USA

F. Hugh Herbert – Scudda Hoo! Scudda Hay! (1948)

Plot:
Though the title sounds like something from a Big Band era tune, it actually refers to commands used during the training of mules. Young Snug Dominy has just purchased a pair of strapping mules. With no available cash, he must work for their previous owner to pay them off. Snug lives with his callous stepmother Judith, who spends all her time and attention with his stepbrother Stretch. This creates an escalating tension between the two youths that their father is unable to stop. Meanwhile, Snug toils long and hard to keep possession of his muleteam, as the farmer who owned them tries to get them back. Things get really sticky when Snug falls in love with the farmer’s lovely daughter. Look very closely and see a young Marilyn Monroe paddling a canoe in one sequence. Read More »

Richard L. Bare – Return of the Frontiersman (1950)


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Plot:
The law is the law. No exceptions. So Sheriff Sam Barrett saddles up a deputized posse and rides in pursuit of an accused outlaw: his son Logan. Meanwhile, Logan is on the run, living by his wits and attempting to clear his name of murder. Justice rides hard in Return of the Frontiersman, a shoot-’em-up filled with horseback chases, raging gun battles and men who know how to take – and deliver – a swift sock to the jaw. Gordon MacRae plays Logan, heading a cast that includes Rory Calhoun and Julie London. MacRae adds a couple tunes for good measure. And when he offers London a buggy ride at picture’s end, it’s hard not to recall the “surrey with a fringe on top” that awaited MacRae in the smash musical Oklahoma! From Warner Brothers! Read More »

Michael Curtiz – The Unsuspected (1947)

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Noir of the Week review
Don Malcolm

What has Laura got that The Unsuspected hasn’t? All the romantic, mid-range melodramatic elements that make for an essentially safe, polished, none-too-threatening entertainment experience—a dynamic, exceptionally attractive couple in Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews; a marvelously b*tchy homme fatale in Clifton Webb; a celebrated score and theme song from David Raksin.

You won’t find any of these things in The Unsuspected. What you have instead is the noir mastery of director Michael Curtiz and cinematographer Woody Bredell, who take aspects of the Laura plotline into new levels of intricacy and darkness, fueled by an almost lapidary sense of frame and scene construction. The camerawork and lighting in The Unsuspected, particularly in the studio scenes (inside the Croton mansion where most of the action takes place) is possibly the most sublimely sinister cinematography in the entire noir canon. Read More »

László Benedek – Affair in Havana (1957)

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PLOT DESCRIPTION
In this suspenseful crime drama the trouble begins when the healthy wife of a crippled plantation owner prepares to leave with her handsome lover. Just before she does, her ailing husband tells her that he will only live a few months more, and if she remains with him she will inherit $20 million. She then dumps her lover and returns to her husband. Time passes and he is still alive. She grows impatiant and pushes her husband and his wheelchair into the swimming pool and gets her money. Afterward, she murders a snoopy servant, but in the end one of her late husbands’ servants avenges his death and kills the conniving wife. Meanwhile, the lover returns to the piano bar where he met the woman. The film was shot in oppulent Havana, Cuba before Castro came to power. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide Read More »

Andrew Noren – Free to Go (Interlude) (2003)

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Quote:
2003. USA. Directed by Andrew Noren. “Energy pictures; mindful kinesis. Light and shadow vigorously conjoin, conjuring delusion of depth and duration, fiction of space and time. The fool’s paradise of the illusory window … (remember: flutter of phantoms, trick of the light) … is savored and shattered and seen for what it is” (Andrew Noren). Silent. 62 min. Read More »

William Castle – Homicidal (1961)

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Quote:
Gimmicky B-movie fright master William Castle (THE TINGLER, STRAIT JACKET) enters the adventurous (for 1961!) world of gender psychology in this effective suspense picture. Bombshell Emily (Jean Arless) murders the justice of the peace after he marries her to Warren (Glen Corbett) a hotel bellboy whom she paid to do so. The odd couple then move to the sleepy town of Solvang, where she works for Warren’s childhood guardian Helga (Eugenie Leontovich), a mute, wheelchair-bound old woman. Emily terrorizes Helga, knowing that Helga has no way of informing anyone about her murderous manners. Warren’s half-sister Miriam (Patricia Breslin) begins to unravel some family secrets–but not before the body count increases! This low-budget “tribute” to the previous year’s PSYCHO featured a “fright break” in its theatrical run which allowed views to get their money back if they were too scared to watch the conclusion. Read More »

Jules Dassin – The Naked City [+Extras] (1948)

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Plot Synopsis:
Young model Jean Dexter is knocked unconscious and drowned in her own bathtub in her Manhattan apartment, and a lot of jewelry that she supposedly owned is missing. The Naked City is actually about six days in the life of New York City that coincide with the murder and the subsequent investigation by Lt. Dan Muldoon (Barry Fitzgerald) and Detective James Halloran (Don Taylor). The account of their work, and the workings of the New York City police department, is interspersed with brief vignettes about the life of the city around them, and, especially, the reaction of residents to the murder and the newspaper reports of the progress of the case. Muldoon and Halloran first must determine why she was killed, which may (or may not) have to do with how a woman with a minimal income came by the jewelry — was it a love affair gone bad (and if so, with whom?), or something more complex and sinister? Retracing the final 18 months of the victim’s life, their investigation reaches out to a mysterious “Philip Henderson” with whom she was supposedly linked romantically, and to Frank Niles (Howard Duff), who’s a little too fast-and-loose with the truth when he doesn’t have to be to make Muldoon comfortable; to make things more complicated, Muldoon determines that there were at least two men involved with the actual commission of the murder. The victim turns out to have led a wild life, filled with men and parties, and was tied up with several sordid figures. Read More »