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1  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes (1948) on: Yesterday at 11:36:01 AM

Broken mirrors, black cats and two dollar bills.

I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes is directed by William Nigh and adapted to screenplay by Steve Fisher from a story by Cornell Woolrich. It stars Don Castle, Elyse Knox, Regis Toomey and Charles D. Brown. Music is by Edward J. Kay and cinematography by Mack Stengler.

Hoofer Tom Quinn (Castle) is convicted of murder on circumstantial evidence. Sentenced to death row, Tom must hope his wife Ann (Knox) can find the proof of his innocence before his date with death.

Pretty routine noir exercise this one, but definitely of interest to film noir lovers looking for something they may not have seen before. In true noir fashion fate and coincidences play a huge part in the narrative drive, as does a bit of obsessive yearnings and questionable moral standing. The look is nifty, very noirish when the prison or the church is involved, or the nighttime shots in general, while there's a quirky edge to proceedings that always keeps the pic interesting. The ending is a disappointment (in true noir terms), and apart from the always reliable Toomey, the acting only just about passes muster, but it's worth a look see, even if it isn't the under seen gem some would have you believe... 6/10

DVD - Copy. TCM logo so it showed on that chan at some point. I believe it's on YouTube.
2  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Cry Danger (1951) on: October 14, 2017, 01:03:57 AM
Weeping Wit.

Cry Danger is directed by Robert Parish and written by William Bowers from a story by Jerome Cady. It stars Dick Powell, Rhonda Fleming, Richard Erdman, Regis Toomey and William Conrad. Music is by Paul Dunlap and Emil Newman and cinematography by Joseph F. Biroc.

It often makes for most interesting conversation in film fan circles, that of film noir, what constitutes it? what does each viewer demand? what is your favourite strand to this most desirable style of film making? Rarely does a group of noir heads agree wholesale, which of course only further strengthens the argument on why many love it so. I raise this as a point of opening reference because the first review of Cry Danger that I happened upon questioned its noir worth! Madness I tell you...

Plot is on the surface simplicity, Rocky Mulloy (Powell) is a man wrongly imprisoned for five years and now is out and now out to nail the real perpetrator of the crime. Cops are interested in his whereabouts, as they are the missing money from the crime he was locked up for. So far so standard crime revenger then? Not so for we are in noirville, in a less affluent part of Los Angeles, where the tale is spun out from the center point of a trailer park. Here we find Mulloy armed with calmness, toughness and always a dry quip on the lips. He's accompanied by Delong (Erdman), a crippled alcoholic army veteran, himself full of witticisms as he takes his alcoholism in a resigned stride. The cops are led by Detectice Lt. Gus Cobb (Toomey), a wise head, grizzled and not shy of razor sharp dialogue himself. And the babe of the piece, Nancy Morgan (Fleming), she's an ex of Mulloy, but husband of Mulloy's pal, a man who himself is rotting in prison for the crime at the core of this all. Add in creepy mustachioed villain Louie Castro (Conrad) and a weasel ukulele playing trailer park manager (Jay Adler), and you get a noir stew ripe for sampling.

As the dialogue pings about the story with waspish glee, the narrative holds tight via strong thematically noir traits such as greed and betrayal, with the added bonus of an ending worthy of the noir name. Production wise it's a job well done, the moderate budget not a worry, in fact it's only come the end of the show you realise you just had a pic running at 80 minutes that was without padding and pointless filler. All scenes are relevant here, and such is the sharpness of this character driven piece, you need to hang on every word and character interactions and reactions. In an ideal world there would be a ream of chiaroscuro to aid the mood, but Biroc and Parrish show skills to compliment a number of scenes via lighting and useful back and foreground locations. Cast are on top form, led by a superbly laconic Powell (sarcasm in a suit), to which this rounds out as one for noir lovers to put on their to see lists. 8/10
3  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Among the Living (1941) on: October 13, 2017, 10:41:58 AM
Thanks for the review, Spike.
I believe this movie was on rarefilmm before the website was taken down. I tried to watch it but the copy was so bad I stopped.

How is your DVD copy?

Watchable. I would kill for a quality print of this one.;
4  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Among the Living (1941) on: October 12, 2017, 10:59:38 AM

For five thousand dollars, I'm not afraid of anything, not even death!

Among the Living is directed by Stuart Heisler and written by Garrett Fort and Lester Cole. It stars Albert Dekker, Susan Hayward, Harry Carey and Frances Farmer. Music is by Gerard Carbonara and cinematography by Theodor Sparkuhl.

Dekker plays identical twins, John and Paul Raden. Paul was believed to have died when he was just 10 years old, in reality he had been traumatised and went insane and was locked up in a secret room at the Raden Mansion. When John returns for his father's funeral, he learns of Paul's existence, more so when Paul escapes and is out and about in Radentown...

1941 saw the release of Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, High Sierra and I Wake Up Screaming. Films that mark an important point in the progression of what would become known as film noir, both thematically and as a visual style. Elsewhere there were some horror movies which would stand the test of time as classic productions, films such as The Wolf Man and The Black Cat are still massively popular today. Down in the lesser known file is Among the Living, a picture that blends both horror and noir for considerable rewards.

It's a slice of Southern Gothic which nods appreciatively to classic horror conventions from the previous decade (eg: the Frankenstein connection is hard to ignore but handled skillfully), and it even has social commentary bursting forth from its seams, but it's with the photographic style where it becomes a must see for film noir enthusiasts.

Heisler (latterly The Glass Key/Storm Warning) and Sparkuhl (also The Glass Key) shoot the picture by way of German Expressionism, where certain scenes and photographic compositions anticipate the noir style before it became the norm. From the feverish and frantic exuberance of a club scene, to a chase scene through menacing shadowed streets that end with murder, there are classy slices of noir before we even get to the crushing finale where Radentown is gripped by its own greed and insanity problems.

Dekker is terrific, managing to give each twin their own identity without relying on costuming for the viewers to tell the difference. His man child portrayal of Paul is heartfelt and perfectly troubling, yet always tasteful. Hayward is socko gorgeous as a vampish nymph who latches onto Paul to feather her own nest, while Farmer provides the sort of solid support she was capable of before her own personal problems would derail her potential career.

The psychological aspects of the pic are simplistic, of course, while viewing it now it's impossible to not get a sense of it being cliché heavy as regards the "twins" axis of plotting, but this is well paced, very well acted and beautifully photographed. If you can track down a decent print of it, then it's a must see for anyone interested in the influences and subsequent trajectory of film noir. 8/10

5  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Drum (1976) on: October 11, 2017, 11:27:06 AM
Drum directed by Steve Carver, based on the Kyle Onstott novel, the cinematography was by Lucien Ballard and the music was by Charlie Smalls. The film was released by United Artists and is a sequel to the film Mandingo, released in 1975. The film stars Warren Oates, Isela Vega, Pam Grier, Ken Norton, Yaphet Kotto.  

Drum (Norton) has been born to a white prostitute (Vega), who raises him with her black lesbian lover. Drum grows up as whorehouse servant but is forced to bare-knuckle-box another slave Blaise (Kotto) for the entertainment of a white effeminate/gay slaveholder, a Frenchman named Bernard DeMarigny (Colicos). DeMarigny wants to sleep with Drum, but his advances are rejected and during the ensuing scuffle Drum's "mammy" is shot.

Drum and his friend Blaise are eventually sold to plantation owner Hammond Maxwell (Oates) and are both taken to his plantation to work. Regine (Grier) is purchased by Maxwell as well and is taken to the plantation for his own personal desires as a bedwench. He also purchases a white whore Augusta Chauvel (Lewis) to be his housekeeper,/fiance

Maxwells plantation is a stud farm he doesn't grow cotton he breeds slaves. The film is a hoot. Maxwell's got an out of control daughter Sophie (Smith) with raging hormones who like to run around the "farm" making the male slaves let her unbutton their breeches and play with their snakes. Sophie also tries to force Blaise to sleep with her, and after being rejected, tells her father that Blaise has raped her. Blaise is put in chains and Maxwell decides that he must be nutted for the alleged rape. Blaise is chained up in the barn and while helpless Sophie comes in lifts her hoop skirts and flashes Blaise, but Maxwell see's her do it.

Meanwhile, a dinner party has been arranged to celebrate the engagement of Maxwell and Chauvel. Casual dinner conversations includes the best way to castrate a slave.

Drum frees his friend Blaise from his chains and it all ends up turning into a slave revolt led by Blaise, with the slaves burning down the out buildings. During the storming of the main house fighting Drum grabs hold of DeMarigny's johnson & balls and rips them off by the roots, that method wasn't mentioned in the dinner conversation.  Cheesy

Maxwell and Chauvel are all saved by Drum. In appreciation for saving his family and also knowing that if Drum stays the prevailing sentiment of the white slaveholders would demand that he kill him, Maxwell sets Drum free and tells him to run into the night.

A much better written and choreographed ending than somewhat similar Django Unchained, it's a better film. 9/10 The whole cast is excellent, entertaining and well made, check it out currently on Youtube while you can.

You had me at Ballard!

Thanks C.J.
6  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Saddle the Wind (1958) on: October 11, 2017, 11:23:47 AM
JC miscast? Nah, only to non fans.

Loose cannon gets the method treatment.

Steve Sinclair is an ex gunfighter now contented with his lot as a peaceful farmer. Peace that is disrupted when his young brother Tony turns up with his intended new bride in tow. Tony has a thirst for gun play, and when he guns down a fellow gunman in the bar, things start to rapidly spiral out of control for the Sinclair family.

Saddle The Wind has some top credentials coming with it. Written by one Rod Serling, and starring Robert Taylor and John Cassavetes as the Sinclair brothers, it's a film not short on quality. Into the mix is the splendid outdoor location work at Rosita, Colorado (courtesy of the prolific George J. Folsey) and the genre compliant score from Elmer Bernstein. But what of the film itself? Well the story is an over familiar one, gunfighter trying to leave his bad past behind, loose cannon youngster out to make a name for himself, and yes we get a female love interest causing conflict and confusion (Julie London in a stock and undemanding role). Yet familiarity definitely does not breed contempt in this instance.

If new comers to this film are aware of John Cassavetes and his style of acting, then, in spite of the oddity of seeing him in Western surroundings, one can reasonably know what to expect. Cassavetes brings the method to young Tony Sinclair, instilling intensity, even borderline mania in the upstart hot shot, so much so that Robert Taylor's fine world weary turn as Steve gets lost until the finale. To non Cassavetes fans it may be just too much to handle, but speaking personally I found it a terrific performance that lifted the picture way above average. Support comes in the solid form of Donald Crisp and Royal Dano and the running time of under 90 minutes is just about right. Finally, it's with the ending that Saddle The Wind breaks away from its standard story and plotting. Played out on a lush blue flowered hillside, the makers deviate from the expected and give us something memorable and totally fitting to this method driven Western. 7.5/10

7  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Return of the Frontiersman (1950) on: October 10, 2017, 11:09:19 AM

There's something amiss in Laramie.

Return of the Frontiersman is directed by Richard Bare and written by Edna Anhalt. It stars Gordon MacRae, Julie London, Rory Calhoun and Jack Holt. A Technicolor production with cinematography by Peverell Marley and music by David Buttolph.

Sheriff's son Logan Barrett (Gordon MacRae) gets falsely accused of killing a man he had recently had a bar fight with. On the lam, things go from bad to worse when a man fitting his description is seen leading a bunch of robbers in Laramie County. Tracked by his own father and a posse, Logan must find the real culprits or his days are numbered.

A good and solid 1950s Oater that contains all the traits that filled out many a "B" production during the decade. The colour is gorgeous and the music suitably brisk, and director Bare shifts it along at a decent pace. The story is one of "the wronged man", so there's a mystery to be solved, while the requisite fist-fights, posse pursuits, shoot-out and love interest strands fill out the run time. We even get MacRae warbling a tune whilst holed up in the jail.

The revelation of the villain will come as no surprise, and the cast are not asked to stretch themselves. While Julie London's character arc is poorly written. But these are small complaints really, because when it hits its straps (the big shoot-out and waterfall fist-fight at the finale) it entertains royally. 7/10

UK Cable.

8  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Return of the Bad Men (1948) on: October 10, 2017, 11:04:49 AM
You're the most unethical, ornery bandits I ever done business with.

Return of the Badmen is directed by Ray Enright and co-written by Charles O'Neal, Jack Natteford and Luci Ward. It stars Randolph Scott, Robert Ryan, Anne Jeffreys, George Hayes and Jacqueline White. Music is by Paul Sawtell and cinematography by J. Roy Hunt.

Braxton, Oklahoma Territory, 1889, soon to be a ghost town as the impending land rush changes the West. With that comes more than just settlers, it brings outlaws too, some of the meanest there is. Under the leadership of Wild Bill Doolin has gathered the Sundance Kid, the Younger Brothers, the Daltons, Wild Bill Yeager, Billy The Kid, George Mason, the Arkansas Kid and Doolin's niece Cheyenne. Standing in their way? Vance Cordell, retired Texas Ranger, soon to become temporary marshal of newly formed Guthrie Town, and a man with a score to settle with the Sundance Kid.

Premise is simple, RKO, flush with the success of Badman's Territory the previous year, decide that more is best in this second instalment of the studio's "Badmen" trilogy (Best of the Badmen followed in 1951). They pitch some of the Wild West's baddest apples together and play them off against that bastion of stoic cowboyness, Randolph Scott. As a basic Western movie it works, film is always engaging, has a good action quota, is technically safe from the camera side of things and is driven by a pot boiling destiny showdown between Scott and Ryan. Trouble is is that so many notorious characters in one mix means the film has no chance of living up to its promise. Which in a running time of 90 minutes was always going to be impossible to achieve anyway, especially when you also have the inevitable romantic angle involving our hero, another character thread involving reform and the backdrop of the land rush as well.

Thankfully the film finds Scott and Ryan more than capable of sealing the deal, lifting the picture above the routine plotting and unrealistic nature of the set-up. It's good versus evil, where Scott's Cordell is the man in light, the man of the people, and Ryan's Sundance is the man in dark, a twitchy cold blooded psycho. Yes, there's the inevitability factor of it all, we know who is going to triumph here, but the build up is well handled and it does provide a very brisk and punch laden finale. There's nothing irritable in cast performances across the board, yes we want more from the roll call of actors playing under written villains, but story, as fantastical as it is, never sags and entertains from first minute to last. There's worse ways for Western fans to spend an hour and half, that's for sure! 6.5/10
9  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Reprisal! (1956) on: October 10, 2017, 11:00:25 AM

Never be ashamed of your blood.

Reprisal! Is directed by George Sherman and written by David P. Harmon, Raphael Hayes and David Dortort. It stars Guy Madison, Felicia Farr, Kathryn Grant, Michael Pate, Edward Platt, Otto Hulett, Wayne Mallory and Frank De Kova. Music is by Mischa Bakaleinikof and Technicolor cinematography by Henry Freulich.

Frank Madden (Madison) is half white, half Indian, in order to be allowed to own his own land in the County of Kendall, Texas, he keeps his half-breed status a secret. Acquiring a ranch and land, Madden quickly falls foul of the Shipley brothers, a trio of thugs known to be Indian killers and intent on making Madden tow their party line.

Nice, in fact something of a treat for Western fans. On plot terms it doesn't sound like much, the sort of run-of-the-mill Oater so prevalent in the 1950s, but there's a lot going on psychologically here to run along side the shoot em' ups, fisticuffs and simmering passions. It starts off very strongly with a court case as the Shipley brothers are on trial for lynching two Indians, clearly guilty, they of course get off because most of the town are Indian haters. This instantly sets it up for half-breed Madden to be constantly at war with himself, he wants to just settle down and earn a crust, but can he keep turning the other cheek as his half kin are abused and used by the very townsfolk he rubs shoulders with?

He keeps winding up in situations where someone needs his help, and it frustrates him greatly, and when his Indian grandfather appears on the scene to offer some sage advice, his emotional confliction goes up still further. The back drop is a town bursting at the seams with racial tensions, then throw in revenge, mob justice, inter-racial lust and murders, you got yourself a film packing in as much as it can in its relatively short running time. It looks nice with photography out of Tuscon, the acting is up to the standard of the production, Grant and Farr are twin delights for the eyes, and Sherman once again proves to be a good old pro who knew his way around a Western.

One of the better "B" Westerns of 1956, well worth catching by duster fans if the chance arises. 7.5/10

UK Cable.
10  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Re: Ride in the Whirlwind (1966) on: October 10, 2017, 03:59:01 AM
Adding my thoughts >

Obliged. Anyone for Checkers?

Ride in the Whirlwind is directed by Monte Hellman and written by Jack Nicholson. It stars Nicholson, Cameron Mitchell, Millie Perkins and Dean Stanton. Music is by Robert Jackson Drasnin and cinematography by Gregory Sandor.

Three honest cowboys stop to rest for the night at a cabin occupied by outlaws led by Blind Dick (Stanton). Upon awakening in the morning they find themselves surrounded by a vigilante posse and forced to flee as fugitives…

Filmed back to back with The Shooting in Kanab, Utah, Ride in the Whirlwind has something big to say without actually saying that much!

It's a sombre Western piece that deals in the tragedy brought about by a miscarriage of justice. It also finds Hellman and Nicholson reaching into the belly of the Western mythos and pulling out its guts to reveal a shallow hole of boredom and dirt covered grafters. This works to a large degree by way of the portrayals of weary cowboys (nice subtle performances by Nicholson and Mitchell really help) and the mundane ranch life of a family who are coerced into harbouring the fugitives. The air of authenticity and rich period detail, as well, is highly commendable. However, the laborious pace will annoy many and some actions and scenarios played out are a little hard to swallow. It's a mixed bag but very much a film that Western fans should see though. 7/10
11  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Possessed (1947) on: October 09, 2017, 12:33:11 PM
I'll add support here >

This civilisation is a worse disease than heart trouble or tuberculosis, and we can't escape it.

Possessed is directed by Curtis Bernhardt and adapted to screenplay by Silvia Richards and Ranald MacDougall from a story by Rita Weiman. It stars Joan Crawford, Van Heflin, Raynond Massey and Geraldine Brooks. Music is by Franz Waxman and cinematography by Joseph Valentine.

After wandering around the streets of Los Angeles in a daze, Louise Howell (Crawford) collapses in a diner and admitted to hospital. From there, prompted under medication, she begins to reveal a rather sad story...

Film begins with quite a kick, a dazed looking Crawford, stripped of make-up, wanders around a ghostly looking Los Angeles uttering the name David. Once she enters the hospital, we switch to flashback mode and the makers unfurl a noir tale of mental illness, oneirism, hopeless love and death. German director Bernhardt (Conflict/High Wall) and his cinematographer Valentine (Shadow of a Doubt/Sleep, My Love) deal in expressionistic methods to enhance the story. Light and shadows often marry up to Louise's fractured state of mind, motif association flits in and out of the plotting and there's some striking imagery used; such as a body dragged from a lake and Louise framed in a rain speckled window.

The lines of reality are impressively blurred, ensuring the viewers remain in a state of not ever being sure of what is real. There's a deft disorientation about the production, where fatalism looms large and sadness is all too evident in our troubled femme protagonist. Principal cast performances are of a high standard, with Crawford (Academy Award Nominated) leading the way with one of those wide eyed turns that perfectly treads the thin line between fraught and tender. While laid over the top is a score from Waxman that emphasises the key segments of poor Louise's mental disintegration. But what of the story in itself? The rhyme or reason for such murky melodramatics dressed up neatly in noir clobber?

Story is pretty much wrapped around the notion that a romantic obsession sends Louise Howell on the downward spiral. Since we know next to nothing about the relationship between Louise and David Sutton (Heflin), or why Sutton is the sly and antagonistic way he is, it's a big hole in character formation. As is the death of Dean Graham's (Massey) wife, or in fact the sudden shift of Dean Graham becoming husband to one Louise Howell. The film looks terrific on a noir level, and Crawford engrosses greatly from start to finish, but it only seems to exist for these two reasons, all else is on the outer edges of the frame looking in. A shame because there is much to like and be involved with here. 7.5/10
12  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: They Won't Believe Me (1947) on: October 09, 2017, 12:30:40 PM
Good pub for this one, nice to see. Moi >

Touched by the hand of God/Satan.

They Won't Believe Me is directed by Irving Pichel and adapted to screenplay by Jonathan Latimer from a story by Gordon McDonell. It stars Robert Young, Susan Hayward, Jane Greer and Rita Johnson. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by Harry J. Wild.

Larry Ballentine (Young) is on trial for murder and he tells his story in flashback. Three dames and fate does not a good mix make.

"She looked like a very special kind of dynamite, neatly wrapped in nylon and silk. Only I wasn't having any. I'd been too close to one explosion already. I was powder shy".

A splendid slice of noir drama is put together by a group of film makers who knew how to make the noir style of film making work. The story has all the requisite ingredients to lure the interested viewers in, twists and turns, vipers and snipers, dialogue so sharp you could cut a steak with it, and a love rat protagonist (Young splendid in a break from his normal roles) being toyed with by Old Noir Nick and his friend The Fate.

In true noir tradition the plot is a little "out there", the middle section drags at times, while Harry Wild's cinematography doesn't kick in till a good hour into the play (worth the wait though!). But this is a little noir treasure waiting to be seen by more people. It's not unknown, the cast list ensures that is not the case, but in film noir circles it doesn't often crop up for discussion. It should, for it's tricky and devilish and pays off with a finale straight out of noirville. 8/10
13  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Race Street (1948) on: October 09, 2017, 12:27:23 PM

"Stay with it"

Race Street, directed by Edwin L. Marin and adapted to screenplay by Martin Rackin from a story by Maurice Davis. Starring George Raft, William Bendix, Marilyn Maxwell, Frank Faylen, Gale Robbins and Harry Morgan. Music is by Roy Webb and cinematography by J. Roy Hunt.

Story centers around two friends played by Raft and Bendix, the former is a turf accountant and night club owner, the latter a plain clothes policeman. With a syndicate racket moving in on the Frisco bookmaking circuit, Dan Gannin (Raft) refuses to co-operate, putting himself in grave danger. Barney Runson (Bendix) wants to move in and do it the official way, begging Dan to step aside and let the police do their job. But when the syndicate make a deadly move that hits Dan close to home, he's not for turning.

In the grand scheme of Raft and Bendix movies, or classic era film noir pics in fact, this one is small fry, but strong cast and solid production foundation ensure it's an enjoyable experience. Story isn't strong, where two old friends lock horns while some villain throws his weight around, but in true noir fashion there's some sneaky surprises in store and a none cop out finale.

Technically it's interesting, one quite dreadful process backed sequence aside, Marin and Hunt hit the noir bars for mood compliance. The absence of chiaroscuro is a shame, for a number of scenes here cry out for it, but the lighting techniques and shadow indulgence keeps the eyes pleased. There's even a startling sequence that appears to show Gale Robbins floating in and around the night club crowd as she sings a song, while a bit of zoom play and nifty Frisco locations add further quality.

Good honest noirville enjoyment. 6.5/10

DVD - Copy.
14  Films of Sergio Leone / Other Films / Whispering Smith (1948) on: October 08, 2017, 02:15:57 AM

Guys like Smitty they don't make anymore!

Whispering Smith is directed by Leslie Fenton and co-adapted to screenplay by Frank Butler and Karl Kamb from Frank H. Spearman's novel. It stars Alan Ladd, Robert Preston, Brenda Marshall, Donald Crisp, William Demarest and Frank Faylen. Music is by Adolph Deutsch and cinematography by Ray Rennahan.

Famed railroad detective Whispering Smith (Ladd) becomes conflicted when his latest case pits him up against one of his best pals.

It's somewhat surprising to find Whispering Smith is not more well known, given that it's Ladd's first full length Western feature and that it's really rather good. With its opening scene of Ladd riding towards camera, with glorious landscape in the background, and the thematics of how Smith operates around women and children, this signposts towards Shane five years down the line. In fact this very much works as a tasty appetiser for that superb 1953 picture.

Ladd cuts a fine figure as Smith, giving him the right amount of calm toughness so as to not over play the role, and Preston is on fine form, very ebullient and able to act heaps with only his eyes. Marshall on the surface doesn't impact greatly, in what is a key role, but the character is very shrewdly written and sits in the story as more than a token. The villains headed by Crisp are not very inspiring, while Faylen looks laughably out of place with a blonde wig!, but with Preston erring on the side of badness the good versus bad axis of plotting thrives well enough.

Pic is filled with a number of shoot-outs, banditry and awesome locomotive action, all set to the backdrop of beautiful - Technicolor enhanced - California locales. The running theme of railroad progression in the West is interestingly written, managing to not take sides and let the viewer enjoy both sides of the coin, though a moral equation that Smith ultimately arrives at doesn't quite add up. Add in Fenton's unfussy direction, Rennahan's location photography (see also night sequences) and Deutsch's pleasingly compliant score, and Western fans are good to go.

This doesn't pull up any tress or have the psychological savvy of what many Oaters of the next decade would explore, but it's very well mounted and engages from the get go. 7/10

UK Cable. Currently licensed to Spike Channel. For any UK folk who may be reading this, next showing is Tuesday at 15:00 hrs.
15  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Shadow on the Wall (1950) on: October 01, 2017, 01:51:24 AM
Stupid Cupid?

Shadow on the Wall is directed by Pat Jackson and adapted to screenplay by William Ludwig from the story "Death in the Doll's House" written by Lawrence P. Bachmann and Hannah Lees. It stars Ann Sothern, Zachary Scott, Nancy Davis, Giggi Perreau and John McIntire. Music is by André Previn and cinematography by Ray June.

A nifty psychological hot pot this one. Story centers on a young child called Susan Starrling (Perreau), who after witnessing the murder of her step-mother, succumbs to amnesia. Which is inconvenient for her father since he has been convicted of the murder and sent down to await execution. Can determined psychiatrist Caroline Cranford (Davis) eek the truth out of Susan's troubled memory? Can the real killer ensure that that isn't the case?

It's a personal thing of course, but I have always found there to be something off kilter about doll's houses, and here we are greeted to an opening shot of one, superbly accompanied by Previn's ominous music, it's a perfect mood setter as to what is to come. Story lacks any mystery dynamic since we are privy to exactly what has gone on regarding the who, why and what fors, and in truth the outcome of it all is never really in doubt. So for although it's a thriller pic dressed up in film noir clobber, it doesn't have the verve or devilment to really be classed full bodied as such. But that's by the by, visually and the presence of a child in peril, with main character disintegration the key feature, puts it into noir lovers considerations.

Since the title features the word shadow it's no shock to find shadows and low lights feature prominently. The lighting effects are very striking, the changes in contrasts perfectly befitting the mood of certain scenes. Such as when dialogue is implying emotional discord, or the silent mindset of our antagonists, while a couple of neat shadow smother shots are killer narrative boosts. The main building of the piece is not the doll's house, but that of the hospital where Susan is receiving treatment, and at night photographer Ray June perfectly sets it up for peril and dastardly deeds. While we also get a bit of wobble screen to signify troubled mental confusion.

Cast range from adequate to very good. Honours go to Perreau, who is never once annoying, turning in an involving performance that has us firmly involved in her world, whilst Davis (the future First Lady Reagan) is very understated, where she gets a well written female character whose not relying on male dominance to expand the part. And with Jackson directing in an unfussy manner it rounds out as a pic worth seeking out. 7/10

DVD - Copy.
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