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Field Report from the Rear...of the ROXIE!

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ChiO
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Field Report from the Rear...of the ROXIE!

Postby ChiO » May 19th, 2009, 11:04 am

Sunday night

Seeing a beautiful print of FRAMED on the big screen was so much better than the version I saw two weeks ago on my TV. Glenn Ford's performance as a down-on-his-luck mining engineer becoming a pawn in Janis Carter's embezzlement plus murder scheme grew in proportion with the screen size. Janis Carter is now a part of this observer's femme fatale pantheon. She's as cold and calculating as it gets. Tremendous!

The opportunity to finally see CANON CITY was one of the biggest draws for me. My checklist for Noir perfection: Eagle-Lion production, voice-over narration, Whit Bissell, John Doucette, and John Alton cinematography. Check, check, check, check and check. A prison break. That's all the narrative one needs to know because this is about atmosphere and jaw dropping shots. There's the recurring shot of multiple tiers of prison cells, gleaming steel bathed in shadow. Two prisoners...one in close-up profile...the other whispering to him and seeing only his silhouette on the other's face. Never to be missed if you have a chance to see it.

(Editor's Note: Our reporter was sent to the City by the Bay solely for objective reportage on the Noir world, but upon his arrival, he called the office --

Boss, there are two shadowy characters in plaid sportcoats here offering a ride. I told'em that accepting dere offer would be a breach of journalistic ethics. Da really sinister looking one said, "you're a lawyer masquerading as a film critic. And from Chicago, no less? Don't talk to me about ethics." Whadda I do, Boss?

Game, set and match, Mr. Dewey.)
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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ChiO
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Re: Field Report from the Rear...of the ROXIE!

Postby ChiO » May 19th, 2009, 11:39 am

Monday night

The Streets of San Francisco were safe tonight because on of the weirdness was on screen. It was also the night I was looking most forward to. THE MADONNA'S SECRET is another John Alton wonder. An atmospheric gem oddly reminiscient of Edgar Ulmer's BLUEBEARD. Exhibit A that a great film need not be dependent on script or acting...that set design and a genius behind the camera can provide all one needs to to be glued to the screen. Plus some love from Mommy. At it's conclusion, I turned to the shadowy character next to me, who goes by the name of Mook, and said, "I've never seen a Noir quite like that."

Then there's THE SPECTER OF THE ROSE, written by Ben Hecht and the only movie he directed. I had read a bit about how it was an odd little movie, so I thought I was prepared. There is no way to be prepared for this movie! The dialogue is something out of THE FRONT PAGE. The acting is (ahem) unconventional. And the plot concerns the ballet world, a possibly mad male dancer whose previous partner died mysteriously during a performance, the emotional ambiguity of his new partner and the surreal caricatures of those involved in the world of ballet. (Okay, I know, so far it sounds pretty true-to-life.) Oh, and Lionel Stander, a poetry spouting Communist as the Greek Chorus. At it's conclusion, we just sat in silence for about a minute and then I turned to the shadowy character next to me, who goes by the name of Mook, and said, "I've never seen a Noir like that." Mook laughed and mumbled, "Didn't you say that after the other one?"

Programming genius!!
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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ChiO
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Re: Field Report from the Rear...of the ROXIE!

Postby ChiO » May 20th, 2009, 11:31 am

Tuesday night

An evening of Women's Films (Noir) with nary a Cukor or Sirk in sight, though Lupino may have been hiding in the shadows.

There are B-movies, there are Poverty Row movies, but then there are Poverty Row B-movies and THE PORT OF FORTY THIEVES is one of those. An upper crust viper with Joan Crawford shoulders schemes her way through a husband, a boyfriend, a long lost daughter of her husband and a detective just for a little moolah and diamonds. The nerve! All in a mere 60 minutes!! Moviemaking at its best.

Noir by nature is subversive (Bryce: make a note of that). THE STORY OF MOLLY X -- based on fact and real prison conditions, we are told in the opening -- goes beyond subversion by being a transgressive mash-up of several forms (Bryce: still taking notes?). It begins with June Havoc (is that the perfect Noir name?) taking over the gang once headed by her now dead husband, peppered by tough talk that would have done Dashiell Hammett proud. Then it's a caper movie. Then a WIP movie with, yes, little fish and cat fights. Then a Susan Hayward social message movie, ending with a grand round of redemption for all, thereby resolving the "murder, murder, who committed the murder?" plot line and guilty conscience. All in the name of Love. Whoo, what a ride! SSO favorite, Charles McGraw, is a straight-shootin' tough-talkin' cop whose apparent purpose is to appear occasionally to grumble.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: Field Report from the Rear...of the ROXIE!

Postby Mr. Arkadin » May 20th, 2009, 5:38 pm

Sounds like a great time is being had by all. 8) You are getting a copy for me aren't you?!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i45IsSYF-PI[/youtube]

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ChiO
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Re: Field Report from the Rear...of the ROXIE!

Postby ChiO » May 21st, 2009, 10:59 am

Our dear Ark: Immersed in a shadowy tawdry world of the double-cross, deadly dames, cheap sets, and cheaper morals, how could anyone have a good time? You betcha...having a great time!

Wednesday night

Who would ever program an evening of family entertainment built on Sheldon Leonard and lead characters named "Dwyer"? Our Dewey, that's who.

Think Sam Fuller with no budget. With perhaps the most exciting opening of the series, VIOLENCE begins with blaring music, a freezeframe of a building with an unfurled American flag (as the credits are rolling), a pan to the building's basement where we see the silhouette of a man beating another, ending with a pan to an observer, Sheldon Leonard with his lip curled in pleasure. A group built on organizing disgruntled veterans serves as a front for a crypto-fascist shakedown gang. An intrepid girl reporter who has infiltrated the gang suffers amnesia and becomes an actual supporter while her fiancee (they met the night before, pre-amnesia), unbeknownst to her he is a government investigator, uses her to infiltrate the gang. No spoiler will be revealed here, but suffice it to say that we are still here to watch this film-to-the-wise.

A bank robbery, a carnival, dead bodies everywhere, a ditzy dame, a deadly dame and more "I-know-that-face-what's-its-name" moments than you can shake a stick at, THE LAST CROOKED MILE is as if a serial had been condensed, abridged and edited to one little package of entertainment. John Dehner, he of of curled lip sneer, enters early and exits early. Donald Barry, last seen by me a few weeks ago in William Beaudine's loopy TOUGH ASSIGNMENT, is again our hero, the private detective wanting the reward for finding the bank's money. Sheldon Leonard is Wires McGuire, a killer who uses...well, you can guess. And a sultry cabaret singer who appears to be menaced by the robbers-killers, but because she is portrayed by Ann Savage, we have a sense that, maybe, by the end, she will be more menacer than menacee.

Forget THE TRIP, HEAD and others of that ilk. These B marvels are the psychedelic movies.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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knitwit45
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Re: Field Report from the Rear...of the ROXIE!

Postby knitwit45 » May 21st, 2009, 11:14 am

Are we going to have to stage an intervention when ChiO gets back? Will he get back? Is there a de-programming group we need to contact? ChiO, you're scaring me!!!!!

Sounds like you are having a marvelous time, wish we could all join you on the back row, popcorn and milkduds and soda in hand....

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ChiO
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Re: Field Report from the Rear...of the ROXIE!

Postby ChiO » May 22nd, 2009, 10:27 am

After a morning of feasting on the art of Tiffany and Lalique, we turn to

Thursday night

She's mean. She's nasty. She's Marie Windsor. And she's the gal everyone wants to see dead in NO MAN'S WOMAN: her estranged husband, his new paramour, his father, Marie's chump, Marie's pretty young assistant, and the assistant's boyfriend. But who did kill her? This stretches the boundaries of film noir. For the first half, it's Sirk with Marie's hardboiled dialogue; after Marie is killed, it's a whodunnit. But it's fun throughout (any movie with Percy Helton has to be).

PRIVATE HELL 36, on paper, treads dangerously close to an A-movie: Ida Lupino, Steve Cochran, Howard Duff, Dorothy Malone, Dean Jagger, Richard Deacon (was he ever not bald?) and King Donovan. But with a script co-written by Lupino, dialogue by David Peckinpah, cinematography by Burnett Guffey and direction by Don Siegel, it is certainly noir and far too gritty not to be a B. The opening sequence of Cochran busting up a late night drug store robbery is a template for action, violence and destruction of everything in sight. Cop Cochran swipes some stolen cash, forces his partner Duff to decide whether to be a part of it, while Malone, Cochran's innocent wife, worries about his safety. And Lupino? The sultry night club singer that Cochran wants...and knows he needs cash to get. Her performance is particularly fascinating; hardboiled and desirous of something better, but more of a femme fatale in Cochran's mind than in her actions. A winner of a movie.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles

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ChiO
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Location: Chicago

Re: Field Report from the Rear...of the ROXIE!

Postby ChiO » May 23rd, 2009, 11:21 am

Blood ran cold at the Roxie on...

Friday night

You must remember this: nobody loves a sociopath...not even his mother. Lawrence Tierney brooded on and shot up the screen as Vincent Lubeck, THE HOODLUM. Released from jail -- for about the fifth time -- only because of the pleas of his mother, Vincent is planning a bank heist 24 hours later. By the time it comes to fruition, he's gotten his brother's girlfriend pregnant and she's committed suicide. Then his partners take his share because he wants to shortchange them. While he's on the lam, they are killed (or nearly killed) trying to escape the cops. Vincent goes to Mama, who's on her deathbed, but finds the strength to let him know that he's never been able to escape the stink of the world because he is the stink. His brother takes him to the dump to finish him off, but before he pulls his trigger, the cops pull theirs. Yes, indeed, truly a feel-good movie with a bit role by the smarmy O.Z. Whitehead.

Richard Conte. Broderick Crawford. NEW YORK CONFIDENTIAL. Steely, smart hitman Conte goes to work for mob boss Crawford. With ice cold precision, Conte performs his duties...even when it means losing the man who's been like a second father. But it gets darker than that. This film is loaded with great performances and, for a B-noir, some nuance to the narrative. This must be released! Now!!

Wish I could have seen BLAST OF SILENCE last night, too. It's ending following NEW YORK CONFIDENTIAL's ending would really have brightened the San Francisco night.

(Note: Throughout the week, there is applause when certain names appear in the opening credits. The ChiOmeter has determined that Conte and Tierney are tied for the week's most enthusiastic response.)
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles


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