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Author Topic: Alias Nick Beal (1949)  (Read 1039 times)
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« on: December 17, 2013, 03:31:55 PM »

Rather funny (Latimer's screenwriting is excellent, as Farrow's direction) but, yes the movie gave me the impression that it could have been made as an excellent Twilight Zone episode. In fact you just wonder all the time how Mitchell is gonna escape his fate (which, actually, looks rather better than what he has to put up with at home) and that's that: the depiction of fall into compromise is perfect but you've seen it all before.  I think that Mitchell is too old for the part and Totter, for me, remains the woman in the mirror  to be seen in the Chandler's movie: she looks as anonymous as hell and wonder how she got the femme fatale parts.  This could have got a 8\10 or even more if Edward G. and Joan Bennett. As it is a give it a generous 7\10 for the reasons stated in the first line. Of course, this is not a noir.

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« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2013, 06:23:45 AM »

Rather funny (Latimer's screenwriting is excellent, as Farrow's direction)
Agreed. As I've noted elsewhere, the running gag of Milland entering and exiting scenes--done entirely without special effects--never gets tiring. A highlight of the film is the bit where Milland gives Totter a tutorial on how to seduce Mitchell--I annoyed everyone sitting around me at MoMA by guffawing all the way through that scene.

Nope, not a noir.

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« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2013, 03:53:45 PM »

Ray Milland is adequate but Walter Huston (The Devil and Daniel Webster) and Claude Rains (Angel on My Shoulder) have played the devil better. Audrey Totter has some great scenes, lines of dialog, and Thomas Mitchell is ok. Fred Clark plays a slimy racketeer. The film set of Totter's apartment has some great Daliesque wall murals. Entertaining enough 7/10

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« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2017, 09:42:30 PM »

Playing on Turner Wednesday, Aug. 2, 12am Eastern/9pm Pacific.

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« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2017, 10:11:04 PM »

I found my comments for when this played at MoMA, with Czar Eddie intro-ing it.
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Alias Nick Beal (1949) 9/10. Faust meets All The King’s Men, but with laughs. A crusading D.A. (Thomas Mitchell) meets Nick Beal (Ray Milland) a political fixer with supernatural powers (Nick Beal, geddit? Nick as in “the Old Nick” and Beal as in Beelzebub. One of the film’s running gags has Nick appearing and disappearing in scenes without the aid of special effects—some of Milland’s entrances are truly—heh—diabolical.). Beal helps the D.A. obtain a conviction he desperately wants, but at the cost of violating the law and the man’s conscience. Little by little, Beal leads him away from virtue, and before long the D.A. is running for governor. Helping Beal keep Thomas Mitchell on the broad path to destruction is Audrey Totter, employed by Nick to drive a wedge between the D.A. and his wife (there’s a hilarious scene where Milland instructs Totter on how to vamp Mitchell). George Macready plays a clergyman who finds a way to ultimately thwart Mr. Beal. The film was directed by John Farrow (The Big Clock).

Eddie says, “This is a film for Audrey Totter fans. Any one of the scenes with Audrey could stand as her signature scene.”

 

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« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2017, 08:25:55 AM »

Another one I have not seen yet and am trying to track down.

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« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2017, 11:29:26 AM »

For me it's a sort Supernatural and fantasy based Noir. They have been around since the beginning. Repeat Performance (1947), The Amazing Mr. X (1948), Fear in the Night (1947), The Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948), Nightmare (1956), covered roughly the same territory, there are probably a few more. You can possibly even include It's a Wonderful Life (1946) for the Noir-ish sequence and Val Lewton's The Seventh Victim (1943). Angel Heart (1987) David Lynch's Lost Highway (1997) practically covers the same type of territory but without the Judeo-Christian iconography.

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« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2017, 12:10:46 PM »

I really like Repeat Performance. Unfortunately I only have a very bad copy, don't think it's even out on VHS.

Edit: It seems to be out on DVD, but reviewers say it's a fuzzy copy.

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« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2017, 03:31:19 PM »

Alias Nick Beal is a great noir interpretation of Faust. Can't go wrong with Milland and Totter (and the rest of the cast is great as well). I don't know if TCM has a better copy than what I watched some time ago, I do hope so... I would love to see a good-looking version of it, it's got some great fog-filled scenes.

That goes for Repeat Performance as well, good movie but I also have only seen a bad copy of it. But I liked it enough that there's a poster for the movie having above my couch  Cool

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« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2017, 03:33:19 PM »

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But I liked it enough that there's a poster for the movie having above my couch

I have a big poster of The Killers, I love it.

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« Reply #10 on: August 03, 2017, 03:43:51 PM »

I have a big poster of The Killers, I love it.

That's a great movie & poster!  Afro

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« Reply #11 on: August 15, 2017, 01:17:18 AM »

I saw the movie on TCM the other day. The image quality was good.

The Faustian story doesn't interest me (my favorite use of it is in Damn Yankees  Wink ) but this movie is decent for what it is.

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« Reply #12 on: August 15, 2017, 07:25:48 AM »

Another cracker >

Old Nick - Crafty Devil.

Alias Nick Beal (AKA: A few other titles...) is directed by John Farrow and adapted to screenplay by Jonathan Latimer from the Mindret Lord story. It stars Ray Milland, Audrey Totter, Thomas Mitchell and George Macready. Music is by Franz Waxman and cinematography by Lionel Lindon.

It's the Faustian legend filmed through film noir filters as Thomas Mitchell's politician unwittingly makes a deal with Ray Milland's suspicious Nick Beal.

Nicholas Beal - Agent.

It's all fogs, smogs and smoky pubs here, it's 1949 and John Farrow and his team are having a great time of things blending Faust with politico machinations. Narrative thrust comes by way of corruption and character disintegration, sprinkled naturally with your good old cinematic staple of good versus evil in bold type.

Don't touch him! He doesn't like it!

Milland is superb here, his Nick Beal is the ultimate Machiavellian Mannipulator, and the chief film makers really bring these traits to the fore. Beal is a bundle of smug grins and glinting eyes, he just appears in scenes, Farrow cunningly using various props and persons to suddenly unleash his little old devil when he is least expected. Around Nicky there are subtle changes of clothes and snatches of dialogue that hit the requisite devilish notes, Totter is our darling who is caught in Old Nick's trap, Mitchell (great) even more so.

The last time I was here was quite exciting. City was on fire. Picked up quite a lot of recruits that night. Made quite a transportation problem.

Lionel Lindon and Franz Waxman are also key components to what makes the pic work. Waxman (Sunset Blvd.) deftly shifts between big bass drums for thunder clap effects, to delicate swirls that give off other worldly - eerie - effects. Lindon (I Want to Live!) does great work isolating the eyes in light, while his fog and shadows work wouldn't be amiss in a Val Lewton picture.

This is a criminally under seen movie, it's far from perfect because the collage of genre influences give it a very unbalanced feel, but there's so much fun, spookiness and technical craft on show to make it a must see movie for fans of the stars, noir and supernatural tinged pictures. 8/10

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« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2017, 02:35:03 PM »

Thanks for the review, Spike.

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This is a criminally under seen movie

Probably because it's hard to track down. I'm still searching for it.

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« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2017, 06:30:45 AM »

Thanks for the review, Spike.

Probably because it's hard to track down. I'm still searching for it.
#

Yep, I had to go spurious to get it. It is out there though.

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