The Locket (1946) John Brahm
Warner Archive DVD
John Willis (Gene Raymond) is all set to marry Nancy (Laraine Day), the woman of his dreams, until he’s approached by a man named Harry Blair (Brian Aherne). Blair, claiming to be Nancy’s former husband, warns Willis that he’s about to marry a thief, a liar, and quite possibly a murderer, all in one. Thus begins one of the most complicated uses of flashback in all of film noir – a flashback within a flashback within a flashback.
Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler (1922) Fritz Lang
Masters of Cinema Blu-ray (UK)
As is the case with many film bloggers, I have no real credentials to review any movie with any degree of authority or expertise. I just love films (and comics, which is the other side of my blog. I’m no expert in that area, either.) and love writing about them. Having said that, Dr. Mabuse, The Gambler is certainly a film that I have no business reviewing; I just want to tell you what I love about it and hope you’ll want to see it as well.
Insomnia (1997) Erik Skjoldbjærg
Criterion Collection DVD (library)
Watching Insomnia, you have to keep reminding yourself that this was Erik Skjoldbjærg’s feature film debut. It certainly doesn’t have the look or feel of a first-time director, although Skjoldbjærg had completed shorter films previous to Insomnia (two of which are included on the Criterion release). As far as I can tell, none of Skjoldbjærg’s subsequent films have had the influence or impact of Insomnia.
The Hitch-Hiker (1953) Ida Lupino
Amazon Instant Video
My mother always told me two things I should never do: go to a chiropractor or pick up a hitch-hiker. I don’t know what initiated her first rule, but I’m pretty sure the second came after watching Ida Lupino’s The Hitch-Hiker.
(If you’re not familiar with the term film noir, this essay from filmsnoir.net is worth reading.)
The other night I was watching The Big Combo (1955), an excellent film noir directed by Joseph H. Lewis. Although it was released near the end of film noir’s heyday, it’s a hard-hitting tale about a police lieutenant (Cornel Wilde, far right) obsessed with bringing down a local crime boss called Mr. Brown (Richard Conte, seated). The lieutenant wants to do the right thing, but does he want to bring down the crime boss because he’s seeking justice, or is it something personal? We see Mr. Brown and his hired thugs wanting something out of life – money, respect, power – things that aren’t necessarily bad things in and of themselves, but taken too far, they become not only problematic, they become things that can get you killed.
If you’re a fan of the old pulp science fiction stories, you’re going to want to check out Beware… Volume One: Citizen Science by Will Perkins and Mike D. Perkins from 215 Ink. You can read my review at The Comics Alternative.
If you’re into comics and aren’t getting the monthly Previews catalog, you should. For the price of one comic book, you can find out about all the comics and graphic novels (as well as apparel, toys, statues, etc.) coming out in the next few months. Derek and Andy K. do a monthly podcast at The Comics Alternative covering the Previews catalog and I highly recommend it.
A couple of my favorite creators will have books coming out soon including Copra Round Two from Michel Fiffe and the next installment of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor by Nathan Hale. That’s only two titles from hundreds that you’ll read about in Previews, so be sure to check out the podcast and grab a copy of Previews.
Happy Birthday to an actress/director who doesn’t get nearly as much recognition as she should – Ida Lupino, a very important name in female directors. I’m still waiting on a good biography of Lupino… All the ones I’ve heard about seem to have problems or limitations. In honor of Lupino’s birthday, I think I’ll watch her 1953 film noir The Hitch-Hiker.
Derek and I recently discussed three webcomics over at The Comics Alternative Podcast. As usual, we discussed two ongoing titles and one completed webcomic. First, we discuss K.C. Green and Anthony Clark’s western/fantasy story Back. Next we tackle the dystopian fantasy The Only Living Boy by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis. Our completed webcomic discussion focuses on a title that began way back in 1999 and was completed in 2001, a webcomic called When I Am King by Demian 5.
We’re always looking for more webcomics to discuss on the show, so whether you know of a good ongoing or finished webcomic, please let us know. Hope you enjoy the podcast!
I Wake Up Screaming (1941) H. Bruce Humberstone
20th Century Fox
Fox DVD (library)
I’m not sure you’ll hear any screaming whatsoever in I Wake Up Screaming, but I am sure that if you’re a fan of film noir, you won’t want to pass this one up. As far as dates go, this is an early film noir, but actually functions more as a mystery with several noir elements, which I’ll address later.