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Noir Films

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kingrat
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Re: Noir Films

Postby kingrat » May 2nd, 2013, 7:13 pm

One of my toughest decisions at the festival was to choose between TRY AND GET ME (1950, dir. Cy Endfield) and MILDRED PIERCE with Ann Blyth in attendance. I happened to see Eddie Muller at the bar in Club TCM, an appropriate place for the czar of noir, and asked him about Cy Endfield, saying that he seemed to be a better director than his reputation. EM: “Which is zero.” We both like ZULU; Muller said that HELL DRIVERS is great; he hadn’t seen SEA FURY, which I like; and he urged me to see TRY AND GET ME. Which is why SueSue will have to tell you about MILDRED PIERCE and Ann Blyth.

Beau Bridges and several members of his family were present, and Beau said that he felt that his father was there in spirit. Beau said that Lloyd Bridges was particularly proud of four films: HOME OF THE BRAVE; TRY AND GET ME; HIGH NOON; and the live TV drama TRAGEDY IN A TEMPORARY TOWN, with a Reginald Rose script. This is the one where Bridges was supposed to bring a baseball bat on stage to smash the headlights of cars of a mob trying to lynch a Hispanic man, but he forgot to bring the bat when he entered. Instead, he went wild and accidentally used the word “g.d.” which was forbidden on television. Beau Bridges also said that his father was a great dad. According to Beau, his father was blacklisted because he had invited the African-American actor Jimmy Edwards home to dinner. They had worked together in HOME OF THE BRAVE.

Eddie Muller said that he had asked Beau if he wanted to bring his family to a film where his dad plays a psycho killer. Cy Endfield was blacklisted and moved to England to work. Because his name was Cyril Raker Endfield, people tended to assume he was English, just as Jules Dassin had to be French. By the way, Endfield is sometimes billed as Cy Enfield and sometimes as C. Raker Endfield.

As advertised by the czar of noir, TRY AND GET ME is quite good. It’s based on the same incident which inspired Fritz Lang’s FURY, an actual lynching in San Jose in the early 1930s. However, the stories are not at all alike except for the storming of the jail scenes. In FURY Spencer Tracy is innocent; I don’t think it’s spoiling the story to say that in TRY AND GET ME this is not the case. The film opens with Frank Lovejoy (excellent in the main role) returning home after failing to get a job. We’re in GRAPES OF WRATH territory. As a noirish fate would have it, instead he meets Lloyd Bridges, who cleverly recruits him for the dark side. Bridges is just terrific. These scenes are, in effect, seduction scenes, and that’s how Bridges plays them and Endfield directs them.

A major theme of the film is how the newspapers build up a series of small-time robberies into a “major crime wave,” probably by East Coast gangsters who have moved in. Richard Carlson, who looks and sounds amazingly like Hugh Marlowe, plays the columnist who fans the flames. He is then aghast when he realizes that he’s created a mob mentality. The voice of reason is his friend, an Italian nuclear physicist (based on Fermi, perhaps?).

That morning I’d seen CAPE FEAR—not exactly a day of light comedy—so I was particularly struck by the contrast between TRY AND GET ME’s emphasis on social breakdown as the reason for crime and Robert Mitchum’s totally evil predator in CAPE FEAR. Does TRY AND GET ME’s faith in social improvement now seem a bit naïve? There’s no explanation for the evil in CAPE FEAR: it’s just there, hard-wired into Max Cady, the Mitchum character.

A fun fact: Beau Bridges hadn’t known beforehand that his mother has a bit part in TRY AND GET ME, playing a reporter who’s come down from San Francisco to cover the case. Eddie Muller didn’t know that, either.

RedRiver
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Re: Noir Films

Postby RedRiver » May 3rd, 2013, 3:36 pm

TRY AND GET ME is a fascinating psychological thriller. Small in scale, as it would have to be. Brief and to the point. I love a movie like that! I haven't seen THE VERDICT since I was knee high to, well, Peter Lorre! I liked it a lot at that time. Would love a chance to re-evaluate.

kingrat
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Re: Noir Films

Postby kingrat » May 3rd, 2013, 4:05 pm

Before The Killing was shown at the festival, Dennis Bartok interviewed Coleen Gray. She needed assistance getting on and off stage, but mentally was quite sharp and seemed very much like the sweet character she often played. Though it’s only hearsay, she has heard that Stanley Kubrick was looking for a “Coleen Gray type” and someone said, “What about Coleen Gray?” He did not interview her.

She had heard he was a brilliant up-and-comer, so she went to see Killer’s Kiss, which was playing in Inglewood on the lower half of a double bill with Summertime. [You have to love the way Hollywood marketed their films.] At the end of Killer’s Kiss, there was spontaneous applause, which hadn’t occurred for Summertime.

Sterling Hayden had been in the OSS. He was quiet and she was quiet; her code of conduct was not to interrupt another actor’s train of thought. Hayden was a gentleman who knew what he was supposed to do. She thought he was perfect in the movie. As she said, her scenes were “bookends” in the film, so she didn’t work with actors like Timothy Carey. She hadn’t met him before but had seen him baring his teeth in films.

Kubrick’s wife, Ruth Slobotka, was the art director. She remembers that Ruth Slobotka wanted the curtains to hang at a certain angle, then the set man later came by and straightened them, RS later came back on set and re-arranged them, etc. She said she wanted to watch the movie again to see how the curtains finally looked. (Darn it, I forgot to look for this.)

She had imagined that this new genius would invest her with new qualities. In actuality, Kubrick didn’t give her notes. He just printed the scene. (My take is that Coleen Gray gave the qualities her character needed, so Kubrick didn’t interfere with something that worked.) Kubrick did do a good bit of work with Marie Windsor, who has, as Coleen Gray noted, the leading female role.

Coleen Gray suggested that a good story is the apex of the triangle with the director at the left of the base and the actors on the right. She was thrilled and delighted by the finished film—which was indeed the reaction of the audience at the festival.

Really, what’s not to like about The Killing? I could note that the ending is taken from a famous John Huston film, but it works well here, too. Sterling Hayden is at his best (he did not seem remarkable to me in Johnny Guitar or The Asphalt Jungle, or maybe he just got overshadowed by gifted co-stars in the latter film). Coleen Gray is right as the nice girl who’ll go along with her man even against her better judgment. The script is a well-oiled machine. Hey, someone has to play a wacko killer: how about Timothy Carey? The audience loved him, just as they loved Elisha Cook, Jr. and Marie Windsor as a less than perfect couple. We relished every line and every glance. People left the theater talking about Cook and Windsor. I also loved Kola Kariani as the combination chessmaster/thug. What a marvelous conception.

CineMaven and I chatted after the film about the Jay C. Flippen character. She asked if I thought he seemed to have a crush on Sterling Hayden when he suggests that the two of them go off together and disparages the idea of Hayden marrying. Yes, that’s exactly what I saw, and I have little doubt that’s what the actor and director intended.

Kubrick’s direction is outstanding. Notice, for instance, the way he introduces several characters with panning shots which carry them past places which will be significant in the story. Some of the scenes with Marie Windsor and Elisha Cook, Jr. are done in long takes, which you may not notice because the dialogue is so good. One woman who teaches film said that The Killing changed her view of Kubrick, and I agreed. This is definitely my favorite; I prefer the films before 2001: A Space Odyssey where actors and story are as important as directorial effects. Concepts become much more important than characters in his later films, but The Killing is one of those fortunate films where everything seems to have gone right. One of the top noirs? You bet.

RedRiver
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Re: Noir Films

Postby RedRiver » May 4th, 2013, 3:15 pm

Everything in this classic works oh so well. The rifleman at the race track. Elisha Cook and his back stabbing wife. Ben Casey up to something less honorable than neurosurgery. Unfortunately, Kubrick's caper is destined to be compared with Huston's. As fine as this one is, ASPHALT JUNGLE tops it in virtually every way. Is that a reflection on Kubrick and his colleagues? No. But, sooner or later, the discussion is almost bound to take that course.

No need to make too much of this. We're talking about two thrilling heist films. Let's just enjoy them!

clore
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Re: Noir Films

Postby clore » May 17th, 2013, 12:57 am

ChiO wrote:Bill Cannon (Dan Duryea) is a Loser in L.A. He loses jobs due to his drinking and now he is losing his beloved wife and little girl. His wife and daughter take off cross-country one morning to stay with her people. Bill is crushed. The next morning, as a guy from the phone company is disconnecting Bill's phone over a $53 unpaid bill, he receives a telegram from his wife -- they were in an auto accident outside of Chicago, the daughter will be operated on today, and his wife will call him at home tomorrow morning. Hence, CHICAGO CALLING! (John Reinhardt 1952).

Now it's a race-against-time to get $53 in 24 hours so he can find out his daughter's condition. All of Bill's initial steps fail. Then he has the opportunity to steal the money, but he doesn't. But someone else does for him and, despite his trepidation, he decides it is borrowing, not theft. But that doesn't work out. As the day and night proceed, Bill is assisted by more Good Samaritans than one thought existed in the Film Noir Universe. But nothing quite works out. Broke and about to be carted off to jail for theft, the phone guy, sensitive to Bill's plight, returns so the call will be received...but Bill is a Loser.

There are several characters, but most come and go. Duryea is in almost every shot and his performance is a tour-de-force. It is his movie all the way, and that is never a bad thing.


Let me echo your high opinion of CHICAGO CALLING, here's what I wrote about it a year ago:

This was a nice little film. Duryea played the average man here, a bit down on his luck as we first see him, a point emphasized by the stairway that we see him descending en route home. His wife is about to leave him since he's chronically unemployed, and says she's going to take their daughter with her.

This happens the next day and then he later gets a telegram stating that his daughter was injured in a car accident and is about to undergo surgery. He'll supposedly get the details the next day via a phone call. But that's just it - his day started out bad, and only got worse as the phone company terminated his service and if that isn't bad enough, his dog is also injured in an accident while he's out trying to scrounge up money to pay the bill so he can get the call the next day.

It reminded me of Loretta Young's "Cause For Alarm" in which we follow the protagonist through an agonizing day, in her case she was trying to retrieve an incriminating letter. It may have been sunny in each film, but the characters are having one very dark day.

"Chicago Calling" may be the title, but what we get is the lower environs of Los Angeles in all of its seediness. But still some helpful characters emerge, such as a counter-woman who must have seen "The Grapes of Wrath" and has a soft spot for Duryea's woe, and a young boy, the one whose bicycle hits Duryea's dog. The boy's "help" only compounds Duryea's problems, but he meant well.

A very nice job on a low budget, the director John Reinhardt died the next year, but based on this and "Open Secret" - another budget job that had antisemitism in its sights, he had a lot of promise that might have been fulfilled had he gotten the breaks.

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ChiO
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Re: Noir Films

Postby ChiO » May 17th, 2013, 1:50 am

THE GUILTY (1947) is another one worth seeing. I wrote in the Cornell Woolrich thread on June 13, 2008:

Well, Dewey, you did it again. I have now watched THE GUILTY (John Reinhardt, 1947) from Woolrich's story, He Looked Like Murder.

Under the opening credits, we have a rear view of a man in a trench coat, collar turned up, hands in pockets, walking alone down a desolate dark urban street. Credits end and there is voice-over first-person narration as he walks into an empty bar, orders a drink and tells his old pal, the bartender, his story. The film noir begins and never lets up.

In short order, with requisite shadows and cheap, grimy, urban sets, we get: love triangles among two ex-Army buddies who are now roommates and a set of twins, one a "good girl" and the other a "bad girl"; undertones of homosexuality, incest and pedophilia; madness; murder; attempted suicide; and distrust everywhere. As Peter Travers or Gene Shalit might say: The feel-good movie of 1947!!!!

This is the finest film noir I've seen since Mr. Ark sent me DIAL 1119. Paramount, Warner Bros, RKO and the other big boys made some great films noir, but seeing a Poverty Row gem like this (and Mann's at Eagle-Lion and Ulmer's at PRC) shows the difference between making a film noir and being a film noir.

I have not read Woolrich's story, but Nevins accuses the filmmakers of changing it too much. But it certainly worked for me.
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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CineMaven
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Re: Noir Films

Postby CineMaven » May 17th, 2013, 7:19 am

Well ChiO, if you told me to eat my vegetables, and wrote a review of why asparagus, brocoli, beets and okra were healthy for me...I guess I'd eat 'em. ( And my parents would be indebted to you, even at my advanced age! )

Film noir is dessert for me. For those who love the dark chocolate world of noir, here is the movie ChiO's talking about. It stars BONITA GRANVILLE. Start with Part 1 of 6.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw4a0hrcOwk[/youtube]
"You build my gallows high, baby."

http://www.megramsey.com

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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Postby JackFavell » May 17th, 2013, 7:40 am

Oh, geez, it's got Bonita Granville in it? I'm going for it.

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CineMaven
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Re: Noir Films

Postby CineMaven » May 17th, 2013, 7:53 am

I know she's your girl ( that's why I put her name in bold...a beacon for you BatGirl. ) I've got to sit with this later tonight.
"You build my gallows high, baby."

http://www.megramsey.com

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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Postby JackFavell » May 17th, 2013, 9:23 am

Thanks Tee. I'll get to it right after Pierre of the Plains. Oh lordy, it's a scream!

RedRiver
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Re: Noir Films

Postby RedRiver » May 17th, 2013, 11:30 am

CHICAGO CALLING and the Woolrich film sound wonderful. The former sounds vaguely familiar. But that's probably because I've read other posts on it!

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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Postby JackFavell » May 17th, 2013, 2:05 pm

Chicago Calling is here:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSpiuaspc6U[/youtube]

RedRiver
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Re: Noir Films

Postby RedRiver » May 18th, 2013, 3:51 pm

Ah! An argument for getting my own computer. I don't know if I can sit in the library for an hour and 14 minutes!

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ChiO
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Re: Noir Films

Postby ChiO » May 21st, 2013, 4:14 pm

A magnificent shot of the Queensboro Bridge as the opening credits roll. As soon as the credits end, boom!, a man's body -- from elbow to knee -- appears in close-up, handcuffs dangling from his wrist. He runs..men follow him. And suddenly he's on the bridge, looking to jump. FRIGHT (W. Lee Wilder 1956).

Dr. James Hamilton (Eric Fleming), a psychiatrist, happens upon the scene and asks the police chief if he can try something. Having read about Morley (Frank Marth), a serial killer, in the newspaper, he believes Morley to be highly suggestible and that he can talk him down. He does, but his near-hypnotic suggestions also affect Ann Summers (Nancy Malone) who is a bystander. Frightened by the experience, she goes to the doctor's office.

He soon learns through hypnosis that she has a split-personality: Ann, the sweet girl-next-door (who he will professional-ethics-be-damned fall in love with) and an angry Austrian baroness from the 19th century searching for the Hapsburg Crown Prince who killed her in a murder-suicide due to their forbidden love. The baroness must now kill the doctor because he is trying to kill her and just keep Ann. Dr. Hamilton is told by Ann's caretaker that Ann had once had a German nanny who told her tales of the 19th century Hapsburgs -- tales told around the time that Ann saw her father in flagrante delicto with the nanny -- traumatizing her young malleable mind. Hamilton needs bait to capture the baroness side of Ann and, to do so, he needs a convincing killer....

W. Lee again proves that he didn't need a Paramount as his brother, Billy, did to tell an engrossing story. A couple of exterior shots (the bridge and an apartment building), and two walls and a couple of pieces of furniture, and you've got your sets. Need some eerie and atmospheric lighting? J. Burgi Contner -- MOON OVER HARLEM (Edgar G. Ulmer 1939), 39 episodes of Naked City, and one of my Top Ten Noirs, COP HATER (William Berke 1958) -- does extremely well albeit not at the level of John Alton for THE PRETENDER (W. Lee Wilder 1947). This was one of seven scripts written for W. Lee Wilder by his son, Myles Wilder, who wrote extensively for TV starting in 1960.

Eric Fleming may be remembered as Gil Favor on Rawhide. Nancy Malone, though she does well here, didn't have much of a movie acting career (this was her first of six or seven), but she made a ton of TV appearances (including 51 episodes of Naked City) from 1950-85, and became the vice-president for television at 20th Century Fox. As Ann, she's at the bridge, stuck in a cab because of the to-do caused by Morley. The cabdriver? Good ol' Ned Glass.
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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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Postby JackFavell » May 21st, 2013, 4:27 pm

Oooh, what a great story! I love the idea of it. Sounds like The Mummy meets Three Faces of Eve.


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