Bill Saunders, disturbed ex-soldier, kills a man in a postwar London pub brawl. Fleeing, he hides out in the apartment of lonely nurse Jane Wharton. Later, despite misgivings about his violent nature, Jane becomes involved with Bill, who resolves to reform. She gets him a job driving a medical supplies truck. But racketeer Harry Carter, who witnessed the killing, wants to use Bill's talents for crime. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Burt Lancaster's flogging ranks 43rd in the book, "Lash! The Hundred Great Scenes of Men Being Whipped in the Movies." Curiously, while he's sentenced to receive 18 lashes, in the book on which this movie is based, his character is sentenced to receive only 10 lashes. See more »
The story takes place in England, where automobiles and trucks are right-hand drive; but the truck Bill drives is left-hand drive. See more »
[to Bill Saunders]
... furthermore, although these appear to be first offenses, in view of the brutal nature of the assault, I have no alternative but to direct that you receive eighteen lashes of the cat-o'-nine-tails.
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A great film from the time but no lost gem, just vivid, compelling entertainment
Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (1948)
This is a surprisingly vivid movie. Some will find the plot a little canned, a vehicle for quick appeal, not quite a B movie enterprise. But I enjoyed so much the two leads--Joan Fontaine as ever luminous and sympathetic, Burt Lancaster in his tough yet lovable best--I loved the whole movie. Furthermore it is photographed, mostly at night, with amazing fluidity and drama, another high point in the film noir style.
Though this is a British-feeling movie set in London, it is topped out with American actors and directed by an American, too. It is a great example of that American archetype known as film noir. It even has the standard core of the best of them, a returning soldier struggling to make sense of normal life. Lancaster has a past that includes two years in a Nazi prison camp. He has the mental scars to show for it (as the text at the beginning explains needlessly for the time, but maybe helpfully for a viewer now).
It is the at first highly unlikely but increasingly plausible relationship between two lonely people that commands the movie. The less compelling plot line of a somewhat stereotypical blackmailer and the associated crimes is handled well in each case, though more about action than psychological depth. You get frustrated when Lancaster never tells Fontaine what is going on in his shady moments, but that's part of his problem and we are to go along. He trusts no one for good reason.
The finale? A bit hasty, maybe, the way that other famous Fontaine thriller is ("Suspicion"), but it's satisfying, too, and not quite a "Hollywood" ending.
The director is little known Norman Foster, who made a bunch of Charlie Chan and Mr. Moto films in the 1930s, and the quite good "Rachel and the Stranger." Another example of how teamwork lifts even less inspired aspects higher. This has a great cast, excellent music (by the dependable romantic whiz Miklos Rozsa), and great filming (with Russell Metty behind the camera).
The hardest thing about this film is finding it. I bought a really lousy DVD copy of a lousy tape made years ago off an AMC broadcast, and even so it was terrific watching, visually. It has been broadcast on TCM and I think their version would be superior, if you can find someone who has copied it (legality aside, though it might be past copyright).
It's not a masterpiece of a film, but it looks so darned good it should be released in full Blu-Ray and now. Meanwhile, happy hunting for a better copy than mine. It's worth it!
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