Film Noir

Robert Siodmak – Criss Cross (1949)

Plot Synopsis [AMG]Steve Thompson (Burt Lancaster) returns home after a few years of knocking around the country following his divorce from good-time girl Anna (Yvonne De Carlo). Getting his old job back driving an armored car, and not even convincing himself that he’s making a new start, he also wants his old wife back.When he finds Anna, he quickly learns that she is involved with gangster Slim Dundee (Dan Duryea). Nonetheless, they carry on a clandestine affair, with Steve foolishly believing that Anna will return to him. Even after she marries Slim, Steve, with her encouragement, masochistically clings to this doomed obsession. Read More »

Delmer Daves – Dark Passage (1947)

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Of the four movies Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall made together, Dark Passage is the forgotten stepchild. Sandwiched between The Big Sleep and Key Largo, Delmer Daves’ innovative and suspenseful mystery-thriller caused barely a ripple at the box office upon its initial release. Maybe the gritty, post-war themes of isolation and paranoia hit too close to home, or the use of a subjective camera alienated audiences. Whatever the reason, Dark Passage got a bum rap from critics and public alike. And while it may not rank up there with the best of Hollywood noir, the film flaunts enough style and substance to merit appreciation. Read More »

Samuel Fuller – Pickup on South Street (1953)

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Pickup on South Street opens with a striking omission of dialogue and score, heightening our awareness of the film’s pared images and the diamond-hard editing rhythms. On a subway, a beautiful woman, Candy (Jean Peters), is scrutinized by two men who are obviously tailing her. Everything about Candy’s pose is intensely erotic, from the crook of her arm that’s holding the subway railing to the sweat on her skin, to the way she’s cramped up against the other passengers. Soon saddling up to her is Skip McCoy (Richard Widmark), who approaches her as the prey she clearly represents to his hunter. Hovering over Candy, Skip makes a show of folding a newspaper, opening her purse, rifling through it, and snatching the contents of interest to him. Read More »

Nicholas Ray & Ida Lupino – On Dangerous Ground (1951)

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A superb noir thriller with a difference. Ray’s second film with producer John Houseman (the first being They Live By Night) starts off in the sinister urban jungle, with Ryan’s cop increasingly brutalised by the ‘garbage’ he is forced to deal with. Finally, his methods become so violent that he is sent to cool off in snowy upstate New York, where his search for a sex killer brings him into contact with Lupino’s blind woman and her mentally retarded brother (Williams). It’s a film about the violence within us all, about the effects of environment and family upon character (Lupino, peaceful and a healing force, even has a tree in her living room), and about the spiritual redemption of a fallen man. Read More »

Robert Siodmak – Phantom Lady (1944)

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Phantom Lady (1944) is one of the high points of ’40s film noir, the title alone evoking a potent mythology of this era. At the center of its narrative is the seemingly hopeless search for the title character who potentially serves as the only reliable witness in the murder trial for Scott Henderson (Alan Curtis), falsely accused of killing his wife. But the search is frustrated by Henderson’s inability to remember any details about the woman outside of a flamboyant hat she wore during the night they spent together, an unlikely memory lapse that only intensifies his apparent guilt. Furthermore, no one else who saw Henderson and the woman together will admit to the police that they had seen her. Read More »

Roman Polanski – Chinatown (1974)

Polanski’s Oscar Nominated throwback to the noirs of the 40’s and 50’s starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway and John Huston.

Summary: A private detective investigating an adultery case stumbles on to a scheme of murder that has something to do with water

Review
Pin-striped suits, men’s hair parted slightly off-center like Richard Arlen’s, four-door convertible touring cars (not yet declared unsafe), official portraits of Franklin D. Roosevelt in public buildings, women with marceled hair, and elegant slouches. Read More »

Montgomery Tully – Terror Street aka 36 Hours [+Extras] (1953)

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“A U.S. Air Force pilot becomes the logical suspect after his wife is shot and killed. The thirty-six hours he has to clear himself are filled with twists and turns culminating in an exciting climax.”
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