Film Noir

Fritz Lang – The Woman in the Window (1944)

Quote:
Fritz Lang’s The Woman in the Window (1944) is a riveting melodrama that’s only improved with age. Edward G. Robinson delivers a memorable performance as an everyday Joe who suddenly finds himself entangled in a murder, but Lang’s sense of adventure is the real draw. One shot in particular – a single-take transitional moment near the end of the film – simply has to be seen to be believed. Look for Robinson leaning forward in a leather chair during what appears to be the picture’s tragic climax, then watch what happens next….and good luck determining how Lang did it. Read More »

Curtis Bernhardt – Possessed (1947)

Quote:
Joan Crawford won an Academy award in 1945 for Mildred Pierce, and, two years later, she was trying her utmost to win another. Her gripping, melodramatic star turn helped make Possessed a hit and a prime example of post-war film noir. Crawford can’t find happiness with either Van Heflin or Raymond Massey, and her fiery emotions drive her into a lethal frenzy. Based on Rita Weiman’s book One Man’s Secret, Possessed is told almost entirely in flashbacks, the goal being to figure out what drove Crawford’s character crazy. As a dark psychological study, this is Hollywood at its moodiest; love has rarely seemed so perilous and fraught with anxiety. German director Curtis Bernhardt was known for making emotional films that appealed to women. Crawford got her Oscar nomination, but Loretta Young won the statuette that year for The Farmer’s Daughter. Read More »

Richard M. Grey – A Gunman Has Escaped (1948)

A tough guy with a habit of calling other men sweetheart, accidentally shoots a man who tries to prevent him fleeing a robbery, then forces his two accomplices to go on the run with him. While all over the news reports, they hide out as labourers on a smallholding, and in true film style one instantly falls for the owner’s daughter. But ringleader Eddie doesn’t care for anything, and has become trigger-happy to the point of delirium. Read More »

William Beaudine – Don’t Gamble with Strangers (1946)

Plot:
When Mike Sarno (Kane Richmond) out-cheats Fay Benton (Bernadene Hayes) in a crooked poker game, the two gamblers bury the hatchet and agree to become partners in crime. Posing as brother and sister, the pair finally hits the big time when Mike runs into a gambler (Phil Van Zandt) who owes him a debt and takes over his casino to square it. Read More »

Roman Polanski – Chinatown [+commentary] (1974)

Quote:
A private detective investigating an adultery case stumbles on to a scheme of murder that has something to do with water. Read More »

Leslie H. Martinson – FBI Code 98 (1963)

Robert Cannon (Jack Kelly), Fred Vitale (Ray Danton) and Alan Nichols (Andrew Duggan), three men vital to America’s missile program, are en route to Cape Canaveral when a bomb is discovered in a suitcase. Defused by Vitale, the device is turned over to the FBI, which takes charge of the investigation. Assigned to determine if it’s a case of sabotage or attempted murder, Inspector Leroy Gifford (Philip Carey) and his squad race to track down the bomber before he can strike again. Read More »

Billy Wilder – Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Quote:
One of Wilder’s finest, and certainly the blackest of all Hollywood’s scab-scratching accounts of itself, this establishes its relentless acidity in the opening scene by having the story related by a corpse floating face-down in a Hollywood swimming-pool. What follows in flashback is a tale of humiliation, exploitation, and dashed dreams, as a feckless, bankrupt screenwriter (Holden) pulls into a crumbling mansion in search of refuge from his creditors, and becomes inextricably entangled in the possessive web woven by a faded star of the silents (Swanson), who is high on hopes of a comeback and heading for outright insanity. Read More »