Re-watching the Classics: Deadline at Dawn

Deadline at Dawn is a classic film noir from 1946 directed by Harold Clurman, the one and only film he directed. This film is based on a book by William Irish. If that name does not sound familiar it is because it is the pseudonym of Cornell Woolrich.

The film’s story starts with a meeting between a blind man and a woman, played by Lola Lane. We then find our main protagonist waking up in a news stand. Bill Williams plays our protagonist who isn’t sure where he is or how he got there. The clerk at the stand hands him a wad of cash. He doesn’t know where the cash came from, but starts looking into this mystery. He is also shipping out for World War II the next morning at 6. He goes to a dance hall and he hits it off with a dancer at the dance hall played by Susan Hayward. She feels sorry for the young man who is in the Navy just like her brother. They go to an apartment where they find a dead body of the woman who was talking to the blind man at the beginning of the film. Our protagonist who cannot remember what happened does not think he killed the woman, but would be the only suspect if the body is found. The couple decide to try to solve the murder themselves before our sailor has to ship out at 6 A.M.. Along the way a cab driver decides to help the couple, being a sucker for young love, he is played by Paul Lukas. We also meet the dead woman’s brother played by Joseph Calleia, who wants revenge for his dead sister, as well as a host of other characters found in the city that never sleeps, including a fat, drunk baseball player named “Babe” Dooley(I wonder who he is inspired by?) who finds the dead body.

This film is a pretty good classic film noir, worth your time. It is a bit hard to follow in places and maybe a bit far-fetched. It is entertaining and Susan Hayward seems to always be worth watching.

Advertisements

Review: I Want to Live!

lf

I Want To Live! Is a film-noir from 1958 that looks at a story that ended a few years earlier in 1955.  This is the story of real life criminal Barbara Graham.  known as “Bloody Babs” in the press, Graham was a career criminal  and was a known prostitute earlier in life. She kept bad company and is said to have helped break into a house with 3 men to rob a wealthy older women in a wheel chair.  They ended up murdering her and were then arrested.  Some say this movie is pretty true to fact, but general consensus is this is a highly fictionalized portrayal.

The reason I got to see this movie is it is 28 Days of Oscar on TCM and this is on because of Susan Hayward’s great performance.  She not only won the Best Actress Award in 1959, she also won the Golden Globe and New York Film Critics Circle Awards.

600full-i-want-to-live!-screenshot

When Hayward signed on for this movie it wasn’t because she loved the script or thought it was going to be a great film. She did it to help out Producer Walter Wanger, Wanger was instrumental in starting Hayward’s career in film.  Wanger was making a comeback in film at the time because he had just got out of jail for shooting a man who was having an affair with his wife.  It was quite the scandal and Wanger had to reinvent himself.  Hayward was glad to help him.

This film is directed by Robert Wise one of the greatest directors in Hollywood history and directed many classic films in his long career.  Though Wise was never known as a film-noir director, he does a great job in this movie.  The off-center angles at the beginning are amazing and prison scenes are very well done.  Robert Wise really prepared well for this film, especially doing a lot of research to get the execution scene right.  The way this scene is shot, edited and doesn’t use music, but keeps it very silent and sparse is amazing. The end of this movie takes this film to another level.  This movie and Barbara Graham’s real life case went a long way in helping the anti-death penalty cause in California.  This doesn’t have your normal twists and turns we are used to in classic film-noir, but it is very dark and startling.