Edwin L. Marin – Johnny Angel (1945)

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Synopsis:
RKO Radio’s Johnny Angel was adapted by Steve Fisher and Frank Gruber from a short story by Charles Gordon Booth. In one of his better performances, George Raft plays sea captain Johnny Angel, who doggedly pursues the no-good rats who murdered his father and swiped a shipment of gold bullion. Along the way, Johnny crosses paths (and words) with Lilah (Claire Trevor), the faithless wife of his boss, and French stowaway Paulette (Signe Hasso), apparently the only witness to the murder-hijacking. Aiding and abetting Johnny is philosophical cab driver Celestial O’Brien, engagingly played by songwriter Hoagy Carmichael. Continue reading

Arthur Penn – Night Moves (1975)

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Synopsis wrote:
When Los Angeles private detective, Harry Moseby is hired by a client to find her runaway teenage daughter, he stumbles upon a case of murder and artifact smuggling.

Vincent Canby wrote:
Arthur Penn’s Night Moves, the director’s first film since the epic Little Big Man five years ago, is an elegant conundrum, a private-eye film that has its full share of duplicity, violence, and bizarre revelation, but whose mind keeps straying from questions of pure narrative to those of the hero’s psyche. Continue reading

José Antonio Nieves Conde – Surcos AKA Furrows (1951)

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Quote:
At the end of the Spanish Civil War, a working-class family that migrates from rural Spain to Madrid in the hopes of finding a better life, and their hopes are thwarted by Don Roque, the personfication of the oppressive social forces at work in the Madrid of the 1940s. Continue reading

Nicholas Ray – They Live by Night (1948)

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John Greco wrote:
Three men escape from prison, two seasoned bank robbers T-Dub (Jay C. Flippen) and Chickamaw (Howard Da Silva) along with young Bowie (Farley Granger) who was innocently convicted of murder. The three men rob a bank. When Bowie is injured he is brought to Chickamaw’s brother’s place where he meets Keechie (Cathy O’Donnell), Chickamaw’s tomboyish niece. After another bank job, the young lovers take off to get away from Bowie’s two thug partners and a life of crime. Unlike Bowie, his two cohorts quickly blow their share of the money and want Bowie for another bank job which goes bad resulting in T-Dub’s death. Bowie and Keechie are again running only this time instead of running to a new life they are running from the law and straight toward a tragic end. Continue reading

Stuart Heisler – The Glass Key (1942)

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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)

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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

Phil Karlson – 5 Against the House (1955)

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Synopsis:
Four college buddies enjoy a night at a Reno casino and overhear a cop saying that robbing the casino “cannot be done.” That gets the brainiest rich kid among them thinking up a plan for the perfect robbery. He convinces the others to join in when they hear that it will only be a college hoax, his plan being to let the police know where the money is afterwards. The thing is, one of his friends has a head injury from the war, and has no intention of returning a dime. Continue reading