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Author Topic: Blast Of Silence (1961) New York Tail Fin Noir  (Read 2613 times)
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« on: September 09, 2009, 12:42:12 PM »


http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0054687/

Blast of Silence (1961) - 7/10

Interesting little indie piece draining the last kicks from the film noir. Couldn't link the voice of the narrator to a name until I saw on IMDb it was actually Lionel Stander (though uncredited). Worth a watch.

Whatever happened to Allen Baron?

I'd give it an 8. It's very liberated and has some great scenes. I never tired of LS's narration but that could be a potential issue with some viewers. I'm sure it's no surprise that I enjoy it, considering I had the sig/avatar pics. a one point.

I actually didn't thought the narration was that bad. Sure, a couple of times it goes on explaining the obvious just to remind you it's there, but all in all it's OK. The camera bothered me more; Baron was not a bad actor as much as he was unexperienced in directing, it would have been a bomb if he knew a few more professional tricks. Can't understand why he never went up the hierarchy but ended up directing television shows.

P.S. That 'rape' scene is just WTF.

I didn't have an issue with the visuals, I liked the look esp. the long shot of the street (reminded me of the opening of Down By Law) but I'm going to re-watch it in the very near future b/c I have it DVR'd.

Yeah, that scene is really random.

I had the feeling he was struggling with the camera in his face. He probably should have changed the angle.

The shots of the exteriors were excellent: the deserted streets and docks were radiating that specific Cold War paranoia.


Copy-pasted the posts in a new topic; maybe we lure someone else to watch it if he/she sees the topic.

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« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2010, 03:32:15 PM »

I agree on the 7\10. What I liked are the Stander's spillainesque narrative, the locales, the music. Minuses: I don't like professional assassins having second thoughts; everybody but the protagonist (Allen Baron looks like a professional bartender) can see the end coming; the girl's episode is pasted there for plot's sake).

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« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2010, 03:49:48 PM »

Didn't I comment on this in the Film Noir thread  Afro Afro

Here it is:

Blast of Silence (1961) Baby Boy Frankie (France), Cronaca di un assassinio (Italy), Explosion des Schweigens (West Germany)



Excellent low low budget "Spillane-Hammeresque" noir shot on a shoestring (for about $30,000) using actual NYC locations, they got Lionel Stander to do the narration for a $1000 uncredited, director Allen Baron was going to use Peter Falk as the lead but he got a better offer so Baron used himself, lol. Nice soundtrack also. This is my NYC from my youth a trip down nostalgia lane it won an award in Munich recently  Afro

« Last Edit: April 09, 2010, 03:53:52 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2010, 06:36:03 PM »

Those streets and buildings are dripping melancholy.

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« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2010, 10:27:22 PM »

viva mel davenport /waldo salt. another GREAT "lost" movie   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVXRNLu055k

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« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2012, 03:32:20 AM »

Blast of Silence (1961) Baby Boy Frankie (France), Cronaca di un assassinio (Italy), Explosion des Schweigens (West Germany)



Excellent low low budget "Spillane-Hammeresque" noir shot on a shoestring (for about $30,000) using actual NYC locations, they got Lionel Stander to do the narration for a $1000 uncredited, director Allen Baron was going to use Peter Falk as the lead but he got a better offer so Baron used himself, lol. Nice soundtrack also. This is my NYC from my youth a trip down nostalgia lane it won an award in Munich recently                                                                                                                                    By Mike White

Asking a group of cinephiles what films book ended the film noir cycle is akin to throwing raw meat to a pack of wild dogs. You’re liable to lose a finger if you’re not careful. It’s commonly held that Orson Welles’s Touch of Evilrounded out the movement butAllen Baron’s Blast of Silenceshould rightfully hold this distinction. Akin to the classic Poverty Row films where noir found its American niche—like Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour (1945)—Baron’s film is a low budget excursion into the underworld of New York following Baby Boy Frankie Bono (Baron), a hit man who comes out the cold black silence into a deep and dark December to knock off Troiano (Peter H. Clune), a “second string syndicate boss with too much ambition.” Like Jules Dassin’s Rififi, the exterior scenes in Blast of Silence were shot on overcast days, adding to the grittiness of the mise en scene.

“You were born in pain,” intones the distinct gravel voice of Lionel Stander in his insistent voiceover that be-bops along like a Beat poem, perfectly paired with the languid Meyer Kupferman jazz score. The typical noir convention has the main character narrating his tale. Stander works as Frankie’s conscience at times; the voice of an omniscient narrator at others. His narration—written by Waldo Saltunder the name Mel Davenport—elevates Baron’s film from an elegant crime story into a sublime, nihilistic gem. That the voiceover also gives a wealth of exposition while filling in some of the film’s slower, albeit beautifully shot, sequences doesn’t hurt either.

Frankie sees himself as an Angel of Vengeance. He learns to hate every mark; wiping them out does the world a favor. A misanthropic orphan, Frankie is the prototype for Travis Bickle, “God’s lonely man.” He lurks through the streets of Manhattan “smooth, like a piece of precision machinery” as he trails his mark, encountering unsavory characters in the process like the corpulent Ralphie. Living with his pet rats, Ralphie practically wheezes corruption. Wonderfully played by Larry Tucker (best remembered for his role as Pagliacci in Samuel Fuller’s Shock Corridor), he’s the stand out of the film.

Like much of the cast, Blast of Silence was the first foray into film for Tucker. This contrasts Salt and Stander who were both seasoned professionals and victims of the HUAC blacklist. The mix of novice enthusiasm and old guard professionalism came together perfectly in Baron’s freshman film, creating a fitting finale for American film noir.

Unavailable in the U.S. legitimately for decades, Blast of Silence was release in France on DVD as Baby Boy Frankie in 2007 before finally garnering a Criterion disc in the States in 2008. Posted On the eve of Hurricane Sandy

« Last Edit: October 29, 2012, 03:34:44 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2016, 06:22:00 AM »



Director was Allen Baron, the film was written by Allen Baron (screenplay), Waldo Salt (narration). Starring Molly McCarthy (Lori), Allen Baron (Frankie Bono), Larry Tucker (Big Ralphie) (Shock Corridor 1963)), Peter Clune (Troiano) Danny Meehan (Petey), Charles Creasap (Contact Man) Dean Sheldon (nightclub bogo singer), Bill DePrato (Joe Boniface), New York City in all its gritty glory, and a Voice Over, second person narration by Lionel Stander (uncredited). Cinematography was by Merrill S. Brody and cool  jazzy score by Meyer Kupferman.

Darkness. We hear a roaring. A pinprick of light. A steel train in the dark.


North River Tunnel, Bergen Hill Portal (opening credits)

"Remembering, out of the black silence he was born in pain...
you were born with hate and anger built in...."



Blast Of Silence didn't quite come out of nowhere. Allen Baron was an artist who attended the School of Visual Arts and was an illustrator, he got the bug to make a movie after visiting a soundstage in Hollywood. He learned rudimentary camera work while working on a film down in Havana in 1959.

Blast of Silence was mostly shot "guerrilla style" without permits on the streets of New York City for roughly 20,000 dollars. This de facto neorealism imbues the film with an aura of believability that bigger Hollywood productions often did not acquire.

On a side note, I've written countless times that most of the films depicting New York's quintessential Film Noir hardboiled detective Mike Hammer, are less "New Yorkie" than eight films that are not Hammer films, but films that captured both a Film Noir Style and wallow in the true gritty NYC ambiance that every Hammer film demanded. These eight are The Naked City (1948), Killer's Kiss (1955), Two Men in Manhattan (1959), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)* only partially set in NYC,  Blast of Silence (1961), Something Wild (1961), Aroused (1966) and The Incident (1967). Watch these and see what could have been.


A GG1 in Pennsylvania RR livery arriving at Pennsylvania Station

"You come into Manhattan by dark whatever time of day it is
through tunnels like sewers hidden under the city, but you don't mind tha
it's always that way no matter what city it is."


When bar room buddie of Allen Baron, actor Peter Falk who had agreed to play the lead for a deferred salary, actually got a paying gig for Murder Inc (1960) Baron was left without a star. Mel Brody, a school chum of Baron's, who was converting an old firehouse into a sound studio (which the production utilized), suggested that Allen himself act the part of Frankie Bono in the film. As Allen put it, “…I was the best actor available to me at the time, and I was the only one I could afford. So I wrote it, directed it, and was forced to act in it. The truth is I didn't want to play the role.”


Baby Boy Frankie Bono

"You're alone, but you don't mind that, you're a loner
that's the way it should be, you've always been alone,
by now it's you're trademark. You like it that way."


Lionel Stander the only bona fide Hollywood star connected with the film, though uncredited, was trying to get his career back on track  in 1960 after being Blacklisted by HUAC. Again quoting Baron, “Lionel Stander was a blacklisted actor. He did the narration, and he wanted  $1000 if we used his name. Or, $500 if we didn't use his name. Well, naturally, with the amount of money we had we took the $500 deal. So that’s why he doesn't receive a credit.”


The late great Pennsylvania Station, Bono arrives back in NYC

The basic story of Blast of Silence is a reimagining and updating of Murder Incorporated.

"Baby Boy" Frankie Bono (Baron), an icy hearted contract killer out of Cleveland, has arrived in New York City to give second string syndicate boss Troiano (Clune) a Christmas "gift" in the form of a couple of rounds of lead in the head.

But Frankie was raised in an orphanage in New York City, so this trip is a sort of a reluctant homecoming and also a reckoning with his past. The whole commercial holiday ambiance, i.e., Christmas carols played on the intercom in Penn Station, the Salvation Army Bands on the streets, the decorations in the store fronts all bring back sour memories of a kid who had nothing, was alone in the world, who grew up tough with some hard bark. Christmas gives him the creeps.












Troiano second from right making Harlem pickups

Frankie checks into a dump, the Valencia Hotel. Heads downtown. He rides the Staten Island Ferry to meet his wise guy contact. The contact asks for a light. He gets 25 G's and photos of his mark. He gets the other 25 G's when the job is done. Sounds like cake.

So Frankie does what he always does. And what Frankie does he does best. He tails Troiano. He dopes out his patterns. He eliminates possibilities.  He hones in on others. Troiano lives out in Nassau County. He's always picked up by bodyguards. Guys with HOODS stamped on their foreheads. 9:30 on the dot. Always drives into the city.  Cross Island Parkway, Grand Central Parkway, Triboro Bridge, Harlem. Or the deviation, Northern Boulevard, Queensboro Bridge, Greenwich Village. Troiano runs the girls, the dope, the book, and the numbers. The type of guy Frankie hates. Frankie has got to make the hit when Troiano is alone.

Frankie needs a piece for the job. .38 with silencer. He goes to see an old Harlem goombah, Big Ralphie. Big Ralphie is a skel, a gavoon, a real fat slob. He lives in a one room flop. He keeps sewer rats for pets. He's got their cages all Christmas doodad-ed. He's eating pizza with his rats. He skeeve's out Frankie big time. But Ralphie's got contacts. He wants half a G. Frankie says two bills. They compromise on three. Frankie say he'll go him a yard and a half now and the rest on delivery. Ralphie squeals. Frankie throws in another fifty. Deal done.


Ralphie (Larry Tucker)







Continued.....

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« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2016, 06:22:41 AM »

continued....

But Frankie can't pick up the gun till after Christmas, he kills time walking around Rockefeller Center. Remembering. While eating dinner on Christmas Eve it's Frankie's misfortune to run into pal Petey from the orphanage. He's about to give him the brush when Petey's sister Lori shows up. Lori was something special, Lori is Frankie's femme fatale.  Frankie makes the mistake of going to Lori's Christmas Eve Party and having a good time. His second mistake is falling all over again for Lori, who is definitely hot to trot with him too. But Frankie, out of normal circulation for so long, is speeding down love's highway way over the limit, trying get past third base way too quickly. He gets rough. Forghedaboudit.  Lori shoots him out of the saddle.


Frankie (Allen Baron)


Lori (Molly McCarthy)



Frankie with Christmas out of his system is back on the job and finally finds out where Troiano is alone. Troiano has a "gumare" a babe he shacks up with that he keeps in a brownstone down on East 30th St. When he's with her he's alone.

Shadowing Troiano, Frankie ends up at the Village Gate, a "Beat" nightclub with a bongo playing vocalist and band. Troiano is giving a party. Unfortunately for Frankie going right in before checking the joint out was his third mistake. Ralphie spots him watching Troiano. Ralphie dopes out the hit. Frankie is going after "big Game". Ralphie braces Frankie in the john. Ralphie wants "luxury prices." Frankie tells Ralphie forghedaboudit.


Troiano and his "gumare"


Forghedaboudit.

Pissed that Ralphie is trying to skive their deal, Frankie leaves and stakes out the club and waits. Ralphie jets. Frankie tails. Ralphie is loaded. Ralphie waddles back to his pad. He fumbles the door open. He crashes on his bed. Frankie is out in hall. Frankie spots the fire ax. Frankie is going to cusinart Ralphie. Ralphie takes a chop, His left arm dangles. He grabs Frankie by the neck. The rat cages smash. Rodents scatter. Frankie grabs a lamp. Lamp smashes Ralphie's head. Frankie gets both hands on Ralphie's neck. Ralphie's eyes bulge. Ralphie is rat food.















Killing Ralphie of course flushes everything down the toilet to Noirsville. Frankie gets the job done but getting spotted by Ralphie at the Village Gate and its final consequences broke his contract.

Noirsville



















The film belongs to that late '50s early '60s group of Noirs I like to designate "Tail Fin Noirs" for the predominate auto design feature that's unmistakeable and visually quite prominent.

Blast of Silence is a character study of loneliness, obsession and alienation. It's noir pulp poetry that's cinematically illustrated expertly, on the cheap. A classic that can sit comfortably right beside poverty row's Detour (1945). Bravo Allen Baron!

Screencaps are from the Criterion DVD.  10/10

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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2016, 10:35:08 PM »

It's been years since I've seen this but I remember enjoying it. I agree with you about how much the locations add and that bigger productions from that era totally screwed up by not utilizing the city more. I don't know if this is a great movie or a great movie for its budget. And while the Stander narration is great, I wonder if it's overused. I'll have to see this one again. I know it's definitely worth a view for those who haven't seen it.

I do love those late 50s/early 60s low budget crime/noir flicks like Murder By Contract, The Lineup, etc. They usually at least do one thing amazingly well, whether that be locations, music, narration, etc.




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« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2016, 04:21:24 AM »

It's been years since I've seen this but I remember enjoying it. I agree with you about how much the locations add and that bigger productions from that era totally screwed up by not utilizing the city more. I don't know if this is a great movie or a great movie for its budget. And while the Stander narration is great, I wonder if it's overused. I'll have to see this one again. I know it's definitely worth a view for those who haven't seen it.

I do love those late 50s/early 60s low budget crime/noir flicks like Murder By Contract, The Lineup, etc. They usually at least do one thing amazingly well, whether that be locations, music, narration, etc.


It's amazing for it's budget. I believe the characters as they are, I'm sure if Baron could have scored Peter Falk as originally planned it would have been different. Better? Don't know.

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« Reply #10 on: March 22, 2017, 11:29:13 PM »

I just saw the Criterion DVD. This movie is like a train wreck. Such a piece of shit but you can't look away.

The girl is hideous,  with what may be the ugliest haircut in the history of cinema.

 The music in the nightclub may be the most annoying music in the history of cinema.

The narration at times gets repetitive.

But, you can't look away!

What a wonderful piece of shit! Not bad for $20-$30K!

p.s. Allen Baron turns 90 on April 14

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« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2017, 12:49:46 AM »

Looking at the bonus features on the Criterion DVD now - there is a wonderful one-hour video called "Requiem for a Killer: The Making of Blast of Silence.

The vast majority of it is Baron discussing the film as he returns to the New York locations in 1990. A few minutes of it - the beginning and the end - is an interview in Bevery Hills in 2006.

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