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Darker Than Amber (1970)
Neo Noir - Film Soleil - Beach Bum Noir
This film is hard to pigeon hole into any preset category. Its based on the writings of John D. MacDonald a Pennsylvania native and a very prolific author of crime and suspense novels, many of them set in the South and predominantly the southern tip of the state of Florida. Between the years 1953 and 1964, MacDonald specialized in crime thrillers, considered now as masterpieces of the hard-boiled genre. Most of these novels were published as pulp paperback originals, with their attendant sleazy cover art. His noir/neo noir street creds start with his 1957 novel The Executioners that was brought to the screen in 1962 as Cape Fear, a very dark story of suspense and animalistic menace starring Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum. Many of MacDonald's novels suggested a sinister presence just beneath the friendly patina of palm tree studded small coastal towns.
The film followed McGee's back story very well. McGee was basically a Florida beach bum, a Korean War Vet, who won a large 52-foot barge-type houseboat in a poker game. His home base was Ft. Lauderdale, Bahia Mar Marina, slip F-18, but his life style enabled him to drift about the inter-coastal waterway, the Everglades, and the Florida Keys, beach combing, drinking, fishing. He named the houseboat boat the Busted Flush, and took his retirement in installments between jobs, when the money ran out he did "salvage consultant" work. The salvage work was retrieving things lost by people, in shady legal deals, scams, flimflams, skulduggery, etc., etc., usually things with no proper recourse for the victim. McGee's price was for half of whatever he recovered, and half was better than nothing. Occasionally McGee was asked to locate missing people in other Gulf States or foreign locals in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. He is a sort of rogue PI without a license.
McGee had a quasi partner/buddy Meyer, a retired economics professor, a brainy type that McGee could bounce problems and ideas off of, who lived on a cabin cruiser moored in a slip near by. The only other regular was the "Alabama Tiger" a millionaire, who had the "worlds longest running boat party" on a large yacht also in the Marina. In the film this is changed to the "Alabama Tigress" (Jane Russell). McGee also had an old Rolls Royce that had been in an accident and had been converted into a pickup truck that was called "Miss Agnes".
The story of Darker Than Amber starts off very noir-ishly. As credits roll to a jazzy tune, a convertible speeds down a deserted highway, street lights whiz by overhead, a passing car highlights a driver (Robert Phillips), and a bleach blond goon (William Smith) sitting in the back seat with a honey-haired woman named Vangie (Suzy Kendall). A street lamp flash reveals that one of her feet is lashed to a dumbbell. The car passes over a long bridge a remote section of the Overseas Highway bridge (the highway that island hops its way to Key West) it reaches the far end and makes a U-turn. After a semi passes the car drives back onto the bridge.
Cut to McGee (Rod Taylor) and Meyer (Theodore Bikel) fishing from a small rental skiff anchored at night under the ridge. The car pulls to a stop above them and the honey-haired woman strapped to the dumbbell is dropped off the bridge. As the car speeds off she sinks immediately from site and she's hooked on McGee's lure. McGee, with Meyer wielding a flashlight, dives in and brings her up. They resuscitate her and head back the Flush. She wont tell them her name, and she doesn't want them to go to the police.
McGee heads back to the bridge in the daytime and dives to retrieve the dumbbell, (an 85 lb. weight for a 100 lb. woman) but is seen by a lookout who is staking out the "murder" site.
As they cruise leisurely back up the Keys McGee slowly pries the story out of her. Her name is Vangie (Suzy Kendall), short for Evangeline she was literally a Femme Fatale, a high priced call girl working a cruise ship racket that lured drunk wealthy unattached men to a rendezvous at her cabin. The men were surprised by either Griff (Phillips) or Terry (Smith) and killed for their money then deep six-ed over the side. She was wanting out of the racket but the only way out is dead.
By the time they reach Bahia Mar, McGee and Vangie are an item. But she decides to sneak off the Flush in another noir-ish sequence and go back to her bungalow and retrieve her stash of ill gotten loot. Her two murder racket accomplices Terry (William Smith) and Griff (Robert Phillips) tipped off that she is still alive, spot her while she is on her way. Terry grabs Vangie and while Griff speeds down the highway towards them Terry tosses Vangie into the cars path, the force blasts her through a plate glass window of an ice cream parlor.
Ahna Capri delivers a good performance as Del, Vangie's co Femme Fatale partner in Terry's murder for money scheme. McGee is able to convince her that she is next to be eliminated.
The hit-and-run murder of Vangie, sets McGee off on a revenge mission that culminates in a legendary graphically violent, savage, fight scene, between Rod Taylor's Travis McGee and the film's villain, Terry.
This film needs a fully restored DVD release of the full Runtime: 96 min, the version I have was recorded off TCM and it is missing a few minutes of the legendary fight sequence (which can be see on YouTube in a Dutch release)
A 9/10 for McGee fans (it could have been a tad bit longer for character development) and an 8/10 if you are unfamiliar with the material
Hell's Half Acre (1954)
Director: John H. Auer, Story by Steve Fisher, Cinematography by John L. Russell with a surprisingly great cast, Wendell Corey, Evelyn Keyes, Marie Windsor, Jesse White, Nancy Gates, Keye Luke, Phililip Ahn, Robert Costa, Leonard Strong, and Elsa Lanchester. The film takes place in for that time period the Hawaiian Territory. Hell's Half Acre is to Honolulu what Bunker Hill was to Los Angeles, the ghetto district of Honolulu, a multi-story labyrinth, a rats nest of cribs, flop houses, clubs, gambling dens and dime a dance joints.
I wonder if this film along with Cry Vengeance & Alaska Seas were a way of priming the territories for statehood as in "see your just as corrupt as the rest of U.S.".
Story opens with a couple planning to be married, Chet and Sally Lee (Wendell Corey and Nancy Gates), sitting in Chet's tiki nightclub "Chet's Hawaiian Retreat" the ultimate Tiki Bar. Chet Chester has a burn scar on the left side of his face, he is something of a racketeer, at the start of WWII he started a syndicate in Hell's Half Acre with "Slim" Novak (Robert Costa) and Roger Kong (Phililip Ahn), then after the war he bought them both out and went legit. Now he pretty much has gained some pull and respectability Honolulu. He has enough leisure time on his hands to also compose and record songs.
Chet's friend Roger Kong is throwing a party in his honor by staging a Hawaiian band & chorus floor show playing Chet's hit song "Polynesian Rhapsody" While they listen, sinister looking Novak passes a threatening note to Sally Lee who excuses herself to meet him in the clubs office. He tells her that he is going to blackmail Chet exposing his past so he and Roger can re start the syndicate. Sally, taking no BS from Novak, puts a bullet in his forehead, in a surprisingly pretty graphic sequence for 1954.
Sally Lee goes back and tells Chet what she did. He tells her that he will take the rap for her but that she is to leave for the mainland with $50,000 of his money to give to a lawyer buddy of his back in LA to get him off.
Cut to a record store in LA. Donna Williams (Keyes) is sitting mesmerized listing to "Polynesian Rhapsody" at the end however, she is startled by the final line "you're my golden dream at the rainbows end". She buys the record and runs home, the final line is exactly the same as an inscription her dead sailor husband wrote to her on a framed picture she has on a table. It can't be a coincidence, and she is still holding the torch for Randy who was on the USS Arizona when it was bombed at Pearl Harbor. Could he be alive, She wants to talk to the composer. So she flies to Hawaii to check things out. So beings an interesting convoluted story of murder, shady characters, and the Hawaiian underworld.
The film has a very entertaining cast of supporting players Keyes is very cute in this masquerading as a taxi dancer at one point, waking up naked in a bed at another, Marie Windsor is also great and equally good looking as sort of a Femme Fatale, and Elsa Lanchester is a blousy woman cab driver. Jessi White plays Windsor's alcoholic husband and Ahn is Windsor's Chinese lover.
Don the Beachcomber was the technical adviser for the film the inventor of the Tiki Bar.
Wasn't expecting much but was pleasantly surprised. Some nice noir-ish sequences, but not a lot of them. Available on DVD from Olive. 8/10
Mister Buddwing (1966)
Oscar-winning film director Delbert Mann ( The Outsider (1961), Marty (1955) - TV, Playhouse 90, Goodyear Playhouse, Omnibus, Producers Showcase, Playwrights '56, Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse, Schlitz Playhouse, Masterpiece Playhouse) adapts Evan Hunter's novel "Buddwing" and with the cinematography of Ellsworth Fredericks (Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Seven Days in May (1964)) and a great original jazzy score by Kenyon Hopkins (composer for Baby Doll (1956), 12 Angry Men (1957), The Fugitive Kind (1959), The Hustler (1961), to create a stylized "Jazz Noir".
Filming in 1965, Mister Buddwing is one of those lost films that are on the cusp between Film Noir and Neo Noir. Sort of a psychological noir rather than a "crime" noir. A melancholy film that plays with time, space and your mind as the various vignettes overlap it's eerie and noirishly suspenseful, but at times darkly comic. It requires multiple viewings to fully comprehend.
The film stars James Garner in a role that really displays his acting chops in a performance far removed from his wisecracking Bret Maverick (disregard his contention that this is his worst film, he sells himself way too short). Garner plays one of Film Noir's touchstone tropes the amnesiac. The film opens with an unfocused shot of the sky sliced diced and fragmented by bare branches . As the frame focuses and our view pans we see the branches are trees, we see buildings, and Central Park at the corner of 59th and 5th. In an homage to Robert Montgomery's "The Lady In The Lake" and the beginning of "Dark Passage", the film displays an intriguing POV sequence that begins when hands "rub" the eye of the camera, it also begins a faint jazz heartbeat increasing in tempo and volume as "we" the character sitting on a park bench search frantically through out suit pockets (for identification) combing out a train timetable, a scrap of paper with a name Gloria and phone number and some pills. A ring on his finger has an inscription "from G.V.". The POV sequence continues until we stumble into a mirror at the Plaza Hotel when Garner is revealed. He has neither money or ID but he does remember the name of a woman, a woman named Grace.
Using a lobby phone and giving a fictitious room number he calls Gloria (Angela Lansbury) to try and discover his identity. Gloria a divorced floozy with a heart of gold, takes pity on him and gives him money so that he can find himself. So begins his jazz odyssey through the streets of New York.
In his quest for Grace, Garner meets three women, Janet (Katherine Ross), Fiddle (Susanne Pleshette), and The Blonde (Jean Simmons), each of the women he at first mistakens for Grace. So at first we see Garner interact with each woman in their true identities and at some point they become a vivid flashback to his relationship with Grace at different stages of his life with Grace, the starry eyed young love stage, the struggle with real life, and the consequences of wrong decisions made. All this makes the viewer a little disoriented, a little lost, exactly how James Garner's character feels throughout the movie.
The film features the neighborhoods of midtown Manhattan, Times Square, and the Queensboro Bridge as its backdrop creating a cinematic memory link to classic Noirs, The Sweet Smell Of Success, Kiss Of Death, Killers Kiss, The Unsuspected. Wonderful melancholy jazz compositions accompany Garner as he wanders the streets.
All the three actresses are outstanding in their dual rolls.
Watch for Joe Mantell's cab driver character's hilarious monologue then pay attention for its echo with the 2nd cab driver Billy Halop, the original leader of the Dead End Kids. Watch for Nichelle Nichols appearance as a dice player, and Jack Gilford's interaction with Garner in a lunch counter.
Available on DVD from the Warner Brothers Archive Collection. 9/10
Pickup on South Street (1953)
Another title that improves more and more with repeated viewings.
Fuller with the cinematography of Joseph MacDonald (Niagara, Call Northside 777, Panic in the Streets, My Darling Clementine, Viva Zapata!, Yellow Sky, The Street with No Name, The Dark Corner) combines the great 20th Century Fox studio set design seamlessly with stock NYC location footage to depict a very believe-able 3 layered Manhattan. From vaulting suspension bridges overhead, against a backdrop of Brooklyn waterfront warehouses across to a lower East Side, East River, pier- scape, with a catwalk to a crumbling bait shack, butted up to the border of Chinatown with its grifters, flophouses, cigarette machines, B-girls, and tattoo parlors perched above the labyrinthine passages of the subways with their human drain ways from the surface.
After a station stop where various riders both exit and enter the car as the train starts and sways we watch as patches of Widmark, a hat brim, a corer of his eye, come into view as he jostles his way through the car of commuters... until he stands opposite floozie "I've "kissed" a lot of guys" Peters.
All of the major actors are great in their roles. Ritter in probably her best performance as Moe, she is sly, shrewd, and funny in her scenes with G Man Bouchey and cop Vye, woman to woman matter of fact with Peters, motherly with Widmark, fearless with Kiley. Fuller did an outstanding job on the screenplay and was spot on in the dialogs.
Other highlights, watch for Peters dickering with Vic Perry (Lightning Louie) in a Chinese restaurant ( Perry I've read was a real pick-pocket and was a technical adviser on that aspect of the movie.), and the brutal fight Peters has with Kiley.
Widmark is most excellent in the culmination of all his three time looser wise ass roles, and there is real chemistry in the on screen relationship between Widmark and Peters that sparks once they quit playing each other while jockeying for the microfilm . Some question the transition to romance, but it's meant to be a little off the wall. Moe points out how Skip is some kind of chick magnate. Moe she can't figure how women seem to fall for him, I'd say it is probably the most successful depiction of a relationship in a noir, and Fuller gives it plenty of time to marinate and stew. If it survives past the end credits is anybody's guess, but the deck is stacked against them. Peters is a real cutie in this, its a shame she cut her career way too short.
Great score by Leigh Harline, Another 10/10 for me. The demise of the studio system really is apparent in Fullers later noirs
Dick Tracy (1990)
Chester Gould's comic strip Dick Tracy brought to life in Pulp Noir a pastiche of comic strip/graphic novel, Poetic Realism, Pulp Fiction, and Film Noir.
Beatty and Vittorio Storaro along with Art Direction by Harold Michelson, Set Decoration by Rick Simpson, the Buena Vista Visual Effects Group and Costume Design by Milena Canonero create an enjoyable fantasy world of late 30's early 40's Chicago in a pallet limited to the six main colors that the original comic strip appeared in: red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, plus black and white.
Beatty's Tracy is a nice "good guy", always doing the right thing, tough and seemingly incorruptible, but as played by Beatty he is human, tempted determinedly by his femme fatale wanna be, Breathless Mahoney (Madonna). Glenne Headly plays Tess his long time sweetheart, the "good" girl. Charlie Korsmo plays tough street urchin "Kid", who is taken under Tracy's wing. Madonna's Breathess is stunning, she plays is Lip's Manlis's girlfriend/torch singer working his club, when Manlis is whacked she becomes the property of Big Boy Caprise mob boss. Caprise (Pacino) is not only an over the top mobster but a closet choreographer and in a hilarious segment he joins Breathless and the chorines on stage trying to spice up their new number.
Some of the best sequences are of Breathless practically showing everything she's got while trying to work her womanly charms on a stoic Tracy.
The diegetic music is great, the songs sung by Madonna by Sondheim, and the soundtrack music by Danny Elfman not really that memorable, maybe they will grow on me with repeated viewings. A fun film.
The Window (1949)
Seeing Is Beleiving
The Window (1949)
Director: Ted Tetzlaff (Notorious (director of photography) Writers: Mel Dinelli (screenplay), Cornell Woolrich (based on his story "The Boy Cried Murder") Cinematography by Robert De Grasse & William O. Steiner. Stars: Bobby Driscoll, Ruth Roman, Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, and Paul Stewart.
A unique Noir Thriller. A Family Noir. A Kid's Noir. But not just any kid, the kid who was a denizen of an decaying urban rat warren in a city that was constantly regenerating. A city before the Manhattan el's were torn down, before TV, before air-conditioning, where clothes were dried on clothes lines, where playgrounds were winding back alleys, tar beach roof tops, jungle jim fire escapes, and condemned buildings that became, clubhouses, forts or whatever you may imagine. The real habitats of urban man circa 1948, apartment - street, hall - alley, sidewalk - pavement, steel - earth, inside - outside, light - dark.
What really hits home with this film is its realistic telling of the tale from Tommy's POV (Bobby Driscoll). Any viewer with an urban background will find some touchstones to his own childhood or to the childhood stories of his parents. I still remember trying to sleep on hot, humid summer nights, in a second story apartment, where, thanks to a corner bedroom and two open windows any slight cross breeze brought relief. But it also provided the city lullabies of traffic, distant and near, the rattle of the Connecting RR winding off the Hell Gate Bridge, the faint roar of the sunken Grand Central. Nature provided the rustle of a sycamore from a breeze or the patter of rain on it's leaves. My best friend who lived in a bigger apartment house actually did sleep out on the fire escape to cool off with an el down the block.
The film begins brilliantly with one of Tommy's fantasies instantly drawing us in to his world.
We see a condemned building, we see black window, lying face down, we see Tommy. He awakens looking somewhat in pain, clutching his chest. A child in distress. Crawling forward he grabs a cap gun and we are brought to reality. Tommy is fantasizing, playing/acting out, a "shot" cowboy crawling in a hayloft to the hay-door from where he spots the "gang" playing cards. He shoots and his older buddies ignore him, a new game has replaced the one Tommy was still playing, and a fire truck siren from the street trumps even that.
As Tommy makes his way to his street urchin buddies we follow the relatively benign, maze like, cinematic urban landscape that duplicates in reverse a final reckoning that, taking place in the dead of night, turns it all very noir-ish and frightening, murderous silhouettes on window shades, illumination stabbed by slanting shadows.
The city, especially in this film, is given equal billing. William O. Steiner (cinematography) a native New Yorker along with two of the three assistant directors, informs the visual compositions with a loving and knowing familiarity. Interiors (studio probably) Art Direction by Italian born Sam Corso, native New Yorker Albert S. D'Agostino and Kansian Walter E. Keller looks flawless.
All performances are top notch. Bobby Driscoll was incredibly talented. He's thoroughly believable as Tommy. All his interactions and reactions with his peers, with his parents especially his father Ed (Arthur Kennedy), with his neighbors, and with the police, as he tries to convince them that he's telling the truth ring clear. Barbara Hale and Arthur Kennedy are excellent as Tommy's doubting parents ratcheting up the tension/horror level every time they attempt to reason with or placate Tommy's accusations with the kind of statements most parents faced with the same situation would make. They even make Tommy confront the upstairs neighbors the Kellerson's. Joe Kellerson and Jean Kellerson are one of the most despicable couples in noir. Their grift is for looker Jean (Ruth Roman) to lure single men to their apartment, probably for sex, where she slips them knockout drops, Joe (Paul Stewart) then rolls them for their doe and dumps them in an alley.
On a hot & humid night Tommy can't sleep, he wakes his mother Mary Woodry, (Barbara Hale) and asks if he can sleep out on the fire escape where it would be cooler, she says sure but be careful. Laying out in the sweltering evening with his pillow Tommy sees the towels hanging from the Kellerson's clothesline billow in a breeze, a breeze that doesn't reach down enough to give Tommy relief, so like any resourceful kid, Tommy grabs his pillow and climbs up to the Kellerson's landing to fall asleep there. He's awakened both by a shaft of light spilling across his face from the space between the bottom of a pull shade and the window sill, and the sounds of a grift going murderously wrong. Its a beautifully filmed sequence where the action is obscured, partially silhouetted by the shade and vividly focused through the slot.
Though I've never read the Cornell Woolrich short story I have read that the story is even gorier. Lots of great sequences, watch for the police station cat. The original music score by Roy Webb even includes a leitmotif for Tommy. Great New York Noir 10/10
Confidence Girl (1952)
Better than "The Sting"
It starts off as a typical police procedural with a brief introductory spiel by a Los Angeles police official warning against the confidence game, then proceeds to tell the case of Mary Webb (Brooke) and her association with Roger Kingsley (Conway).
This was one intricately plotted film that starts off with a nice twist following confidence girl Webb and her associates through various cons, culminating in an elaborate phony mentalist night club act.
Hillary Brooke looks great and does a convincing turn as Webb, Tom Conway (George Sander's brother) is her equal, believable. I've been familiar with Brooke from when I was a kid she was a regular, the blond bombshell that all the guys in Patterson on the Abbott & Costello TV show, were crazy about. Didn't realize she was a home girl (Astoria, NY) until I saw her bio. She shines.
Very similar to The Sting, but in my opinion even better for the 50s location sequences, check it out for yourselves. 8/10 Streaming on Netfix
The Narrow Margin (1952)
This train's headed straight for the cemetery
A film with possibly some best hard boiled banter in Film Noir. If you haven't seen the film there are spoilers below.
When Brown (McGraw) and Forbes (Beddoe) enter the tenement and climb the stairs they immediately hear the decadent jazz piece that becomes the sultry Mrs. Neal's leitmotif. Brown correctly portends that his hunch about Mrs. Neal is right and the initial meeting is a hoot. The whole sequence takes on a whole new subtext upon a second screening of the film once you know that Mrs. Neal is in actuality a decoy undercover (internal affairs) Chicago cop, Sarah Meggs (Windsor), playing the gangster moll, and more than tough as nails McGraw's equal.
Windsor's turn as a hard boiled internal investigations cop playing a cheap, coarse, sightly seedy floozy is her tour de force. It's Chicago vs LA and Windsor steals the scene.
Some people say there are plot holes i.e. Why keep Charles McGraw in the dark about the true nature of the journey? And if you are going to run a decoy, why would you put her on the same train with the real girl?
I think the answers are all in the subtext, Meggs (Decoy Mrs Neal) is not only a decoy but more importantly an internal affairs cop, and she is looking for corruption in LAPD. The initial fact that the "safe house" is already compromised, indicates that the underworld has been tipped off by a mole in LAPD as to the whereabouts of Mrs. Neal and the two main LAPD suspects are Brown and Forbes. If you go with that angle the whole "Mrs. Neal and the list" plot point becomes irrelevant and the real plot is corruption investigation in LAPD and who is/are the informer(s). Like you say "Why keep Charles McGraw in the dark" or why not just mail the list to the LA DA.
Now remember Forbes right at the get go tries to get Meggs (Decoy Mrs Neal) to give him the list. Once Forbes buys it, Meggs goes to work on Brown tempting him in the cab with sex and later on the train with money.
My thoughts.... the real plot is LAPD corruption. One of the posters on IMDb says that he's read that in the original script that Forbes was definitely on the take. The curious actions of Brown on the train also make you wonder about him, if he was truly that stupid or if he was deliberately exposing Meggs to the gangsters.
The film gets better every time I watch it. Its a 10/10 for me.
A sign post on the way to the Twilight Zone
Films like great paintings, are there for us to view, experience, and interpret. This go round, watching I think it finally all clicked. This is my interpretation. A truly Mythic Western, an amalgamation of American Western Legend and Myth, Greco-Roman Mythology, and a touch of Catholic theology.
Darkness, we enter the Dreamscape from darkness, the roar of time floods your ears and you see a sliver of a crack in the continuum of the universe. Through it we see a horseman punctuated with now the sounds and sights other human artifacts, we cut to frantic hands combing through the debris of humanity. The rider is in a Dream/Ghost town or perhaps Limbus. The hands belong to a Witch/Medicine Woman/Fate and she clutches discarded treasures that she loads on her barrow. She spots the rider and hides.
As he passes she calls out a question "Why did you come back? Why did you come back?"
So begins Keoma
The De Angelis brothers' weird soundtrack, especially the female voice now suggests an eerie Native American chant and whole film has a dreamworld atmosphere constantly enhanced by the incredible cinematography reinforcing the tone of this last of the great operatic Spaghetti Westerns.
A good companion piece to Jodorowsky's El Topo.
Gangster Squad (2013)
A Men on a Mission Flick
How many gangster films do we have based circa 1950's Los Angeles, how many novels come to mind? Other than James Elroy's LA Quartet and his related novels and films, not a whole hell of a lot. Gangster Films inevitably revolve around New York and Chicago with a occasional nod to Las Vegas.
Gangster Squad though isn't really a Gangster Film. I was reminded more of "The Dirty Dozen" than "The Godfather" "The Professionals" more than "Goodfellas" its structure is more in the vein of a "men on a mission" film. You may think then that it would be more akin to "The Untouchables" (1987) same premise but that film was a meandering moralizing bloated mess. It was actually more like what I remember of The Untouchables TV drama with Walter Winchell doing a voice-over, every episode about a raid on an illegal distillery or a brewery.
Sean Penn plays Mickey Cohen as a downright scary over the top sociopath gang leader of LA's mob with a dedicated ex guerrilla trained GI Josh Brolin on his tail with a squad of hand picked off the book LAPD hard cases across a demographical spectrum. The rest of the cast are great, but most are underutilized, the film could have been a tad bit longer to flesh out the characters. Ryan Gosling (the womanizer), Robert Patrick (the Western gunslinger), Anthony Mackie (the ghetto, knife expert black cop), Giovanni Ribisi ( geek electronics expert), and Michael Pena ( Hispanic cop). More time also was needed with the Cohen gang.
The movie is a time machine to LA of the 50's (even Carmen Mirada makes an appearance) beautiful to look at with a top notch production design. I'll have to pick up the DVD to see how many Gangster/Film Noir references I can spot. A guilty pleasure pastiche of a Classic Gangster/men on a mission/40's Pulp and unlike LA Confidential this one got the HATS right. 8/10