Review: The Woman on Pier 13

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The Woman on Pier 13 is a film noir released in 1950. In 1949 it was released in Los Angles and San Francisco under the title I Married a Communist to a poor reception, hence the name change before its more wide release.

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This film was directed by Robert Stevenson, who directed a number of lesser known film noir through out his early career before finding a home at Disney and directing some of their classic live action film.

The film stars one of noir’s greats, Robert Ryan as Brad Collins, who has just got married to Nan, played by Laraine Day. While on their honeymoon they run into Christine, played by Janis Carter. Christine is a bit of a femme fatale for this story and has a past with Brad when they both lived back in New Jersey. We soon learn both were part of the Communist Party back in New Jersey and Christine still is. With Brad now a big wig with the dock workers, the Party wants to use him to their advantage.

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Will Brad be able to break his ties to the “Party?” Will Christine bring him back into the fold?

John Agar plays Nan’s brother and is involved with the union, Thomas Gomez plays a higher up in the Communist Party, and look for William Talman as hired muscle for the Party in one of his earliest film roles. My surprise standout for this film is Janis Carter who starts out as a classic femme fatale and grows more of a heart as the film goes on.

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This film was a very good noir worth watching if you can see beyond the propaganda against the Communist Party. This film portrays the Party more like a heartless Mafia organization then a political party. Some might find the way the Communists are viewed as a nice time capsule to how afraid American’s where of the Reds.  Robert Ryan is great as always in his role as a man that made a mistake in his youth and has to pay for his past sins.

If you are a fan of Robert Ryan and other small budget film noir for R.K.O. you will find this one just as entertaining.

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Review: Shield for Murder

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Shield for Murder is a film noir from 1954 starring and co-directed by Edmond O’Brien. The other director is Howard W. Koch, his first film in the director’s chair. This film is based on the book by the same name, written by William P. McGivern.

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Edmond O’Brien plays Barney, a crooked cop with a temper. The film starts with him following a man holding money for a local bookie. Barney drags him into the alley and shoots him. then Barney takes $25,000 off of him, and shoots a few bullets into the air. This was to make it look like Barney shot the dead man trying to escape arrest. Unbeknownst to Barney, a man in a second story apartment witnessed the whole crime. The witness is deaf and dumb to add an extra twist.

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Barney’s girlfriend, Patty is played by Marla English. John Agar plays a young detective who looks up to Barney, but suspects something is wrong about the shooting involving Barney.

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Will Barney get away with stealing $25,000 and murder? Will the local bookie track him down and teach the crooked cop a lesson?

Edmond O’Brien’s Barney is the most brutal and evil protagonist I have ever seen in a classic film noir. He only shows mercy or any kind of remorse once in the whole film.

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This is a very good B-film noir. This is worth watching just for Edmond O’Brien’s performance. The interesting thing about Barney is that he has very little to no likable qualities. I don’t know if I would call him an anti-hero, but more of a villain who is the main character. Watch for the scene where Barney is eating spaghetti with a girl he has picked up at the bar for one of the most violent scenes I have ever witnessed in a classic film noir.