Edgar G. Ulmer – Ruthless (1948)

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Quote:
Multi-millionaire Horace Woodruff Vendig (Zachary Scott) shows himself to the world as an ambitious philanthropist, but that’s far from the case. Even as a young man he starts to exhibit an obsessive and selfish urge to make more and more money, loving and leaving women at will to further this end. Vendig steps on and rolls over anyone who stands in his way, including his lifelong friend Vic Lambdin (Louis Hayward), utilities executive Buck Mansfield (Sydney Greenstreet) and various women, among them his first and only love, Martha Burnside (Diana Lynn), socialite Susan Duane (Martha Vickers) and Buck’s wife, Christa Mansfield (Lucille Bremer). It is a tribute to the acting skills of Scott that he makes his despicable character somehow likeable and sympathetic. The stellar cast includes Raymond Burr, Edith Barrett, Dennis Hoey and Joyce Arling. One of the few big-budgeted projects helmed by cult director Edgar G. Ulmer (Detour). Continue reading

Carol Reed – The Third Man (1949)

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Synopsis:
Carol Reed reached the peak of his form with this classic noir, an elegy for American innocence and European elegance. Joseph Cotten, in fine form, stars as unemployed pulp-novelist Holly Martins. When he arrives in post-WWII Vienna on the promise of a job from his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles), he finds that Lime has recently died in a dubious car accident. Against the advice of British sector authority Major Calloway (Trevor Howard), who accuses Lime of criminal behavior, the indignant Martins decides to stay to investigate his friend’s death. He searches this city of rubble-strewn streets and bombed-out buildings, earnestly questioning Lime’s associates, a cynical, war-weary collection of black-market hustlers. At length, he realizes that the stories he’s hearing are so full of contradiction, he’s getting nowhere. Yet, he’s entranced by Lime’s beautiful girlfriend, Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli), who, unlike the others, seems to have loved Harry. Continue reading

Julien Duvivier – Chair de poule AKA Highway Pick-Up (1963)

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Synopsis:

“A man plans a hold-up with a group of trusted fellows, he gets his hands on the money, and the girl – what could go wrong? Almost everything.”
– IMDb

Review:

The Locksmith Killer.

Daniel Boisett (Robert Hossein) and his friend Paul Genest (Jean Sorel) are disturbed by the home owner during an attempted safe-cracking. In the ensuing mêlée, Paul accidentally kills the home owner and both men flee the scene in panic. Paul manages to escape but Daniel is shot and wounded by police and is promptly sentenced to a lengthy stint in prison. Continue reading

Alexandre Rockwell – In the Soup (1992)

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Soup’ Dreams

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Essentially a retread of The Freshman (1990) on a much lower budget, In the Soup concerns a young wannabe filmmaker, Adolfo Rollo (Steve Buscemi) who becomes mixed up with a gangster-type, Joe (Seymour Cassell) in the name of financing his first film.

Very little filmmaking occurs, though. What really happens is the old story of the life-loving older guy teaching the high-strung younger fellow a thing or two about living.

Yes, it’s an old story that has been told a thousand times before and since, but Alexandre Rockwell’s little film has a home movie charm and a streetwise wit that make it a must-see sleeper. Continue reading

Seijun Suzuki – Jûsangô taihi-sen ori: Sono gôshô o nerae aka Take Aim At The Police Van (1960)

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A sharpshooter kills two prisoners in a police van at night. The guard on the van is suspended for six months; he’s Tamon, an upright, modest man. He begins his own investigation into the murders. Who were the victims, who are their relatives and girlfriends, who else was on the van that night? As he doggedly investigates, others die, coincidences occur, and several leads take him to the Hamaju Agency, which may be supplying call girls. Its owner is in jail, his daughter, the enigmatic Yuko, keeps turning up where Tamon goes. Tamon believes he can awaken good in people, but has he met his match? Will he solve the murders or be the next victim? And who is Akiba? Continue reading

Jacques Tourneur – Out of the Past (1947)

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Quote:
Out of the Past is so perfect a film noir that it is considered practically a textbook example of the genre. In his first starring role (it had previously been offered to John Garfield and Dick Powell), Robert Mitchum plays Jeff Bailey, the friendly but secretive proprietor of a mountain-village gas station. As Jeff’s worshipful deaf-mute attendant (Dick Moore) looks on in curious fascination, an unsavory character named Joe (Paul Valentine) pulls up to the station, obviously looking for the owner. Jeff is all too aware of Joe’s identity; he’s been dreading this moment for quite some time, knowing full well that it will mean the end of his semi-idyllic existence, not to mention his engagement to local girl Ann (Virginia Huston). In a lengthy flashback, the audience is apprised of the reasons behind Jeff’s discomfort – and thus begins a tale of treachery, betrayal and intrigue that extends into the present day and turns Jeff’s life upside down. Out of the Past was remade in 1984 as Against All Odds, with Jane Greer cast as the mother of her original character. Continue reading