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    Road House

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on November 26th, 2008

    No, this isn’t the Patrick Swayze vehicle. Instead, it’s another golden opportunity for Richard Widmark to unleash his patented psycho act. Here he plays Jefty, playboy owner of the titular establishment. His right-hand man is Pete (Cornel Wilde), who is the serious-minded half of the partnership. Said partnership is strained when Jefty brings back the latest singer for the club, one Lily (Ida Lupino, in superb hard-boiled form). Pete thinks she’s bad news, and she is, only not in the way any of the three suspect. Jefty decides he’s in love with her, but she only has eyes for Pete, and he, despite misgivings, reciprocates. Jefty doesn’t take rejection well. Not well at all…
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    Moontide

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on November 24th, 2008

    Jean Gabin, in his American debut, plays Bobo, a French sailor who has been knocking around the States for quite some time in the company of Tiny (Thomas Mitchell). Their wandering comes to a stop when, the day after a night of drunken excess that he cannot remember, Bobo sees Anna (Ida Lupino) wading into the waves to commit suicide. He rescues her, and before long the two are living together on the bait barge where he is working, and fall in love. Dark clouds are on the horizon, however. A local man was murdered, and Tiny, resentful that his meal ticket has been taken from him, darkly hints to Anna that Bobo might be responsible, even though he doesn’t know it himself.
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    Boomerang

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on November 9th, 2008

    Small town Connecticut. A beloved priest is gunned down in the middle of a busy street, and the pressure is on for the police to find the killer. The new regime at city hall needs a conviction, and doesn’t care too much about the niceties. When a suspect (Arthur Kennedy) is at last found, police chief Lee J. Cobb isn’t entirely happy with the case, but he passes it on to DA Dana Andrews, who is under even more political pressure. At first pleased with the case, Andrews becomes uncertain the more he looks into it, and startles everyone (not least the defence attorney) by entering a plea of innocent at the beginning of the trial. Politicians and lynch mobs are soon baying at his door.
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    The Streets of San Francisco – Season 1, Vol. 2

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Gino Sassani on September 19th, 2007

    Detective “Iron” Mike Stone (Karl Malden) is a seasoned veteran of the San Francisco Police Department. He’s an old fashioned no nonsense detective whose life has taken some bitter turns of late. Much to his aggravation he gets partnered with Keller (Michael Douglas), a green detective who hasn’t lost his belief that he can make a difference. Together they just might be able to teach each other something. Before long the two develop a teacher/mentor relationship that works well enough to solve the cases and get the bad guys.
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    Film Noir Classic Collection Volume 4

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on August 16th, 2007

    Volume 4 of Warner’s Film Noir Classic Collection series raises the bar over its wonderful predecessors by doubling the number of movies on offer: ten this time around.

    Very briefly:

    Acts of Violence sees two former war comrades (Van Heflin and Robert Ryan) on a violent collision course. The former is a respected citizen, the other is, well, Robert Ryan, and he’s never up to any good, but things are more complicated than they appear.
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    The Stranger

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on August 1st, 2007

    Edward G. Robinson is the war crimes investigator on the relentless hunt for the fugitive Nazi who masterminded the Final Solution. He arranges for the one man who knows his face to escape imprisonment, and follows him to a small Connecticut town. There he loses his quarry, but evidence soon points to Orson Welles, who, under the identity of Charles Rankin, is now a college professor and new husband to Loretta Young. Welles stops at nothing, including murder, to protect his secret, but little by little Young is forced to realize who her husband really is.
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    Woman in the Window, The

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 31st, 2007

    Left alone when his family leaves town to visit relatives, professor Edward G. Robinson hangs out at his club with his two cronies, one of whom is DA Raymond Massey. He is fascinated by a striking portrait of a young woman, and one night, leaving the club late and alone, he runs into the portrait’s model (Joan Bennett). Though he knows better, he accompanies her back to her apartment. A jealous lover bursts in and attacks Robinson, who murders him in self-defense. Panicked by the situation, Bennett and Robinson cover up the event, but both the authorities and a blackmailer circle closer and closer.
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    Kansas City Confidential

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 26th, 2007

    Preston Foster is a bitter ex-cop who masterminds a gigantic robbery. Hiding behind a mask, he forces three cons to work with him, and makes sure they too wear masks, so only he knows everyone’s identity. The heist also involves framing an innocent flower delivery-man (Joe Rolfe), who unfortunately has done his own stint in jail, and so is put through the brutal wringer by the police. Freed but understandably ticked off, Payne sets off on the trail of the men who framed him. Tracking one to Tijuana, Payne adopts his identity and arrives at the resort where Foster and others have gathered. Foster’s master plan is complicated by the arrival of his daughter, who develops an interest in Payne.
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    A Bullet for Joey

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on July 22nd, 2007

    George Dolenz is the Montreal scientist working on an atomic something-or-other. Foreign spies (could they be…. Communists??!!) hire exiled American gangster George Raft to get Dolenz and his secret into their clutches. His secret weapon for this project is the seductive power of Audrey Totter. Working for the angels is RCMP detective Edward G. Robinson. The expected race against time ensues.
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    Vicki

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on September 8th, 2006

    Synopsis

    Jean Peters is Vicki, a top New York model, who is found murdered in the opening scene. Burnt-out cop Richard Boone comes pounding back from his vacation, rabid to take over the case. He is convinced her press agent Elliott Reid is the guilty party, and the screws are put to Reid. In flashback, we see Vicki’s rise to fame, and the effects it has on the people around her, including her sister Jeanne Crain, who might harbour feelings for Reid.

    The film’s debt to Laura is obvio…
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    Fourteen Hours

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on September 6th, 2006

    Synopsis

    A young Richard Basehart climbs out onto the ledge of his fifteenth-floor hotel room. He could jump at any moment. Paul Douglas is the traffic cop who is first on the scene, and becomes the only person Basehart will willingly talk to. Hour after hour goes by as the authorities do everything they can to bring the troubled young man in.

    The premise is so simple it’s high concept, and the film wrings every conceivable drop of suspense from the situation. Will Basehart jump? Why is he …
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    Shock

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on September 1st, 2006

    Synopsis

    Young bride Anabel Shaw arrives at a San Francisco hotel to meet her husband, on his way back from a POW camp. His plane is late, and as she anxiously awaits him, she witnesses Vincent Price kill his wife in the next room over. She lapses into shock, and is found in this state when her husband arrives. The best psychiatrist around is summoned, and uh-oh, that turns out to be Price, who realizes why Shaw is in shock. He has her carted off to his private clinic, where he and lover Lynn Bari pl…
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    House of Strangers

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on July 6th, 2006

    Not having much appreciation for (or just being an aficionado of) the film noir genre, I could probably do one better and say that even if noir was induced on me subliminally, there may be a good chance that I wouldn’t even recognize it. So I don’t know how cool things like The Blackboard Jungle or some other films are and I can’t really rule them out of hand. So when I got House of Strangers to review, I had to give it a try.
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    I Wake Up Screaming

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on July 4th, 2006

    Fox has done a really great thing with their Fox Film Noir line. There are tons of great film noirs from the 40’s and 50’s, and Fox has done an excellent job of grabbing those classic films and presenting them in great new affordable editions for modern viewers to experience for the first time. I Wake Up Screaming is one of 18 films currently in the series, and I am sure that number will only continue to grow over time.

    Betty Grable shows up here in a starring role that is a departure from her u…
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    No Way Out

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on March 14th, 2006

    Synopsis

    In his film debut, Sidney Poitier is a newly minted doctor at a downtown hospital. Two patients arrive in the prison ward, shot in the leg by police. One is Richard Widmark, frothing racist. The other is his brother, who dies under Poitier’s care, not from the wound, but from a terminal brain tumour. Widmark blames Poitier, and sets about inflaming racial hatred in his quest to destroy Poitier.

    This is far from being your typical Joseph L. Mankiewicz film – we’re a long way from th…
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    Fallen Angel

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on February 28th, 2006

    Synopsis

    Dana Andrews was never an actor who radiated warmth, and here he is perfectly cast as a hardboiled con artist on the lookout for number one. He arrives in a small town and falls hard for sultry waitress Linda Darnell. She is holding out for marriage, but marriage with financial stability, which Andrew can’t offer. So he sets about seducing Alice Faye with the idea of fleecing her of her fortune.

    Director Otto Preminger’s follow-up to Laura had Andrews doing fine work again, …
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    House on Telegraph Hill

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on February 28th, 2006

    Synopsis

    Valentina Cortesa plays a survivor of the Belsen concentration camp. She has lost everything in the war. Her best friend in the camp is a woman whose infant child is being looked after in the USA, and when this woman dies shortly before liberation, Cortesa decides to adopt her identity, since no one alive would remember what she looks like. Once in the States, she meets and falls in love with Richard Basehart, the guardian of her “son.” Moving into their home in San Francisco, she sense host…
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    Where the Sidewalk Ends

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on November 25th, 2005

    Synopsis

    Dana Andrews is the tough cop who takes too much pleasure in roughing up the bad guys. When he hits a suspect too hard, he accidentally kills him. He covers up his crime and carries on the investigation into the murder the man was suspected of. But as if his life weren’t complicated enough, he starts to fall for his victim’s ex-wife, and then her father looks like he’s going to hang for Andrews’ crime.

    This is what film noir is all about. Daylight never seems to intrude in this cit…
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    Dark Corner, The

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on November 23rd, 2005

    Synopsis

    Mark Stevens is a PI recently out of jail after having been framed for manslaughter by his former partner. He is trying to make a new start in a new city, and the good news is that something might be developing with his new secretary, Lucille Ball. The bad news is that he’s being followed, and it turns out his treacherous ex-partner, Kurt Kreuger, is in town and making life hell for him. Or is he? In fact, obsessive gallery owner Clifton Webb is setting Stevens up for another frame.

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    Kiss of Death

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on November 22nd, 2005

    Synopsis

    Victor Mature is an ex-con driven by financial desperation to take part in a jewel heist. The job goes wrong, and he is nabbed. He’s sent to prison, and agonizes over his family. When he’s double-crossed by his lawyer, he agrees to DA Brian Donlevy’s deal and testifies against psychotic hoodlum Richard Widmark. He gets out, and starts his life over, but then Widmark beats the wrap, and is on the prowl for revenge.

    Mature is the star, and Coleen Gray is the eternally patient love in…
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    Whirlpool

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on September 10th, 2005

    Synopsis

    Gene Tierney plays the kleptomaniac wife of respected psychiatrist Richard Conte. When she is caught shoplifting a pin, she is rescued from embarrassment by con artist and hypnotist Jose Ferrer, who wins her confidence, and then sets her up for a murder wrap. His alibi is airtight, and the evidence all points to her guilt.

    Tierney, as ever, excels at being beautiful and unstable, though here she is sympathetic, as opposed to the monsters she plays in Leave Her to Heaven and …
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    Somewhere in the Night

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on September 9th, 2005

    Synopsis

    John Hodiak plays a soldier who wakes up after being wounded with no memory. All he knows is what he is told: that his name is George Taylor. He makes his way to LA, and before long is looking for one Larry Cravat, a man who is apparently his friend. But lots of other people are looking for Cravat too, both hoodlums and cops, and our hero is quickly up to his neck in danger, without even knowing why.

    An early storyline centred around amnesia, Somehwere in the Night’s twists …
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    House on 92nd Street, The

    Posted in Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on September 8th, 2005

    Synopsis

    As the US enters the conflict of WWII, a ring of Nazi spies works to uncover American research into the atomic bomb. The are based out of a dress shop at the house of the title, and they are infiltrated by double agent William Eythe. Will he uncover the traitor in the nuclear program before the Nazis uncover the traitor in their own midst?

    This isn’t, properly speaking, a noir, something that the commentary itself points out, adding that this is, rather, the first of the pseudo-doc…
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    House of Bamboo

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on May 31st, 2005

    

    Synopsis

    This remake of The Street With No Name shifts the scene from mid-40s US to mid-50s Japan. Robert Ryan heads up a ruthless gang of ex-GIs, and uses pachinko parlours as acover for his robberies. He recruits Robert Stack into his gang, little suspecting that Stack is, infact, an undercover investigator.

    Samuel Fuller’s reworking plays up the homoerotic undercurrent (which Richard Widmarknonetheless conveyed quite effectively in the original), and Robert Stack i…
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    Nightmare Alley

    Posted in Disc Reviews by David Annandale on May 30th, 2005

    

    Synopsis

    Tyrone Power is the amoral Stan, a carny worker who will use anybody, especially women,to facilitate his climb to the top. Joan Blondell is the carnival medium who teaches him the tricksof the trade. He dumps her for Coleen Gray, and is soon a performer in the big nightclubs. Butthat isn’t enough for him, and he overreaches when he allies himself with Helen Walker, anunscrupulous psychologist who is an even smarter operator than he is.

    A noir-drenched rise and fall …
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