Review: Experiment in Terror

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Experiment in Terror is an amazing film noir from an unexpected source. This film was Directed by Blake Edwards, a rare crime film from the man that brought us some of the best comedies ever. The film is based on the book Operation Terror by The Gordons, who also wrote the screenplay.

Some might argue this film isn’t a film noir because it was made in 1962, and maybe so, for those purists. If you don’t look at the release date, you are in for some of the best film noir cinematography I have ever seen. There are so many outstanding scenes and interesting shoots, I could not even begin to list them all.

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This film starts out with Kelly Sherwood, played by Lee Remick coming home from work and opening her garage door to park her car. When she and the audience gets an eerie feeling. Soon a man hiding in the shadows takes her by the neck and explains how she is going to rob the bank she works at for him. The shadowy man explains how if she does not do this, her and her little sister’s life will be in jeopardy. Her little sister is played by a young Stefanie Powers in one of her first film roles.

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When Kelly attempts to contact the F.B.I., our villain is waiting for it. He scares her good by assaulting her in her own house.

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Luckily she tells the F.B.I. agent John ‘Rip’ Ripley, played by Glenn Ford, her last name before she is hit by our villain. When the F.B.I. tracks her down, they work with Kelly to catch the bad guy and save her and her little sister. Will our shadowy villain be one step ahead of the F.B.I. and our bank teller? Will the F.B.I. be able to catch our villain before he hurts one or both of the Sherwood girls?

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I am not going to mention who the shadowy villain is played by, because when this was released, that was part of the draw. The actor who plays this role doesn’t get a screen credit until the end of the film.

This is an amazing film well worth watching if you are a noir film fan.  I wish Blake Edwards would have made more films like this during his career. His eye for shadow and using unique camera angles is beautiful. This film takes place in San Francisco, one of the best backdrops for a film noir, and Edwards captures it like no other. I highly recommend this film.

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Favorite Tidbit: This film was a big influence on David Lynch. He used many things from this film in a number of his works. One great example of this is where Kelly Sherwood lives. Kelly lives in Twin Peaks and passes a sign stating so at the beginning of this film. This inspired Lynch to name his television series this and mimics the open scene on Twin Peaks.

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Review: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

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Night Film is a book that falls into a bunch of different categories, some may call it a horror book, some a mystery book others may put it on their contemporary fiction  or literature shelf.  I think because of all these elements it makes for a great noir read.  I’ll tell you right now, this is one of my favorite books.  It’s a very unique book with an interactive internet element, I read it as a straight novel and didn’t check out any of the extras on the web. I may re-read this and check out the web extra as I go.

This book’s main character is Scott McGrath, an investigative journalist that has his career ruined by a mysterious director by the name of Stanislas Cordova.  When a new investigation starts involving Cordova, Scott has to find out what is going on, no matter what the consequences.  Cordova is the interesting character that drives the plot, we just get snippets of him as the story progresses and we as readers and our hero Scott has to find what is real and what is legend or myth.  Cordova is a fictional character that seems real and real interesting.  Cordova is part Stanley Kubrick, half Roman Polanski, a bit of David Lynch and maybe a dash of Alfred Hitchcock thrown in for good measure.

Here is a great trailer for the book, and it definitely gives you a feel for what you’re in for:

This isn’t a short book at over 600 pages it takes a bit of time and effort to read, but it’s worth every minute and every page.  When you get done you are wowed and wish it had another 100 to 200 pages.  The writing is great and keeps you up late at night reading “just one more chapter.”  Let’s face it this hits all my hotspots, it’s a great written book, it’s dark and it’s about movies to boot.

I would love to see this turned into a mini series for HBO, Showtime or even an FX or AMC.  I think this would be the best way to give credit to the lengthy story.  Marisha Pessl has a movie deal already for this book and Rupert Wyatt is set to direct.  Let’s hope this is as good as this book deserves and I will be at the theater opening night when it comes out!