Noir City 16: Day 3, 1944 – Destiny and Flesh and Fantasy


The films on Sunday’s double feature share an odd history. Destiny was originally intended to be the first installment of an anthology film (also known as omnibus or package films) called For All We Know (eventually retitled Flesh and Fantasy), directed by Julien Duvivier. Duvivier, a major figure in French cinema, had previously made an anthology film in 1942 called Tales of Manhattan starring Charles Boyer. That film contained six episodes* involving a cursed black formal tailcoat and how it affects the people who wear it.

Continue reading

Noirvember 2017: Episode 6: Jeopardy (1953)


Jeopardy (1953) John Sturges
TCM (1:09)

Jeopardy (sometimes known as A Woman in Jeopardy) would probably be a good movie even if Barbara Stanwyck wasn’t the star of the film, but she is, which elevates it immediately to a higher level. The screenplay is by Mel Dinelli (who also wrote Beware, My Lovely, discussed in Episode 3), based on a Maurice Zimm radio play called “A Question of Time.” Stanwyck plays Helen Stilwin, a woman on vacation with her husband Doug (Barry Sullivan) and their young son Bobby (Lee Aaker). Doug drives the family from Baja, California to Mexico, remembering a favorite fishing spot he and his army buddies used to frequent. When the family arrives, the place is rather run-down, particularly a long ramshackle jetty.

Continue reading

The Great Movies, Episode 3: Double Indemnity (1944)

Double Indemnity(1944)

The third film in our Great Movies series at the Severna Park Library was another fun evening with a large, enthusiastic crowd. Before we watched Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity, I spoke for a few minutes about the problems in adapting James M. Cain’s earlier 1934 novel The Postman Always Rings Twice for the screen. The novel was very popular at the time, but was considered smut by many, which didn’t help its chances with the Motion Picture Production Code (also known as the Hays Code), which started clamping down on American films in 1934. (1934 was a bad time to be a Hollywood producer if you wanted to make a film that was even slightly racy.)

Continue reading

No Man of Her Own (1950) Part of the Remembering Barbara Stanwyck Blogathon


No Man of Her Own (1950)
Directed by Mitchell Leisen
Produced by Richard Maibaum
Screenplay by Sally Benson, Catherine Turney
Based on the novel I Married a Dead Man by William Irish (Cornell Woolrich)
Cinematography by Daniel L. Fapp
Edited by Alma Macrorie
Music by Hugo Friedhofer
Costumes by Edith Head
Paramount Pictures
(black-and-white; 1:38)
Amazon streaming

Original viewing October 25, 2015, Noir City DC at the AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center

Stanwyck’s throaty narration begins as the camera takes us from a quiet street up past a perfectly manicured lawn to a sprawling home large enough to house dozens of people. It’s a place, Stanwyck’s voice tells us, of “perfect peace and security. The summer nights are pleasant in Caulfield, but not for us.”

Continue reading

Crime of Passion (1957) Noirvember 2015: Episode 6


Crime of Passion (1957) Gerd Oswald
Amazon streaming


I don’t think it’s possible to see a bad Barbara Stanwyck performance. She breathes fire into every role, every performance, and Crime of Passion is no exception. Stanwyck plays Kathy Ferguson, a wildly popular advice columnist at a San Francisco newspaper. She knows her readers so well that when two detectives (Sterling Hayden, above right and Royal Dano, left) come to the newspaper office looking for a wanted female fugitive, Kathy says she can gain the woman’s trust and lead them to her. And Kathy delivers. One of the detectives, Bill Doyle (Hayden) admires Kathy’s tough-minded independent style and falls for her, as she does for him.

Continue reading