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Diamond's karate chops
Dave 'Richard Diamond' Janssen goes deep into Chinatown to investigate who's using an antiques dealers imports for smuggling heroin. The 2nd appearance of familiar character actor James Hong ('Blade Runner', 'Big Trouble In Little China') on this show, and it's a good one. Excellent cinematography as well by Harry J. Wild ('Murder, My Sweet') and Janssen practicing his karate skills make this is another fun episode.
Dan 'Richard Diamond' Janssen is asked by King Calder to find his daughter Bethel Leslie, whom he suspects has plans to kill herself. But it's even worse, as she hired someone to kill her, but she no longer has a death wish and no idea who the person is. Janssen is determined to help Leslie, but things are not what they seem...
Another great episode of this iconic series, with a few familiar faces. Calder wasn't well-known but his face will ring a bell for sure. And noir heel Marc Lawrence makes a welcome appearance in another shifty role. Fast-paced, with a tense scene in a dark alleyway where Janssen barely escapes death, and a few twists along the way, this is a keeper.
A-typical but excellent giallo
Foreign journalist Jean Sorel finds himself locked inside his 'dead' body, unable to communicate with the outside world. As doctors prepare to perform an autopsy on his body, he recounts the events leading up up his predicament. It all started when his girlfriend Barbara Bach disappeared and he goes in search of her...
The plot of this a-typical giallo is intriguing, and director Aldo Aldo, who also wrote the screenplay, manages to keep the tension going. Yes, the movie is fairly slow-moving, and it lacks the creative and gory murders and setpieces you'd find in a more conventional giallo (altho 'convential giallo' sounds wrong on so many levels!), but it's utterly fascinating, and beautifully shot. And there is a lot going on, as Sorel uncovers more and more details related to Bach's disappearance... Definitely pay attention! The musical score by Ennio Morricone is also pretty nice and atmospheric, adding to the overall unique mood of this movie. The final 20 minutes or so are a trippy, and then the movie ends in a 'wow' moment. A top-notch giallo!
Unusually comedic, and unusually grim
James Best, an old friend of David 'Richard Diamond' Janssen, is involved in a deadly robbery. His sister Nancy Marshall asks Diamond to get Best to turn himself in before the police kill him. But Best has no intention of turning himself in, and Diamond is forced to put his own life on the line in order to try and save Best's.
Despite the basic premise this is a great episode. It's got a comedic scene where Janssen is pretending to be a bit of a dimwit to extract some information out of someone, that might help him locate Best. While Diamond's a witty and often sarcastic type of fellow, he didn't go for these sorts of comedic 'disguises' usually so this already makes this an unusual episode. It is also offset by one of the darker and grimmer endings in the entire series, one that required Diamond to put his life on the line. Janssen, an actor I appreciate more and more each time I see him, deftly handles both sides of Diamond. It's a good finale to end the first season with (altho it's not a season finale cliffhanger by any means, not sure those were done at the time like they are now?). Of interest here is also this episode's director Roy Del Ruth. He started out in the silent era, and steadily worked throughout the years (including directingd the first Maltese Falcon movie back in 1931), ending his career with TV series like this one.
Strange Fascination (1952)
First but not best collaboration between Hugo Haas and Cleo Moore
Hugo Haas is a famous European piano virtuoso who's brought to the States by wealthy widow Mona Barrie. Haas goes on a concert tour where he meets dancer Cleo Moore, and they end up getting married. As Haas struggles to break thorugh in the States, he also struggles to keep both Moore and Barrie happy. But Barrie isn't crazy about Haas's marriage and cuts off her financial support. And when Moore is also thinking about going back to her old dance partner, Haas gets desperate and thinks about collecting the insurance on his hands, somehow...
This was director, writer, actor and producer Hugo Haas ('Pickup') and Cleo Moore's ('On Dangerous Ground') first of 7 collaborations. Moore is far less of a femme fatale in this one than their subsequent movies, but Haas plays essentially the same role as in most of the other ones (ditto in his movies with Beverly Michaels), a 'simple' man who gets involved with the wrong woman and ends up in a downward spiral. Noone can accuse Haas of having too much talent as a writer, director or actor, but as with the title of this movie, he's strangely fascinating to watch. In some close-up's it almost as if you can see him thinking about how to portray emotions. In any case, and for whatever reason, with Haas I don't mind it, I find him very likeable somehow.
Haas's movies are almost invariably low budget affairs, but he does a nice job here with limited means, with a surprising high amount of sets. And experienced DoP Paul Ivano ('The Shanghai Gesture', 'Black Angel') also added a bit of noir aesthetic to this movie, unfortunately not a lot tho. But this is not one of Haas's best efforts, also because Moore's character is nowhere near the sultry and sleazy characters she would portray in her later movies under Haas. It's a decent noir-ish melodrama, but no need to go out of your way to see this one.
The Strange Mrs. Crane (1948)
Enjoyable noir programmer
Marjorie Lord is the wife of Pierre Watkin who's running for governor. Her life is seemingly perfect, but Watkin doesn't know she used to be, and maybe still is?, a con artist who seduced men for their money. When her former partner in crime, Robert Shayne, comes back into her life, he wants some of the money she now has access to. Half to be precise, or else he'll tell Watkin about her past. Lord can't let him do that, and she kills him. The police arrest his gf tho, Ruth Brady. In a twist of fate, Lord is assigned jury duty on Brady's trial, who faces the death penalty...
The plot of this movie is reminiscent of 1948's Blonde Ice, but Marjorie Lord ('The Argyle Secrets') never comes across as cold-hearted as Leslie Brooks. It's a bit of a shame, as Lord does well at the start of this movie as the socialite lady. But she's not quite convincing enough as a conniving femme fatale. Still, she does a nice job, and I enjoyed watching her. Robert Shayne ('Three Strangers', 'Mr. Skeffington') is also quite decent as the con artist who went to prison, bounced back, and now wants a piece of his ex-partner's pie. The rest of the cast are what you'd expect from low-budget B movies like this one, adequate but forgettable.
Even tho he's credited as Sherman Scott in this movie, it was prolific B-director Sam Newfield ('The Lady Confesses', 'Mask Of The Dragon') that directed this noir. If anything, his experience at making these sorts of low-budget movies that had to be done as quickly as possible, helps this movie. There is no room for filler, it moves at a rapid pace, fitting a decently plotted story into an hour runtime, but things never feel too rushed. And the movie has a nicely ironic ending. I do wish more time was spent on the lighting, DoP Jack Greenhalgh ('Fingerpints Don't Lie', 'F.B.I. Girl') doesn't do much lighting wise aside from a few scenes inside dark apartments. But for these types of quick programmers, this one's quite decent and enjoyable.
Not bad, but below average
David 'Richard Diamond' Janssen is hired to recover diamonds that are starting to resurface after being stolen several years earlier. He first looks at the person convicted for the robbery, Fredd Wayne, who just so happens to be released from prison right before the diamonds started to appear again. But the man insists he's innocent, then and now, and when other people try to keep Diamond away from digging deeper, he realizes something's not quite right...
Despite the interesting plot, this episode is below average for this otherwise solid series. There is a big red herring scene that works quite well, but due to its 30m runtime, there are no real surprises otherwise. However, it's still Richard Diamond, so it's still well-made with plenty of hard-boiled wit and Janssen's charm. And this episode also happens to be shot by 6-time Oscar nominated DoP Russell Harlan. Altho truth be told, there is nothing special about his work here. Anyways... Below average episode for this series, but still worth watching.
Much better than expected
This was the 2nd episode of the anthology TV series The 20th Century- Fox Hour. This episode is an adaptation of Vera Caspary's novel 'Laura' which was famously turned into a 1944 film noir (which not surprisingly was also made at 20th Century-Fox). In this adaptation Robert Stack ('House Of Bamboo') plays Mark MacPherson who's investigating the murder of Dana 'Laura' Wynter ('Invasion Of The Body Snatchers'), with George Sanders ('All About Eve') as Waldo Lydecker, Laura's mentor and an influential columnist, and Scott Forbes ('The Adventues Of Jim Bowie') as Laura's fiancé Shelby Carpenter. None of them can match the original cast, but George Sanders is a natural follow-up for Clifton Webb's portrayal, as with a number of his roles this is worth watching just for his performance. Dana Wynters, pretty as she is, is no match for Gene Tierney however, esp not when the whole premise rests on Stack/MacPherson falling in love with her based only on a portrait!
Putting that aside however, this TV episode works remarkably well... The short format, under 45 minutes, means only the essentials of the story have been kept impact, and things move at a rapid pace. And it does work. It probably does help if you've seen the original, it makes some scenes all that more enjoyable, in particular the bath scene with George Sanders. Aside from the noir original and the noirs some of the actors appeared in, director John Brahm also directed some noirs such as 'The Lodger' and 'Hangover Square' and the DoP was Lloyd Ahern ('Cry Of The City', 'The Brasher Doubloon'). They manage to infuse this TV episode with some noir visuals, adding to the overall enjoyment. No, this doesn't come close to the original, how could it? But I enjoyed this much more than I had expected to. Recommended!
The Night Has Eyes (1942)
Enjoyable but could've been better
Schoolteachers Joyce Howard and Tucker McGuire are off to the Yorkshire moors for a holiday, the same moors where a former colleague disappeared a year earlier. When they get caught up in a storm, they find shelter in the secluded mansion of James Mason. Mason's an acrimonious and unstable man, and despite multiple warnings from him, his housekeeper Mary Clare, and a possible link between Mason and the missing teacher, she falls for him and decides to stay around for a while. But then she finds a skeleton in a locked room (literally), with a necklace that she recognizes as the missing teacher's...
Also known as Terror House and Moonlight Madness, this movie combines elements from 30 mysteries, Gothic/victorian drama's and even a bit of early/proto film noir. Mason ('Odd Man Out') was still quite young but already able to carry a movie, and gives a solid performance. Howard ('They Met In The Dark') is also good, stuffy at first but more radiant once she takes a romantic interest in Mason. There is also some nice atmospheric cinematography by Gunther Krampf ('Nosferatu') inside the mansion and on the foggy moors. The directing by Leslie Arliss ('The Wicked Lady') is competent enough, but his screenplay is a bit too slow, and he added some unnecessary and jarring comic relief in the middle. The twist is not too surprising, the ending is pretty good tho. An enjoyable movie, but it could've been much better. 6+/10
Christine White doesn't want her husband to go to a 1-day conference by himself, but he has to go, so he hires David 'Richard Diamond' Janssen to entertain her while he's away. But at a restaurant she runs off. Janssen finds her at her apartment where 2 persons claim she escaped from a Chicago rest home and that she's mentally ill. While Janssen tries to contact the husband they kidnap her. When Janssen goes to the rest home tho, the head informs him they do have the woman there... But when he shows her her room, the woman is not White! What is going on?! An early episode in this excellent 50s TV show, and quite a fast-moving and twisty episode as well! It has a nice set up and while the resolution isn't too difficult to guess in advance, seeing the other woman in the end must've been a great cliffhanger before going to commercials haha! Of course everything falls into place quickly and Janssen saves the day without hardly breaking a sweat. But seriously, Richard Diamond is so much fun and Janssen owns the part. Great series, and this is a real standout episode!
You Can't Escape (1957)
Not bad, but too polite
Author Robert Urquhart and heiress Noelle Middleton fall head over heels in love. After they announce their engagement Urquhart's ex- girlfriend shows up and tells him she's pregnant with his baby. He ends up killing her in a freak accident. When he tries to dispose of the body Middleton catches him, but after some convincing agrees to help him, and they bury her in some private woods owned by Middleton's family. However journalist Peter Reynolds, always on the lookout for a spicy story, and the dead girl's doctor Guy Rolfe, throw a spanner in the works.
A decent Britnoir that could've been better. Urquhart plays a man whose life spirals out of control after an unfortunate accident. But you never feel too sorry for him, he's too selfish and keeps telling Middleton to just forget the dead ex ever happened. Because of that event Middleton starts to see the lesser side of Urquhart and is having doubts about the marriage, while Rolfe starts to take a romantic interest in her. Meanwhile shady journalist Reynolds is also not beyond receiving bribes for not writing his story, as he can connect Urquhart to the dead girl and even figures out where he's buried her. They give good performances, but it's all too posh and polite, too stiff-upper-lip, even for a British movie. Esp Rolfe looks like he has his suits pressed while wearing them.
For both director Wilfred Eames and cinematographer Norman Warwick this would be their first movie and they do a nice job. They keep things moving at a brisk pace and there are some nice shots sprinkled throughout. As with the performances, it could've used more spunk and a higher sense of doom and dread, but all in all, not a bad way to spend 75 minutes.
The Miami Story (1954)
Nothing new under the sun, but enjoyable enough
Luther Adler heads a crime syndicate that's running Miami, with a fancy lawyer making sure he's untouchable, and a coldblooded John Baer to do his dirty jobs for him. The latest one is the assassination of 2 Cubans as they exit an airplane, in front of a crowd. Frustrated and fearing things will go from bad to worse now, local businessmen hire an ex-gangster from Chicago, Barry Sullivan, to try and get enough on Adler to get him in front of a grand jury. Adler framed Sullivan years before, so Sullivan accepts, and enlists the help of Cuban cops to pretend he's part of a Cuban crime ring moving in on Adler's turf. He also meets a woman who flew to Miami with the 2 deceased Cubans, Bevery Garland, who has an unsuspected connection to Adler's squeeze, Adele Jergens.
One of countless docu-noirs exposing every sort of crime ring in every major US city, this one even has a Florida senator chime in at the start, as well as the mandatory authoritative narration. Made on a low budget, it's pretty standard fare, but still manages to entertain. Sullivan ('The Gangster') is great as the former gangster who's still cold and callous when necessary, and Adler ('D.O.A.') played villains for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Jergens ('Armored Car Robbery') and Garland ('New Orleans Uncensored') play opposite roles, and esp Jergens is great as a bitter femme fatale just past her prime.
The directing by Fred F. Sears and cinematography by Harry Freulich is competent and occasionally inspired (there's a great shot of Garland when Sullivan first meets her inside his hotel room). They worked together on a number of movies, including other city/crime exposés like'Chicago Syndicate' and 'Inside Detroit'. Sears would even return to Miami a few years later for 'Miami Exposé'. All in all, while there's nothing under the sun here, and there are no real surprises (maybe that it's slightly more graphic than usual), it's a fast-paced and enjoyable movie if yer into this subgenre/corner of film noir.
Stylish and disturbing
Police detective Adil Hussain is haunted by his daughter's disappearance several years ago. Every night after work hours he drives across Mumbai looking for her, before returning home to his wife, Tannishtha Chatterjee, who's gone into a sort of catatonic denial. One night, in one of the sleaziest areas of Mumbai, he thinks he sees a child abduction, and tries to catch the guy. But his fruitless chase brings him to a nightclub, where young teenage girls are dancing for randy men. Hussain thinks his daughter might be in the nightclub and soon grim reality and feverish nightmares collide and lines start to blur.
This is a dark and disturbing Indian neo-noir that is anything but a typical Bollywood movie. Written and directed by Partho Sen-Gupta and beautifully shot by DoP Jean-Marc Ferriere, this movie deals with the real-life problem of child abduction in India (the movie ends with the chilling statistic that 100,000 children disappear annually in India). Taking place mostly at night, during the monsoon season when it rains heavily and almost constantly, the movie makes effective use of minimal lighting, narrow streets and stark shadows to create a menacing, doom-laden and claustrophobic atmosphere. The movie's narrative is very dream/nightmare-like and switches between Hussain (who's slowly losing grip on reality) and one of the young dancers, Komal Gupta, who's been assigned to watch over a new abductee, before culminating in a climax in a sewer underneath the nightclub. Hussain gives a great performance as he becomes more and more unhinged as do Chatterjee and Gupta (who's got very expressive eyes despite her 'expressionless' face, as she dances on the nightclub's stage with a drunk and randy man showering her with money).
The movie does lose some of its thematic impact by focusing more on the mental state of Hussain as well as the visual style than on the issue of child abduction and prostitution, making this movie more like 2007's 'Mad Detective' meets Nicolas Winding Refn than 1979's 'Hardcore', but it still hits hard at times. The movie does not offer a happy ending, raising more questions than it answers, particularly as to what was real and what was inside Hussain's head, but also in regards to the abduction issue. It's a grim, stylish and surreal movie, that is both stylish as well as disturbing in content. Recommended.
A watered down Dan Turner
Marc 'Dan Turner' Singer is hired by Hollywood studio exec Danny Kamin to keep an eye on his wife, movie star Tracy Scoggins, who's being blackmailed. At a set for her latest movie, directed by Brandon Smith whom she has an affair with, he hooks up again with an old flame. But as they're kissing, someone shoots and kills her, with his gun. Everybody on set thinks Singer did it, and he runs off, wanting to find his old flame's killer himself. But when someone takes another shot at him at his apartment, he realizes the killer's after him, and he suspects the reason might be linked to the blackmail case...
I've read a bunch of uber-prolific pulp author Robert Leslie Bellem's stories including a couple of Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective ones and they're a hoot, a lot of fun. Crazily enough this is only the second Dan Turner movie, the other being 1947's 'Blackmail'. So I really wanted this to be a pleasant surprise... But the acting is pretty mediocre and Scoggins doesn't even get to that level. The directing and lighting is pedestrian and flat. The script is a toned down version of Robert Leslie Bellem's original hard-boiled character and racy stories (but at least the dialogue and one-liners are not too modernized and still contain plenty of old school words).
At the same time tho, despite its obvious low budget, the producers and people responsible for the sets and props performed quite a bit of magic. They managed to come up with a decently convincing recreation of the mid to late 40s, which looks quite nice. And purposefully or not, this movie has an equally spunky and bubbly female cabby as those from 40s noirs 'The Big Sleep' and 'Two O'Clock Courage', esp the latter, who ends up playing a big part in the movie. The opening credits make it seem like this was meant as some sort of feeler/pilot for a potential TV movies series, but if so, that never materialized as this movie went straight to video. I can't say Singer makes for a convincing Dan Turner, but I also wouldn't've minded seeing more Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective movies. Not recommended but I still had some fun with it. 6/10
High Treason (1951)
Nicely done Cold War thriller
After a big explosion in the London Docks, Scotland Yard and MI5 join forces to find the ones responsible. Meanwhile the bombers, a group of communists, set their eyes on a much larger target, several power stations around the country, including London's Battersea power station. The group have enlisted a weakling shop seller as one of their helpers, but he slowly starts to crumble and fall apart. Meanwhile the investigators go over each lead and are slowly able to identify members of the group. But they don't know when the next attack will be or where.
A Cold War thriller that starts with a bang and ends with a big finale inside Battersea power station. By shifting the focus back and forth between the investigators and the Communist group (which is never mentioned directly, but strongly implied), including the moments where their paths cross, the movie maintains tension and suspense. The cast isn't too well-known but contains a ton of familiar British character actors, from the lead detectives, Liam Redmond ('Night of the Demon') and André Morell ('The Bridge on the River Kwai') to the leader of the group, John Bailey ('Never Let Go') to Geoffrey Keen (Sir Frederick Gray in half a dozen James Bond movies) and so on.
Directed and co-written by Roy Boulting, one half of the Boulting brothers ('Brighton Rock', 'Seven Days to Noon'), and with future acclaimed cinematographer Gilbert Taylor behind the camera ('Star Wars', 'Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb'), this movie is expertly made. It's got a nice pace to it, and by mixing interior studio sets and exterior on-location shots in London, as well as inside Battersea power station, the movie also looks pretty nice. It's not a classic by any means, but hard to go wrong with this one.
A killer book!
After a long day of sleuthing around, David 'Richard Diamond' Janssen goes back to his office to find 2 hoodlums waiting for him. They want 'the book', but Janssen has no idea what they mean, not even after some 'friendly' coercion. Janssen goes to their boss, Alan Reed, to convince him he doesn't have this 'book' that Reed wants. Reed doesn't believe him and gives him an ultimatum to produce the book or face the consequences...
This is a strong episode, that shows off what a great series this is. Janssen is solid as always, things move at a fast pace, and there's a tense and violent finale. There's some nice noir-ish lensing by DoP Carl E. Guthrie ('Caged', 'Hollywood Story'), and of course, as this is the 3rd season, the sexy Sam (Roxane Brooks at this point). Recommended!
The dark horse that came out of nowhere
David 'Richard Diamond' Janssen is asked by newspaper editor Russ Conway to protect Frances Mercer. She's running for mayor of the newspaper's hometown, her only competition being Larry Thor, a criminal who owns the town. Mercer doesn't like the idea of a bodyguard, and neither does Janssen, but once he's had a run-in with Thor's muscle, the knife-wielding Jack Elam, he decides to keep a low profile and keep an eye on Mercer from a distance. Unfortunately he can't prevent her from being kidnapped by Elam, and he has to roam the seedier side of town to find a lead.
A good and fast-moving episode that has a nice twist at the end. It is also aided by the lensing of expert noir cinematographer George Diskant ('On Dangerous Ground', 'The Narrow Margin'), and of course Janssen is a treat a watch. It's always nice to see Elam, even if the hazy print I saw of this episode, the second Elam steps into the frame you know it's him. Conway must've impressed the producers here, as he became a regular on the last 2 seasons of this show (playing a police lieutenant). Mercer is decent, but is sadly underused a bit. Still, overall another solid episode.
The Golden Gate Murders (1979)
A pleasant surprise
When a priest falls to his death from San Fransisco's Golden gate bridge, it is ruled a suicide. But nun, and close friend, Susannah York doesn't believe it. Crusty police detective David Janssen gets assigned to her, to get her off the police department's back. He can't convince her of the suicide, so they start a routine investigation. He also starts to get suspicious, and as they are digging they uncover a potential serial killer, as well as feelings they each thought incapable of.
A made-for-TV thriller that wasn't given permission to shoot on the bridge itself. So cheap studio sets were used. But it doesn't really matter, David Janssen ('Richard Diamond, Private Detective', 'The Fugitive') and Susannah York ('They Shoot Horses, Don't They?') are great and have excellent chemistry. This was one of Janssen's last movies, he died soon after this movie was released, but he's great, he basically plays an older, more worldweary version of his iconic Richard Diamond character, only this time the one-liners are more cynical and blunter. And watch out for a cameo by Dirty Harry dressed up as a cat :)
Director Walter Grauman ('The Untouchables') and DoP Jack Swain ('Cannon') were TV veterans and it shows. There's nothing spectacular about the movie's directing or looks, but it's professional and effective, and because of having to use sets for the Golden Gate bridge, they turn it into a bit of an advantage by accentuating the claustrophobic, eerie qualities of a bridge covered in fog. The climax is brief but satisfactory, however the epilogue is overly sugary. All in all tho, I was pleasantly surprised. Recommended.
One of the lesser episodes
Business man Vaughn Taylor has had one too many near-accidents for his wife Catherine McLeod, who believes one of the other board members of his company, all relatives of Taylor, is after his share. She hires David 'Diamond' Janssen to protect her husband, without raising suspicion. Taylor's an avid chess player, so Janssen tries to use that as a means to stay close to Taylor. But Taylor's insights into the game of chess will prove to be Janssen's clue as to what is going on...
A slower and less flashy episode of this otherwise snappy series. Maybe it's because the characters Janssen's surrounded by for this episode that he left his witty one-liners at home, but somehow this one doesn't really sparkle like some of the others. The cast does a decent job tho, but the atypical, almost formal atmosphere (despite some, failed, attempts at comedy by Lawrence Dobkin as a friend of Janssen posing as an East-European chess master to keep Taylor out of harms way) and the way too surprising twist/reveal at the end, make this one of the lesser episodes of this otherwise standout series.
Fallen Angels: Red Wind (1995)
Danny Glover plays Philip Marlowe, who is sipping a beer in a cafe when someone walks in asking a bout a lady, and promptly gets shot by another guy in the cafe. Glover finds the lady, Kelly Lynch, across the street. When she saves his life from the killer, he decides to help her out, as she claims she's caught up in a blackmail scheme involving her cheating husband Ron Rifkin.
Based on a short story by Raymond Chandler, Danny Glover feels miscast as the iconic PI Marlowe. He does his best by nearly whispering in a husky voice all the time, but he's more tired than world-weary. The same thing goes for Kelly Lynch, who is far too demure and bland in her portrayal. On the flip-side, Dan Hedaya does a nice job as a mean-spirited and racist detective, who has a Latino partner who despises him, Miguel Sandoval, who also does well. The episode has a nice look to it, very dusty and windy (because of the Santa Ana, the 'red wind'), with an appropriate muted reddish color grading. It's not a great episode, but upon second viewing, I enjoyed it a bit more.
Solid as usual
David 'Richard Diamond' Janssen finds himself hired by Harry Harvey, the manager of up & coming singer Jack Cassidy, to protect him. He's being extorted by Damian O'Flynn, and Harvey wants to make sure nothing happens to Cassidy. But when someone lures Cassidy into an abandoned alley and takes a shot at him, killing Harvey instead, Janssen realizes it might not be O'Flynn he and Cassidy have to fear.
Another crackerjack episode directed by future Dirty Harry movie 'Magnum Force' director Ted Post. It has some great hard-boiled narration and one-liners, and sees Janssen trade quips about hamburgers with a femme fatale, whom he ends up telling to go choke on them! There's quite a bit of misdirection going on, but things are neatly wrapped up at the end of this fast-paced 25 minute episode. Richard Diamond saves the day once again. Always fun to watch this series!
Mechanic Mickey Rooney wants to take Jeanne Cagney out on a date, but he's broke and a buddy who owes him $20 won't pony up right away. So he borrows $20 from the garage's cash register and has some fun with Cagney. All is well, until the next day when his buddy's out on sea and the garage's accountant comes in a few days early... Rooney buys a watch on an installment plan and hocks it straight away to put the $20 back. Wrong move, as that is against the law. Either he pays for the watch the next day, or else... And that is only the start of Rooney's nightmare, where each bad choice he makes is followed by a worse one...
Rooney ('The Strip', 'Drive A Crooked Road'), in one of his first more dramatic roles, does a good job here, aside from his schoolboy looks and his occasional voice-over narration which is spoken way too casual and doesn't fit the predicament he's in. Maybe he was still struggling to get out of his Andy Hardy straight-jacket? He gets great support tho from femme fatale Jeanne Cagney ('Don't Bother To Knock') whose only interest is an expensive mink coat she's been eyeing for some time. Peter Lorre ('The Maltese Falcon') plays a smaller, but important, part as the shady owner of a crummy arcade hall, where Cagney once worked. He is a treat to watch as usual.
Competently directed by Irving Pichel ('They Won't Believe Me'), it's the story by Robert Smith ('Sudden Fear') and the great shadow-rich cinematography by Lionel Lindon ('The Manchurian Candidate') that firmly push this movie into noir territories, also helped by the majority of the movie taking place during night-time. The scenes inside Lorre's arcade especially are worth the price of admission. All in all, it's a good B-noir that pushes all the right buttons, except for those really awkward voice-overs...
Gitaa o motta wataridori (1959)
Nice start to a 9-movie series
Akira Kobayashi is a drifter, 'carrying his guitar with no destination in mind' as the opening song proclaims. He ends up in Hakodate where his brawling skills get him the attention of local mob boss Ruriko Asaoka, who hires him as an enforcer. Asaoka wants to build an amusement park, but the house of his sister stands in the way, and she refuses to sell. Her no-good husband has a big debt with Asaoka however, and Kobayashi is tasked with getting them to sell the house to even the debt. But when Jô Shisido, henchman of a competitor, comes into town asking Asaoka for a favor that requires him to use the boat of Asaoka's sister, and recalls seeing Kobayashi somewhere, he has to tread carefully.
This was the first of 9 movies about the 'wandering guitarist', all starring Kobayashi, and it's a good start (I've yet to see any of the others tho). The opening scene, as well as several others, has a distinct western feel to them (including a couple of pistol drawing duels between Kobayashi and Jo 'chipmunk' Shisido) even if it's taking place in late 50s Japan, and Kobayashi looking like a 50s rocker among the otherwise sharp-dressed men. It's always fun to see the charismatic Shisido in a villain-like role and while Kobayashi starts out fairly non-descript, he matches him in every respect as the movie progresses, creating an interesting character. The theme song, which was also sung by Kobayashi, is played throughout the movie and ends up sticking in your mind, I wonder if they used it in subsequent movies.
This isn't a masterpiece in any way, but director Buichi Satô and DoP Kuratarô Takamura keep things quite interesting. There are a lot of colorful outdoor scenes with wide angles, which look pretty good, and there's rarely a dull moment (altho the romantic angle between Kobayashi and Asaoka's daughter is rather lifeless). Quite enjoyable, enough so that I will try and find the rest of the series.
Live by Night (2016)
Bloody (and) awesome
Prohibition era Boston. Small-time Irish crook Ben Affleck doesn't want to get caught up in the territorial war between Irish gangster Robert Glenister and Italian gangster Remo Girone. But when he falls for Sienna Miller, an inside woman for one of his jobs, it's too late as she's also Glenister's mistress. When a robbery goes wrong and some cops end up dead, and Glenister gets the word about Miller and Affleck, it's only because of Affleck's dad, a police captain who knows everything about everyone in Boston, that Affleck ends up doing some hard time in prison rather than go to the chair or get killed by Glenister. But Miller's dead and when Affleck gets out again, he wants revenge and turns to Girone. Girone sets Affleck up in Florida where Glenister's been moving in on his liquor business. Affleck does well there and manages to take over most of Glenister's business. But Florida isn't just run by gangsters, it's also run by the KKK...
Bloody awesome! If you enjoy the 30s and 40s gangster movies starring James Cagney and Lawrence Tierney (Affleck looks so much like him at times, I am convinced he based his physical demeanor in this movie on him), this movie will bring a smile to your face. While Affleck's character is never quite as ruthless or cold as Cagney's and Tierney's trademark roles, he definitely embodies that same kinda spirit. The movie also touches upon the more political/racial/religious aspects of the era, such as where police captain Chris Cooper tells Affleck he will turn a blind eye as long as he keeps his business to the bad (read: non-white) part of town (and of course there's the KKK as already mentioned above).
While Affleck is far from the greatest actor ever, he seems very aware of his limitations and makes them work to his advantage here. It also helps that he's supported by an excellent cast. And the movie looks absolutely stunning with some great sets and set pieces, and tons of beautiful 20s/30s cars (including a great car chase in and around Boston). Affleck, who also directed this movie, and DoP Richard Richardson, as well as the set & art directors, give this movie a great and authentic look, which by itself is worth the price of admission.
If there's a negative to this movie, it's that Affleck (also the screenplay writer!) wants to bring too much of Dennis Lehane's source novel to the table. Because of the sheer amount of plot lines some get a bit lost in the shuffle and not given too much attention (I also left out some rather important ones in this review, hah). I assume that similar to his 2010 movie 'The Town' his original cut is way longer than the current 2h9m runtime tho, so hopefully at some point a 'director's cut' of 'Live By Night' sees the light of day. For me however, the 2 hours flew by, and I was on the edge of my seat from the first second to the last. I can't recommend this movie enough, and I am even considering seeing it again in the cinema. Let me say it again: Blood awesome!
A sleuthing Kane
A retired major is living in a boarding house where he spends his time tending to his aquariums and boasting about a hidden box, that can only be unlocked by a key he carries on his body When he's found shot in the head and with the window glass shattered, boarding house owner Una O'Connor turns to old friend William 'Martin Kane' Gargan. Police captain Walter Greaza thinks he found a lead when a shotgun is found, pointing towards the boarding house. But Gargan doesn't think it's that easy when he finds a shard of glass underneath the major's sofa. He decides to create a ruse to smoke out the real killer.
This one's not too bad, it's a decent episode that has a bit of a 30s mystery movie feel to it. Kane has to be a bit more of a sleuth here, which fits Gargan pretty well (this episode would feel silly had my favorite Kane, the more energetic and rough-and-tumble Mark Stevens, tried to solve it). Gargan ('Night Editor') had already played Kane on the radio show, and was a decent B-actor, so he was an easy pick as the first TV Kane. His Kane always seemed more interested in his tobacco than in his cases tho, hah... Not too surprising, this show was heavily sponsored by a tobacco firm, and in almost every episode there is a ton of product placement, and a visit to the local tobacco shop, owned by Walter Kinsella. If you manage to look past it tho, this series is often entertaining and each Kane actor brought a little variation to the character.