The Long Wait (1954)
Directed by Victor Saville
Produced by Lesser Samuels
Written by Alan Green and Lesser Samuels
Based on a novel by Mickey Spillane
Cinematography by Franz Planer
Edited by Ronald Sinclair
The Long Wait opens with “Once” (written by Harold Spina and Bob Russell), one of the most un-noirish songs ever, which makes us think we’ve walked into a romance picture instead of a film noir. Thankfully the mood changes as we see a hitchhiker (Anthony Quinn, above) who gets picked up, then seconds later – in an almost laughable sequence of edits – finds himself first in a wreck, then in a hospital (wearing a robe that proclaims “County Hospital” just in case we’ve missed that fact), then suffering from amnesia. This all happens in the first four minutes of the film (which of course includes the song, which you’ve probably forgotten by now).
Black Tuesday (1954)
Directed by Hugo Fregonese
Produced by Robert Goldstein
Written by Sydney Boehm
Cinematography by Stanley Cortez
Editing by Robert Golden
Music by Paul Dunlap
Black Tuesday has to be one of the angriest, grittiest, most unflinching movies in all of film noir, due in large part to Edward G. Robinson’s stellar performance as Vincent Canelli, a ruthless and utterly terrifying gangster.
Johnny Guitar (1954)
Directed by Nicholas Ray
Produced by Nicholas Ray
Screenplay by Philip Yordan (Ben Maddow and Nicholas Ray, uncredited)
Based on the novel by Roy Chanslor
Cinematography by Harry Stradling
Edited by Richard L. Van Enger
Music by Victor Young
Costumes by Sheila O’Brien
Olive Films Blu-ray (1:50)
Nobody really knew what to make of Johnny Guitar when it was released in 1954. Martin Scorsese says as much in his introduction on the Olive Films Blu-ray edition of the film. Audiences “didn’t know what to make of it, so they either ignored it or laughed at it.”
Ever since film noir began to wrap its dark tendrils around my neck a couple of years ago, I knew it would eventually lead me deep into the heart of Noir City. This year, I could no longer resist. Although I could only attend six days of the festival’s ten-day schedule, I got a good sense of what Noir City, its films and its people, are all about.
River of No Return (1954)
Directed by Otto Preminger (and Jean Negulesco, uncredited)
Produced by Stanley Rubin
Screenplay by Frank Fenton from a story by Louis Lantz
Cinematography by Joseph LaShelle
Edited by Louis R. Loeffler
Music by Cyril J. Mockridge
20th Century Fox
Last year I picked up The Robert Mitchum Film Collection from a Fox Connect Black Friday sale for the absolutely insane price of $3.98. That’s right, a 10-movie set that retails for $48.98. It must’ve been a mistake, but I jumped on it and was charged $3.98.
I’m just now getting around to watching them, starting with the first film in the collection, River of No Return (1954) directed by Otto Preminger, a film whose Frank Fenton screenplay is based on a short story by Louis Lantz, who based his story on the 1948 Italian neorealist classic film Bicycle Thieves. River of No Return is similar to the Vittorio De Sica film only in that a farmer named Matt Calder (Mitchum) struggles to care for his son after his horse has been stolen. Aside from that, there’s very little to connect the two films.