Saturday, October 23, 2010

Random Notes about Random Films Noir

The Dark Corner
1946-Henry Hathaway
Complex and beautifully-shot noir starring Mark Stevens as a P.I. accused of murder—he goes on the lam to find the real killer, and crosses paths with William Bendix as a mysterious white-suited lug who keeps following him, and a shady art dealer played with usual skill by Clifton Webb. Lucille Ball is Stevens plucky secretary.

Criss Cross
1948-Robert Siodmark
Because he can’t keep away from Yvonne DeCarlo, Burt Lancaster (as an armored car driver) is forced into helping pull off a heist by DeCarlo’s gangster beau, played by the one of a kind Dan Duryea. Superior noir with a surprisingly bleak ending.

Dead Reckoning
1947-John Cromwell
Humphrey Bogart is a hard-nosed war vet who storms into a small Southern town to find out what happened to his buddy, who’s disappeared. Terrific tension and suspense. One of Bogie’s better performances, and Lizabeth Scott is also in good form.
Edmond O’Brien is victimized with a slow-working poison, and frantically races to find out who killed him and why before time runs out. A clever premise with lots of great twists and almost unbearable suspense. Superior.

The Hitch-hiker
1953-Ida Lupino
Edmond O’Brien and his buddy head off for a vacation, but things go bad when they pick up a psychotic hitch-hiker with a creepy right eye. Taut suspense; Ida Lupino was the only female director of noir and suspense in her day, and she proves that she’s just as good behind the camera as in front of it, maybe even better.

Dark Passage
1947-Delmer Daves
Based on the novel by David Goodis. Bogie is an escapee from the pen set on finding the real killer of his wife. After plastic surgery, he’s aided by a sultry Lauren Bacall. Not a great movie, but every scene between Bogart and Bacall smolders.

1946-Edgar G. Ulmer
Low-budget and bleak noir classic. Tom Neal accidently kills the guy who gave him a lift, and then sets off on a whirlwind disaster of bad choices and bad luck—especially when he picks up vicious dame Ann Savage, who knows what he did and isn’t afraid to use it against him.
More to come, sooner or later…

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