Nobuo Nakagawa – Onna shikeishû no datsugoku AKA Death Row Woman (1960)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis:

A Hitchcockian narrative and noirish atmosphere characterise this effective, taut thriller, made the same year as the director’s magnum opus, JIGOKU (Hell). Set in the present day, DEATH ROW WOMAN is at once a prison film, an innocent-man/woman-on-the-run story, a police procedural, and a family melodrama, that is equal parts Hitchcock, Samuel Fuller and Douglas Sirk. Continue reading

Lewis Seiler – You Can’t Get Away with Murder (1939)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis:
Humphrey Bogart plays mobster Frank Wilson, the heavy headlining this crime thriller that sprung from the pen of Sing-Sing’s warden himself! Based on the play “Chalked Out” by Warden Lewis E. Lawes and Jonathan Finn, You Can’t Get Away With Murder tells the grim tale of a young punk taken in by the glamorous gangster life, only to find himself sent away to the federal pen with a man’s fate resting in his hands and a murderer dogging his every step. Young Johnnie Stone (original “Dead End Kid” Billy Halop) hooks up with hoodlum Wilson only to help Wilson frame his sister’s (Gale Page) straight and narrow fiancé Fred (Harvey Stephens) for Murder One. All three men soon find themselves sent to the “Big House” – two serving a stretch for robbery, the third for Death Row. Can Johnnie come clean in time to save Fred, with Frank watching his every move? Continue reading

Stuart Heisler – The Glass Key (1942)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
This is a solid remake of the 1935 film of the same name about big-city political corruption, and it starred Edward Arnold as the corrupt political boss and George Raft as his loyal lieutenant. Stuart Heisler directs this film noir in a workmanlike manner (though, the changed hard-edged ending from the novel is a copout). It is similar themed but less effective than The Maltese Falcon, which was also based on a Dashiell Hammet novel. The Glass Key was supposedly the inspiration for Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. The title refers to the political boss backing a candidate based on the expectation of being rewarded with the key to the governor’s house if all goes according to plan, but is breakable if there’s a betrayal. For Paramount this was a big box-office film because of the star team of Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd, who sparkled as lovers with opposite personalities. Continue reading

Toshio Masuda – Sabita naifu AKA Rusty Knife (1958)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis:
Udaka is a new, post-war city where corruption has already taken hold. A persistent district attorney wants to arrest and convict Katsumata, a laughing, self-confident thug. The D.A. gets an anonymous letter about the suicide five years’ before of a city council member. Evidence about the case leads the D.A. to Tachibana, struggling to go straight after involvement with the mob and a prison sentence for killing the man responsible for the rape and suicide of his fiancée. One of Tachibana’s friends is Keiko, the daughter of the dead councilman and the ward of another powerful official. How do these stories connect? Continue reading

Terence Young – Bloodline (1979)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Synopsis:
Sam Roffe, president of a multi-national pharmaceutical corporation, is killed while mountain-climbing. It is first determined to be an accident, but Inspector Max Hormung later deduces that Roffe was murdered. Sam’s daughter Elizabeth assumes control of the company, and while traveling through Europe she immediately becomes a target as well. Continue reading