The Daily News May Have Found a Gem of a Neo Noir at the LA Film Festival: Too Late

Too Late stars John Hawkes as a Los Angeles private detective. Shot with only 5 shots, each of which is a single shot, 20 minutes long. The film also shows the scenes out-of-order. This sounds like the making of an interesting film! Dennis Hauck is the first time director for this film and from the sounds of it, a promising one. Read Bob Strauss’ full review of Too Late in the link below. I really look forward to seeing this one.

http://www.dailynews.com/arts-and-entertainment/20150613/la-film-festival-review-too-late-an-audacious-neo-noir/1

Re-watching the Classics: Deadline at Dawn

Deadline at Dawn is a classic film noir from 1946 directed by Harold Clurman, the one and only film he directed. This film is based on a book by William Irish. If that name does not sound familiar it is because it is the pseudonym of Cornell Woolrich.

The film’s story starts with a meeting between a blind man and a woman, played by Lola Lane. We then find our main protagonist waking up in a news stand. Bill Williams plays our protagonist who isn’t sure where he is or how he got there. The clerk at the stand hands him a wad of cash. He doesn’t know where the cash came from, but starts looking into this mystery. He is also shipping out for World War II the next morning at 6. He goes to a dance hall and he hits it off with a dancer at the dance hall played by Susan Hayward. She feels sorry for the young man who is in the Navy just like her brother. They go to an apartment where they find a dead body of the woman who was talking to the blind man at the beginning of the film. Our protagonist who cannot remember what happened does not think he killed the woman, but would be the only suspect if the body is found. The couple decide to try to solve the murder themselves before our sailor has to ship out at 6 A.M.. Along the way a cab driver decides to help the couple, being a sucker for young love, he is played by Paul Lukas. We also meet the dead woman’s brother played by Joseph Calleia, who wants revenge for his dead sister, as well as a host of other characters found in the city that never sleeps, including a fat, drunk baseball player named “Babe” Dooley(I wonder who he is inspired by?) who finds the dead body.

This film is a pretty good classic film noir, worth your time. It is a bit hard to follow in places and maybe a bit far-fetched. It is entertaining and Susan Hayward seems to always be worth watching.

Re-Watching: Spartan

David Mamet writes and directs Spartan, a neo noir from 2004. I have not seen this movie since it came out on DVD 11 years ago. I decided to revisit it after watching Mamet’s Homicide(which I reviewed earlier on this site and loved!) This is not your typical noir story. The story revolves around Scott, a military man played by Val Kilmer. He is a top-notch soldier with a high level skill set.

The story starts with the Presidents daughter played by Kristen Bell, being kidnapped. The trail soon leads to a white slavery ring, taking girls from America to the middle east. Scott and the team are hot on the trail when the story breaks of the first daughter being found dead alongside her college professor in a boating accident. Getting to this point has a lot of classic undercover and spy plot lines and is entertaining. The really good noir plot lines start after Scott gets a visit from a fellow soldier played by Derek Luke. He feels that the President’s daughter isn’t really dead. This theory gets Scott thinking and the two start looking back at some of the clues. When his partner is shoot dead by a sniper the plot really thickens and gets interesting.

We have a lot of great appearances in this film, like Mamet regular William H. Macy as well as Ed O’Neill and Clark Gregg. Tia Texada is another stand out as a female soldier.

Mamet does it again with this mix of noir and international intrigue. It is well written and filmed by one of the best. Though this may not be Mamet’s best work it is certainly worth a look. I can’t help seeing the similarities in plot with mega hit Taken that came out 4 years later. The tone and pacing of the two films are very different, but would make an interesting double feature to watch on a lazy afternoon.

Favorite Tidbit: Alexandra Kerry makes a small appearance as a bartender in this film. Her father John Kerry was running for President at the time this film was released. An interesting parallel to the film about a President running for re-election and his daughter.

Ken Bruen picks his 10 favorite noir novels of all time over at Publisher’s Weekly

Ken Bruen is one of my favorite authors, so when he picks his favorite books, I’m interested. I have read one of these and I’m currently reading another on the list. Looks like I have 8 more books to add to my “To Read” list. Check out the link below for the full list.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/67271-10-best-noir-novels.html

How many are you adding to your “To Read” list?

Review: The Glass Key

The Glass Key is an early classic film noir from 1942 directed by Stuart Heisler. This film is based on one of the greatest noir and hard-boiled authors ever, Dashiell Hammett.

I have not read this book yet, but it is on my long “to read” list. I have read a few things from Hammett and loved everything I’ve read so far.

This film is a very complex film, with many characters important to the story, as they all effect each other until we get to the bottom of the main crime. So I’m going to approach this a little different then I usually do. We are going to look at most of the characters and a brief description of what drives them.

Ed Beaumont played by Alan Ladd: Ed is loyal to his friend, Paul Madvig, even though he knows sometimes this is not the best thing to be. He is also fascinated by our femme fatale for this tale Janet Henry. Ed is a smart man with many connections in the political world as well as the criminal world and bonces from one to the other with ease.

Paul Madvig played by Brian Donlevy: Paul is a political powerhouse, but is well known to be crooked. He often answers questions with his fists instead of with his wits. He is a feared man in our city and plans on marrying Janet Henry. He also is helping Janet’s father get elected as governor. He is also overprotective of his little sister, who happens to be dating Janet’s brother Taylor. Paul does not like Taylor and thinks he is a bad influence on his young sister.

Janet Henry played by Veronica Lake: Janet is our femme fatale, she is dating Paul, but plans on dumping him as soon as her dad is elected governor. She seems to Like Ed, but can do nothing about it until after the election. She is smart and beautiful and knows how to use both attributes to get what she wants for her and her family.

Opal ‘Snip’ Madvig played by Bonita Granville: Opal is Paul’s little sister and is madly in love with Taylor. When Taylor ends up murdered, she believes her brother did it.

Taylor Henry played by Richard Denning: Taylor has a gambling problem and owes some bad men some money. He uses Opal to help her get some cash after his family has decided to not help him anymore. Taylor ends up murdered and finding out who did it is the driving force of this story.

Nick Varna played by Joseph Calleia: Varna owns a number of illegal gambling operations in the city. When Paul decides to crack down on crime in the city to help Henry get elected governor, Varna is his first victim. This happens even though Varna has been paying protection to Paul. “business is business and politics is politics.” Taylor Henry also owes Varna his gambling debts.

Jeff played by William Bendix: Jeff is Varna’s top muscle. He likes to beat people up, but he has a hard time keeping his mouth shut.

As most of my readers know I don’t like spoilers and don’t write any in my reviews. Hopefully this array of characters is enough to get you excited to see this film. Everybody is great in this, especially Ladd, Lake and Bendix. The story is very complicated but easy to follow. Hammett’s storytelling is some of the best ever.

It is interesting seeing this after watching Miller’s Crossing. Miller’s Crossing is loosely based on this book and Red Harvest by Hammett and you can see the similarities. This would make a great double feature seeing this version from 1942 and comparing it to the version from 1990. I loved both of these films and reviewed Miller’s Crossing earlier here:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/02/15/re-watching-the-classics-a-fresh-look-at-millers-crossing/

This is also the second Ladd and Lake film I’ve seen, the other is The Blue Dahlia, which also starred Bendix as well. I really loved that film as well and reviewed it here:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/03/07/review-the-blue-dahlia/

I really look forward to seeing more films with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake soon and think they made a great pair.

This is a must see for any noir fan, especially those of Ladd, Lake, and Bendix. It is also a must see for fans of Hammett’s books and work.

Review: The Onion Field

The Onion Field is a neo noir from 1979 based on the book by Joseph Wambaugh. Wambaugh was a Los Angeles police officer turned writer. He wrote two books before this, both made into films. He took a 6 month sabbatical from the force and wrote this classic. He soon had to leave the force after his notoriety got in the way of his job. With his bad experiences involving his previous works turned into films, he demanded to have full control of this film. He raised the money himself and made this film the way he wanted it made. We can thank Wambaugh for working hard to make a timeless classic, instead of another made for TV movie of the week.

This film is based on a true story and Wambaugh did a ton of research and interviews to get this as right as possible in his book. The same care was done for the film with Harold Becker directing. This film starts out getting to know our two cops, Karl Francis Hettinger played by John Savage and Ian James Campbell played by Ted Danson in his first film role. We also get to know Jimmy Lee ‘Youngblood’ Smith, played by Franklyn Seales, who just got out of prison. He meets Gregory Ulas Powell played by James Woods, who has some “work” for Jimmy. They soon start robbing liquor stores and traveling between Las Vegas and Los Angeles to spend their spoils on guns and cars. The two pairs soon meet in a simple traffic violation for no tail lamps. Our thieves kidnap our cops by gun point and take them to an onion field in Bakersfield. This is were all hell breaks loose. Will our thieves get away with kidnapping? Will our cops escape?

I don’t like to give away spoilers and will try my best on this one. I do want to mention that where most noir type films end, this one is just half over. We see what happens as the case goes to court and how this type of event affects our hard-boiled detective in the real world.

All four of the leads are amazing in this film! Also look for a small roles played by Christopher Lloyd and Ronny Cox. Richard Herd also has a great small scene with a very strong monologue.

This film has been on my “to watch” list for years and I finally got to it. Don’t be like me and put this to the top of your list right away if you have not seen it. This is one of the great neo noir films of the 1970’s and should be talked about more. It is an interesting story and I found the way it was told very neutral and honest.

‘To Live And Die In L.A.’ Series From William Friedkin & Bobby Moresco In Works At WGN America

To Live And Die In L.A. is coming to television! This could be very interesting. More neo noir on T.V. is always a good thing.

Deadline

EXCLUSIVE: To Live And Die In L.A., the cult 1985 MGM movie written and friedkin22006 Writers Guild Awards - Arrivalsdirected by William Friedkin, is headed to the small screen. In a competitive situation, WGN America has landed a drama series adaptation of the action thriller, with Oscar winner Friedkin directing and executive producing. Friedkin has created the TV adaptation with another Oscar winner, Bobby Moresco (Crash). Moresco will write the script and will executive produce. I hear the project, from MGM Television (Fargo) and Tribute Studios, has received a script-to-series commitment and is expected to go straight to series upon script approval.

To Live And Die In L.A. is a reimagining of Friedkin’s influential film, which helped launch the careers of its principal cast of then-unknowns, Willem Dafoe, William Petersen, John Pankow, Jane Leeves and John Turturro.

large_to_live_and_die_in_LA_blu-ray_4Like the film (you can watch a trailer below), the TV adaptation is based on the novel by former…

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Review: Journey Into Fear

Journey Into Fear is a classic film noir from 1943 from Orson Welles. Welles didn’t direct this, Norman Foster did. Welles didn’t write the screenplay, he had the star of the film, Joseph Cotten do that. He does have a small role in this film, but isn’t on the screen that long. He doesn’t even have a producing credit for this film. So why do most consider this a Orson Welles film? Well, though he gave out the brunt of the work to others, he really did produce it, he also helped Cotten write the screenplay based on the book by Eric Ambler and he even re-shoot a new beginning and ending for the film. He just gave full credit to those he hired to do the job. This story follows ammunition engineer Howard Graham, played by Cotten, in Turkey on business during World War II. He meets with the Turkey business representative for his company and leaves his wife, played by Ruth Warrick at the hotel. Him and the business rep go down the street to a night club where we meet a dance couple played by Dolores del Rio and Jack Durant. Graham is also volunteered against his will to participate in a magic trick. Graham is strapped to a board as the magician gets into a box. The lights go out and a gun shot rings out in the crowd. The lights come on and the magician is strapped to the board with a gun shot wound and Graham emerges from the box. Graham knows right away that he was the intended target, as he and the rest of the club are sent to see Colonel Haki played by Welles to determine what really happened. Haki puts our hero on a boat that night to hide him from the German’s who are trying to kill him. We meet a whole other assortment of odd characters on the ship. Including the unhappy Matthews couple played by Frank Readick and the always good Agnes Moorehead. Our dancing couple is also on the ship and del Rio really takes a liking to our hero.  Graham soon realizes the Nazi’s have made their way aboard the ship as we get a claustrophobic feeling of impending doom. Will our hero get off the ship safely? Will he ever re-unite with his wife? One of my favorite performances of this film is the silent killer played by Jack Moss. He was a successful movie producer at the time and Welles wanted to use him as the killer in this film. He said he would do it if he didn’t have to speak. He didn’t and was as menacing as any killer in a 70’s slasher film. The opening scene, with a totally silent Jack Moss really grabs your attention and set the tone and mood for the rest of the film. It is a shame this is Moss’ only on-screen role. I would have loved to see him in more stuff. This film was not well received on its release. Welles even has said he was not happy with the film and he had a horrible performance as an actor in it. That being said it was an important early noir film in style and story. I actually really liked this film, even more than some of Welles’ other more regarded works. Favorite Tidbit: Though most everybody was not happy with this film, from the studio to Welles himself. The one person that was very happy with this film was the author of the book, Eric Ambler. He said the movie was so different from his book, that he could re-sell the rights to the book to a different studio and make some more money on it.

10 Outstanding Neo-Noirs of the 2000’s from Listverse.com

I came across this list last night and found it interesting. It’s a great list of films and all are worth watching, if you haven’t seen all of these films yet, you should add the ones you have missed to your watch list. That is not why I found this list interesting. The reason I found this interesting is Tyler Searle, who wrote the list, shows some interesting parallels of each choice to films from the classic film noir era and explains why he put the movie on the list.

The list was written a few years ago in 2012, so it is missing films that came out after that date. That does not make this list less impressive and is worth reading through. I also noticed that Searle called this 10 Outstanding and not 10 Best, so you may argue he didn’t put your favorite film on this list, but I don’t think you can argue that any of these 10 are not outstanding.

Click on the link below for the full article and list.

http://listverse.com/2012/02/01/10-outstanding-neo-noirs-of-the-2000s/