a bowling alley. Jack is there at the bank to take pictures. He gives the newspaper the one where the gang's faces aren't easily identified. but he goes to Colton with the really damning photo and demands part of the take to keep quiet. Colton gives in. Jack while all this is going down gets the hots for Nita, Palmer's wife. Everything starts to escalate as you'd expect into a typical Noirsville spiral.

Howard Duff is great in this, it's so far, his best roll, that I've seen, Lawrence Tierney also gets high marks for his performance as the hood Colton with Brian Donlevy also putting in a nice turn as Nick Palmer.

Shakedown sorely needs a restoration, as is an 8/10. Review with the fuzzy screencaps from a multigenerational AVI file here:

Re: Shakedown (1950) "Ace In The Hole" meets "Nightcrawler"

Excellent film imho. Your review is spot on.

Re: Shakedown (1950) "Ace In The Hole" meets "Nightcrawler"

Good review. I really wanted to watch this when it was on rarefilmm, but the copy was so bad unfortunately that I didn't. I hope it will get a cleanup sometime.

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

Re: Shakedown (1950) "Ace In The Hole" meets "Nightcrawler"

It's in better shape than The Come On was.

Re: Shakedown (1950) "Ace In The Hole" meets "Nightcrawler"

That too I wanted to watch. Neither of them seem to be out on DVD as a clean copy.

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

Re: Shakedown (1950) "Ace In The Hole" meets "Nightcrawler"

Another good review. Never heard of this one, but looking forward to checking it out sometime.

Go to bed Frank or this is going to get ugly .

Re: Shakedown (1950) "Ace In The Hole" meets "Nightcrawler"

Thank you for a great review Mgt,of what sounds like an ace in the Noir hole!

Tv Bit: HONG KONG "Murder by Proxy" 1961


HONG KONG "Murder by Proxy" 1961

Rod Taylor headlines this 1960-61 series as a newsman who is stationed in Hong Kong. Taylor is constantly in trouble with various shady types who are always involving him in their troubles. It usually takes several round of fisticuffs, a dead body or two and a gun battle before things get settled. This is the 22th episode.

This one begins with Taylor out for drinks with and old friend, Nancy Gates and her new husband, Gene Lyons. Also in the mix is another old pal, Hong Kong banker, Richard Anderson, and a not so friendly Paul Richards. Taylor and Richards are at odds over the affection of a woman.

Taylor is sure Richards is behind a series of close calls the reporter has had the last few weeks. Someone fiddled with the brakes on his car, then, the gas at his apartment sprung a leak. Now as the group leaves the club, a taxi nearly runs him down and then speeds off. Now a new problem pops up, Lyons, the hubby of Taylor's long-time friend, Miss Gates, seems to think that the two are having an affair.

Taylor's pal, Hong Kong Police Inspector, Lloyd Bochner wants to assign a detective to keep an eye on Taylor. Bochner is sure that Taylor has annoyed someone with one of his news stories and they are looking for some pay back.

Taylor is thinking the same thing, but believes it is Paul Richards behind the trouble. He pays Richards a visit for a "friendly" discussion. The talk leads to more than a few left hooks and right crosses being exchanged between the two, with Richards ending up on the losing end of the conversation.

That evening there is a large dinner party thrown by Nancy Gates and husband Lyons. While most of the group are out on the balcony enjoying drinks, someone shots Lyons dead from an upstairs window. The deal here is that Lyons was standing beside Taylor when killed. The Police suspect that it was a hit that was meant for reporter, Taylor.

Inspector Bochner quickly puts the grab on the most likely suspect, Paul Richards. Both Bochner and Taylor are sure that Richards was smarting from the beating Taylor had given him, and wanted revenge. Richards swears he is innocent of the murder, and with no evidence, he is released.

The Police and Taylor now go looking for the cab driver who had nearly creamed Taylor. There is a whole plethora of red herrings tossed out for the viewer to chew over. But the suspects are soon thinned out and it turns out that it is the dear wife, Miss Gates. Gates was involved in an affair all right, but it was with Hong Kong banker, Richard Anderson. The two wanted Lyon's millions. All the close calls on Taylor had been to make the Police think it was a messed up hit against Taylor.

Taylor finally tumbles to the ploy when the cab driver is found with a large knife in his ribs. There is a showdown at Taylor's apartment with Anderson blasting away with a revolver. Unfortunately for Nancy Gates, her paramour, Anderson's aim is off and she collects a fatal dose of lead. Anderson gets a sound thrashing from Taylor and is handed over to the local constabulary.

This is a decently entertaining episode, with lots of nice work from both the cast, and crew. The story is from veteran big-screen writer, Jonathan Latimer. His work includes the screenplays for the noir, THE GLASS KEY, THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME, NOCTURNE, ALIAS NICK BEAL and THE BIG CLOCK.

The look of the episode is really top rate with twice Oscar nominated cinematographer, Philip Lathrop at the controls. He also handled the lensing duties for 61 episodes of the popular series, PETER GUNN.

The Last Seduction (1994) A New Definition of Femme Fatale

The 1994s updated definition of the French term femme fatale is "A Total F-ing Bitch," as Bridget Gregory a.k.a Wendy Kroy (Fiorentino) declares at one point while grinding poor Mike Swale (Peter Berg) into her '87 Jeep Cherokee upholstery, and she's right.

The Last Seduction is one of the Trade Center Neo Noirs (1968/69-2001) those smog haze, New York based films, where skyline shots pan across a city with the World Trade Towers standing like tombstones in an almost eerily haunting presence. My father worked on the foundation project. My earliest memory of the towers was of the bathtub with its temporary twin suspension bridges holding up the PATH tubes.

I left the chemically man made sometimes dayglow pink and sometimes fuchsia technicolor sunsets of New York for Montana in '72. I didn't see the Trade Towers again in person until 1997.

Directed masterfully by John Dahl ((Kill Me Again (1989), (Red Rock West (1993), You Kill Me (2007)). Smartly penned by Steve Barancik, with cinematography by Jeff Jur (You Kill Me (2007)), and a cool jazzy piano score composed by Joseph Vitarelli which is very reminiscent of Brubeck's "Take Five."

The film stars Linda Fiorentino (After Hours (1985), Bodily Harm (1995), as Bridget, "Wendy - Total F-ing Bitch," Gregory, Bill Pullman (Lost Highway (1997), Zero Effect (1998), The Killer Inside Me (2010)) as "Credulous" Clay Gregory, Peter Berg (Collateral (2004)) as the emotionally "Moronic" Mike Swale, J.T. Walsh (House of Games (1987), The Grifters (1990), Narrow Margin (1990), Red Rock West (1993)) as as larcenist lawyer Frank Griffith, Dean Norris (Breaking Bad TV) as townie Shep, Brien Varady as townie Chris, Donna W. Scott as townie Stacy, and Bill Nunn as PI Harlan.

Bridget Gregory, total f-ing bitch. Hot, genius smart, kinky and slinky. Feline and ruthless. Politically incorrect chain smoker. New York City telemarketer/con artist. Catty call floor conniver. Rough Rider floor boss.

Married to sleazy schemer Doc Clay Gregory (Pullman). A "writing doctor". A regular Dr. Feelgood. Sells prescriptions for money. Breaking badder, Clay and Bridget do a big score. Loan shark loot purchases pilfered pharmaceutical cocaine. 100K cumulates to 700K streetwise. The deal goes down. Under the Brooklyn Bridge. A Dumbo backdrop. East River shoreline shadow showdown. A sketchy situation but Clay survives.

Heads Home. Home sweet Harlem, hi honey I'm home, home (technically actually the Northern slope up Morningside Heights). Bridget mouths off. Clay gives Bridge a "to the moon Alice" slap across the choppers. Bridge is hurt. Bridge is pissed. Clay makes nice. Bridge plays nice. But Bridge is cold as ice. Clay craves coitus. She shows him the shower. Credulous Clay is in her power.

Clay is double dealt and double crossed. Kitty's claws rake deep. Bridget bolts. Gash with the cash. Cabs to her car. She dips. West out of NYC. West to dullsville, flyover cow country. A fly speck called Beston (Irvington, NY). A semi isolated Peyton Place. A sticksville of secrets. There she plays cool city cat to country bumpkin field mice. Artisan DVD, 10/10

Complete review with screencaps are here:

Re: The Last Seduction (1994) A New Definition of Femme Fatale

Dahl certainly has had a curious career. After his first three films - which have to be as good as any first three efforts in recent years - he abandons films and writing, opting for directing episodes of television series. Nothing wrong with TV and he has directed some good shows. I guess he's just not interested in developing his own projects.

Great movie, have seen it many times. Bridget Gregory is the ultimate femme fatale of the neo era. I love the scene where she puts out her cigarette in the apple pie that grandma had baked for Mike. Mike looks a little dismayed; he knows that Bridget is no good, but that doesn't matter anymore. Neither does grandma's pie.

Re: The Last Seduction (1994) A New Definition of Femme Fatale

Linda Fiorentino is a force of nature in this one. Great movie, a true neo-noir classic.

Re: The Last Seduction (1994) A New Definition of Femme Fatale

Speaking of Fiorentino, I can't believe she didn't get more mileage out of her performance in The Last Seduction, so I watched Bodily Harm (1995) it's on Youtube BTW where she plays a homicide detective, but the character is more reactive than proactive it's just not what you'd expect. It's not her, or what you expect from her, if you know what I mean.

I suspect that Jade 1995 and even Dahl's Unforgettable 1996 may have been more of the same. There is also talk that she was difficult to work with.

It's almost too bad, she had lightning in a bottle. She could have been an iconic type of personality.

It's like say Clint Eastwood, he made A Fistful Of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, and The Good The Bad And The Ugly, and rode that Man With No Name persona for years.

Re: The Last Seduction (1994) A New Definition of Femme Fatale

Agreed, it's a shame. I will have to check out Bodily Harm, thanks for mentioning it!

Re: The Last Seduction (1994) A New Definition of Femme Fatale

I had the good luck to see this on the big screen. Fabulous movie from start to finish. Fiorentino is excellent.

I was also lucky enough to see John Dahl's Red Rock West on the big screen. I just caught an episode of Ray Donovan that Dahl directed.

Nice write up.

Re: The Last Seduction (1994) A New Definition of Femme Fatale

Hi Mgt,I want to say thank you for the superb review which has just led to me ordering the movie! With you mentioning You Kill Me,I was wondering if that title is a return to form from Dahl? (whose Duel-style Thriller Joy Ride I've also found to be a good late movie by him.)

Shield for Murder (1954)

For 16 years Ive been living in dirt, and take it from me, some of its bound to rub off on you. You get to hate people everyone you meet. Im sick of them Im through with them all.

Shield for Murder is an unpretentious Noir, co-directed by its star Edmond OBrien.

Embittered and crooked veteran cop Barney Nolan (Edmond OBrien) has come to the conclusion that the straight and narrow is the path to nowhere and decides its time to get a piece of the action. He wants his slice of the American Dream, a suburban model home with a two-car garage and backyard BBQ. Instead of saving, he opts for the easy route: he kills a bookie for $25,000 which should buy him the middle-class domestic bliss hes been longing for with his girlfriend Patty (Marla English).
Unfortunately the 25G was mob money, and the mob wants it back. On top of that, a deaf mute old man saw Nolan commit the crime, and Nolan knows he cant leave any loose ends

The 50s saw several dirty cop Noirs, that dealt with police corruption in one way or another (Rogue Cop, Private Hell 36, The Prowler, Pushover), hit the screen.
A decided shift in tone could be noticed compared to the 40s. It was less about powerlessness in the face of pre-ordained fate, more about moral corruption, with emphasis on personal culpability.

Shield for Murder is a good example of that type of movie, but its neither the most stylish nor the most hard-hitting of its kind. The photography is slightly uninspired, and the storytelling is straight-forward and not overly imaginative, its nuts and bolts. It offers nothing particularly new in its depiction of disillusionment and dashed dreams. A bit more polish and subtlety may have elevated it to A status, what it does well though is realism.
Unfortunately, it plays too much like a morality play, OBriens character would have benefited from a little more moral ambiguity.

OBrien though, who was by then in his character actor phase, is absolutely believable in his role as burned-out cop. His everyman good looks were gone. He is sweaty and bloated, and its easy to believe the anger that is seething in him. Killing doesnt lie heavily on his conscience. In his view the people he goes after are not dead because he killed them, theyre dead because they didnt deserve to live.
Bitter and hateful, hes been working the streets too long and his attitude on the job has become more and more vicious over the years. Hes been sliding for a long time, the precinct is well-aware of his less than orthodox methods. A while ago he shot two Mexicans for no particular reason at all. Even before he killed the bookie, brutality and strong-arm tactics were his MO.

But interestingly, he is not a loner but a man in love. Only his girlfriend is able to mitigate his cynicism somewhat. She is the reason behind his rather banal suburban Dream.
It is telling that we only ever see the housing development with the model home at night, it is nothing more than a pre-fab dream in the darkness, a promise that doesnt come true.

Just once do we get a glimpse of the man Nolan used to be when a young man is brought to the police station who has been arrested for stealing a bag of groceries. One look at him tells Nolan it was the kids first crime and that he did it to feed his family. He lets him off with a warning.
He still is capable of understanding and compassion. It's a quick flashback to the man who became a mentor to his young friend on the force, John Agar, himself a former street kid.

Later the same night Nolan brutally pistol-whips two private dicks who were tailing him at a bar, to the horror of the patrons watching.

As the conflicted protagonist, the audience should be on Nolan's side but its hard to identify with him. His crook is not human enough for that, Nolan is not a basically good man gone wrong. He's firmly in bad guy territory. In the end we think he gets his just deserts, dying on the lawn of his dream house in front of a phalanx of squad cars.

Marla English plays OBriens finance. She looks fabulous in her cigarette girl outfit and those two make a strange but intriguing couple. She is attracted by his strength, but gets more and more scared by the out-of-control brutality he shows. Beauty and the Beast in Noir country.

Carolyn Jones (as a blonde) has a small role as a flirty B girl in a bar who throws herself at Nolan and whose preferences seem to be a bit on the kinky side.

Unpretentious but effective B Noir. Recommended.

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

Re: Shield for Murder (1954)

Once again a great review, how did you see it, what format.

Re: Shield for Murder (1954)

I bought the DVD. Remastered, it looks good. Are there different formats? Edit: Rubbish, of course there are. I misunderstood the question. Ignore it.

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

Re: Shield for Murder (1954)

Thanks, good to know. I got an avi file of the Spanish Release its in English with Spanish subs.

Re: Shield for Murder (1954)

Well done Jess. I have seen this half a dozen times and have never got around to doing a review for some reason. It is one of my personal O'Brien favs. For a low-renter, it sure pushes all the right buttons. Again, well done!

Re: Shield for Murder (1954)

Hi Jess,I want to say thank you for the excellent review (with that quote being SO hard boiled)and you do very well at expressing how the movie shows signs on breaking out of the "B" zone,but falls short.I was wondering if you have seen O'Brien's other directed title Man-Trap? (Gordon gave it 8/10)

Re: Shield for Murder (1954)

No, I have unfortunately not seen Man-trap. I see it's out on DVD. I'll check it out.

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

Fallen Angel (1945)

Been looking forward to catching this for a while. Really enjoyed it and I liked that it kept me guessing until the end.

I've never been a fan of Linda Darnell, but I was very impressed with her tough gal performance here. Love the scene where Dana Andrews orders a hamburger and she gets it instead of him.

Great to see Anne Revere show up too.

Go to bed Frank or this is going to get ugly .

Re: Fallen Angel (1945)

It's a great film.

Re: Fallen Angel (1945)

This is another one I really need to re-watch. Thanks for the reminder.

Re: Fallen Angel (1945)

This is a particular favorite of mine. I'm a Darnell fan. Need to rewatch.

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

Dana Andrews.

Hi Maddy,I hope you had a fun bonfires night,and it sounds like you had a terrific time catching up on this Noir.With Andrews,I recently got the chance to catch him in a very good,lesser known (non Noir) movie of his called Night Song:

Abandoned (1949) Black Market Babies

Directed by Joseph M. Newman (711 Ocean Drive (1950), Dangerous Crossing (1953), The Twilight Zone (TV Series)). Written by Irwin Gielgud (original screenplay), and William Bowers (additional dialogue). Cinematography by William H. Daniels (Brute Force (1947), Lured (1947), The Naked City (1948), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958).

The film Stars Dennis O'Keefe (The Leopard Man (1943), T-Men (1947), Raw Deal (1948), Walk a Crooked Mile (1948), Woman on the Run (1950)), Gale Storm (My Little Margie (TV Series)), Marjorie Rambeau, Raymond Burr (twelve classic Film Noir), Will Kuluva, Jeff Chandler (Johnny O'Clock (1947), Female on the Beach (1955), The Tattered Dress (1957), ), Meg Randall (Criss Cross (1949)), Jeanette Nolan (The Big Heat (1953), and Mike Mazurki (Murder, My Sweet (1944), Nightmare Alley (1947), I Walk Alone (1948), Night and the City (1950)).

Moving along at a good pace Abandoned makes use of numerous Los Angeles' locations. The iconic LA City Hall looms ominously. A young woman Paula Considine (Storm) arrives at the Missing Persons Detail in search of her missing older sister and her baby. There she meets reporter Mark Sitko (O'Keefe) who takes it upon himself to assist her, it doesn't hurt that she is cute. Stiko spots a man tailing her who turns out to be a PI named Kerric (Burr).

When Paula and Mark check the morgue's Jane Doe's they find her sister but not the baby. Through various channels, old newspaper articles and various tips they discover a black market baby racket that is protected by the mob.

Their next stop is the "Sally Ann" the Salvation Army where they discover that her sister was there, and after talking to one of her acquaintances discover that she hooked up with a woman who promised that she would find a home for her baby. Going to the district attorney they get the assistance of Chief MacRae (Chandler).

Gale Storm is quite adequate as the girl from Beaver Brook searching for her sister. Dennis O'Keefe, comes off as your typical Film Noir hero. Chandler is good but underused as the D. A. Baby racket head, Marjorie Rambeau will remind you of Margaret Dumont. Will Kuluva, is mobster Little Guy Decola who bestows protection to the scheme with Mike Mazurki his enforcer. Raymond Burr, is in his trademark "heavy" role as a sleazy private dick, but it's interesting to note the Mazurki is even bigger than Burr.

Its an entertaining film especially if you are not expecting much, could use a restoration. 6.5-7/10.

Review with screencaps from a multigenerational avi file here.

Re: Abandoned (1949) Black Market Babies

I agree with your take. It is a upper middle of the road B, that moves along just quick enough to keep the interest. Good write-up.

Re: Abandoned (1949) Black Market Babies

I got a heads up on the TCM board "I saw a gorgeous restoration of Abandoned at the Palm Springs film noir festival a couple of years ago." So there is a restoration out there.

Re: Abandoned (1949) Black Market Babies

Thank you for the wonderful review Mgt,with Dennis O'Keefe being a guy that I should be catching a glimpse of soon.

STATION WEST 1948 A Western Noir



The only way to describe this film, is, film noir meets the wild-west. Dick Powell exchanges his fedora for a Stetson as he plays a Government under-cover agent investigating a series of gold shipment robberies. The Army is also not amused that several of their soldiers had been killed while on escort duty for the gold shipments.

The cast includes Jane Greer, Raymond Burr, Burl Ives, Agnes Moorehead, Tom Powers, Gordon Oliver and Guinn (Big Boy) Williams.

It takes Powell a bit of time to shift through the possible suspects. He starts the hard way with a knock down drag out fist fight with Big Boy Williams. This soon gets him hired by the main baddie, Jane Greer, who goes by the name of "Charlie".

Greer runs the local saloon, stage line and logging camp. All three are tied into the missing gold shipments. One of the local mine owners, Agnes Moorehead, is in with Powell and the local Army commander, Tom Powers. Unable to move the gold out of the area, the gold is being stockpiled at the local fort. Powell is sure this is what the crooks want. He figures the baddies will raid the undermanned fort and scoop the lot.

Powell plays his part as if he just stepped out of a hard-boiled noir role. He is always exchanging barbs with Greer and the town's crooked lawyer, Raymond Burr. Powell's rooting around soon stirs up a hornet's nest and bodies begin to pile up. Of course there is mandatory gun battle, with the "right" people collecting all the required lead needed to end their evil plans.

All in all, a neatly done western with a noir twist. The film has an excellent look with director Sidney Lanfield handling the action. Lanfield was better known for helming several Bob Hope comedies such as, SORROWFUL JONES, THE LEMON DROP KID and MY FAVORITE BLONDE. The cinematography was handled by noir veteran, Harry J Wild. His work included, MURDER MY SWEET, CORNERED, JOHNNY ANGEL, NOCTURNE, THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME, PITFALL, THE BIG STEAL, THE THREAT, MACAO and HIS KIND OF WOMAN.

Re: STATION WEST 1948 A Western Noir

Somehow this one has always escaped me. I don't know why, I'm a Western fan and it has Jane Greer in it. For another Noir Western, check out Rawhide with Tyrone Power. Interestingly, it has Tyrone in a less than heroic role.

Checking Station West out on Amazon, it seems unfortunately they sell a cut version (80 min). How many minutes is your copy and is it a clean copy?

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

Re: STATION WEST 1948 A Western Noir

Not sure as to runtime, it was on ^TCM when I caught it a while back. It seemed to be the whole deal. Yes, RAWHIDE is also one of my fav dusters with a noir feel. There are more than one would think out there.

Re: STATION WEST 1948 A Western Noir

Pursued (1947) is another. Blood On The Moon (1948), and some include Man Of The West (1958)

A more recent very Neo Noir Western was The Great Silence (1968)shot in the snow, check out the opening credit sequence here:

Re: STATION WEST 1948 A Western Noir

Hi Gordon,I want to say thank you for the fantastic review (which I've ticked) of this Noir Western,and I was wondering if there is a good official DVD around?


Big Bad Wolves (2013)


* This review may contain spoilers ***

Since reading about them making the first ever Israeli Horror Rabies after seeing Julie Estelle living Comic-Book role as "Hammer Girl" in Gareth Evans Neo-Noir epic The Raid 2,I've been meaning to check the work of writers/directing duo Aharon Keshales & Navot Papushado.Getting the honour of being the host for an event held on IMDb's Film Festival,I was excited to find that Papushado and Keshales latest had been chosen for the fest,which led to me crying wolf.

The plot:

After the kidnapping of a number of schoolgirls (who are found murdered) police officer Micki believes that school teacher Dror is the killer. Grabbing Dror,Micki starts torturing him for info.Failing to get any info,Micki receives an anonymous call over the location of the latest victim,whose head has been taken. Unknown to Micki,someone has recorded his beating,which leads to him getting sacked. Blaming himself for his daughters death, Gidi learns that Dror is the main suspect.As Micki vows to go rogue and get a confession, Gidi starts getting set to make Dror afraid of the big bad wolf.

View on the film:

Backed by an excellent roaring score from Haim Frank Ilfman,writers/directors Aharon Keshales/Navot Papushado and cinematographer Giora Bejach cast an atmosphere of Neo-Noir dread,set alight by the kids being caught in the darkness via stylish slow motion,and wide crane shots capturing the isolated Noir world the duo now inhabit. Locking the guys up in one room,the directors deliver the violence with a blunt-force,that is burnt with a gallows edge to the torture,which gives it an under the skin seedy edge.

Before the wolves cross paths,the screenplay by Keshales and Papushado take inspiration from Nordic Noir,as Micki's claws of high-level corruption shine as the police find themselves in the wilderness over identifying the killer. Locking them in a basement with strips of jet-black Comedy,the writers cross the paths of Micki,Gidi and Dror (played by the excellent trio Tzahi Grad, Lior Ashkenazi and Rotem Keinan) and get the tools to drill rough Horror with crisp Neo-Noir discoveries.Whilst the comedic shots give the torture a jet-black snap,the writers become unwilling to cut into the inner horrors of the trio,which leads to the characters remaining still and failing to slice into the power-play Noir offering that is at hand,as the wolves blow the house down.

Re: Big Bad Wolves (2013)

Thanks for the heads up on this. Tick is on the way.

A Portrait of Murder 1955: Tv Remake of Laura

A Portrait of Murder 1955 It is a remake of Laura. Have not watched it yet but I thought you good folks would like a look at it. It stars, George Sanders, Robert Stack and Dana Wynter.

I stumbled on it on you-tube tonight. It is an episode 20th Century Fox Hour.

The episode is on You-tube under the user name seglora.

Re: A Portrait of Murder 1955: Tv Remake of Laura

Thank you for the wonderful tip Gordon,I'll make sure to watch the ep soon,and I'm looking forward to seeing what Sanders is like.

The Case Against Brooklyn (1958) Pseudo NYPD Noir

Here is a late "Classic Noir" cop film that has great cinematography, a decent story about NYPD police corruption undercover work fifteen years before Serpico, and the always enjoyable Darren McGavin in the title role. It's missing one thing.

B R O O K L Y N ! ! !

Now how the hell can you make a film about corruption in the NYPD Brooklyn precincts and NOT have any second unit or even stock footage establishing shots of the boro the film is set in? I'm spoiled, I guess after seeing the likes of The Naked City, Odds Against Tomorrow, and Blast Of Silence, backlot NYC just doesn't float my boat. You expect more not less.

No footage of the Brooklyn, Manhattan or Williamsburg bridge, no East River, no skyline, no subways, no avenues. A two second clip of Brooklyn Boro Hall is it. It's a big omission.

It's not as if they couldn't afford stock footage, they actually have a clip of a truck going off a curve and turning over from Thieves Highway (1949). It's jarringly out of place, and looks like California where it was shot, lol.

What they have is a few pathetic still shots of Grand Army Plaza, either the Gowanus Canal or Newtown Creek, a still of part the Brooklyn Bridge and some anonymous avenue but all of these are hidden behind the opening credits. All this spells out cheap.

The film does at least have some cuts to an el train going by along with the audios of passing subway cars during one sequence, but again, it needed a lot more sprinkled here and there, if it was going to compete on a level playing field with all of the more well known New York City noirs, The Naked City, The Window, The Dark Corner, Kiss of Death, Where The Sidewalk Ends, Cry Of The City, The Unsuspected, The Glass Wall, The Killer That Stalked New York, Sweet Smell Of Success, etc., etc. If those are all considered "B" Noirs The Case Against Brooklyn, A Columbia Pictures release, looks like a "C" Noir. Hell even cheapo "D" noir, Blast Of Silence has beaucoup more New York City ambiance, of course it had the advantage of actually being shot in New York.

Because of the lack of second unit footage the film has that "stylized" almost dreamlike, depopulated, relatively garbageless, antiquated backlot city look and feel, hell they don't even have the old bishop's crook street lamps, they give us these "California" globe type lamps. You get this exact same look and feeling when viewing The Man With The Golden Arm, A Streetcar Named Desire, Rear Window, and the weird split personality look of The Money Trap (1965) which jarringly segues between real LA and a backlot New York brownstone street. That film sorely missed using the old Bunker Hill Locations. But I'm digressing.

Also MIA is any New York/Brooklyn accents, you'd think it would have been a casting concern for a film set in NYC, even that would have helped more with the ambiance.

Other than those minuses The Case Against Brooklyn is a tight little film directed by Paul Wendkos who gave us (The Burglar (1957) and that film did include location shots of Atlantic City). The story was by written by Ed Reid based on his story I Broke the Brooklyn Graft Scandal, Daniel B. Ullman (screen story), Bernard Gordon (screenplay) (originally as Raymond T. Marcus) and Julian Zimet. Cinematography was by Noir, Crime, and SiFi vet Fred Jackman Jr. (Dangerous Passage (1944), Creature with the Atom Brain (1955), The Night Holds Terror (1955), Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956), and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957).

The film stars Darren McGavin (Fear (1946), The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), Mike Hammer (TV Series), The Outsider (1967 TV film and 1968-1969 TV), Kolchak: The Night Stalker (TV Series)) as Pete Harris.

The supporting cast provides quite a bit of cinematic memory, Margaret Hayes as Lil Polombo (Saboteur (1942), The Glass Key (1942), ), Warren Stevens (Women's Prison (1955), The Price of Fear (1956), Accused of Murder (1956), The Twilight Zone (TV Series) ) as Rudi Franklin, Peggy McCay as Mrs. Jane Harris, Tol Avery (Where Danger Lives (1950), Gambling House (1950), His Kind of Woman (1951), Naked Alibi (1954), ) as Dist. Atty. Michael W. Norris, Brian G. Hutton as Jess Johnson, Emile Meyer (The People Against O'Hara (1951), Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954), Shield for Murder (1954), The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), Sweet Smell of Success (1957), The Lineup (1958), ) as Police Capt. T.W. Wills, Nestor Paiva (The Fallen Sparrow (1943), Cornered (1945), Rope of Sand (1949), Split Second (1953), I, the Jury (1953), New York Confidential (1955). ) as mobster Finelli, Robert Osterloh as Det. Sgt. Bonney, Joe De Santis as Gus Polumbo, Herb Vigran, and Bobby Helms as Himself - Vocalist (his biggest hits were My Special Angel and Jingle Bell Rock).

The story is a quasi police procedural, about the investigation of a breaking news story about police corruption infesting Kings County (Brooklyn). Police corruption was already addressed in earlier Noir films such as The Big Heat (1953) - Philadelphia, is probably the first film that comes to mind, but we also have The Turning Point (1952) - Los Angeles, Rogue Cop (1954) - New York, and Shield for Murder (1954) - Los Angeles that all travel to some extent down the same track.

The film goes into high gear at the 13:50 mark when Ex-Marine Intelligence Sergeant, Pete Harris, is taken out of his Police Academy Graduating Class due to his undercover experience to investigate and identify police corruption in the 65th Precinct, Brownsville. Dist. Atty. Norris is in charge of the 40 man, police academy graduate, undercover squad. Harris is assigned to illegal betting parlors run by gangster Finelli and his second hand man Rudi Franklin. He also must get close to the widow of Gus Polumbo (a parking garage owner) who killed himself in a truck rollover to collect on a double indemnity policy so that his wife could pay off his gambling debts.

When Pete's hand picked partner Jess Johnson is gunned down by a crooked cop, Pete becomes obsessed with avenging his death to the point of alienating himself from the undercover squad and his wife.

Darren McGavin is excellent, you can see why he was tagged to play Mike Hammer in the 1958-59 TV series, which BTY in case you are interested has quite a few noir-ish episodes The series is available on DVD.

Harris goes around with a chip on his shoulder, a hair trigger temper and a Colt .45 Automatic (too bad the Mike Hammer series didn't include the .45). The rest of the cast is good, my only small quibble is with the female leads, you mean to tell me Columbia couldn't come up with some of their better known female talent, Kim Novak, Anne Bancroft, Jayne Mansfield, Martha Vickers, or Felicia Farr? I guess they were cutting costs all down the line. The film uses plot points and stylistic devices from other films noticeably The Big Heat, and Desperate. It's entertaining enough, 7/10.

Full review with Screencaps are from the SPHE DVD here:

Re: The Case Against Brooklyn (1958) Pseudo NYPD Noir

I'd love to check the movie out. Amazon has it, I just don't know if it's worth the price.

I agree with you about the on-location filming. In places like NYC, it's a must. You get a sense of place. The Naked City is a favorite of mine and though the movie is decades old, you still easily recognize the city. It changes, but it doesn't.

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

Re: The Case Against Brooklyn (1958) Pseudo NYPD Noir

See if you can get a used copy, I always go that route if I can.

Re: The Case Against Brooklyn (1958) Pseudo NYPD Noir

I have this one here put have never watched it. I keep shuffling it back to the bottom of the should watch pile. Something about the title does not grab me. It would not be the first time I got fooled that way. Nice write-up.

Re: The Case Against Brooklyn (1958) Pseudo NYPD Noir

Well if you like McGavin's Mike Hammer it's like a dry run for the series.

Re: The Case Against Brooklyn (1958) Pseudo NYPD Noir

Hi Mgt,I want to say thank you for the great review,and that whilst there are no shots of Brooklyn,I was wondering if there are any scenes shot on location,or if it is all studio bound?

HELL ON FRISCO BAY 1955 Alan Ladd, E.G. Robinson



This 1955 film was made by Alan Ladd's production company, Jaguar, and released by Warner Brothers. The film stars, Ladd, E.G. Robinson, Joanne Dru, Paul Stewart, William Demarest, Fay Wray, Stanley Adams and an early bit by Rod Taylor.

Former San Francisco Police Detective, Alan Ladd has just been released from San Quentin Prison. He just finished a 5 year stretch on a manslaughter beef over the death of a suspect. Ladd is not in the least amused and swears the whole thing had been a frame job. He blames a waterfront rackets boss, E.G. Robinson.

Also in the mix here are Ladd's wife, Joanne Dru and his ex partner, William Demarest. Ladd is upset with Dru because she had stepped out on him while he was in the joint. Demarest just wants to help but Ladd will have none of it. He intends to prove that he was set up for the prison tour.

Ladd hits various bars etc looking for possible witnesses. The problem here is that everyone ends up dead before, or just after he talks with them. Mobster Robinson is planning a big move to take more of the dockside "trade" and Ladd is becoming a pest. He sends his chief "controller", Paul Stewart along with ex-pug, Stanley Adams to have a few words with Ladd. Stewart, a former death row inmate, had been sprung from jail by Robinson's expensive legal boys. Stewart's heart is not really in his work since he got out. He has found love with a dolly, Fay Wray.

Anyways, Stewart and Ladd, who knew each other years before, have a few words about Ladd's quest. Stewart suggests to Ladd that it would be best for his health if he laid off annoying, Robinson any further. Ladd will of course have none of this idea. He then lays a severe beating on mob heavy Stanley Adams when the pug steps into Ladd. Stewart picks up the battered Adams and heads back to report to Robinson.

Ladd keeps stirring the pot and puts the grab on Robinson's nephew, Perry Lopez. Lopez is a minor link in Robinson's outfit, and not a very strong one. A couple of slaps and a dunking in a bathroom sink quickly has the kid spilling everything he knows. Ladd also gets a few clues from the pug, Stanley Adams. Adams was fired by Robinson after he was thumped by Ladd. Wanting to get back in the mobster's good books, Adams tries to shoot Ladd. This plan goes sideways and Adams collects some lead himself. Adams spills to Ladd before he dies that Ladd needs to go looking for a hired muscle type, Rod Taylor, who works for Robinson.

As all this is going on, Ladd's wife is still trying to get Ladd to forgive her for her romantic dalliance while he was in jail. Ladd is not the forgiving type at the moment so Miss Dru is out of luck.

Ladd gets a grip on Rod Taylor and hands him over to his Police buddy, Demarest. The Police are now starting to suspect that maybe Ladd had been framed after all. The pot starts to boil as Robinson turns up the heat. He has his nephew Lopez murdered for talking. Robinson also decides he can do without his executioner, Stewart. He sends a crooked cop to take care of this. (Unsuccessfully as it turns out)

With Robinson's mob falling to pieces under Ladd's pressure, he decides it is time to leave San Fran. Now there is a quick series of events with several gun battles, Miss Dru getting kidnapped, and a high speed powerboat chase across the Bay ending in a thunderous crash.

The film is okay, but it could have been a thundering good revenge film. The story, by veteran writers, Sydney Boehm and Martin Rackin, has its moments, but needed to supply more tension. It story also under uses Miss Dru for the most part. The colour and the Cinemascope also detract from any real film noir look. The film, shot on location, provides some great vistas of San Francisco but black and white would have worked better story wise.

The director here was long time Ladd friend, Frank Tuttle. Tuttle was the helmsman on Ladd's first hit, "This Gun for Hire". He also directed the Ladd film, "Lucky Jordon". Seven-time Oscar nominated cinematographer John F Seitz, was in the director of photography chair. Another Ladd pal, Seitz lensed 20 of Ladd's films.

Also in the cast is Anthony Caruso, Tina Carver, Willis Bouchey, Peter Hansen, former silent star Mae Marsh and with an early bit, Jayne Mansfield.

While the cast are all competent, Robinson does stand out as he does a take on his role from "Little Caesar". The film is not a waste of time by any means, but I for one was expecting a bit more.

On a sad note, stuntman and bit actor, Louis Tomei was fatally injured during the final chase scenes. He suffered a bad head injury and died that same day.