Review: He Ran All the Way

He Ran All the Way stars John Garfield in his last role.  Garfield died of coronary thrombosis at the age of 39.  Garfield was a prominent actor in the classic noir period.  Shelley Winters also stars as the female lead early in her illustrious career. Character actor Wallace Ford also appears as Winters’ father.  This film is based on a book by Sam Ross and directed by John Berry.  The film was released in 1951, five years after Garfield’s most famous role in The Post Man Always Rings Twice.

This film starts out with Garfield and his partner robbing a payroll.  They are chased and Garfield’s partner is shot.  Garfield gets away, but shoots a police officer in the process.  He escapes to a public pool and literally runs into Winters.  He quickly knows she may be his way to hide out.  They go back to her apartment where we and Garfield learn she lives with her parents and little brother.  The police officer dies and Garfield is all over the papers as the killer.  Garfield takes the family hostage while he hides out there.  Will Garfield get away with the loot?  Will Winters fall for him as they go off together to live happily ever after?  Will Garfield kill any of the members of the family before he gets away?  Will Garfield even get away?

The tension is strong for this classic and works very well.  It has a simple plot with great performances from the small cast.  This is a very good film noir worthy of any noir fan’s time.  I wish we had a few more of these films from Garfield before he left us, but we can always go back and watch The Postman Always Rings Twice and the handful of other noir films he has starred in.

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Re-watching the Classics: The Set-Up

Here is a short film noir of only 73 minutes long, which takes place over those same 73 minutes.  This is Directed by Robert Wise and stars Robert Ryan as our main character.  Ryan plays Stoker, an over the hill boxer hoping to make one last run as a fighter.  Audrey Totter plays Stoker’s wife who wants him to stop fighting before he is hurt to bad. We start out with our couple in their apartment as Stoker gets ready to head to the arena.  He gives his wife a ticket to watch the fight, she makes one last effort to stop him from fighting to no avail.  Stoker gets into the locker room to start getting ready for his main event fight.  We meet a varied crew of fighters in different stages of their career.  It is almost like Stoker is reliving his past and looking into his near future as the fighter come and go, before and after their bouts.  We get to see so many great character actors of the classic noir era in this locker room.  Names such as George Tobias, Wallace Ford, Percy Helton, James Edwards and David Clarke.  We have a hodge-podge of fighters, trainers, promoters and gangsters coming and going through out the night. Stoker’s team and his opponents team have agreed that Stoker will throw the fight for the gangster named Little Boy played by Alan Baxter.  The problem is, nobody told Stoker!  Will he learn before it is too late to throw the fight?  If he does learn about the set-up will he agree to do it?  Will Stoker’s wife show up to watch the bout? As I have stated before, the more I watch Robert Ryan’s films the more I like him.  He did such a wide range of characters, it is hard to believe he could be so versatile.  The only common thread when Ryan is in a film, he will always be tough as nails.  This film is so unique and so great, I think everybody should see this at least once if you are a film lover at all.  If you are a noir fan it is a must see and if you like Ryan you probably already seen this, if not drop everything and do it now! Do you think this was a big influence on Quentin Tarantino’s story line in Pulp Fiction revolving around Bruce Willis’ character?  I can’t help but see many similarities between Willis and Ryan’s characters.  What do you think?

Review: Crack-Up

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Crack-Up is a film noir from 1946 staring Pat O’Brien!

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No, Not that one, this one:

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Crack-Up is based on a short story from Fredric Brown and is directed by Irving Reis.  Our leading lady is played by Claire Trevor.  Trevor appeared in many film noir threw out her career.  Character actor Wallace Ford plays our lead detective.

The story starts out with our hero breaking into a museum and looks to be drunk and out of control.  He is followed in by a police officer who wants to arrest him for public drunkenness and for trying to take a swing at him.  The board for the museum is having a meeting at this time and recognize our hero and ask if the police officer will let them take care of him.  He isn’t drunk he is sick.  Our hero comes to and tells our detective how the last thing he remembers is being on a train when it wrecked with another train.  The only problem is there was no train wreck!  This is where the mystery takes off.  Why does he think there was a train wreck? What happened to our hero? Was he drugged? This mystery is just the beginning, as we have murder, art, money, dames, conspiracies and a twisting plot that will leave you swinging in the wind.

Another great looking film noir, this one by camera man Robert De Grasse.  The story sometimes doesn’t make a lot of sense and may have some holes in it that are hard to overlook.  I really thought this movie might have a mentally ill main character, given the name of the film and the way he acts at first.  I guess in 1947 the public wasn’t ready for mentally ill main characters. As the movie goes along we find a perfectly good reason for the way our hero is acting.  Then it is made light of with our last line, “Everybody is nuts around here, but me.”

This is not a widely watched film with a 6.6 rating on IMDb from only 657 voters.  I would say this is a far rating and is worth watching for the hard-core film noir fan, but not a film I would recommend for somebody that is looking for just a few good examples of the genre.

Review: T-Men

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T-Men is a B-movie film noir from 1947.  It’s told in a documentary-drama style story.  This movie is directed by Anthony Mann and showcased his talent.  It is filmed in a low light, classic film noir style that looks amazing.  Mann directed a few more film noir B movies and then moved on to westerns and eventually full on Hollywood historic epics.  Even though T-Men was a fairly low-budget film it got nominated for an Academy Award for Sound.  The movie was written by John C. Higgins and Virginia Kellogg both of which wrote many crime films in their career.

Dennis O’Keefe plays our main hero and undercover T-man.  He definitely had a good presence is this role and did many B-movies including a few more film-noirs, he also did a lot of television work, including having his own show for a while.   Wallace Ford plays The Schemer and that describes the character well.  He is always looking for an angle and scheming for his next score. Ford played the most interesting character in the film, in my opinion.  Alfred Ryder plays O’Keefe’s undercover partner and comes across as an average every-man that may be in over his head.

I could not find anything about the story behind this movie.  It plays as a true case from the Secret Service, but I can not find if it really is.  Anybody out there shed some light on this?  If these bad guys were real, they where both incredibly brutal and smart.

This story is about two T-men or I.R.S. Agents sent undercover to break up a counterfeit ring.  The ring seems to be based in Los Angles, but anytime anybody gets close to the root of the group it leads to a dead-end.  They trace some counterfeit stamps in Detroit that are from the same group.  Are hero’s are sent to Detroit to infiltrate the ring from there.  This is where are adventure takes off.

This movie isn’t the most interesting story or have many twists and turns to it, but if it is a true story that would make sense.  I would not put this noir in my top ten, but it is worth viewing for hardcore film noir fans.

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