Noir Month

On the schedule for 30 Days of Film Noir June 1 - July 8, 2013
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1.
Mildred Pierce (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A hard-working mother inches towards disaster as she divorces her husband and starts a successful restaurant business to support her spoiled daughter. (111 mins.)
Director: Michael Curtiz
“ 200. Mildred Pierce (1945, dir. Curtiz)
Rating: B+
Finished: June 1, 2013
Review: The story is based on James M. Cain's novel of the same name. There are some key differences from the book. Mildred Pierce is a middle-class housewife who makes money on the side baking cakes and pies. She lives for her two daughters Veda and Kay and tries especially hard to placate her difficult, grasping elder daughter Veda. Mildred and her husband Bert separate amicably after arguing about his visits to a lady friend and Mildred's child-rearing style.

Mildred finds work as a waitress and struggles to satisfy the increasingly spoiled Veda's demands for the finer things in life by selling pies. When Veda finds her mother's waitress uniform and accuses her of being a peasant, Mildred decides she must have more money and opens a restaurant, with the help of perpetual suitor Wally. Along the way, she meets the equally entitled shiftless socialite Monte and it looks like she will be burdened by two ungrateful whiners for life. A darker fate perhaps awaits ... With Joan Crawford as Mildred, Ann Blyth as Veda, Jack Carson as Wally, Zachary Scott as Monte and Eve Arden as Mildred's wise-cracking friend Ida.

I thought this was pretty terrific. A little bit of Joan Crawford goes a long way with me but here she was remarkably restrained with the old eyebrows. It may be her best performance. Ernest Haller's cinematography is beautiful, particularly the night scenes. The script is tight and it moves right along. I love Eve Arden and was delighted to see her at her best here, in an Oscar-nominated performance. Of the men, I was most impressed with Jack Carson. 6-1-2013 ” - marie_D
 
2.
The Set-Up (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Because aging boxer Bill Thompson always lost his past fights, his corrupt manager, without telling Thompson, takes bribes from a betting gangster, to ensure Thompson's pre-arranged dive-loss in the next match. (73 mins.)
Director: Robert Wise
“ This superbly acted and utterly grim boxing film is a noir classic of the genre. The movie is one of the few to be told in real time. The action encompasses the 73 minutes it takes to tell the tale.

Stoker Thompson (Robert Ryan) is a washed-up fighter taking matches at the bottom of bills in regional clubs. His manager has so little faith in him that he takes a bribe to for Stoker to throw a fight without bothering to tell his man. Stoker’s wife Julie (Audrey Totter) pleads with Stoker to give up the game and refuses to attend this night’s fight because she doesn’t want to see him beat up. Her absence eats away at Stoker and makes him more determined than ever to win his bout. Most of the last two-thirds of the film takes place either in the ring or in the dressing-room.

I think Robert Ryan is one of the great actors of the 40′s, 50′s and 60′s and he is phenomenal in this movie. He tells more with his eyes in a single close up than most actors can with pages of dialogue. Audrey Totter did not have a big career but is also excellent as are the supporting players. Both these actors may be better known for playing heavies but handle these sympathetic roles well.

The great noir cinematography is by Milton Krasner who won an award for his work here at Cannes. Robert Wise keeps everything flowing brilliantly. I especially liked the use of the bloodthirsty fans in the crowd, who are almost like a Greek chorus. Not an uplifting experience but highly recommended. ” - marie_D
 
3.
Deadly Is the Female (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A well meaning crack shot husband is pressured by his beautiful marksman wife to go on an interstate robbery spree, where he finds out just how depraved and deadly she really is. (86 mins.)
Director: Joseph H. Lewis
“ Bart Tare has been obsessed with guns since he was a child. The mania extends only to shooting – he cannot kill a living thing. He finally succumbs to the temptation to steal a revolver when he is an adolescent and is caught and put in reform school. After serving a stint in the military as a shooting instructor, Bart returns to his home town. He meets up with his childhood friends - now a reporter and a sheriff – and they go to a carnival where they see a shooting exhibition by the lovely Annie Laurie Starr.

It is love at first sight for Bart and Laurie, who flirt while they compete at target shooting. The couple soon marry and Laurie immediately starts agitating to exploit their expertise in stick-ups. Bart is the more timid of the two but he is hooked on Laurie and afraid to lose her so he agrees. So begins a life of crime reminiscent of Bonnie and Clyde. With John Dall as Bart, Peggy Cummins as Laurie, and Russ Tamblyn as the young Bart.

Peggy Cummins is the standout in this movie. She is resembles a wild cat in heat as the femme fatale who tempts Bart to his doom and when she is frightened she is like a caged animal. The visuals, lit by cinematographer Russell Harlan, are gorgeous. So are the compositions director Joseph H. Lewis comes up with. The script is serviceable, if not brilliant or particularly hard-boiled. One of the screenwriters was “Millard Kaufman”, a front for Dalton Trumbo who was a blacklisted member of the Hollywood Ten.

I had not noticed before how often John Dall appears to squint. Odd in a supposed sharp-shooter! ” - marie_D
 
4.
Ossessione (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Gino, a drifter, begins an affair with inn-owner Giovanna as they plan to get rid of her older husband. (140 mins.)
 
5.
Nightmare Alley (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The rise and fall of Stanton Carlisle, a mentalist whose lies and deceit prove to be his downfall. (110 mins.)
Director: Edmund Goulding
 
6.
The Narrow Margin (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
A woman planning to testify against the mob must be protected against their assassins on the train trip from Chicago to Los Angeles. (71 mins.)
 
7.
Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Det. Sgt. Mark Dixon wants to be something his old man wasn't: a guy on the right side of the law. But Dixon's vicious nature will get the better of him. (95 mins.)
Director: Otto Preminger
 
8.
This Gun for Hire (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
When assassin Philip Raven shoots a blackmailer and his beautiful female companion dead, he is paid off in marked bills by his treasonous employer who is working with foreign spies. (81 mins.)
Director: Frank Tuttle
 
9.
Criss Cross (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
An armored truck driver and his lovely ex-wife conspire with a gang to have his own truck robbed on the route. (88 mins.)
Director: Robert Siodmak
 
10.
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A married woman and a drifter fall in love, then plot to murder her husband. Once the deed is done, they must live with the consequences of their actions. (113 mins.)
Director: Tay Garnett
 
11.
The Spiral Staircase (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In 1916, a shadowy serial killer is targeting women with "afflictions"; one night during a thunderstorm, the mute Helen feels menaced. (83 mins.)
Director: Robert Siodmak
 
12.
The Steel Helmet (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A ragtag group of American stragglers battles against superior Communist troops in an abandoned Buddhist temple during the Korean War. (85 mins.)
Director: Samuel Fuller
“ Hulu Plus ” - marie_D
 
13.
Cat People (1942)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
An American man marries a Serbian immigrant who fears that she will turn into the cat person of her homeland's fables if they are intimate together. (73 mins.)
 
14.
The Phenix City Story (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A crime-busting lawyer and his initially reluctant attorney father take on the forces that run gambling and prostitution in their small Southern town. (100 mins.)
Director: Phil Karlson
 
15.
Force of Evil (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
An unethical lawyer, with an older brother he wants to help, becomes a partner with a client in the numbers racket. (78 mins.)
 
16.
The Man from Laramie (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A stranger defies the local cattle baron and his sadistic son by working for one of his oldest rivals. (104 mins.)
Director: Anthony Mann
 
17.
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A ruthless, domineering woman is married to an alcoholic D.A., her childhood companion and the only living witness to her murder of her rich aunt seventeen years earlier. (116 mins.)
Director: Lewis Milestone
 
18.
Kansas City Confidential (1952)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
An ex-con trying to go straight is framed for a million dollar armored car robbery and must go to Mexico in order to unmask the real culprits. (99 mins.)
Director: Phil Karlson
 
19.
No Way Out (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A black doctor is assigned to treat two racist White, robbery suspects who are brothers, and when one dies, it causes tension that could start a race riot. (106 mins.)
 
20.
Call Northside 777 (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Chicago reporter P.J. McNeal re-opens a ten year old murder case. (112 mins.)
Director: Henry Hathaway
 
21.
I Want to Live! (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
A prostitute, sentenced to death for murder, pleads her innocence. (120 mins.)
Director: Robert Wise
 
22.
99 River Street (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A former boxer turned cab driver has to hide from the police when his badgering wife is murdered by the jewel thief she was having an affair with. (83 mins.)
Director: Phil Karlson
“ Netflix Instant ” - marie_D
 
23.
Raw Deal (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Joe Sullivan has taken the rap for Rick who double-crosses him with a flawed escape plan and other means intended to get rid of him. (79 mins.)
Director: Anthony Mann
“ Netflix Instant ” - marie_D
 
24.
Hangover Square (1945)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A promising classical musician finds his life poisoned by a music hall dancer -- and by the strange gaps in his memory. (77 mins.)
Director: John Brahm
 
25.
The Enforcer (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A crusading district attorney finally gets a chance to prosecute the organizer and boss of Murder Inc. (87 mins.)
 
26.
Angel Face (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Ambulance driver Frank Jessup is ensnared in the schemes of the sensuous but dangerous Diane Tremayne. (91 mins.)
Director: Otto Preminger
 
27.
Beat the Devil (1953)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
On their way to Africa are a group of rogues who hope to get rich there, and a seemingly innocent British couple. They meet and things happen... (89 mins.)
Director: John Huston
 
28.
Double Indemnity (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
An insurance representative lets himself be talked into a murder/insurance fraud scheme that arouses an insurance investigator's suspicions. (107 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
 
29.
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A private detective takes on a case that involves him with three eccentric criminals, a gorgeous liar, and their quest for a priceless statuette. (100 mins.)
Director: John Huston
 
30.
Diabolique (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
The wife of a cruel headmaster and his mistress conspire to kill him, but after the murder is committed, his body disappears, and strange events begin to plague the two women. (116 mins.)
Director: H.G. Clouzot
“ Hulu Plus ” - marie_D
 
31.
The Big Sleep (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he's seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love. (114 mins.)
Director: Howard Hawks
 
32.
Laura (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A police detective falls in love with the woman whose murder he is investigating. (88 mins.)
Director: Otto Preminger
 
33.
Out of the Past (1947)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames. (97 mins.)
“ owned ” - marie_D
 
34.
Sunset Blvd. (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.5/10 X  
A hack screenwriter writes a screenplay for a former silent-film star who has faded into Hollywood obscurity. (110 mins.)
Director: Billy Wilder
 
35.
The Asphalt Jungle (1950)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
A major heist goes off as planned, until bad luck and double crosses cause everything to unravel. (112 mins.)
Director: John Huston
 
36.
Murder, My Sweet (1944)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
After being hired to find an ex-con's former girlfriend, Philip Marlowe is drawn into a deeply complex web of mystery and deceit. (95 mins.)
Director: Edward Dmytryk
 
37.
His Kind of Woman (1951)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A deported gangster's plan to re-enter the USA involves skulduggery at a Mexican resort, and gambler Dan Milner is caught in the middle. (120 mins.)
Director: John Farrow
“ owned ” - marie_D
 
38.
The Big Steal (1949)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
An army lieutenant accused of robbery pursues the real thief on a frantic chase through Mexico aided by the thief's fiancee. (71 mins.)
Director: Don Siegel
“ owned ” - marie_D