You can't quit. They wont let you!
The Woman on Pier 13 (AKA: I Married a Communist) is directed by Robert Stevenson and collectively written by Charles Grayson, Robert Hardy Andrews, George W. George and George F. Slavin. It stars Robert Ryan, Laraine Day, John Agar, Thomas Gomez, Janis Carter, Richard Rober and William Talman. Music is by Leigh Harline and cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca.
Brad Collins (Ryan) was a one time member of the communist party. Now married and thriving in business, his world is turned upside down when the CPUSA come to seek him out for influential favours.
It wasn't easy for director Stevenson, what with RKO mogul Howard Hughes interfering as he forced home his anti-communist slant, so much so the whole pic comes off as an almost there type of piece. Casting aside that it's all a bit daft these days, with its red hysteria leanings (though it serves as a most interesting social document of the era), there's a number of tight scenes and enough moody atmospherics to keep this out of basement hell.
Characterisations are rich in noir traditions, a protag whose past is back to bite him, a slinky femme fatale, a dutiful wife in the dark, and villains of substance. Be it Gomez's weasel Commie boss stomping around like a malevolent tyrant or Talman's fairground working hit-man for hire, the latter with a dress code as mirthful as it is strangely unnerving, the baddies offer up some sort of balance in a screenplay that's not sure where it ideally stands. The violence hits hard, with shocking deaths, and in good dark noir style the finale holds court for the right reasons.
Add in a cast who don't let anyone down and the great Musuraca showing his photographic skills (though not as much as we would like), then it's a more than decent viewing experience. But the proviso is that you do have to let the propaganda go above your head to get to those decent rewards. 6/10
I have a sneaking fondness for Republic B pictures of the Red Menace era
This Noir is off the radar, not on the American Encyclopedia of Film Noir list of Noirs.
The keys in the pool, the husband in the morgue! You dream too much about water in this house!
Headmaster of a boarding school, Michel Delaselle (Paul Meurisse) is a brooding bully of a man, one day his wife and mistress decide enough is enough and plot to kill him, trouble is that once they murder him, his body disappears and reported sightings of him are adding to the ladies' paranoia.
Thus is the setting for director Henri-Georges Clouzot's brilliant suspenser. The pace is stiflingly perfect, he gently racks up the tension, neatly toying with audience expectation, the sense of dread that hangs in the air is palpable. How refreshing it is to see a suspense film actually build its plot for a good hour? In this day and age the MTV generation would be walking out of this after 30 minutes. Armand Thirard's atmospheric photography accentuates the creeping menace like mood, to the point that when we get to the last 15 minutes, nerves are already frayed and we then of course get what is arguably the greatest bath scene ever, and "that" ending...
When I first watched it back in 2008 it was on a poor quality DVD, but revisiting it on Blu-ray it still worked me over as the great suspense movie it is, forcing me to seek the solace of daylight ASAP. Great writing, great directing, great acting, the latter thriving due to Simone Signoret's dangerously simmering sexuality and VÃ©ra Clouzot's heartfelt vulnerability. It's one of the classic chillers of European cinema. And if you haven't seen it yet? Do what I did last night, get the Blu-ray, turn off the lights and just have a couple of candles flickering away in your peripheral vision. Maybe indulge in some stiff drinks like I did, and most of all, watch it on your own... 9/10
I was wondering if Wilde spends much time building up to the robbery?