Directed by Steve Sekely
Stars: Paul Henreid, Joan Bennett, Eduard Franz, John Qualen, Leslie Brooks
"You're one of those egotistical smart-alec's with big ideas."
Oh, the irony! Small time crook John Muller gets out of jail, determined to make a big score. After the robbery of an illegal gambling joint goes wrong, Muller realizes his life is in deep doo-doo and stumbles upon a way out of the whole mess. There is a psychiatrist whom he resembles, the only distinction between the two men being a scar Dr. Bartok has on his cheek. Johnny decides to impersonate Bartok. His plan goes well until he realizes that he's put the scar on the wrong side of his face!
A great little film noir piece, you'll love watching bad guy Muller plot and maneuver his way from one criminal act to another. Paul Henreid is absolutely riveting in the role, and Joan Bennett is sympathetic as the girl who falls for him, knowing all the while he's a snake. There is a feeling of doom from the very beginning, without one moment of humor or levity. An intense viewing experience that is guaranteed to satisfy.
Directed by Rudolph Mate
Stars: Edmond O'Brien, Pamela Britton, Beverly Garland, Neville Brand, William Ching
"I want to report a murder."
Frank Bigelow stumbles into a police station to report a murder- his own. After this shocking revelation, Bigelow recounts a twisted tale of deception and death. To say more would ruin the fun of this film noir favorite.
This is a truly original film that will keep you guessing all the way. How many victims get the chance to solve their own murder? Watching Frank transform from unassuming accountant to hard boiled investigator is wonderful to behold as he has no problem getting physical with the men and women who hold clues to his murderer's identity. Though the 80's remake with Dennis Quaid is good, the storyline is entirely different. This version is a must see and is superior in every way.
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
Stars: Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Edmund MacDonald, Claudia Drake
"Where did you leave his body?"
The ultimate film noir classic, Detour is one of the bleakest movies ever made. Bitter, lonely, and depressed, piano-man Al hitchhikes across country to be with his girlfriend, the only positive aspect of his miserable life. As surely as the road to hell is paved with good intentions, Al's journey becomes a swift downward spiral to the deepest pits of Hades when he catches a ride with a man who accidentally dies en route to Los Angeles. Cynical Al makes the desperate decision to cover up the death, which leads him to make the mistake that takes him on the fatal detour that culminates in the total ruination of his life.
Ann Savage (what an appropriate name) is Vera, one of the most despicable female characters in filmdom. She's as vicious as a pit bull and loser Al is simply no match for her. The dialogue between the two is amazing. Their scenes together are so realistic, you'll believe that they really hate each other's guts.
This dark gem reinforces the pessimist's creed- that no matter what you do, the world is out to get you. The only question is the route you'll end up taking to your own doom. Ulmer has directed a masterpiece that any self respecting cinephile must see, especially of the film noir genre.
Directed by Lewis Allen
Stars: Frank Sinatra, Sterling Hayden, Kim Charney, Nancy Gates, James Gleason
"Things happen so slow now, the town council is figuring to change the name to Gradually."
In the small town of Suddenly, hit men hold a family hostage as they wait for the President of the United States to arrive in town so that they can assassinate him.
This is a terrific melodrama that moves along at a quick pace. Sinatra is electrifying as the main baddie, a disturbed ex-soldier who isn't buying into the ideals of the American Dream. And little Kim Charney is excellent as Pidge, a brave kid who has the nerve to stand up to the would-be murderers.
It is understandable that this film was withdrawn for years from public view in light of JFK's death in Dallas. The parallels are uncanny. But do see this movie, it is a great period piece with wonderful performances all around.
Directed by Laslo Benedek
Stars: Scott Brady, Yul Brynner, Richard Rober, Arthur Blake, Lynne Carter
"In that package was death- that's why a dragnet had to be thrown out over the entire city; in this package were the seeds of destruction, bacteria to start a plague of violence and misery."
A taut film noir about The Florentine Case, a gritty tale of illegal drug trafficking and the race against time to trace those responsible before the the narcotics can hit the street.
Yul Brynner (with hair!) portrays ruthless drug kingpin Paul Vicola with just the right amount of menace and superiority. It's interesting to see New York in the forties as the story backdrop, with scenes set in Grand Central Station and a great club called simply "The Gay Club". The narrative style gives this one a documentary feel.
Literally "black film", this is a distinctive cinematic style of stark colors and edgy stories focusing on the darker side of life. Gangsters, femme fatales, twisted desires, and bad luck are what you'll find in the unforgiving world of film noir.