An updated reminder regarding a personal obsession: One of the absolute best "B" noir films is going to be a part of the upcoming 10-title Film Noir box set coming from Warner Home Video in late July. I'm refering to DECOY, the insanely great 1946 Monogram film starring Jean Gillie, Robert Armstrong, Edward Norris, Herbert Rudley and Sheldon Leonard.
DECOY (1946) ranks at least alongside Edgar G. Ulmer's DETOUR (1945) as possibly the most astonishing example of poverty row noir--a film of such resolute darkness and perversity that is best seen in the early morning hours, just before dawn. Released by Monogram Pictures and directed by Jack Bernhard, DECOY also features a stunning central performance by Australian-born JEAN GILLIE who, sadly, died in 1949. Miss Gillie was married to Bernhard at the time. Gillie had appeared in a number of smaller scale British films before coming to the US. DECOY was her first American picture and it's a wildly impressive American debut. Her only other one was Zoltan Korda's THE MACOMBER AFFAIR (1947) where she was fifth billed. We will never know.
In DECOY Gillie plays Margot Shelby, the girlfriend of a convicted murderer (Robert Armstrong) who's about to take the secret of a buried fortune in stolen cash with him into the gas chamber.
(SPOILER ALERT from here on): With the help of the prison doctor (Herbert Rudley) who she blatantly seduces, Gillie has concocted a scheme to revive Armstrong through the use of a strange chemical gas after the execution. After doing so, in an inexplicably startling sequence of pure pulp science fiction, Gillie then manipulates Armstrong's henchman (Edward Norris) into bumping off Armstrong (now more zombie-like) once he's forked over a map to the stolen loot--before being knocked off himself by Gillie in a particularly grisly and disturbing scene. Gillie's own retribution comes at the hands of the prison doctor who returns to exact revenge before succumbing to his own violent fate. She eventually dies in the arms of the cop (Sheldon Leonard) who has dogged her from the beginning. (End of SPOILER ALERT)
For me DECOY is the film that best exemplifies the true Monogram ethos; the one that gets everything right by accident and winds up as part of an art form. It and a handful of other Monogram films (STRANGE MR. GREGORY, DILLINGER, THE GUILTY, SUSPENSE, ALLOTMENT WIVES etc) form an unholy (and gleefully unwholesome) panorama of life on Poverty Row.
Last edited by Dewey1960
on Sun Jul 15, 2007 2:00 am, edited 1 time in total.