Review: Where the Sidewalk Ends

Where the Sidewalk Ends is a classic film noir from 1950 directed by noir great Otto Preminger.  We have more noir greatness in the two leading stars, Dana Andrews and Gene Tierney.  All three worked on Laura, returning to work together 6 years later on this film.  This is based on a book by William L. Stuart

Some of the small roles that stood out to me is Gary Merrill as our mobster boss and Karl Malden as the cop who just got promoted to lieutenant over Dana Andrews.

This story starts out with Tierney who is accompanied by two other men playing an illegal game of craps.  One of them is winning big, real big.  He is up $19,000!  Tierney starts to go home and one of the men says they can not go yet.  He smacks her and the man up $19 grand punches him.  The two men fight and our lucky gambler is left unconscious on a couch.  We then go to the police headquarters where a murder is reported.  Andrews and his partner leave to investigate the case.  They find the luck gambler dead on the floor, stabbed in the heart.  This is in Merrill’s room where the illegal craps game was being played.  We soon see Merrill and Andrews do not like each other and have a history.  Andrews goes to the apartment of the other man who was with Tierney and who Merrill says killed our gambler.  There is a fight and Andrews accidentally kills his only suspect in a fist fight.  Now Andrews has to cover the murder he committed. Will he get away with it?  Will Merrill get away running his illegal game and possibly murder himself?  How will Tierney react to all of this?

This is another great noir from Andrews, Tierney and Preminger.  I felt it was a darker more gritty noir then Laura and well worth watching.  The fight scenes are not flashy and play more realistically then what we get today.  The style of the film is  quintessential noir.  This was Preminger’s last of 4 noir films he made for 20th Century Fox in the 1940’s and is one of the best.  He went on to make more noir, crime and thriller films well worth watching for other studios.  This film is a must see for all classic film noir fans and all fans of film should give it a viewing.

Advertisements

Review: Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is a classic film noir from 1956 starring Dana Andrews and Joan Fontaine.  The real story here is this is the last American movie from noir great, Fritz Lang.  I got to say Lang went out with a bang.  This is an intriguing story with a great ending.  This story is written by Douglas Morrow and is amazing.

Dana Andrews is a novelist and ex-newspaperman.  He is dating Fontaine who happens to be the daughter of his ex-boss. His ex-boss and future father-in-law is the owner of a large newspaper.  His future father-in-law is played by Sidney Blackmer.

We open the movie with an execution, yes somebody goes to the chair in the opening scene.  The next scene has Blackmer and Andrews having a drink and discusses capital punishment.  They meet Philip Bourneuf who plays the D.A. responsible for the death sentence we witnessed at the beginning of the film.  Bourneuf and Blackmer are on opposite sides of the capital punishment fence.  Blackmer talks about ways to convert the public to his side of the subject, he only needs the right circumstance.  The right circumstance soon comes up!  A burlesque dancer is found murdered and there is no suspects.  Blackmer talks Andrews into framing himself with the crime.  Then when he is sentenced to death, they will bring out all the evidence they planted and of course the how, when and where they did it.  This proves they sentenced an innocent man to death and will show the public how capital punishment is a bad idea.  Well if your like me, this whole thing sounds like a bad idea!  Will they plant enough evidence to get arrested?  If he does get convicted will they be able to reverse the verdict before it is too late?  What will Andrews’ girl Fontaine think of this when she finds out what is going on?

This is another great noir from Fritz Lang, he was definitely on his game for his last American film, before he goes back to his homeland of Germany.   It is worth watching for any of his fans and fans of classic noir.  Fontaine and Andrews fans will love this as well.  This film has an amazing ending that you will not see coming.

Re-watching the Classics: Laura

laura

What movie does Vincent Price say was his best movie?  Laura is the answer.  It’s February so it’s Oscar season and TCM is showing a lot of movies that won awards.  Laura  was nominated for 4 awards and won one award.  We have Best Writing for a Screen Play, Best Director for Otto Preminger, Best Supporting Actor for Clifton Webb and a win for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White for Joseph LaShelle.  I watched this movie years ago and took another look at it tonight.  It defiantly deserved its Best Cinematography Award, I didn’t realize how cool this movie looks, and almost all the scenes are interior shots which makes it more impressive.  Clifton Webb had only played a few parts in film before this and was a stage actor at the time.  Preminger wanted him in this film and declined the studios choice for the part.  This launched a resurgence in Webb’s career and even lead to a couple more nominations.  Dana Andrews plays our hardboiled detective assigned to the case.  We get his prospective and version of the story through out this movie.  Vincent Price shows his great film presence in this movie, I love Price’s voice and way of talking in almost everything he does.  He is hard to ignore in any scene he is in.  All though all these performances are great,lets face it, the real star is Gene Tierney.  Tierney is Laura and the love obsession of just about everybody in this film.  This is not hard to believe, she is a beautiful, smart women with the most adorable overbite ever.  Even her portrait in this film is one of the all time great film props.  It is how our hero falls in love with our femme fatale and it even appears in 2 more movies after this.  I will not get into much of the story because telling any of it will ruin the twists in the story.  The source material is from a book by Vera Caspary.  I have not read the book but it is told in 5 parts, each part is a different character’s version of what happened.  The original screenplay told the story from 3 character’s versions of events, this was still to hard to do in a 2 hour film from the 1940’s.  So the screenplay was reduced to one character’s version, our police detective played by Andrews.  This film is required viewing for any film noir buff.  It’s not on my top 10 list of all time, but it is one of the greats.

gene-tierney-44-laura-11