Film Noir

John Sturges – The People Against O’Hara (1951)

Synopsis:
Jim Curtayne, formerly a successful criminal defense attorney and currently a recovering alcoholic, has turned to civil law because of his problems with the bottle, daughter Ginny delays marrying in order to keep her dad on the straight and narrow, but when the son of neighborhood friends is accused of murder, he is lured into returning to criminal law. Complications arise as the initially overconfident Curtayne experiences lapses inn memory and judgment as well as an uncooperative client. He finds himself well over his head as he tries to reclaim his self-confidence and professional standing. Read More »

Henri Decoin – Bonnes à tuer AKA One Step to Eternity (1954)

Synopsis:
‘François Roques, a power-and-money-mad editor of a Paris newspaper (who justifies his actions by calling attention to his poverty-stricken childhood), invites four women to a housewarming at his penthouse apartment. He plans on one of them to meet death by means of a loose railing on the balcony. The invitees are: Constance, François’ first wife, whose love and integrity also stood in the way of his schemes; Véra Volpone, his second wife, from whom he is seeking a divorce, and who, with the aid of her lover, is blackmailing François; Maggy, his mistress who aids him in his illegal transactions; and Cécile, his fiancée, who is pregnant by another man. The women arrive, tension overwhelms them and the host, three of the women depart…and Francois is alone with his intended victim.’
– Les Adams Read More »

Mervyn LeRoy – I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

Synopsis wrote:
Warner Bros.’ hard-hitting chain-gang movie was a faithful adaptation of the similarly titled autobiography of Robert Elliot Burns. Paul Muni plays World War I veteran James Allen, whose plans of becoming a master architect evaporate in the cold light of economic realities. Times get really tough when he’s falsely convicted of a crime and forced to work on a chain gang. Read More »

Douglas Sirk – Shockproof (1949)

Quote:
After having served 5 years in prison, for killing a man while defending her disreputable lover, Harry (John Baragrey), Jenny Marsh (Patricia Knight) is set for parole. Her parole officer, Griff Marat Cornel Wilde is determined to make Jenny go straight. For lack of other prospects Griff finds Jenny a job in his own home, something totally against regulations. At first, Jenny still has feelings for Harry, but as Griff shows her more compassion and care, she falls in love with him – which Harry seems to encourage, because he has plans to crush Griff and his dreams of political office, and the situation soon becomes even more dangerous… Read More »

André Cayatte – Le dossier noir AKA Black Dossier (1955)

Synopsis:
‘Recently appointed a magistrate, Jacques Arnaud arrives in Lancourt, a small provincial town which is under the control of Boussard, an scrupulous businessman. Arnaud’s first client is Dutoit, who rears German sheep dogs for a living. Dutoit reports that someone has been poisoning his dogs. Could it be the same person who has recently broken into his house to steal a black file drawn up by his friend Le Guen just before he died, a file that implicates Boussard in fraudulent speculation? Suspicious, Arnaud begins by exhuming le Guen’s body; the autopsy reveals the presence of arsenic…’ Read More »

Jacques Tourneur – Nightfall (1956)

Fred Camper wrote:
This 1957 noir masterpiece by Jacques Tourneur stars Aldo Ray as a man fleeing a private investigator and Anne Bancroft as the barroom acquaintance who agrees to help him. Ray’s past is revealed gradually in a series of flashbacks, which are intercut with the couple’s flight and the investigator’s pursuit; by developing each narrative in a parallel space or time, Tourneur movingly articulates the theme of a character trapped by his history. The images have a smooth, almost liquid quality, the high-contrast lighting of most noirs replaced by a delicate lyricism that takes the natural world as the norm. Tourneur links this naturalism to Ray’s growing observational skills (“I know where every shadow falls,” he says), but it also contrasts with the story’s acute paranoia. Read More »

Jean Negulesco – Nobody Lives Forever (1946)

G.I. Nick Blake, a never charged con man in his pre-military life, has just received an honorable discharge from the army on medical reasons. Rather than return to his old life, he plans to settle down in New York, his hometown, with his girlfriend Toni Blackburn and the small cache of money he amassed prior to the war: $50,000. When that plan does not pan out, he decides to head to Los Angeles with his con man friend Al Doyle and live it up until he decides on a more permanent course for his life. He is informed by Pop Gruber, an aging mentor doing solely penny-ante street cons now in L.A., of a potential big mark. Doc Ganson, a former con associate, found the mark, lonely widow Gladys Halvorsen worth $2 million, but does not have either the bankroll or the charms to carry out the con on Gladys himself. Read More »