Arabesque (1966, Directed by Stanley Donen) English 6

Starring Gregory Peck, Sophia Loren, Alan Badel, Carl Duering, Kieron Moore, John Merivale, Duncan Lamont

Film - Arabesque - Into Film

(6-Good Film)

Entertaining. Vibrant. Superficial.

David Pollock: Let us through! That man’s about to be killed!

Policeman: I hardly think so, sir. This is England!

Written with Cary Grant in mind to star, Stanley Donen (the director), himself, admitted to the script not being very good, “Our only hope is to make it so visually exciting the audience will never have time to work out what the hell is going on.” I think his comments are spot on and I guess, with that in mind, he succeeded. Arabesque, off the heels of Donen’s Charade (which had a phenomenal script), is convoluted rather than clever, exciting rather than romantic. As far as I could work out, Peck plays a professor, David Pollock, asked to spy on a nefarious middle-eastern tycoon, Nejim Beshraavi (Badel), who wants him to crack a code. David gets tangled up with Beshraavi’s mistress, Yasmin (Loren), who is hard to trust but even harder to ignore. Arabesque is solid light entertainment but far from essential.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(1,005)

Leave Her to Heaven (1945, Directed by John M. Stahl) English 7

Starring Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price, Darryl Hickman, Ray Collins, Gene Lockhart, Chill Wills, Mary Philips

Berlinale | Archive | Annual Archives | 2015 | Programme - Leave ...

(7-Very Good Film)

Sparkling. Maudlin. Chilling.

Ellen Berent Harland: I’ll never let you go. Never, never, never.

Novelist, Richard Harlan’s (Wilde) own story should be a cautionary tale. He fell in love after a brief flirtation with the beautiful Ellen Berent (Tierney), and they were married soon after. It’s only after they married that the dark side of her personality peaked through. Violently possessive, Ellen slowly destroys his life, and Harlan ends up in jail. The only problem with calling this a cautionary tale is that it’s hard to say what exactly Harlan’s mistakes were; at least, early on. There weren’t exactly any clear signs that Ellen was a psychopath. She was an enigma and that only made him more curious. I can’t blame him. Leave Her to Heaven is a brightly colored melodrama with an undercurrent of noir. Like its lead character, Ellen, the film’s dazzling superficial qualities belie its dark core. Tierney is unforgettable in her role; pristine, Barbie-doll looks, and an ice-cold manner. Her scene at the lake, shades on, staring off into the distance as something horrific happens right in front of her, is as chilling a scene as there ever was.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(988)

Detour (1945, Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer) English 7

Starring Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake, Edmund MacDonald, Esther Howard, Tim Ryan

Film Classics: Detour (1945) | The Frame

(7-Very Good Film)

Lean. Mean. Cheap.

Al Roberts: That’s life. Whichever way you turn, Fate sticks out a foot to trip you.

Al Roberts (Neal) hitchhikes his way from New York to Hollywood, or, at least, that was the plan. He’s got a great girl waiting for him in L.A that he intends to marry. His plans, however, get derailed by bad luck and bad accidents the way you hear him tell it. Sitting alone, ragged, vagrant, in a Reno diner, Al tells us his side of things. How he played no part in the death of Charles Haskell Jr. (a shady philanthropist of sorts, who offers him a ride). How he became mixed up with Lucifer in female form, also known as Vera (Savage). How he didn’t want to go along with her schemes and how the conclusion of their partnership was just one more trick of Fate that he had little control over. He mentions that the cops would never believe his story. I don’t, but that’s just part of what makes Detour such a fine, compelling noir despite its noticeable limitations. It’s dark, it’s clever. It gives its inexperienced actors one note a piece to play and they play it to perfection. Perhaps no noir, known for its use of narration, used the device better than this one.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(983)

Under the Silver Lake (2018, Directed by David Robert Mitchell) English 8

Starring Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace, Callie Hernandez, Riki Lindhome, Don McManus, Zosia Mamet, Jeremy Bobb, Patrick Fischler, Rex Linn, Jimmi Simpson, Grace Van Patten

Fade to Black: Under the Silver Lake (2018) - Morbidly Beautiful

(8-Exceptional Film)

Curious. Alluring. Puzzling.

Comic Fan: Our world is filled with codes, subliminal messages. From Silverlake to the Hollywood Hills.

Noir in cinema has been nearly synonymous with nighttime throughout the years. It’s a nighttime genre. In Under the Silver Lake, a noir-drenched puzzle box of a film, the parts that I comfortably consider noir occur during the day. At night, the film shifts into a surrealist horror flick, not unlike the director, David Robert Mitchell’s previous film, It Follows. I didn’t like It Follows. I’m pretty sure I love Under the Silver Lake. It’s hard to say for certain after one viewing because it’s hard to say what it’s about. Andrew Garfield plays Sam. Sam seems harmlessly middling; unimportant, uninterested in much. The latter part is where he unquestionably proves me wrong. He’s a conspiracy nut, constantly watching the world for clues. A brief romantic moment with his beautiful neighbor, Sarah (Keough), leads him to a labyrinthian circuit of clues essentially in his backyard. I haven’t pinned down anything about this film yet. I noticed and appreciated some of the influences. Rear Window is the most conspicuous (Sam even has a poster of it on his wall). Like James Stewart’s character in that movie, Sam, too, loves to spy on neighbors. Except here, it’s a little more sinister. What I understood of Under the Silver Lake, I loved. What I suspect lies in waiting on further viewings, I look forward to finding.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(980)

Woman on the Run (1950, Directed by Norman Foster) English 6

Starring Ann Sheridan, Dennis O’Keefe, Ross Elliot, Robert Keith, John Qualen, Frank Jenks, Steven Geray

Kennington Noir presents Woman on the Run (1950) on 35mm » The ...

(6-Good Film)

Efficient. Surprising. Nifty.

Maibus: So Frank is a fugitive from the law… that’s just like him!

Frank didn’t do anything wrong. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Witnessing a murder, the cops want him to be their lead witness, but he doesn’t relish the idea of risking his life to play informant so he runs. Now, the cops, the killer, a newspaperman, Dan Legget (O’Keefe), and his estranged wife, Eleanor (Sheridan), are looking all over San Francisco for him. This is a clever, ultra-efficient thriller with a neat trick or two up its sleeves. It’s also been pointed out to me how rare it is to have a noir featuring a woman as the lead. Sheridan plays the jaded, tough-talking dame who more than holds her own in this violent world she’s been thrust into. More proof that within the conventions of a noir and with the limited resources of a B-Picture, came many solid films (and some great ones).

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(976)

 

Satan Met a Lady (1936, Directed by William Dieterle) English 5

Starring Warren William, Bette Davis, Arthur Treacher, Marie Wilson, Alison Skipworth, Winifred Shaw

HAMMETT, DASHIELL, ADAPTED FROM) SATAN MET A LADY (1936) | WalterFilm

(5-Okay Film)

Amusing. Watered-down. Forgettable.

Valerie Purvis: Do you mind very much, Mr. Shane, taking off your hat in the presence of a lady with a gun?

Private detective, Ted Shayne (William), finds his partner, one he’s not particularly fond of, murdered, and weaves through a complicated search for lost treasure to find the killer. A film with Bette Davis as a femme fatale ought to be more memorable than this. Too much playing around with the source material. Based on Dashiell Hammett’s masterpiece The Maltese Falcon, this is an okay adaptation, but five years later John Huston made the ultimate adaptation by sticking to the book.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(968)

The Hustle (2019, Directed by Chris Addison) English 4

Starring Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp, Ingrid Oliver, Dean Norris, Timothy Simons

Weekend Box Office: 'The Hustle' Opens With $13.5 Million As 'Poms ...

(4-Bad Film)

Inferior. Misguided. Painless.

Josephine Chesterfield: Why are women better suited to the con than men?

Are they? Who knows, but this film doesn’t do much for feminine pride. Anne Hathaway stars as Josephine Chesterfield, a glamorous con-artist working the French Riviera. Her business is threatened by a small-time crook, Penny (Wilson), who will likely scare off the big fish with her short cons. You’re probably aware that this is a remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels which starred Michael Caine and Steve Martin. Some people know that Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, itself, was a remake of Bedtime Story starring Marlon Brando and David Niven. For that reason, I don’t object to a remake, though Dirty Rotten Scoundrels is one of my favorite comedies. I object to the casting because it doesn’t work and I object to simply recycling all of the best jokes from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and making them less funny. Hathaway hasn’t proven yet that she can do comedy and Wilson has no one to work off of. As for the recycling of jokes, to me, it undermines much of the film’s focus on female empowerment. They’re just doing what men have already done. Why not do your own thing like the wonderful Bridesmaids? If you’re going to remake a movie, especially a comedy which relies on the element of surprise, you should work up some fresh material.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(943)

D.O.A (1949, Directed by Rudolph Maté) English 7

Starring Edmond O’Brien, Pamela Britton, Luther Adler, William Ching, Laurette Luez, Neville Brand, Lynn Baggett

D.O.A. (1949) Full Length Movie on the MHM Podcast Network

(7-Very Good Film)

Intriguing. Convoluted. Melodramatic.

Homicide Captain: Who was murdered?
Frank Bigelow: I was.

I’m glad to find, reading other reviews of noir classic D.O.A, that I’m not the only one that had a hard time following the plot. Several characters flow in and out, there are red herrings, and key players are mentioned but never seen. I couldn’t keep up, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying the film. All you really need to know is that an average man, Frank Bigelow (O’Brien), goes on a business trip to San Francisco, spends the first night out on the town, wakes up the next morning feeling funny, and, upon visiting a doctor, is told that he’s been poisoned and has a couple days left to live. Film experts refer to these kinds of plot devices as ticking bombs. They give movies an important time element and are invaluable to good suspense. D.O.A has one of the best time bombs of any movie I’ve seen. Bigelow has to solve his own murder and get revenge before he keels over. You might think that too much of the dialogue is heavily melodramatic, but I like melodrama in noir. It serves as a nice counterbalance to the otherwise dark tales and this one follows through. No cop-out in the end.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(942)

Wait Until Dark (1967, Directed by Terence Young) English 6

Starring Audrey Hepburn, Richard Crenna, Alan Arkin, Jack Weston, Samantha Jones, Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Wait Until Dark (1967) Movie Review - MovieBoozer

(6-Good Film)

Convoluted. Suspenseful. Effective.

Roat: I cannot negotiate in an atmosphere of mistrust.

Three criminals- Roat (Arkin), Mike (Crenna), and Sam (Zimbalist Jr.)- of varying morality trick and torment a newly blind woman, Suzy (Hepburn), who may or may not be concealing a small fortune in the form of a heroin filled doll. A couple of truly terrific scenes to end the picture make up for a long setup that lags, a confusing narrative, and a conspicuous stagey feel that bothers most play adaptations. Hepburn goes a long way to make us care about Suzy and once the plot becomes clear, Wait Until Dark becomes a highly suspenseful thriller.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(941)

The Long Goodbye (1973, Directed by Robert Altman) English 9

Starring Elliot Gould, Nina van Pallandt, Sterling Hayden, Jim Bouton, Henry Gibson, David Arkin, Arnold Schwarzenegger

The Long Goodbye | Metrograph

(9-Great Film)

Cool. Distinct. Languorous.

Det. Green: Your name Marlowe?

Philip Marlowe: No, my name is Sidney, uh, Jenkins.

Det. Green: Come on inside, Marlowe, we want to talk to you.

The famous Philip Marlowe, private eye, star of Raymond Chandler’s classic mystery novels and several films, gets possibly his best adaptation in Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye. From the moment he wakes up in the opening scene, to the surprise of the finale, Marlowe (Gould), is out of his element. He still basically looks and sounds the way we’re accustomed to; Gould is sly, witty, infinitely cool, always wearing a suit and tie. It’s his surroundings that have changed (his neighbors don’t wear any clothes at all). Very loosely working with Raymond Chandler’s novel of the same name, Marlowe gets involved with an alcoholic, self-destructive novelist, Roger Wade (Hayden), and Wade’s beautiful, unhappy wife, Eileen (van Pallandt), shortly after helping an old friend, Terry Lennox (charged with killing his wife) escape to Mexico. Other films that came before this one tried to transplant Marlowe to a more modern setting. The film simply titled Marlowe, for example, moved him to the ’60s, but The Long Goodbye doesn’t just “update” the material. It displaces the hero. He’s still essentially the romantic hero that he’s always been. Chandler described him as a “shop-soiled Sir Galahad,” in The High Window, but his loyalty and sense of honor seem out of touch here. In any case, this is a great film with an odd sense of humor and a unique style.

-Walter Tyrone Howard-

(930)