Noirvember 2016, Episode 14: While the City Sleeps (1956)

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While the City Sleeps (1956) Fritz Lang
(1:35)
FilmStruck

Newspaper mogul Amos Kyne (Robert Warwick) is clearly in his last days as head of a publishing empire. When he dies, his ne’er-do-well son Walter (Vincent Price, below right) takes control of the paper. Walter’s a real tool, but at least he realizes he needs someone who actually knows the newspaper business and can run things while he acts as the glory-seeking figurehead.

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Noirvember 2016, Episode 6: The Blue Gardenia (1953)

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The Blue Gardenia (1953) Fritz Lang
(1:28)
Filmstruck

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Switchboard operator Norah Larkin (Anne Baxter, right) patiently awaits for her fiancé, a soldier serving in the Korean War, to come home. She turns down lots of offers from womanizers like Harry Prebble (Raymond Burr, below right) and decides to stay home on her birthday, thinking of her fiancé rather than going out with her roommates Crystal (Ann Sothern, middle) and Sally (Jeff Donnell, left). Only then does she read the letter her man just sent her with some very bad news: he’s met another woman.

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Scarlet Street (1945) Fritz Lang

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Scarlet Street (1945)
Directed by Fritz Lang
Screenplay by Dudley Nichols, based upon La Chienne, a novel by Georges de La Fouchardière and a play by André Mouézy-Éon
Produced by Fritz Lang and Walter Wanger
Cinematography by Milton Krasner
Edited by Arthur Hilton
Music by Hans J. Salter
Universal Studios
Mill Creek Crime Wave box set DVD (1:43)

The most powerful moment in Scarlet Street occurs near the end of the film when the meek, clueless Christopher Cross (Edward G. Robinson) realizes he’s been duped by the woman he thinks is in love with him, Kitty Marsh (Joan Bennett). That scene is also one of the greatest in film noir because it shows us the essence of noir in microcosm: the dumb, disillusioned everyman who’s been played for a sucker, realizing too late that everything he’s done in pursuit of his dream amounts to absolutely nothing.

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The Big Heat (1953) Fritz Lang

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The Big Heat (1953) Fritz Lang (2x)
Twilight Time Blu-ray (1:29)

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In the classic film noir era, they just don’t hit much harder and with as much vengeance as Fritz Lang’s The Big Heat. When a fellow police officer commits suicide, Detective Sergeant Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford, above right) smells something rotten. Pretty early in his investigation, Bannion learns that he’s ruffling some feathers in the criminal underworld, particularly those of mob boss Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby). Soon the dead cop’s wife is silenced, Bannion’s boss tells him to lay off, and Bannion starts getting threatening phone calls. But Bannion’s not the type to give up.

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Man Hunt (1941) Fritz Lang

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Man Hunt (1941)
Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced by Kenneth Macgowan, Len Hammond, Darryl F. Zanuck
Screenplay by Dudley Nichols (with help from Lamar Trotti), based on the novel Rogue Male by Geoffrey Household
Cinematography by Arthur Miller
Edited by Allen McNeil
Music by Alfred Newman (and David Buttolph)
20th Century Fox DVD
(black-and-white; 1:42)

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You can’t ask for a more intriguing opening. A tall, thin man creeps through a heavily wooded section of the Bavarian Alps, settles himself on the ground, and carefully aims his rifle towards what appears to be a hidden mountain retreat. Several hundred yards away, we (and the man) spot Adolf Hitler in the rifle’s crosshairs. Before the man can pull the trigger with a live round in the chamber, a German soldier on patrol wanders by and changes everything.

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House by the River (1950) Noirvember 2015: Episode 24

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House by the River (1950) Fritz Lang
(1:28)
Amazon streaming

Wealthy novelist Stephen Byrne (Louis Hayward, above right) strangles one of his house servants (Dorothy Patrick, above left) when she begins screaming to ward off Byrne’s amorous advances. Before he can think fast enough, Byrne’s brother John (Lee Bowman, below left) walks in and helps him dispose of the body by dumping it in the river (thus the nifty title). Can the brothers now fool everyone in town before they kill each other?

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