Review: Don’t Bother to Knock

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Don’t Bother to Knock is a film noir from Roy Ward Backer, his first for Hollywood and one of many great noir movies he did.  The movie is based on a book by Charlotte Armstrong.  This movie has superstar Marilyn Monroe as our most interesting character. Noir great Richard Widmark plays a pilot in town on an over night stay at the hotel.  We also get Anne Bancroft in her first film, as the lounge signer Widmark is in love with.

Our story starts with Bancroft sitting at a bar, telling the bartender her troubles with her boyfriend and then the spotlight hits her and she starts singing.  We soon meet her boyfriend, the pilot that comes to town from Chicago played by Widmark.  They’re relationship is on the rocks and Widmark is trying to save it.  We also meet the elevator man played by the great character actor,Elisha Cook Jr., who is taking Monroe up to the 8th floor.  We find out he is her uncle and got her a job babysitting.  Seems like a pretty average day in the Hotel, but things get stranger and stranger as time goes on.

This film is in real-time, so the events happen in the same amount of time as the film length.  This is pretty cool and done very seamlessly.  The whole movie also takes place in a high-end hotel, basically the lounge, 2 rooms and the elevator contain all the scenes.  This gives you a bit of claustrophobia as the suspense grows through out.

Marilyn Monroe was a popular star at this point.  The problem was, she was not know for her acting.  Up to this point she just played her lovable self and people ate it up.  This was her 18th movie and she made this movie to show she could act, and act she did!  This is an amazing performance of a suicidal, mentally disturbed young women, it is not over the top, very real feeling and subtle .  At the time critics loved her performance, and I got to say, I did too.  Unfortunately looking back at her life, this may have been the real Monroe and she was acting as Marilyn Monroe all the other times she was in the spot light.

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This is not as gritty as most film noir but it is just as dark, maybe even more so.  If you are a fan of any of the 3 main stars, especially Monroe you should see this.  I give it an 8 out of 10, a must see film noir.

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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!