Happy birthday, Gloria Grahame, top film noir femme fatale

Gloria Grahame is one of our favorite bad girls.

Gloria Grahame is one of our favorite bad girls.

While lounging this holiday weekend or perhaps while shopping (for yourself, who else?) or having a tad more chocolate and champagne, be sure to remember one of our favorite bad girls: the inimitable Miss Gloria Grahame, kittenish with a slight lisp and sexy as hell. She could play a vixen like no one else and she courted scandal off-screen as well.

Gloria was born today (Nov. 28) in Los Angeles in 1923. She died on Oct. 5, 1981.

A few years ago, we decided to honor Ms. Grahame with her own special day (in addition to her b’day because one day was simply not enough) and we invite you to revisit our praise: http://bit.ly/1NUZLMo

You will also find links to several GG film noir classics.

Enjoy!

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Truffaut’s choice as the greatest film noir: ‘Rififi’

By Michael Wilmington & Film Noir Blonde

Rififi” (1954, Jules Dassin) starts today at the Laemmle Royal in West Los Angeles. It runs through Sept. 17.

Midway through director Jules Dassin’s French crime classic “Rififi” (“Trouble”), Dassin stages a 33-minute-long masterpiece of suspense: a sequence the most critics regard as the most perfect of all movie heist scenes. It’s a brilliantly designed set-piece of excruciating tension and the only sound is the thieves at work.

Probably no one who sees that scene ever forgets it. Here it is: In the early morning hours, a small band of crooks – which include legendary bank robber Tony le Stephanois (Jean Servais), his young married friend Jo Jo (Carl Mohner), a good thief named Mario (Robert Manuel) and the loose-lipped safecracker Cesar (played by Dassin himself, under the stage name Perlo Vita) – break into an exclusive Parisian jewelry store by drilling though the floor of the room above. They work carefully, quietly, methodically. For the entire scene, there is not a word of dialogue, not a note of background music. A tour de force of moviemaking technique, it helped win Dassin the Best Director prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Later, François Truffaut called “Rififi” the greatest of all film noirs.

That heist scene also sets up the grim, fatalistic last act of “Rififi,” which is about how thieves fall apart, set in a Paris that seems shrouded in perpetual clouds and drizzling rain. “Rififi” was regarded as an almost instant classic, and it wiped out the stigma of Dassin’s blacklisting by Hollywood. If you’ve never seen this movie and that scene, you won’t forget them either. (In French, with subtitles.)

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The Film Noir File: Robert Wise lays odds against tomorrow

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard). All films without a new review have been covered previously in Film Noir Blonde and can be searched in the FNB archives (at right).

Earl (Robert Ryan) instantly feels threatened by smart and polished Johnny (Harry Belafonte).

Earl (Robert Ryan) instantly feels threatened by smart and polished Johnny (Harry Belafonte).

PICK OF THE WEEK Odds Against Tomorrow” (1959, Robert Wise). Monday, Aug. 31. 6 p.m. (3 p.m.).

Here is one of the great, underrated film noirs – a movie whose stature was recognized early on by French critics and has continued to grow over the past half century.

Directed by Robert Wise, with a Nelson Gidding-credited screenplay based on a novel by suspense and crime specialist William McGivern (“The Big Heat”), “Odds Against Tomorrow” boasts a riveting and exciting story, unforgettable characters and a bitingly contemporary social/political allegory plot.

Shelley Winters plays a frumpy romantic in “Odds Against Tomorrow.”

Shelley Winters plays a frumpy romantic in “Odds Against Tomorrow.”

In the movie, three mismatched New Yorkers – genial, corrupt ex-cop Dave (Ed Begley), brutal ex-con Earl (Robert Ryan) and reckless musician Johnny (Harry Belafonte), a nightclub entertainer with huge gambling debts – join forces for an upstate bank robbery, a well-planned heist that will supposedly solve all their money problems. But their problems are just beginning. Earl is a racist who hates Johnny on sight and Johnny has a short fuse as well. Dave has heart trouble. Things begin to unravel, then explode.

Ryan’s performance is a scorcher; he‘s a perfect villain, bad to the bone. Belafonte’s is compelling and non-clichéd. (He was also one of the producers.) Begley’s is jovial but poignant, a Willy Loman-like salesman peddling his own destruction. The women in the case, a pair of bad blondes – Shelley Winters as Earl’s whining wife and Gloria Grahame as his slutty neighbor – are top-notch noir babes.

Gloria Grahame sizzles in “Odds.”

Gloria Grahame sizzles in “Odds.” What else is new?

French noir master Jean-Pierre Melville named “Odds Against Tomorrow” as one of his three all-time favorite movies; the other two were: “The Asphalt Jungle” and “The Best Years of Our Lives.” Along with the 1949 boxing classic “The Set-Up” (which had Ryan starring in a sympathetic role, as the aging fighter) this is the best of Wise’s noirs and crime movies.

The screenplay was mostly written by the uncredited and blacklisted Abraham Polonsky (“Force of Evil”). The original jazz score is by John Lewis and the Modern Jazz Quartet. The atmospheric black and white cinematography is by Joseph C. Brun (“Edge of the City”). The film is a great one, noir to the max, with a powerful and unforgettable ending.

Saturday, Aug. 29: George C. Scott Day

12 p.m. (9 a.m.): “Anatomy of Murder” (1959, Otto Preminger). One of the best and most true-to-life of all courtroom dramas, “Anatomy of a Murder” is also the best film producer-director Otto Preminger ever made.

Paul Newman is the blue-eyed king of the pool hall in “The Hustler.”

Paul Newman is the blue-eyed king of the pool hall in “The Hustler.”

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “The Hustler” (1961, Robert Rossen). In this dark, agile, sinewy cinema tale of the world of pool halls, pool hustlers and the gamblers who exploit them, Paul Newman plays the brash, cocky young pool shark Fast Eddie Felson. Piper Laurie is his ill-fated girl (a tragic drinker). Myron McCormick is his rat-faced, loyal little manager, Jackie Gleason is Minnesota Fats, the plump, limber champ whom Fast Eddie wants to replace. And George C. Scott is Burt, the mean manipulator with the satanic smile who lays the bets, bankrolls the players and says of Fast Eddie to Fats: “Stick with this kid. He’s a loser.”

Newman wasn’t a loser here and neither was the movie. Based on Walter Tevis’s cool, hustling, sharply authentic novel, it’s one of the great late film noirs and the show that made Newman a mega-star – and made Gleason a movie star as well. No film has ever caught the seedy but graceful pool-hall underworld better: the angles, the pockets, the incredible shots, the immaculate tables, the cigarettes and booze culture, the click of the pool balls, and the bravura of the hustlers and sharks hard at their game. Once you see this picture, you won’t get them out of your head either.

2:15 a.m. (11:15 p.m.): “The Last Run” (1971, Richard Fleischer). One last job for aging crook driver George C. Scott. Co-starring wives Trish Van Devere and Colleen Dewhurst; scripted by Alan Sharp; with a few scenes (uncredited) directed by John Huston.

Monday, Aug. 31: Shelley Winters Day

Harper poster6 a.m. (3 a.m.): “Harper” (1966, Jack Smight). Paul Newman, at his most attractively laid-back, plays one of detective literature’s most celebrated private eyes, novelist Ross Macdonald’s Lew Archer. One catch: Archer has been renamed “Lew Harper,” so Newman could have (he hoped) another hit movie with an “H” title, like “The Hustler” and “Hud.” He got one. The stellar cast includes Lauren Bacall, Janet Leigh, Julie Harris, Shelley Winters, Robert Wagner, Arthur Hill, Robert Webber and Strother Martin. Scripted snappily by William Goldman.

2:30 p.m. (11:30 a.m.): “He Ran All the Way” (1951, John Berry). John Garfield, as a sexy bad guy on the lam, terrorizes a family and tries to seduce Shelley Winters. (Tries?) Hard core noir and Garfield’s last movie. With Norman Lloyd and Wallace Ford.

4 p.m. (1 p.m.): “I Died a Thousand Times” (1955, Stuart Heisler). A color and Cinemascope remake of the Raoul WalshHumphrey BogartIda Lupino gangster saga (from a W. R. Burnett novel) “High Sierra,” this time around starring Jack Palance and Shelley Winters. Inferior to its model, but not awful. With young supporting heavy Lee Marvin in his vicious snarl mode.

Lolita poster10 p.m. (7 p.m.): “Lolita” (1962, Stanley Kubrick). Kubrick’s superb film of Vladimir Nabokov’s classic comic-erotic novel – about the dangerous affair of college professor Humbert Humbert (James Mason) and nymphet Lolita (Sue Lyon), in which they are nightmarishly pursued by the writer, sybarite and man of many faces Clare Quilty (Peter Sellers). An underrated dark comic masterpiece, this film has strong noir touches, themes and style. With Shelley Winters; script by Nabokov (and Kubrick).

Wednesday, Sept. 2

1 p.m. (10 a.m.): “A Woman’s Face” (1941, George Cukor). Based on a Gustaf Molander-directed Swedish romantic thriller about a horribly scarred lady outlaw, whose personality changes (for the better), when plastic surgery gives her a beautiful new face, this MGM remake has Joan Crawford in the star role originated by the young Ingrid Bergman. It’s about as posh as a noir can get.

Thursday, Sept. 3

12:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m.): “The Hitch-Hiker” (1953, Ida Lupino). Fate isn’t smiling when two guys on vacation give a lift to a man who turns out to be serial killer. “The Hitch-Hiker,” starring Edmond O’Brien, Frank Lovejoy and William Talman, is the only classic film noir directed by a woman, the great Ida Lupino. Best known as an actress, Lupino was also a director, writer and producer. She co-wrote “The Hitch-Hiker.”

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The Film Noir File: Terrence Malick’s stunning debut ‘Badlands’ is a timeless love-on-the-run classic

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington The Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard). All films without a new review have been covered previously in Film Noir Blonde and can be searched in the FNB archives (at right).

PICK OF THE WEEK

Badlands posterBadlands” (1973, Terrence Malick). Monday, Aug. 24. 8 p.m. (5 p.m.). The late 1960s and early 1970s, in America, were marked by violence and loneliness, war and craziness, and wild beauty. We see a portrait of a lot of that trauma, in microcosm, in Terrence Malick’s shattering 1973 classic, “Badlands.”

Set in the American West of the 1950s, it’s the story of two young people on the run: Kit, who works on a trash truck and tries to model himself after James Dean, and Holly, a high-school baton twirler with a strange blank stare, who thinks Kit is the handsomest boy she’s ever seen. Read the full review here.

Friday, Aug. 21 2:15 a.m. (11:15 p.m.): “Freebie and the Bean” (1974, Richard Rush). Funny, violent and politically incorrect buddy-buddy cop thriller, co-starring Alan Arkin and James Caan as the buddies.

Saturday, Aug. 22: Marlene Dietrich Day

Putty in her hands: The magnificent Marlene Dietrich and the malleable Emil Jannings star in “The Blue Angel.”

Putty in her hands: The magnificent Marlene Dietrich and the malleable Emil Jannings star in “The Blue Angel.”

9:15 a.m. (6:15 a.m.): “The Blue Angel” (1930, Josef von Sternberg). (Repeat FNB mini-review.) (In German, with subtitles.) Marlene Dietrich plays a stunning and saucy singer who leads a fuddy-duddy teacher (Emil Jannings) to doom and destruction, natch.

2:45 p.m. (11:45 a.m.): “Stage Fright” (1950, Alfred Hitchcock). A backstage theater drama with Jane Wyman as an acting student, who tries to help a man on the run (Richard Todd). He’s accused of murdering the husband of a swooningly beautiful actress (Marlene Dietrich). “Stage Fright” is usually considered one of the lesser Hitchcocks, but second-tier Hitch is still better than most films.

The always-ravishing always-entertaining Marlene Dietrich.

The always-ravishing always-entertaining Marlene Dietrich.

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Witness for the Prosecution” (1957, Billy Wilder). A stylish and entertaining whodunit starring Charles Laughton, Tyrone Power and Elsa Lanchester. And of course a very versatile Marlene Dietrich.

Monday, Aug. 23: Warren Oates Day

7:45 a.m. (4:45 a.m.): “The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond” (1960, Budd Boetticher). In just five years, working with paltry budgets on miniscule shooting schedules, ex-matador and B-movie master Budd Boetticher made the five Western masterpieces or near-masterpieces (from “The Tall T” to “Comanche Station”) known as “The Ranown Cycle” — all with stoic-looking cowboy star Randolph Scott in the saddle, and most with producer Harry Joe Brown. As if that weren’t enough, Boetticher had time during the same span to make another two top Scott vehicles, one of them another masterpiece (the 1956 “Seven Men From Now”) as well as that hard-boiled classic of film noir and the gangster genre, “The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond.”

Wild Bunch posterShot in brilliant black and white by ace of aces cinematographer Lucien Ballard (“The Killing,” “The Wild Bunch“), and starring the ruthless-looking, poker-faced glamour guy Ray Danton as the real-life mobster Diamond, “Legs” is prime Boetticher: taut, hard, perfectly shaped. It’s a sharp-eyed tale of brutal men, their fast ladies and their hapless victims, with a supporting cast that includes Karen Steele, Simon Oakland and that later wild triggerman on “The Wild Bunch,” Warren Oates.

12 a.m. (9 p.m.): “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia” (1974, Sam Peckinpah). One of Peckinpah’s bloodiest neo-noirs, with Warren Oates as the morally weary American bounty hunter who brings a head to Mexico.

2 a.m. (11 p.m.): “The Wild Bunch” (1969, Sam Peckinpah). The greatest neo-noir Western. Peckinpah at his finest and most brutally exciting. With William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Ben Johnson and Warren Oates.

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Film Noir File: Summer of Darkness wraps up with four Lang classics, plus ‘Criss Cross,’ ‘Brute Force’ and ‘Asphalt Jungle’

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Film Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard). All films without a new review have been covered previously in Film Noir Blonde and can be searched in the FNB archives (at right).

Pick of the Week: TCM’s Summer of Darkness wraps up

Friday, July 31

They’ve saved some of the best for last.

Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame sizzle in “The Big Heat.”

Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame sizzle in “The Big Heat.”

The last chapter of TCM’s Summer of Darkness binge-a-thon is one of the best of the whole series. During the day, the schedule includes a quartet of moody Teutonic-style thrillers directed by the great German Hollywood émigré suspense-meister Fritz Lang (the creator of “M”). It starts with the grim little mob masterpiece “The Big Heat,” featuring Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame and Lee Marvin in the cinema’s most memorable sadistic hot-coffee triangle.

Completing the Lang lineup are crime sagas “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt,” “While the City Sleeps” and “The Blue Gardenia.” In the evening, Summer of Darkness deepens the shadows with Jules Dassin’s “Brute Force” (a definitive prison picture), Robert Siodmak’s “Criss Cross” and John Huston’s “The Asphalt Jungle“ (two definitive heist thrillers), Anthony Mann’s “Desperate“ (a definitive B chase movie) and Hitchcock’s “The Wrong Man.”

Curated and hosted in the evening by the Czar of Noir himself, Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation and the Noir City film festivals, TCM’s Summer of Darkness, right up to the last breath, is one festival of broken dreams and movie nightmares you won’t want to miss. Tell ’em Fritz sent you.

6 a.m. (3 a.m.): “The Big Heat” (1953, Fritz Lang).

7:45 a.m. (4:45 a.m.): “Suddenly” (1954, Lewis Allen).

Blue Gardenia poster9:30 a.m. (6:30 a.m.): “I Died a Thousand Times” (1955, Stuart Heisler).

11:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m.): “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” (1956, Fritz Lang).

1 p.m. (10 a.m.): “The Harder They Fall” (1956, Mark Robson).

2:45 p.m. (11:45 a.m.): “While the City Sleeps” (1956, Fritz Lang).

4:45 p.m. (1:45 p.m.): “The Blue Gardenia” (1953, Fritz Lang).

6:15 pm. (3:15 p.m.): “Party Girl” (1958, Nicholas Ray).

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Criss Cross” (1949, Robert Siodmak).

9:45 p.m. (6:45 p.m.): “Brute Force” (1947, Jules Dassin).

11:30 p.m. (8:30 p.m.): “Desperate” (1947, Anthony Mann).

Brute Force movie poster color

1 a.m. (10 p.m.): “The Asphalt Jungle” (1950, John Huston).

3 a.m. (12 a.m.): “The Wrong Man” (1956, Alfred Hitchcock).

Saturday, Aug. 1

2 p.m. (11 a.m.): “Whirlpool” (1949, Otto Preminger).

3:45 p.m. (12:45 p.m.): “Laura” (1944, Otto Preminger).

Sunday, Aug. 2

12 a.m. (9 p.m.): “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte” (1964, Robert Aldrich). This is the macabre follow-up to 1962’s Grand Guignol suspense classic “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” But in this Robert Aldrich-directed, Henry Farrell-written Gothic soufflé featuring dueling divas Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, Crawford didn’t make it to the finishing line. Taken ill (or something), she was a no-show when the shooting started and was replaced by Bette’s longtime Warner Brothers buddy Olivia de Havilland.

The resulting chemistry isn’t nearly as potent in this Deep South chiller, which is a kind of grisly sub-Faulkner lady-in-distress murder-in-the-magnolias shocker. But those ace movie villainesses Agnes Moorehead and Mary Astor lend some extra “Sunset Boulevard”-style grande dame atmosphere. And so does the movie’s stylish misfit male contingent of Joseph Cotten, Bruce Dern, Cecil Kellaway and the great fat mama’s boy from “Baby Jane,” Victor Buono. The title song is sung, with a “Tennessee Waltz” warble, by Patti Page.

Monday, Aug. 3

2:45 a.m. (11:45 p.m.): “The Tall Target” (1951, Anthony Mann).

Tuesday, Aug. 4

9:15 a.m. (6:15 a.m.): “The Steel Trap” (1952, Andrew L. Stone).

4:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m.): “Count the Hours” (1953, Don Siegel). Crisp courtroom thriller about migrant workers framed for murder and defended by Macdonald Carey. Siegel’s direction is B-movie sharp. Teresa Wright and Jack Elam are the film’s Beauty and Beast, respectively.

Wednesday, Aug. 5

12 a.m. (9 p.m.): “The Band Wagon” (1953, Vincente Minnelli).

Thursday, Aug. 6

12 a.m. (9 p.m.): “Get Carter” (1971, Mike Hodges).

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Nancy Olson to appear at ‘Sunset Blvd.’ screening in LA

Sunset b & wAcademy Award Nominee Nancy Olson Livingston will participate in a Q&A with film critic Stephen Farber at a 65th anniversary screening of “Sunset Blvd.” The event starts at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 21, at the Laemmle Royal in West LA. By popular demand, an additional 7:30 p.m. show has been added.

For our part, we offer our top 10 favorite lines from this magnificent film noir movie, directed and co-written by Billy Wilder, and starring (along with Nancy Olson) the incomparable Gloria Swanson, William Holden and Erich von Stroheim. The film garnered 11 Oscar nominations and won three (script, music and art direction).

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‘Double Indemnity’ plays nationwide on the big screen

Cissy and Raymond Chandler were married for 30 years.

Cissy Chandler (1870-1954) was married to Raymond Chandler for 30 years.

Just this morning, I finished reading “The Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved” (Pantheon Books, 2007) by Judith Freeman. It’s a look at Chandler’s work and his 30-year marriage to a mysterious woman named Cissy Hurlburt Porcher Pascal, a sexy but refined redhead from the Midwest who was 18 years his senior. (It was her third marriage; his first and only.)  Not that she bothered to tell him her real age, natch. Details, details …

Double Indemnity July 19-20In the book, Freeman describes a turning point in Chandler’s career: When he received the offer from Paramount Studios to adapt James M. Cain’s novel “Double Indemnity” for the big screen, working in partnership with writer/director Billy Wilder.

The film, starring Fred Mac Murray, Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson, was released in 1944. It earned seven Oscar noms, including screenplay, which was extremely rare for a film noir title.

Freeman writes:

“Ray didn’t get the idea of the whole thing at first. When Joe Sistrom, the producer, called and offered him the job, Ray said he could probably do it, but he wouldn’t be able to turn in the screenplay for a couple of weeks, and it would cost them a thousand bucks. Sistrom laughed. Was the guy being funny, or was he really that naïve about the way the movie business worked? Sistrom told him he’d be working with Wilder, in an office on the studio lot, that he’d have ten weeks to do the screenplay, and he’d be getting seven hundred and fifty bucks a week. Ray did the math. Ray liked the result. Ray saw the future … and Ray said, Yes. Sure. Why not?”

Precisely! So, why not treat yourself to a big-screen viewing of this genre-defining film? TCM, Fathom Events and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment are partnering to bring this classic to select cinemas nationwide on Sunday, July 19 and Monday, July 20.

“That tears it,” as Walter Neff would say.

See you there, noiristas. Meanwhile, you can read our review as well as 14 reasons we adore this flick.

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Film Noir File: TCM’s badass binge continues with darkside divas Barbara Stanwyck, Lizabeth Scott and more

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Film Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard). All films without a new review have been covered previously in Film Noir Blonde and can be searched in the FNB archives (at right).

Pick of the Week: Summer of Darkness soldiers on

Barbara Stanwyck plays the tough-as-nails title broad in “Martha Ivers.” Kirk Douglas plays her husband.

Barbara Stanwyck plays the tough-as-nails title broad in “Martha Ivers.” Kirk Douglas plays her husband.

Unless you’re a noirista who has been living under a rock, you know that TCM’s badass binge of film noir continues this Friday.

This week TCM’s list includes the spine-tingling masterpiece “Strangers on a Train” and the lesser-known but compelling melodrama “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers,” plus noir highlights by and with ace actors like Humphrey Bogart, Robert Ryan, Robert Mitchum, recent birthday gal Barbara Stanwyck, Lizabeth Scott, and Audrey Totter, brilliant writers like Patricia Highsmith, W. R. Burnett and Cornell Woolrich, and directors like Alfred Hitchcock, Joseph H. Lewis, Phil Karlson and Anthony Mann.

Lizabeth Scott and Van Heflin co-star in “Martha Ivers.”

Lizabeth Scott and Van Heflin co-star in “Martha Ivers.”

Curated and hosted by the Czar of Noir himself, Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation and the Noir City film festivals, TCM’s Summer of Darkness is one festival of classic dreams and movie nightmares, you don’t want to miss. As Raymond Chandler once said about Phillip Marlowe, in “The Simple Art of Murder”: “Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid…”

Friday, July 17

7:45 a.m. (4:45 a.m.): “Tension” (John Berry, 1950).

Robert Mitchum

Robert Mitchum

9:30 a.m. (6:30 a.m.): “Where Danger Lives” (John Farrow, 1950). Robert Mitchum is dragged to the bad side of the border and the law by second-tier femme fatale Faith Domergue. This one has its moments.

11 a.m. (8 a.m.): “The Woman on Pier 13” (“I Married a Communist”) (Robert Stevenson, 1950).

12:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m.): “A Lady Without Passport” (Joseph H. Lewis, 1950). Hedy Lamarr is an illegal alien who proves irresistible to secret service man John Hodiak. Stylishly wrought by the director of “Gun Crazy” and “My Name is Julia Ross.”

2 p.m. (11 a.m.): “Cause for Alarm” (Tay Garnett, 1951). Loretta Young, caught in a noir trap of lies and murder. With Barry Sullivan.

3:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m.): “No Questions Asked” (Harold F. Kress, 1951). Barry Sullivan is an insurance agent gone bad. With Arlene Dahl and other temptations.

Farley Granger and Robert Walker have a wonderful weird chemistry in “Strangers on a Train.”

Farley Granger and Robert Walker have a wonderful weird chemistry in “Strangers on a Train.”

4:45 p.m. (1:45 p.m.): “Strangers on a Train” (Alfred Hitchcock, 1951).

6:30 p.m. (3:30 p.m.): “The Racket” (John Cromwell, 1951). Gangster Robert Ryan and tough cop Robert Mitchum duke it out in this moody adaptation of Bartlett Cormack’s hit stage play.

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Too Late for Tears” (Byron Haskin, 1949). Recently restored by the FNF, this sleeper stars Lizabeth Scott and Dan Duryea. The film examines the evils of money. Seriously?

10 p.m. (7 p.m.): “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” (Lewis Milestone, 1946).

12:15 a.m. (9: 15 p.m.): “99 River Street” (Phil Karlson, 1953). Taut little thriller, with unlucky but feisty cabbie John Payne caught in a frame-up, directed with panache by B-maestro Karlson (“The Phenix City Story”). Evelyn Keyes co-stars.

2 a.m. (11 p.m.): “Conflict” (Curtis Bernhardt, 1945). Bogie in his bad mode, tormenting Alexis Smith and trying to evade Sydney Greenstreet.

3:30 a.m. (12:30 a.m.). “Klute” (Alan Pakula, 1971).

Saturday, July 18

8:15 a.m. (5:15 a.m.). “Crime and Punishment” (Josef von Sternberg, 1935). Director Sternberg, in his Dietrich years, tackles Fyodor Dostoyevsky, with the young Lucien Ballard behind the camera, and a cast that includes Peter Lorre (as the gloomy, philosophical student killer) and Edward Arnold (as his nemesis, genial and persistent police detective).

3:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m.) “Rebel Without a Cause” (Nicholas Ray, 1955).

5:15 p.m. (2:15 p.m.): “Lolita” (Stanley Kubrick, 1962). Kubrick’s superb film of Vladimir Nabokov’s classic comic-erotic novel about the dangerous affair of college professor Humbert Humbert (James Mason) with nymphet Lolita (Sue Lyon). [Read more…]

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Film Noir File: Lupino, Spillane light up Summer of Darkness

 By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Film Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard). All films without a new review have been covered previously in Film Noir Blonde and can be searched in the FNB archives (at right).

Pick of the Week: Summer of Darkness sizzles on

“Kiss Me Deadly” has an unforgettable opening.

“Kiss Me Deadly” has an unforgettable opening.

You know the drill. Each Friday, throughout June and July, running from dawn to dusk and back again, TCM is screening practically every classic film noir you can think of. This week, the dark list includes “D.O.A.” and “Raw Deal,” plus the talents of writers Mickey Spillane and A. I. Bezzerides, director Robert Aldrich and actor Ralph Meeker (as private eye Mike Hammer), all of whom took part in that Eisenhower-era masterpiece “Kiss Me Deadly.” And though Spillane may have disliked the picture Aldrich made from his violent paperback best-seller, most noir buffs love it. Count us in!

Also, there are terrific turns by that magnificent dame Ida Lupino as both actress (in Nick Ray’s and Bezzerides’ “On Dangerous Ground”) and director (in Ida’s classic B suspenser “The Hitch-Hiker”). Curated and hosted by the Czar of Noir, Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation and the Noir City film festivals, TCM’s Summer of Darkness is one festival of classic dreams and movie nightmares you won’t want to miss.

Friday, July 10

Who doesn't love Gloria Grahame?

Who doesn’t love Gloria Grahame?

6 a.m. (3 a.m.): “Follow Me Quietly” (Richard Fleischer, 1949). Neat little B thriller about the manhunt for a crazed killer. With William Lundigan and famed acting teacher/blacklist victim Jeff Corey.

7:30 a.m. (4:30 a.m.): “A Woman’s Secret” (Nicholas Ray, 1949). Nick Ray directs, and Herman Mankiewicz writes, a kind of cut-rate “All About Eve.” With Maureen O’Hara and Gloria Grahame.

9 a.m. (6 a.m.): “Side Street” (Anthony Mann, 1950).

10:30 a.m. (7:30 a.m.): “Black Hand” (Richard Thorpe). Gene Kelly vs. The Mafia.

12:15 p.m. (9:15 a.m.): “Armored Car Robbery” (Richard Fleischer, 1950).

1:30 p.m. (10:30 a.m.): “Caged” (John Cromwell, 1950). Before there was “Orange Is the New Black,” there was “Caged.” One of the best and grimmest of the “women’s prison” pictures, with Eleanor Parker, Agnes Moorehead, Hope Emerson, Jan Sterling and Jane Darwell.

D.O.A poster3:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m.): “D.O.A.” (Rudolph Maté, 1950).

4:45 p.m. (1:45 p.m.): “Destination Murder” (Edward L. Cahn, 1950). Joyce McKenzie vs. The Mob.

6:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m.): “The Tattooed Stranger” (Edward Montagne, 1950). N. Y. murder, investigated. With John Miles.

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “Red Light” (Roy Del Ruth, 1949). A vendetta noir sandwich with George Raft and Raymond Burr. Hold the (Virginia) Mayo.

9:45 p.m. (6:45 p.m.): “Kiss Me Deadly” (Robert Aldrich, 1955).

11:45 p.m. (8:45 p.m.): “On Dangerous Ground” (Nicholas Ray, 1951). Ida Lupino plays a blind country girl who lives with her brother. She meets a psychologically scarred cop (Robert Ryan) when her brother becomes a suspect in a murder. With a taut script by A. I. Bezzerides and moody, poetic direction from Nicholas Ray, “On Dangerous Ground” is an unforgettable film noir.

1:30 a.m. (10:30 p.m.): “The Hitch-Hiker” (Ida Lupino, 1953).

2:45 a.m. (11:45 p.m.): “The Blue Dahlia” (George Marshall, 1946).

4:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m.): “Raw Deal” (Anthony Mann, 1948).

Monday, July 13

Bob Mitchum was an actor who had no fear, few limits and no false vanity.

Bob Mitchum was an actor who had no fear, few limits and no false vanity.

9:45 a.m. (8:45 a.m.): “The Bad Sleep Well” (Akira Kurosawa, 1960). A great, savage crime drama, set in the world of corrupt and murderous Japanese corporate businessmen. With Toshiro Mifune, Masayuki Mori and Takashi Shimura. (In Japanese, with subtitles.)

Wednesday, July 15

12:30 a.m. (9:30 p.m.): “The Night of the Hunter” (Charles Laughton, 1955).

4:15 a.m. (1:15 a.m.): “Pitfall” (André de Toth, 1948).

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Film Noir File: Go deeper into depravity with the second month of TCM’s Summer of Darkness

By Film Noir Blonde and Mike Wilmington

The Film Noir File is FNB’s guide to classic film noir, neo-noir and pre-noir on Turner Classic Movies (TCM). The times are Eastern Standard and (Pacific Standard). All films without a new review have been covered previously in Film Noir Blonde and can be searched in the FNB archives (at right).

Pick of the Week: Summer of Darkness Chapter 5

Rita Hayworth went blonde for “The Lady from Shanghai.”

Rita Hayworth went blonde for “The Lady from Shanghai.”

Each Friday, throughout July, running from dawn to dusk and back again, TCM is whistling up practically every classic film noir you can think of. Curated and hosted by the Czar of Noir himself, Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation and the Noir City film festivals in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and other big bad towns where people prowl around after midnight, TCM’s Summer of Darkness is one festival of classic dreams and nightmares you won’t want to miss.

Friday, July 3

6 a.m. (3 a.m.): “Johnny Belinda” (Jean Negulesco, 1946).

8 a.m. (5 a.m.): “Key Largo” (John Huston, 1948). Humphrey Bogart and Edward G. Robinson are pitted against each other in this tense adaptation of the Maxwell Anderson play. Bogie is a WW2 vet held hostage (along with Lauren Bacall and Lionel Barrymore) during a tropical storm by brutal mobster Robinson and his gang. Claire Trevor, as a fading chanteuse, won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.

10 a.m. (7 a.m.): “The Lady from Shanghai” (Orson Welles, 1948).

11:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m.): “The Bribe” (Robert Z. Leonard, 1949). Cabaret torcher Ava Gardner pours it on for cop Robert Taylor, Charles Laughton and Vincent Price. A lot of footage from this lesser-known black-and-white romantic suspenser wound up in Steve Martin and Carl Reiner’s film noir parody “Dead Men Don‘t Wear Plaid.”

1:15 a.m. (10:15 a.m.): “Scene of the Crime” (Roy Rowland, 1949). Van Johnson and Arlene Dahl in a sexy mystery thriller.

They Live by Night poster

3 p.m. (12 p.m.): “They Live by Night” (Nicholas Ray, 1949).

4:45 p.m. (1:45 p.m.): “The Threat” (Felix Feist, 1949). Charles McGraw takes a con’s revenge.

6 p.m. (3 p.m.): “White Heat” (Raoul Walsh, 1949). “Top of the world, Ma!” James Cagney screams, in one of the all-time great noir performances and last scenes. Cagney’s character is Cody Jarrett, a psycho gun-crazy gangster with a mother complex.

Edmond O’Brien is the undercover cop in Cody’s gang, Virginia Mayo is Cody’s faithless wife, and Margaret Wycherly is Ma. One of the true noir masterpieces.

8 p.m. (5 p.m.): “The Big Clock” (John Farrow, 1948).

9:45 p.m. (6:45 p.m.): “The Window” (Ted Tetzlaff, 1949).

11:15 p.m. (8:15 p.m.): “Shadow on the Wall” (Pat Jackson, 1950). A sensitive child (Gigi Perreau) thinks she’s a witness to a family slaying. With Zachary Scott.

12:45 a.m. (9:45 a.m.): “High Wall” (Curtis Bernhardt, 1947). Murder and psychiatry, with Robert Taylor and Audrey Totter.

2:30 a.m. (11:30 p.m.): “The Long Goodbye” (Robert Altman, 1973).

4:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m.): “Marlowe” (Paul Bogart, 1969).

Sunday, July 5

10 a.m. (7 a.m.): “The Band Wagon” (Vincente Minnelli, 1953). With a brilliant dance parody of Mickey Spillane with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. Also on at 4:15 p.m. (1:15 p.m.) on Wednesday, July 8.

West Side Story poster

5:15 p.m. (2:15 p.m.): “West Side Story” (Robert Wise, 1961).

Monday, July 6

6:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m.): “Pete Kelly’s Blues” (Jack Webb, 1955).

Tuesday, July 7

8:30 a.m. (5:30 a.m.): “Doctor X” (Michael Curtiz, 1932).

10 a.m. (7 a.m.): “Mystery of the Wax Museum” (Michael Curtiz, 1933).

Thursday, July 9

8:15 a.m. (5:15 a.m.): “Finger of Guilt” (“The Intimate Stranger“) (Joseph Losey, 1956). A blackmail thriller about a persecuted director (Richard Basehart), set in the world of British studio filmmaking, and directed (under the pseudonym “Joseph Walton“), by blacklist victim Losey.

10 a.m. (7 a.m.): “Time Without Pity” (Joseph Losey, 1957).

11:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m.): “Dead of Night” (Alberto Cavalcanti, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer, Charles Crichton, 1945).

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