Article: ‘Thief’: lost Alain Delon/Ann-Margret film noir

Here is a film I have never heard of, but since it has recently been released on DVD I will be looking for a copy soon. This is Alain Delon’s first American film and also stars Ann-Margret making for an interesting duo. Here is a full review of the newly released DVD over at ctnews.com:

‘Thief’ lost Alain Dolon Ann-Margret Film Noir

After reading Joe Meyers’ review of the DVD, I did a little more research on this film and see it also stars noir greats Van Heflin and Jack Palance. Sounds like a film I need to see soon! Who has already seen this film? What are your thoughts?

Review: The Bridge or “Bron/Broen” Season 1

To some people this television series may sound very familiar. This series has been remade for an American audience starring Diane Kruger. That is how I found out about this series, I was watching the first few episodes of the American version and looking at information about it, when I seen it was a remake.  I honestly liked this concept, but could not get into the series and gave up on it. The story was interesting but not well executed, so I decide to go to the original, and I’m glad I did!

This series, along with The Killing, also remade in America, are the beginnings of a movement of Nordic Noir on television. This season one story starts out with a dead body found on a bridge that crosses the border between Sweden and Denmark. The body is placed perfectly on the borderline of the two countries. When Saga played by Sofia Helin responds to the crime scene, she clashes with Denmark detective Martin played by Kim Bodnia. When the victim is identified as a Swedish citizen, Saga takes over the case with Martin’s blessing. The body is soon discovered to actually be two bodies an upper half from Sweden and a lower half belonging to a prostitute from Denmark, Martin is brought back onto the case. As the murderer soon evolves into more of a terrorist trying to get a message across, Saga and Martin work together to solve the case.

Though this series has some great supporting characters and all of them are important to the overall story, this series concentrates on these main two characters, both on the job and off.

Saga is a very original character. She is honest to a fault and plays by the rules and those rules do not bend at all. She may even overshare too much at times. She is strange and brilliant at the same time. She is socially awkward and this makes her unliked at work. She lives by herself and has no family left. She is also beautiful, drives a Porsche, and wears leather pants, this gives her a superhero feel to a certain extent.

Martin is a likable guy and lives for his family. He has a strong, professional wife and lives in a great looking house. They have a couple young kids as well as Martin’s young adult son from another marriage living with them. Martin has been married 3 times now and really wants this marriage to work. He is a bit jaded from being on the police force for so long and comes across as our hardboiled detective for this story. He drives an old Chrysler Minivan and is a blue-collar hard-working cop, who tends to bend the rules if he feels it is for the greater good.

You maybe saying this is just another buddy cop thing with two opposites forced to work together and becoming best friends in the process. Yes there is that element to this show, but that is a minor piece in a much bigger puzzle. Yes, we also have the trope of a genius serial killer playing a cat and mouse game with the police, but there is something special here and I highly recommend the first season of this series. I will be continuing on to Season 2 as soon as the DVD’s arrive and look forward to following these characters for another 10 episodes.

Review: The Garment Jungle

The Garment Jungle is a classic film noir from 1957 mostly directed by Robert Aldrich, who did not get a credit for his work, and was completed by Vincent Sherman. This was also Sherman’s first directing credit in 5 years do to his name being on the gray list.

The stand out performance from Lee J. Cobb here is not surprising. He plays the owner of a garment manufacturer in the garment district in New York. Though this film came out the same year as Cobb’s most famous performance in 12 Angry Men, I could not help but notice some similarities to his performance in Thieves’ Highway. In both films he plays a man in charger and tries to keep the working man down. He is way more corrupt in Thieves’ Highway, and in The Garment Jungle he turns a blind eye to what is going on. Both films take a look at workers rights. Here is my review of Thieves’ Highway:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/08/23/review-thieves-highway/

These two films would make an interesting double feature, looking at a similar problem in two different industries on opposite coasts.

This film starts out with an argument between two partners, Cobb and his partner are discussing what the workers should be paid. Cobb is against the union and his partner is for it. His partner walks away and gets in the elevator. The elevator fails and his partner falls to his death. Cobb’s son, played by Kerwin Mathews, comes back to town and wants to work with his father. When a confrontation between a union organizer, played by Robert Loggia and Cobb happens in front of Mathews on the factory floor, it gets Mathews thinking. Mathews goes to Loggia where he meets the union organizer’s beautiful wife played by Gia Scala. The three work together to break the mob, which is behind trying to keep the company union free and hired by Cobb for protection. The situation escalates and soon turns violent. Will the mob break the union or will the union break the mob? Will Cobb finally look at employees rights or will he continue to support the mob? Who will survive and who will die in this war between the two?

Richard Boone plays the mob boss Cobb has partnered with and Wesley Addy plays the head thug for the mob. Both are great in their evil ways.

Besides Cobb’s performance, Robert Loggia’s performance is well worth checking out. The dynamic between him and his wife are very interesting. Even though he is a good man trying to do what is right, he has his dark side. I really got a vibe that he beats his wife even though he was madly in love with her.

His wife played by Gia Scala is also very good in this. Scala had a short career and looks to have had a hard life with bouts of depression and turned to drugs. This eventually ended her life at a very young age.

The Garment Jungle is a good classic film noir worth checking out. It is an interesting time capsule of the union movement in the 1950’s. It is especially interesting to look at the clothing industry then and compare it to how it works now.

Article: Rolling Stone: ‘Fargo’: How the Midwestern Noir Just Got Even Better

Rob Sheffield over at Rolling Stone has an article on the upcoming season of Fargo. From the sound of it we are in for a great season and will not have the sophomore jinx many say we got with True Detective. Yet another television series I am looking forward to and we only have to wait until Monday, October 12th for this one to start.

http://www.rollingstone.com/tv/features/fargo-how-the-midwestern-noir-just-got-even-better-20151005Rolling Stones: ‘Fargo’: How the Midwestern Noir Just Got Even Better

Re-Watching the Classics: Dial M for Murder

I have been reviewing movies on this site for almost 10 months now and this is the first film I have looked at from one of the greatest directors of all time(some may say there is no question he is the greatest). I will have to say that Alfred Hitchcock is the reason I started watching classic film noir. I seen Rear Window and wanted to see more films like it and if it had Grace Kelly in it…all the better. This lead me to more Hitchcockian films and film noir. Some may argue this is not a film noir and they maybe right, it might be an early neo-noir? I’m not sure how you would classify it, all I know is it is noir.

This film is based on a play by Frederick Knott and was released in 1954. It revolves around a very small cast of characters with most of it taking place in a small apartment in England. The film starts out with Tony, played by Ray Milland and Margot played by Grace Kelly in what appears to be a happy marriage. This scene even has background music more akin to a Walt Disney movie then a Hitchcock film. After we see the kissing couple we go to the next scene with Margot kissing…a different man. This man is crime writer Mark Halliday played by Robert Cummings. This film has great dialog to tell the story as we find out Margot and Mark had an affair and Margot would have left her husband, but he has changed since Mark has been gone and now she is conflicted. In the next scene Tony has Lesgate (or is it Swann?) played by Anthony Dawson, come to the apartment to talk about selling his car. This is where Tony tells Lesgate his perfect murder and how and why Lesgate will kill his wife. When Tony and Mark go out to dinner, Tony steps away to call his boss, but he is really calling his wife so she will be in position to be murdered by Lesgate. When Margot fights back and kills Lesgate in self-defense, Tony has to change his plans, but this may still work for Tony.

When Chief Inspector Hubbard played by John Williams gets involved in the case the tension gets cranked up a notch. With Millard and Kelly at the top of their game and Hitchcock doing some of his best work I don’t think there is any question this is an all time classic and should be watched by every movie buff. I can not imagine any fan of noir not finding this film entertaining.

But, is this a classic film noir or not? This is part of the fun of the noir genre as it is a genre with a lot of different takes on how it is classified. Other genres you recognize as soon as you watch them, Westerns, Science Fiction and Horror are easy to spot. Some people will look at a film and call it a film noir and some might say it is just a crime film or a thriller or maybe a murder mystery. Here are some argument points for and against this being classified as a film noir.

FOR:

The main character of this film is a bad guy trying to pull off the perfect crime.

It has a very claustrophobic feel with most of the film taking place in a small apartment. Also both our main characters are prisoners in a marriage they do not want to be in anymore.

Characters like Margot and Lesgate have choices, but none of them are good. Tony also seems to be stuck in a situation he can not get out of, once Lesgate fails to complete Tony’s original plan.

This film does not have a happy ending for many of our characters, I will not go in-depth here because I do not want to spoil it for those that have not seen it yet.

Though Hitchcock used many techniques in filming this movie, he did go to the classic film noir well in quite a few scenes:

Like this one where he uses shadows and a fish eye point of view.

And the complete murder attempt is shot in the shadows and gives a very black and white feel.

AGAINST:

Some say film noir can not be filmed in color, though this is not the norm, I have seen a few films in color that are considered film noir by many.

Grace Kelly character isn’t a femme fatale. This is true and some say every film noir has to have one. I don’t like this rule, though I love a good femme fatale, I believe there are plenty of great film noir movies without one.

I would love to hear more points from you on FOR or AGAINST this being a film noir.  Leave your point of view in the comments below.

Favorite Tidbit: Though this is almost always shown in 2D it is actually Hitchcock’s first and only attempt at 3D and was completely filmed in stereoscopic 3D. Now this is a Blu-Ray 3D I would love to see released.

Update: This has been released on Blu-Ray 3D and is available.

Review: Cop Car

Cop Car is a recently released film on Blu-Ray after a limited run in theaters. Written by Jon Watts and Christopher D. Ford and Jon Watts also directed. Watts’ career has included a few television projects and a horror film called Clown. I am not familiar with Watts’ work other than this film, but we will soon be hearing much more from this director as he is attached to direct the new Spider-Man film from Marvel. Marvel has been very good at finding great talent to put behind the camera and they may have found another one in Watts.

Cop Car will more than likely draw its audience from Kevin Bacon fans more than Marvel fan boys, and though Bacon has a great performance in this film, the story is what drives it. One of the interesting things about this film is we do not get the whole story for any of the characters involved, but the short time that they cross paths is a mesmerizing story line. The film starts out with two young boys, played by James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford, who have recently ran away from home and start walking through the country. They come upon a sheriff’s car in the middle of nowhere, seemingly abandon. After a few dares coming from both boys, they find the keys and decide to take it. Then there is a flashback to just before the kids found the car. Kevin Bacon is a Sheriff who is pulling a dead body out of the trunk of the car and is bringing it to an abandoned well. He dumps the body after some effort and when he walks back to where he parked his car, it is gone. The story continues from here as Bacon has to outsmart the dispatch as well as find his car before anybody finds that it has been stolen.

Even though this is a country-noir with vast landscapes, it has a very small cast to keep the story very tight and suspenseful. Camryn Manheim plays a witness to the kids driving the car and Shea Whigham shows up in an important role later in the film. Other than these 5, everybody else is pretty much background extras.

One aspect of this film that I loved is all the characters in this film are noir protagonists in different ways and all could be the main character of their own noir story. We just do not know that whole story and never find it out during this film. The two boys are running away from home at the beginning of the film, but we don’t know why. The Sheriff is getting rid of a dead body and again we don’t know why. Do to my policy of no spoilers I will not go into Whigham’s character, but lets just say he may have the most noir story line of them all.

This film is a must see for fans of Whigham or Bacon and I feel most noir fans will find it worth watching. All this adds up to wanting to see more work from Watts and hoping he gives the new Spider-Man a little noir flair.

Favorite Tidbit: Kevin Bacon’s wife Kyra Sedgwick is the voice of the Police Dispatch in this film.