Film Noir

Kaizo Hayashi – Wana AKA The Trap [+Extras] (1996)

Quote:
The 3 Part of the Maiku Hama Triology is the best and probably darkest of all the films. In fact, this episode is more of a horror-like thriller reminiscent of a Takashi Miike film. “The Trap,” which is the final film of the trilogy was preceded by the more semi-comical episodes of “The Most Terrible Time In My Life,” and then followed by “Stairway To The Distant Past,” and finally concluding with this film, “The Trap.” In the previous episodes of the trilogy, Maiku Hama (Masatoshi Nagase) is not the aloof private detective he was originally portrayed as; but a much more intelligent and calm detective. Read More »

Akira Kurosawa – Nora inu AKA Stray Dog (1949)

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 »

Lew Landers – Man in the Dark AKA The Man Who Lived Twice (1953)

Synopsis:
The refurbished storyline drops the plastic surgery angle but retains the now- disturbing idea that doctors might use brain surgery to “cure” lawbreakers of criminal tendencies. Convicted criminal Steve Rawley (Edmond O’Brien) volunteers for the operation half-assuming that he’ll not survive. He awakes with total amnesia and a more cheerful personality, and under a new name, “Blake” actually looks forward to beginning life afresh tending the hospital’s hedges. Steve is instead kidnapped and beaten bloody by his old cronies in crime Lefty, Arnie and Cookie (Ted de Corsia, Horace McMahon & Nick Dennis), who want to know where Steve hid the loot from their last robbery. Steve remembers nothing, and kisses from his old girlfriend Peg Benedict (Audrey Totter) fail to extract the location of the $130,000. But weird dreams provide clues that might lead Steve and Peg to the money everyone is so desperate to possess. Read More »

Max Ophüls – The Reckless Moment (1949)

Quote:
When the opening titles credit a film as adapted from a short story in the Woman s Home Journal, you know you re onto a good thing. The Reckless Moment doesn t disappoint. Max Ophuls last American film is a women s picture in the grand tradition of Mildred Pierce (1945) – dark edged and melodramatic, and dripping with moral ambiguities. Read More »

Kaizo Hayashi – Harukana jidai no kaidan o AKA The Stairway To The Distant Past [+Extras] (1995)

Quote:
Stairway to the Distant Past is the second film in the Mike Hama Private Investigator Trilogy. If you’ve seen part one The Most Terrible Time in My Life you must seek this out to find out how all your favourite characters are getting on. The films themes are age and family as Mikes mother “Dynamite Sexy Lilly” returns to Yokohama with her strip act many years after deserting Mike and his sister Akane. She reveals who Mikes father is and he sets out to find him. This films DoP deserves an Oscar as the picture is stunningly shot – it reminded me most of the Cinema du Look of Luc Besson and Leos Carax. Read More »

Robert Siodmak – The Spiral Staircase (1946)

Quote:
The wonderfully suspenseful psychological drama Spiral Staircase is the prototype of the “old dark house, lady in distress” thriller, full of dark corners, flickering candles and featuring a mysterious, menacing killer whose true identity remains hidden until the end. Helen Capel (Dorothy McGuire), mute because of a childhood trauma, cares for the owner of the house, the wealthy Mrs. Warren (Ethel Barrymore), a demanding, widowed invalid. Helen has quietly fallen in love with one of Mrs. Warren’s sons, Dr. Parry (Kent Smith), who she believes to be a gentle and understanding man. Helen’s peaceful life is changed forever when three local women, all with physical handicaps, are found murdered. Read More »

Franklin Adreon – No Man’s Woman (1955)

Quote:
Carolyn Ellenson double-crosses five people who cross her path and is murdered by one of them. After marrying Harlow Grant for his money, she leaves him but carries on her infidelities so cleverly he can not divorce her. When Grant falls in love with Louise Nelson, art-studio employee, Carolyn demands a prohibitive cash settlement and large alimony payments. Then tiring of her art-critic lover, Wayne Vincent, who has jeopardized his own career touting her art-studio business, Carolyn leaves him to pursue Dick Sawyer and break-up his engagement to Betty Allen. All of these five people have motives for murdering Carolyn and the police choose Grant as the logical suspect. But another person comes forward to confess to the killing for personal reasons, but he didn’t do it. The real killer feels secure but must remove the murder-weapon from the studio before the police discover it. Read More »