Noir City 14: Crack-Up (1946)

Noir City 14 presented me with a couple of challenges. I wanted to get my money’s worth from the festival, yet I also wanted to explore San Francisco with my wife, who is not a movie fan. So I made a decision to skip a couple of films, one of which I had already seen recently, The Dark Corner (1946), which you can read about here.

Even so, I was able to catch the last 30 minutes or so of the film, plenty of time to see William Bendix get what was coming to him at the hands of Clifton Webb. (Sorry, slight spoiler there…)


In his introduction to the next film, Eddie Muller admitted that Crack-Up (1946, directed by Irving Reis) is not one of his favorite noir films, but it does fit the Noir City 14 theme of art. The film begins with an agitated man (Pat O’Brien, below on his back) smashing the glass door of the Manhattan Museum and assaulting a museum guard. Once the museum staff rush to the scene, they discover that this crazed man is none other than George Steele, art critic, forgery expert, and lecturer at the museum.

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The Enemy Below (1957) Dick Powell

Enemy Below1

The Enemy Below (1957)
Directed by Dick Powell
Produced by Dick Powell
Screenplay by Wendell Mayes, based on a novel by Commander D.A. (Denys) Rayner
Cinematography by Harold Rosson
Edited by Stuart Gilmore
Music by Leigh Harline
20th Century Fox
(color; Cinemascope; 1:38)


The crew members of the Navy destroyer escort U.S.S. Haynes are a bit nervous. They’re patrolling the South Atlantic during World War II with a new commander, Captain Murrell (Robert Mitchum) who has confined himself to his cabin since coming aboard. Several of the sailors wager that the new captain’s seasick. Or maybe just yellow.

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Books on Movies: How to Watch a Movie (2015) David Thomson


How to Watch a Movie (2015) David Thomson

Anyone picking up this book who has previously read David Thomson will know exactly what to expect. Thomson has written about film for The Guardian, The Independent, Salon, Film Comment and many other publications. He’s written many books on film, several of them doorstoppers. Thomson is also intelligent, brash and opinionated. (What film critic isn’t?) So even if Thomson can be abrasive, at least this little volume should be a lightweight excursion, even for those who’ve never read the man’s previous works, right?


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No Man of Her Own (1950) Part of the Remembering Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon


No Man of Her Own (1950)
Directed by Mitchell Leisen
Produced by Richard Maibaum
Screenplay by Sally Benson, Catherine Turney
Based on the novel I Married a Dead Man by William Irish (Cornell Woolrich)
Cinematography by Daniel L. Fapp
Edited by Alma Macrorie
Music by Hugo Friedhofer
Costumes by Edith Head
Paramount Pictures
(black-and-white; 1:38)
Amazon streaming

Original viewing October 25, 2015, Noir City DC at the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center

Stanwyck’s throaty narration begins as the camera takes us from a quiet street up past a perfectly manicured lawn to a sprawling home large enough to house dozens of people. It’s a place, Stanwyck’s voice tells us, of “perfect peace and security. The summer nights are pleasant in Caulfield, but not for us.”

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Fantômas (1913-1914) Louis Feuillade


I don’t care that Fantômas is over 100 years old, that it’s silent, or that it’s in French (with English subtitles). You can tell me all day long about how it inspired Fritz Lang’s Dr. Mabuse films (which I love), how the title character has come to be recognized as cinema’s first supervillain, and how influential director Louis Feuillade was to other directors. I knew everything I needed to know in the first scene from the first film: a montage of the villian Fantômas (René Navarre) going through a series of disguises, changing them effortlessly as if he’s shedding skin every few seconds. I knew from that opening that Fantômas was going to be a fun, wild ride, and that’s exactly what it is.

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