I’ve held off as long as I could before bringing Ida Lupino or Richard Widmark back to #BNoirDetour night. But I need a fix.

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Road House (1948) is wild tale of wild individuals in an out-of-the-way night club, sparking and sparring…and sometimes bowling. Let’s meet the gang:

Our leading lady is a hard-boiled dame who shows all the signs of being a femme fatale. But torch singer Lily (Ida Lupino) may have a heart of gold underneath that inch of ice.

Lily (Lupino) relaxes in a noir approach to casual daywear.
Lily (Lupino) relaxes in a noir approach to casual daywear.

Night club owner Jefty (Richard Widmark) discovers Lily and brings her to his club. He’s head over heels for her, determined, and maybe even more trouble than Lily herself.

Then there’s good guy Pete (Cornel Wilde), who manages the club for his pal Jefty and wants nothing to do with Lily…at least at first.

Finally, there’s Susie (Celeste Holm), the club’s cashier and a great gal…with about as much hope of landing hunky Pete as she has of getting top billing in this film.

Our film foursome in a giveway publicity shot. From left: Susie (Holm), Pete (Wilde), Lily (Lupino), and Jefty (Widmark).
Our film foursome in a giveway publicity shot. From left: Susie (Holm), Pete (Wilde), Lily (Lupino), and Jefty (Widmark).

In many ways, this is Lupino’s picture. Lily is by far the most interesting character, and her chanteuse act is oddly riveting, despite her Frankenstein haircut and lack of a voice. After she talk-sings and smokes her way through Johnny Mercer’s “One for My Baby,” it’s not surprising when Susie opines, “She does more without a voice than anybody I’ve ever heard!”

One more for the road...
One more for the road…

Halfway through the film, however, Wilde is forced to yield his leading male role to fourth-billed Widmark, whose jealous desire for Lily suddenly turns extreme, and Jefty becomes a stalking psycho who dominates the film with prodigious amounts of crazy.

Jeffty (Widmark) reeks with crazy toward the film's end.
Jefty (Widmark) inexplicably reeks with insanity toward the film’s end.

If the battle for center stage between Lupino and Widmark doesn’t tempt you to join the BNoirDetour gang on Sunday, 8/9 at 9p ET, I don’t know what will.

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