Film Noir

Akira Kurosawa – Nora inu AKA Stray Dog (1949)

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quote:
“Stray Dog is an intense criminal story that examines the psychology of the characters as in compares the similarities between criminals and detectives. These similarities are balanced on a thin line based on choice, which Kurosawa dissects studiously through the camera lens. Kurosawa’s investigation of the character’s psychology creates a spiraling suspense that is enhanced through subtle surprises and brilliant cinematography. The camera use often displays shots through thin cloths, close ups, and new camera angles, which also makes the film aesthetically appealing. When Kurosawa brings together camera work and cast performance, among other cinematic aspects, he leaves the audience with a brilliantly suspenseful criminal drama, which leaves much room for introspection and retrospection.” Read More »

Russell Rouse – The Thief (1952)

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Review:
A telephone rings in the dark—three times, pauses, then rings three times again. A fully-clothed figure lights a cigarette before rising from bed, dons a raincoat, then sets out into the night. Another figure emerges from the shadows, lights a cigarette, then discards a crumpled cigarette pack, which the first picks up and carries home. Back in his room, the first man places the refuse on his desk, paces apprehensively about his apartment before he finally removes the inner foil and examines it. After letting what it reveals sink in, he sets it on fire, and a cold look comes over his face… Read More »

Otto Preminger – Angel Face (1952)

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Synopsis:
Ambulance driver Frank Jessup (Robert Mitchum) meets the wealthy and beautiful Diane Tremayne (Jean Simmons) while on a call to tend to her stepmother Catherine (Barbara O’Neill), who may have tried to commit suicide. Frank quits his job and stands up his fiancée Mary Wilton (Mona Freeman) to become the Tremayne’s chauffeur — where he can be close to Diane. The longer Frank hangs around, the more he comes to suspect that Diane idolizes her father Charles (Herbert Marshall) and wants to murder her mother. But Frank is too much in love with Diane to do anything about it.

DVD Review Read More »

Otto Preminger – Laura [+Extras] (1944)

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by Hal Erickson
This adaptation of Vera Caspary’s suspense novel was begun by director Rouben Mamoulien and cinematographer Lucien Ballard, but thanks to a complex series of backstage intrigues and hostilities, the film was ultimately credited to director Otto Preminger and cameraman Joseph LaShelle (who won an Oscar for his efforts). At the outset of the film, it is established that the title character, Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), has been murdered. Tough New York detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) investigates the killing, methodically questioning the chief suspects: Waspish columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), wastrel socialite Shelby Carpenter (Vincent Price), and Carpenter’s wealthy “patroness” Ann Treadwell (Judith Anderson). The deeper he gets into the case, the more fascinated he becomes by the enigmatic Laura, literally falling in love with the girl’s painted portrait. As he sits in Laura’s apartment, ruminating over the case and his own obsessions, the door opens, the lights switch on, and in walks Laura Hunt, very much alive! To tell any more would rob the reader of the sheer enjoyment of watching this stylish film noir unfold on screen. Everything clicks in Laura, from the superbly bitchy peformance of Clifton Webb (a veteran Broadway star who became an overnight movie favorite with this film) to the haunting musical score by David Raskin. Long available only in the 85-minute TV version Laura has since been restored to its original 88-minute running time. Read More »

Otto Preminger – Whirlpool (1949)

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Quote:
The luminous Gene Tierney, who starred in director Preminger’s breakout film LAURA, appears here as Ann Sutton, the kleptomaniac wife of a distant but loving psychoanalyst, (Richard Conte). When she is caught shoplifting, suave hypnotist David Korvo (José Ferrer) comes to her aid, but soon Ann finds herself enmeshed in far more dangerous crimes. Implicated in a plot that involves blackmail and murder, Ann is uncertain of her own innocence, but her husband is convinced that the hypnotist is behind the crimes. Loosely adapted from Guy Endore’s novel METHINKS THE LADY…, the script was penned by noted screenwriter Ben Hecht under a pseudonym during the Red Scare. Preminger, who was one of Hollywood’s top directors of the 1950s, combines characteristics of the noir film with the melodrama. He creates an incisive look at the very human flaws of its wealthy characters, as well as the manipulative charlatan who preys upon them; at the center of the story is the trouble afflicting an apparently happy upper-class marriage.
(review in yahoo movies) Read More »

Robert Montgomery – Lady in the Lake (1947)

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Quote:
. More than a few of Hollywood’s leading men have had a chance to play Raymond Chandler’s archetypal hard-boiled detective, Philip Marlowe: Humphrey Bogart, Dick Powell, Robert Mitchum, Elliott Gould, James Caan, even James Garner. So why not you? In Lady in the Lake, you are Marlowe — or at least the camera is, with director Robert Montgomery providing the voice and face in the mirror. You uncover the clues, you get socked, flirted with, grilled, kissed, and stared at an awful lot. And if Marlowe comes off as a little petulant and sulky along the way, it’s probably your fault. This may not be the best Chandler adaptation (it’s hard to beat The Big Sleep for Bogart-Bacall sizzle alone), but it’s a shoo-in for the weirdest, and not just because it’s the only flick ever shot in Marlowe-vision. The performances alone should have made this one a camp classic: the delightfully witchy Audrey Totter as a pulp-magazine editor who comes off as a sick panther trying to act kittenish; a hearty Dick Simmons as dime-store smoothie Chris Lavery; understated and oddly likable Lloyd Nolan as a no-good copper; and scene-stealer Jayne Meadows talking a mile a minute as a landlady in the right place at the wrong time. Toss in a few funny drunks, a boisterous coroner, a blustery softie of a police captain, a blond bombshell receptionist who the camera keeps following no matter who’s talking, and the usual few mysterious murders, and you’ll probably need a private dick to make sense of it all. (The expositions fly by pretty fast when there’s a room full of tough guys staring at you.) This is one of those rare films that is actually better on video; the smaller screen tames Montgomery’s hand-held camera (which can be rough on the stomach during the car chase and fisticuffs). Strangest of all: It’s a Christmas movie. Read More »

George Stevens – A Place in the Sun [+Extras] (1951)

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Greatest Films wrote:
A Place in the Sun (1951) is a powerful social drama and romance from director/producer George Stevens. The black and white film plays on the audience’s emotions, by involving and drawing them into complicity with the tragic resolution. Methodically, the film is stylistically dark, almost with film-noirish qualities, yet it has some of the most romantic and passionate sequences ever filmed – between the radiant debutante, 18 year-old Elizabeth Taylor (in her first adult role) and 29 year-old Montgomery Clift, who stars as a laboring wage slave. Read More »