This is one of my favorite film noirs. A low-budget B movie with all the pulp, grit, and ugliness that embodied film noir. It was made on such a cheap budget, the car used in the movie is actually the director's car. It was the first B movie to make it on the Library of Congress Registry list, and it was also the first "noir" inducted.
This is a fantastic film noir full of shady characters, corrupt cops, and lawyers. Sam Jaffe plays Doc Reidenscheider, a smallish but shrewd looking crook just released after spending 7 years in prison. He meets with a bookie who arranges a meeting with a corrupt lawyer played by Louis Calhern to see if he will fence this well-planned score. Doc has a plan for a jewlery heist that involves a driver, a safecracker and a hooligan. After reaching an agrement with the lawyer, Emmerich, Doc uses his bookie to find the men for the job. Sterling Hayden plays Dix Handley who is hemorrhaging money from betting on horses that he gets from robbing banks. He has plans to return to Kentucky with his girl to rescue a horse farm that his father lost during the Depression. After all the members are recruited for the job, they are ready to go. The heist goes down and there is a great, seven minute part of the job in complete silence. Unfortunately, the safecracker's explosives on the safe sets off other alarms in banks in the area. This alerts the police, and when Dix punches a security cop, he drops the gun and shoots the safecracker in the gut as they are leaving. Now they police are after them, but things are still going okay. Emmerich the attorney has hired an private detective to collect on his debts because he too, like Dix, is flat broke. He has no way to fence the deal he promised to fence. Instead of fessing up, he plans a double cross with his private detective. The gang overpower the dick and he's killed in a short fight. At this point everyone has to split up. Doc starts to head north to Cleveland, the safecracker is dying from his wound and Dix is leaving for Kentucky with his girl, having been wounded by a gunshot wound. Doc takes a cab to get out of town, but on the way they stop at a restaurant. There he gets entranced by a young girl dancing to the jukebox. As he leers on, he continues to feed her money for the jukebox to keep dancing. During this time the police find him and arrest him outside. Dix and his girl make it to Kentucky. Dix stumbles out of his car into a horse pasture, only to collapse and die from his wounds.
This was just a fun movie. It was like reliving those moments when I was a kid, playing in a pool or bathtub, with boats, action figures and other toys. Except now that kid is an adult director, Guillermo del Toro, who finally has the budget to make a monster movie he had probably been dreaming of since he first watched Harryhausen's work in the movies. Try not to think too much about this one, though, it's all about the monsters and robots clashing across the bathtub of the Pacific Ocean and the coastal cities. Try and see it in IMAX if you can.
When you mix a standard murder mystery with the obsession of three men, you get a classic film noir like Laura. Dana Andrews plays Mark McPherson, a NY Police detective investigating the brutal murder of a beautiful and successful executive, Laura Hunt, played by Gene Tierney. As he investigates two other men in her life, her mentor and a newspaper columnist, Waldo Lydecker, played by Clifton Webb, and her socialite fiance, Shelby Carpenter, a very young Vincent Price, he finds himself drawn to this dead woman. As he investigates her apartment, he becomes intrigued with a large painting of Laura hanging in the center of the room. Through his investigation, interviews, and spending time in Laura's apartment, he gradually falls in love and becomes obsessed with finding who murdered her. And while it seems like this will play out a regular mystery, things take a left turn and things are not entirely what we think. Also of note is the beautiful score by Bernard Hermann, especially the Laura suite and theme.
The most exciting and tense movie you will see involving insurance. Well, insurance, deception, femme fatales, and murder. It's Billy Wilder's masterpiece, Double Indemnity. This is my favorite film noir. It begins with Walter Neff, an insurance salesman, entering his work building and stumbling into a chair to record his story for his friend and co-worker, Keyes, played by Edward G. Robinson. Basically, it began as an innocent visit to discuss insurance with a Mr. Dietrichson at his home, but when he's not there, he meets Phyllis Dietrichson, played by Barbara Stanwyck, his sultry and flirtatious wife. Eventually, she talks Walter into murdering her husband and making it look like an accident in order to claim a large amount of money. This movie is in incredibly sexy for a movie made in 1944. With the beginning sequence between MacMurray and Stanwyck, the banter is slightly comical, fast and filled with innuendo. The cinematography is top notch as well. Great use of shadows and lighting, as well as different angles, doorwarys, etc. Great movie.
Allen Baron wrote, directed and starred as Frank Bono in this low-budget film noir about a few days in the life of hired killer as he researches, plans and assassinates his target. This was shot on location in New York during Christmas. The festive, tranquil and social nature of Christmas contrasts with Frank's lonely life. The voice over narration in this could sound campy to contemporary audiences, and at first I hated it, but over time it worked for me. Lionel Standard does an effective job as the second person narration. It reminded me of the cliche images of a devil on the shoulder; his voice continues to remind him of what he is, a killer. This is despite his attempt to form relationships with people from his childhood that he runs into. In fact, he endeavors to leave the life for a woman after this last job. Unfortunately, as is the case with many film noirs, things don't go as smoothly. There is a great opening shot of a train coming out of a tunnel that is paired with Lionel's narration about Frank's birth (complete with a baby crying and then smacked) into the rough world of this film. There are a few other amazing sequences that really set this movie apart as a film noir, and as Allen Baron as an auteur director. At the time some thought he would be the next Orson Welles, but unfortunately this movie was not given good billing or even advertised much at all. Since Criterion released a restored version with a featurette, the movie has seen a surge of popularity.
Based on a graphic novel of the same name, this over-the-top action thriller involves retired CIA, KGB and other paramilitary types who are involved in a nefarious plot to take out all the surviving members of a former elite squad. It's the A-Team with Centrum Silver. And probably not as entertaining. I enjoyed the movie the way I enjoy watching a TBS late night Resident Evil marathon. I would never pay to watch it, but it's still mindless fun. Ridiculous and mindless fun. Really. Don't apply Bourne Identity or current military type rules to this movie or else you will be unable to appreciate how insanely ridiculous it all really is.
Sterling Hayden as Johnny Clay leads this amazing cast in one of the best heist films out there and quite honestly, probably one of Kubrick's most entertaining and most cohesive films ever. Johhny is an ex-con who has a big plan for a major racetrack heist. He enlists the help of track ticket sellers, a former pugilist, an marksman with a Joker-smile, a track bartender, corrupt cop and more for a daylight heist. And because I believe a good heist film is not worth watching if things go according to plan, this one does not displease. The plan goes south in a way that places this film firmly in the film noir canon. I've seen this movie around three times now and it gets better every time. Every one is fun to watch, from Sterling's tough guy, no nonsense persona to Marie Windsor's classic femme fatale and her doting and weak husband played by Elisha Cook Jr. Brilliant film.