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Author Topic: The Narrow Margin (1952)  (Read 4440 times)
titoli
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« Reply #30 on: February 14, 2013, 08:30:04 AM »

Quickly: Go to the ATM, make a large cash withdrawal, then go out and BUY YOURSELF A SENSE OF HUMOR. We'd all appreciate it.

Who's "We"?

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« Reply #31 on: February 14, 2013, 09:19:45 AM »

Me, myself, and I.

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« Reply #32 on: February 14, 2013, 11:26:25 AM »

Just what I thought.

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« Reply #33 on: February 14, 2013, 02:56:05 PM »

Did you imagine, Li'l Duce, that only you could use the royal "we"?

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« Reply #34 on: February 14, 2013, 03:00:17 PM »

Did I?

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« Reply #35 on: February 14, 2013, 05:31:36 PM »

You got to remember this was the very height and also the very brink of the end of the great "luxury name train" era and it was cheaper than flying, $100 Chicago to LA vs about $300 air see below

AIR TRAVEL IN THE 1950s
Coach Class
In the 1950s the American aviation industry grew dramatically. Airline companies had gradually adopted the technological improvements of World War II for their civilian planes, and commercial air travel became faster and more comfortable. It also became cheaper as new planes accommodating more people were introduced. Airlines began to offer "air coach class" seating, priced to compete with railroad's "coach" business. By paying coach fares, passengers could fly almost anywhere in the country for about one hundred dollars, one-third less than airfares of the late 1940s. "For the first time the ordinary man began to fly with us," observed Juan Trippe, longtime head of Pan American. By 1955 more Americans were traveling by air than by railroad.

Check out the accommodations on the "Train of the Stars" basically a rolling hotel:

http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/node/1903281/print

On a side note next time you watch the film pay attention to the last sequence on the train just after Paul Maxey blocks the corridor so that McGraw and Jacqueline White can escape the reporters in the opposite direction, just as they leave the train, behind McGraw in a pouch against the wall sticking out is a brochure for TWA nice product placement Howard.

« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 04:10:29 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #36 on: February 27, 2013, 06:41:43 AM »

TCM will be showing the movie again, on Friday March 8th at 11:15 AM EST http://www.tcm.com/schedule/index.html?tz=est&sdate=2013-03-08


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« Reply #37 on: November 09, 2017, 07:44:29 AM »

"She's a dish… a 60 cent special. Cheap, flashy and strictly poison under the gravy.”

My umpteenth rewatch. The Narrow Margin is a film I can watch till the cows come home, go out and come home again. It was directed by the underrated Richard Fleischer who made some fabulous B movies before moving up to As. Some movies may not be born with high expectations, but manage to rise above their humble origins by some kind of magic.
Made by RKO in 1950, it sat on the shelf for 18 months. Howard Hughes once again meddled in production matters. He loved the movie so much he wanted it redone as an A picture with his stars Mitchum and Russell, eliminating all scenes with McGraw and Windsor. Erratic as he was, thankfully he later forgot about his intentions and released the picture, but not before butchering the movie. Some crucial scenes ended up on the cutting room floor.
The Narrow Margin is a well-executed clever little thriller with many red herrings though there are a few plot holes you could drive the proverbial truck through, plus implausible plot elements that don’t hold up under logical scrutiny. How come nobody knows what Mrs. Neall looks like? Why would the DA let a material witness travel cross-country without police protection on the same train as the decoy? Who betrayed the detectives at the safe house?
Never mind. At 70 minutes there is no time to dwell on such trivialities. Fleischer’s direction is assured and economical. The film was brought in on a 15-day schedule for a paltry budget and turned in a huge profit for the studio. It’s a lesson in barebones filmmaking that exploits its one location. Not a frame is wasted and the camera work by George Diskant is near perfect. The dialogue is snappy and pulpy, and there’s a great fist fight between Brown and one of the goons which was ripped off by Sean Connery and Robert Shaw in From Russia, With Love.

Two detectives, Walter Brown (Charles McGraw) and Gus Forbes (Don Beddoe), are sent to Chicago with orders to transport a mobster’s widow, Mrs. Frankie Neall (Marie Windsor), to LA where she is supposed to testify before a grand jury against her husband’s mob connections. The mob wants to shut up her up permanently. The safe house where she’s kept is compromised and Forbes gets killed. With a couple of hitmen hot on their trail, Brown must escort Mrs. Neall across country by train himself. She turns out to be a real piece of goods, with a few secrets of her own.
On the train Brown keeps bumping into the wholesome Mrs. Sinclair (Jacqueline White) who's revealed to be the real Mrs. Neall, traveling incognito so as not to attract any attention. Windsor was just a decoy.

Trains have always served filmmakers as background for suspense thrillers. In The Narrow Margin, the train is not just background, it is a character in itself, a microcosmos that condenses action and emotions. The narrow corridors are a labyrinth that offers no escape from danger. Fleischer exploits the train’s passageways and cramped compartments to maximum effect, heightening the sense of claustrophobia and the paranoia of being trapped. There’s no soundtrack, the only sounds we hear continuously in the background are the sounds of the moving train. The churning wheels generate tension and urgency. Well-done rear projection was used to sustain the illusion of motion when looking out of the window. Fleischer was also one of the first directors to make use of a hand-held camera to simulate the moving of the train. Little details like the transition between Windsor nervously filing her nails and the wheels of the train rhythmically turning add a nice touch.

But the best thing about the movie are the main players. Marie Windsor, with a killer bod, bedroom eyes and a tongue as sharp as a razor, delivers her dialogue flawlessly. She’s a hard-nosed dame, brassy, cheerily amoral and cynical. She’s the gold standard that all other tough dames have to be measured against. She gets the best lines and all the fun while blowing cigarette smoke into Brown’s face. Windsor expresses zero sympathy for Forbes, the bullet he took for her and Brown’s seething anger about it. (“Some protection they send me: an old man who walks right into it, and a weeper.”) She even begins to flirt with Brown mere minutes after his partner gets killed. She isn't just hard-boiled, she's a ten minute egg.

Walter Brown is the essence of all Charles McGraw roles. With a voice like gravel and a face like granite, he’s a cop so tough he could have us believe he’s capable of chewing and swallowing a bucketful of nails without batting an eyelid and spitting them out again one by one. He doesn't so much speak his lines as bark them. If Windsor is a ten-minute egg, he's at least a fifteen-minute one.

Brown has a very clear picture in his mind of the unseen moll he’s supposed to protect. She can only be a cheap dame, no decent woman would marry a gangster. His partner counters with the slightly banal insight that “all kinds” of women could potentially marry a gangster, not just the vision Brown has conjured up. But Brown’s musings about the character of gangster molls seem to be confirmed once they clap eyes on Mrs. Neall.

Watching McGraw and Windsor duke it out with the gloves off and slinging snark at each other is worth the price of admission alone. Heartwarming goodwill and kindness just drip off the screen - in acid form. This is a brass-knuckle fight. Brown’s every word to Neall just oozes venom and contempt, nobody tells a dame to shut up just like McGraw. He holds her at least partially responsible for the death of his partner.
They may despise each other, but nevertheless generate a lot of heat. Their relationship has all the dangers of high explosives. For no discernible reason at all Windsor wears a sexy black lace negligee on the train. She doesn’t seem to be averse to some canoodling with Brown. Or maybe that’s just wishful thinking. To my eternal disappointment, and I'm sure I'm not the only one, they didn’t get it on.
Unfortunately the idea of the “right” woman for Brown - wholesome good girl Mrs. Sinclair - is pushed too much. Jacquline White is cute but obviously no match for smocking hot Windsor. On top of that she’s saddled with a brat that would benefit from a massive dose of downers on a daily basis.

The twist at the end is unique and quintessentially Noir. Nothing is what it seemed. It was all a tangled web of lies, deceit and mistaken identities. After Marie Windsor catches a bullet from the goons it is revealed that she was an Internal Affairs cop on assignment to entrap Brown in a payoff from the mob.
Windsor’s death is a cruel surprise, but we do get the feeling that she died the way she lived. It’s nevertheless an interesting one, because the viewer has to completely reconsider his perception of Windsor. Brown’s judgment about the kind of woman who marries a mobster was completely off. Looks and attitude don’t have to dictate a person’s personality. The old bromide holds true. Never judge a book by its cover. It’s June Cleaver who was married to the mob, inverting stereotypes and thus giving the picture some unexpected depth.
In the end Brown is left with the knowledge that his bosses not only didn’t trust him enough to tell him the true nature of his mission, but also considered him and Forbes crooked enough to be on the payoff list Mrs. Neall was carrying.
What’s really shameful is the way Windsor’s death is dealt with. Her sacrifice is never acknowledged by the others. The picture concludes too upbeat with McGraw and White walking happily out into the sunlight, without paying respect to a fallen comrade. As we can see from the Stanley Rubin interview (thanks for posting), the culprit for this blunder shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody. The ending is the only real flaw in an otherwise near perfect picture. Blame it on Hughes.

« Last Edit: November 09, 2017, 09:01:05 AM by Jessica Rabbit » Logged

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« Reply #38 on: November 09, 2017, 08:47:29 AM »

 Afro

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« Reply #39 on: November 09, 2017, 08:05:12 PM »

Good movie, enjoyable review as always, Jessica  Afro Afro

Windsor gave a solid performance, but I’d have to disagree with you about her being a smoking hot babe. She isn’t particularly attractive. Though I far prefer that to pretty girls who can’t act.

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« Reply #40 on: November 10, 2017, 06:40:24 AM »

Quote
I’d have to disagree with you about her being a smoking hot babe. She isn’t particularly attractive

Most reviews I read seem to agree with me that she is. Wink But then your taste in women is a bit off.  Wink

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