Noirvember 2017, Episode 19: Dark City (1950)

Dark City (Paramount, 1950)

Dark City (1950) William Dieterle
Olive Films Blu-ray (1:38)

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Danny Haley (Charlton Heston, in his first major screen role) and his hustler buddies (Ed Begley and Jack Webb, with Harry Morgan hanging around) target a man named Winant (Don DeFore) in a poker game. Winant does well during his initial game, then gets into trouble when he returns the next night. Big trouble. Things get so bad that Winant’s brother comes around looking for the the gang of hustlers.

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Noirvember 2017, Episode 4: Caged (1950)

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Caged (1950) John Cromwell
Warner Archive DVD (1:37)

“Pile out, you tramps, end of the line!”

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“Women in prison” movies became a huge subgenre of crime films in the 1970s, but many people forget that they’d been around for several years. Directed by John Cromwell (sometimes called the “Master of Melodrama”), Caged served as a template of sorts for future entries of the subgenre. In this picture written by Virginia Kellogg (based on her story “Women Without Men” with Bernard C. Schoenfeld), 19-year-old Marie Allen (Eleanor Parker) is sent to prison for her part in an armed robbery attempt which left her husband dead. Marie has no idea how to handle living with hardened criminals and navigating a prison culture she can’t understand, but things soon get even worse: she finds out she’s pregnant and won’t be able to gain parole to have the baby.

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Stromboli (1950) Roberto Rossellini

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Stromboli (1950)
Directed and produced by Roberto Rossellini
Story by Roberto Rossellini with collaboration by Sergio Amiedi, G. P. Callegari, Art Cohn, and Renzo Cesana
Screenplay by Rossellini and Father Félix Morlión
Cinematography by Otello Martelli
Edited by Roland Gross (uncut version) and Alfred L. Werker (U.S. version)
FilmStruck (1:47)

Stromboli’s full title in Italian reads Stromboli, terra di Dio or Stromboli, Land of God. The complete title is crucial to understanding what Rossellini is trying to convey. The film goes beyond the concept of Italian neorealism, reaching for something larger and yet personal and intimate. Does it succeed?

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The Damned Don’t Cry (1950) Vincent Sherman

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The Damned Don’t Cry (1950)
Directed by Vincent Sherman
Produced by Jerry Wald
Written by Harold Medford and Jerome Weidman, based on a story by Gertrude Walker
Cinematography by Ted McCord
Edited by Rudi Fehr
Costumes/Wardrobe by Sheila O’Brien (Joan Crawford, uncredited consultant)
Warner Brothers
Warner DVD (1:43)

I don’t think most people really understand what an absolute force Joan Crawford was. Watch just about any of her films (especially from the 1940s and early 50s) and you’ll see what I mean. No matter who’s directing the picture, Joan is in charge. She commands the screen and defies you to look away. You don’t even want to look away, even when some of her movies aren’t that good. But this one is.

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