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General Discussion / MOVED: Happy New Year!
« on: December 31, 2019, 04:15:57 PM »
This topic has been moved to [Off Topic].

Off-Topic Discussion / Motherless Brooklyn (2019)
« on: November 02, 2019, 03:34:20 PM »
Wow this one was very impressive reminded me of a New York version of Chinatown it was very film noir- ish. Impressive cast also. 9/10

Off-Topic Discussion / PHENAKISTOSCOPE
« on: October 15, 2019, 11:46:39 AM »

Off-Topic Discussion / Poodle Springs (1989)
« on: September 11, 2019, 05:26:02 PM »
Previous comments:

Quote from: dave jenkins on April 09, 2017, 06:31:39 PM

Poodle Springs (1998) - 6/10. James Caan as Marlowe. Lame TV-like production, but with some features of interest.
link is dead.

Quote from: titoli in response from a review on March 23, 2011, 12:30:26 AM

Poodle Springs (1998) There is the famous anecdote about the people filming The Big Sleep about not knowing who had killed a secondary character of the story and Chandler, asked by them about it, didn't remember either. Well, I don't know what poor Leigh Brackett and Howard Hawks could have made if they had to transpose this for the screen. I mean, I haven't read the novel (and I never intended to, out of respect for Chandler) but if I assume (as jenkins is wont to) that Rafelson simplified the story once he brought it on the screen I can't imagine what the original novel (a development on the first 6 chapters left by Chandler) by Robert B. Parker was like.  But that is not the question because that is not why people, I think, read P.I. novels. You read Agatha Christie for the plot, you read Chandler or Spillane or even Stout for the characters, the dialogues, the city descriptions. Here the dialogues are standard, nothing memorable. Characters are standard and forgettable as well. The final explication and shooting are embarrassing. And, most of all, James Caan does nothing to sympathize with his character: and he looks old, older than Mitchum in his own Marlowe movies. I think Caan could have made a good (don't know how good) Mike Hammer in the '70's or even the '80's. But his Marlowe at 58 sucks. I think the best Marlowe, or at least the one that suits better my idea of him, is James Garner's, even though The Little Sister is not the best movie of the series. 6\10

I've always heard negative things about Poodle Springs. Even some from SLWB members (see above), So I avoided both novel and film.....

Its bullshit... the negative comments. This film is a great addition to the Philip Marlowe detective film "universe." I like it better than Altman's unconventional The Long Goodbye.

Poodle Springs was the novel started by Raymond Chandler that was unfinished at the time of his death. He knocked out the first handful of chapters before kicking the bucket. I'm sure he had some type of outline also. It was eventually completed by Robert B. Parker. I've heard that some Chandler fans even refused to read it out "respect" for Raymond Candler (see above). It was the Chandler estate that requested that Parker, a Chandler enthusiast, finish the last Philip Marlowe novel.

Directed by Bob Rafelson (Five Easy Pieces (1970), Black Widow (1987), and The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981)). Excellent cinematography was by Stuart Dryburgh, and and beautiful score by Michael Small. The teleplay (it is an HBO film BTW) was written by Tom Stoppard based on the aforementioned book by Robert B. Parker and Raymond Chandler. Stoppard made some changes that work very well. He advanced the time period 3-4 years setting the tale within 19 days between November 3 and November 22 1963 the day of the Kennedy assassination, and that ending date could very well be called the end of what some like to think of as the conservative old school 50's and the dawning of the "Age of Aquarius."

The film stars James Caan (Naked City TV Series (1958–1963), The Godfather (1972), Cinderella Liberty (1973), Dick Tracy (1990)) as Philip Marlowe, Dina Meyer as Laura Parker-Marlowe

David Keith (The Two Jakes (1990)) as Larry Victor/Charles Nichols. Joe Don Baker (Charley Varrick (1973)) as P.J. Parker, Tom Bower (River's Edge (1986), The Killer Inside Me (2010)) as Lt. Arnie Burns, Julia Campbell as Miriam "Muffy" Blackstone-Nichols, Brian Cox as Clayton Blackstone, Nia Peeples as Angel, La Joy Far as Lola Faithful, Sam Vlahos (Powwow Highway (1989), Lone Star (1996)), as Eddie Garcia, and Mo Gallini as J.D.

BTW Poodle Springs is of course fictitious. a spoof on Palm Springs but located way farther East and North, somewhere between Baker and Las Vegas and roughly two miles from the California/Nevada border.

The Story

First day back from his honeymoon Marlowe is lured to a crime scene by a phoney call from a radio phone from Paul Krauss another P.I. asking for some help on a stakeout down in San Pedro, berth 60.

He tell's Marlowe that he's driving a fire engine red '62 Ford Thunderbird convertible. Marlowe hears two shots over the phone. He calls his pal Detective Lieutenant Arnie Burns on LAPD and reports a possible homicide. Marlowe hops in his 1957 Plymouth Plaza gets to the waterfront finds the red rag top.

Inside the car is Krauss. Inside his head is a slug. He's looking through Krauss' wallet and notebook when Burns shows up. Marlowe tells him the story. The homicide squad arrives and starts investigating.

Marlowe: Hey you find the other slug?
LAPD Detective: There's just one entry.
Marlowe: You sure?
LAPD Captain: Something troubling you Marlowe?
Marlowe: Yea there were two shots.
LAPD Captain: Tell me again how you know?
Marlowe: I was counting...

Marlowe is arrested when the cops tell him Krauss couldn't have made the call. All radio calls go through an operator and the last call Krauss made was last night.

Marlowe immediately finds out how strong political pull really is when he's suddenly released when some brass on the LAPD finds out he's P.J. Parker's son-in-law. However once the brass splits his buddy Arnie, who doesn't want anybody to think he rolled over for P.J. Parker, has Marlowe handcuffed again and still sent to a holding cell until his wife and her law partners get him out.

From the name and address he found in Krauss' notebook Marlowe checks out a photographer named Larry Victor. He's not in his office so Marlowe jimmy's the lock on the back door and snoops around. He doesn't get far. Larry Victor come in through the back door of his office.

Larry Victor: Any idea what breaking and entering can get you?
Marlowe: One to five in Soledad...

Marlowe questions Larry after identifying himself as a private eye. Larry tells him that he doesn't know why his name was in Krauss' address notebook. Larry gets a phone call and Marlowe splits. But he circles around the hall and sneaks back in through the front door to listen to the conversation. He finds out that Victor is going to meet someone at Sam's Hof Brau at 9:00PM.


Other Films / The Grey Fox (1982)
« on: August 24, 2019, 09:21:09 PM »
Director: Phillip Borsos. Writer: John Hunter,  Cinematography by
Frank Tidy, Music by Michael Conway Baker. Filmed in British Columbia and Washington State.

Stars: Richard Farnsworth, Jackie Burroughs, Ken Pogue,

Needs it's own discussion page and a place on the American Western list.  Just caught the first 15 minutes on a re-watch until my internet connection crapped out, will watch the rest and put my thoughts down here. I haven't seen it in quite a while.

Well I think it's a chromecast problem. I got to the halfway point then it got tiresome. Shut it off. A pretty good Western, in the McCabe & Mrs. Miller vein. 

Other Films / The Long Rope (1961)
« on: July 27, 2019, 03:16:45 PM »
Director: William Witney, Writer: Robert Hamner, starring Hugh Marlowe, Alan Hale Jr., Robert J. Wilke. A Mexican is framed for the murder of Wilke's brother, Marlowe is the judge, Hale is the sheriff. 5/10 a good reason why Spaghetti Westerns became so popular.

Off-Topic Discussion / Albert Finney
« on: February 08, 2019, 10:43:27 AM »
R.I.P. Tom Jones

Off-Topic Discussion / Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948)
« on: January 11, 2019, 04:24:59 AM »

A Paramount Noir so don't hold your breath TCM fans. Directed by John Farrow (The Big Clock (1948), Alias Nick Beal (1949), and Where Danger Lives (1950)). The screenplay was by Barré Lyndon and Jonathan Latimer. Based on the novel of the same name by Cornell Woolrich.

The Music was by Victor Young and the Cinematography was by John F. Seitz who lensed This Gun for Hire (1942), Double Indemnity (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945), The Big Clock (1948), Appointment with Danger (1950), Sunset Boulevard (1950), and others.

Stars: Edward G. Robinson as John Triton 'The Mental Wizard', Gail Russell as Jean Courtland, John Lund as Elliott Carson, Virginia Bruce as Jenny Courtland, William Demarest as Lt. Shawn, Richard Webb as Peter Vinson, Jerome Cowan as Whitney Courtland.

The Cornell Woolrich book was a real slog. To make it simple I'll use the film characters names and delineate the books action in italics and the film in regular type.

An off duty police detective taking a walk along Riverside Drive in Washington Heights he finds some gloves then an expensive cigarette case, then another item following them, like bread crumbs he follows the trail onto the George Washington Bridge where he gets to a young woman Jean Courtland who is contemplating committing suicide. He reaches her just as she is about to leap. When he saves her she is delirious and complaining about the stars watching her.

He takes her to a cafe where she tells her story.

The film begins dramatically with a shot of a Southern Pacific steam locomotive switch engine roaring through a rail yard. Jean Courtland's boyfriend Elliott Carson gets out of his convertible, he looks about. As he searches around, he firsts finds a pair of Jean's gloves, between some rails, continuing he next finds the contents of her purse including a cigarette case strewn about a stretch of tracks. Looking about he spots Jean climbing a spiral staircase that leads to a signal maintenance bridge across the tracks.

Elliott Carson (John Lund)

Elliott runs to the bridge and starts up after Jean. Jean climbs over the rail and is about to jump down to the tracks as the switcher approaches when Elliott saves her. He takes her back to his car where she asks if he could put the top up because the stars are watching. Elliott takes her to a cafe where she sees John Triton and then she knows how Elliott found her.

In the cafe Jean relates that she is despondent because a man John Triton who sees the future has devastated the life of her father. She tells the detective that he gave her father stock quotes and tips and predicted the crash of a plane that he was supposed to be on. He then predicts the time and place and method (involving a lion) of her father's actual death, and tells her a series of strange seemingly bizarre things that will occur preceding it. Her father as each weird event/thing happens, through worry is reduced to a functioning corpse.

At the cafe John Triton tells his story. He had a phony mentalist act that worked off a code. A woman Jenny, Jean's future mother, was the cheesecake that worked the audience collecting questions filled out by the audience and sealing them in envelopes and depositing them in a fishbowl.

John Triton (Edward G. Robinson)

Jean Courtland (Gail Russell)

John reveals to Jean that one night during the act a vision came to him like raindrops on a window and he actually began to see visions of things to come.

John Triton aka 'The Mental Wizard': [to Jean and Elliott] I, uh, suppose that most people when they're looking back can see the exact point where their lives are touched by something... a new job, an unexpected inheritance, a quick decision, but I can't. My destiny came upon me... imperceptibly like
[Indicating with his finger]
John Triton aka 'The Mental Wizard': the first thin drops of rain are noticed on a window pane. It wasn't until the third or fourth or fifth drops that I became aware of this rain that was to engulf my life. I remember the date, August 3, 1928. we were playing a one-night stand in a small town in Louisiana, Glenberry
[Dissolve to flashback]
John Triton aka 'The Mental Wizard': Triton, The Mental Wizard and Company! Three twelve minute shows a day sandwiched with the Toto and His Tumbling Dogs and a troupe of acrobats. The act deserved better billing. It was a phony, of course, like most mind-reading acts, but it was a first class phony.

The fishbowl was placed on a table near John and he identified the various audience members and answered their questions without ever touching the envelopes. He didn't have to. Whitney Courtland  the acts pianist was the person who actually was passed the real envelope. The switch was made with identical fish bowls. Whitney opened an envelope read the question and by the means of playing certain tunes and emphasizing certain notes conveyed by code the information to John who then wowed the audience.

John Triton aka 'The Mental Wizard': if I do say so myself. Nobody knew how we did it. It was the late show - 11:37, and while Jenny was collecting the envelopes with the usual familiar questions: 'Will I take a trip?', 'Is my husband faithful?', 'Should I marry my boyfriend?', I was winding up my spiel....

He stops in the middle of it and tells a woman in the audience wearing a straw hat with daisies that she better get home quickly, her son is in danger. After the show the woman and her husband thank John and tells him that their son had found a book of matches and had started a fire.

John Triton aka 'The Mental Wizard': This gift, which I never asked for and don't understand, has brought me only unhappiness!

The way the act worked was after the collection, the fishbowl was placed on a table near John and he identified the various audience members and answered their questions without ever touching the envelopes. He didn't have to. Whitney Courtland  the acts pianist was the person to whom the actual real envelopes were passed. The switch was made with either identical fish bowls or by Jenny's slight of hand, it's never actually detailed. Whitney would then behind the piano and out of sight from the audience open an envelope read the question and by the means of playing certain tunes and emphasizing certain notes conveyed by prearranged code the information to John who then wowed the audience. Jenny and John were in love and planned to marry.

Whitney doesn't believe John at first until he give him a tip on a racehorse that ends up paying ten to one. John begins to get stock tips, one is for the stock of an unknown oil company called Comanche Hills which ends up becoming one of the biggest strikes in the country.

Whitney Courtland. (Jerome Cowan)

Meanwhile John encounters a newsboy at the stage entrance to the theater he sees a vision of the boy getting run over by a truck, He is about to tell the boy not to cross the street but decides that he should ignore the vision.

John Triton aka 'The Mental Wizard': I was becoming more frightened every day, and I began to have a crazy feeling that... I was making the things come true - like a voodoo sorcerer who kills people by sticking pins in the doll. I thought of the man with a broken collar bone, the boy with the matches. Would anything have happened to them if I had kept quiet?

John doesn't tell the boy not to cross the street which results in the boy getting killed.


Off-Topic Discussion / Noir Then And Now
« on: January 02, 2019, 05:08:30 PM »
Odds Against Tomorrow

Noir, then and Now

Then (1958-9) - New York Central RS-3 Alco Diesel Switcher rolling North through the 7th & Warren St. intersection, Hudson, NY

Now, I took this December 21, 2018 a CXS SD40-2 (EMD) going South through same intersection.

For a Few Dollars More / El Indio
« on: November 11, 2018, 07:46:33 PM »
Interesting discovery, Emilio Fernández played El Indio in a 1936 film called Marijuana.

Other Films / Roughshod (1949)
« on: October 18, 2018, 02:13:20 PM »
Director: Mark Robson, stars: Robert Sterling, Gloria Grahame

Three convicts Lednov (John Ireland) and two buddies break out of prison, shoot down three cowboys and steal their clothes. Ludnov wants revenge on Clay Phillips (Robert Sterling).

Clay Phillips hears about the escape. He and his young brother though have been planing on leaving town to take a herd of horses to Sonora to sell. Out on the road they come across four cat house girls Mary Wells (Gloria Grahame) and her friends, Elaine, Helen and Marcia, who were forced out of town by the reform element. They are heading the same way but have a broken wheel on their buggy. One of the girls boyfriends shows and Marcia leaves with him to get married. Clay takes the remaining girls on to the nearest ranch, where it turns out one of the girls Elaine is the homesteader's wayward daughter.

As Clay already knows that one of the cons is probably after him he is less than thrilled to have to take the remaining two girls Mary and Helen on with him. Mary meets a prospector and decides to stay with him. Then Clay flags down a stagecoach and puts Mary on it, just in time to have a showdown with Ludnov and crew. 6/10

Once Upon A Time In The West / MOVED: Another great Leone book on its way
« on: September 28, 2018, 08:30:17 AM »
More newsy [Sergio Leone News].

Off-Topic Discussion / Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971)
« on: September 20, 2018, 04:16:09 PM »

Wow! One of the first Black Neo Noir, a Soul Noir Masterpiece.

"This film is dedicated to all the brothers and sisters who've had enough of the man"

Directed by Melvin Van Peebles a black man exploiting being black, with a story set in the black community. It's been called the first Blaxploitation Film preceding Shaft by a few weeks. Though often lumped in with Blaxploitation Films both Shaft and Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song are actually very good Neo Noirs in and of themselves, they just happen to have predominately black casts, and are just onerously included, in my opinion, solely for that superficial reason.

True Blaxploitaion Films to me, are more tongue in cheek in a way tending to, for me anyway, almost burlesque the black community. Sweetback, Across 110th Street, and Shaft are more serious fare. There may be others I'm not aware of. I'm not familiar with all of them (there are over 350 films) but I've heard good things about Superfly (1972), I'll definitely check it out.

Van Peebles not only directed, scripted, and edited the film, but also wrote the excellent composite R&B, soul, funk, and jazz, score performed by Earth, Wind, and Fire, this is juxtaposed at times by a sort of Gospel funk Greek chorus.

The film, was funded somewhere in the vicinity of $100,000 + (I've read different stories) which in the end grossed $10 million. A Hit.

I saw this once on a big screen in of all places Missoula, Montana over 40 years ago, in the early 70s and never seen it again until a few days ago.

Van Peebles and his Yeah Productions, crafted a roughed edged work of art. Its a gift for Neo Noir lovers, a healthy visual helping of a lot of the old Classic Film Noir locations in The City Of Angels before most of them disappeared for ever. It was also shot at arguably the most creative, exploitative and exploratory decade in American Film History.

Young Leroy aka Sweetback (Mario Van Peebles)


Its the simple tale of Sweetback (Melvin Van Peebles), who as a young black "orphan" named Leroy (Mario Van Peebles) ran away from his South Central L.A. neighborhood flop. He was taken in starving at a whorehouse and raised there by the ladies of the evening. Leroy earned his three hots and a cot as a towel boy, supplying the ladies with all their needs between customers. A few years later one of the girls takes a fancy to him and invites him in for a poke. He doesn't know what to do.

towel boy

Hooker: You ain’t at the photographer’s. You ain’t gettin’ your picture taken. Move!

At first Leroy is a bit shy but soon gets busy with it. The whole whole sequence starts against the electrical hums of a clothes washer and ending in her multiple "oh God!, Oh God!" hallelujahs climaxing to a Gospel choir. He's so good at "endurance screwing" that his first woman christens him "Sweet Sweetback."

"oh God!"

About say 10-12 years later. grown, Sweetback is now working as a live sex performer at the small shows the whorehouse puts on to inspire the customers to go "upstairs." This whole sequence is homage or reminiscent of the fight spectators in Robert Wise's The Set-Up (1949), and also of Delbert Mann's crap game participants in Mister Buddwing (1966). Another occurs during a poker game.

The Show

One night a couple of white LAPD detectives come by to ask a favor of Beetle. Beetle is the pimp who runs the house. A black man has been killed and the black community is putting pressure on the LAPD to do something. The detectives ask Beetle to let them arrest Sweetback to show that they are doing something, and they will then let him go in a few days for lack of evidence. This will appease their superiors. Beetle agrees and tells Sweetback the deal.

On the way to the station the detectives get a radio call to a disturbance. There they take into custody a young Black Panther named Mu-Mu (Hubert Scales). When Mu-Mu insults the detectives they stop the patrol car take his ass out of the car and viciously whoop on him. Sickened by the disrespecting of a brother, Sweetback attacks the detectives, Using his handcuffs like brass knuckles he beats them unconscious. He then gathers up Mu-Mu to his feet and splits.

Sweetback (Melvin Van Peebles)

Sweetback doubles back to the whorehouse where he asks Beetle for help. Beetle is scared himself of being arrested.

Beetle (Simon Chuckster)

Beetle: Like you gonna have to kinda lay out, stretch out a little while, be real cool. Kinda lay dead. Ol' Beetle'll let you know what's happenin', what's goin' down. You don't have to worry about nothin'. If you need anything, anything at all, brother, just keep the faith in Beetle, ol' Beetle goin' to bring you through, cause this is just a skirmish. You know how the game goes, baby. But you keep the faith in me and you my man. You my favorite man. Can you dig it, baby? Together, you know, maintain....


Sweetback heads out the door and down the stairs. As Sweetback leaves the whorehouse he is arrested by the cops waiting outside who figured he may head back there. Two cops in a patrol car haul him away to a deserted lot.

Sweetback is knocked around a bit, then taken back to the squad car.  He is about to be driven downtown when a Molotov cocktail hits the police car just as it starts to pull away. Sweetback escapes out a door into L.A. He hits up a black preacher.


Off-Topic Discussion / The Big Empty (1997)
« on: September 20, 2018, 10:37:53 AM »
 The Intangible Detective

Directed by Jack Perez. Written by James McManus and Jack Perez. Cinematography by Shawn Maurer, Music was by Jean-Michel Michenaud.

The film stars James McManus as Private Detective Lloyd Meadows, Ellen Goldwasser as Jane Danforth, Pablo Bryant as Peter Danforth, H.M. Wynant as J.W. McCreedy and Lee Holmes as Scott.

Never heard of this film and actually, it just sort of popped up on my Netflix list by mistake. I thought I ordered The Big Empty (2003). This film is an interesting take on Noir.

Lloyd (McManus) is a waiter at a diner somewhere in L.A. While shopping at a grocery store for motor oil he witnesses his friend Scott (Holmes), who once told him was going to do big things with his life drop dead. All he ever made it to was grocery store clerk.

Then and there as Lloyd watches the EMT's wheel Scott to meat wagon he figures that it was Karma  that made him witness Scott's death and decides to change his life on the spot. He un-pins his "Hi my name is Lloyd" name tag from his polyester uniform and drops it on the sidewalk. We jump cut to him slipping a "Lloyd Meadows Private Detective" business card into his wallet. Hey it's Tinseltown. Its a riff on the old "go West young man/reinvent yourself" trope. Waiter to private dick. Hell what could go wrong?

Lloyd (James McManus)

Jane (Ellen Goldwasser)

Peter (Bryant)

Scott (Lee Holmes)

He seems to make an OK go of it until he get's personally involved with a client. Jane (Goldwasser) suspects her care giver husband Peter (Bryant) of having an affair. When Lloyd gets the unexpected goods on Peter it all goes Noirsville when he stalls on handing over the evidence to Jane in order to both inject himself into her life and to blackmail Peter.


It's watchable and will click mostly for noir fans who will get the references. 7/10

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