Posted in Tale As Old As Time

Out Of The Past (1947)

 You can try to leave the past behind, but then it creeps up behind you when you least expect it. This certain trouble comes in the  form of “where’s Bailey”? as a man steps out of the car to ask a young boy changing a car tyre. With sheer arrogance he notes that the boy is “deaf and dumb eh” but indeed he is certainly smart enough to read lips.

The stranger heads over to Marney’s Cafe and sits at the counter, listening to a conversation between Marney and a gentleman about Jeff Bailey “going fishing every day with his girlfriend” .  He orders just coffee with cream whilst his appetite has “often wondered what happened to him..and one day i’m breezin ‘ through here and there’s his name up on a sign. ” It’s either a small world or in this case, a rather big sign.

Meanwhile Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) is seen to be romancing beside a lake with Ann Miller ( Virginia Huston) gazing at the sky, “they say the day you die, your name Is written on a cloud”. Jeff doesn’t seem to remember ‘they’, according to him he’s never heard of them. As they huddle under a tree, she tells him that the sky reminds her of all the places she’s never been, dually noting to Jeff that “you’ve been to many places haven’t you? “. “One too many”. 

The mysterious Jeff Bailey who the town love to gossip about and one who hardly strikes a reputable personality with the locals. The dreamers are soon interrupted by the mute Jimmy who signs that he must return to a stranger that just wants to see him.

At the gas station, Jeff finds the stranger standing before him. With a heavy heart he realises it’s Joe Stephanos, ( Paul Valentine) a crime -ridden investigator from his checkered past come to say “everyone sure missed you Jeff”, though not as much as Jeff would like to remember. Jeff’s former ex boss -Whit Sterling, made sure he was tracked down and decided to surprise him down memory lane. Word has it, the guy wants a meet up in Lake Tahoe. Who knows..maybe he’s got something nice for him.

In the hours of the night, Jeff hestitantly waits at the front gate of Ann’s house because he has a funny feeling her parents don’t take kindly to a man they know so little about. Too little in fact. As Ann hurries out the door like school was out,  her mother makes her thoughts about Jeff  loud and clear. He takes her on a road trip where he wants to tell her something, since he’d have to tell her sometime.  “Now the first thing i wanna get off my name isn’t Bailey. It’s Markham. Jeff Markham.

Flashback to about three years ago. “Wintertime, one of the coldest i remember in the town”. A group of men in a room that  spoke high volumes of  awkward shame amongest the cigarettes and drinks. Jeff worked with an oily gent named Jack Fisher. 

They were called to see a gambler who’s dame had taken four shots at him with his own. ” It amazes me how she missed so often”.  A somewhat kingpin operator by the name of Whit Sterling. ( Kirk Douglas). For a guy who was almost cold turkey, sure is a fella with alot of heart. She shot at him and ran off with $40,000, but the guy just wants her back. Why you ask? ” when you see her, you’ll understand”. Now Jeff had to go see about a dame by the names of Kathie Mofatt. (Jane Greer).

After playing catch up on some information on Kathie from a local mistress who worked for her, Jeffs detective senses came out to play. Sharper than a lemon shot in your tequila, he pieced together that ” you don’t get vaccinated for Florida, but you do for i followed her excess baggage to Mexico city.”

It was hot in Acapulco but Jeff was going to find out just how hot it could get. He followed her trail and waited at a little cafe called La Mar Azul. ” i sat there in the afternoons and drank beer”. All he had betweeen his half awake conscious and a beer between his hands, was the music from the movie theatre to keep him awake, “and then i saw her coming out of the sun..and i knew why Whit didn’t care about the $40,000 grand”.

You know..if you brought me a drink, I might have stayed..

A knockout in the shape of a white dress and a matching hat had walked in the place to kickstart his heart and he felt more alive than the heat could handle. His eyes were memesmired by the mysterious woman who was so impulsive in her actions, yet she was looking as innocently sweet as ever, as she sat herself down on that chair. Jeff had to make himself known. With pleasure senor.

From that day foward, Jeff got busy trying to get to know a pretty lady who seemed to play hard to get, and he was the seemingly ‘good guy gone rogue’. He figured Whit could wait a little longer. 

 Jeff would sit there and drink away the lonely summer nights at Pablo’s because he remembered she had said she sometimes goes there. “I know where I was and what I was doing. I just thought what a sucker I was”. Playing risky buisness with his heart, Jeff falls for Kathie who’s a dangerous flame for any man. 

A masterpiece of a movie also known as Build My Gallows High here in the U.K,  that captivates you from the very beginning. All the characters can be much loved  for being so good at being bad and it’s a classic noir movie that delves in my favourite kind of ‘whodunit’. Full of surprises and full of mysteries, it’s as cold as ice to be sipped in your burbon. 

They live a short uncertain life of happiness, but the plot thickens when things become much clearer in nature that unravels in “you dirty, double -crossing rat!”, betrayal and even murder that only a beautiful femme fatale could dress for, played by the charming Jane Greer. 

Forgetting to make that phonecall to Whit Sterling isn’t ideal because you just don’t quit and make him the fall guy, which catches  up to Jeff as a bigger problem than he could anticipate, and running away isn’t going to cut any loose ends of the past with a woman trying to escape her future. There’s always a rope that burns much slower.

Directed by : Jacques Tourneur, Based on the novel Build My Gallows High (1946) by Daniel Mainwaring

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, Kirk Douglas, Virginia Huston, Paul Valentine and others

Music by : Roy Webb             


Posted in Tale As Old As Time

White Heat (1949)

In broad daylight, in the High Sierra of the Californian border, Cody Jarrett and his men board a train, suspicously opening the carriage doors. They don their long coats, only for a pistol to shine through as they shoot their way past the people because the “conductor didn’t want to play” . zuckie was meant to ‘throw the switch’ at the train tracks, but gets scalded by the steam engine when a small tussel of a shootout forms at the main compartment hitting the mechanics. The men take off with $300,000 in federal currency,  leaving behind four dead.

Weeks go past, as Cody and his men, his wife Verna and Ma are couped up at a secluded cabin  like a bunch of gophers. Things are looking too cosy for comfort as the men realise they may get caught. As the men bicker amongest themselves about  their safety,  Cody staggers to the floor in pain from a migrane “that’s the second one he’s had this month”, while Big Ed shamefully notes that “he’s nuts, just like his old man”,as Ma ushers him into the bedroom. Behind closed doors she comforts his anxities in her lap, telling him not to show his weakness to his men in a manner of vulnerability and with a small token of devoted love, she toasts his whisky shot to the “top of the world son”.

In an attempt to disguise his former breakdown, Cody shows he’s alright, as he  emerges from the open doors to a storm coming. “Every roads gonna be blocked” said the guy on the radio. Tonight’s the night they all got packed up and hit the dirt roads of another unseen home , all except for Zuckie ofcourse, who’s bandaged body can scarcely cope and  would scare off the worst of mummies, as he is left to contemplate his fate guarded by a pack of cigarettes at hand.

Meanwhile at the police department, an informant by the name of Willie, decides to reel in some cash that he didn’t get to to have a taste of, as he treats the authorities with his disconcerning information ” you know just dropping a word in the right ear”..while all the technology the 1940s could muster up, with their spectograph scans from the debris at the scene, and the fingerprints from zuckie all lead to the crime scene of the heist, soon puzzeled together to point the finger to none other than the Cody Jarrett gang. 

On the other side of Los Angeles overlooking a motel, reside the gang. Verna admires her new mink coat in front of a mirror as she stands on a stool while Cody realises Ma is missing. ” she went to the market”, like strawberries don’t you..well she just had to get some for her boy”. A frantic and rather irritated Cody kicks Verna off the stool as she stumbles onto the bed in disgrace.

At the market, Ma is seen to be strawberry shopping as she wants to stock up on those vitamin c for her son, while an agent is shown to have followed her. A quick call to the authorities and the other men in grey are hot on her trail, as they follow her lead through the men at point A, point B and point C to track her every moves because ‘where Ma goes, Cody goes’.

Somebody must’ve tipped them off thinks Cody, as Ma is soon back in a hurry to inform him of her chase. Once more they rush to pack up their belongings to make their getaway as an annoyed Verna doesn’t understand “what’s the use of havin money if you gotta start runnin every time somebody sees a shadow”, before being pushed into the car at top speed.

It is at a movie screening where their parked vehicle stays put, that Cody comes up with a cunning plan, to give himself up  but avoid the gas chamber for his murders by faking to be at another heist that had taken place on the same day, thus serving him a maximum of two years at most.  A henious plan only his ‘sweet mother’ would support. ” you’re the smartest there is Cody”. 

As Cody begins his two year sentence at Prison, he is met by some interesting characters and without Ma at his guidance, Cody is about to learn how much crime pays, no matter how good a bad guy you play. There’s a rat in the pact, people want him dead and that’s just the start of his worries on the inside, as on the outside, things are shaping up to be pretty hasty, for Big Ed has gotten some rather big ideas about who’s the big shot around these parts of the town. 

Someone’s been at my bread again..

Cody Jarrett is at full steam, a criminal with psychopathic tendencies. He has his consistent outbursts throughout the movie where he disregards the life of others that surround him, as noted by Verna that “ he ain’t human”. An unstable man who holds his pistol at any given gunpoint without much clarity, as though he was a gentleman going for a picnic. 

With the litte display of affection he does show is given strongly to his mother that reflects the strange, somewhat oedipus complex relationship Norman Bates had with his own mother, whilst the other half lingers on  his wife Verna who will stick around for the most part of the fun  for her worth in fur coats.

Everybody sees the weakness in Cody’s mental state as it’s cut wide open as a sore wound that takes too long to heal. It is plastered only by his motivation from his mother to keep going in life ” when you’re around ma, nothing can stop me”, as any given moment it seems Cody will tear at the seams.

Notably at a scene at the office, the agents converse in the very fact that ” the only person he’s ever cared about or trusted is his mother, no one else has ever made a dent. Not even his wife”.  His mother resemblems the ‘puppet master’ that holds him up from his downfall. Taking into consideration that perhaps singing some of his mothers good old lullabies would be enough to outsmart Cody Jarrett. 

Cody is determined to slip out rather than slip off from Prison and with only a handful of those who he thinks he can seemingly trust is something he needs to bite the bullet for. With one trying to offer you a friendly handshake, the other may just stab you in the back. An adrenaline -fuelled crime thriller that’ll have you screaming ‘Ma i made it’ to the Top of the World!

Directed by : Raoul Walsh

Story by : Virginia Kellogg

Starring: James Carney, Virginia Mayo, Edward O’ Brien and others

Music by : Max Steiner