Wednesday, October 27, 2010

More random Notes on Film Noir

Odds Against Tomorrow
1959-Robert Wise
Ed Begley is an ex-cop who has a plan for the perfect score. Harry Belafonte is a musician who owes a huge gambling debt. Robert Ryan is the career criminal whose unreasoning hatred of black people will ultimately destroy him and everyone around him. Odds Against Tomorrow is a beautifully filmed, high tension morality play that manages to be gritty and entertaining while maintaining a deeper relevance. Highly recommended.

Woman in the Window
1944-Fritz Lang
Edward G. Robinson is a stolid professor who finds himself involved with a beautiful artist’s model, played by Joan Bennett. When her jealous lover shows up, Robinson is forced to kill him in self-defense. Covering up the crime is made all the harder when Robinson’s D.A. friend is assigned to find the killers, and the victim’s sleazy bodyguard shows up to blackmail the inept pair.
Robinson is great as always. Bennett is gorgeous. And Dan Durya, as usual, steals every scene he’s in as the sleazy bodyguard. But the last three minutes are annoying—they go for a total cop-out ending.
Aside from that: Solid.
The Stranger
1946-Orson Welles
Edward G. Robinson is a Nazi hunter on the trail of escaped Nazi war criminal Orson Welles, who’s taken up refuge as a respected citizen in a small New England town.
Welles acting and directing are top-notch with this one. Robinson turns in a surprising performance, and even Loretta Young (who I never much cared for) is very convincing as Welles new wife, teetering on the brink of a nervous breakdown.

On Dangerous Ground
1951-Nicholas Ray
Robert Ryan is a hardened city cop, but the ugliness of the job is getting to him, until he’s sent to the country to help investigate a murder. On the killer’s trail, he meets the bitter father of the murder victim and the killer’s blind sister, played by Ida Lupino, and re-discovers his lost humanity in the process.
Ryan is great as the brutal and disillusioned detective, unable to understand or communicate his seething emotions.

They Live By Night
1949-Nicholas Ray
After escaping from prison and meeting a girl (played by Cathy O’Donnell), Farley Granger wants nothing except to go straight and lead a decent life. But this is noir: that ain’t gonna happen. His escapee cohorts turn up and force him into another heist; disaster ensues.
Killer’s Kiss
1955-Stanley Kubrick
Kubrick’s second movie, very low budget but still showing some signs of his genius. A second-rate boxer and the woman he saved from being raped want to start a new life together away from the cesspool of the city, but her former boss has other ideas. A great chase scene over the rooftops of the city toward the end.

I Wake Up Screaming
1941-H. Bruce Humberstone
Entertainment promoter Victor Mature is accused of murdering his young protégé, played by Carole Landis, and with Betty Grable’s help he struggles to stay ahead of the cops and find the real killer.


  1. Thanks for the suggestions man. I'm kind of undocumented of the movies from the classic era (I'm more of a novel buff). I have some watching to do. "I Wake Up Screaming" seems particularly up my alley.

  2. Glad you got something outta them, Ben, thanks. Keep checking back, there's more to come...