Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Film-Noir Cram Session

During a Netflix-induced Western lapse (it's tough to have new movies to watch when there's no mail on Saturday and Sunday), I decided to have a film noir cram session yesterday - six movies, one day. 
The highlights were Nicholas Ray's They Live By Night ('47), Robert Wise's Born to Kill ('47) and definitely Richard Fleischer's masterfully economic The Narrow Margin ('52) - seriously, if you haven't seen it, it's 71 minutes long, it's readily available, make it happen, it's really quite an amazing little B-movie. They Live By Night [A-], Born to Kill [A-], The Narrow Margin [A]
On the downside, Max Nosseck's Dillinger ('45) is such an abrupt, slapdash biopic that it's a blur and Anatole Litvak's Out of the Fog ('41) has a wickedly cruel performance from John Garfield, an interesting concept about having to reach back into your darkest intuitions when all else fails, but a wildly ludicrous climax. It's certainly one of those films that feels more like 30's Warner Bros. morality than mid-20th century RKO cynicism. Dillinger [C-], Out of the Fog [C+]
And Robert Wise's The Set-Up ('49) is just an okay film noir but a terrific boxing movie. Seriously, no wonder Martin Scorsese cites it as an influence on Raging Bull - it probably has one of the best shot fight scenes ever committed to film. Robert Ryan is wonderful. [B+]

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