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The Film Noir Thread! Gats, dames, and cheap hooch welcome.

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  • Coming in April from Imprint!

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    • I had a first viewing of Shock Proof yesterday. It's a Sam Fuller script and one that took me by surprise. A hot dame gets out of jail and is assigned a ball busting parole officer who prohibits her from seeing her old beau. The parole officer comes off pretty sleazy but he's our leading man so that's probably not intentional. Probably its just that what's acceptable from a man in his position now differs from what was okay in 1949 I expect. Although I suspect even in '49 moving her into his home would have raised a few eyebrows...

      It's one of those noirs where a guys life gets turned upside. A couple bad choices and before you know it a stand up guy is pushed into stealing cars and sandwiches. Then trying to flee into Mexico as this unexpectedly turns into a lover's on the run film.

      I dug it. It fits a bunch of noir cliches but it still charts an unexpected path.
      "Never let the fact that they are doing it wrong stop you from doing it right." Hyman Mandell.

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      • Fallen Angel: some SPOILERS here cause I feel like I can't talk about this film without 'em. This film is a curious little beastie. I think Dana Andrews character is the biggest cad and scumbag to ever be gifted a happy ending in a Hays code era film. He starts out as a dodgy bastard helping charlatans sell shows to rube's. Then he decides that the Saucy Bit Of All Right at the local diner is his kind of girl when he sees her with her fingers in the till. She doesn't want a pauper though so he's going to need to get some money.

        He fixes on a local, unworldly, bookworm spinster as his way to make some money. He marries her within a week and on his wedding night leaves her waiting in bed to go see the Saucy Bit Of All Right to tell her that now he's set. They can rob his new brides safety deposit box in the morning.

        no dice though. In the morning the Saucy Bit Of All Right is dead and Andrews is the prime suspect. But who really dunnit?

        I'm waiting for the ending where I figure Andrews has to go to the chair for a crime he didn't committ but knowing he deserved it after all. Nope. Not where this one's headed.

        Dark, depressing stuff to be sure and I think features what must be the most downer happy ending of all time.
        "Never let the fact that they are doing it wrong stop you from doing it right." Hyman Mandell.

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        • Imprint is releasing Essential Film Noir: Collection 4 in May.

          https://viavision.com.au/shop/essent...ction-210-213/

          FIVE MORE CLASSIC FILM NOIRS, WITH TWO A WORLDWIDE FIRST ON BLU-RAY!

          Essential Film Noir: Collection 4 includes five acclaimed and much sought after classics: Rope of Sand (1949), Appointment with Danger (1950), The Enforcer (1951), Beware, My Lovely (1952) & Jennifer (1953).

          Limited 4 Disc Hardbox edition with unique artwork on the first 1500 copies.

          Rope of Sand (1949) – Imprint Collection #210
          After a two-year hiatus, Mike Davis (Burt Lancaster) returns to the same African city where he was tortured and left for dead at the hands of a sadistic Police Commandant (Paul Henreid). Originally innocent of all charges, Mike is back to claim the diamonds he had supposedly stolen two years ago. He enlists the help of an alcoholic stranger (Peter Lorre) and the doctor (Sam Jaffe), who had helped him back to health. The diamond syndicate head (Claude Rains) recruits a nightclub temptress Suzanne Renaud (Corinne Calvet) to seduce and betray Mike as an alternate to brute force.

          This suspense-noir classic was directed by William Dieterle (Dark City).

          Starring Burt Lancaster, Claude Rains, Peter Lorre, Paul Henreid & Sam Jaffe.

          Special Features and Technical Specs:

          1080p High-definition presentation on Blu-ray from a 2021 4K scan
          NEW Audio Commentary by film historian Samm Deighan
          NEW Film professor José Arroyo on Rope of Sand
          Trailer
          Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1
          Audio English LPCM 2.0 Mono
          Optional English HOH subtitles
          Appointment with Danger (1950) – Imprint Collection #211
          Postal Inspector Al Goddard (Alan Ladd) is assigned to investigate the murder of a fellow officer. The only witness to the crime is Sister Augustine (Phyllis Calvert), who identifies the photograph of one of the assailants. This leads Goddard to a seedy hotel where he learns that the assailant is a member of a gang headed by Earl Boettiger (Paul Stewart), and he soon discovers that the gang is planning a million dollar mail robbery. This classic film noir also features the stars of Dragnet, Jack Webb and Harry Morgan, as Stewart’s Henchmen.

          This was Alan Ladd’s final Film Noir and was directed by Lewis Allen (The Uninvited).

          Starring Paul Stewart, Alan Ladd, Phyllis Calvert, Jan Sterling & Jack Webb.

          Special Features and Technical Specs:

          1080p High-definition presentation on Blu-ray from a 2021 4K scan
          NEW Audio Commentary by professor and film scholar Jason Ney
          NEW Hollywood Everyman: The Films of Lewis Allen – featurette
          NEW Film Noir specialist Frank Krutnik on Appointment With Danger
          Trailer
          Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
          Audio English LPCM 2.0 Mono
          Optional English HOH subtitles
          The Enforcer (1951) – Imprint Collection #212
          Humphrey Bogart (The Maltese Falcon) is in fine form as a crusading District Attorney out to convict the head of a vicious murder-for-hire ring. But when his star witness is killed, Bogart must race against time to find the evidence he needs to bring down the mob boss. Told in a series of flashbacks, this tense, tough-as-nails crime thriller on the cutting edge of film noir was based on actual Murder, Inc. Trials.

          Stylishly directed by Bretagne Windust (June Bride) with un-credited help from Raoul Walsh (Pursued) and beautifully shot by the great Robert Burks (North by Northwest).

          Starring Humphrey Bogart, Zero Mostel, Ted de Corsia & Everett Sloane.

          Special Features and Technical Specs:

          1080p High-definition presentation on Blu-ray from a 2021 4K scan
          NEW Audio Commentary by noir expert / Film Noir Foundation board member Alan K. Rode
          NEW Film Noir specialist Frank Krutnik on The Enforcer
          Original aspect ratio 1.37:1
          Audio English LPCM 2.0 Mono
          Optional English subtitles
          Beware, My Lovely (1952) – Imprint Collection #213
          Helen Gordon (Ida Lupino) hires Howard Wilton (Robert Ryan) as a handyman to do chores around her house. She doesn’t know what she’s let herself in for. Insecure and paranoid, Wilton thinks everyone, including Helen, is against him. He suffers from memory lapses and extreme mood swings. She’s soon a prisoner in her own house after Wilton locks the doors and tears out the telephone. His mood swings from violence to complacency but after Helen gets a message to the police via a telephone repairman, she finds he is still in the house. …Beware, My Lovely.

          Starring Robert Ryan, Ida Lupino, Taylor Holmes & Barbara Whiting.

          Worldwide first on Blu-ray!

          Special Features and Technical Specs:

          1080p High-definition presentation on Blu-ray from a 2021 4K scan
          NEW Audio Commentary by professor and film scholar Jason Ney
          NEW Author/film historian Pamela Hutchinson on Ida Lupino
          Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1
          Audio English LPCM 2.0 Mono
          Optional English HOH subtitles
          Jennifer (1953) – Imprint Collection #213
          Agnes Langsley (Ida Lupino) gets a job, through Jim Hollis (Howard Duff), as caretaker of an old and vacated estate. The owner’s cousin, Jennifer, was the last occupant and mysteriously disappeared. Agnes soon begins to believe that Jennifer was murdered and that Jim, whom she has fallen in love with, is responsible.

          Starring Ida Lupino, Howard Duff & Robert Nichols.

          Worldwide first on Blu-ray!

          Special Features and Technical Specs:

          1080p High-definition presentation on Blu-ray from a 2021 4K scan
          Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1
          Audio English LPCM 2.0 Mono
          Optional English HOH subtitles

          Rock! Shock! Pop!

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          • GRAND CENTRAL MURDER (1942) Decent murder mystery with Noirish elements. It has all the basics: Private Eye (Van Heflin), murder, shady suspects (including Tom Conway) and a gorgeous duplicious femme fatale (Patricia Dane).
            It's a bit talky and largely limits itself to only a few locations, but the night-time photography by George Folsey is moody and well-lit - fortunately, the dialog is pretty good and has some wit. Best line is when Heflin says that they ought to give a 'Nobel' to the murderer because the victim is so unlikeable! There are some nice character bits by Virginia Grey, Connie Gilchrest, Betty Wells and Sam Levene as a befuddled cop.

            GRAND CENTRAL MURDER is available as a $3 streaming rental. It's on DVD from the Warner Archive. It shows up on TCM as well.




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            • THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME (1947) - Restored to its original length to some fanfare a couple of years ago, THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME comes as a bit of a disappointment. It's a decent enough entry in the DOUBLE INDEMNITY/POSTMAN ALWAYS RINGS TWICE style crime film, but it has such a leisurely and soap opera-ish first half that it barely registers as noir until the accused murderer Larry (Robert Young) schemes with Verna (Susan Heyward).

              Young's casting is a bit of a signal that this was never going to be a hard-bitten noir (not to mention Victor Young's score), but the trio of female actresses are stellar: alongside the sultry Heyward who is the de facto main femme fatale, it has Jane Greer as the sweet girl and Zita Johnson as Larry's long-suffering wife. Johnson never became as big a star as her cohorts, but, she delivers in a pivotal role.

              Director Irving Pichel's film picks up once Jonathan Latimer's screenplay gets going (Gordon McDonell gets story credit). There are a couple of good twists and the cast keeps it interesting. The framing device is partly effective even if one never believes that the Prosecutor would let the key witness drone on for some 85 minutes and barely does a cross-examination!

              I've never seen the 80 minute version that has been the standard for decades, but this 95 minute edition has pluses and minuses. It was restored from the negative so it looks and sounds very good. I'm certain a few key details that were cut were important, but, the pacing does feel slow which saps much of the suspense; Further, it resembles a melodrama more than thriller for much of its length.

              Fortunately, the cast (even Young), the couple of unexpected turns and the archetypal murder mystery angle are enough to make it mildly compelling.

              THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME is on Blu Ray and DVD. TCM shows it with some regularity.














              Attached Files

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              • THE FILE ON THELMA JORDON (1949) - Robert Siodmak's decent Noir stars Barbara Stanwyck and Wendell Corey. Ketti Friggs' script (based on a Marty Holland story) concerns an Assistant D.A., Cleve (Corey) and his new potential case, Thelma (Stanwyck). Noir fans know where that entanglement will lead.

                The strong cast also includes Paul Kelly, Joan Wetzel, Richard Rober and Stanley Ridges as a particularly slick lawyer. The screenplay takes a while to get to the meat of the tale, but the twist is fairly easy to see through since the setup is just too easy and strains credulity. Once it gets there, the film builds momentum. George Barnes' moody cinematography is an asset, Victor Young's score isn't.

                Casting Stanwyck as the femme fatale carries with it both expectations and a certain amount of deja vu. The allusions to DOUBLE INDEMNITY can't be helped with the dual investigators and a photo of Stanwyck in a gleaming platinum blonde wig in her “file”! Stanwyck is still quite good here and goes a long way to carrying the film to the finish line.

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                FILE ON THELMA JORDON currently can be streamed on Plex and for rental. It's on DVD and Blu Ray. It frequently airs on TCM.

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                • Blast Of Silence: One of those late noirs from the 60s where hard boiler noir gets mixed with counter culture cinema. This is a lot of fun if you're ready to roll with it. There's a breathtakingly melodramatic voiceover ("he grew a mustache to hide that he had womans lips") that is in the second person. Odd! You occassionally come across that in books, though not often because it's shite, but I've never come across it in a film. You don't often come across a lead who is so clearly "a doomed protagonist" so it's comfortable viewing waiting for the hammer to come down. Only one ending possible from the start and the loose, plotless, style of the film, that is very at odds with the narration, makes for easy watching.
                  "Never let the fact that they are doing it wrong stop you from doing it right." Hyman Mandell.

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                  • Coming in November.

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                    • ANGEL FACE (1952)- Behind Jean Simmons' sweet face is no angel in Otto Preminger's film. Simmons plays Diane, a 19 year old rich socialite, whose meet cute with ambulance driver Frank (Robert Mitchum) -- are matching slaps across the face. The devilish grin on Diane's visage foreshadows their dangerous liaison.

                      The screenplay by a trio of writers is a fairly straighforward drama during the build-up, with the most overtly noirish bit in the first half of the film being Diane ominously tossing a pack of cigarettes off a cliff situated at the end of her driveway to her family's well-apportioned home. This femme fatale is clearly the pursuer from the outset and she ensnares Frank into her web as she plots against her domineering mother-in-law (Barbara O'Neil)*. Diane dotes on her father (Herbert Marshall), and hires Frank as the family chauffeur. Frank is involved with another woman (Mona Freeman) which complicates matters.

                      Things get much darker in the second half and there are a couple of interesting twists, but too much of the screenplay is melodramatic. Frank's character in particular, never adds up. Mitchum is solid as always, but, even he can't help but come off as a sap even though it's doubtful he's intended to so blatantly to be one. Frank seems genuine in not being interested in Diane solely for her money nor her looks, yet he's never strong enough to fully break from her (not that he's altruistic and blind). His actions make sense only in terms of the needs of the script - not of the character. What saves the film is Simmons' performance, particularly in the last act. She gives the character more gravitas than is written on the page, and Simmons more than holds her own with a veteran cast including Leon Ames as an oily attorney (are there any other kind in film noir?).

                      Preminger, no stranger to noir (LAURA, FALLEN ANGEL, WHIRLPOOL), doesn't bring as much style here as he had in other similar efforts, but handles the performers well. ANGEL FACE is a bit too mannered, but the cast and the unexpected turns make it work. The final brushstroke is a solid capper.

                      * Of course, back in the 50s, even the most fierce femme fatale has to endure a a line like: “Even a woman can do it?”


                      ANGEL FACE isn't available to stream, but it is out on DVD and Blu Ray (and does show up on certain sites)






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                      • Big Noir Day on TCM tomorrow, Friday Nov. 16. (times Eastern, check local listings). Classics such as NAKED CITY and DETOUR and real goodies like TOO LATE FOR TEARS and THE SET-UP (see photo left)
                        Photo right: Jean Gillie, Lizabeth Scott, Marie Windsor, Audrey Totter, Ann Savage, Mary Astor, Claire Trevor, Audrey Totter, Ted de Corsia, Don Taylor

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