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16  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Hotel Reserve (1944) on: October 18, 2017, 05:10:05 PM
Never even heard of this one. Sounds good. Smiley

Thanks Jess,I've been looking round for what there is on the film online,and the only thing I can find is a Spanish DVD,the trailer is not even on YT!

17  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Hotel Reserve (1944) on: October 18, 2017, 05:08:38 PM
Hi CJ,I've found out that the movie is based on an Ambler novel called  Epitaph for a Spy

18  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Hammer Noir: Paranoiac (1963) on: October 18, 2017, 09:43:30 AM
Watched on DVD 8

* This review may contain spoilers ***

Keeping a TV recording of the very good The Borderlands by the side,I started look for another title to watch for a British Horror double bill. Catching me completely by surprise,my dad revealed a rarely mentioned Hammer Horror he had picked up,which led to me turning paranoiac.

The plot:

After the deaths of their parents in an air-crash the ties that bind the Ashby family together start to snap. Sinking into depression with the rest of his brothers and sisters, Tony Ashby appears to end it all by jumping off a cliff into the sea,an act which none of the other family members see take place.Taken care of by Aunt Harriet,Simon starts becoming increasingly aware of how fragile his sister Eleanor is in the mansion. Wanting all the inheritance for himself,Simon begins playing games that get Eleanor to question her sanity.Fearing that she's starting to see ghosts,Eleanor and the rest of the family discover that "dead" Tony is actually alive. As everyone appears to accept that he is telling the truth,"Tony" starts playing a paranoiac game…

View on the film:

Cracking under the pressure of her family and the re-appearance of Tony, Janette Scott gives a great performance as Eleanor,whose stuck in the mansion status leads Scott to getting Eleanor to lunge out in violently fearful,and abrasively passionate ways. Bringing light into the Ashby family,Alexander Davion gives a sharp, icy performance as Tony,whose handsome looks Davion sands down to a reveal calculating bite. Joined by a simmering Sheila Burrell as Aunt Harriet,Oliver Reed gives a cracking performance as Simon,who Reed balances between wrapping cruel mind-games round Eleanor, and falling down to the madness of the Ashby family.

Beginning the themes that would re-appear in the excellent Amicus Giallo The Psychopath, director Freddie Francis & cinematographer Arthur Grant blend the Gothic smoke of Hammer Horror with dazzling Film Noir stylisation, with the isolation of the Ashby mansion being reflected in water and deranged family members spying on each other in shadows. Backed by a spidery score from Elisabeth Lutyens, Francis brings frightful doubt into the mansion with crisp side shots giving the impression of ghosts/mysterious figures,and a digging deep inside the foundation,allow Francis to unmask fiery secrets.

Loosely based on Josephine Tey's novel,the screenplay by Jimmy Sangster wonderfully uses each Ashby family member to set the other one off to psychological horror,from the fury of mourning from Harriot,to the screams of Eleanor and the cackling weirdness of Simon. Whilst the ending is too neat and tidy,Sangster brilliantly makes Tony a Noir loner trapped in a horror nightmare,with the "love" Eleanor has for Tony edging towards a risqué undertone,and the ambiguity of this Tony being real or fake making each of the Ashby's feel paranoiac.
19  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Hotel Reserve (1944) on: October 15, 2017, 01:04:29 PM

Seen on TV. 6

** This review may contain spoilers ***

Recently re-watching the enjoyable Gris title A Touch of Larceny,I started looking for other easy-going Gris/Thrillers starring James Mason.Whilst searching round,I found that the BBC were showing a Thriller with Mason,which led to me reserving a viewing.

The plot:

Seeing war on the horizon in 1938, Peter Vadassy decides to apply for French citizenship,whilst going on a photographing holiday and staying at the remote Hotel Reserve. Going to collect his latest photos,Vadassy is gripped a spy who says photos of French military installations have been found on his camera. Taking a closer look,Vadassy discovers that a fellow guest has secretly switched his camera. Freed,Vadassy is told he must find out who took the photos,at the Hotel Reserve.

View on the film:

Taking not one,but three directors to make (!),the mix of the trio leads to a constantly unsettled changing of tone. Put together by editor Sidney Stone,the film darts between a murky Spiv tale and a jet-set Thriller abrasively, with it going from stylishly low shadows and seeping steam,to the light-Thriller sunny outdoors with no shading of dour darkness intact. Being the main person who almost keeps things together, Lennox Berkeley delivers an excellent score, (he sadly only did 4 scores) which pounds on the anxiety and unease of Vadassy's secret mission.

Going into the hotel from Eric Ambler's book Epitaph For A Spy, John Davenport (who was literary editor of "The Observer newspaper) casts an eye on espionage in tense exchanges between Vadassy and his fellow guests at the hotel,with the clipped exchanges between them all signalling hidden secrets. Finishing Vadassy's mission with a twist that would later be used in a large number of Gialli, Davenport cleverly makes the twist work by having Vadassy casually build the wrong impression in swift asides. Joined by a simmering Herbert Lom and elegant Patricia Medina as Andre and Odette,James Mason gives a terrific,dashing performance as Vadassy,who spies on the hotel reserves.
20  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Nordic Noir: Echoes from the Dead (2013) on: September 27, 2017, 03:56:35 PM

Streamed on Netflix.


** This review may contain spoilers ***

With the adaptation coming out next month,I decided to start reading Jo Nesbo's Nordic Noir The Snowman. Whilst looking for info on the upcoming movie,I stumbled on title I've never heard of before,which led to me listening to the echoes.

The plot:

Returning to the island of Öland 24 years after her 5 year old son Jens disappeared, (with the now-dead local weirdo Nils Kant being the former main suspect) Julia Davidsson finds her dad Gerlof and his best friend continuing to investigate for links Kant had to Jens disappearance. Planning to stay just a few days,Julia extends her visit when Gerlof's friend dies in a sudden accident. Whilst she comforts her dad, Gerlof and Julia receive a envelope,containing one of Jens shoes.

View on the film:

Returning to the mystery on a small island, co-writer/(with Birgitta Bongenhielm) director Daniel Alfredson & Fredrik Bäckar go for an oddly cosy atmosphere, via the rugged,isolating terrain being covered in misty clouds and wide crane shots above the beautiful countryside. Putting together fragments of the past,Alfredson lands on a dour Nordic Noir atmosphere in extended flashbacks glazed with a stylish decaying gold and late 60's long hair and blood-stained cars.

Adapted from the echoes of Johan Theorin's novel, the screenplay by Alfredson and Bongenhielm give the Nordic Noir themes of corrupt major businesses and unsolved mystery an excellent mature twist,as the decades the Davidson's (played by a great Lena Endre and Tord Peterson) have spent grieving over the death of Julia's son Jens are cut open with new doubt on the identity of the killer. Re-tracing Nils Kant's (played by an unsettling Felix Engström) footsteps, the writers give the mystery a visceral burn with the extended flashbacks unveiling the psychopathic horrors lurking behind the islands peaceful image,as the echoes of the dead grow louder.
21  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Real-life Nordic Noir: Out of Thin Air (2017) on: September 26, 2017, 02:31:12 PM


Details on the case:


"Once the confession is taken-once it's in the air,it corrupts everything."

** This review may contain spoilers ***

A fan of the Nordic-Noir genre,I caught up with the superb Nordic- Noir inspired Spanish mini-series I Know Who You Are just before it left the catch-up service. Watching the last ep,I got "recommended" a "Ripped from the headlines" doc about a murder case in Iceland,which led to me breaking the ice.

The outline of the doc:

In January 1974 Guðmundur Einarsson disappears,with the police not being able to find any clue over where he might be. Later,on the 19th of November 1974 Geirfinnur Einarsson disappears under similar circumstances. Known for being "Bad lads" the police arrest "Gang leader Sævar Ciesielski,his four friends,and Ciesielski's girlfriend Erla Bolladottir. Feeling the anger from the public over Iceland's loss of "innocence", the police put pressure on Erla Bolladottir to give them the confession they want.

View on the film:

Going from 1974 to the present day, director Dylan Howitt blends archive footage with tasteful re-constructions. Making the voice- overs reading the diary entries of the six suspects the main focus, Howitt brings the fading days of Iceland's innocence back in drab 70's colours,with a careful obscuring of the actors faces helping to place the viewer in the shoes of the speaking suspect. Deconstructing the case with interviews from Erla Bolladottir,still serving police officers and extracts from the diaries of the other five suspects, the "open" state of the case leads to the conclusion becoming blurred with the horrific "interrogation" methods the police used criss-crossing with the failed attempts to appeal the convictions,as the ice fails to break.
22  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Nordic Noir: False Trail (2011) on: September 25, 2017, 06:38:06 PM

Seen on TV 8

** This review may contain spoilers ***

After watching the very interesting 2017 doc Out of Thin Air,I started thinking about watching a new title from the Nordic Noir genre. Picking up a newspaper on the way back home,I was excited to spot that a Nordic Noir I've read a lot about was to be shown,which led to me locating the true trail.

The plot:

Leaving the police after a fellow officer killed himself over a case he was investigating, Erik Bäckström is forced to return in order to help find missing Elin Ledin. Being more of a forensic investigator, Bäckström finds himself uncomfortable around the aggressive style of policing officer Torsten. Whilst being taken out on a hunting trip by Torsten, reports come in that Ledin's body dissected body has been found in the woods they are going to. As the cops pat each other on the back, Bäckström begins suspecting that Torsten has a connection to the murder.

View on the film:

With one of the main themes of the genre being the police taking on the corrupt business elite, the screenplay by Stefan Thunberg & Björn Carlström give this staple of Nordic Noir a bare-knuckle twist,by making the police themselves be corrupt. Smartly limiting links to the first film to brief mentions that add depth to Bäckström's coming out of the wilderness,the writers make Torsten an attention-grabbing psychopath,whose swagger with a badge can't stop Bäckström chipping away at a macabre murder mystery, or the writers unveil disturbing family secrets hidden in Nordic Noir shadows.

Confronting everyone against director Kjell Sundvall and cinematographer Jallo Faber rural coloured backwoods, Peter Stormare fires on all cylinders as Torsten, with Stormare making him a snarling rogue,whose rapid-fire mouth is matched by his casual use of brutal violence. Haunted by his last case, Rolf Lassgård gives a great, worn-down performance as Bäckström, who lashes out at the frustrations of the jammed mechanics that is the police, but is balanced out by Lassgård with a Noir loner single mindedness to uncover the true trail.
23  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / First Postman Always Rings Twice adaptation: Le dernier tournant (1939) on: September 02, 2017, 04:14:19 PM

Watched via torrent.


* This review may contain spoilers ***

Being just one of a handful of people to attend the screening,I found myself utterly gripped a few months ago by Ivo van Hove's National Theatre Live adaptation of Obsession/The Postman Always Rings Twice. Looking round for movies to watch for a poll on the best films of 1939,I found a review by fellow IMDber dbdumonteil about the first ever filmed adaptation of James M. Cain novel,which led to me excitingly waiting for the postman to arrive.

The plot:

Drifting from town to town, Frank Maurice covers his money issues by being lucky with the roll of a dice at gambling. Stopping at a 24 hour food and drink pub, Maurice is welcomed in by owner Nick Marino and his wife Cora. Not having any friends,Nick invites Maurice to stay on and work as a handyman. Falling for each other at first sight,the passions of Maurice and Cora lead to them making plans over how to kill the "Old man." Planning a fake power cut, Cora hits Nick over the head,and plans a fatal mood,but is interrupted by a visiting police officer. As Cora tries to explain the "accident" to her husband, Maurice begins drifting back into his old ways…

View on the film:

Appearing out of a mirage in the pub, Fernand Gravey gives a magnificent performance as drifting Noir loner Maurice. Stinking of booze,fags and cards,Gravey gives Maurice a shifty presence,which never eases as Maurice's rigid back is constantly up against the wall from the doubting Nick and the ruthlessly seductive Cora. Caught between two deadly lovers, Michel Simon gives a performance bursting with warmth as Nick,who greets Maurice with open arms,that Simon decays into doubt,as all of Nick's kindness gets thrown in his face. Made just before she became a socialite of the Occupation, Corinne Luchaire, (whose dad was Nazi-backing politician Jean Luchaire,whose family enjoyed the good life with the Nazis,until the liberation led to Jean being killed by firing squad,and Corinne being banned from acting,and dying penniless of tuberculosis at 28) gives a magnetic performance as Femme Fatale Cora,with lingering close-ups zoning in on the viper glances Luchaire gives Cora playing all the cards close to her chest.

While Luchaire enjoyed the high life,this became director Pierre Chenal last film in France until 1946,with the Jewish Chenal fleeing France with his wife Florence Marly (who along with starring in Film Noir classics Krakatit and The Damned,co-stars here) for Argentine. Delivering the first adaptation of Cain's novel,Chenal & cinematographer Christian Matras strike a winning number with a cracking evil under the sun Film Noir atmosphere,reflecting the life of Maurice,everything is covered in a dust which gives the Marino's entanglement with Maurice a grubby appearance. Keeping Maurice as an outside, Chenal mischievously curses Maurice with ladders and black cats that are joined by ultra-stylised first person shots cornering him,and never giving Maurice the chance to fully embrace Cora.

Working from a translation of Cain's novel by Sabine Berritz,the screenplay by Charles Spaak and Henri Torrès strike the trio with jagged dialogue,that in moments of calm barely hides the viper poison about to be unleashed. Handing Nick's trust to Maurice,the writers seep Cora and Maurice's harsh pessimism out into the open of the bitter end,as the postman rings twice for the first time.

24  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Spanish Neo-Noir: The Body (2012) on: September 01, 2017, 08:34:37 PM
Never heard of this movie (or the TV series you mentioned), it sounds great! Have added it to my list. Where did you see it, Netflix?

Thanks for the comments XHC,I caught the film on Netflix UK,and Arrow have just put the first 10 eps of the series out on disc (it was shown as one 18 ep "mini" series in Spain,but the BBC have split it in two.)

25  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Spanish Neo-Noir: The Body (2012) on: August 21, 2017, 06:59:23 PM

Seen on TV.


"Every death is a homicide until proved otherwise."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Whilst talking to a friend about what TV shows they are watching, I got told about the (extended) Noir-Noir Spanish Mini-Series I Know Who You Are. Catching up on the series, I got recommended a Spanish flick that was about to be removed from the site,which led to me uncovering the body.

The plot:

Feeling sick at seeing how his millionaire wife Mayka Villaverde has lost all her good looks, Alejandro "Álex" Ulloa makes a deal with secret lover Carla to kill Mayka,and then run off together. Getting a slow-acting chemical from his workplace,Alex waits for Mayka to die,then phones up the cops to get the body. Expecting to wait for his winnings, Alex gets a call to go to the morgue. At the morgue, Alex is told by cop Jaime Peña that Mayka's body has disappeared. As Peña searches for the body,Alex gets signs that Mayka has not passed on.

View on the film:

Picking up the black leather gloves of the Giallo with Neo-Noir hands,co-writer/(with Lara Sendim) director Oriol Paulo & cinematographer Oscar Faura undress the body with an icy supernatural (bloodless) Horror/Giallo atmosphere,as ultra-stylised whip-pans across the morgue suggest a hidden figure hiding in the shadows, whilst reflections in wine glasses and circling camera moves subtly change what is being reflected at Alex. Largely taking place in one location, (with extended flashbacks) opens up the tomb of the morgue with a pristine Neo-Noir metallic shine lining the walls,which close Alex and Peña on a tightly coiled interrogations.

Offering up to Alex various rational reasons to Mayka's disappearance, the screenplay by Paulo and Sendim brilliantly keep the possible supernatural Horror ambiguous, which give the writers a chance to dig into the major Giallo theme of the ruthless upper class, via Alex having an arrogance over even looking at Peña and seeing murder as a quick path to a sack of cash.Thumping the table at Alex's refusal to answer, the writers cut prime Neo-Noir dialogue for Peña,whose initial worn-down appearance is revealed to hide a burning Noir anger.

Deconstructing the entire day from Mayka death to Alex's arrival at the mood, the writers unveil a magnificent, macabre twist, which hits thanks to the writers cleverly placing scenes where the viewer can see things from a different perspective on a second viewing. Sweating with fear over Peña unlocking the truth, Hugo Silva gives a superb performance as Alex,whose abrasive attitude Silva holds onto as a mask to hide Alex's fear. Determined to smoke out the whereabouts of Mayka (played by a glamorous Belén Rueda) Jose Coronado gives Peña an excellent hard-nosed aggression smashing Alex's arrogance, as the worn-down Noir loner look of Peña is peeled away by Coronado to reveal a sharp-calculating grip,as the body hits the floor.
26  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Film-Noir Discussion/DVD Review Thread on: August 21, 2017, 06:44:09 PM
Hi Jess,the DVDs are R2 but the Blu's might be Region free.With Arrow having put out R1 DVDs/Blu-Rays this year,there is a chance it will reach the US.

Reading the November line-up,these are some of the best box sets I've ever heard about! With Arrow also bringing out:

 Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years. Vol. 1 – Seijun Rising: The Youth Movies Limited Edition


Making their home-video debuts outside Japan, this diverse selection of Nikkatsu youth movies (seishun eiga) charts the evolving style of the B-movie maverick best known for the cult classics Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Branded to Kill (1967).

The Boy Who Came Back (1958) marks the first appearances of “Nikkatsu Diamond Guys” and regular Suzuki collaborators Akira Kobayashi and Jo Shishido, with Kobayashi cast as the hot-headed hoodlum fresh out of reform school who struggles to make a clean break with his tearaway past. The Wind-of-Youth Group Crosses the Mountain Pass (1961) is a carnivalesque tale of a young student who hooks up with a down-at-heels travelling circus troupe. Teenage Yakuza (1962) stars Tamio Kawaji as the high-school vigilante protecting his community from the extortions of mobsters from a neighbouring city. The Incorrigible (1963) and Born Under Crossed Stars (1965), both based on Toko Kon’s novels about young love, represent Suzuki’s first films set in the 1920s era later celebrated in his critically-regarded Taisho Trilogy.


• Limited Edition Dual Format Collection [3000 copies]
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
• Optional English Subtitles
• New introduction to the films by critic Tony Rayns
• 60-page illustrated collector's book featuring new writing by critic and author Jasper Sharp


Sacha Guitry: Four Films 1936-1938 Limited Edition

Four Films 1936-1938 brings together a quartet of 1930s features by Sacha Guitry, the celebrated French filmmaker, playwright and actor of the stage and screen, each based on his earlier works.
Indiscretions (Le Nouveau testament) follows a holier-than-though physician who is scuppered by his own hypocrisy. My Father Was Right (Mon père avait raison) tells off a man who, after being left by his wife for another man, raises his son to be wary of women. Let’s Dream (Faisons un rêve…) is another story of mistrust, between husband, wife and lovers. And the history of one of France’s most famous streets is retold in Up the Champs-Élysées (Remontons les Champs-Élysées), featuring multiple performances from Guitry himself.
Available for the first time on Blu-ray this set presents some of Guitry’s earliest and most enjoyable works.
• Limited Edition Dual Format Collection [2000 copies]
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
• Original French mono audio (uncompressed LPCM on the Blu-ray)
• Optional English subtitles
• Two French television documentaries: Cinéastes de notre temps: Sacha Guitry (1965) and Thèmes et variations du cinéma: Guitry (1967)
• An interview with Guitry from the 1959 television series Magazine du théâtre
• 60-page limited edition book featuring new writing on the films
27  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Re: Carol Reed's The Running Man (1963) on: August 15, 2017, 04:26:08 PM
I to was surprised that it has been forgotten about Jess. I found the region free DVD on Narkover (I think Spike has mentioned about using the site before):
28  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Simone Simon's last pre-WWII film: Raymond Bernard's Cavalcade d'amour (1939) on: August 12, 2017, 06:39:51 PM

Seen on Moviedetective DVD.



Taking part in an ICM poll for the best films of 1940,I found out of a work (incorrectly) listed as being from the year by auteur Raymond Bernard,and starring Simone Simon in her final pre-Hollywood production. With the title having some pretty "big names" I was shocked to not find a copy of it anywhere. Ordering Claude Miller's gripping Garde à vue after long giving up on seeing this,I was taken by surprise,when the seller revealed he had also tracked down Bernard's work!,and I set off walking to the cavalcade of love.

The plot:

Story 1:The Middle Ages.

As a stage company travels to a castle to perform a show for the royals,a princess prepares for her wedding. Having a portrait of her arranged fiancé on the wall,the princess expects to get married to a dashing young man called Léandre,but discovers her fiancé has been painted with different brush strokes.

Story 2: 19th century:

Being new inhabitants of the castle,the couple avoid the curse of the Middle Ages by being deeply in love with each other. After helping the bride get measured in the dress during the day, dressmaker Juliette tries the dress on. As Juliette tries the dress on,the groom Hubert catches a glimpse.

Story 3:The present:

Buying the castle after seeing a portrait of a bishop who looks just like him, Lacouret shows off how grand his new property is. Previously supporting the marriage of his daughter Junie and Georges , Lacouret starts making his own plans in the castle.

View on the film:

Known in the UK for his very serious 1932 and 1934 duo Wooden Crosses and Les Misérables,director Raymond Bernard (whose dad was humorist Tristan Bernard) displays an impeccable touch for the emerging Fantasy genre with a dark edge.Bernard walks down the aisles of the castle in tracking shots catching the extravagances,and conjures up a comedic flight of fantasy in ultra- stylised overlapping close-ups and recurring motifs of dolls. Not making another title until 1946, (being Jewish,Bernard went into hiding,during which time his dad Tristan was tortured to death by the Nazis.)

Bernard & cinematographer Robert Lefebvre keep production issues off-screen,(original producer Bernard Natan got arrested for fraud/causing Pathé studios go bust,and whilst in jail, got given by the French gov to the Nazis,who sent him to the Auschwitz camp) to criticise the ruling bourgeoisie elite,from shots drenched in shadows making the rulers look like decaying monsters,to a stylised scattering of voices buying the properties of the rich,and leaving them penniless.

Reaching screens just months before the Occupation took place,the screenplay by Jean Anouilh and Jean Anouilh slyly link the Middle Ages,19th century and "present" with the theme of those in power forcing people into relationships that go against all they love and desire. Saving a comedic side for the final segment,the writers brew historical Fantasy Melodrama (!) in the Middle Ages and 19th century,with the Gothic doom of the fake painting being sown in by the curse surrounding the tempting sight of Juliette.

Making her last French film appearance before meeting the Devil and Daniel Webster in Hollywood, Simone Simon gives a sparkling performance as Juliette,whose fragile,graceful manner Simon uses to make Juliette a siren of temptation for Hubert (played by a wonderful Claude Dauphin.) Whilst not being related to Simon, Michel Simon follows in her footsteps by giving a trio of eye-catching distinctive performances across the tales as Diogène/ Monseigneur de Beaupré and Lacouret,with Simon being unafraid to look rotten as stage actor Diogène,and be thunderous as Lacouret,on his way to cavalcade.
29  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Nordic Noir: Jar City (2006) on: August 12, 2017, 06:37:33 PM

Seen on DVD.




After seeing the pulp thrill ride adaptation of Jo Nesbo's Headhunters,I saw a BBC doc on Nordic Noir that showed intriguing clips of a non-Nesbo adaption. While not being able to find the film anywhere,I was able to open the descriptive,hard-boiled original novel by Arnaldur Indridason.


Coming up to 1,500 reviews,I began looking for films I've been wanting to see for years,and after again looking at Amazon UK,I finally got the chance to open the jar.

The plot:

Sent out to investigate the murder of Holberg Jónsson,worn-down detective Erlendur finds the killer to have left everything as it was. Emptying all the shelves and draws, Erlendur finds taped to the back of one a photo of a grave. Locating the grave, Erlendur begins to learn of a murder that took place thirty years ago,and the trio of friends Jónsson was with. As he starts investigating the links from decades ago, Erlendur starts mapping out the genetics which have laid in the dark heart of the town for decades.

View on the film:

Adapting Indriðason's novel two years before they would join up to make the slick (non-adaptation) Reykjavik-Rotterdam/Contraband, the screenplay by Baltasar Kormákur is incredibly compact,with Erlendur unearthing the origins of the photo in exciting investigation scenes,which also open the jar to Nordic Noir's major themes of corruption in the local community and government projects being linked to dirty deals. Unearthing the mystery at lightning speed, Kormákur makes the Noir mystery gripping hard-nosed,but also gives the title an air of needing an extra 30 mins,with the brittle,Noir loner relationship between Erlendur only being given a rough outline to what it could fully offer.

Sharply contrasting the smooth style they gave to Reykjavik- Rotterdam, Kormákur & cinematographer Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson give Erlendur's photos an ultra-stylised rawness that shoves dirt under Nordic Noir nails,via superb over-saturated colours covering the murder scenes in dour, grisly chemical yellows and blood reds,which are smashed against crane shots panning over the corruption which has covered the town. Cracking open jars to the town secrets, Ingvar Eggert Sigurðsson smokes Erlendur with a brilliant,grubby performance that rages from Erlendur giving all a stiff cold shoulder,who try to stop him opening the jar city.
30  Other/Miscellaneous / Off-Topic Discussion / Carol Reed's The Running Man (1963) on: August 12, 2017, 06:35:26 PM
Watched on DVD.


Review #1,498.


Coming up to 1,500 reviews,I began looking for lesser-known films by directors who I'm a fan of. Finding The Third Man and Odd Man Out to be magnificent Film Noir's,I was excited to learn that director Carol Reed had actually made a third "Man in hiding" title, which led to me putting my running shoes on.

The plot:

Faking his death,Rex Black arranges with his wife Stella to run an insurance scam. Sneaking home after he starts to get the plan rolling, Rex finds insurance agent Stephen Maddux presses Stella on what happened to her husband. Fearing they may get caught, Rex gets Stella to agree to take a "holiday" to Spain,so the cash can be sorted out there. Arriving, Stella and Rex (under an alias and fake Aussie accent) get set to celebrate, but discover an unexpected holiday guest has joined them.

View on the film:

Sailing to the film after experiencing his own mutiny on Mutiny on the Bounty, director Carol Reed (who got $200,000 for leaving the Bounty) steps out of the Film Noir shadows with cinematographer Robert Krasker for an elegant sunset Thriller. Filmed on location, Reed and Krasker give the Black's holiday a dusty/sand appearance,which slowly grates into the movie an atmosphere of sinister mind-games behind the warm holiday snaps brightness. Touring the side streets and towns with the trio, Reed stylishly use the cramped streets and the locals going about their daily lives to frame Rex and Maddux narrowly looking over each others shoulders.

Giving a Noir mood via opening with an extended flashback, John Mortimer (who wrote Buddy Lake is Missing) gives this Shelley Smith adaptation an extremely strong Patricia Highsmith flavour, (minus her homoerotic overtones!) Slithering round each other like vipers, Mortimer centres this running man on the deep mistrust between Rex and Maddux, where the smiles of the pretty boys barely hides their desire to stamp the other out, and always keeping their guard up. Whilst the ending has an ill-fitting light atmosphere, Mortimer builds up the cracks in the Black's marriage from Rex's rogue charms, and sharply changes Stella's perspective of "holiday guest" Maddux.

Catching the eye of every man when sunbathing on her holiday, Lee Remick gives a great performance as Stella. Partners in crime with Rex, Remick makes Stella standout as the only woman in the trio with a subtle softening,from being on edge at the mere sight of Maddux, to showing warmth to both of them. Entering as the outsider, Alan Bates relishes in making every glance or twitch of Maddux suggest that he might be about to stop the Black's in their tracks. Playing games to keep everyone off his tracks, Laurence Harvey gives a fantastic performance as Rex, thanks to Harvey making Rex's poor attempts to hold a fake Aussie accent separate the charismatic cad, with the murky, calculating running man.
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