Film Noir

Edgar G. Ulmer – Detour (1945)

Review
“Detour” is a movie so filled with imperfections that it would not earn the director a passing grade in film school. This movie from Hollywood’s poverty row, shot in six days, filled with technical errors and ham-handed narrative, starring a man who can only pout and a woman who can only sneer, should have faded from sight soon after it was released in 1945. And yet it lives on, haunting and creepy, an embodiment of the guilty soul of film noir. No one who has seen it has easily forgotten it. Read More »

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

Synopsis from AMG:
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. Many of the actors in Panic in the Streets are local nonprofessionals, selected by director Elia Kazan because of their “rightness” within the framework of the story; the rest of the cast is peopled by such film veterans as Barbara Bel Geddes, Tommy Cook, Emile Meyer and H.T. Tsiang. Widmark’s son is played by an uncredited Tommy Rettig, four years before he starred on the Lassie TV series. Though Elia Kazan liked to claim that much of Panic in the Streets was improvised, there was a script, adapted by Richard Murphy and Daniel Fuchs from a story by Edward Anhalt and Edna Anhalt. — Hal Erickson Read More »

Billy Wilder – Ace in the Hole (1951)

Review:
All Movie
A movie truly ahead of its time, Ace in the Hole (also known as The Big Carnival) turned out to be too bitter and cynical for moviegoers in 1951. An unrelenting portrait of media sensationalism and the human obsession with tragedy that propels it, the film is based on a true story that also spawned Robert Penn Warren’s novel The Cave. Director, screenwriter, and producer Billy Wilder suffered perhaps the biggest commercial and critical failure of his career with Ace, losing much of his standing at Paramount, even though the movie was released between two of his most enduring and popular triumphs, Sunset Boulevard (1950) and Stalag 17 (1953). Ace was perhaps not up to the standard of those works, but it clearly stands as one of Wilder’s many achievements. It’s hardly surprising that this film failed to find a mainstream audience, despite the added attraction of emerging star Kirk Douglas in the lead. American culture wouldn’t be ready for such a large dose of pessimism until the 1970s; even then, a film such as 1976’s Network, which clearly paralleled the tone of Wilder’s effort, was dismissed by many viewers as too hysterical. – Brendon Hanley Read More »

Budd Boetticher – The Killer Is Loose (1956)


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Plot:
A bank robber’s (Wendell Corey) wife is shot during his arrest by a cop (Joseph Cotten). He escapes to kill the cop’s wife (Rhonda Fleming) as retribution. Despite the cop’s protest, the police decide to use Fleming as a lure. From Warner Brothers Website! Read More »

Michael Curtiz – Mildred Pierce (1945)


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Quote:
Mildred Pierce (1945) is a classic, post-war film noir mixed with typical soap-operish elements of the woman’s melodramatic picture or “weeper,” including a strand of a typical murder mystery often told by flashback. The family melodrama was significantly modified from its original source due to pressures of the Production Code regarding its sordidness – namely, the incestual behavior of the dissolute playboy character named Monte. Read More »

Ted Tetzlaff – A Dangerous Profession (1949)


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Plot: Ex-policeman Vince Kane is a partner with Joe Farley as bail bond brokers, but retains his ties and friendship with the police and Detective Nick Ferrone. Ferrone picks up Claude Brackette, a brokerage clerk, as a suspect in the securities robbery in which a policeman was killed, and Kane goes with him when the detective searches Brackett’s apartment, and Kane finds that Brackett’s wife, Lucy, is his former sweetheart. She insists her husband is innocent and pleads with Kane to get him out on bail but she has only $4,000 of the $25,000 needed. A mysterious emissary puts up $12,000 and Kanes, over Farley’s protest, makes up the rest from the company’s money. Brackett is murdered after his release. For Lucy, Kane investigates and finds that Brackett had dealings with night club owner Jerry McKay and a hoodlum named Roy Collins. Suspecting McKay was in back of the robbery, Kane begins a campaign in which he himself behaves like a crook, and demands a heavy bride from McKay for his silence. Farley denounces this tactic, and is met by Kane for a payment also, or he will be branded in league with the crooks. Written by Les Adams Read More »

Curtis Bernhardt – Possessed [+Extras] (1947)


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Synopsis from IMDb: A dazed woman walks the streets of Los Angeles looking for a man named David. After collapsing in a diner, she’s taken to the psychiatric ward of a nearby hospital. Flasbacks reveal her obsession for David as a result of borderline personality disorder…
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