Texas bar owner Julian Marty, who is generally regarded as not a nice person, hires shady private detective Loren Visser, who is able to obtain what Marty requests: evidence - in this instance, photographic - that his wife, Abby, and one of his bartenders, Ray, are having an affair. As Ray and Abby realize that Marty has found out about them, it allows them to plan for their future away from Marty, while be up front with Marty about the situation. Marty, in turn, decides to hire Visser once again, this time to kill Abby and Ray, and dispose of their bodies so that they won't be found. The out in the open affair and the contract hit lead to some actions based on self interest, and a standoff of sorts between the four players, which is compounded in complexity by some wrong assumptions of what has happened, with an innocent bystander, another of the Marty's bartenders, Meurice, potentially and unwittingly adding to the scenario. Written by
When we first see Abby's revolver in her purse, it is a detective-style gun with an enclosed hammer and no cocking lever. For the rest of the movie, it is a standard revolver with a cocking lever - a completely different gun. See more »
Private Detective Visser:
The world is full o' complainers. An' the fact is, nothin' comes with a guarantee. Now I don't care if you're the pope of Rome, President of the United States or Man of the Year; somethin' can all go wrong. Now go on ahead, y'know, complain, tell your problems to your neighbor, ask for help, 'n watch him fly. Now, in Russia, they got it mapped out so that everyone pulls for everyone else... that's the theory, anyway. But what I know about is Texas, an' down here... ...
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I know Ebert calls it Noir, it has shadows and misanthropy, all the characters are evil but their is no moral protagonist, ergo, it cannot be Film Noir. Please, watch Out Of The Past, Laura, Kiss Of Death: Film Noir has a moral protagonist who is often killed or if they survive, like Mildred Pierce, they are severely damaged. That is the touchstone, take it from someone who owns hundreds of Film Noir. The shadows and everyone but the protagonist being a rat, these are tangential: the quintessential feature is Morality wins at great cost. Often the moral protagonist is destroyed as in: Kiss of Death, Out Of The Past, Double Indemnity. The issue aside, this is a great movie. The fish on the desk what beautiful imagery; that is the existential metaphor for these four. Lauren, the smiling ghoul, with the flies constantly on his body; another well done piece of symbolism. Getz's Ray is very evocative of Fargo's killer devoid of the power of speech. Ray is so lost among events which even Marty tries to clear up for him. Watch when Abby uses the very same phrase Marty presciently predicted,"Ray, I don't know what you're talking about, I ain't done nothing funny." Ray's fog clears for a moment and he sees that perhaps he isn't getting the deal of the century he envisioned.
Walsh is the star of this movie: yes, they are on their own. All their plans come unraveled little pieces of fate, a picture left here, a lighter there. The whole structure of their lives collapse like a house of cards. The fragility of human life how the structure is interconnected, in a matrix, between these four. The movie, like the later Coen film, No Country For Old Men, portrays the world as a meaningless interconnected web of relationships. One alteration, the killing of Marty by Lauren, brings them all, except Abby into the fly zapper behind Marty. These little mistakes, the lighter on the desk, the picture in the safe unleash a hurricane of unintended consequences. Abby's planted gun, Lauren not shooting Marty fatally lead to a nightmare for everyone involved. A very well written, suspenseful movie replete with pop out scares. It is unexpected if it is anything. I dare anyone to tell me what is going to happen next the first showing. This gives it verisimilitude because life is exactly like this: unpredictable and chaotic.
We hear this out of Lauren in the opening narration. No matter how well you plan, life has a way of messing everything all up. It is a nihilistic classic; there is no moral order here. The survivor, the faithless wife, who utters the very words that confirm every word Marty said about her is not a moral protagonist of Classic Film Noir. She is the last rat standing. The film is an exceptionally scary, creepy dark as midnight treasure. It is not for the kiddies. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
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