Reviews written by registered user
|24 reviews in total|
There seems to be very little love for this movie. I'm one of those who's glad I went in knowing nothing about it. I'm neither a fan nor a detractor of Keanu Reeves. I've seen a few of his movies, and I've yet to see him give a bad performance. He's a subtle actor who doesn't ever grandstand. The other lead in this movie, Ana de Armas, is a revelation. But what kept me watching was the superb cinematography by Trevor Forrest. I was expecting to see a B-movie - instead, I saw a polished work of film art. So, it's odd to read that this is the re-edit disowned by the director. Since the end of the movie came as a real surprise to me, if the original cut is ever released, it won't have the same impact, unfortunately. It's easy to ridicule a film like this because it takes so many chances. It's not perfect, by any means, and the story of one character, at least, is rather unresolved. I've seen about four thousand films in the past ten or eleven years, so I'm quite picky because jaded by seeing the same old formulaic dross trotted out again and again. But I live in hope! This is not dross. This is good cinema. See it!
Watching this film on a poor-picture YouTube download is not ideal, admittedly, but it is also bogged down by a near-lethargic performance from Robert Culp, an ineffective location change from Mexico to New Orleans during Mardi Gras, leaden dialogue, funereal pacing, and the writing out of the major Thomas Gomez character from the original to be replaced by a fairly pointless performance by J Carrol Naish. Hard to believe this was directed by Don Siegel but it fails to rise above 1960s TV-movie status. Edmond O'Brien tries to bring some life to the proceedings - his corrupt Hoffa-like character is the most likable player. Norman Fell also shines, and Vera Miles tries her best with the little the script gives her to do. Noir fans should stick to the original, which is a classic. For Don Siegel completists only.
This film aptly portrays how the Russians and Americans tried to bore each other to death during the cold war.Unfortunately, this kind of anti-Russian propaganda is almost impossible to sit through. If you're not fond of Catholic priests, avoid like the plague. Even if you are, Charles Bickford's portrayal of a Hungarian man of God's refusal to toe the Kremlin line is bordering on the catatonic, as if they had already hypnotised him into submission before filming began; you'd have to be hypnotised to agree to filming a script this stodgy, this talky, where almost every dramatic opportunity is botched.Paul Kelly and Bonita Granville try to bring some life into it, but only Roland Winters, as the evil ever-smiling manipulator, seems to be having any fun. Recommend it to people you don't like.
There's way too much love for this movie on IMDb though I can't help noticing that most major reviewers haven't bothered writing about it. And they're right not to. This is derivative rubbish with underwritten characters, and plotting that doesn't pass muster even if it tries to get by as a black comedy. Tim Roth's character has to be the least interesting assassin on celluloid (or whatever they're using these days): "I haven't killed a woman since 1983." How endearing. Jack O'Connell's character is a moron with sadistic impulses: "Was 'cos I fancied her, that's why I couldn't do it." Presumably, he can only kill women he doesn't fancy. Another charmer. Peter Mullen gets to act nasty with a Scottish accent and use the c-word a lot. Stephanie Beacham lookalike Kierston Wareing is wasted as Mullen's wife. There are no interesting villains, and the only person to root for is on screen for the least amount of time. Each scene is at least twice as long as it needs to be, and the visuals don't make up for the lack of dialogue. I'd rather be eighty-sixed than sit through these 86 minutes again.
While it's commendable of those wonderful people at Odeon Entertainment Group to revive these British B-movies in such pristine editions there should be some critical yardstick to determine that not just any-old-rope gets plonked onto what appears an exciting double bill, at least on the face of it.This is paired with I'm a Stranger, also made at Viking Studios in Kensington before it became a TV studio. Watching these films is akin to listening to the radio, only it happens to be filmed, mainly on the one set - a not very exciting house - and a bit of greenery. Usually reliable actors, such as Nigel Green, are wasted in stock rustic-cop roles. There's a couple who seem to be breaking up but are still in love with each other; the murder of people we don't care about; and lots of talk talk talk but little humour or excitement. It's only 65 minutes but feels like much longer. This is exactly the kind of fodder that gives British cinema of that period a bad name. I'm a Stranger has Greta Gynt playing herself, laughably delaying an important meeting with a Hollywood producer who has offered her £250,000 (in 1952 money) in order to stay in a house to find out who will inherit from a missing will, and has practically nothing to do for two thirds of the film except sit there trying to look interested. James Hayter livens things up in the first twenty minutes, and the 'slithery' Charles Lloyd Pack takes up the slack, if you'll pardon the rhyme, for the rest of the film, but it's still far from rewarding. Even die-hard Brit movie buffs will be hard put to sit through this pair of turkeys.
Under-rated, unpretentious B-movie that keeps you guessing till the end. David Sumner's 'surly' and unlikeable lead grows on you once you realise that he never lets up; and the ending doesn't let you down. An uncompromising gem. Made on the cheap, for sure - they even stint on the fog - and Montgomery Tully was a hit-and-miss director at best, but this film is about ten years ahead of its time and still has a kind of individualism that weathers the fifty-or-so years that have elapsed since then rather well. From prison to a halfway house to eventual employment to a tentative relationship with a woman who ditches our 'hero' as soon as she finds out about his criminal past ...and then a trap is set, for he is under constant suspicion. This is one of those stories where much of the 'important' stuff -the killings, the planning of a heist- happens off-screen. And it's all the better for it.
Amnesia is a staple of film noir and has been dealt with memorably, if you'll pardon the pun, in dozens of films such as Street of Chance (1942), Somewhere in the Night (1946), Home at Seven (1952) and Spellbound (1945). More recently, Colin Farrell lost his memory in Total Recall (2012) which some will no doubt label as a techno-noir. This film, however, is easily forgotten. Lance Comfort was a prolific director. Looking at the list of films I've seen this year I come across Tomorrow at Ten (1962), Bedelia (1946), Hatter's Castle (1941,) Breaking Point (1961), The Painted Smile (1962), Rag Doll(1962), and Hotel Reserve (1944), all directed by Comfort, and all superior to this absurdly plotted, oddly photographed (there are several pointless, lingering close-ups of William Franklyn, Bruno Barnabe, Nanette Newman et al) and poorly acted (especially by Franklyn, who gives underacting a bad name) programmer that would have been more effective at the 50-60 minutes mark rather the thrill-less 77 I sat through. Still, this time tomorrow I won't remember a thing about this dud.
This is one of the Edgar Wallace Mystery Theatre films that qualifies as a noir in Michael F Keaney's British FILM NOIR GUIDE. He rates it a generous two-and-a-half stars out of five. It is well-made within its limited budget: James Wilson's cinematography is top-notch, especially making atmospheric use of an ice skating rink and snow-covered landscapes, and all the actors - Maxine Audley as the blackmailed and manipulated wife; Richard Leech as the duplicitous husband; Alex Scott as the partner-in-crime; Dudley Foster as the fly in the husband's ointment; and Patrick Magee as the less-than-sympathetic inspector - give good performances, but the script is a real clinker. How the husband, who is supposed to be a solicitor, could hatch a plan with so many things that could go wrong, and that anybody should go along with it, simply beggars belief. And even if you buy the implausible plotting at the beginning of the film, the end is even more ridiculous. Shame, because this had a lot going for it. Fans of the genre, however, should not be put off by my low rating.
Although I saw this on a very poor DVD transfer it held my attention from beginning to end. Yes, as other reviewers have pointed out, there's nothing new here, but it's expertly done, and it's interesting to know that there were apparently 20,000 deserters on the run in the UK in 1949, and one imagines that many of them were as hard-done-by as our hero, but I won't spoil anything by revealing why he deserted. The film is certainly sympathetic to those 20,000 men who get the blame, by several representative members of the cast, for everything that's wrong with post-war Britain. Derek Farr is excellent in the main role as the deserter who has to raise some money when Kenneth More, who had served in the same outfit, happens into the pub where he's working under an alias and decides to blackmail him. While he's trying to pawn a gun the pawnshop is robbed and a policeman killed making him one of the suspects. Joan Hopkins is the sympathetic woman who helps him. Edward Chapman is the inspector investigating the case with ever-increasing impatience. Laurence Harvey, although billed fourth, has little to do as a sergeant with a soft spot for Hopkins. Plenty of noir atmosphere. Recommended.
Eddie Muller, noir novelist (The Distance; Shadow Boxer) and President of the Film Noir Foundation, brought this film to my attention in an interview he gave to Despina Veneti which was republished in Noir City Volume 6, Number 2. He called the film 'a terrific adaptation of two Cornell Woolrich stories'. It's certainly a surprise to see that this kind of noir fare was being made in Argentina in 1952. This film never had a release in the UK, and is not available on DVD here. But it can be seen on YouTube, albeit in Argentinian Spanish without subtitles,(fortunately, I'm bilingual), with terrible sound, and not the best picture. The visuals alone, however, are worth it. This is pure noir cinematography. The second story, in fact, has a blind protagonist who can distinguish night from day because "it's a different kind of shadow". The actors resemble Hollywood players of the era (one of the baddies must have been Argentina's answer to George Raft); the women are beautiful, the men are desperate, and the shadows are waiting...Well-written, well-acted, well-shot, well-paced, well...watch it!
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