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Topics - cigar joe

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"She's a railroad lady
Just a little bit shady
Spending her days on a train
She's the semi good looker
But the fast rails they took her
Now she's trying just trying
To get home again"(Willie Nelson)

Directed by Bob Ellis and also written by him along with Patric Juillet, and Denny Lawrence. The interesting cinematography was by Yuri Sokol, music was by Peter Sullivan. The film was shot around Goulburn, and Sydney in New South Wales, and in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It reminded me a lot of The Narrow Margin.

The film stars Wendy Hughes (My Brilliant Career (1979)) as Jenny Nicholson aka. The Girl, Colin Friels (Dark City (1998) as The Man, Norman Kaye as The Salesman, John Clayton as The Football Coach, Rod Zuanic as The Young Soldier, Lewis Fitz-Gerald as Jenny's brother Brian, Peter Whitford as The Steward.

The tale of a "railroad lady" a woman who, on the weekends, moonlights as a professional prostitute. She trolls the lounge car and spreads her legs for lonely men on the overnight train, the Sydney/Melbourne/Sydney Express. Called the "Sex" or "Mex express. It's a seventeen car train and a twelve hour journey in each direction.

Jenny (Wendy Hughes)

During the week she's a demure Catholic girls school art teacher. She is justifying her seedy second occupation by using the jack to buy her paraplegic junkie brother the morphine he needs for his habit. He is sort of a latent de facto pimp.

All her encounters are juxtaposed with haunting shots of the train stabbing through the lonely darkness. A metaphor for lost souls searching the dark eternity for fleeting moments of intimacy.

She enters the lounge car like a shark looking for tricks she knows how to scope out the troubled  lonely ones, and how to maneuver in close, and how to make them desire her.

Jenny's a good listener, and instinctively knows what to say to encourage and comfort. Before she was a teacher she was for a brief period a nurse and that experience informs her almost therapeutic effect on her johns.

She has the Judy Garland Suite reserved for her assignations. Chameleon like she changes her looks  with different clothes, various wigs, and makeup, and accessories.

"I do this for money"

First customer is a famous football coach. He writes a newspaper column, but he has just gotten fired. He has some low self esteem and a persecution complex. They chat in the lounge until Jenny suggests that they go to her suite. The coach agrees eagerly. In the dark corridor she stops and matter of fact-ly whispers that this is going to cost him. She charges him $250, they do the horizontal mamba, and when his time is up she drops the friendly facade and kicks him out. The next morning in the dining car she ignores him and his attempts to make conversation. It was just business.

On the return trip she has a different look, that of a much younger woman. A real flirtatious cutie. She picks up a young soldier. He's smitten with her, wants to marry her. When he tries to stay past her 3AM cut off time she demands that he leave. He does, but after some difficulty. He again tries to talk with her at breakfast, and to accost her on the platform. She calls the authorities.

"It's gonna cost you"

Another weekend. Her next client is a retired salesman. She is a redhead on this rail trip. He comes on to her when he approaches her in the club car.

Salesman: Are you going all the way?
Jenny: I usually do.

"Two hundred dollars."

On her next tip there is a Christmas Party and her client that night is a preacher. Throughout all these encounters we have seen in short glimpses a handsome man giving Jenny the eye, watching her in sort of peek-a-boo sequences.  After the second incident we get the first impression that he may be a railroad detective or some other type of cop. She appears to break with her usual cold professionalism, and seems excited by his attentions. Jenny is inside a woman with needs after all. Jenny begins to look for him.


Another pleasant surprize!

I always admired Cavalcanti's I Became a Criminal (1947) They Made Me a Fugitive (original title) and did not realize that he made another Film Noir. There may be more. Cavalcanti was a Brazilian-born film director and producer who worked in  France, England, and Brazil. The story was based on the Ernest Raymond novel, the screenplay was by J. Lee Thompson who later directed U.K. Noirs (Murder Without Crime (1950), The Yellow Balloon (1953), Young and Willing, aka Weak and the Wicked (1954), Blonde Sinner, aka Yield to the Night (1956),  and Tiger Bay (1959)), and in the US he directed Cape Fear (1962). Additional dialog is credited to William Douglas-Home.

The Cinematography was by Derick Williams, and the Music was by Philip Green. The film stars Richard Todd (The Interrupted Journey (1949), Stage Fright (1950), Lightning Strikes Twice (1951), Intent to Kill (1958), Never Let Go (1960), The Longest Day (1962)) as Herbert Edward Logan, Patricia Plunkett as Rosie, Stephen Murray (Silent Dust (1949) as Christopher Drew, Michael Laurence as Jim Heal, Vida Hope as Olive Mockson, Rosalyn Boulter as Frankie Ketchen, George Hayes as the Artist.

Christopher Drew (Murray) lt.

A fledgling writer Christopher Drew (Murray) gets a poem published in a London newspaper, and decides to start a novel, but soon discovers that his posh and sheltered life has left him deprived of  true hardscrabble life experiences upon which to base his characters.

Frankie (Rosalyn Boulter)

He figures that if he goes out and experiences himself, the darker side of life, he will be able to get over his writers block and write his manuscript. He heads out into the seedier sections of London.  Changing his identity to Kip Marlowe he begins to infiltrate the pubs and wine bars. He becomes attracted to a B-Girl named Frankie (Boulter). Frankie is a pretty active twist. She has a physically abusive boyfriend Jim Heal (Laurence) who is a fireman on the steam locomotive of a long distance train route.

Jim is away enough nights that Frankie has a pinch hitter named Herbert Logan (Todd) a professional burglar, go to bat while Jim is away. Herbert trusts Frankie enough to stash his wad of dough with her. She hides it behind a heater grate in a wall.

After Frankie meets Kip she makes room on her personal scorecard to shoehorn him in between Jim and Herbert. Kip is soon enjoying Frankies charms on a regular basis.

Herbert Logan (Richard Todd)

Jim begins to hear rumours and is anxious to get back from work to see if he can catch Frankie in flagrante delicto, i.e. playing hide the sausage with another man. On this particular night Herbert and Frankie have a loud spat in the pub in front of witnesses. Herbert stops at Frankie's flat to apologize before heading off to Glasgow to do a burglary job there, with his regular partner in crime John Craigie 'Jocko' Glenn (James Hayter).

Jim Heal (Michael Laurence)

Soon after Herbert leaves, Kip arrives on schedule to slip the bone to Frankie for a few hours. Jim arrives just as Kip was about to leave Frankie's flat. Frankie hears him calling and quickly locks her door just in time. She runs to her window and flings it open so that Kip can escape, while Jim is still pounding on her door.

Jim breaks through her door breaking the lock, and finds the room empty, but quickly deduces correctly, that Frankie, who is disheveled and partially dressed, has just finish screwing. Jim runs to the window and just barely glimpses Kip hopping over a fence. Turning back to Frankie, Jim enraged strangles her to death.

Jim quickly leaves the flat and goes to shack up with Frankie's rival B-Girl, Olive Mockson (Vida Hope), who always had the hots for Jim. Jim turns back Olive's clock to establish an alibi. Kip/Christopher reads about Frankie's murder in the paper, The police suspect Herbert as the main suspect, because of the public row he and Frankie had at the pub. Herbert suspects she was killed by Kip Marlowe since she told Herbert that he was coming by later.

Kip/Christopher, decides to stay quiet and not reveal to the police that he was the last man to see Frankie alive and that it was Jim who was trying to break in while he was still with her. Christopher now completely doing away with his Kip persona, figures the police will figure out who the real murderer is.

Rosie (Patricia Plunkett)

Herbert meanwhile getting back from Glasgow, reads in the paper that he is a wanted man. He skips back out of London going on the lamb. He meets and falls in love with Rosie (Patricia Plunkett). Herbert is soon caught, tried, and convicted, of murder. His alibi was that he was out that night pulling a burglary with his partner in crime 'Jocko' Glenn, the jury didn't believe his witness. His sentence is commuted to fifteen years however based on a letter written to the prosecutor from Christofer signing it Kip Marlowe. He says that he was with her rather than Herbert, and it gives enough details of Frankie and her flat to be believed.


Off-Topic Discussion / 20,000 Eyes (1961) Jewel Caper/Tail Fin Noir
« on: July 30, 2018, 04:10:01 AM »

Never heard of this film before. A definite "C" Noir.

"The lights of the City are its eyes... Ever watchful... Ever curious... Ever ready to betray the secrets of the night."

There are probably a few more of them out there because one, they don't fit into the established, though quite arbitrary, parameters, and two, they are invisible, never shown anywhere anymore. Noir for Neophytes or for those that learn subjects by rote usually shoehorn Film Noir into a roughly 1940 to 1959 time frame. Visual evidence points to a much larger interval(s).

On one hand you can define Film Noir as dealing in dark subject matter, being shot in Black & White, filmed in a certain visual style that emphasized claustrophobia, entrapment, with a world spiraling under control with characters that are usually alienated and obsessed. This would stretch the Noir time frame from the French Poetic Realist films of the mid 1930s to the end of Black & White film production in 1967-8.  A time stretch of over thirty years.

On the other hand you can say Film Noir includes all of the above plus the Color Film Noirs starting with Leaver Her To Heaven (1945), with virtually no difference between the two aside from being shot in color, no difference that is until the demise of the Motion Picture Production Code, when formerly taboo subject matter and story lines could be exploited and began to slowly change Classic Film Noir into what we now call Neo Noir, which are continuing to be made to the present. A time stretch of eighty plus years and counting.

Directed, in supposedly six days, by Jack Leewood who is mainly known for producing films (27 credits). The film was written by Jack W. Thomas (Lone Texan (1959)) whose last credit was for Embryo (1976). The cinematography was by Brydon Baker who lensed a few low budget Crime and Noirs (Walk the Dark Street (1956), Wetbacks (1956), Scandal Incorporated (1956), a lot of Oaters, some SyFy (Return of the Fly (1959)), Horror and TV). The music was by Albert Glasser.

Dan Warren (Gene Nelson)

The film stars Gene Nelson (who has a great role playing ex con Steve Lacey in Crime Wave (1953), The Atomic Man (1955), Oklahoma! (1955)) as Dan Warren, the mostly TV actress Merry Anders (The Night Runner (1957), Death in Small Doses (1957), The Hypnotic Eye (1960)) as Karen Walker, James Brown who did a lot of Westerns, War films, and Noirs (The Big Fix (1947), Missing Women (1951))  along with a long career in TV,  as Jerry Manning, Austrian born John Banner (The Fallen Sparrow (1943), and for his memorable portrayal as Sergeant Schultz in Hogan's Heroes TV Series (1965–1971)) as Kurt Novak. Paul Maxey (Shed No Tears (1948), All the King's Men (1949), Highway 301 (1950), The Narrow Margin (1952), The Big Heat (1953), City of Shadows (1955)) "nobody loves a fat man," plays an insurer.

Karen Walker (Merry Anders) and Dan

Kurt Novak (John Banner)

Jerry Manning (James Brown) and Dan

Insurance Man (Paul Maxey) lt.

Dan (Nelson) is a sort of investment advisor/mine promoter. He's been pushing a South American diamond mine he's partners in with Jerry Manning (Brown) an old fellow Korean War pilot buddy of his. He's been funneling a lot of other people's money into the venture. One of them is mobster Kurt Novak (Banner). Novak wants his money $100,000. Dan figures he can promote the mine with samples that Jerry brings back and raise the money to pay back Novak. But Novak wants his money out immediately. Dan stalls him. Novak is pissed off but gives him five days to get his money. For collateral Novak makes Dan take out a life insurance policy with the beneficiary being Novak in case of death, this way Novak will get his money even if he has to kill Dan to get it.

Meanwhile Dan has been two timing Jerry. Dan and his secretary Karen (Walker), Jerry's girlfriend,  have become an item since Jerry has been away in South America.

1961 Chrysler New Yorker convertible

Scrambling for money, Dan come up with an ingenious idea to steal some uncut diamonds, in an overnight burglary, out of The Los Angeles County Historical and Art Museum, replace them temporarily with the low grade but similar looking sample from his and Jerry's mine. Which he has stored in a safety deposit box at his bank. He then arranges with the bank manager and an insurance company to have the museum display diamond sample appraised at the bank before opening hours, and insured as the mining sample from his and Jerry's mine.

Just after the insurance papers are signed. Jerry, with a stocking covering his face and brandishing a revolver, forces his way into the bank behind Karen, let in by the bank manager. She, as preplanned,  is coming to meet Dan. Jerry pulls out a pillow case and  makes a show of having the bank manager filling it up with money from the vault. Jerry then notices the diamond sample on the table and also grabs them. Dan, as preplanned, makes a lunge at Jerry, grabs the pillowcase full of money, and a shot goes off grazing Dan's arm. Jerry runs out of the bank with the museum diamonds. Dan looks like a hero. After Jerry and Karen are done with questioning by the police they head to a rendezvous with Jerry who passes the museum diamonds back to Dan. Dan then goes back to the museum right after it opens and it is relatively empty, and he quickly replaces the mining sample with the real museum display before it gets too crowded.

Everything goes Noirsville when Dan finds out that the insurance won't pay off for sixty days.


Tail Fins

Low budget "tail finner" lots of cool shots of Dan's 1961 Chrysler New Yorker zooming around Los Angeles like a small jet plane.

The film moves along at a good pace and is entertaining enough. It's nice to see Nelson in another Noir, Banner in a villain role and Maxey is a bonus. Screen caps are from a streaming site, could use a restoration somewhere down the line. 6/10

Off-Topic Discussion / Republic Noirs
« on: July 11, 2018, 07:59:39 PM »
Moma show

Noir highlights:

--MOONRISE (but, oddly, just one late afternoon screening)
--HELL's HALF ACRE (reasonably well-known already--"Honolulu noir" with Wendell Corey & Evelyn Keyes
--I, JANE DOE (memorialized by Gary Deane at his sadly dormant's the link to his comments:
--STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT (early Anthony Mann, screened previously by FNF)
--MAKE HASTE TO LIVE (one of the last women-in-distress films during the classic American cycle, with Stephen McNally up to his usual no good...)

Off-Topic Discussion / The Letter (1940)
« on: June 07, 2018, 04:14:31 AM »
Eddie Muller's intro to "The Letter"

Eddie Muller's afterword to "The Letter"

Off-Topic Discussion / Down By Law (1986) Neo Orleans Noir Fantasy
« on: June 03, 2018, 07:29:46 PM »

In reality, New Orleans is the main drain, sittin' there right on the bottom. The gritty sewer of practically everything Southern.

A strange gem from the imagination of Jim Jarmusch, the magic talents of an amazing cast, and the crumbling beauty of New Orleans and Louisiana.

It's an entertaining, low budget, picaresque film that's part Neo Noir, part Prison Film/Prison Noir with a lighthearted rift on the drama of (Brute Force (1947), Canon City (1948), Caged (1950), Convicted (1950) Crashout (1955), and Cool Hand Luke (1967)) but without the detailing or planing part of a prison break out. Part Dogpatch, Hillbilly, Cajun, Swamp Noir (Moonrise (1948), Swamp Women (1956) Bayou (1957)), and add a sprinkle of sewer from He Walked By Night (1948) and The Third Man (1949) and a pinch of pixie dust Fairy Tale.

The film stars John Lurie (Subway Riders (1981), Stranger Than Paradise (1984), Paris, Texas (1984), Wild at Heart (1990)), an actor and a jazz musician and founder of the The Lounge Lizards, Tom Waits (Paradise Alley (1978), The Cotton Club (1984)) , a musician and master artist of what I like to call "Songs From the Twilight Zone" or more simply Aural Noir. Roberto Benigni,  an actor director, and writer, who won an Oscar for Life Is Beautiful (1997). Ellen Barkin (The Big Easy (1986), Siesta (1987), Sea of Love (1989)), Bille Neal (Jacob's Ladder (1990), A Kiss Before Dying (1991)), and  Nicoletta Braschi (Johnny Stecchino (1991), The Monster (1994)) and Life Is Beautiful (1997)). Rounding out the cast are Rockets Redglare (After Hours (1985), Talk Radio (1988), Trees Lounge (1996)), Vernel Bagneris (Pennies from Heaven (1981)), Timothea, and Joy N. Houck Jr. (Tightrope (1984), The Big Easy (1986)).

It's the story of three men and three women.

The film starts with a traveling shot that begins with a close up of a hearse at a cemetery and ends in a second floor bedroom of a pimp named Jack the French Quarter in New Orleans. We see graves, shotgun shacks, decaying neighborhoods, bayou shanties, stilt houses, and the balconies of Vieux Carré.  Jack (Lurie) and his current prostitute main squeeze Bobbie (Neal) are lying on satin sheets. Jack is woken up by a creaking sound. Its Julie (Timothea) one of his other girls rocking on the porch. She's watching the light change. When Jack crawls back under the sheets Bobbie awakens.

Bobbie (Neal) and Jack (Lurie)

Back across town with another traveling shot going out away from the French Quarter back through  a couple of cops making a roadside arrest, industrial areas, brown fields, junk yards and roadside trailer parks scattered haphazardly around bill boards to Zack's (Waits) paint peeling crib. we see Zack sneaking in to his graffiti scribbled flop trying not to wake is girlfriend Laurette (Barkin). Zack has gotten fired from his DJ job and has been on a drunk. When he sits on the bed Laurette awakens.

A French Quarter welcone to New Orleans

Zack (Waits) sneaking in

Laurette (Barkin)

Laurett decides that she's throwing Zack out. We travel shot back from Zack's to the Quarter. Laurette is going through one of the great temper tantrums on celluloid. She is in her apartment, and is throwing all Zack's shit out into the street. Records, clothes, radio, right out through the second story windows.  She's screaming non stop, a women in meltdown. It's very entertaining.

In the time honored tradition of countless Southern potboilers, Barkin is the visually negative image. A wound up bond in the black slip. The yin, to say Elizabeth Taylor's cool and calm white slipped "Maggie The Cat." The yang in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. But its just an interesting visual juxtaposition. They both love their men but one chooses to stick the other to toss. Waits just sits there not saying a word and letting Barkin vent. Good move. Waits is sort of channeling noir icon Timothy Carey. He's all twitches and fidgety movements, like he's got an itch that won't stay scratched and Barkin as Laurett knows it. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, but in this case its not another woman it's Zack's drinking problem. She apparently still loves him and tells him that he's digging his own grave, but she just can't mentally can't take it anymore.

Laurette: [to Zack] Because you... because you don't take care of me... ya don't want me... ya don't wanna make any fucking commitment to me... I'VE *FINISHED* WITH YOU, ZACK! I've completely *finished* with you! Why doncha just go find some other li'l girl... I mean... that shouldn't be too difficult for you! I'm FED UP with you and YOUR FUCKIN' STUPID RADIO SHOWS!

Laurette: You're digging your own grave.

out the window with his boots

Zack is still sitting there, head bobbing up and down, like he's putting her rant all to some internal jive beat only he can hear. He's taking all this in. Laurette continues her purge. She doesn't get any reaction out of him until she grabs his favorite pair of, well lets say they're a sort of cross between ankle high cowboy boots and pointy Puerto Rican Fence Climbers, with fancy shiny brass tip guards. When she flings those out the window he goes after them like a dog for a chew toy. Besides his drinking problem, he must have a hell of a shoe fetish.

The detritus of his high living DJ life with Laurette strewn in the gutter.

It takes some searching but he finally finds his boots. He tosses the shoes he has on his feet away and lovingly slips into his precious footwear.

Polishing the scuffs off his boots

Might be time for Zack to kill another bottle..... while he contemplates his next move.



Havana and The Everglades.

An MGM film by Director Joseph H. Lewis (My Name Is Julia Ross (1945), So Dark the Night (1946), The Undercover Man (1949), Gun Crazy (1950), The Big Combo (1955)), gives us a topic that is quite on the front burner these days. Written by Howard Dimsdale, adapted by Cyril Hume, from a story by Lawrence Taylor.

The cinematography was by Paul Vogel (Lady in the Lake (1946), High Wall (1947), Black Hand (1950), Dial 1119 (1950), The Tall Target (1951), The Sellout (1952), and The Money Trap (1965)). The music was by Hal Schaefer.

The film stars Hedy Lamarr (Crossroads (1942), Experiment Perilous (1944), The Strange Woman (1946)) as Marianne Lorress, John Hodiak (seven classic noir) as Peter Karczag, James Craig as Frank Westlake, George Macready (four classic noir) as Palinov, Steven Geray (six classic noir) as the Frenchman, Bruce Cowling as Archer Delby James, Nedrick Young as Harry Nordell, Steven Hill as Jack, Robert Osterloh as Lt. Lannahan, Trevor Bardette as Lt. Carfagno, and Charles Wagenheim as Ramon Santez.

The long immigration route to the U.S.A. in the immediate post WWII era often passed through Havana, Cuba. The final bottleneck was the U.S. Embassy where scores of potential immigrants would wait for their interviews to see whether or not they would be granted visas. As a result, a well organized illegal alien smuggling ring arose to alleviate the problems for those with enough money.

A dead man with no ID in New York is traced by N.Y.P.D. investigation of his pocket contents to a flight from Miami, the evidence collected from his shoes finds traces of sugarcane and red clay that is only found in Cuba. The potential that the man is an illegal alien triggers an investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Pete (Hodiak)

An operative Pete Karczag is sent undercover to Havana to try and gather evidence against Palinov (Macready) a suspected human trafficker. Pete is to pose as a Hungarian who wants to enter the USA. Palinov has based his operations out of his Gulf Stream Cafe. As part of Pete's undercover infiltration he goes to the U.S. Embassy in Havana and makes a loud enough ruckus after a presumed denial of a visa that he is noticed by many of the people awaiting interviews. He is noticed by one of Palinov's touts played by Steven Geray, who follows Pete when he leaves the embassy. When he finally makes his move he directs Pete to Palinov's Gulf  Stream Cafe.

Pete and Palinov (Macready)

At the cafe Pete meets the beautiful Marianne Lorress (Hedy Lamarr) who is an Austrian refugee from the Buchenwald concentration camp. She is broke and illegally working in Cuba as a cigarette girl, among "other" things.  Palinov has been enchanted by her beauty.

Marianne (Lamar)

It's also implied very sub-textually (the film is after all made under the MPPC) that Marianne has been letting Palinov play hide the sausage with her for accommodations in the rooms above his cafe. Marianne also makes a remark that since she is not allowed to work under Cuban Law she must find her bread "on the streets." It's not hard to make the leap to streetwalker. It's all very quaint in hindsight.

Anyway Palinov is head over heels infatuated enough with Marianne that he breaks with his usual demand of a thousand dollars upfront. He agrees to accompany her himself to Savannah, Georgia where her father has previously immigrated to and where she assures him he will be paid by daddy. It's a not hard to figure out why Pete decides to use Marianne to find out the day and time of Palinov's next scheduled operation. As he gets close to her he also finds himself smitten by her allure, and he too is soon also in love. Soon Pete is thinking about quitting the service and telling Marianne that he is in love with her and that she should stay with him in Havana.

Palinov jealous, has Pete shadowed, and eventually his men discover that Pete is actually an immigration cop. It all goes Noirsville when Palinov exposes this information to Marianne, who decides to leave for the US on the next smuggling flight.


The films strengths lie in its on location Havana sequences, once the immigrants take flight to the US and crash land in the Everglades the film looses some of it's magic.

All of the cast do well and are believable. Watch for a fantastic Cuban dance sequence by Nita Bieber. An entertaining enough time waster. Screen caps are from a DVDr of a cablecast, there is a new release as of 2006. 7/10

Off-Topic Discussion / Inferno (1953) Mojave Desert Noir
« on: May 28, 2018, 01:27:25 PM »

It would be a good double bill with Bad Day At Black Rock (1955). It's one of those sun-baked Films Soleil Noirs set in The Desert, the polar opposite of the Noir City. These films are usually filmed either in the American West, Mexico, the Mediterranean, or in the Tropics. Here the emphasis is on agoraphobia and not claustrophobia. In a Film Noir it's usually what you can't see that can kill you, in a Film Soleil everything you see can kill you.

Inferno was directed by Roy Ward Baker (Don't Bother to Knock (1952)). It was shot not only in Technicolor but also in 3-D and with stereophonic sound. The story and screenplay was by Francis M. Cockrell (Alfred Hitchcock Presents Writer (1955-1959)). The cinematography was by classic noir cinematographer, Lucien Ballard (Moontide (1942), Laura (1944), Berlin Express (1948), The House on Telegraph Hill (1951), Don't Bother to Knock (1952), The Killer Is Loose (1956), The Killing (1956), A Kiss Before Dying (1956), Murder by Contract (1958), and The Wild Bunch (1969)). The music was by Paul Satwell.

The Mojave Desert

The film stars Robert Ryan (over ten classic noir) as Donald Whitley Carson III, Rhonda Fleming (eight classic noir) as Geraldine "Gerry" Carson, William Lundigan (Follow Me Quietly (1949), The House on Telegraph Hill (1951)) as Joseph Duncan, Larry Keating (Whirlpool (1950)) as Dave Emory, Henry Hull (High Sierra (1941)) as desert rat Sam Elby, Carl Betz (who was in the I wake Up Screaming remake Vicki (1953), and well known to the boomer generation as the dad on The Donna Reed Show TV Series (1958–1966)) as Lt. Mike Platt, Robert Burton as the county sheriff, and finally the impressive Mojave Desert.

Donald Whitley Carson III (Robert Ryan)

Millionaire Donald "Don" Carson III (Ryan), a gruff, spoiled, selfish man, falls off his horse while on an exploratory expedition, looking for manganese outcrops in the back county of the Mojave Desert. His guide Joe (Lundigan) a mining engineer, and his wife Gerry Carson (Fleming) leave him behind with a lean-to for shade, a gun, some overnight provisions, and water. They head back, the way they came in, to get a helicopter to fly him out.

Faking tracks

Gerry Carson (Rhonda Fleming)

Joe (William Lundigan)

Instead of riding to the rescue, Gerry and Joe, have other plans They have been playing hide the sausage every chance they got at the dude ranch whenever Don went to take care of business. They decide on an elaborate deception. Their story is to tell the authorities that Don wanted to leave the exploratory ride early. They make it look as if Don took the station wagon, got stuck, spun his wheels buried the rear wheel to the frame. Joe then takes an extra pair of Don's boots puts them on and walks backwards in the road dust to mark a false trail to make it look as if Don took off walking and got himself lost. The stuck sled is 20 plus miles from where Don is actually laid up. Any rescue squad is going to be searching a grid in the wrong place. By the time they find Don he will be a piece of desiccated, cooked, mummified critter chow.

Gerry will then inherit millions and Don will get Gerry to invest some money in opening his mining operation. They are quite the couple.

After a whole day goes by, Don realizes that they ain't a coming back. He must make do or die. Most of the film is his survival story. The tale concentrates on the things Don does, or figures out, to survive in the Mojave.

using two bolders to set his leg

Lowering himself with a self made rope

He sets his leg. He makes a splint. He finds a crutch. He makes an extended rope by tying the ropes he has available together, and then by cutting his lean-to into thing strips and braiding these strips into more rope. The money he has in his wallet he can use to start fires. He uses his gun to try and hunt for food, though when he shoots a small scrawny rabbit, a coyote snatches it away. Survival of the fittest. During these sequences the director cross cuts briefly to Joe and Jerry misdirecting the sheriffs squad, or a sequence to emphasize Gerry eating well at a sumptuous dinner. When Don runs out of water they cross cut to Joe and Gerry at the dude ranch. She's sunbathing, and Joe is swimming, both enjoying the water poolside.

Don eventually crawls to an abandoned mine. There he finds a patch of barrel cactus and from them he gets water and some nourishment. He sees a seasonal stream course a dry waterfall with a sand filled basin. He digs in the sand at the bottom of the basin and finds some remnants of water. With his last bullet he manages to shoot a deer. Now he knows that he can and will survive and he sets off out of the mountains and onto the flats, on his crutch, with a new determination.

Back at the dude ranch, a week has gone by. Relieved that it has rained and covered any of their errant tracks Gerry and Joe start to breath easier. However, the fact that the authorities have not found the body by now, worries Joe enough that he takes to his plane and flies over the area where Don should be. Joe spies a fresh fire that shouldn't be there, and he knows now that Don is still alive.



Directed by the notorious French Morrocan José Bénazéraf.

He started his career by producing Les lavandičres du Portugal in 1958, a film of Pierre Gaspard-Huit. He started to direct erotic feature films in 1961 with L'éternité pour nous.

Bénazéraf had a passion for German Expressionism and American Film Noir of the 40s & 50s. His favorite actors were John Garfield, George Raft and James Cagney. As soon as he was able he made this, his dream project, combining American style Crime Noir with erotica.

Cinematography by Edmond Richard, written by Anne-Marie Devillers (novel The Scent Of Fear) (as Dominique Dorn), and screenplay by Guy Fanelli (adaptation). The music was by jazz great Chet Baker an American trumpeter and vocalist.

The film stars Yvonne Monlaur (License to Kill (1964)) as Nora Rivičre, Hans Verner as blind trumpet playing crime boss Eric Voltay, Michel Lemoine as Bruce Valdo, Jean-Pierre Kalfon as Sacha Margieff, Regine Rumen as Wanda, Willy Braque as Martin, an accomplice of Sacha, Marcel Champel (Jean de Florette (1986)) as Tito Mascani, André Rouyer as Rif, the accomplice of Valdo, Jean-Claude Massoulier an accomplice of Sacha.

Nora (Yvonne Monlaur)

Pierre Chevrel (Robert Darame)

Fred Voltay

Sacha Margieff  (Jean-Pierre Kalfon )

Rif (André Rouyer) Valdo (Michel Lemoine), Nora (Yvonne Monlaur)

Supposedly there are 20 some odd minutes cut from the English/American dubbed Independent International Films release. According to a reviewer on IMDb, "the notorious L.A. schlockmeister Bob Cresse picked this little number up, cut and added some footage, and released it as "Night of Lust," earning a tidy profit." It's also known as Notte erotique. Reviewed here is the short version.

What looks added and somewhat out of place are the extended extra strip routines, and I'd surmise that a lot of outside location/establishing shots are missing, especially when considering that the various action sequences look like some thought was taken setting them up. The exterior shots left in look great. It's a Paris shrouded in the dead of winter with ice and snow in the streets.

As a result of the cuts the film feels a bit uneven. The strip sequences go on a tad too long with no serious connective explanatory back story footage to flesh out the male protagonists. Those strip sequences needed to either be balanced out with other shots or shortened.

The way the cut American distributed version plays though is interestingly more like its circa 1966-1968 American exploitation product equivalent, though shot quite stylistically. It's quickly apparent that in 1963 the French were 3-4 years ahead of American films (going through the slow disintegration of the MPPC), in what they could get away depicting, in terms of artistic freedom. The version I have runs 56:54, and is heavily narrated much like an American police procedural noir, this probably also was done to explain and bridge verbally, what the visual sequences that were cut probably showed.

The voice over tells us "that the story we are about to see is true, taken from Interpol file 218 code name: Eric." It's about one of the most brutal gang wars in French history.

The film opens at the old Club Lido (originally located at 78 Avenue des Champs -Élysée) with a long innovative, cabaret strip routine, to the mesmerizing free jazz music of Chet Baker. These sequences play like long erotic jazz music videos.

A voice over tells us that it's a Paris based French crime story about two rival drug gangs, the Voltay brothers Eric and Fred, who operate one of the largest dope syndicates in Europe on one side, against Sacha Markriff a small time gambler/pimp from Sicily on the other who wants to mussel in on their territory. Eric is a bit eccentric being not only a criminal mastermind but also a blind jazz trumpet player.

Chevrel and Tito Mascani

We cut upstairs to the Lido cafe area at street level where the real story starts. A drug lab assistant Nora Rivičre is having a drink with Pierre Chevrel a drug trafficker. Obviously the setup to this has been trimed. We next are shown that Chevrel has been obviously and ominously tailed all evening by a thug, Tito Mascani, since he has decided now to work for Sacha Markriff, rather than the Voltays. He excuses himself to call Maria Herber the girlfriend of his buddy Michael expecting him to be there.

Maria tells Chevrel that he never showed up and didn't even call. She wonders if Eric Voltay and his brother Fred ran him out of town or worse. Chevrel tell's her to tell Sacha that he thinks Eric is wise to Sacha's plans and that freelance assassin Mascani, is following him. Also tell Sacha that he's with his (Sacha's) sister Nora and that he will take her to her apartment. He tells her to have Sacha get over there with his boys to set up a trap. Maria however gets herself strangled by one of Eric's goons as soon as she hangs up the phone.

We cut back to the stripshow in the cabaret downstairs for some more routine. Then we go right back to Chevrel making a nervous call to Fred Voltay. Fred pleads ignorance but he is gunning down Sacha's rats one by one. Chevrel thinks from his previous call to Michael's girlfriend that he's setting up an ambush for Eric and Fred. Chevrel and Nora leave the cafe.

Fred leaves the bar to go to his car. At his vehicle he is kidnapped by Sacha's goons and taken away to Sacha's barge on the Seine. The barge is where he keeps his hookers supplied in grass and sells heroin that he gets from his connection "The Gypsy" to his clients. His biggest problem is that The Gypsy is unreiable which is why he wants to make his move against the Voltays and find out who is their source connection.

After dropping off Nora at her apartment Pierre Chevrel is shot in his car and Tito is captured by Eric (these scenes are missing in the American cut). The next morning Nora is visited by two undercover policemen. She was last seen with Pierre Chevrel outside her apartment house.



This film, aka The Spiritualist was directed by Bernard Vorhaus (Bury Me Dead (1947)) he was active in the UK  during the 1930s. He was later blacklisted in Hollywood. Original story written by Crane Wilbur, with Muriel Roy Bolton, and Ian McLellan Hunter combining on the screenplay. The none other than excellent cinematography was by the great John Alton. The music was by Alexander Laszlo and that also includes two Frédéric Chopin pieces Prelude for Piano, Op. 28 Nr. 4 in E minor & Nocturne for Piano, Op. 9, no. 1, in B-flat minor

The film stars Turhan Bey as Alexis the psychic consultant, Lynn Bari (Nocturne (1946)) as Christine Faber a wealthy recently widowed woman, Cathy O'Donnell (Bury Me Dead (1947), They Live by Night (1948), Side Street (1950), Detective Story (1951)) as her younger unmarried sister Janet Burke, Richard Carlson (Behind Locked Doors (1948), The Sound of Fury (1950), segueing into SiFi/ monster movies and TV The Magnetic Monster (1953), It Came from Outer Space (1953) Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)) as Martin Abbott, with Donald Curtis and Virginia Gregg rounding out a pretty small cast.

Our story begins in a seaside mansion on a cliff above the Pacific. It's two years after Christine's husband Paul was incinerated in a fiery auto crackup along the Pacific Coast Highway. Christine finally is over mourning for Paul. She is convinced, by her younger sister Janet, to go out on a date with the persistent next door neighbor. He's equally wealthy, a lawyer, his name is Martin Abbott. He's in love with Christine and wants to propose. The date is for a show and later dinner at the Blue Angel.

Martin calls in to Christine and tells her that he has been running late, a last minute client has caused the delay and he just arrived at his house. He offers to drive over as soon as he changes. Christine, in turn, suggests that she can walk over along the beach and meet him.

Christine (Lynn Bari)

Christine and Janet (Cathie O'Donnell)

phone call

Martin (Richard Carlson)

On the moonlit beach walk, below the cliffs, Christine thinks she hears Paul's voice hauntingly calling to her above the turbulent breakers and the rushing sea foam. She becomes a bit rattled, then more so after the wind swept hem of her dress, suddenly catches on a protruding nail sticking up from the bow of a beached dory. She unhooks herself from it's grasp, and runs to the base of the path that climbs to Martin's house.

Beach Walk

This whole beach and seaside cliffs sequence is gorgeously filmed quite noirs-ish-ly by Alton.

Near the start of the path to Martin's house, she is startled by the squawking of a pet raven sitting on a branch of driftwood. Turning and running again she accidentally bumps into a man smoking a pipe.  It is a very suave and mysterious gentleman.

Alexis (Turhan Bey)

The man is Alexis, and he immediately goes into his professional spiritualist spiel. He tells her just enough about her whole recent situation, regarding Paul's death, in a very charming way that she can't help but be convinced that this guy must be for real, how can he know all this. He kisses her hand and excuses himself. She asks if he lived around here? He's says he wishes, he lives way across town and gives her his card, he is a "psychic consultant." When she reads his title she is slightly befuddled.

Christine: Oh!
Alexis: I see you place me in the same category as fortune tellers, snake charmers, and magicians. Oh well, many people do.
Christine: But you must know who I am, how else could you know all these things?
Alexis:  Perhaps because we are very much alike. You and I free spirits, like our friend here [points to the raven] you like the night, and the mist of the ocean. The wind whispers, the sand that is cool under our feet. We are not like, I hope I don't have his name wrong, Martin.
Christine: There's nothing wrong with Martin,
Alexis:  Of course not, but if you will only understand how little he understands.
Christine: Well Martin is very logical.
Alexis:  Yes that's why you should marry him. All free spirits must come out of the night sometime put on their shoes, pay their bills, go to the dentist, and of course family dinners on Sundays. You really shouldn't be so irritated by his little mannerisms, like when he clears his throat, announcing that he's going to kiss you in a minute. Or how he counts up all his plans on his fingers. I can't tell you how I know these things but it hardly matters. We are not going to meet again.....

The hook is proverbially in.



Directed by Roy Rowland Witness to Murder (1954), Rogue Cop (1954), The Girl Hunters (1963). The film was Produced by Harry Rapf, It was written by Charles Schnee and based on the story "Smashing the Bookie Gang Marauders" by John Bartlow Martin. The great cinematography was by Paul Vogel (Lady in the Lake (1946), High Wall (1947), A Lady Without Passport (1950), Dial 1119 (1950), The Sellout (1952), The Money Trap (1965)). Music was by André Previn.

The film stars "bland" Van Johnson in his only Film Noir as Mike Conovan, Arlene Dahl (No Questions Asked (1951), Slightly Scarlet (1956), Wicked as They Come (1956)) as Gloria Conovan, Gloria DeHaven as Lili the stripper, Tom Drake (Sudden Danger (1955)) as rookie Detective "C.C." Gordon, Leon Ames (the father in Meet Me In St. Louis (1944), as Captain A.C. Forster, John McIntire (seven Classic Film Noir) as Detective Fred Piper, Donald Woods (13 Ghosts (1960)) as Bob Herkimer, Norman Lloyd in Noir since Hitchcock's Saboteur (1942) and Spellbound (1945), also in M (1951), He Ran All the Way (1951), and then off into a lot of TV work, plays Sleeper the stool pigeon, Jerome Cowan one of the earliest Noir actors (The Maltese Falcon (1941), Moontide (1942), Street of Chance (1942), Deadline at Dawn (1946), The Unfaithful (1947), Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948), The Fat Man (1951) who then also segued into early TV, ) as Arthur Webson, Tom Powers in films since 1911, who played Phyllis Dietrichson's husband in Double Indemnity (1944), and in The Blue Dahlia (1946), The Velvet Touch (1948), Chicago Deadline (1949) The Steel Trap (1952), I, the Jury (1953)) as Umpire Menafoe, Richard Benedict as Turk Kingby, Anthony Caruso as Tony Rutzo, Robert Gist as P.J. Pontiac, and Romo Vincent as Hippo.

This is one of the rare Film Noir to feature an actual prolonged machine gun battle.

Conovan (Johnson)

Lieutenant Mike Conovan (Van Johnson), head of an LAPD homicide detective squad is assigned to the murder investigation of an off duty cop who is a member of his squad, Ed Monigan. The only clues they have to go on is the three eye witness accounts of what happened. Two teens smoochin' in the alley, and the owner of a all night place that makes book on the side. Their story: a guy looking to knock over the book joint, had a twisted left hand and blotchy face. The other hoods in the getaway car called him a "crazy lobo" after he shot the cop. Then he jumped in their sled and they burned rubber.  A search of Conovan's body reveals that he had a G in his pocket. Was he on the take?

Monigan (G. Pat Collins)


All Conovan has to work with are a rookie detective named CC, and Piper,  his oldest squad man who's coasting along with failing eyesight. Plus, Conovan's wife Gloria (Arlene Dahl), is putting pressure on the other end by getting anxious and upset over his dangerous line of work.

Conovan, Piper (McIntire), Captain A.C. Forster (Leon Ames)

He's trying to both solve the murder and prove that Monigan wasn't on the take. He finds out from an informer named Sleeper, that there are a pair of downstate "lobos" knocking over bookie joints in L.A. trying to muscle in on the book racket. They call themselves the Royalty Brothers. The local mob is also understandably looking for them too.

Gloria (Arlene Dahl)

Sleeper (Norman Lloyd)

More tips from Sleeper take him to the Fol-de-Rol a night club with a burlesque act. A stripper named Lili knows the "Brothers" one of them is her ex-boyfriend Turk Kingby (Richard Benedict) the other Lafe Douque  (William Haade). They are the ones knocking over the book joints. But neither of them has a twisted arm. Lili said they split up, and don't know where they are holed up yet. Conovan figures that one of the other will contact Lili eventually.  Lili and Conovan hit it off, even though she knows he's pumping her for information. She lets Conovan know that Lafe came down to the club. Conovan asks Lili to lead Lafe on, get him good and drunk, get him to take her to his flop for a little "in and out."  As soon as Lafe passes out he tells her to call him and give him the low down on where he's at, so that he can toss his flop.

Lili (Gloria DeHaven)

Sleeper is killed and his body is found standing, hooked to street pole with both his legs and his arms broken. He's got a dead pigeon in his jacket pocket. No more tip offs.

Conovan gets the call from Lili, she tells him the name of residence hotel and a room number. Lafe's record shows that he's a guy who's a known hoarder, and Conovan thinks he may have some evidence in his room from the holdups that will connect to Monigans murder. Conovan tosses Lafe's room while he's three sheets to the wind passed out on his bed. He finds a .38 caliber revolver and a single dark latex glove, Monigan was shot with a .38. Lafe wakes up and after a brief fight is arrested by Conovan. Out on the street they catch a drive by, Conovan is wounded and Lafe is shot dead.

Gloria flips out and makes Conovan resign from the department. His separation doesn't last long.

Lili calls Conovan's phone. Piper picks it up. Lili tells Piper to give Conovan the address where Turk is holed up. Piper doesn't tell her that Conovan resigned, and he goes out there solo to the address. It was a trap. Piper gets gunned down.

Of course Conovan gets his job back and and the shit hits the fan in Noirsville.


You can see why Van Johnson never made any more Noirs. He just doesn't seem quite hard boiled enough, another song and dance man who was trying to harden his image, sort of like Dick Powell, although Powell easily made the switch Johnson didn't.  He's too vanilla. The rest of the cast are quite adapt in their rolls. Arlene Dahl is fine but wasted in the good girl role though she does look stunning. Gloria DeHaven is an eye opener. She's another refugee from musicals and she's quite believable as the stripper.  In fact, she would have been good in Noir but she never appeared in another. However since this was 1949 her strip act is pretty tame. McIntire is doing a variation of his his usual shtick, and Norman Lloyd is very entertaining as Sleeper.

The battle between the police and Turk's armored car is unusually detailed and quite drawn out. It is an interesting sequence that would be more at home in a 30s gangster flick, check it out. Screen caps are from a DVDr. 7/10.

Off-Topic Discussion / Kiss The Blood Off My Hands (1948)
« on: May 28, 2018, 08:48:03 AM »
Robert Newton Sleeps With The Fishes

An American film noir directed by Norman Foster noted for noirs (Journey Into Fear (1942), and Woman on the Run (1950)).

Foster, who started out a s a cub reporter turned actor later focused on directing. He helmed six of the eight 20th Century Fox Mr. Moto detective series films starring Peter Lorre. He also directed two of the Charlie Chan detective films, and Scotland Yard (1941).

This film was written by Leonardo Bercovici, Ben Maddow, and Walter Bernstein, with additional dialog by Hugh Gray. It was based on a book by English novelist Gerald Butler. The impressive cinematography was by Russell Metty (Whistle Stop (1946), The Stranger (1946), Ride the Pink Horse (1947), The Raging Tide (1951), Naked Alibi (1954), Touch of Evil (1958)). The music was by Miklós Rózsa (Spellbound (1945), Double Indemnity (1944)).

The film was produced by Norma Productions which was Burt Lancaster's company. It was their first film.

Staring Joan Fontaine (Ivy (1947)) as Jane Wharton, Burt Lancaster (seven Classic Noir) as William Earle "Bill" Saunders,  Robert Newton (Odd Man Out (1947), The Hidden Room (1949)),  as Harry Carter, Lewis L. Russell as Tom Widgery, Aminta Dyne as Landlady, Grizelda Harvey as Mrs. Paton, Jay Novello as the Sea Captain of the Pelicano.   
Post war London. The waterfront. Though it's not London at all, in reality shot entirely on the Universal back lot, with some stock London footage thrown in. Griffith Park is filling in for a country picnic shot and it's zoo (filling in for the London Zoo) and a race track sequence are the films only on location shots. Houses with occasional scaffolding and cross beam supports indicate the city is rebuilding after years of war.

Bill Saunders (Lancaster)

The Anchor & Dolphin looks like a local dive where the low company hang. At an upright piano is Harry Carter (Newton), a shady character who seems to fit right in with the crowd. The pub's owner, annoyed that Sanders hasn't moved, gives him a nudge to get out. Sanders reacts viciously. A fight erupts. The result is the owner on the floor dead, the back of his head bashed in by falling upon the buttressed piano leg. Harry Carter witnessed the whole thing.

The dead pub owner

Saunders panicked, rams through a couple of men blocking his way at the door and out into the foggy night. He's pursued by some of the lingering patrons and eventually a couple of bobbies that the crowd attracts. Saunders through his own agility, manages to scamper up a scaffolding and into an open second story window.

the flight


Jane Warton (Fontaine)

The window puts Bill into Jane Warton's (Joan Fontaine) bedroom. He is momentarily stunned. When she begins to wake Bill grabs her and places his hand over her mouth. He tells her he won't hurt her if she remains quiet. She agrees and he lets her loose. Jane believes his story that he was running away from a fight. She is a nurse at a The Mary Wilson Institute a sort of medical clinic.  After she leaves for work he studies her things he notices a photograph of an RAF officer.

Bill slips out after dark mugs a pedestrian stealing his wallet with money and ration booklets. He buys himself a new suit of clothes. Checks himself into a "bed and breakfast" Hotel.

He visits her at the institute the next day. She at first is standoffish and threatens to call a cop. He continues to be persistent. He follows her to the zoo. She's cool, he's hot, and eventually they warm to each other. They date. So Jane and Bill basically get it on. Into this nice rosy idyllic relationship slithers Harry Carter. When Bill and Jane go out for a day at the races Bill is spotted by Carter, who follows them back on the London train. Carter spying Bill having a smoke out in the passageway tells Bill he has a little proposition for him. Bill declines.

Bill back in their compartment has a flare up with a fellow train passenger over a card trick, He knocks him out. Jane pulls the emergency brake and Bill and Jane run out of the train. Jane is frightened of Bills vicious flare up, and tells him that she doesn't want to see him again. After Jane splits Bill gets into another fight with a bobby. He's sentenced to a flogging and six months for the two crimes.

When Bill's let out he runs into Cater at a pool hall. Carter asks him if he's low on dough, tells him he's got a scam going with petrol coupons and there's a tidy sum in it if he wants in. Bill just wants to make a bankroll and blow. Carter gives him his address.

Lovesick Bill next wanders over to Jane's flat and sees her coming home from work. She tells him that she tried to see him but only relatives were allowed that privilege. Bill tells her that he thought about her every day. Jane asks him what he's going to do. He says, head back to Canada for a new start. She tells him that they need a lorry driver at the institute. Jane, through friends at the institute, gets him the job driving supplies to various satellite clinics.



Carter again pops into the picture. He blackmails Bill with a threat. Carter declares that he wont inform the coppers of his identity in regards to the pub murder if he'll agree to hijack a load of penicillin during one of his delivery runs. They'll make it look like Bill was innocent by roughing him up a bit. Bill decides to do it and the plans are made. The night of the fake hijack, however, Joan decides to tag along to keep Bill company on the long run, so to keep Jane out of it, he cancels the job.

Bill nixing the job

Carter and his goons are not happy. Carter goes to visit Jane at her apartment, tells her about Bill killing a man at the Anchor & Dolphin, he threatens her physically and things get nasty. Jane grabs her scissors and stabs Carter. Jane, thinking she's killed him, heads out into the night and right into Noirsville.


This is a nice moody, studio bound noir. It has enough UK actors top loaded in the cast that along with its rat warren-ish sets and stagecraft the film convincingly portrays a very dark, damp, foggy London. The film in Russel Metty's capable hands looks marvelous, the blacks are inky. It has well directed fight and foot chase scenes. Both Lancaster and Fontaine are good, though this viewer didn't really detect any genuine on screen sparks between the two. Robert Newton pretty much steals all the scenes he's in, he's delightfully sleazy in that menacingly politely English sort of way. If you've just seen his pirate films this will be an eye opener.  I wish he'd made even more noirs. Screen caps are from a DVDr of an old AMC cablecast, and they still look great. 7/10

Beware of Greeks bearing imaginative movies.

Director Alex Proyas along with two other writers Lem Dobbs and David S. Goyer have created a brilliant metaphorical Neo Noir Film about being, life, and essentially an ultimate Noirsville. The film is a high point in the art of studio/stagecraft. The premise of the story in Voice Over, (if you saw the theatrical cut) goes like this:

"First there was darkness. Then came the strangers. They were a race as old as time itself. They had mastered the ultimate technology. The ability to alter physical reality by will alone. They called this ability "Tuning". But they were dying. Their civilization was in decline, and so they abandoned their world seeking a cure for their own mortality. Their endless journey brought them to a small, blue world in the farthest corner of the galaxy. Our world. Here they thought they had finally found what they had been searching for."

Dr. Schreber -  he betrayed his own race

The knowledge of their immanent demise has driven them on an odyssey across the universe in search of an elusive something that will save them. When they reach Earth they discover our curious race of beings who individually possess "souls" that spiritual or immaterial part of a human being regarded as immortal. Immortality is what they desire.

The "soul" is a concept that they can't quite grasp, so they "borrow" a sample population of humans whisk them off planet and construct with their reality machine an elaborate experiment, a pseudo flat "Earth" floating out in the void of space that consists solely of the Noirish-Hopperesque mega sized entity "Dark City," cloaked in perpetual darkness and mostly devoid of water.

The alien hive mind has an aversion to both light and moisture. The humans they have trapped in their rat maze are "tuned" every twelve hours. The aliens, who actually inhabit the human dead using them as "vessels," shut down the world and conduct various experiments on their captives. They steal their individual memories and lives and swap them back and forth, back and forth, with others, so nobody knows who they are any more. By interchanging all these individual memories and lives within the human population of their experiment group, they hope to create in effect a sort of artificial hive mind similar to their own and by doing this, hope to isolate the elusive "soul." The hope of isolating this "soul" is the drive of the extraterrestrials and it's possession key to their immortality.

Dr. Schreber: I call them the Strangers. They abducted us and brought us here. This city, everyone in it... is their experiment. They mix and match our memories as they see fit, trying to divine what makes us unique. One day, a man might be an inspector. The next, someone entirely different. When they want to study a murderer, for instance, they simply imprint one of their citizens with a new personality. Arrange a family for him, friends, an entire history... even a lost wallet. Then they observe the results. Will a man, given the history of a killer, continue in that vein? Or are we, in fact, more than the sum of our memories?

All the humans in the experiment do not even know where they are from, all that memory has been erased, all they know is the city.

Possibly, though I haven't seen it myself, the directors vision, his version of the film would start here.

The film opens with the depiction of this vast megalopolis Dark City. We see Dr. Schreber, the "mad scientist", a human who has betrayed his own kind. The mad scientist/doctor was used also in Classic Film Noir in the films The Man in Half Moon Street (1945), Decoy (1946) and maybe others. Dr. Schreber takes out his watch and as the second hand hits 12:00 O'clock everything in the city "shuts down." the cars, the buses, the trains stop dead in their tracks. All the humans wherever they are, walking on the street, sitting on stools in diners, driving cars, sitting at diner tables, etc., etc., fall down into a very deep sleep.

The Twilight Zone quote credit sequence

After the credits our tale begins with an experiment gone bad. In a nondescript sleazy hotel, a man eventually identified J. Murdock wakes up naked in a tub of water with no memory of how he got there. This amnesia trope quotes a number of Classic Noirs, Spellbound (1945, Somewhere In The Night (1946), Black Angel (1946), Crack-Up (1946), Deadline at Dawn (1946), High Wall (1947), The Crooked Way (1949), and The Clay Pigeon (1949) also Neo Noirs The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Mister Buddwing (1966),

A dive hotel

John Murdock (Rufus Sewell)   

A series of quick cuts moves us along the narrative, he gets out of the tub, looks in the mirror, puts on the clothes that are draped upon a chair. He walks out into an alcove, he sees a suitcase with the personalized letters H.K. He opens it. He spots a postcard for a place called Shell Beach among the clothes. He puts the postcard in his jacket.


Off-Topic Discussion / Death In Small Doses (1957) Speed Freak Noir
« on: May 28, 2018, 06:30:28 AM »

A late night trucker is hauling freight down a stretch of two lane blacktop. He's popping "bennies", "co-pilots", "speed", "zip", "uppers", i.e., Benzedrine pills, the first pharmaceutical drug that contained amphetamine.

Bennies had a euphoric stimulant effect, and it was widely used for recreational purposes. Benzedrine and other derived amphetamines were used as a stimulant for armed forces during World War II and the Korean War. It became a popular drug with the Beat Generation and long haul truckers who used 'bennies" to stay awake.

The trucker is wolfing down pills. Over dosing. Out of control. He's swerving all over the road and begins to hallucinate on coming headlights. He turns the wheel and goes over the embankment. Crash and Burn!

The rash of trucking accidents across the nation with amphetamine overdosed drivers, alerts the FDA they send undercover agents across the country to infiltrate the various trucking firms to get leads on dealers and suppliers. Tom Kaylor (Peter Graves) is sent winging it to Los Angeles.

Mink (Connors), Val (Powers) Tom Graves)

Tom is assigned to Bodmer Freight Lines as a trainee. He gets accommodations at a rooming house run by Val Owens (Marla Powers), a widow of a trucker. One of the roomers is a "cowboy" trucker named Mink Reynolds (Chuck Connors). Mink is a real piece of work, and if your used to seeing Chuck Connors only in re-runs of The Rifleman, this performance is an eye opener. Instead of a Stoic and cool as ice rancher, here Connors is a juking, jitterbugging, wild eyed and a bit wound too tight truck driving man.

Wally (Roy Engel)

Tom gets assigned at first with old man Wally Morse (Roy Engel). Wally has been driving 19 years and was a good friend of Val Owen's deceased husband, also a long haul trucker. Tom and Wally hit it off well, and begin driving the haul to Portland, Oregon.

Trucking - the grade


Tom, Dunc (Robert B. Williams), Wally

Along the way Tom begins his investigations. He keeps asking about bennies around the various truck stops, service stations, and Ma & Pa beaneries that they frequent. Tom is showing a believable, for a trucker, interest in bennies.  He asks questions about getting copilots from Dunc Clayton (Robert B. Williams) who is a truck mechanic and owner of Dunc's Truck Stop who also was once a trucker. From Dunk and everyone else he asks, he gets the brush.

Six Points

At a truck stop called Six Points Wally and Tom run into a barely in control, high flying Mink who is jitterbugging with a waitress Amy (Merry Anders). When Mink and Amy finish their dance Tom still watching Amy sees her take a small envelope out of her pocket and pop a few pills.

The Six Point beanery, Amy (Merry Anders) and Mink

When they get back at the freight terminal one of the loaders starts hallucinating and attacks his fellow workers. During the struggle he has a heart attack. It's found out that he too overdosed himself.

On the long haul to Portland, Tom talks with Wally again about bennies, trying to get some info out of him. Wally says that the use is wide spread and is killing all his old friends. Talking with Tom about the situation gets Wally fired up to find out who is supplying the drivers. So Wally starts doing his own poking around. He ends up getting beaten to death.

Tom is now teamed up with Mink on another run and Mink offers Tom some copilots to help him get through the run. At Six Points Tom stops by Amy's cabin and accuses her of pushing bennies, he accuses her of having an active hand in killing the truckers she's selling the pills to. Tom wants her to rat out the suppliers. She tells him she'll think about it and let him know on his return run back to L.A.

Of course it all goes Noirsville with a few nice twists after Amy powders and leaves Tom a note naming names and Mink finally overdoses himself trying to kill Tom in the process.




The film is a real hoot, mostly for the revelation that Chuck Connors has quite some range. He is  obviously the  highlight for me. Every time you see him he's upped the wattage on his drugged out performance. The rest of the cast plugs away adequately at their rolls. Tom and Val get some sparks going in the romance department.

The film has some great footage depicting the "the Road" of the 1950s and 60s the big rigs and outfits doing the hauls, the working truck stops, and the service areas on the highways and byways. One aspect of the film was head scratching and got my curiosity up. We are used to seeing semi trucks everyday while driving, but the trucks for Bodmer Freight Lines, looked a bit strange to me. Instead of the usual semi-tractor trailer rigs, the boys are driving a Cab over Peterbilt with an eleven foot "drom box" short for dromedary. So their outfit looks like an ordinary box truck with a tractor trailer attached to that. This was a popular setup for truckers out West for a number of years. The theory behind the drom box was the ability to haul more cargo while remaining within the established length limits of the time. Also the "drom boxes" were a handy storage area for chains, spare tires, tools, hand carts, etc., etc.

Death In Small Doses was directed by Joseph M. Newman (Abandoned (1949) 711 Ocean Drive (1950), Dangerous Crossing (1953), The Human Jungle (1954)), The film was written by John McGreevey and was  based on an Saturday Evening Post article by Arthur L. Davis. The cinematography was by Carl E. Guthrie (eleven filn noir) and the music was by Robert Wiley Miller  and Emil Newman.  Screen caps are from Youtube. Entertaining, 6-7/10.

Off-Topic Discussion / 8 Million Ways To Die (1986) L.A. Smog Noir
« on: April 15, 2018, 03:27:00 PM »

"I hate money when its new it cuts your fingers and when it's old it stinks...."

I'd never read any of Lawrence Block's Matthew Scudder novels, so I watched this without any pre- conceived ideas. The fact Scudder, a New York City private eye, is uprooted from his native habitat and relocated to The City Of Angels doesn't bother me in the least. Hell, the best Mike Hammer depiction, another quintessential New York P.I. detective, ever made to date had exactly the same treatment. Kiss Me Deadly (1955) was shot in and around L.A.'s old Bunker Hill neighborhood and is a bonafide classic Film Noir. Of course, 8 Million Ways To Die isn't in the same league, but it gets enough acceptable Noir stylistics right and has a neat "Gaudi Style" townhouse set piece, and a great final denouement on a private replica of Angels Flight to make it respectable enough.

I'd never seen the film on it's initial release so here it is now 32 years after the fact. The film, I've read was a flop, and various reasons are given. It was directed by the great Hal Ashby more known for topical dramas and quirky comedies ( Harold and Maude (1971), The Last Detail (1973), Coming Home (1978) and Being There (1979) and not for gritty crime films. Though I've read that he was going through the same problems with alcoholism as the main character in the film. Which perhaps was what attracted him to the project in the first place. But all that is pure speculation. The studio took control of the film away from him and had it edited their way.

The adaptation for the screen of Block's novel was also troubled. The first screen treatment was by Oliver Stone, which was then passed to R. Lance Hill, (as David Lee Henry), and finally given to Robert Towne to doctor what he could. Stone wanted to get his name off the credits. The dialog shows this "too many cooks syndrome," there are some great scenes and lines in some sequences and there are some chuckle inducing clunkers in others.

Smog city and the skyscraper tombstones of Bunker Hill

The cinematography was by Stephen H. Burum (Body Double (1984), The Untouchables (1987), Carlito's Way (1993)).

The film stars Jeff Bridges (The Last Picture Show (1971), Fat City (1972), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), Cutter's Way (1981), The Big Lebowski (1998), Hell or High Water (2016)) as Matthew "Matt" Scudder, Rosanna Arquette (Desperately Seeking Susan (1985), After Hours (1985), The Wrong Man (1993), Pulp Fiction (1994)) as Sarah, Alexandra Paul (Baywatch TV Series (1989–2001)) as Sunny, Randy Brooks (Reservoir Dogs (1992)) as Willie "Chance" Walker, Andy García (The Untouchables (1987)) as Angel Maldonado, and Tommy Lister (Jackie Brown (1997)), as Nose Guard.

The film opens with a title sequence that features a circular flyover of 1985 Los Angeles, from the skyscraper tombstones that mark the grave site of Bunker Hill to the massive convoluted concrete freeway system to a zoom on a single police car cruising a traffic lane. We hear a conversation in Voice Over.

Joe Durkin: The murder rate used to be a thousand a year. Three a day, and that was high. Now it's five. Higher in the summer. Fourteen two Fridays ago. We get the death penalty six, seven times a day, only it's not for murderers, it's for ordinary citizens.

Matthew 'Matt' Scudder: Yeah, there are 8 million stories in the naked city. Remember that old TV show? What we have in this town is eight million ways to die.

Cut to a green jacketed County Sheriff's detail filtering through  Beth Israel Cemetery. Scudder stops and takes a swig from a hip flask and passes it to a colleague. Scudder seems to be one of those functioning alcoholics who basically marinate an all day load. They surround the house of a drug dealer Hector Lopez (Wilfredo Hernandez). Scudder through the slats of a glass window shade attempts to make an arrest. While his fellow officers enter the kitchen through the interior of the house.

Matt Scudder

The culprit is sitting at a dinette table with his wife and kids. He gets up and grabs a baseball bat and begins to swing at the officers. Scudder blasts him in the chest.

Luisa Leschin

Hector Lopez (Wilfredo Hernandez)

Killing a father in front of his wife and kids sends Scudder off the deep end, he boozes himself out of the force, and gets estranged from his own wife and daughter in the process. It's ironically one of the 8 million ways to die


Six months later he's in AA  getting his six-month sobriety badge, and trying to put his life back together. He is now sort of an unlicensed P.I. There is an amusing sequence during an AA meeting, that depicts all the other more acceptable vices the members have, smoking, coffee, soda, etc.

After one of his Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, a woman hands Scudder a note, which invites him to a party at a swanky private gambling club on a hill in Malibu. The place seems to be accessible only by a cool funicular similar to Angels Flight.

Chance's Malibu Club

The club is owned by Chance Walker (Randy Brooks) whom Scudder remembers arresting back in the day under another name. The fact that Randy getting arrested by Scudder was partially responsible for Randy acquiring everything he owns bestows a sort of grudging respect between the two. At this party Scudder also meets meets Angel Moldonado (Garcia) a drug dealer, who places large bets with Chance on boxing matches and the like. Angel has pantalonas calientes "the hots" for Sarah (Rosanna Arquette) a high priced freelance prostitute, who works out of Randy's club as a sort of independent contractor.

Chance (Brooks) Sarah (Arquette) Scuddder

Angel Moldonado (Garcia)

When Scudder first arrives he is greeted enthusiastically by another high priced prostitute named Sunny (Alexandra Paul). She acts as if she's met him before. Scudder is flattered but tries to warn her that if he met her in the last year, he was on a serious bender and doesn't remember her at all. But it was Sunny who invited Scudder sight unseen, and she is obviously highly aroused by what she got. He's like a human Christmas present. Sunny is very clingy and practically dripping with anticipation. She is so possessively out of control that her friend Sarah is both highly amazed and worried by her friends reactions. Scudder and Sunny leave the party for his apartment. This whole sequence is highly amusing.

Sunny (Paul) and Scudder


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