Who else is looking forward to this film! Legend with Tom Hardy as gangster twins! I’m sold, what do you think?
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.
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.
So the classic film noir era ended in 1958 according to some film noir historians, some might stretch it to 1960. I guess nobody told Samuel Fuller, because this film is about as close to a classic film noir as you get. This film is written, directed and produced by Fuller in 1963, and Fuller has done it all in the noir genre.
This film stars Peter Breck, who plays a journalist named Johnny, and is willing to do anything to win a Pulitzer. He trains with a psychiatrist to look like a mentally disturbed person when the time is right. He has a girlfriend, played by Constance Towers, who happens to be a stripper with brains and is madly in love with Johnny.
Johnny wants his girlfriend to act like his sister and tell the police that Johnny is making sexual advances towards her. So in 1963, I guess a stripper could tell a cop,” this is her brother and he is abusing me” and that is enough to get thrown in the mental hospital. You would think a background check to see if Johnny is even her brother would be done first? So we got to suspend our disbelief for a bit, but that is OK. So Johnny’s girlfriend thinks this is a really bad idea, I think she maybe right. Johnny wants to get institutionalized so he can solve a murder of a patient in the hospital. He knows there are three witnesses to the crime and one of them has to know who really committed the murder. So Johnny is deemed insane and sent to the hospital and proceeds to get close to the three witnesses as well as some of the other patients and staff members. Will Johnny solve the murder? Will he stay sane? Will his girlfriend stay with him when it is all over?
There are some very good performances in this film, but besides the two leads the one that stood out the most to me was James Best as Stuart. I’ve never really seen Best play anything by Rosco on The Dukes of Hazard, so it was a pleasant surprise to see him in something totally different.
This film is shot in black and white and it also uses a lot of classic film noir techniques for the cinematography.
The story is told with a few voice overs and delves into some dark places of the mind and our society. Finally one of my requirements for being a great film noir, this film doesn’t exactly have a happy ending. So by date alone I will file this under neo noir. On the other hand I think classic film noir lovers will actually really like this film. Forget what date is on it and just enjoy this film for what it is.
As Eddie Muller said, this is the best film noir you have never seen. This film went into public domain making it easy to find and see, but the quality has been lost in the over copying. Muller himself was key in finding a few original prints and getting them edited together to make a restored version. He introduced this on the first night of TCM’s Summer of Darkness. This film was made in 1950 and directed by Norman Foster, who also helped with the screenplay, based on a story by Sylvia Tate.
This story is about an artist who witnesses a murder. It turns out the man murdered was a key witness in a case. The artist played by Ross Elliott is now the key witness and only person that can identify the murderer. He runs from the cops knowing his life is in danger. His wife played by our main star, Ann Sheridan is the police’s only lead in finding their new witness. She is crafty and out smarts the police at every turn, getting away from them in the hopes to find her husband before the police find him. Our couple has been married for four years and things are not going well. As the movie goes on she finds new things about her husband that makes her heart grow fonder of her husband. She also realizes her husband really does love her. Along the way she teams up with a journalist played by Dennis O’keefe to help find her husband. He is offering good money for an exclusive interview from her husband and seems to know the city of San Francisco. As our two are on their hunt for the missing witness we get to see a lot of this classic noir city. The hunt continues as our duo continue to try to lose the cops and beat them to her husband, but not everything is as it seems.
This film has a grand finale at a Carnival, something I have seen in two other noir films with the first and most famous one being The Lady from Shanghai. We also see an artist getting in over his head, this is also the third time I have seen this theme, with Scarlet Street being the first and best of this idea. Yes, I would put this movie behind these other two on my list of great film noir, but this film would be on the list. I have not seen a lot of films with Ann Sheridan before, but this movie has made me a fan and I will be looking to see more of her movies. If you are a fan of Sheridan or classic film noir, this is a must see. I did see the restored version and have not seen the public domain versions, but from the sound of things, it is worth seeking out the new restored version.
Favorite Tidbit: Eddie Muller mentioned that he thought Ann Sheridan made a conscious decision not to be objectified in this film, as she was more known for her curves then her acting up to this point. She wore a big coat in almost every scene in this film to cover her body.
Noir and hardboiled author Eric Beetner wrote this article with his 10 favorite noir novels written in the 21st Century. Some of these books where already on my “to read” list, and others have now been added. I unfortunately have not read any of these books yet! That will soon change.
Here is the link to the article:
Is there any books out there you feel should be on this list? How many have you read on this list?
The Double Hour is an Italian neo noir from 2009 directed by Giuseppe Capotondi. It stars Ksenia Rappoport as our female lead and Filippo Timi as our male lead. This film has a bit of a few genres rapped into one unpredictable film. This is a psychological thriller mostly, horror in parts, a murder mystery in a way, a heist movie to a curtain extent, and a twisted suspense movie to boot.
This story starts out with Sonia, played by Rappoport, working as a maid at a high-end hotel. She soon witnesses a suicide at the hotel. We then find her at a speed dating event, she hits it off with Guido played by Timi. Timi takes a liking to Sonia as well, but goes home with another women. He seems to have a women hating streak as he quickly gets rid of his date after the deed is done and seems to be a bit upset after she leaves. We then see our couple get together and go out on a date, where we learn Guido used to be a cop. We then find our couple out in the country enjoying an empty mansion. Guido works security for the home and has set up the alarm system as well. Our couple is enjoying the outdoors when a masked man hits Guido over the head with his gun. We find the couple tied up in the mansion as a team of thieves steals all the antiques and art work. They seem professional and are in and out fairly fast as they package the valuables into two moving trucks. One of the masked men comes back in and makes a move on Sonia. Guido with his hands still tied up, jumps on the thief and there is a struggle over the masked man’s gun. A gunshot goes off and the screen goes black! The story twists and turns from here with a lot of unexpected revelations.
Here is another very good film that is getting the American re-make treatment. This time Michelle Williams and Joel Edgerton are set to star as our two leads.
We will see how the remake will stack up, but for now I recommend seeking out the original. If you are a fan of the mysterious, and films that make you think and that you want to see twice to see what you missed the first time, this is the film for you.