Article: LIZ SMITH: There Never Was a Woman Like Gilda

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Liz Smith celebrates the Criterion DVD release of Gilda with a look at Rita Hayworth’s life from a fan’s perspective. Well worth reading for fans of the film and Hayworth. Read the complete article here:

http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/guest-diary/2016/liz-smith-there-never-was-a-woman-like-gilda

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Review: The Long Memory

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The Long Memory is a British classic film noir from 1953. The film is directed by Robert Hamer based on a book by Howard Clewes.

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The main plot of this film is nothing new, Phillip Davidson, played by John Mills is falsely accused of murder and sent to prison for 12 years. When he gets out he seeks justice on those that framed him. The added spice to this plot comes from its smaller characters. Fay, played by  Elizabeth Sellars, is Davidson’s girlfriend at the time of the murder. Davidson and Fay go to a ship to meet Fay’s Father. The Father is smuggling people out to sea for a small price. Boyd, played by John Chandos is the brains behind this scheme. When Boyd and the newest person needing smuggled get in a fight on the boot, Boyd kills the man. Davidson tries to stop Boyd, but in the scuffle the boat catches on fire. Fay and her Father get off the boat, along with one of Boyd’s thugs. Davidson is rescued, but when the body is found he is accused of murdering Boyd, though the body belongs to the man needing smuggled.

Fay decides to testify against her boyfriend to protect her father. During the 12 years Davidson is in prison, Fay marries a police officer, Bob Lowther played by John McCallum.

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This sets up many questions to be answered, Will Lowther do anything to protect his wife or will he do what is right? Will Davidson get his revenge on Fay? Did Boyd survive the fire on the boat?

Along the way Davidson helps Ilse, played by Eva Bergh. Ilse has had a horible life, loosing her parents at 12 and forced to work at a criminal’s hangout as the barmaid where she sufferers even more at the hands of evil men. Ilse has little to do with the main plot, but adds a bit more grit to this tale and is played wonderfully by Bergh. She was one of the high points for me in this film. Ilse isn’t the mirror image of Fay in this like we see so often in film noir. Fay isn’t exactly an evil femme fatale and Ilse isn’t the good girl from the right side of the tracks either.

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This film is worth watching and has its charm, it is a pretty decent and fun classic film noir to watch. Though it does have some originality and is well filmed it is by no means an all time great film noir, but does deserve to find more of an audience among noir fans.

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Review: Flaxy Martin

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Flaxy Martin is directed by Richard L. Bare, not exactly a well known director. He looks to mostly have done educational short films and graduated to television with only a couple of feature films along the way. This story comes from David Lang who mostly wrote screenplays for television westerns. This is not exactly a dream team for film noir.

That being said, this is a pretty damn good little film noir! Flaxy Martin is maybe one of the best overlooked femme fatales I have come across. She is beautiful and is playing both sides to get herself what she wants. Virginia Mayo plays Flaxy very well, with a hint of a grin every time things work out like she planned.

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Flaxy is dating the brilliant lawyer Walter Colby, played by Zachary Scott. Colby is a good guy that believes in the law. He is an honest man, but is under the thumb of gangster,
Hap Richie, played by Douglas Kennedy. Unbeknownst to Colby, Flaxy is secretly dating Hap too.

Colby gets one of Hap’s goons off for murder when an eye witness shows up with an alibi for the goon. Colby finds out after he gets the killer off that the eye witness was paid by Hap to lie. When the eye witness is killed to keep her quiet, the evidence points towards Flaxy. Colby decides to take the rap for the murder to save his girl and feels he can defend himself and win. Colby gets double crossed when an eye witness sees Colby with the dead girl the night of the murder(another paid eye witness from Hap).

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Will Colby figure out he got double crossed by Flaxy? Will Flaxy double cross both of her guys and get away with some cash and a new life? Will Hap come out on top by framing both of them?

As  Virginia Mayo plays the ultimate blond femme fatale bombshell, Dorothy Malone plays the opposite, a brunette good girl. Colby must choose between both of these ladies in more then one way.

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The highlight of this film for classic noir fans is Elisha Cook Jr., who plays a pivotal role as one of Hap’s thugs. I can’t believe his name didn’t even make it on the poster, but any fan of Cook will enjoy another fun performance.

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This classic film noir may not have the big names behind the camera, but the faces we see on screen make this film worth watching. This is a bit of a hidden gem, worth checking out. The story isn’t the greatest, but Mayo is great as the title character and should be discussed more often when the subject of femme fatales come up. Scott is solid as ever and Cook is always worth watching.

An all-star team of blacklistees made this classic noir—and then fled Hollywood

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Here is an interesting look behind He Ran All The Way by Noel Murray. I learned a little more about this film from this article:

http://www.avclub.com/article/all-star-team-blacklistees-made-classic-noirand-th-231519

You can also check out my look at the film from a few months ago here:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/06/08/review-he-ran-all-the-way/

 

Review: Affair in Trinidad

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Rita Hayworth is back after a 4 year hiatus and is teaming up with her Gilda co-star Glenn Ford. Affair in Trinidad is very similar to Gilda, but a bit of the magic is gone. Hayworth just left her third husband, Prince Aly Khan. She was broke and needed work. I’ve seen two different theories on this film. One,the studio put her in it, because they knew it was a sub par film. Two, they put her in this film because of it’s similarities to Gilda and knew it would be a big hit. Both came true to a certain degree. Fans filled theaters to see Hayworth again, so the film was successful at the box office. Those fans where a bit disappointed with the film though.

This film is directed by Vincent Sherman and released in 1952. The story starts with a dead body and it looks like suicide. It turns out to be Chris Emery’s(Hayworth) husband and it also looks like murder. Soon her husband’s brother Steve(Ford) shows up because of a letter he received. Not knowing his brother is dead, he learns of the death after he arrives in Trinidad. Steve, thinking it is a suicide starts looking for answers. Chris knowing it was murder, but the police do not want her to tell anybody they know it is murder, is caught between lying to Steve and trying to get him to trust her. Can Steve trust Chris? Will they find the murderer? Is this part of a bigger crime?

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This film may not be as good as Gilda, but it does have a few high points and is worth viewing. Hayworth does a couple song and dance routines to show her power over the men in her life. Both have shades of “Put the Blame on Mame,” especially the second one, where she does an impormtu dance to allure one man, while pushing another man away.

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Ford and Hayworth teamed up for 5 films through out their careers, starting in 1940 and ending in 1965. Gilda was their second film together and I suspect the other three where made to cash in on the success of Gilda. This film is worth watching for fans of the duo and is entertaining. If you have not seen Hayworth and Ford together before, go directly to Gilda first.

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Review: Kiss of Death

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As you can see, when this film came out it was the big introduction of Coleen Gray. This was Gray’s first film credit(she appeared in three other films in tiny roles and did not get a credit), but if you ask any film noir buff “Who’s first movie is Kiss of Death?” Coleen Gray would not be most people’s answer. More on this later.

This film is from director Henry Hathaway and was released in 1947. It stars Victor Mature as ex-convict, Nick Bianco. This film opens with a tense jewelry heist, where Nick is shot in the leg and caught. His 3 partners get away. Nick will not rat on his partners and takes the full rap for the heist. When Assistant D.A. Louis D’Angelo, played by Brian Donlevy, offers him a deal so he can be with his wife and two daughters, Nick does not take it.

While in a holding cell, he meets Tommy Udo. Udo is played by Richard Widmark and he steals the show. Udo is a violent, evil man that feels he can get away with anything. Udo is a laughing psycho that can not be soon forgotten. Yes, he will remind you of Batman’s Joker in more then a few ways. Joker is not based on Udo and was actually created several years before Kiss of Death, maybe Widmark was influenced by the Joker?

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When Nick’s wife commits suicide and his daughters are put in a home, Nick decides he needs to rat out his partners and get out of prison, so he can take care of his kids. Nick turns to Nettie, played by Colleen Gray for romance and to put his family back together. Yes Widmark deserves all the accolades he receives for this film, but let us not forget how good Gray is in this. Gray is one of my favorite anti-femme fatales of the the classic era. She always played the good girl or the girl that saves the hero, and she did it well.

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Nick is released from prison, but must become an informant for the D.A.. He has no problem doing this, putting his family first and tries to put his criminal past behind him. Unfortunately Nick’s target is Udo and he is in a bad position with little to no way out.

This film is very dark, with one of the most violent scenes in all of film history when Udo tosses a wheel chair bound woman down a flight of stairs.

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This film could have been way darker if the censors didn’t get involved. Patricia Morison played Nick’s wife, but all of her scenes are cut from the final film. As we know Nick’s wife commits suicide early in the film. What we do not see is Morison’s character is actually raped first and then commits suicide. Both of these scenes are cut by the censors. Also the end of the film was much darker in the original story. I will not give anymore information on this, but after you see the film, you can see how easy the end could have been much darker.

This film is a must see for all film noir fans. It is a dark tale that you need to see to appreciate.

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Favorite Tidbit: This film has been remade twice: 1st as a western called The Fiend Who Walked the West in 1958 and then as a neo noir in 1995 starring David Caruso, Samuel L. Jackson and Nicolas Cage. I have seen the 1995 version, but it has been so long ago I can not compare the two films. This might make for an interesting double feature some day soon.

Article: 20 Great Movies That Had Major Influences On Film Noir

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Woodson Hughes has written and put together a great list of pre-noir films. Sure we see some of the same films we would expect to see in a list like this. Ripe with Fritz Lang and Jean Renoir films. Hughes brought up some films I was not aware of, but what I really liked was his information about these films. He looks at the authors of early noir as well as the directors and actors that brought film noir to light. I highly recommend reading this article and not just look at the movies he lists, there is a lot of great information. All those that want to learn more about film noir should read this. Oh yeah, the list actually has 35 films, not 20. Click the link in blue:

20 Great Movies That Had Major Influences On Film Noir