Review: No Questions Asked

No Questions Asked is a classic film noir from 1951 directed by Harold F. Kress. Kress never really made it as a director, but went on to edit some classic Hollywood films. This has a story from Berne Giler and a screenplay from Sidney Sheldon, both had long careers as writers in Hollywood.

Our story starts out with Barry Sullivan playing Steve Keiver, an insurance investigator. He is in love with Ellen, played by Arlene Dahl. Ellen is a bit of a gold digger and wants to marry somebody with money. She soon disappears to go marry a rich man with no warning to our hero. Keiver buries himself in his work and becomes very successful. He works connections in the underworld to recover stolen property for his company. He soon finds the eye of Joan, played by Jean Hagen. She is madly in love with Keiver, but Keiver still has feelings for his old flame Ellen. When Keiver and Joan are at a fancy party it is robbed. This part is pretty interesting as the theft was performed by men in drag. They fool all of those they rob by gun point, and puts the police on the trail of “two attractive females,” instead of two males. This brings in Police Inspector Matt Duggan, played by George Murphy and Detective Walter O’Bannion played by Richard Anderson into the investigation. Our hero works both sides of the law to recover the million dollars worth of jewelry stolen at the party. Will he be able to work his usual magic to get the job done? Will he be double crossed or even framed? What girl will eventually win his heart? Who can he trust?

This film noir is a bit of a hidden gem! It has a great plot with some good acting. I thought this was a sold film worth your time. The gangsters are unique and the heist men who are cross dressers had to be a bit risqué for 1951. Especially since these cross dressers are not comic relief, but actually fool the characters in the film and I think they would have fooled most of the movie going public.

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Review: Side Street

Side Street is a film noir from 1949, directed by Anthony Mann based on a story and a screenplay by Sydney Boehm.  This stars Farley Granger as our protagonist and Cathy O’Donnell as his pregnant wife.

This story is confusing and full of plot holes but a fun noir to watch.  This film starts with a women blackmailing some important business man.  A guy behind a door has a gun to make sure this goes down like it is supposed to.  We then find this girl floating in the water, dead!  Granger is working as a part-time mail carrier(because a full-time mail carrier would be too honest to do this?)  He delivers mail to a lawyer’s office and finds a sign which says “out for 15 minutes and will be back soon”.  Granger finds the door is accidentally left unlocked.  He goes in the office and tries to open a filling cabinet, it is locked.  So he leaves, sees an ax for firefighting and brings it back to open the cabinet.  He grabs a file, puts into his bag, not looking at it, and takes off.  Now a voice over for the film is telling us our mail carrier has 50 cents in his pocket and would or wouldn’t you in that situation steal a few hundred dollars? There ends up being $30,000 in the file. This is where you have to start suspending your rational thinking!  Why would a lawyer with $30,000 in his office not lock the door?  But that is not the biggest questions here! How or why does Garager know that in the second drawer down, the last file in the cabinet has any money in it at all?  He grabs it without looking in the file and without looking in any other drawer or file?  Why does he think there is a few hundred dollars in it and not more, or any for that matter?  Anyway he dumps the file, goes to his parent-in-laws where him and his wife now live, because they have lost everything in a failed business and are starting over.  His wife is pregnant and due anytime now.  He gives her some cash and says she can now get a real doctor and a room at the hospital to have her baby.  He tells her, he got a new job up north and a pay advance and has to leave right away to start work.  He gives the cash to a friend telling him it is a present for his wife and needs to hide it with him so she doesn’t find it.  So as the plot thickens our hero has the police, a lawyer and some murdering blackmailers all looking for him while he runs through the streets of New York City to give the money back to its rightful owner and figure out the mystery on his own.

So this synopsis is just part of the suspend disbelief you need to enjoy this film.  If you do I think you will enjoy the ride.  It is stylishly filmed and even though you don’t always know quite what is going on and why, it is a fun watch.  We also get a few cameo appearances worth seeing.  Jean Hagen plays a lounge singer, who is our closest thing to a femme fatale in this film. Charles McGraw plays a small part as a deep voiced hard-nosed cop.  Also Paul Kelly as our police captain is very good.

I think most film noir fans will find this film enjoyable, I did.  Sometimes life doesn’t make sense so why should a classic film noir?

Review: The Asphalt Jungle

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The Asphalt Jungle is one of the most famous film-noir movies of all time.  There are a few reasons for this, the biggest historically would be this is the film that brought Marilyn Monroe to fame.  She plays a small part and her name wasn’t even on the first posters, that soon changed as most poster for the film in years to come feature Marilyn prominently.  Before Marilyn became the biggest thing in Hollywood, this movie got by on its own merits.  For the 1951 Academy Awards, Asphalt Jungle was nominated for 4 awards.  This film was also directed by one of the biggest directors of the era, John Huston.  Huston’s eye is excellent and really gave this a great feel and look.  He also helped with the screenplay, based on noir author W.R. Burnett’s book of the same name.  This had other big names in the film like Sterling Hayden, as our anti-hero, Louis Calhern as our godfather type lawyer, Jean Hagen as our anti-hero’s girl.  I also liked Sam Jaffe in his role as Doc, the mastermind of the crime.  This film and story was later turned into a T.V. series. The series isn’t available on Netflix and I’m not sure if it is available on DVD or not.  I would like to see some of the T.V. series to see if it made the transition well, I’m thinking it wouldn’t.  This film was also re-made 3 times in different versions, one a western, one overseas, and one a blaxpotation movie. I have not seen any of these films but looking at their ratings on IMDb they had no where the success or are anywhere as good as the original.  This movie is pretty much required viewing if you are a film-noir fan and if you haven’t seen it yet, enjoy!