(I recently purchased four film noir titles from last week’s Warner Bros. 4 for $44 sale. Riffraff is the first film I watched from that set. I plan on reviewing the others soon, so stay tuned.)
Directed by Ted Tetzlaff
Written by Martin Rackin
Produced by Jack J. Gross, Nat Holt
Cinematography by George E. Diskant
Edited by Philip Martin
Music by Roy Webb
(1:20) Warner DVD (MOD)
Eddie Muller mentioned in a tweet that the first six or seven minutes of Riffraff are absolutely spectacular and he wasn’t kidding. Those early minutes remind us of the opening moments from Touch of Evil for its building of tension, and Rio Bravo for its absence of dialogue, but both of those films came much later (1958 and 1959, respectively). It’s very possible that both Orson Welles and Howard Hawks borrowed elements of their openings from Riffraff. And if they didn’t, who cares? Although not on the level of those two films, Riffraff is a real B-picture gem.
The Mark Hellinger Story: A Biography of Broadway and Hollywood – Jim Bishop
Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 1952
Hardcover, 368 pages (no index)
Besides hardcore film noir fans, most people have probably never heard of Mark Hellinger, yet in the 1930s and 40s, Hellinger’s name was known by millions from coast to coast as the writer of a famous newspaper column covering all the news of Broadway. After reaching the top of his game in the newspaper business, Hellinger made the audacious move to Hollywood where he hoped to become not a writer, but a movie producer.
Our Great Movies series at the Severna Park Library continues to bring in enthusiastic crowds and last month my co-host Julia and I were delighted to have five or six teenagers in the audience, members of a local high school film club. I’m not sure how large the full group is, but I tracked down their contact information and invited them all to our next event this Thursday.
I normally don’t post much personal stuff here, but some you reading this blog know me well, have been to my home, and have met our retired racing greyhound Broadway. We rescued Broadway nearly seven years ago and he was closing in on his 12th birthday, but we had to say goodbye to him today. He had developed blood clots on his aorta and back area, preventing blood flow to his rear legs. He was in a lot of pain, but is now free from suffering.
I often called him The Hound Noir, even though he didn’t express much interest in watching film noir, as evidenced in the photo above. Oddly enough, he perked up the most for Westerns… Broadway suffered a severe stroke nearly a year ago and my wife and I both felt we were given an extra year with him. He recovered well, gaining most of his strength up until a couple of weeks ago. I watched at least a couple hundred movies with Broadway during the last year or so. Watching movies won’t be the same without him. Life won’t be the same without him. If you have a pet, love ’em lots. Never take them for granted, thank God for them, and cherish every moment. I know we did.
Murder. Theft. Corruption. Greed. Betrayal. It’s good to be back in Noir City.
The deeper you immerse yourself into any subject, the more you discover you don’t know about that subject. I’ve been watching movies for most of my life and have occasionally picked up books about them, but such books were never a serious focus. During the past few years, I’ve been very aware that there’s so much about film that I don’t know. I’ve started reading more these past few years and this year I read several books on film. None of them were a waste of time and several of them were very good. I’d like to share with you my favorite books on movies I read in 2016 (although only a few of them were actually published in 2016).
This time of year you can count on holiday shopping madness, eating too much and a proliferation of “Best of the Year” lists. I try to limit myself on the first two items (usually without success with either) but go nuts with my “Best of” lists.
During the next few weeks, I’ll be posting sporadically with several “Best of” lists that I hope you’ll enjoy. My first list should be a Best Books on Movies list. These won’t be books to movies, but rather books about movies, some new, some old. (I also look forward to reading your “Best of” lists.) See you then…
Photos: Lisa Renee Jones, Stumptown Blogger
Act of Violence (1948) Fred Zinnemann (2x)
Warner Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 4 DVD
World War II hero Frank Enley (Van Heflin) is a well-respected man in Santa Lisa, California and has everything going for him: a wonderful wife named Edith (Janet Leigh) and a little boy named Georgie.
But when Frank discovers that one of his war buddies Joe Parkson (Robert Ryan) desperately wants to see him, he panics. No one knows why, but Frank’s fear forces him into hiding.
Fine Dead Girls (2002) Dalibor Matanić
Global Lens DVD – library
Fine Dead Girls is a film noir set in Croatia. Two young women, Iva (Olga Pakalović, right) and Marija (Nina Violić, left) rent an apartment in the city of Zagreb. They’re just looking for a little quiet in their lives, but Olga (Inge Appelt, below) the landlady seems as if she might be trouble, not just to the women, but to everyone she meets. She’s confrontational, rude and aggressive. Her son Daniel (Krešimir Mikić) tries to hit on Iva, but she’s having none of it. Daniel doesn’t know it, but we do early on: Iva and Marija are lesbians and once the word gets out, there’s no end to the trouble the two women are faced with.
Pushover (1954) Richard Quine
Columbia Film Noir Classics Vol. II DVD
Paul Sheridan (Fred MacMurray, left) is a straight-laced cop who’s on a stakeout to find out if Lona McLane (Kim Novak, right) knows anything about a $200,000 bank haul that her boyfriend Wheeler (Paul Richards) was involved in. Only one problem: Sheridan starts falling for Lona, who wants Sheridan to knock off Wheeler so she and Sheridan can make off with the cash.