Film Noir

Earl McEvoy – The Killer That Stalked New York (1950)

Synopsis:
A married team of diamond smugglers enter New York to fence their purloined gems unaware that the wife is carrying the highly contagious, deadly smallpox virus. The crooks ensconce themselves in a hotel without realizing that the wife’s every move is being monitored by a Treasury agent. The husband directs her to stay put while he goes off on business. Actually he is going out to tryst with his conniving sister-in-law. Back in the room, the wife feels ill and so creeps out to see a doctor. Read More »

Rudolph Maté – Union Station (1950)

Synopsis:
Union Station is a tense crime thriller in the tradition of The Naked City that unfolds in Los Angeles. William Holden plays railroad worker Lt. William Calhoun. Calhoun goes into action when Lorna Murchison (Allene Roberts), the sightless daughter of millionaire Henry Murchison (Herbert Heyes), is kidnapped by ruthless Joe Beacon (Lyle Bettger). The abduction is witnessed by Joyce Willecombe (Nancy Olson), Murchison’s secretary. Using the handful of clues provided by Joyce, Calhoun and his associate, Inspector Donnelly (Barry Fitzgerald) do their best to second-guess the kidnapper. Read More »

Elia Kazan – Panic in the Streets [+commentary] (1950)

Synopsis:
Filmed entirely on location in New Orleans, Panic in the Streets stars Richard Widmark as a city medical officer, racing against time to stop a plague epidemic. The carrier was an illegal alien, who has been murdered by criminals Jack Palance and Zero Mostel. At first facing opposition from rule-bound police captain Paul Douglas, Widmark is finally able to work hand-in-glove with Douglas in tracking down Palance and Mostel, who have themselves become plague carriers. Read More »

Stanley Kubrick – The Killing (1956)

Synopsis:
Ex-convict Johnny Clay tells his girl friend, Fay, he has plans for making money, and indeed he has. He rounds up a gang and brings them in on a seemingly fool-proof scheme to rob a race track of $200,000. The first thread unravels when Sherry Peatty, wife of gang-member George Peatty, tells her boyfriend Val Cannon about the plan, and he cuts himself in on that action also. The robbery is completed and the gang goes to the hideout where Johnny will join them later. Val sticks up the robbers, a shot is fired, and all hands are soon dispatched. Johnny, with the money in a suitcase, joins Fay at the airport. And the fat lady still hasn’t sung. Read More »

Jules Dassin – Brute Force (1947)

William K Everson writes:
Brute Force was touted as being by far the toughest and most violent prison film Hollywood had ever made. Many European censors felt the same way and scenes were shortened for overseas release. Actually, the violence is essentially surface violence, and earlier prison films had been rougher in a psychological sense. Nevertheless, with all of those noir icons in the cast and behind the camera (especially Miklos Rosza’s music) the film made a welcome break in the increasingly formularized cycle of big-city crime noir films. Read More »

Charles Vidor – Gilda (1946)

Synopsis:
Johnny Farrell has just arrived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he is making a living cheating in gambling, primarily in informal street games. He begins a more stable life when, upon a chance meeting, he convinces Ballin Mundson, the violent and less than scrupulous owner of the local illegal casino, to hire him on the premise that it is better for Ballin to have the “enemy” on his side. Besides the casino, which the local authorities are aware of, Ballin is involved in an international illegal tungsten cartel. Johnny quickly rises to be Ballin’s trusted right hand man. Read More »

Phil Karlson – Kansas City Confidential (1952)

Synopsis:
A down-on-his-luck ex-G.I. finds himself framed for an armored car robbery. When he’s finally released for lack of evidence, after having been beaten up and tortured by the police, he sets out to discover who set him up, and why. The trail leads him into Mexico and a web of hired killers and corrupt cops. Read More »