Noirvember 2017, Episode 26: Johnny O’Clock (1947)

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Johnny O’Clock (1947) Robert Rossen
YouTube (1:35)

I spent part of the time I watched Johnny O’Clock thinking how awkward it would be to have a name like Johnny O’Clock, merging a person with a time, or maybe thinking silly thoughts of people shouting lines like, “It’s Johnny Time!” (To make things more wacky, there’s at least one watch involved in the film.) All the while there’s this great movie going on with so many plot points spinning in the air you don’t have time to dwell on the ludicrousness of the film’s title. I’ll try to summarize the plot, but don’t be surprised if I simply give up after a couple of sentences:

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Noirvember 2017, Episode 12: Repeat Performance (1947)

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Repeat Performance (1947) Alfred L. Werker
Ok Ru (1:32)

Repeat Performance asks a question we’ve probably all asked at some point: What if I could live part of my life over and change the outcome? This happens to Sheila Page (Joan Leslie) on New Year’s Eve as she finds herself holding a gun, standing over her dead husband Barney (Louis Hayward). In a panic, she flees the scene and seeks out her friend, a poet named William Williams (Richard Basehart in his first film). During this frantic moment, Sheila wishes she could go back and live 1946 all over again, but with a different outcome.

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Noirvember 2017, Bonus Episode: T-Men (1947) on Blu-ray from ClassicFlix

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T-Men (1947) Anthony Mann
ClassicFlix (1:32)

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U.S. Treasury Agents Dennis O’Brien (Dennis O’Keefe) and Tony Genaro (Alfred Ryder) go after counterfeiters in this crackerjack police procedural that begins in a pseudo-documentary style before settling down to nail-biting crime story, a nice blend of procedural and film noir. The tension is both excellent and hard-edged, and anytime you’ve got Charles McGraw in the cast, you know there’s gonna be some serious hurt put on someone… and there is! The film features cinematography by the always wonderful John Alton. (More on him and director Anthony Mann in a moment.)

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Noirvember 2017, Episode 1: Body and Soul (1947)

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Body and Soul (1947) Robert Rossen
Olive Blu-ray (1:44)

Body and Soul is often cited as one of the best and most important films about boxing, but if that’s all you take away from the film, you’re missing a great deal. The excellent screenplay by Abraham Polonsky begins with middleweight boxing champ Charlie Davis (John Garfield) preparing to defend his title against a young up-and-coming fighter. Davis’s slimy promoter (Lloyd Gough) tells him he must throw the fight or he’s finished. What led to this awful situation? We find out, thanks to film noir’s best friend, the flashback.

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The Unsuspected (1947) Michael Curtiz

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The Unsuspected (1947)
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Produced by George Amy, Michael Curtiz and Charles Hoffman
Cinematography by Woody Bredell
Edited by Frederick Richards
Costumes by Milo Anderson
Music by Franz Waxman
Warner Brothers
Borrowed from K.D. (1:43)

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A shadowy figure moves through a darkened house at night, passing by a painting of a woman (which immediately reminds us of Laura [1944]) as he ascends a staircase. Upstairs, a secretary works alone in an office and picks up a ringing telephone. From a pay phone in a nightclub, a woman named Althea (Audrey Totter) asks the secretary if Althea’s husband Oliver is there. “I’m all alone here,” secretary says nonchalantly as the shadowy figure approaches. Althea hears a woman’s scream on the other end of the line. In fear and confusion, Althea abandons the phone and leaves the nightclub with a man who is not her husband.

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Noirvember 2016, Episode 25: Out of the Past (1947)

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Out of the Past (1947) Jacques Tourneur (4x)
(1:37)
Warner DVD, Blu-ray

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We may be done with the past, but the past is never done with us. Robert Mitchum plays Jeff, a man trying to escape his shady past and settle down in a small rural community with a good woman (Virginia Huston, above left), but former big city boss Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas) has other plans for him. First, find Whit’s girl Kathie Moffat (Jane Greer, below right), who shot him and stole $40,000 from him.

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Noirvember 2016, Episode 16: A Double Life (1947)

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A Double Life (1947) George Cukor (2x)
(1:44)
Republic DVD – library

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Everyone remembers A Double Life for Ronald Colman’s Oscar-winning performance as stage actor Anthony John, but many tend to forget the film’s other fine performances by Shelley Winters, Signe Hasso and Edmond O’Brien. They also often forget that the script was penned by husband and wife Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon and further forget that the score was written by the great Miklós Rózsa. As much as it may be remembered as such, it’s not a one-man show.

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