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*** 1st Annual HTF Noirvember Physical Media Challenge*** (1 Viewer)

dana martin

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Day 14: 14 Noirvember 2021

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Todays Feature Presentation

16. Phantom Lady (Arrow Academy)
First Time Viewing

Universal Pictures Company, Inc.(Release Date: Jan 28, 1944) Director: Robert Siodmak, Cinematographer: Elwood Bredell

After working at Universal Studios in the “B units” as a director, and even filming some of the scripts penned by his brother Curis, Robert Siodmack, was given his first, full on noir film.

The story opens on Scott (Alan Curtis), an architect who after five years him and his wife have grown apart, he comes home from work one night to try and rekindle it and see’s that it's a hopeless situation, so he asked for a divorce she laughs at him and tells him that she won't give him a divorce, so he goes out distraught.

While out he happens to meet another individual was equally upset, the phantom lady, the two of them together take in a show then afterwards go to a bar and spend time together. When he gets home he opens the door to find 3 policemen waiting in his apartment, questioningly he asked what's going on they allow him to go into the other room and see that his wife has been murdered, strangled with one of his neckties, and he is the prime suspect they start to grill him over and over again about where he had been all evening. And he tells them the story of the mysterious phantom lady.

Every place that they go and ask about this mysterious phantom lady no one seems to remember her, and it seems that the only person that believes his story it is his devoted secretary “Kansas” (Ella Raines) who through her years of working with Scott has fallen in love with him. At the end of the trial he's found guilty and she takes it upon herself to clear his name and find this mysterious phantom woman with the help of Inspector Burgess (Thomas Gomez) one of the policemen who originally did the investigation.

She goes to the prison to visit him she asked if he had ever reached out to any of his friends including his best friend Jack Marlow played by Franchot Tone. Who borders on a teeter balancing act as a man with a secret, or possibly more…? I won’t give it away.

As an added bonus, the film feature Elisa Cook Jr. in a supporting role, and the moments he’s on screen, well the screen belongs to him, funny how a great character actor in a few moments of celluloid can just reach out and steal the spotlight and make a good film all that much better.

Recommended
 
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Robert Crawford

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9th of 20 Noirvember titles:

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Last night, after a long day of watching NFL football on my DirecTV "Sunday Ticket" package and seeing my Las Vegas Raiders get blown out, I decided to get the bad memory out of my pea brain by watching "Blood on the Moon" (1948) again on Blu-ray. It's what I call a "western-noir". My thoughts about the movie and the Blu-ray can be found here and here.
 

dana martin

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9th of 20 Noirvember titles:

View attachment 118839


Last night, after a long day of watching NFL football on my DirecTV "Sunday Ticket" package and seeing my Las Vegas Raiders get blown out, I decided to get the bad memory out of my pea brain by watching "Blood on the Moon" (1948) again on Blu-ray. It's what I call a "western-noir". My thoughts about the movie and the Blu-ray can be found here and here.
yup, the one I kicked this off with, and it's a winner on both accounts!
 

Robert Crawford

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yup, the one I kicked this off with, and it's a winner on both accounts!
When I watched the Blu-ray for the first time back in April, 2020, I actually had tears in my eyes because it was like watching the movie for the very first time. It was such a pristine video presentation compared to my previous viewings on various home video formats including TV viewings. Warner Archives has done an excellent job with so many troubled RKO titles in which the film elements were problematic to say the least.
 

dana martin

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Day 15: 15 Noirvember 2021

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Todays Morning Matinee Presentation

16. The Black Book ( aka Reign of Terror) (Noir Archive 9 -Film Collection: Volume 1) First Time Viewing



Walter Wanger Pictures, Inc. (Release Date: 16 Jun 1949) Director: Anthony Mann, Cinematographer: John Alton

To quote a very good authority, director Robert Wise; Film Noir is a style, not a genre, and because of that, it lends itself to many different types of stories being able to be told.

I was in the mood for something different this morning, and I realized that I haven't touched any of the three Noir Archive sets that Mill Creek had put out. So, with a small manipulation of my DVDprofiler, I opted to search for a specific crew member this time, one of the masters of noir, and most definitely a master at painting with light and shadows and camerawork, John Alton, Add to that direction by Anthony Mann and a story about France's Reign of Terror. Just the description alone had me hooked.

Robert Cummings (patriot Charles D'Aubigny) has the lead as our hero, who kills and impersonates Duval (Charles Gordon) one of the butchers during the reign of terror that's on his way to Paris to help Robespierre (Richard Basehart).

Aided by Madelon (Arlene Dahl), whom D'Aubigny once loved, his goal is to help find the black book Robespierre has, that has names of the victims he plans to execute once he is made dictator. It’s a rousing romp, almost in an Adventures of Robin Hood sort of way, so I will keep the play by play at a minimum, the ride is half of the fun, but you can see that the cast was very spot on in casting and in performance, but with the darker subject matter, I lends itself to this style of filmmaking.

At the end of the film is a great surprise, that only makes the impact of what just happened even more notorious.

Reccomended
 
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Richard Gallagher

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Night and the City Criterion.png


I am late to this contest and will never reach 20 noirs, but on Saturday night I treated myself to Night and the City, a stunning film noir that takes place in London. Richard Widmark brilliantly stars as Harry Fabian, a tout who makes his living convincing tourists to visit a nightclub owned by the sleazy and corpulent Phil Nosseross (Francis L. Sullivan). Harry's problem is that he is a dreamer who falls for every get rich quick scheme he comes across, whether it is investing in a Greyhound track or becoming a promoter of wrestling matches. He is continually trying to get money from his girlfriend Mary (Gene Tierney), but she refuses because she is saving her cash until she has enough so she and Harry can get married and settle down. But Harry has other ideas, because he wants to "be somebody," and he resorts to lies and manipulation to raise the funds he needs.

Much of Night and the City was filmed on location in London, and the Criterion Blu-ray looks and sounds terrific. The extras include the British version of the film, which runs five minutes longer. Director Jules Dassin reportedly preferred the American version, and I agree with him. If you watch the American version first and then fast-forward through the British version it is easy to see which scenes were added and which were deleted for the British version.
 

lark144

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I'm also joining the party, a bit late. In fact, I didn't know about this challenge until yesterday. so I don't know whether I'll get 20 Noirs in by the end of the month, but I've already seen 8 on my own--after all this is Noirvember!--so I'm going to start writing about them first, as I wanted to share some of my thoughts with my fellow members. Thanks to Robert Crawford for introducing me to this thread. Anyway, to start the ball rolling....

NUMBER #1

LAURA

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Last night I saw Laura again. The movie, that is. It’s not like I haven’t seen it before. But every time I see it, it’s like I’m watching it for the first time. Though I’ve seen “Laura” many times, that first screening was memorable. I saw it at a drag theater in the far East Village, after which the live performance was a parody of the plot of the film. But “Laura” is so multi-faceted and multi-textual; it’s really difficult to do a parody, as the film contains its own self-critique. It’s self-conscious, even as it’s emotionally involving. There’s so much going on, it’s hard to keep track.



A lot of this has to do with the way the film is directed; specifically Otto Preminger’s camera style, which he developed directing theatre, so all the actors are seen in master shots. This kind of framing creates a sense of ambiguity, for the viewers are not told, through point of view shots and close-ups, as in most Hollywood films of this period, what characters to identify with. Also, the shots last longer than most films of this period, and there's fewer edits, and even when the film cuts to a closer view of a character speaking, there's usually someone else in the frame, or that close-up is altered through the use of a mirror or reflections on glass. Instead, the interactions of the characters, their individual desires and collective dramas, are arranged for us to view, objectively. Instead of identifying with one character and then another, we can watch them and see how they react to what is going on around them. But because all those characters are generally in the frame together, one generally focuses on one actor at a time.



For instance, in the scene the beginning in Ann Treadwell’s apartment, who is Laura's aunt, one can get a completely different sense of the characters, as well as the story, from watching Ann reactions on the edge of the frame, especially after Shelby Carpenter, a scalawag on the edges of café society enters, instead of watching Mark McPherson, the detective, who is investigating Laura’s death, and Waldo Lydecker, a radio personality and propagator of devastating bon mots, who was Laura’s closest friend. That’s what I usually do, as they are in the center of the frame, and the story is being told through their interactions. But this time I saw the film through Ann’s perspective, and it was a very different experience.

That’s what I meant when I wrote “Laura” was a different film every time I see it. It depends on what character I watch. That ambiguity, which is inherent in the way Preminger stages his films, usually dissipates suspense, but in the case of “Laura” it increases it. That’s because the characters themselves are ambiguous, and staging it that way increases the mystery and our involvement in it. It also makes the film richer, and increases a viewer's appreciation when watching it again. There’s so many layers to “Laura”, you can’t get it all on a first viewing.


“Laura” is considered one of the first landmarks, both stylistically as well as in terms of box office success, in defining the parameters of what came to be known as Noir, along with “Double Indemnity”, which opened the same year, in 1944. For me, there’s two threads in Noir, two kinds of films that came from these two. “Double Indemnity” is more hardboiled, cynical and realistic, while “Laura” is more romantic and hallucinatory.



In fact, “Laura” might even be considered a ghost story. That portrait, and Gene Tierney’s presence, is resolutely spectral and haunting. One could see “Laura” as a precursor, and possible influence, on such later Noirs as “Vertigo” and “Diabolique”, which also have phantasmal aspects to them, both in their plots and cinematography. That ambiguity, and sense of dread, is enhanced by Dana Andrews’ performance as Mark. In scores of films, Dana Andrews was able to continually cross that shadowy perimeter between sinister and admirable, crazy and sane, and he does it in “Laura” with such vehemence and sensitivity as well as believability, the film is more compelling because of it.



Not that the characters in “Laura” aren’t real. As Preminger stated in an interview, he knew all those characters when he lived in New York. The thing about Laura in the film, she is constantly being defined by all the other characters. We never really find out who she is, deep down. Not that this stops me from loving this film, and discovering its manifold pleasures anew every time I watch it.

I also wanted to give a shot-out here to Joseph LaShelle, who won an Oscar for photographing "Laura".
Mr. LaShelle's cinematography covers much of the same ambiguous terrain as Dana Andrew's performance, that fine line between flesh and filigree, not to mention chiaroscuro and glamor photography. The film is set in the heat of August, so the rooms and streets ate blindingly bright, yet within that glowing sun-bathed translucence, there is more than a trace of darkness; shadows and filmy curlicues climb the walls, and as the film becomes more wee small hour oriented, there's a sense of evil spirits lurking in corners and just above the sight line of Mark McPherson's slightly rumpled snap-brim hat. But I think Mr. LaShelle's greatest achievement in in the way he lights Gene Tierney, so she takes on the coloration of the various viewpoints that narrate her story. Not only does the lighting on her change the way she appears, depending who is telling the tale, but Mr. LaShelle manages to light Ms. Tierney so she is simultaneously a phantom and a flesh and blood woman, no easy achievement.

Somehow I don't think I need recommend this, as I can't imagine any HFT members that haven't seen this multiple times. But I will anyway. One of the great films of the forties, as influential in its way as "Citizen Kane." 5 out of 5.
 
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lark144

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NUMBER #2

THE GLASS KEY (1942)

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I started watching “The Glass Key” the other night as I was falling asleep. Because I had seen it before, I expected to drift off near the beginning, lulled into dreamland by the familiar images. Instead, I woke up and watched it straight through until 3 AM.



“The Glass Key” is another of those films that doesn’t suffer from repeat viewings. It’s based on what’s considered Dashiell Hammett’s best novel, and for those of you who haven’t read it, the book is highly recommended. It’s essential in the development of the American realist novel. It was published in 1931, though I believe it was seralized earlier in “Black Mask” magazine. It’s one of the first times in an American novel, and certainly in crime fiction, where psychology and identification with the main character by seeing things through his eyes and understanding how he thinks is ignored. Instead, all the action of the book is described objectively. We never know how Ned Beaumont, the main character, feels. There’s an ambiguity to both the character of Ned Beaumont and his actions that feels contemporary. For this reader, the prose is tough and matter of fact, in the American Vernacular, yet there’s also a rough-hewn poetry, present in the almost camera-eye descriptions of mostly illegal activities, interspersed with the kind of haphazard interactions that can happen in any city, infusing the narrative with a kind of terse loneliness.



The film, like the novel, deals with political corruption in a mid-sized American city. Ned Beaumont is played by Alan Ladd, who had just achieved overnight success in his first featured role, as Raven, a hired killer with a conscience, in “This Gun For Hire”. Here, Alan Ladd’s persona as Ned Beaumont is equally ambiguous. As in the Hammett novel, you’re not really given a clue as to what he is thinking and feeling. Various criminal and violent interactions happen with an almost objective amorality, in terms of the way the scenes are acted and directed. It’s a little surprising, considering this film was made during the height of the production code. It’s quite violent, especially for a Hollywood film of this vintage, with some really brutal beatings of Ladd-Beaumont by William Bendix, who also has a definite homoerotic attraction towards Ladd-Beaumont, which isn’t at all ambiguous. They embrace in a speakeasy in between fistcuffs. Possibly because it’s a major plot point, the Hays Office let that stay or maybe there were even more blatant things they took out.



Beaumont works for Paul Madvig (Brian Donlevy, more or less reprising his role from “The Great McGinty”), a corrupt political boss who has decided to back the “reform” candidate, Ralph Henry (Moroni Olsen), because Madvig is in love with his daughter Janet (Veronica Lake, a 4’11” virago in white lace who packs a mean punch). So Madvig starts shutting down illegal gambling houses which pay him protection money in order to give Ralph Henry’s reform agenda legitimacy, which causes problems that Beaumont is sent to fix. But that trouble is exacerbated when Ralph Henry’s son Taylor is murdered, and everyone—except Beaumont—thinks Madvig did it.



For this viewer, the film, with its breakneck pacing and numerous tracking shots which close in on the actors and the action with surprising intimacy, matches Hammett’s no holds barred prose style perfectly. If anything, the film is even more exciting. There are no pauses for dialogue or scenic effects. The precision of the performances, as well as the stunning pictorialism of the compositions, would impress in any other film, but here, there’s just too much happening.



The director, Stuart Heisler, had recently been responsible, as 2nd unit director, for a spectacular storm sequence in John Ford’s “The Hurricane”, and was at Paramount, where he had just directed a taut proto-Noir, “Among the Living” prior to this film. “The Glass Key” is probably Stuart Heisler’s masterpiece. The Paramount look has never been more down and dirty. The only gloss is at Ralph Henry’s residence. Otherwise, the general ambience is perennial midnight. Alan Ladd moves from one den of vice to another with a cachet and spring to his step which is matched by the zip of Theodor Sparkhul’s camera. You’re not going to see another film made at Paramount in 1942, that studio of high gloss and serenity, that’s going to be more visceral than this.



Sparkhul was a transplant from UFA in Berlin, and the lighting is echt Expressionist, with deep shadows and strange beams of light that manage to make things look even grimmer. The photography in this film is a thing of beauty in spite of its grittiness, which accentuates every jagged window and threadbare corridor. The images have the electric vibrancy of rotgut liquor, while the lighting captures both the elusive highs and deep lows that can come from drinking such a volatile brew.



I really only have one problem with this film, which most of you will consider minor at best. They changed my favorite line of dialogue in the book, where Paul Madvig asks Ned Beaumont what he thinks of his clothes. “Never wear silk socks with tweed,” Beaumont says, assuring his place as the deacon of sartorial splendor in American crime fiction. “But I like the feel of silk,” Madvig says. “Then don’t wear tweed,” Beaumont says.

Instead, in the film, they have Madvig wearing some tacky clock pattern on his socks, and Beaumont makes some horrible pun about how Madvig is out of time, or something. Just dreadful. However, in 1960, Jean-Luc Godard came to the rescue of Hammett enthusiasts everywhere and put those lines from “The Glass Key” into “Breathless”, during an exchange between Jean-Paul Belmondo and Roger Hanin. But I would have preferred it to be in the 1942 film.

There are even tougher films from later in the Noir cycle, for instance, "Gun Crazy" and "Out of the Past". But as far as Noir in 1942 is concerned, this is the real deal.



Rating: 4.5 out of 5. Do I recommend this film? See if you can guess.
 
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lark144

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NUMBER #3

THE UNSUSPECTED
(First time viewing)

unsuspected.jpg


I love “The Unsuspected”. There, I’ve said it. And believe me, I’m not ashamed. Quite the contrary. For me, watching “The Unsuspected” is like consuming a chocolate mousse cake along with a few demitasse cups of espresso, and then eating a couple chocolate truffles with cognac filling as a chaser. In other words, this film gives me a wonderful buzz. It’s rich and delectable. It’s a marvelous exercise in style. It’s the ultimate, as far as High Norish photography, direction and acting are concerned.



Michael Curtiz is the director, and some of the camera movements in this film are so delirious, I began to think he used the same method for coming up with sequences as Busby Berkeley; that is, sitting in a hot tub in the wee hours and drinking a surfeit of martinis. For instance, there’s a detective who we’re introduced to on a train, and the camera tracks out of his compartment, through the window, away from the train, down the tracks, across the Hudson, up a street in the pouring rain, across the façade of the Peeksill Hotel, down a corridor and into a room, where a man lies on the bed, with the neon sign, “Kill, Kill” flashing off and on in the window. You see what I mean. It’s got, as Kay Thompson might say, “Pazaaz!”.



Visually, the whole film is crazy-wonderful. Photographed by Woody Bredell, who was the DP on “Phantom Lady” and “The Killers”, this film has more dark shadows than the Met Museum has paintings, enough chiaroscuro to make Caravaggio turn green with envy, an old dark manse—supposedly a 20 minute drive from Manhattan—with enough winding staircases to keep Bela Lugosi busy for decades, and to top it all, two insanely, High Camp virtuoso performances from Claude Rains and Audrey Totter. What more do you need in a Noir anyway? Did I hear someone say plot?



Well, there is a plot, and it’s a pretty ok, though it’s mostly “Laura” and Cornell Woolrich’s “Black Alibi” in a blender. Claude Rains is this charming but slightly sinister radio host who can go from affable to psycho in the flick of an eyelash and presents tales of true crime live on the air. He also seems to be starting a true-crime crime wave of his own at home. Being an artistic type, he documents these crimes by recording them on disc. Why?, you ask. But you’re not supposed to ask. This is the kind of film where the detective finds one of those discs aurally documenting a murder, and rather than run to the police with it, puts it on the turntable and plays it with the sound turned up, while Claude Rains is in the next room, thinking, oh, he’ll never come in here!.



OK, this plot has enough holes to drive a convoy of trucks through, but I still love this film. Then there’s Audrey Totter playing the Tramp From Hell, in black lace peek-a-boo dresses(not too peek-a-boo as this is in the height of the production code but you get the idea). She’s drunk and disorderly and hot to trot and she steals the movie from Claude Rains, believe it or not, kit and caboodle, whenever she’s on camera, which isn’t quite enough, but she’s so wild and wonderful, it’s worth waiting for. Then there’s this portrait shrouded in shadow of Claude Rains’ niece and ward, who’s missing at sea, presumed dead, and her husband who suddenly appears which nobody knows about, but I won’t go on. It’s all too much.



So, my rating for this will be a little different. Plot: 3 out of 5. Style and acting: 4.5 out of 5. Total: 4. Recommended to those who love the actors, director, and High Noir style. Not quite as recommended to those who are fussy about whodunit plots, but you might really like it anyway. I did.
 
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Robert Crawford

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NUMBER #3

THE UNSUSPECTED
(First time viewing)

View attachment 118957

I love “The Unsuspected”. There, I’ve said it. And believe me, I’m not ashamed. Quite the contrary. For me, watching “The Unsuspected” is like consuming a chocolate mousse cake along with a few demitasse cups of espresso, and then eating a couple chocolate truffles with cognac filling as a chaser. In other words, this film gives me a wonderful buzz. It’s rich and delectable. It’s a marvelous exercise in style. It’s the ultimate, as far as High Norish photography, direction and acting are concerned.



Michael Curtiz is the director, and some of the camera movements in this film are so delirious, I began to think he used the same method for coming up with sequences as Busby Berkeley; that is, sitting in a hot tub in the wee hours and drinking a surfeit of martinis. For instance, there’s a detective who we’re introduced to on a train, and the camera tracks out of his compartment, through the window, away from the train, down the tracks, across the Hudson, up a street in the pouring rain, across the façade of the Peeksill Hotel, down a corridor and into a room, where a man lies on the bed, with the neon sign, “Kill, Kill” flashing off and on in the window. You see what I mean. It’s got, as Kay Thompson might say, “Pazaaz!”.



Visually, the whole film is crazy-wonderful. Photographed by Woody Bredell, who was the DP on “Phantom Lady” and “The Killers”, this film has more dark shadows than the Met Museum has paintings, enough chiaroscuro to make Caravaggio turn green with envy, an old dark manse—supposedly a 20 minute drive from Manhattan—with enough winding staircases to keep Bela Lugosi busy for decades, and to top it all, two insanely, High Camp virtuoso performances from Claude Rains and Audrey Totter. What more do you need in a Noir anyway? Did I hear someone say plot?



Well, there is a plot, and it’s a pretty ok, though it’s mostly “Laura” and Cornell Woolrich’s “Black Alibi” in a blender. Claude Rains is this charming but slightly sinister radio host who can go from affable to psycho in the flick of an eyelash and presents tales of true crime live on the air. He also seems to be starting a true-crime crime wave of his own at home. Being an artistic type, he documents these crimes by recording them on disc. Why?, you ask. But you’re not supposed to ask. This is the kind of film where the detective finds one of those discs aurally documenting a murder, and rather than run to the police with it, puts it on the turntable and plays it with the sound turned up, while Claude Rains is in the next room, thinking, oh, he’ll never come in here!.



OK, this plot has enough holes to drive a convoy of trucks through, but I still love this film. Then there’s Audrey Totter playing the Tramp From Hell, in black lace peek-a-boo dresses(not too peek-a-boo as this is in the height of the production code but you get the idea). She’s drunk and disorderly and hot to trot and she steals the movie from Claude Rains, believe it or not, kit and caboodle, whenever she’s on camera, which isn’t quite enough, but she’s so wild and wonderful, it’s worth waiting for. Then there’s this portrait shrouded in shadow of Claude Rains’ niece and ward, who’s missing at sea, presumed dead, and her husband who suddenly appears which nobody knows about, but I won’t go on. It’s all too much.



So, my rating for this will be a little different. Plot: 3 out of 5. Style and acting: 4.5 out of 5. Total: 4. Recommended to those who love the actors, director, and High Noir style. Not quite as recommended to those who are fussy about whodunit plots, but you might really like it anyway. I did.
I love this film! I must have watched it 15-20 times over the years. I'll be watching it again on December 4th, when it's shown by Eddie Muller on "Noir Alley".
 

Robert Crawford

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10th of 20 Noirvember titles:

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Yesterday evening, I watched my 10th Noirvember movie "Obsession" aka "The Hidden Room" (1949). It's been on my DVR for weeks from an October TCM recording. It first came up on my radar back in August after one of Eddie Muller's "Ask Eddie" segments. Some of us talked about this British film directed by Edward Dmytryk, after he was blacklisted back in my thread. Anyhow, I'm running short on time so I'm going to keep my comments brief, but I really liked this film particularly, the performance of Robert Newton. I must say that Sally Gray was one attractive actress. It was a pleasure seeing Nauton Wayne again, this time playing a Scotland Yard Superintendent matching wits with Newton as the aggrieved husband exacting revenge on his cheating wife and her American lover. A man can only take so much from a cheating wife.:) The video presentation was mediocre at best from TCM, but the movie itself gets a 4 out of 5 grade for me.

My next "Noirvember" title will be "The Reckless Moment" (1949) on Blu-ray from UK's Indicator.
 

Robert Crawford

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11th of 20 Noirvember titles:

MV5BZjY0NGYzNDktM2FmZS00ZThkLWFkZjgtNzNlNDg4OWUxNzYyXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjUxODE0MDY@._V1_.jpg


This was my first viewing of "The Reckless Moment" (1949) starring Joan Bennett, James Mason and Geraldine Brooks. I viewed it on the Indicator Blu-ray released in 2020. The basic film premise is about a nice family, particularly, the mother and her 17 year old daughter getting caught up with some bad people that turns their world upside down while their husband/father is away in Europe on business. The daughter falls for gigolo, who ask the mother for money in order to leave her daughter alone. The daughter and gigolo get into an argument and a physical confrontation ensues which results in all kinds of family complications including blackmail and murder. This fine film was beautifully directed by Max Ophüls. Outstanding performances by Bennett as the mother/wife under extreme duress and Mason as the would be blackmailer. Some people might question some of Mason's motivations as to some of his actions, but I totally enjoyed this melo-film noir. The Blu-ray video presentation is very good with some terrific bonus material that focuses on Mason's acting career. My film grade is 4 out of 5.
 

dana martin

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Day 16: 16 Noirvember 2021

1636997788878.png


Todays Morning Matinee Presentation

18. The Miami Story (Noir Archive 9 -Film Collection: Volume 1) First Time Viewing


Clover Productions, Inc. (Release Date: 14 May 1954) Director: Fred F. Sears, Cinematographer: Henry Freulich

Still delving around inside Mill Creek's Noir Archive Collection: Volume 1, so looking for Something a little different, because after 2 1/2 years waiting because of COVID, the vacation I paid for over 2 ½ years ago will finally arrive this weekend. The ship leaves out of Miami so that was an easy choice on what movie to pick; The Miami Story.

A slick little number produced by Sam Katzman has a group of local citizens of Miami working in conjunction with the police, to bring in a former criminal Mick Flagg (Barry Sullivan) and have him pose as a Cuban racketeer. along the way he runs into Beverly Garland (Holly Abbott) who is looking for her long lost sister Gwen Abbott (Adele Jergens). All this to takedown Tony Brill (Luther Adler).

But for Mick’s scheme to work, everyone working on the side to bust up the corruption is going to need to play their part and do it his way, this includes setting up Brills number one guy Tony Delacorte ( John Baer), And show him how little Tony Brill really trust him to put them at odds with each other.

Fast paced, and fun, with enough tension in the right moments.

Recommended.
 
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dana martin

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This was my first viewing of "The Reckless Moment" (1949) starring Joan Bennett, James Mason and Geraldine Brooks. I viewed it on the Indicator Blu-ray released in 2020. The basic film premise is about a nice family, particularly, the mother and her 17 year old daughter getting caught up with some bad people that turns their world upside down while their husband/father is away in Europe on business. The daughter falls for gigolo, who ask the mother for money in order to leave her daughter alone. The daughter and gigolo get into an argument and a physical confrontation ensues which results in all kinds of family complications including blackmail and murder. This fine film was beautifully directed by Max Ophüls. Outstanding performances by Bennett as the mother/wife under extreme duress and Mason as the would be blackmailer. Some people might question some of Mason's motivations as to some of his actions, but I totally enjoyed this melo-film noir. The Blu-ray video presentation is very good with some terrific bonus material that focuses on Mason's acting career. My film grade is 4 out of 5.
that was the next one I was planning on
 

lark144

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that was the next one I was planning on
I don't think it's a problem for people to review the same film. We all have different viewpoints and ways of expressing ourselves. I'd be very curious, Dan, to read what you have to say about this wonderfully directed and somewhat ambiguous and complex, as well as atmospheric, film.
 
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Robert Crawford

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I don't think it's a problem for people to review the same film. We all have different viewpoints and ways of expressing ourselves. I'd be vert curious, Dan, to read what you have to say about this wonderfully directed and somewhat ambiguous film.
I don't think he's saying it's a problem as there are going to be many movies in this movie challenge that are viewed by multiple of people.
 

lark144

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NUMBER #4

HIGH SIERRA
(Although this isn't a first time viewing, I probably haven't seen it in 50 years.)

HIGHSIERRA.jpg



Something shocking happens two minutes and thirty seconds into “High Sierra”—Humphrey Bogart smiles. Now, this may not seem unusual to you, but it probably was to audiences in 1940. Prior to this, Bogart was a character actor in gangster films who glowered and cowered. But here Bogart was, finally the lead actor—though he was billed second, after Ida Lupino—relaxed and smiling. Why was he smiling? According to the story, Bogart is Roy Earle, a bank robber serving time in prison who has just been released on parole. A car is waiting to take him to meet Big Mac, the crime boss who got him out, for one last score. But first, Roy wants to look at green grass. So he walks down to the park and smiles. The camera gazes along with him. What do we see? The wind in the trees. It reminds me of D.W. Griffith—Raoul Walsh was an actor for Griffith, who mentored him. There's a Griffith film in particular, filled with wind and trees. It's called “True Heart Susie”. All those crinoline dresses blowing in the wind. "True Heart Susie" is about being true to one’s ideals. So is "High Sierra". Roy Earle is true. True to his friends, like Big Mac, and also Marie, played by Ida Lupino. Roy meets Marie in this rustic lodge where she is staying with these two young punks who are going to rob a big resort hotel with Roy. Then Marie moves in with Roy…but I don’t want to give too much away.



I guess you could call “High Sierra” a proto-Noir. It has one foot in the Depression, communing with John Dillinger’s ghost, the prototype for Roy Earle; and another that points towards the future, the post-war era to come, films so fragrant with romantic pessimism, you can almost smell the aroma, a lingering scent that’s filled with loss but also hope. Films like “They Live By Night”, “Gun Crazy” and “The Asphalt Jungle”. “The Asphalt Jungle” was a film W.R. Burnett and John Huston collaborated on, just as they collaborated on the script for “High Sierra”. But again, I’m getting a little off track.



So is “High Sierra” a Noir? Well, it’s a whole bunch of different styles and genres, some old and some new, woven together brilliantly, by Huston and Burnett’s script, and especially Raoul Walsh’s direction. I want to talk about Walsh a little, as he’s always been one of my favorite directors; and also my favorite one-eyed director, the others being John Ford, Nick Ray and Andre de Toth. Hey, they’re all great, but I have a particular fondness for Walsh. Walsh was known as an action director, especially of Westerns. In his films, movement itself becomes kinetic. He often focuses on figures moving rapidly through a landscape, and the movement is so arresting, in the way it’s photographed and edited, that the landscape and even the screen seems to take part in that movement, and we do too. His films are fleet and tough and raw, but with a strong human element and sense of romance underneath. Critics talk about the “Hawksian Woman” but I think the greatest action director of women was Walsh. All you have to do is watch Ida Lupino in “High Sierra”. She really comes into her own here. And if you need a further example, pick up “The Man I Love” from Warner Archive, a unique mix of melodrama and Noir, staring Ida Lupino and directed by Walsh.



“High Sierra” isn’t just a title, it’s also a presence that infiltrates its way into the film’s images and its deeper themes. First, there’s the idea of the Sublime, a notion that was originated by the Romantic painters, and also John Muir, who camped and hiked on the winding trails in the mountains where the film is set. In a way, it’s as if these mountains, towering above us, are God-like, implacable, looking down on the fate of the frail humans whose narrative takes up the running time of this film. Walsh makes those mountains come alive. They’re not just a backdrop. He gives them their own point of view shots; a high angle looking down, almost in bemusement, at what happens beneath them.



OK, I’ve kind of run out of things to say, as I don’t want to give away too much about this terrific film. I first saw it on television when I was a child, and I was riveted. I still am. You will be too. And yes, the Criterion edition is excellent. It’s based on a nitrate positive in MOMA’s collection, and that’s what it looks like. The images are lustrous, the highlights gleam. It’s as clear as a bell, slightly soft in a pleasant, natural way with mild grain but also sharp enough so you can see those towering peaks in the distance, snow-capped, with a white that’s crisper than a freshly laundered shirt.

BTW, in case you weren't sure, this is an action film. A great action film by the greatest director of them in the business. It’s one of Raoul Walsh’s signature works, as well as a pivotal one in the transition from the gangster film to Noir. You can almost see those deep shadows take root around Roy Earle, as he becomes more desperate and also more alive than he ever was before. It's also a romance. But most of all, it's about "busting out", as Roy Earle calls it, the need to be free and wild and real, to feel the grass beneath your toes and the wind in the trees above you. But that doesn't come for free. You have to make a choice. "High Sierra" is about that choice, and its consequences.



Rating: 5 out of 5. Highly recommended.
 

Richard Gallagher

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11th of 20 Noirvember titles:

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This was my first viewing of "The Reckless Moment" (1949) starring Joan Bennett, James Mason and Geraldine Brooks. I viewed it on the Indicator Blu-ray released in 2020.

Currently the Indicator Blu-ray is cheaper at Amazon ($19.76) than at Amazon.uk (£15.24 + £5.00 shipping). It is based upon "The Blank Wall" by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. Though she is largely forgotten today, none other than Raymond Chandler praised her as "the top suspense writer of them all."
 

Robert Crawford

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Currently the Indicator Blu-ray is cheaper at Amazon ($19.76) than at Amazon.uk (£15.24 + £5.00 shipping). It is based upon "The Blank Wall" by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. Though she is largely forgotten today, none other than Raymond Chandler praised her as "the top suspense writer of them all."
That Amazon option has a $3.99 charge too as it's coming from the UK. I bought it back in late August for $19.29 plus shipping.
 

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