Film Noir : What Film Noir did you see?:November/December Edition.

Re: Sweet Smell of Success - 1957

What a nice review. I really think you should review more titles here on this board.

Sweet Smell of Success proves that, just like Nightmare Alley, Noir doesn't need detectives, femmes fatales, guns, gangsters and outright murder to be true Noir. Those things are just window-dressing, whats more important are the themes that lie at the heart of Noir. Both movies reveal some of the bleakest characteristics of the human spirit.

Tony Curtis is an actor who quite often surprises me pleasantly. Usually just hailed as a great comedian, he was also an extremely good dramatic actor if given the chance. Like Rock Hudson, Curtis was often underestimated, considered unfairly just a pretty face. I'm glad both of them proved audience and critics wrong.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: Sweet Smell of Success - 1957

Excellent!

Re: Sweet Smell of Success - 1957

Great review.

Re: Sweet Smell of Success - 1957

Hi Cole,I hope you had a Merry Christmas and want to say thank you for the fantastic review of this superb Noir.With Alexander Mackendrick,I was wondering what film you would go for as his best made in the UK?

Re: Sweet Smell of Success - 1957

Hello md. In answer to your question, it has to be The Ladykillers.

MacKendrick, based on SSOS alone, should have done more. I think getting fired by HHL on his next film with them was the end of him. But he did have that one moment of brilliance.

Suspicion (1941)

9

** This review may contain spoilers ***

Recently catching the superb documentary film Hitchcock/Truffaut,I started to be in the mood of watching a "new" title by Hitch.Looking at the TV listings,I spotted that the BBC were airing the first team up between Hitchcock and Cary Grant,which led to me putting all suspicions aside.

The plot:

Going against everything that her dad General McLaidlaw wants, Lina McLaidlaw gets caught up in a whirlwind romance with Johnnie Aysgarth,who Lina soon gets married to.Returning from their honeymoon,Lina discovers that Aysgarth is broke and planning to live on her dads cash and gambling winnings. Finding out that Aysgarth has sold their wedding gifts,Lina starts to investigate Aysgarths money issues,and soon begins to fear that she and her will are Aysgarths ultimate financial investment.

View on the film:

Swaying in the blossoming romance and Franz Waxman's poetic wuthering heights score, director Alfred Hitchcock & cinematographer Harry Stradling Sr. give the first half an enchanting,almost flight of fantasy atmosphere,where whirling camera moves float on the passionate romance between Lina and Aysgarth.Seeping darkness into the light with glances that linger just a bit too long,Hitchcock casts his suspicion on dazzlingly stylised Film Noir paranoia.Walking a tightrope over unveiling Aysgarth's true intentions, Hitchcock covers the screen in waves of overlapping images and chilling, potential items of death being lit underneath bringing out the decay darkness that Lina suspects the relationship to be sinking into.

Caught in a tug of war between the impending Film Noir despair of Anthony Berkeley's novel and the clean cut image of the Hays Code,the screenplay by Samson Raphaelson/ Joan Harrison and Alma Reville brilliantly flip the cards in order for them to land on both sides.via the early stages of Lina and Aysgarth's romance allowing the writers to dig into a playful comedy side,as Aysgarth's pal Gordon Cochrane 'Beaky' Thwaite keeps tripping up and revealing Aysgarth's cash issues.Twisting the punch lines into an ominous presence, the writers make the studio-approved "happy ending" one that is easy to forgive by pushing Lina down a Film Noir path of being a women on the verge of a nervous breakdown,caught in fear over every off the cuff remark and longing look in her eyes containing a double meaning from her husband just underneath the surface.

Stomping into the romance between Lina and Aysgarth, Nigel Bruce gives a wonderful performance as Gordon Cochrane 'Beaky' Thwaite,whose every foot in mouth exchange with Lina, Bruce delivers with a smooth deadpan manner. Despite giving off sinister glances that would cause me to call the cops to report that a nutter was in my house, Cary Grant gives an excellent performance as Aysgarth,that initially appears playfully charismatic,but is torn to shreds by Grant to reveal the hollow shell of the image Aysgarth presents. Becoming entranced by Aysgarth, Joan Fontaine gives an exquisite performance as Lina, threaded with a breezy during the start of their romance,which Fontaine sharply turns into chilling Film Noir doubt,as Lina decides to raise her suspicion.

Re: Suspicion (1941)

Tick is away! Been a very long time since I saw this one so on the re-watch list it goes.

Re: Suspicion (1941)

Suspicion is a movie I rewatch every couple of years. It has what is probably Cary Grant's most shifty and unpleasant role. I never minded the changed ending. It is still sufficiently ambiguous.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: Suspicion (1941)

Hi Jess,I agree with you about the ambiguous,as it could be seen that Lina is putting her hopes of what Johnnie really is in the final scene.

Re: M (1951)

Finally I get to see the 1951 film M. I'm watching it now and enjoying it quite a bit. David Wayne was a top-notch actor who could play anything. A pity he isn't better known today.

I saw the original 1931 film (starring Peter Lorre) a few years ago and I liked that film, too. The remake is just as good as the original.

~~~~~
Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Re: M (1951)

This is one of (for me) few remakes that I enjoy as much as the original. Good work by all involved.

Re: M (1951)

There are quite a few classic remakes which are great IMHO. I think that remakes get trashed because a lot of the modern ones (from the past 20 years or so) have a lousy reputation. With classics, a lot of effort was put into both the originals AND remakes.

~~~~~
Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Re: M (1951)

Hi Ellery,I hope you have a Happy New Year,and now that you've seen version,would you say this M is as good as the original?

Re: M (1951)

Yup!



~~~~~
Jim Hutton (1934-79) & Ellery Queen =

Lorna (1964) Big Knockers Noir

Director Russ Meyer (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965), Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970). At 20 he served during World War II as a U.S. Army combat cameraman for the 166th Signal Photo Company. After the war, he started out making industrial films, much like Herk Harvey (Carnival Of Souls (1962). Meyers also freelanced as a still photographer and became a well known glamour photographer doing some of the first spreads for Playboy magazine. Meyer is now well known for writing and directing a series of very successful sexploitation films that featured campy humor, sly satire and ridiculously large-breasted women. To quote wikipedia

"His first feature, the nudist comedy The Immoral Mr. Teas (1959), cost $24,000 to produce and eventually grossed more than $1 million on the independent/exploitation circuit, ensconcing Meyer as "King of the Nudies.""

Hey these ex GI's went through the hell of WWII, if they got their kicks making sexplotaion films after the war they earned the right to do it.

What brings us to Russ Meyer is the film Lorna, his first feature to abandon the "nudie cutie" formulaic style, for more serious fare with a dramatic storyline and some very stylistically Noir sequences. Meyers referred to this film as part of his "rural gothic" period. Meyer described the film as "a brutal examination of the important realities of power, prophecy, freedom and justice in our society against a background of violence and lust, where simplicity is only a facade." Yea all that and a femme fatale with a rack like the front end of a '56 Caddy. ;-)

Lorna gives us a good example of an independant film untethered by major studio checks, and yet there are still some vestiges of the Motion Picture Production Code influence in surprising evidence from the black & white moralistic ending, all this restraint is about to be nuked all to hell and gone. Even mainstream Hollywood was loosening up. Two examples of this are films with Marilyn Monroe showing quite a bit more of her charms, i.e. The Misfits (1961) and the unfinished Something's Got To Give (1962)

Who gives a crap about restraints when we as a society could be annihilated at any moment. Pandora's Box was about to be blown wide open. 6/10

Fuller review with some NSFW screencaps from the Something Wild DVD here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/12/lorna-1964-big-knockers-noir.html

Re: Lorna (1964) Big Knockers Noir

Not one I was aware of I must admit. Thanks for the heads up.

Re: Lorna (1964) Big Knockers Noir

I believe morrison reviewed Lorna not long ago. I watched it on youtube then, must say I enjoyed it. From the quote by Russ Meyer it sounds as if he was trying to justify his nudie picture. I always find that quite funny. Just make the picture and stand by it.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: Lorna (1964) Big Knockers Noir


I believe morrison reviewed Lorna not long ago. I watched it on youtube then, must say I enjoyed it. From the quote by Russ Meyer it sounds as if he was trying to justify his nudie picture. I always find that quite funny. Just make the picture and stand by it.




I got a kick out of that too, but remember the time and place he made these films, there were a lot of obscenity busts going on all over the country not just film, but in literature, live performances, and stand-up comedy nightclub acts (i.e. Lenny Bruce).

It's all sort of quaint nowadays.

Re: Lorna (1964) Big Knockers Noir

Hi Mgt,I want to say thank you for the excellent review,of what might be my top Meyer flick! Whilst Russ showed more flesh and lavish style in his later colour works,I find his "Rural Gothic" era to be the one I keep going back to,due to the B & W sheen giving Meyer's tales a Noir grit. As a companion piece,I think that the Russ Meyer/Alex Rocco starring Motorpsycho! does very well at continuing Lorna's visual themes.

Noir TV: "THE FRIGHTENED WITNESS" 1957 Dan Duryea

CONTAINS SPOILERS


"THE FRIGHTENED WITNESS" This episode is from Dupont's Cavalcade of America 1952-57 anthology series. Duryea is the owner operator of a small neighbourhood butcher shop. After a long day he closes shop and heads for home. He has just stepped outside and Duryea sees a man crossing the street get creamed by an oncoming vehicle. The car makes no attempt to stop and speeds away. A crowd gathers but the man is dead. Duryea says he caught the plate number and heads for his phone. One of the onlookers, Harold Stone, follows Duryea back into his shop. Several fists to Duryea's face quickly get his attention. Stone "suggests" that he actually did not see the plate. The "accident" was It seems a mob hit. Seeing a photo of Duryea and his family, Stone threatens harm to all if Duryea does not play along. Duryea agrees and tells the police it was too dark to get the plate number. The mob has Duryea followed and parks a car outside his house. This eats away at Duryea who just wants to protect his family. He knows that once things cool down the mob will come for him anyway. He decides to fight back and calls the cops. John Law swoops in and grabs up Stone and several of his thugs. A long visit on the State soon gets them out of Duryea's life.

FEET OF CLAY : 1960 UK Effective Low Budget Programmer

CONTAINS SPOILERS

FEET OF CLAY - 1960 UK

A policeman walking the night beat on the docks sees a man flee from a dark alley. He has a quick look and discovers a woman's body with a large knife protruding from her back. A quick call to the detectives is made. The detectives find, that the body belongs to a well known young offenders probation officer.

Prints off the knife soon identify a young man, Brian Smith, who is swiftly gobbled up by John Law. Five minutes in custody and he confesses to everything. A lawyer is assigned to Smith but Smith refuses to help with his own defense. The lawyer, Vincent Ball, is just out of law school and does not want his first case to be a loss. He figures there must be a reason the lad is not cooperating and digs into his past.

The lad had been staying in a half-way house for young offenders, which just happened to be owned by the dead probation officer. He pays the place a visit for a chat with Robert Cawdron and Hilda Fenemore. The two were partners in the house with the dead woman. The first words out of Fenemore are, "anything we can do to help put the boy in prison, you can count on our help." Ball checks out the young man's rooms and interviews several of the other young offenders. One of the girls he questions, Angela Douglas, acts like she has feelings for Smith. Ball grills her some more and she admits to being Smith's girl. Ball returns to Smith and asks if Smith is maybe covering for Douglas. "Is that why you are refusing to help defend yourself?" Asks Ball.

The kid turns three shades of grey and tells Ball that the girl is in danger. Smith spills the whole story to the lawyer. It seems the probation officer, Edith Saville, was not the fine upstanding person everyone thought. Saville, along with Crawdon and Fenemore, were running a dope smuggling operation out of the half-way house. The three would threaten jail time if the kids did not help. They used the teens as couriers to and from the waterfront. "They will kill her if you don't get her away" pleads Smith.

The race to save Douglas is on with Ball putting doing a cavalry like dash to the rescue. A few left hooks and the like are needed before Crawdon and Fenemore are handed over to the police. It turns out that Crawdon and Fenemore had bumped off Saville for a bigger slice of the profits. The lad Smith was just a handy fall guy. All this in only 55 and a half mins! This low renter is by no means a world-beater, but it does work as a quick time-waster.

The cast and crew are for the most part unknown to me. The lead, Vincent Ball, I have seen in the odd film now and then. The director is Frank Marshall who seems to have only worked during 1960-63. The d of p was Paddy Aherne whose resume is equally limited. This film was made by brothers Edward and Harry Lee Danziger. The Danzigers were the UK equivalent to U.S. outfits like Monogram and PRC. They cranked out mostly low rent drivel, but, sometimes they turned out a diamond in the rough. THREE CROOKED MEN, THE GREAT VAN ROBBERY and MAN ACCUSED are all quite watch-able. (b/w)

Re: FEET OF CLAY : 1960 UK Effective Low Budget Programmer

It sounds like you caught a good ep of Cavalcade Gordon! In your great review (which I've ticked) you perfectly sum up the cheap & cheerful Danziger style I recently saw in the easy-going Comedy Part-Time Wife.

Happy New Year Gordon!



Re: FEET OF CLAY : 1960 UK Effective Low Budget Programmer

All the best for you and your family as well.

Wicked as They Come (1956)

Wicked as They Come is a star vehicle for Arlene Dahl, made for Columbia in the UK. The best thing about the movie is stunning Arlene wearing a succession of fabulous outfits, on other levels the movie falls short.

Dahl plays a poor girl from the slums of New York who schemes her way out of poverty and she wont let anything or anybody stand in her way to get to the top. Along the way she ruins the lives and careers of several men.
Reminiscent of Baby Face, Dahl plays the duplicitous femme fatale with a secret very well. She is no Stanwyck, but her performance is certainly memorable.

With a title, plot and star like this, I was expecting a lot more. Unfortunately the film is underwhelming. Dahl is great as the manipulative femme fatale no man can resist, her Kathy Allen is up there with the best, but somehow it should be a lot more fun than it actually is. Shame, this could have been a doozy of a Noir. As it stands, its a watchable showcase for Dahl. Available on youtube.

Also on youtube, I watched Guns, Girls and Gangsters with Mamie Van Doren. Fun little programmer that is elevated to above average B movie by a glamorous Mamie who showed again that she wasn't just a dumb blonde.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: Wicked as They Come (1956)

I agree with your take on this one. All the elements are here for a good film, but the makers get the mixture wrong and deliver a sub-par product. Still need to see the Miss Van Doren film.

Re: Wicked as They Come (1956)

Hi Jess,I hope you are all set for New Years day,and from your terrific review,it sounds like Mamie made GGG much more fun than Wicked!

Re: Wicked as They Come (1956)

It's a must for every Mamie fan, and I am one of them.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Too Late (2015) A "Tarantinian" Neo Noir

A nice discovery, right before Christmas, Too Late was actually first brought to my attention by a review in The New York Times. A review that I stumbled upon while doing a search online for something else almost a half year ago. It was well after Too Late left the few theaters it was screened at. I just discovered it's available to watch now on Netflix streaming. Neo Noir is alive and doing well.

Too Late is a surprisingly brilliant addition to the Private Eye & Neo Noir Pantheon. This film passed well under practically everyone's "noir-dar" when it was debuted on March 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California, followed on the 25th in New York City. With all the current zeitgeist going towards blockbusters, "celebrities" and oscar bait, and this having an extremely limited release, hardly anyone has seen much less heard of this fantastic modern take on Noir.

The film was directed and sharpley written by Dennis Hauck, the cinematography was by Bill Fernandez, and has an eclectic smorgasbord of music by Robert Allaire. Upon first viewing you'll see obvious nods to Sergio Leone's narrative style from Once Upon A Time In America that Tarantino homaged in Pulp Fiction. This is coupled with some intelligent and, if you pay attention, clue filled dialog vis-à-vis again, Tarantino. It also uses split screen in some sequences (Marlowe (1969)) and is loaded with other subtle noir and film references, i.e., an interesting off beat quote from Altman's Short Cuts (1993). There are probably more. The film was shot not only in 35mm Techniscope, but also in five Acts, twenty-two minute individual takes, with no hidden cuts or other editing.

Too Late stars John Hawkes (D.O.A. (1988), Winter's Bone (2010), The Pardon (2013)) as a damaged, pushing 60, hawk-nosed, rough, weary, stringbean freelance Private Detective Mel Sampson, he's also a smoker, a toker, and a boozer. Crystal Reed (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (TV Series 2010)) as Dorothy, Vail Bloom (Angel of Death (2009)) as ex stripper, femme fatale Janet Lyons, Jeff Fahey (Impulse (1990), Planet Terror (2007), Machete (2010)), as "Cowboy" Roger Fontaine, Gordy's muscle, Robert Forster (Jackie Brown (1997), Mulholland Drive (2001), Hotel Noir (2012)) as Gordy Lyons mobbed up strip club owner, Joanna Cassidy (The Outfit (1973), The Laughing Policeman (1973), Blade Runner (1982) ) as Eleanor Mahler, Natalie Zea () Brett Jacobsen as "Skippy" Fontaine, Dichen Lachman as Jilly Bean, Dash Mihok as Jesse, Sydney Tamiia Poitier as Veronica, and Rider Strong as Matthew.

L.A., 2015. In some perverse joke of the gods, Bunker Hill rises in its skyscraper reincarnation, dwarfing the stubby spike of the Los Angeles City Hall. The view is from Radio Hill, and down across a yellowish, smog shrouded Chinatown. A woman, Dorothy, calls Mel Sampson P.I. for help. He's Too Late. She's dead.

What follows, time jumps between the present, seven years in the past, and five days ago, and is wondrously Noirsville.

A bizarre confrontation on a hilltop patio between Sampson, Gordy, Fontaine, and Fontaine's and Gordy's less than classy ex stripper wives, Veronica, and the half naked Janet.

A stripbar cute meet between Sampson, Dorothy, and Sampson's future gal pal Jilly Bean, followed by a late night nightcap at a C&W bar.

The reveal in an L.A. hotel room between Sampson, and Mary and Eleanor Mahler.

The botched attempted murder of a witness.

The acting in the film by all the principles is impeccable. John Hawkes' Mel Sampson is the anti Hollywood pretty boy hero, it took me a few reflective hours to put my finger on who he reminds me of. If you grew up in the late 60's and were a part of the counterculture and read many of the seminal works of the underground comix movement you'll see the visual resemblance to comix icon R. Crumb. He downplays his part, making him accessible and believable.

Neo Noir vet Robert Forster is a nasty piece of work as the hard barked stripclub owner. Jeff Fahey is teddy bear-ish, good ol' boy enforcer with a broken leg. Vail Bloom is touching as the wound a bit too tight, ex stripper beauty, who crumbles disastrously, when her world comes tumbling down. Natalie Zea is heartbreaking in the part of Mary.

Too Late is at the moment available on Netflix streaming. If I have to point out any minuses I would say it could have used a bit more outdoor location footage, but that's me. A thinking man's Noir 9/10.

Full review with NSFW screencaps here http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/12/too-late-2015-tarantinian-neo-noir.html

Re: Too Late (2015) A "Tarantinian" Neo Noir

Thanks for the heads up here. Slipped under the "noir-dar" is right. This is the first I have heard of the film. Again, thanks.

Re: Too Late (2015) A "Tarantinian" Neo Noir

Merry Christmas Mgt and thank you for the great review. The film was put on Netflix UK a few days ago,and is now near the top of my "watch list."

Re: Too Late (2015) A "Tarantinian" Neo Noir

I totally share your enthusiasm for this film, it's a real find and a must for neo-noir fans. It is also currently available on Amazon streaming. Director Hauck is obviously a very creative guy and was not afraid to take an untraditional approach. The five acts, each done in one take is interesting, though a little hard to follow at times as events are not always in chronological order. The one-take approach worked well in the second, third, and fourth acts, but seemed to be a bit of a gimmick in the first and fifth acts, where they became somewhat distracting. As you said, the acting is excellent and the surprises just kept on coming. I was particularly impressed with those jaw-droppingly sudden, totally unexpected shootings. The scenes in the sleazy strip bar and in the jazz club oozed atmosphere. And the entire sequence at the drive-in movie was extremely effective. TOO LATE gets a rave from me and I hope more noir fans get to see it.

"Rogues' Regiment" 1948 Dick Powell, Marta Toren, S. McNally

CONTAINS SPOILERS

"Rogues' Regiment" 1948

This is one of several post World War Two noir dealing with escaped Nazi war criminals. "Notorious", "The Stranger" and "Cornered" would be a few of the more well known.

In this one, Dick Powell is an army intelligence agent on his way to French Indo-China. He is on the trail of a high-ranking SS officer. The trail leads Powell to the French Foreign Legion camp in Saigon. (The French used large numbers of ex-German soldiers in their war with the Viet-Cong.) Powell's main problem is that there are no known photos of the man he wants.

He joins the Legion himself in order to try and identify the swine. Said swine, Stephen McNally, is very careful about his identity and bumps off everyone he thinks is a danger. Helping Powell out on his case is French Secret Service agent, Marta Toren. Toren poses as a singer in a cabaret frequented by off duty Legion members. Also in the mix is Vincent Price as an antique dealer who supplements his income with a little gun running for the Viet-Cong.

McNally, who picked Saigon and the Legion thinking it would be the least likely spot to be recognized, finds the opposite true. One of his ex-staff officers from Dachau concentration camp happens to be in the same unit. While out on patrol, the men become involved in a fire-fight with the Viet-Cong and McNally applies a few rounds to the man's back.

Problem solved. Not quite it seems. Old Vincent has tumbled to McNally's identity and figures a bit of blackmail is in order. He knows McNally has a large cache of jewels and gold taken from his camp victims. Price wants most of it. McNally agrees as long as Price can supply him with a passport and some American dollars so he can leave the country.

Both of course plan to double-cross the other when the deal is completed. Powell finally figures out what is going on and arrives just as McNally has bumped off Price. A blazing gun battle and a well staged round of fist-a-cuffs ensue before McNally is captured. McNally gets the rope and Powell gets Toren.

McNally as the vicious Nazi on the run, and Price as the blackmailing snake in the grass, are very good here. Powell and Toren both turn in merely adequate performances. The rest of the cast includes Edgar Barrier, Richard Loo, Philip Ahn and James Millican.

The director was Robert Florey. His work included MEET BOSTON BLACKIE, DANGEROUSLY THEY LIVE, THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS, DANGER SIGNAL and the very under-rated THE FACE BEHIND THE MASK. Screenplay was by Robert Buckner who did, DEPORTED and A PRIZE OF GOLD.

Toren, who died at age 31, managed to work DEPORTED, MYSTERY SUBMARINE, SPY HUNT, ILLEGAL ENTRY, ONE WAY STREET, PARIS ASSIGNMENT and SIROCCO into her 4 year Hollywood career. The d of p was Maury Gertsman who worked on BLONDE ALIBI, INSIDE JOB, SINGAPORE, ONE WAY STREET, THE GLASS WEB and JOHNNY STOOL PIGEON.

Re: "Rogues' Regiment" 1948 Dick Powell, Marta Toren, S. McNally

Hi gordon,

Fantastic review. I have never heard of this film, but your review has me interested. I'm a huge fan of Dick Powell and Vincent Price, so I want to check this out for them. Is it on YouTube?



Go to bed Frank or this is going to get ugly .

Re: "Rogues' Regiment" 1948 Dick Powell, Marta Toren, S. McNally

It was on You-Tube a few months back but it seems to have been taken down. I have a copy taken off TCM some years ago.

MDF X-Mas gift.

Hi Maddy,I first want to say that I was sorry to read about the challenges that you and your family have recently faced,and that I really hope Christmas goes well for all of you.

As a small Christmas present-

Rogue Regiment-Full film:

https://archive.org/details/RogueRegiment

Merry Christmas Maddy!

Re: "Rogues' Regiment" 1948 Dick Powell, Marta Toren, S. McNally

I agree with Maddy, would love to watch it. I've seen Marta Toren in a few movies, I always liked her, maybe not the best actress but a nice addition to any cast nevertheless.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

MDF Christmas Present.

Hi Jess,with the 25th coming up,here is my present to you:



Rogue Regiment-full film:

https://archive.org/details/RogueRegiment

Re: MDF Christmas Present.

Oooohhhh! Thank you, I'll watch it soon. :)

And I forgot to wish everyone here a very Merry (or Happy) Christmas. Or Hanukkah. So practical this year, we can kill two stones with one bird.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Re: MDF Christmas Present.

Aww..thank you Jess I hope that you and your family also have a Merry Christmas!

The Mechanic (1972)

7


"Murder is killing without a license-and everybody kills."


* This review may contain spoilers ***

Despite a family friend being a big fan of their work,I've never had the chance to catch a glimpse of Michael Winner/Charles Bronson's collaborations.Checking updates on Netflix UK,I found out that one of their team-ups was going to be taken off the site in a few days,which led to me fixing things up with the mechanic.

The plot:

Cutting out any connection to a social or personal life, Arthur Bishop trains himself to be a mechanic/hit-man for a group which demands the very best from their assassins. Successfully following an order to kill a member of the group,Bishop attends the funeral of his victim. During the funeral,Bishop crosses paths with the victims son Steve McKenna. Finding McKenna to have a detachment to life that matches his,Bishop begins to think that McKenna has the tools to be a fellow mechanic.

View on the film:

For someone who always sounded like the life of the party in interviews,director Michael Winner displays an unexpected ear for silence,with Winner breaking Bishop's merciless Film Noir loner veins with extended sequences featuring no dialogue,which strike at the cold, soulless emotion Bishop feels towards his job. Whilst screenwriter Lewis John Carlino complained over the hard-nosed script being softened,Winner keeps the Noir chill at the frozen heart of Bishop, shining in stylish scatter-gun tracking shots keeping track of the mechanical nature of Bishop's kills.

Bringing an outsider in to join Bishop and sending them both to Italy,Winner pushes the Noir shoulder aside for a dash in Italian Crime,that despite bringing some frantic chase moments in,does leave to a pause in looking at the empty reflection of Bishop. Opening Bishop's bag of tools for the final,Winner whips the title back to the dour Noir soul of Bishop,in a richly cynical ending that delivers a burning parting shot from Bishop. Stuck with a smug Jan- Michael Vincent as Steve McKenna, Bronson cuts a note of pure Noir class as Bishop. Slithering in the shadows of his victims, Bronson brilliantly expresses in silence the coldness Bishop feels towards each murder,as Bishop sets his target on another mechanical kill.


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

10

** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hearing fear-mongering stories about "Reds under the bed" (or in this case,web) on the news web recently, reminded me of the paranoia allegorically dissected in the Body Snatcher films. Whilst finding Kevin Williamson's riff on the story with The Faculty to be a hip teen Horror and Abel Ferrara's very good 1993 take linked to the then-popular "the truth is out there" paranoia,I've never seen any of the two "major" versions. Looking at Netflix UK,I found that the 1978 version was about to leave the site!,which led to me joining the body snatchers.

The plot:

Talking to her co-worker Matthew Bennell, Elizabeth Driscoll mentions that after taking some flowers home that boyfriend Geoffrey Howell has been acting rather strange. Going to Bennell's friend David Kibner for advice,Bennell and Driscoll are stopped on the road by a mad man screaming about an invasion. Initially laughing it off,the mood soon changes when the man gets run over. Rushing over,Bennell and Driscoll are horrified to find all the pedestrians showing no emotion to the death,and almost appearing to act like aliens.

View on the film:

Keeping the paranormal activity grounded, director Philip Kaufman & cinematographer Michael Chapman give the invasion an "on the spot" news report rawness spanning jagged tracking shots hiding in the crowd of body snatchers. Unleashing the aliens in all their gooey, practical effects Body Horror delight, Kaufman webs the fantastic screeching nightmare soundtrack with a blistering Film Noir atmosphere,lit in suffocating shadows being the lone areas of hope that Bennell and Bellicec can hide from the decaying light of a society drowning the screams of " dissidents."

Following the original film in going for an ending different from Jack Finney's novel,the screenplay by W.D. Richter brilliantly turns the "Red" fear into unrelenting Sci-Fi Noir anxiety. Cleverly making the "aliens" be people Bennell and Bellicec knows,Richter goes off the Richter Scale in drilling fear of society becoming "one voice" and corrupting Noir loners and voices of opposition into transforming into a system that they have fought against.

Facing a Sci-Fi monster a year before the acid mouth of Alien would set its lips on her, Veronica Cartwright gives a great performance as Nancy Bellicec,whose intelligent idea to blend in allows Cartwright to keep Nancy's fears under wraps until they are torn out in a devastating scream. Joined by Jeff Goldblum getting his first taste of Body-Horror and Leonard Nimoy his warm Star Trek image as the creepy,Noir-style "boss" Dr. David Kibner,the beautiful Brooke Adams (who also appears naked) gives an extraordinary performance as Elizabeth. Tangled with Bennell in fighting against the enemy within,Adams delicately expresses Elizabeth desperation to not become entranced by the invaders. Fighting against a system/alien rooted in his own decayed society, Donald Sutherland gives a thrilling performance as Bennell,thanks to Sutherland capturing the anxiety of Bennell being a burnt-out Noir loner who sees all his friends being invaded.

Re: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Re watched the original not long ago, Haven't seen the remake in a while.

Re: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Saw it in the cinema when it was released and did not like it. Watched it again 4-5 years back and it still did not grab me. Give me the first one any day. But if it worked for you, that is all that matters, will send a tick your way when I have a chance.

Merry Christmas

Another fee-be Noir

Espions à l'affût, l'Espion est à l'affût, la Chaleur de minuit (Heat Of Midnight) (1966) review here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/12/espions-laffut-aka-heat-of-midnight.html

Watch here dubbed in English http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xlohit_heat-of-midnight_shortfilms

Re: Merry Christmas

Well, welllooks interesting!
I vaguely remember the Saint Tropez movies.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."

Espions à l'affût (aka Heat Of Midnight) (1966) French Sexploitation Noi

Max Pécas (born 25 April 1925 in Lyon died 10 February 2003 in Paris) (noted for the three-film "Saint-Tropez" series at the end of his career ) was known primarily a director of campy B-sexploitation movies, sort of the French Russ Meyer. He did direct a few thrillers one of which Espions à l'affût, was quite noir-ish.

Written by Maurice Cury and Max Pécas. Cinematography by Robert Lefebvre (Casque d'Or (1952), The Grand Maneuver (1955) The Gates of Paris (1957) ). Music was by Louiguy.

The film stars Jean Vinci as Fred Langlois, Jean Claudio (Darling (1965)) as Max Savelan, Claudine Coster (Keep Talking, Baby (1961)) as Fabienne, Anna Gaël ( The Bridge at Remagen (1969), Therese and Isabelle (1968)) as Sybil, Robert Lombard as Henri. Michel Vocoret as Pascal, and Dominique Santarelli as one of Pascal's goons.

Fred Langlois (Vinci) a jewel thief is in heavy debt to an effete gambling club owner Pascal who practically prances around while cuddling his pet pekinese. Fred plans a scheme to pretend to pay off his debt to gain entry to the home of Pascal. Fred has an accomplice Henri (Lombard) with him outside who will gain entry and get the drop of the club owner and his henchmen while they are occupied with Fred. All goes as planned and they recover the jewels and scoot.

However the house was under surveillance by insurance detective Max Savelan (Claudio) who had traced the jewels from Fred to Pascal. Suspecting the heist from Pascal by Fred and Henri, Max jumps in his car and sets off in pursuit of them. Caught at a railroad crossing Max loses the car with Fred and Henri and it looks as if all is lost.

While driving down the road, Henri pulls a gun on Fred takes the jewels double crossing him. Henri tells Fred it's the end of the line. Fred manages to grab Henri and during the resulting struggle is able to kill him. Fred though is wounded, grazed in his upper arm by a bullet. He jumps back in the car and drives away leaving Henri. Shortly afterwards Max finally catches up arriving on the scene.

Fred continues to head towards the border. Weakened by the bullet wound and loss of blood, he decides to look for some sanctuary. He decides to drop in on the estate of his rich ex wife Fabienne (Coster) who is now decadently living in an open lesbian relationship with Sybil (Gaël). Fabienne agrees to help Fred. Secreting Fred in one of the mansion's many rooms, Fabienne carries on as if nothing has changed.

While Fred gets reaquainted with Fabienne, Max arrives on the scene and stakes out Fabienne's house. While the girls are out of the house Fred hides the jewels in Sybil's room. At first, Fabienne tries to hide Fred presence from Sybil but Sybil finds out by accidentally seeing their silhouettes upon a window, and she begins to play her own games with Fred. All this and Sybil's later abduction provides director Pécas with excuses for bits of tame (for today's standards it would hardly rate an "R") sexploitation.

Fred rekindling his relationship with Fabienne and having a pretty good time of it at the mansion decides to go straight and send the jewels back.

Max sneaks into the mansion and confronts Fred about the jewels. Fred gets the drop on Max and with Max incapacitated actually does mail the jewels back to their rightful owners bringing Max along to the post office to witness it. Once the jewels are mailed off Fred lets Max go.

Pascal and his minions arrive at Fabienne's figuring out that it's the logical place for Fred to hole up and they devise a plan to get the swag back that involves kidnapping Sybil. Max foils Pascal's plans.

The final denouement that involves a roadside ambush near the mansion is quite clever and one of the things besides the stylistic Noir cinematography that elevates this film from obscurity. Film is currently available dubbed in English on Daily Motion (where the screencaps originate from BTY) under its English title Heat Of Midnight. Entertaining enough, 6/10.

Full review with NSFW screencaps from film on dailymotion here: http://noirsville.blogspot.com/2016/12/espions-laffut-aka-heat-of-midnight.html

Max Pécas

Thank you for the excellent review Mgt,which highlights a side of Pécas I never knew of before! If you are able to track it down,I highly recommend his very stylish smut,I mean erotica film Felicia/Les mille et une perversions de Felicia

www.imdb.com/board/10073390/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_12

Re: Espions à l'affût (aka Heat Of Midnight) (1966) French Sexploitation

Thanks for the heads up on this one. Good work.

Star of the month:Jane Russell The Las Vegas Story (1952)

Thanks to Jess for the extra kick to watch this very good Noir.

7

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Reading posts on IMDb's Film Noir board,I found an excellent review for a Noir whose title sounded familiar.Checking my TV recordings,I found that it had recently aired in a double bill of rare Jane Russell movies, (the other being the easy-going Adventure flick Underwater!) which led to decided it was time to splash out in Vegas.

The plot:

Since walking out on Las Vegas, Linda Rollins has kept her back turned on ever looking back at the past. Secretly struggling with gambling debt,Linda's husband Lloyd takes a roll of the dice and takes Linda to Vegas to make some quick cash. Unknown to Lloyd,Linda's ex Dave Andrews has stayed in Vegas since going to war wondering where everything went wrong in his marriage. Treating his wife to a glistering necklace,Lloyd bets everything with the necklace,and loses it all (with casino owner Clayton not wiling give him a second chance.) Getting a call the next day,Andrews (who is now a cop) discovers that Clyton has been killed,and an expensive necklace has gone missing.

View on the film:

Gliding back to Vegas, Jane Russell (who looks very glamorous in the lavish dresses) gives her Femme Fatale Linda an elegant,playful edge,which becomes fully revealed in songs smoothly performed by Russell,who clouds Linda with an unease about being reunited with her past. Dressed to impress,Russell strips off Linda's glitz to unveil a wonderfully sharp,off the cuff manner, flared up by Russell getting Linda to hit Lloyd and Andrews with barb one-liners delivered by Russell with a spiky relish. A perfect match for Linda/Russell, Vincent Price gives a deliciously wicked performance as Lloyd,whose sharp exchanges with Linda, Price twist and turns into a mix of comedic and Film Noir menace.

Caught between the couple, Victor Mature gives a firm, stoic performance as Andrews,but struggles to find breathing room between Russell and Price.Sliding like Flubber from live-action Disney flicks to Film Noir,director Robert Stevenson & cinematographer peel open the haunted Vegas past of Linda in stylish overlapping images that roll a ghostly atmosphere into the casino. Focusing on "the beautiful people" Stevenson still finds spots to dig into the dirt of Andrews unfulfilled romance,driven by great crane/helicopter shots looking down with Andrews at the Noir pit of Vegas.

Introducing the Rollins as a couple,the screenplay by Paul Jarrico/Harry Essex/Earl Felton and Jay Dratler pulls the burnt veins of their Film Noir relationship out on the Vegas strip,spanning sour exchanges tangled in Lloyd's gambling debt and Linda's loveless relationship to Lloyd. Attempting to make Andrews and Linda an alluring Noir couple,the writers push Lloyd to the side lines in order to bring the bond between Andrews and Linda into the present,but tear the main Noir root due to Andrews lacking the Noir sparks of Lloyd,as the Vegas house wins on Film Noir.

Re: Star of the month:Jane Russell The Las Vegas Story (1952)

I'm glad you watched it. It's fun and I still think Mature's role should have been played by Mitchum.

Jessica Rabbit
"I'm not bad. I'm just drawn that way."
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