Written by / 1/28/2014 / No comments / , , , , ,

A THIRD BLOODY BAGFUL OF FILM NOIR

year: 1948 rating: ****
More Noir, spanning from darkened urban alleyways and bleak country roads of America to the shrouded, misty avenues of England...

THE STREET WITH NO NAME: Like James Cagney's more mainstream, action-driven G-MEN, this underrated, slowburn Noir begins as sort of an FBI propaganda film, showing the inner workings of the Bureau with a monotone "facts only" narration... Yet soon enough it settles darkly into a mean and lean, intriguingly no-nonsense mobster melodrama as we follow intrepid agent Mark Stevens undercover along a crime-ridden urban street (with "no name" since there are so many like it)... And here's where the narration tapers off and the good stuff beings...

Stevens plays Gene Cordell, going by the bogus name of George Manly, then coasts into a boxing syndicate led by the dependably-vile and always-wonderful Richard Widmark as Alec Stiles, who has solo time on screen, becoming an equal match of mobster surreptitiously verses undercover agent. Although Steven's Manly is a bit too square-jawed and cop-looking to realistically pass as a thug, he's one helluva boxer and one particular fight sequence is fast and ferocious, earning him a place within the den of thieves.

Widmark runnin' things
Sublimely filmed and acted, this is an underrated Fox Film Noir with suspense that never lets up: both for Widmark, as he tries figuring out who the plant is, and the audience, anticipating what will become of our hero when he does. And while Widmark's Stiles isn't as endearingly vile as his sinister giggling KISS OF DEATH icon Tommy Udo, he's more of a blunt bottom line: a short fuse with his lackey goons and an exploding bomb to a discontented trophy moll.

A standout of the thugs is a short switchblade-wielding Donald Buka (pictured above) as Shivvy, who in one scene tales Stevens through the shadowy night and then, later on, meets him inside the cheap motel room with a veiled threat, asserting himself as an edgier menace than even Widmark: one of those rare crime flicks where the henchman's not only tougher, as per usual, but is actually smarter and sharper than the boss himself.

year: 1950 rating: ***1/2
MYSTERY STREET: A top-notch mystery/suspense about a woman murdered by an unseen gunman (she sees him but we don't). This occurs during the first fifteen minutes, which is all shot wonderfully.

Her skeleton is discovered and it's up to detective Ricardo Mantobaun, joining with Harvard coroner Bruce Bennett, first figuring out how the death occurred and then who-done-it, which isn't so easy: even when the cops find the supposed killer it all seems too easy somehow, and the questions are answered fitfully along the way, keeping things from getting too complicated or plot-heavy like Noir mysteries can, yet the suspense holds the viewer's complete attention even after we, unlike the law, know the real killer... And Elsa Lanchester provides terrific moments as a blackmailing tart.

year: 1951 rating: ***1/2
THE RACKET: While primarily focusing on the two leads, Robert Mitchum as a determined cop named McQuigg and Robert Ryan as criminal kingpin Nick Scanlon (in cahoots with crooked politician Ray Collins)... it's William Tallman's heroic yet idealistically naive rookie cop, ready to take on all things villainous, that really drives things along.

Bookending the literally explosive mid-section is an involving buildup: nothing can touch Robert Ryan and his old-school way of running things. Then, during the last half, he realizes his particular kind of shady doesn't quite work in the world of ever-growing politics. But he's not going down easy and it takes Mitchum's slowburn patience to wear him down. Throw in sexy Lizbeth Scott as the dame caught in the middle and you really have something.

1957 rating: ***1/2
THE BROTHERS RICO: So here's a perfect movie that's far from perfect...

A crime melodrama centering on the oldest brother Rico who, after being warned by his middle brother, seeks out his baby brother on the run from a mobster that all three worked for.

The scant execution doesn't waste time or energy on anything but what needs to happen: and it's a very creative premise with plenty of twists and turns with Richard Conte (who would later play Barzini in THE GODFATHER), a fervently determined shark throughout, balancing desperation and machismo in a film that knows its limitations and never exceeds them.

1953 rating: ****
JEOPARDY: It's quite simple, really.... A strong/macho husband, Barry Sullivan... His strong-willed wife, Barbara Stanwyck... And their curious son take a trip to Mexico: to fish at a dilapidated pier. Dad gets stuck between wood as the tide approaches... And the ball starts rolling as mom goes for some rope at a closed-down gas station and instead finds Ralph Meeker, who seems friendly at first but turns out is a cold-blooded, escaped convict... and then the real fun happens.

Cutting back and forth from the extremely odd couple to dad's apparent doom really heightens the suspense. But overall it's the callous, forced "relationship" between Stanwyck and Meeker that really counts, especially since she needs him and, deep down, actually seems to like the handsome devil.

year: 1953 rating: ***
BAD BLONDE: In this Hammer British Film Noir, a bulky and not altogether brilliant boxer gets a shot when his trainer connects with a rich Italian manager who can make it all happen.

But there are a few catches... First, everyone has to live at an estate where the fighter, Charlie Sullivan (Tony Wright), will prepare for future moneymaking matches. Second, Charlie needs to get along with the rich man’s square-jawed wife Lorna, played by manipulating, voluptuous Barbara Payton. Basically, the first moment Charlie sets his eyes on the blonde temptress, his career is finished… As is his sanity. He can’t get his mind off her.

In the usual Film Noir aspect of a naive rich man (the manager) naive enough to push his wife into the arms of a young, better looking man is, like always, completely unbelievable – but what makes BAD BLONDE work are the boxing scenes, filmed like you’re watching each bout from the first row. And the eventual murder attempt of Lorna’s husband is wickedly intense, but too much time wallows in soap operatic scenes between the boxer and the title character, whose villainy was better when she had a few more rungs to climb.

1952 rating: ***1/2
MAN BAIT: Another Hammer British Film Noir dealing with a blonde: With beautiful Diana Dors, any expression wields a full-lipped pout. And it's a seductively vicious pout as the story, centering on blackmail at a high-end English bookstore, unfolds.

Dors plays Ruby Bruce, whose stunning appearance alone turns men into jelly. Although her rich boss, with a lucrative insurance policy, is tougher than most “fish." So Ruby teams with ex-convict con man Jeffrey Hart to collect the money as the slow, meticulous nature in which the plot pans out is intriguing… As Jefferey coaches Ruby from the sidelines (at a posh bar), she becomes more and more guilt ridden and desperate, proving Dors, known as the “British Marilyn Monroe,” had more ability to carry a storyline than the American bombshell.

But without her presence, MAN BAIT becomes your typical "wrong man" melodrama... Although the talented cast of Brits (including second tier ingénue Marguerite Chapman and Raymond Huntley as an uptight manager), and a few neat surprises, will keep your interest. Especially the last ten minutes when the antagonist gets really wicked.

year: 1945 rating: **
CORNERED: Another wordy melodrama where the main character hops from location to location gathering info to get him to the next place, to question the next person, and sometimes getting tricked, lied to, almost murdered, or all three at once.

There's not enough intrigue-based action in this muddled odyssey as Dick Powell travels from France to South America to find out who killed his wife. And since the Nazis, who slaughtered millions in the war, are somehow involved in the initial murder, our hero's private mission seems selfishly desperate and, after so many red herrings, one forgets what, or who, he's after.

year: 1955 rating: *1/2
5 AGAINST THE HOUSE: If you thought casting high school or college students with grown men was something staple of the eighties, check out this melodrama centering on four college buddies who plan on overtaking a poker house...

All the characters are played by good actors, including Brian Keith and Kerwin Matthews, who look forty years old and act accordingly. A young Keith is the only interesting character but breaks down way too soon, promising a psychotic side that never comes to fruition, making for a weak heavy in an ensemble lacking everything including style, plot and purpose.

1958 ****1/2
THE LINEUP: Crime melodrama perfectly mixing good and evil... Beginning with a police investigation of heroin smuggled through antiques, and then focusing on the criminals who collect the stuff for the mysterious big boss no one ever sees, or even dares to.

Eli Wallach, playing the crazy, insecure, and sometimes charming lead thug, following subtle "orders" from his elder partner Robert Keith, make for one unique partnership: imagine if PSYCHO Norman Bates followed Martin Balsam's orders instead of his Mother.

The best scenes have the strange duo going from each job. Wallach, as Dancer, is learning a bizarre form of sophistication through each grizzly murder while Keith writes down every victim's last words, shared by his young cutthroat protegee. All the while a novice, boozing Richard Jaekel remains the unpredictable wild card, so nervous in his getaway driving skills he's bound to screw up. Even after we're stuck with one situation involving a mother and daughter being kidnapped, and then literally race towards an inevitable conclusion after all the deathly fun is over, director Don Siegel keeps the suspense on par with the pulpy dialogue, especially memorable amongst the cops throughout most of the first act.

Glenn Anders as Grisby
THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI: Sorry, fella, but the LADY FROM SHANGHAI review has been expanded and moved to another location, so CLICK HERE to read.
The most famous ending in the history of FILM (NOIR)
Share This Post :
Tags : , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Featured Post

SUSAN FLANNERY IN THE TV-MOVIE 'ANATOMY OF A SEDUCTION'

Susan Flannery in Anatomy of a Seduction YEAR: 1979 Susan Flannery is natural and lovely in a midlife crisis while Jameson Parker, as c...

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Most Popular Last Year

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM

WWW.CULTFILMFREAKS.COM
Movie Reviews, Interviews & Cinematic Pop Culture from White Heat to Blue City

FOR TELEVISION REVIEWS

LIKE US ON FACEBOOK

TOTAL HITS

Popular Trending

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE

FOUNDED BY JAMES M. TATE
RANDOM QUOTE: "If I married every man who wanted to go to bed with me I'd never leave the church." Marina Malfatti, The Night Evelyn Came Out Of Her Grave

Blog Archive

ETERNAL ART OF FILM NOIR

FAVORITES SHORTLIST

MOVIES 1)THE FEARMAKERS 2)JAWS 3)THE CROWDED SKY 4)HOT CARS 5)RAIDERS FROM BENEATH THE SEA 6)VIOLENT SATURDAY 7)CANYON PASSAGE 8)THE MAN FROM LARAMIE 9)WILLIAM CONRAD'S BRAINSTORM 10)AIR PATROL 11)CURSE OF THE DEMON 12)EASY LIVING 13)SHARKS' TREASURE 14)HARDCORE 15)WICHITA 16)ONCE UPON A TIME IN HOLLYWOOD 17)KILLER FISH 18)CANYON RIVER 19)WHITE HEAT 20)FALLEN ANGEL 21)AL CAPONE 22)THE SERGEANT 23)THE DEFECTOR 24)QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS 25)WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS 26)HOTEL 27)ANATOMY OF A MURDER 28)MADISON AVENUE 30)SWEENEY TWO

ACTORS 1)DANA ANDREWS 2)JAMES CAGNEY 3)MARLON BRANDO 4)ORSON WELLES 5)JACK NICHOLSON 6)PETER O'TOOLE 7)TOM COURTENAY 8)CHARLES BRONSON 9)GENE HACKMAN 10)VICTOR MATURE DIRECTORS 1)JACQUES TOURNEUR 2)RICHARD FLEISCHER 3)STANLEY KUBRICK 4)ORSON WELLES 5)OTTO PREMINGER 6)MAURY DEXTER 7)JOHN GUILLERMIN 8)RAOUL WALSH 9)MICHAEL WINNER 10)SAM PECKINPAH ACTRESSES 1)VIRGINIA MAYO 2)FAYE DUNAWAY 3)SUE LYON 4)GENE TIERNEY 5)MERRY ANDERS

SCIENCE-FICTION STUFF

Popular This Month

OUR OWN CORNERSTONE

OUR OWN CORNERSTONE
Open the door to DANA ANDREWS Cinema

DANA ANDREWS FACEBOOK

BLOGS OF INTEREST

STARING INTO THE SIXTIES

RARITIES & EXPLOITATION

All Time Popular

KICKING IN THE EIGHTIES

TALES AND REFLECTIONS

TALES AND REFLECTIONS
"Really cool and a lot of class." Yaphet Kotto

TARGETING THE SEVENTIES

RETURN TO THE HOMEPAGE