Noirvember 2017, Episode 3: Beware, My Lovely (1952)

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Beware, My Lovely (1952) Harry Horner
TCM (1:17)

Beware, My Lovely is one of those movies that contains some obvious problems (which we’ll get to in a moment), but offers rich rewards, especially for fans of Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino. After an attention-getting opening (which I will not describe), we find itinerant handyman Howard Wilton (Ryan) looking for work in a quaint, small town sometime after World War I. Helen Gordon (Lupino), whose husband died in the war, happens to be by herself for the holidays and hires Howard for help with a few chores. Helen is friendly and Howard begins his work well, but we soon suspect that something is terribly wrong. Howard swings back and forth between moments of kindness and dangerous rage, often in the same sentence. Realizing that Howard is volatile and unbalanced, Helen carefully tries to read his moods and act in a way that will placate him long enough for her to alert someone as to the danger she’s in.

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Noirvember 2016, Episode 28: Act of Violence (1948)

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Act of Violence (1948) Fred Zinnemann (2x)
(1:22)
Warner Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 4 DVD

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World War II hero Frank Enley (Van Heflin) is a well-respected man in Santa Lisa, California and has everything going for him: a wonderful wife named Edith (Janet Leigh) and a little boy named Georgie.

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But when Frank discovers that one of his war buddies Joe Parkson (Robert Ryan) desperately wants to see him, he panics. No one knows why, but Frank’s fear forces him into hiding.

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Noirvember 2016, Episode 13: On Dangerous Ground (1952)

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On Dangerous Ground (1952) Nicholas Ray (2x)
(1:22)
Warner Archive Blu-ray

In every Nicholas Ray film I’ve seen, there’s always an underlying darkness that emerges from within what appears to be a conventional (or more likely an unconventional) drama and that’s certainly true of On Dangerous Ground. I just started reading Nicholas Ray: An American Journey by Bernard Eisenschitz, which is a fascinating look at the director’s life and work. I haven’t gotten that far into the book, but I feel certain that loneliness and isolation play a big part in many of his films. They certainly do in this one.

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Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Noirvember 2015: Episode 15

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Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Robert Wise
(1:35)
YouTube

Johnny Ingram (Harry Belafonte, above left) owes $7,500 to a bookie and child support to an ex-wife. Earl Slater (Robert Ryan, above right) is an ex-con, growing old with nothing to show for it but hate, prejudice, and a woman named Lorry (Shelley Winters, below) who loves him despite his many faults. The only person keeping Johnny and Earl from killing each other is Dave Burke (Ed Begley, above center). Burke is an ex-cop who wants to get back at the system after having his career ruined when he refused to cooperate with upper level crime investigators.

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House of Bamboo (1955) Noirvember 2015: Episode 5

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House of Bamboo (1955) Samuel Fuller
(1:42)
Fox Film Noir DVD

House of Bamboo is a rarity of film noir in that it was shot not only in CinemaScope, but also in DeLuxe Color. It’s also set in Tokyo and was supposedly the first American movie shot in Japan after World War II. All this and more makes House of Bamboo an atypical – yet totally satisfying – film noir.

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The Set-Up (1949) Noirvember 2015: Episode 2

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The Set-Up (1949) Robert Wise
(1:12)
Film Noir Classic Collection Vol. 1 DVD

Bill “Stoker” Thompson (Robert Ryan) has all the cards stacked against him. He just doesn’t know it. Everyone else does, though. Stoker’s wife Julie (Audrey Totter) is concerned that at his age (35), Stoker is going to get seriously hurt or killed if he stays in the ring. His manager Tiny (George Tobias) is so sure Stoker will lose his next fight against a 23-year-old fighter that he doesn’t even let Stoker know that a local mobster expects him to take a dive. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, the crowd at the Paradise City Arena has nothing but boos and hisses for Stoker and cheers for the younger guy.

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