Happy to have two good reasons to post today.
First, blogger The Midnite Drive-In is hosting a classic Film Noir Blogathon August 12-14. Just pick a noir film and write about it! Hope you’ll join in. I’ll be writing about John Sturges and the Noir Western — The Walking Hills (1949) and The Capture (1950).
And now on to what I watched this week:
A Bullet for Joey (1955): I finally let myself watch this film that features such terrible IMDb reviews it kept me at bay for many a day. It’s the second teaming of Robinson and Raft, and it is pretty weak. The film shifts midway and leaves the characters floundering, including Audrey Totter who goes from femme fatale to afterthought and Raft who does the right thing in the end just because that’s what Americans do during the Cold War. It wasn’t as bad as I feared, but it’s NOT RECOMMENDED except for curiosity’s sake.
The Long Night (1947): I’m not a fan of Henry Fonda, but he’s pretty endearing opposite Barbara Bel Geddes (about whom I need to write a post soon for her roles in noir) and Ann Dvorak (ditto). The script is bad, or the editing is, or both, and it means the big reveal is pretty weak. Magician Vincent Price’s villainy is more about sexual harassment than mesmerism, and his silver hair pieces (to make him look older) are just dreadful. NOT RECOMMENDED.
Panic in the Streets (1950): First of all, this flick should not be labeled noir. That said, Widmark shows where the future will take him in a straight role he handles quite well, with a particularly powerful scene declaring his love for his wife (Barbara Bel Geddes). A doctor with the U.S. Public Health Service (Widmark) teams up with a grumpy police detective (Paul Douglas) to save New Orleans from the spread of “pneumonic plague” (the pulmonary version of bubonic plague), brought in by a stowaway immigrant from Greece. The plot involves criminal bully Blackie (Jack Palance), who wants whatever the immigrant hid away to sell in the states, and his squeamish but loyal henchman (a fabulous Zero Mostel). The cast is outstanding, and the tension is kept high. RECOMMENDED.
The Walking Hills (1949): In my search for noir westerns, I discovered and watched a terrible copy of this John Sturges picture featuring Randolph Scott and Ella Raines. Raines is compelling as always, but Scott hasn’t enough to do and the plot is to thin to keep the tension high enough. I enjoyed considering the noir elements despite the western setting and pursuit of gold, but NOT RECOMMENDED otherwise.
Even though this list has a high number of non-recommendations, I still enjoyed the viewing. Even bad movies of the classic era usually have their charms.