Noir City DC starts today, so I thought I’d post everything that I’ve seen so far this month before the festival gets started. I hope to report on the festival as it happens, so stay tuned. Like last month, many of these entries will be very abbreviated.
April is shaping up to be a pretty solid month. Here’s the first 10 movies I saw in early April. More to come…
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
Directed and written by S. Craig Zahler
Produced by Iain Abrahams, Jonathan Feuer, and twelve more
Cinematography by Benji Bakshi
Editing by Greg D’Auria, Fred Raskin
Music by Jeff Herriott, S. Craig Zahler
Costumes by Chantal Filson
Caliber Media Company
(Amazon streaming; 2:13)
In discussing Johnny Guitar a few weeks ago, I mentioned that when the film was released in 1954, Westerns were already in a steady decline. At one time, Westerns reigned supreme in American movie theaters (and later on television). In 1952, 80 Western movies were produced in America. In 1953 that number slipped to 72 and in 1954 plunged to 52. We’ve seen Westerns make small comebacks over the decades since then, but – the Coen brothers and Quentin Tarantino notwithstanding – Westerns are pretty rare. If my research is accurate, only 12 Westerns were released in the U.S. in 2015. One of those is Bone Tomahawk, a Western far too many people haven’t seen, but should.
Hard Times (1975) Walter Hill
Amazon streaming (now expired) (1:33)
I’ve been a fan of director Walter Hill for years, but until recently I’d never seen his first film Hard Times. Charles Bronson (above) plays Chaney, a drifter who gets where he’s going by slipping on and off boxcars in the Depression era, picking up a few bucks in pick-up fights before moving on to the next town. A shifty promoter called Speed (James Coburn, below right) sees how Chaney’s fighting skills could help him get out of the financial hole he’s in with a loan shark.
I can’t top Kristina’s excellent review of this film over at Speakeasy, so I highly recommend you check it out if you want to know more. Instead, I’d like to dwell for just a moment on Walter Hill.
Champion (1949) Mark Robson
We know from the opening scenes of Champion that we’re getting a frame story. As the film begins, Midge Kelly (Kirk Douglas, above) is already the boxing champion, about to take on another challenger, but we’ll have to wait for that bout while director Mark Robson shows us in flashback how Kelly went from riding the rails and hitchhiking to becoming the champ.
Fear in the Night (1947) Maxwell Shane
A bank teller named Grayson (DeForest Kelley) dreams he’s stabbed a man inside an octagonal room of mirrors, locking the body in a closet. Upon waking, Grayson discovers blood on his shirt cuff, a button, and an oddly-shaped key. When Grayson shares his nightmare with his brother-in-law Cliff (Paul Kelly) – who happens to be a cop – Cliff dismisses the whole thing as a bad dream. But Grayson, fearing he really killed someone, sets off to discover the truth.