Josef von Sternberg – Macao [+Extras] (1952)

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Synopsis:
A sultry night club singer, a man who has also traveled to many exotic ports and a salesman meet aboard ship on the 45-mile trip from Hong Kong to Macao. The singer is quickly hired by an American expatriate who runs the biggest casino in Macao and has a thriving business in converting hot jewels into cash. Her new boss thinks one of her traveling companions is a cop. One is — but not the one the boss suspects.

— IMDb. Continue reading

Richard Wallace – The Fallen Sparrow (1943)

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Synopsis:
A former Spanish Civil War prisoner, John McKittrick arrives in New York to find the truth behind the death of his friend Louie Lepetino. He finds himself being chased by Nazi agents who want an item he has brought back from Spain and cannot give up. When another of his friends is murdered, McKittrick realizes that he cannot trust anyone around him – not anyone.

— Jim Beaver (IMDb) Continue reading

Takashi Miike – Gokudô kuroshakai AKA Rainy Dog (1997)

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“The quietest and, in some ways, most impressive film of the trilogy tells the story of Yuji, an exiled Yakuza, now living in Taiwan. In one of the film’s many similarities to Luc Besson’s Leon, Yuji is left with a young boy, supposedly his son, when an ex-girlfriend dumps the child on him without explanation. Yuji does not let the child’s presence disrupt his violent lifestyle and he continues killing rival gang members for a local crime lord. When a hit leaves Yuji with a suitcase full of Triad money, he tries to escape Tiawan. However, when you are a stranger in a strange land and cannot trust anybody, escape and survival is almost impossible. Continue reading

Nicholas Ray – A Woman’s Secret (1949)

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Synopsis:
Susan is laying in the hospital with a bullet near her heart. Marian has told the police that she shot Susan in a rage as Susan was giving up her singing. Marian and Luke found Susan when she was a failure. A singer with a limited range, she was a diamond in the rough to which Marian and Luke taught how to walk, dress and talk. With the singing lessons, Marian had hoped that she would have the career that Marian would have had if she had not lost her voice. Even thought Susan is a scatterbrain girl, Luke does not believe that Marian would or was capable of shooting her. Luke hopes that Detective Fowler will be able to find out the truth and free Marian. Continue reading

Mark Robson – Edge of Doom (1950)

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Martin Lynn (Farley Granger) has crossed his breaking point. Poor, stuck in a menial job and mourning his recently deceased, devoutly Catholic mother, the mentally fraying youth visits his local pastor to arrange a decent funeral for her and, in a frustrated rage, kills the cleric with a crucifix. On the run in a clouded haze, Martin slips into the night and anxiously watches as circumstances result in someone else being arrested for the crime. But the empathetic Father Roth (Dana Andrews), inquiring into the incident, sees something suspect in Martin – as well as a soul worth saving. The only crime drama produced by Samuel Goldwyn, this under-recognized film-noir thriller with a unique religious twist is powered by a searingly intense performance by Granger as a man undone by unforgiving forces closing in on him. Directed with clockwork urgency by Mark Robson, shot in shimmering black-and-white by Harry Stradling and named one of 1950’s 10-best films by the National Board of Review, Edge of Doom is a haunting vision of darkness not easily shaken. Continue reading

Nicholas Ray – Born to Be Bad [+Extra] (1950)

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Synopsis:
One of the most oft-revived of the pre-Technicolor Nicholas Ray efforts, Born to Be Bad offers us the spectacle of Joan Fontaine portraying a character described as “a cross between Lucrezia Borgia and Peg O’ My Heart”. For the benefit of her wealthy husband Zachary Scott and his family, Fontaine adopts a facade of wide-eyed sweetness. Bored with her hubby, she inaugurates a romance with novelist Robert Ryan. All her carefully crafted calculations come acropper when both men discover that she’s a bitch among bitches. She might have gotten away with all her machinations, but the censors said uh-uh. Originally slated for filming in 1946, with Henry Fonda scheduled to play the Robert Ryan part, Born to Bad was cancelled, then resurfaced as Bed as Roses in 1948, this time with Barbara Bel Geddes in the Fontaine role. RKO head Howard Hughes’ decision to replace Bel Geddes with the more bankable Fontaine was one of the reasons that producer Dore Schary left RKO in favor of MGM. Based on Anne Parrish’s novel All Kneeling, Born to be Bad is so overheated at times that it threatens to lapse into self-parody; though this never happens, the film was the basis for one of TV star Carol Burnett’s funniest and most devastating movie takeoffs, Raised to be Rotten Continue reading