Enjoyable, involving, suspenseful, unpredictable. Hitchcock is hitting his stride here. The only quibble is the somewhat incongruously light tone compared to the grim subject matter. This might have something to do with Robert Benchley being one of the screenwriters (and actors). As usual for the time, Hitchcock preferred to shoot indoors for outdoors and the sets have a wonderful hyper-real effect, especially the interior of the windmill. The Escheresque quality of its crisscrossing stairways is fascinating (even though this preceded Escher’s most famous works). Very much worth a look.
A BLUEPRINT FOR MURDER (1953)
With Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters, and Gary Merrill. I’d never heard of this film but I’ve cast a wide net during my current noir binge and I’m glad I found it. Despite two glaring (at least to me) plot holes, this tight, cerebral thriller is riveting. Not one of its 77 minutes is wasted. IMHO a lot more films could benefit by being edited down to a similar running time. (I was impressed by the way Catherine McCleod steals all her scenes as Gary Merrill’s pulp-writer wife)
THE NAKED CITY (1948)
This procedural may be considered a noir classic but I found it talky and plodding until the finale on the Williamsburg Bridge. What I did find interesting was the use of NYC locations with natural lighting on the exteriors and the ambient drone from the streets running beneath the interiors. The narration gives it a documentary feel.
THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW (1944)
**spoilers*** I can give you many reasons to see this – Fritz Lang directed it, Edward G Robinson and Joan Bennett star, and there’s tons of delicious irony, but the “Dallas” / “Wizard of Oz” ending ruins it all. I wanted to throw my remote at the screen.
MINISTRY OF FEAR (1944)
This was in my noir queue but is more of an espionage thriller than a crime story. Ray Milland and Marjorie Reynolds (later in “The Life of Riley”) star, Fritz Lang directs. The film deviates from Graham Greene’s novel to make it more cinematic. The plot kicks off with Milland inadvertently winning a prize at a fair that someone else was supposed to win, thus involving him with Nazi spies operating in Britain. If you’re fan of deep-focus cinematography, Lang shows it off here in abundance. A well-paced, engaging film.
TOO LATE FOR TEARS (KILLER BAIT)
I watched this 1949 noir thriller without knowing its tangled history. Lizabeth Scott, Dan Duryea, and Don Defore (eventually of “Hazel” fame) star in a screenplay that’s a lot busier than most noirs of the period (i.e., the plot keeps accelerating instead of plodding). Typical noir situation of one bad decision leading to another and another until someone is murdered. Lizabeth Scott isn’t the most expressive actress, but love that voice! I won’t go into the copyright travails here. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Too_Late_for_Tears)
The Big Clock
Quite the cast with Laughton, Milland, O’Sullivan, Elsa Lanchester (in a comedic turn), Harry Morgan (I don’t think he says a word) and an uncredited cameo by Noelle Neill. The strange thing is the shifting tone, from dark to comedic and back, as if the director was never sure what kind of film he wanted to make. Lots of good supporting performances. Worth a watch simply for all the familiar faces.
JOHN WICK 3
Truly amazing action film, but I admit to wearying of the endless chop-socky in the third act. Some of those scenes could easily have been trimmed. Great ending, though. Ready for Chap. 4 in 2021.
A rather dull flick where you sit around waiting for the big reveal that you sussed out in the first ten minutes but you’re hoping it’s not that because it’s too obvious. I didn’t think Glenn Close was any better in this than in a dozen other roles (frankly, she wasn’t given a lot to work with). In its favor I can say it’s a lot better than Roma. FF=1
I came up with a log line while watching this: “Predator meets The Dream Team” (the Keaton film). I could give you a cliche countdown, starting with the savant child and psycho NSA-type agent, but I’ll simply sum them up for you: Been there, done that. FF=2.