Sleep, My Love (1948) Douglas Sirk
Olive DVD (library)
Alison Courtland (Claudette Colbert, above) finds herself on a passenger train bound for Boston, with no memory of how she got there or the gun in her purse. She’s aided by fellow passenger Bruce Elcott (Robert Cummings, second picture below, left), who makes sure she gets home to her husband Richard Courtland (Don Ameche, below left), where she’ll be safe and taken care of. She’ll be taken care of, all right, just not in way Elcott thinks.
Fallen Angel (1945) Otto Preminger
Fox Film Noir DVD
Our introduction to Eric Stanton (Dana Andrews, above) finds him being thrown off a bus for not having enough fare to make it to San Francisco. The little town of Walton will have to do for this drifter/con man. Eric’s first stop is Pop’s Eats, a hole-in-the-wall diner where the proprietor – appropriately named Pop (Percy Kilbride) – is all in a tizzy: Pop’s best (and maybe only) waitress Stella has been gone for days. When she finally shows up, we immediately see why business tanks when she’s not around.
The Street with No Name (1948) William Keighley
Fox Film Noir DVD
As we learn from the film’s opening documentary-like voice-over narration, the street in question could be any street in America. We see (or are meant to believe we see) FBI men in training and working before we meet FBI agent George Briggs (Lloyd Nolan, above right), who previously appeared in Henry Hathaway’s The House on 92nd Street (1945). Briggs and the boys feel that new agent Gene Cordell (Mark Stevens, below) could become a good undercover man. He’s needed quickly: a local gang is giving the FBI fits, having just pulled off a huge bank robbery and killing innocent people in the process.
Moonrise (1948) Frank Borzage
Young Danny Hawkins is constantly tormented by other boys his age, but the reason has nothing to do with anything Danny did. No, it’s because of Danny’s father, who was hanged as a murderer. After an opening which is equal parts surreal and nightmarish, we aren’t sure what to expect next: Salvador Dali, Southern gothic noir, or both.
Kiss of Death (1947) Henry Hathaway
Richard Widmark (above left) made quite a career playing sadistic criminals in film noir and while his role in Kiss of Death confirms this, it’s largely Victor Mature (above right) who’s allowed to show us a more nuanced performance.
Too Late for Tears (1949) Byron Haskin
Alan Palmer (Arthur Kennedy) and his wife Jane (Lizabeth Scott, above) are driving through the Hollywood Hills on their way to a party. Along the way, another car nearly hits them, unnerving the Palmers until they discover the driver of the other car has thrown something into their car: a satchel. Can you guess what’s in the satchel? Money, and lots of it. $60,000 worth. (In today’s dollars, that would equal nearly $600,000.) Once Alan opens the bag and Jane sees the money, her face lights up in a way that’s both beatific and hellish. Her life is never going to be the same.
Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Robert Wise
Johnny Ingram (Harry Belafonte, above left) owes $7,500 to a bookie and child support to an ex-wife. Earl Slater (Robert Ryan, above right) is an ex-con, growing old with nothing to show for it but hate, prejudice, and a woman named Lorry (Shelley Winters, below) who loves him despite his many faults. The only person keeping Johnny and Earl from killing each other is Dave Burke (Ed Begley, above center). Burke is an ex-cop who wants to get back at the system after having his career ruined when he refused to cooperate with upper level crime investigators.
The Reckless Moment (1949) Max Ophüls
Lucia Harper (Joan Bennett, above left) warned her daughter Bea (Geraldine Brooks, below right) about men like Darby. Darby’s too old, Lucia tells Bea, and he hangs out in seedy places with people of questionable character. And to top it all off, Darby is played by Shepperd Strudwich, who always looks like he’s up to no good.
Odd Man Out (1947) Carol Reed
Criterion Collection Blu-ray
Johnny McQueen (James Mason, above), an escapee from a Northern Ireland prison, has been hiding out in the home of his girlfriend Kathleen (Kathleen Ryan) and her grannie (Kitty Kirwan) for several months. He’s gaining strength, but more importantly, he’s planning to rob a local mill to obtain funds for “the Organization,” which, for all practical purposes, stands in for the IRA as much as its unnamed city stands in for Belfast.
During his time in prison, Johnny has come to believe that violence is not the answer, yet he’s been ordered to lead several men from the Organization to pull off the robbery. The men are concerned that Johnny hasn’t yet recovered enough of his strength to carry out the mission. Their concerns are well-founded.
Hollow Triumph (a.k.a. The Scar) (1948) Steve Sekely
Paul Henreid (above right) plays John Muller, a man just released from prison who’s itching to get back to the robbery game, which he does when he formulates a plan to rob a casino. Muller’s buddies are reluctant to join him, but they do and, of course, things go wrong. Very wrong.