Noirvember 2017 is almost over… For the third consecutive year I watched and commented (sometimes briefly) on one film noir each day during the month. (You can read about my 2015 and 2016 Noirvember adventures if you so desire.) For 2017 I decided to watch only films that were new to me (plus two bonus episodes that were rewatches) and stayed mostly within the bounds of the classic noir era 1940-1959, straying just a couple of times.
Now for some nerdy statistics for those who enjoy such things…
Hangover Square (1945) John Brahm
“I’ve worked all my life for this one night.”
This line spoken by composer George Harvey Bone (Laird Cregar) is chilling in the context of the film and even more so as you consider its off-screen significance, which I’ll cover momentarily. Bone is a late 19th/early 20th century London composer who suffers from amnesia, a condition triggered by loud, discordant sounds. We see a spectacular display of this in the film’s opening scene, a great beginning for a gaslight noir that’s impressive on its own merits of decor and costume, but add in a crazed murder and we’re hooked. Director John Brahm knows the period well and proves himself expert in making the era come alive as he also did one year earlier in The Lodger (also starring both Laird Cregar and George Sanders).
The Killer That Stalked New York (1950) Earl McEvoy
Sheila Bennet (Evelyn Keyes, right) has big plans. She’s just returned to New York from Cuba, where she’s stolen $50,000 worth of diamonds for her husband Matt Krane (Charles Korvin). Their plan is to lay low separately until the feds give up on them, but Matt has a different plan he’s not telling Sheila about: he’s secretly been running around with Sheila’s sister Francie (Lola Albright, left) and plans to ditch them both once he has the money from selling the diamonds.
Oh, but wait…
The Dark Past (1948) Rudolph Maté
The Dark Past caught me off guard in a number of ways. I’m sure it happened in other films, but I can’t remember ever seeing William Holden playing a criminal or Lee J. Cobb so calm and in complete control, his voice never rising above a mezzo forte. So The Dark Past held a few (mostly) pleasant surprises.
Experiment in Terror (1962) Blake Edwards
Indicator Blu-ray (2:03)
I’m stepping outside my prescribed classic film noir timeline (roughly 1940-1959) to bring you a nail-biter from 1962, but once you see it, I don’t think you’ll mind my bending the rules a bit.
Johnny O’Clock (1947) Robert Rossen
I spent part of the time I watched Johnny O’Clock thinking how awkward it would be to have a name like Johnny O’Clock, merging a person with a time, or maybe thinking silly thoughts of people shouting lines like, “It’s Johnny Time!” (To make things more wacky, there’s at least one watch involved in the film.) All the while there’s this great movie going on with so many plot points spinning in the air you don’t have time to dwell on the ludicrousness of the film’s title. I’ll try to summarize the plot, but don’t be surprised if I simply give up after a couple of sentences:
Rogue Cop (1954) Roy Rowland
Ah, we’ve seen it all before, haven’t we? Two brothers, both cops: one upstanding, the other crooked. In this case we have the upstanding Officer Eddie Kelvaney (Steve Forrest) and his corrupt brother Detective Sergeant Christopher Kelvaney (Robert Taylor).
The Long Haul (1957) Ken Hughes
Former U.S. serviceman Harry Miller (Victor Mature) moves to his wife’s hometown of Liverpool and finds work as a lorry driver for a company in northern England. It’s not long before Miller discovers the trucking industry is corrupt, filled with thieves and crooks. One of the people controlling the illegal activity is a man named Joe Easy (Patrick Allen), but there’s nothing easy about him.
The Underworld Story (1950) Cy Endfield
Warner DVD (1:31)
Newspaper reporter Mike Reese (Dan Duryea) gets canned from his job at a big city paper and discovers that no one will hire him. Desperate, he borrows $5,000 from a local gangster (Howard Da Silva) and buys a half interest in the tiny Lakewood Gazette in the sleepy town of Lakewood, where nothing ever happens other than the occasional bake sale and a few obituaries.
It’s moving right along, isn’t it? Savor the noir as long as you can and if you’ve missed any of my previous posts or recaps, please check out the first two weeks here. Now on to the Week 3 recap: