So it’s Noirvember 22nd and you still haven’t watched a film noir? No worries. I can get you caught up in no time. I’ve got my recaps from Week One and Week Two, plus my Week Three recap below. Hopefully you’ve find a femme fatale to cuddle up next to or perhaps a gumshoe to knock around town with. Enjoy!
The House on Telegraph Hill (1951) Robert Wise
A Polish woman named Viktoria (Valentina Cortese) and her friend Karin Dernakova (Natasha Lytess) are barely hanging on in a Belsen concentration camp near the end of WWII. Karin dies just before liberation and Viktoria, whose husband died in the German occupation of Poland, assumes Karin’s identity. Why? Karin’s little boy Christopher (Gordon Gebert) was sent to live in San Francisco with his wealthy Aunt Sophia. The aunt has died and Christopher probably doesn’t remember his real mother, so it’s worth the risk, right?
The Stranger (1946) Orson Welles (2x)
Kino Lorber Blu-ray
A member of the UN War Crimes Commission named Wilson (Edward G. Robinson) is convinced that WWII Nazi war criminal Franz Kindler (Orson Welles) is hiding out in America. Wilson sends Kindler’s former right-hand-man Meinike (Konstantin Shayne) to find Kindler with Wilson following closely behind. Meanwhile, Kindler has a new identity: a prep school teacher named Charles Rankin. Rankin is well-respected and is about to marry a young woman named Mary (Loretta Young), the daughter of a Supreme Court Justice (Philip Merivale).
Black Widow (1954) Nunnally Johnson
Fox Film Noir DVD – library
Famous Broadway producer Peter Denver (Van Heflin, right) attends a party thrown by another famous Broadway personality, actress Lottie Marin (Ginger Rogers) and her wallflower husband Brian Mullen (Reginald Gardiner). While at the party, Denver meets Nancy (Peggy Ann Garner, left), a young woman trying to establish herself as a writer in New York. Nancy persuades Denver to allow her to use his apartment as place to write during the day, even though Denver’s wife Iris (Gene Tierney) is out of town. Denver tells Nancy that that’s all there will be to it, no extracurricular activities. When Denver returns from the airport after picking up his wife, he discovers Nancy has hung herself in his bathroom. Soon the cops – including Detective Lieutenant Bruce (George Raft, below left) – come knocking.
A Double Life (1947) George Cukor (2x)
Republic DVD – library
Everyone remembers A Double Life for Ronald Colman’s Oscar-winning performance as stage actor Anthony John, but many tend to forget the film’s other fine performances by Shelley Winters, Signe Hasso and Edmond O’Brien. They also often forget that the script was penned by husband and wife Garson Kanin and Ruth Gordon and further forget that the score was written by the great Miklós Rózsa. As much as it may be remembered as such, it’s not a one-man show.
Fine Dead Girls (2002) Dalibor Matanić
Global Lens DVD – library
Fine Dead Girls is a film noir set in Croatia. Two young women, Iva (Olga Pakalović, right) and Marija (Nina Violić, left) rent an apartment in the city of Zagreb. They’re just looking for a little quiet in their lives, but Olga (Inge Appelt, below) the landlady seems as if she might be trouble, not just to the women, but to everyone she meets. She’s confrontational, rude and aggressive. Her son Daniel (Krešimir Mikić) tries to hit on Iva, but she’s having none of it. Daniel doesn’t know it, but we do early on: Iva and Marija are lesbians and once the word gets out, there’s no end to the trouble the two women are faced with.
If you’re late to the party, you can find my recap of Week One here. Between those films and the ones I look at during Week Two, hopefully you’ll find some good stuff to watch for the second half of your Noirvember:
House of Strangers (1949)
Mr. Arkadin (1955)
Cry of the City (1948)
Blast of Silence (1961)
Dead Reckoning (1947)
On Dangerous Ground (1952)
While the City Sleeps (1956)
While the City Sleeps (1956) Fritz Lang
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.
The pickings are pretty slim in December, but if you have any money whatsoever left after November, here are a few titles worth considering for your holiday shopping or wish lists: