Byron Haskin – I Walk Alone (1948)

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Quote:
It’s a mighty low class of people that you will meet in the Paramount’s “I Walk Alone” — and a mighty low grade of melodrama, if you want the honest truth — in spite of a very swanky setting and an air of great elegance. For the the people are mostly ex-gangsters, night club peddlers or social black sheep and the drama is of the vintage of gangster fiction of some twenty years ago.

True, the premise of the story, which originated with Theodore Reeves in a play done under the title of “Beggars Are Coming to Town,” is that an old-time bootleg mobster who has finished a long stretch in jail can’t use the old-time tactics in muscling in on a welching ex-pal. The theory is that café business and corporation law in this new day are completely against the operation of any old-fashioned strong-arm stuff. Continue reading

Gerd Oswald – A Kiss Before Dying (1956)

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In Gerd Oswald’s A Kiss Before Dying (1956) Bud Corliss (Robert Wagner) is a psychopath with one singular desire: He wants to become rich by marrying the daughter of a man who owns a copper mine. Bud’s actions reveal how when a man loves money more than people, people become objects to be used and manipulated.

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist lists 20 common traits of psychopaths. Bud possesses nearly all of these traits including “superficial charm”, “pathological lying”, “cunning and manipulativeness”, “lack of remorse or guilt”, “criminal versatility”, and a “parasitic lifestyle.”1 Although psychopaths commit actions that are unthinkable to normal people, they are not insane: “a mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.” A 2012 study of 269 psychopaths concluded that “psychopaths are not mentally ill and should be held entirely responsible for their violent and manipulative actions.” Psychopaths are not restrained by a typical person’s sense of right and wrong. Lacking the conviction of guilt for what they do, they harm innocent people without remorse. Continue reading

Raymond Bailly – L’étrange Monsieur Steve AKA Mr. Steve (1957)

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Synopsis:
‘Georges Villard is a modest bank employee who dreams of earning more money so that he can live more comfortably. When Monsieur Steve offers him a chance to do just that he accepts without a moment’s hesitation, partly because he wants to be near to Steve’s woman, Florence. However, Georges knows there will be a catch: what Steve wants is help to rob the bank where he works. When Georges refuses, he realises that his life is now in danger…’
– James Travers, Willems Henri Continue reading

Don Siegel – Count the Hours (1953)

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SYNOPSIS: A defense lawyer risks his career to expose a killer no one else believes exists in this tense noir thriller.

When a farmer and his housekeeper are murdered by an intruder, the police arrest George Braden (John Craven), a hired hand who confesses to spare his pregnant wife Ellen (Teresa Wright) the stress of interrogation. Angering the tight-knit community by agreeing to defend the accused, attorney Doug Madison ( Macdonald Carey) tries but loses the case, and Braden is sentenced to die. With time running out and the execution just hours away, Madison races the clock to find the real killer and prove his client’s innocence. Eerily anticipating the 1959 killings that would later inspire In Cold Blood, Count the Hours was shot by John Alton, an Oscar-winning cinematographer whose credits include the classic noirs He Walked by Night, Raw Deal and T-Men. Continue reading

Carol Reed – The Third Man (1949)

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Quote:
Of all the iconic images in Carol Reed’s The Third Man, none is as recognizable as the sight of Harry Lime (Orson Welles) standing in a Vienna doorway, bathed in shadow. Accompanied by Anton Karas’s unforgettable zither score, it’s one of the most iconic entrances in film history, which is befitting one of film’s most iconic characters. Although he’s only on screen for a fraction of the film’s running time, Lime stands out as one of the screen’s most chilling embodiments of the banality of evil, and a perfect stand-in for Third Man‘s vision of moral breakdown in post-WWII Europe. Continue reading

Max Nosseck – Dillinger (1945)

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Synopsis:
Willie Sutton robbed banks during the Depression because, he explained, “That’s where the money is.” Former Indiana farmboy John Dillinger also knew where the money was. And his string of early-1930s heists, murders and daring jailbreaks were so bold and notorious he became Public Enemy #1. Dillinger, Oscar-nominated* for its screenplay, is the bullet-paced story of the man whose crimes captivated and terrified the nation. Lawrence Tierney plays the title role, breaking free of screen anonymity and moving into a 50-year tough-guy career that would include 1947’s Born to Kill and 1992’s Reservoir Dogs. Perhaps it was a brutal early prison stretch that turned Dillinger from kid to killer. Perhaps he was a murderous thug to his core. Either way, Dillinger presents his story with Film noir style and lets you decide.

— dvdbeaver Continue reading

Herman Shumlin – Confidential Agent (1945)

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Synopsis:
In pre-World War II London, Spanish agent Denard struggles to close a high-level business deal that will strike a blow against fascists in his native country. But industrialists not yet alert to the threat of fascism reject him. A teenage ally caught up in his efforts is murdered. And the mission itself seems a failure. Yet neither the story nor Denard will stop there. Charles Boyer plays Denard and Lauren Bacall is a jaded industrial heiress who assists him in this intricate spy drama. For her second screen appearance, Bacall took a critical thumping, yet her presence smolders. The film itself still satisfies, thanks in no small measure to James Wong Howe’s atmospheric cinematography and the story craft of source novelist Graham Greene. Continue reading