Posted in Tale As Old As Time

Detour (1945)

In a small roadside diner, Al Roberts (Tom Neal) sits at the counter drinking his coffee. His dishevelled state tells us he’s in no hurry to leave the place but the kind of guy who also doesn’t want to sit around for a chat. A fellow customer at the diner puts a dime into the jukebox, playing some worthy jazz which makes Al snap. “That tune!” His face suddenly wore a look from bad to worse, as it reminds him of something he’d rather forget. Following him around, beating him up inside, we take a hitchhiking trip down memory lane through the eyes of Al.

In a smoke screen clouded room of entertainment, the people gather to watch Sue Harvey (Claudia Drake) and Al Roberts play their musical number –I can’t believe that you’re in love with me. It was a sure kickstarter by popular demand, and Sue was always selling it too. Granted, there was only so much joy a guy could muster up on stage, when deep down they hated the working hours of playing the same old tunes in a cheap night club, though Al figured having Sue around made working there a little like Heaven.

Things were sombre and after working hours, the pair without much appetite, take a stroll down home where Sue informs Al that “I wanna try my luck in Hollywood”, and so with a quick peck goodbye, it came to be that the music had died that night in Al’s heart. His fingers continued to play the miserable hours of the honky- tonk tunes without his sweetheart, as his face played a tune of a different kind. It earned him ten bucks which didn’t excite him all that much, “a piece of paper crawling with germs”. He decided he was going to change his course and with a phonecall to Sue, he was ready to take a plane, bus, train..heck a magic carpet ride! you name it, if it meant he could get out of border and marry his gal.

Desperate times called for desperate measures for a man who had very little to lose, but ends up with his life at stake when he decides to give nod to a hitch out of Arizona. An incident occurs which puts him at haste to leave a crime scene, at the very hands of a detour to Calfornia. A little nap time later, it turns out to be more of a bumpy ride when Al picks up the mysterious hitchhiker- Vera (Anne savage). A young woman who has the sharpest tongue that could cut a man’s dignity in half. There’s alot Vera knew and alot she could do, as her blackmailing abuse set ablaze Al’s sanity of being a ‘cheap crook’ and she often reminded him that any funny buisness meant ” you’ll pop into jail so fast, it’ll give you the bends”.

I sure know how to pick em..

It’s hard to believe that Edgar G.Ulmer had directed this movie within a very short space of time ; an interview stating he had shot it in six days with quite a low budget. The cast was unfamiliar though remarkably well portrayed, and flaws could be later analysed with technicalities, but it proved to become something special. With a sharp, bold dialogue, the script took hold of power to become worthy of more than just a B movie to date.

It’s narrated in the way I like to read my hardboiled noir, well paced and well versed, emboding the thriller and mystery, wrapped up in a well executed murder. It lives on to see a broken man walk a hot mile without much money. “It’s the stuff you never have enough of..little green things with George Washington’s picture that men slave for..commit crimes for..die for”, not knowing what the squeal of a brake could have in store for him.

Directed by : Edgar G. Ulmer

Screenplay Written by : Martin Goldsmith – Adapted from his novel Detour: An Extraordinary Tale (1939)

Starring : Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake, Edmund MacDonald

Music composed by : Leo Erdody

Posted in Books

A Writer Reads Into : The A.B.C. Murders (1936) By Agatha Christie

MR. Hercule Poirot – You fancy yourself don’t you, at solving mysteries that are too difficult for our poor, thick headed British police? Let us see Mr clever Poirot, just how clever you can be. Perhaps you’ll find this nut too hard to crack. Look out for Andover on the 21st of the month.

Yours, A.B.C

This was the first of many letters from a killer, to be marked to the now retired detective- Hercule Poirot. Was this the work of a madman, a stupid hoax? The police certainly seemed to think it a joke. There were no fingerprints on the letter, no clues to our possible killer but a place in Andover there was. So it should be that a telephone call informed Poirot, that a woman by the name of Ascher at such a place was found to be murdered. With the only workings of Poirot’s little grey cells amongst the crowd, accompanied by his good friend- Arthur Hastings, they went in seach of a murder.

Mrs. Ascher worked in a shop where a heavy blow to the back of the head presumably caused her death. Her blubbering of a husband – Franz Ascher, protested “I didn’t kill her”! While Poirot investigates his surroundings, an inspector informs him that a railway guide was left open (at the letter A), and faced down ontop of the counter at the crime scene. It seemed as though someone had been searching trains going through Andover. Poirots little grey cells brightened up. Why, It was an ABC railway guide. One of many that were left on each victim, as the killers trademark of sorts, implying “come find me if you can”.

Narrated in the accounts seen through Hastings eyes, often shifting to third person, the journey of such a murder mystery, marks a challenging and highly intrguing read of a madman, who prides himself in his anonymous kills. As Poirot would see him fit, a man “who is at great needs to express his personality”. ABC was a challenging match to Poirots own detective solving abilities. One that would see him in dangerous territories against the clock.

A most enthralling novel full of suspense, clever wit and a whole lot of drama, written with sheer passion that Agatha Christie, (the queen of crime) knew best, how to create in her intelligence. It portrays a great deal of charm through each character we get to meet, some displaying more boldness than others, as one mademoiselle recalls a character as “ an unmitigated little ass”! Equally, Hastings amusingly points out “Poirot you have dyed your hair!..I suppose next time I shall find you wearing a false moustache, or are you doing that now? ” This ongoing goodwill humour is present in the exchange of two dear friends which make Agatha’s novels all the more captivating.

From one of my favourite authors, comes one of my favourite stories amongst the many exciting reads that she had created in her novels, for the killer conveys an interesting form of sending letters, a sinister string of murders in alphabetical order, all the while, taunting Poirots genius and the readers in a beautiful, classic but unconventional ‘whodunnit’ mystery, wrapped up with another letter in another crime, all the way to Z end.

Credit: Book cover illustration by Roshsan Takhar

Posted in Writing

See you On the Other Side..2018

The year of 2017 like any, has been an eventful one through the trials, tribulations and uplifting moments that mark the ending of another year. In remembrance to some of the people I can recall, such as Sir Tony Atkinson, Om Puri, Sir John Hurt, David Cassidy, Bruce Forsyth, Chester Bennington, Peter Sallis, Sir Roger Moore, Chris Cornell, Bill Paxton, Tom Petty, Chuck Berry, Adam West, George A. Romero, Tobe Hooper, Jon Henseasons and many others, who have given us some great moments onscreen aswell as lending their voices to our ears, who are gone but never forgotten, may you rest in a place ‘up there’ they call peace.

It has been a very difficult journey and still is through being so unwell, so naturally keeping up with current entertainment isn’t quite my forte, and naturally, it would seem my time is spent being stuck in the pages of the past with viewings and certain readings, nevertheless I have been able to see a few things over this current year, some more favourable than others, so here I present you with some of my 2017 most loved entertainment.

Directed and Written by : Darren Aronofsky

Starring : Jennifier Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, Michelle Pfeiffer

Mother opens with a spectuacular vision of a burning house being restored, painting the picture of a chilling tale to take place. Referring to the characters by Mother and Him, it centers around a couple in their ever so enormous home which soon becomes a chaotic place when strangers, who are seemingly connected in a very unusual manner, begin to evade their home. If you have ever felt annoyed at uninvited guests, than this crowd will begin to make you feel very, very uncomfortable.

It is like watching a bizzare nightmare unfold with the strong biblical themes underlying the eloquence portrayed in very disturbing events. The cast do a wonderful job in their surreal environment and one i like to call ‘the marmite effect’, because it is so pyschologically troubling that some will like it as others will not.

Underneath the trauma it is quite a vision to behold when one peels away the layers of confusion. From the visionary mind of Aronofsky who directed other spectaculars such as Requiem for a Dream (2000) and Black Swan ( 2010), do you realise that ‘seeing is believing’ in his peculiar reality. Be careful, your beating hearts have been warned.

Directed by : Doug Liman

Written by : Gary Spinelli

Starring: Tom Cruise, Sarah Wright, Domhnall Gleeson

American Made is based on the biographical crimes of Barry Seal ( an airline pilot who was working as a drug smuggler) appears in what Liman describes as ” a fun lie based on a true story “. Inspired by the stories of the real Barry Seal, Tom Cruise plays the part very well. His risky buisness days are far from over as the eccentric man who earns more than his load of cash, working like a mad man for both the CIA and a group of filthy Cartels, who you don’t want to end up as enemies. Least not to forget the DEA, hot on his flying tail to take him down for his drug smuggling courier job.

They say ‘aim high’ but Barry soars a little too high over his limits which follows a series of mishaps and hot trouble after trouble. Barry keeps his ‘friends’ close and his enemies closer which just might just serve you that wrong kind of justice. Akin to the cinematography of Wolf of Wall Street ( 2013) it’s a movie that rides high with subtle humour in between the chaotic seriousness of such arms dealing. Just don’t quit your day job over it.

2013 – present

Created and Written by : Steven Knight

Directed by : Tom Harper (series 1), Colm McCarthy (series 2 ) , Tim Mielants ( series 3) , David Caffrey (series 4)

Starring : Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, Tom Hardy, Helen McCrory

Original Network : BBC Two

‘ On a gathering storm comes a tall handsome man in a dusty black coat with a red right hand’, sings the tale of a highly distinguised- Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy) who knows that family means everything when you mess with the gang. He is the head hunter with the best knowledgeable business, liquored with crime under his belt, to try and salvage his actions in dire times and a lifelong time of hardship, all without having the noose around his neck for his dodgy ways.

It takes place in the bleak enviroment of England (notably Birmingham) 1919 After the first world war, where the notorious battle seems to see the men guns blazing and cutting each others throats until its going to be the last man standing. Aesthetically pleasing in a period of baker boy hats, suits, dresses and flapper hats, Steven Knight has created a spectacular crime driven script that goes beyond an ordinary gangster job to be had. It manages to capture history without dragging it six feet under boredom and the choice of Indie punk music works hand in hand with the visuals. The show kickstarted season 4 earlier this November with a fiery six episode and will see its return in 2019.

Attack on Titan ( 2013- present )

Directed by : Tetsuro Araki and Masashi Koizuka (Based on the original manga by Hajime Isayama)

Attack on Titan is a very unique and thrilling journey to set your eyes on. A city divided by enormous walls sees a vast of Titans (creatures that bear their naked flesh for the viewing ) who have an appetite for humans. The protaganist Eren Yeager and his childhood friends – Mikasa and Armin join the special military forces to fight against such creatures. What and who they are, are answered as the truth unravels at the hands of season two, that aired on April. With a detailed account of weaponary and striking combact movements that show no fear of bloodshed, it is a series i have really enjoyed viewing as the story is what really drives the visuals at heart. Season three is set to premiere next year.

Directed and Written by : Bong Joon – ho ( co written with Jon Ronson )

Starring : Ahn Seo – hyun, Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano

Netflix brought my attention to Okja which served as a rare and delightful treat not one i ever considered for the eating. It is a visionary tale that goes beyond liberation for an Anmals right. Lucy Mirando (Tilda) plays the eccentric and amusing enviromentalist, whos company has been experimenting with a special kind of pig breed, for a bizzare cure in world hunger without the Nasty GMO. (or so she says). Hail the glory super pig mutants that are produced. She tells her audience that ” they leave a minimal footprint on the environment, consume less feed, less excretions and most importantly..they need to taste fucking good !”

These are then distributed to different locations across the world in which one is chosen for a special kind of breeding. Our hearts are captured through the eyes of young Mija from South Korea who, with the help of her family bring up Okja who she bonds a strong attachment to. When Okja is taken away for’ taste testing’, Mija along with some activitists go on a wild adventure of a lifetime to save her companion. One that leaves you breathless.

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to those who have enjoyed reading my blog posts this year. With good fortune, i shall see you on the other side of 2018.

Posted in Tale As Old As Time

This Gun for Hire (1942)

It’s 2pm as Philip Raven (Alan Ladd) awakens to the ringing of the alarm clock in the dusky afternoon of San Francisco.  He’s still wearing the smell of his suit to bed as he takes an envelope for an Albert Baker at hand that has a paperclip note attached to it, indicating he’ll be home alone between three and four pm. Swiftly, he puts the gun into his wallet bag and puts on his hat. 

It’s gonna be just you and me baby

The cleaning maid has come to sweep his apartment, only to find a stray cat eating some cat food beside the window. She tries to scare it away but barely moments pass before Raven grabs her arm, accidentally causing a tear at the shoulders, her sharp annoyance adding to getting a slap across her face. Upon leaving in a hurry she cries “ Look at my dress.. You ought to buy me a new one… Cheapskate! “

The mid afternoon trip becomes a short but successful one, though not without  some of its hiccups along the way because “they said he’d be alone” nonetheless, Raven seems to be good at the one hit wonders and now he was drinking coffee with his employer – Willard Gates (Laird Cregar) who anxiously hands over Ravens cut of the money in exchange for some secret formulated paper, anxiously telling him ” if the bills were bad, you couldn’t very well complain to the police, could you?”  

Ravens face doesn’t twitch a bit, the sort of face that doesn’t feel so threatened, reminding Gates that he is his own police. Toying  his little sharp knife in both hands, he assures him that “first I’d find out who you’re stoogin for..then i’d whittle off a little off that blubber “, making Gates mouthfuls of Sundae seemingly deflate, as he bids Raven farewell and rushes out the diner.

Willard Gates, the big man with a coward heart heads off to the safety of the police explaining that his Nitro Chemical Firm has been robbed by the same marked bills he had earlier given Raven. With no face to the name, it was going to be a game of ‘spot that seriel number ‘. A pompous trade he makes with the officers, offering them a reward for him- dead or alive.

Meanwhile, over at Fletcher Theatrical Agency Auditions, there’s a certain kind of charm that is ‘audience proof’, in the colour of blond locks and in the beauty of  Ellen Graham, (Veronica Lake) who dazzels her audience in a sparkling dress, singing her way through a magic number and suddenly ‘presto, chango, fiddle dee- dee’, Ellens charm seems to have worked its trick on Gates, who hires her to work in his Neptune Club which would give her bigger balls to juggle, as she is discretely informed by the Senator that Gates “has been seeing men that are suspected of being foreign agents. Yet our investigators can’t turn up anything, and that’s where you come in”. 

Ellen keeps her composure and with a mid air kiss farewell to her copper boyfriend -Michael Crane ( Robert Preston), makes a lengthy trip to Los Angeles. The train rides slow and  steady but matters were going to get steamy, as who should coincidentally be aboard the train journey there but Gates, proceeded by Raven sat besides stranger Ellen who introduces himself as “i’m no pick Pocket” and tells her that his on his way to visit a fat man who likes his perppermints.

Hot on his trail, Raven has his work cut out for him  to find the bigger man behind those treats. A guy who’s landed him in hot money, armed with a look of vengenace that could surely kill a guy or two. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t trust anyone but takes a liking to cats because” their on their own. They don’t need anybody” . With a deadpan attitude  that serves his purpose through his guarded gun at all times, Ravens looking to fill up his end of the cup, but he was going to have to trust somebody more than his gut could handle if he was to bite the other end of the bullet. 

Directed by : Frank Tuttle ( Based on the novel A Gun for Sale by Graham Greene )

Screenplay by : Albert Maltz, W.R. Burnett

Starring : Veronica Lake, Alan Ladd, Laird Cregar, Robert Preston and other greats

Music composed by : David Buttolph

Posted in Awards

The Growing Self Blogger Award

” Growth is uncomfortable because you’ve  never been here before, you’ve never been this version of you. So give yourself a little grace and breath through it”.  (Kristin Lohr)

The growing Self Blogger Award was created by Roda  ‘ to acknowledge and celebrate great individuals within the blogging community who are persevering through lifes challenges, not only to grow as individuals but to reach out and help others grow aswell’. 

Though I haven’t had the pleasure of coming across  Roda in the blogging world before, nor knowing about such an award, I admire the idea and it is a lovely way to show the much deserved gratitude most people here should shine with. I’ve spent time away due to poor health and behold upon my return, I was presented this award by the ever so kind- hearted Michel who’s honoury moved me. 

It was in this year of January that a small time blogger (moi) had only started to get to grasp of writing up a few posts. With three followers for a short while but  she was grateful anyone was even reading her work. Little did she know another blogging companion  from across the sea, was there to greet her with virtual warmth and turn out to be a genuine friend for life if I may say so. And the rest follows. It’s not often that those who followed the start of your journey, will always remain to do so for whatever reasons that may be, however Michel has been very supportive from the beginning and he has remained the same witful and selfless giving person I’ve come to admire. 

He is a very caring person and does his best to let others know he is there despite any situations that he has to deal with. His mighty impressive blog ranges from tv shows, movie reviews and board games which in likeness are mustered up with great humour. Our fondness for Korean movies and Anime was what brought my attention to his site and his dedication to each follower is evidently shown with sheer kindness. Thank you very much Michel for being a great friend.

The rules state to nominate five people which gets a little uncomfortable as I wish to thank everyone if I could, though keeping within the rules,  here’s the little awwkard moi not wanting to put pressure on anyone to share this ‘tag’ as i know not everyone will want to do as I myself do not usually participate in awards much but I have always been very grateful.

This is more of a thank you to some of those amazing people who I’m proud to call a dear friend for their months of support on my site which is soon to become a year. I am currently going through a difficult time but It’s the uplifiting support from everyone and anyone who has ever considered my writing worthy to read, a great joy for me in the dark aspects of life, as this is my way of showing you my admiration for my passion in life.  I am not someone who finds it easy to follow a large crowd and would rather follow my heart with sincerity, if i knew i could add ‘my two cents’ to a comment. I am just a vintage loving Madame in between the midst who is very grateful and honoured to be amongst such friends and people who sincerely care.

In no particular order, my thank you goes to : It’s been six months or so that I’ve come to know Petes musings from a very pretty place in Norfolk. His A-Z movie trivia was the start of such a growth in friendship and since then, I am grateful to be part of such a loving community where his fellow followers put foward in writing. Pete is always supportive and his kindness shines through with the utmost sincerity. Him and his wife have been involved in various charitable events, and Pete himself does alot for the community which is quite thoughtful. His appreciation for other bloggers are evident in his Guest Posts in between his Thoughts on a Sunday. I’ve known Alex since April and since then we have both discovered quite alot in common for  our taste in  movies, Art and Literature. He has become a great friend who is always kind to my writing aswell as to me and let’s me know to keep my head held high when my self dlubts creep in. On his own vibrant site, you’ll find him always engaging with others, notably his interesting ‘can you guess the movie’ quizzes which I always enjoy and moreso capturing our imagination through the lenses on his magnificent trips throughout London and other locations where most of us would only dream of seeing. Pradita is a very charming lady who has alot of love to give, and too rightly should in return be shown. She has always been so wonderful to me. She dedicates alot of her spare time writing for various articles, aswell as showcasing other peoples hardships to recognise what we all go through and keep our souls motivated. She’s the lady keeping up her storytelling in a moving way. Some will may you cry, others will make you laugh and most of all be in awe of her wonderful writing. One thing is evidently clear with Paul. He’s got the sweet spots for Pfeiffer films and Meg Ryan Movies and quite rightly so as they are two charming ladies who are the epitome of romance. Pauls knowledge of them are done in a very tasteful manner. A blog that engages readers into the screwball comedy years of glamour and charm. Behind the romance, Paul is a loving friend who is always kind and supportive. When ‘Van Helsing’ isn’t parading the nights with his crossbow at hand (or his choice of weapon), he is known as the ingenious author and writer – Christopher, who i’ve had the pleasure of knowing for a few months now. His play on words through the worldy topics  are imaginative and creatively written which are always  entertaining to read and a joy in return to see what an exceptionally fine gentleman he is. His comments are always so witty, thoughful and inspiring which make me happy to read. 

A little extra thank you to those outside the rules (it’s not breaking them,  it’s ‘bending’ them you see..) 

Maddylovesherclassic, Vinnieh, Hermione, Mr Bobinsky, Auri, robbinsrealm and Paul raylaight who all have tremendous blogs that I’ve come to enjoy reading.

Aside from the limited number of people I could mention, and wanted, it should be said that I am highly grateful and appreciative of everyone who has come to know me a little better and enjoy what I have to write. I never expect much and I have always been humbled by  the continued followers and some along the way. You are the people who give me a reason to have that courage to keep writing on such a platform and here’s to another year, quite soon of a growing friendship.

Posted in Tale As Old As Time

The Dark Corner (1946)

On the streets of New York on Third Avenue, stands Lieutenant Frank Reeves ( Reed Hadley) looking up at the freshly painted sign of Bradford Gult Private Investigator. He walks up the stairs to the office to be greeted by a charming looking blonde by the name of Kathleen ( Lucille Ball) who informs Reeves that ” I don’t know anything. You couldn’t find out by asking Mr Galt”.  

A moments later, In walks Bradford Gult ( Mark Stevens)  and the two talk in his office hoping Reeves would sure mind his own buisness. Reeves informs him that ” I’ve taken a personal interest in you. I promised my friends in California to see you didn’t get into’re an impulsive youth you know”. With a harsh swipe off his wooden desk, Galt strikes a cigarette angrily asking for a fair chance at the legitimate buisness. ” I’m playing this by the book”.  A book that was soon going to be  filled with deceit and murder, come back to fill in the blanks from his chequered past.

As the working hours come to a close, Galt offers up an invitation to Kathleen to have dinner with him. A little evening stroll around an amusement park seems quaint enough as the two play their hands at a few games, though Kathleens admiration for Galt is evidently shown as she is a lady who doesn’t just play for scores but ” i play for keeps”. 

It’s not even close to half time when play time seems to be hastily over when they notice a guy in a white suit following them. “yeah i know..about five foot ten, brown hair, sport’s shoes. Ring on his left pinkie”.  Talk about ruining a ‘first date'(!)

The pair devise a plan and Kathleen makes her way in a cab parked on a corner of the office out of sight, whilst Galt makes his way down an alleyway, armed with his ‘pepper pot’ ( that’s a gun to the likes of you and I) and waits for a one on one face off with the anonymous stalker who goes by the name of Fred Foss ( William Bendix) , or so were told.

With the shutters down in his office, Mr Fred Foss tastes the bitter side of interrogation from Galt,  as he realises playing twenty questions wasn’t going to run so smootly if he just quit lying and “maybe i wont knock your teeth out”. A few tussels later, Foss chokes out that he was paid to tail him by a tall, fancy dresser who went by the name of Anthony Jardine ( Kurt Kreuger)  and hurries off in his dishevelled state before his suit could any more dirtier than his face.

It’s not long before Kathleen makes her way back to the office to greet Galt, mockingly suggesting that he hire William Powell as his secretary, ” He’s a detective in the Thin Man”. A sneaky yet lovely tribute to pay to an equally brilliant movie. 

It is at that very moment, all their coyful tongue in cheek flirtations are sealed with a brief but passionate kiss, opening up the steel safe that Kathleen likes to think guards his heart. She is a woman that  has the stardust look in her eyes that reads “i like those odds and I’ll take them”,  all the while showcasing her spunk hearted ways that make her fit for more than answering a few phone calls. She just well may be his blowtorch. 

” Darling, don’t ever let them know you can mix buisness with pleasure”

Meanwhile across the fancy ballroom, resides Hardy Cathcart ( Clifton Webb) and his much younger wife Mari ( Cathy Downs), who would much rather tango with someone else besides her diamonds. A man who prides himself on his wealthy goods and displaying an amusing caricature of presenting himself as the couple of ‘beauty and the beast’ and making his snobbish  remarks of ” how i detest the dawn. The grass always looks like it’s been left out all night”. 

A mystery unravelling in the hands of a private eye, Galt slowly shows his vunrebility to the one woman he can truly put his trust into if he wants to make it alive and find out who’s out to get him and who’s playing murder.  In  the footsteps of the quintessential Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe, Galt shows he too can cook up a hardboiled story with the small clues he picks up along the way to find out the truth. A classy, thrilling mystery noir that tries to hit a guy right where he lived, as Galt learns it’s awfully dangerous to live in the corner pocket alone.

Directed by : Henry Hathaway (Based on a story in Good Housekeeping by Leo Rosten)

Screenplay by : Bernard C, Schoenfeld, Jay Draftler

Starring : Mark Stevens, Lucille Ball, William Bendix, Kurt Kreuger, Clifton Webb and other greats

Music by : Cyril J. Mockridge, Emil Newman

Posted in Writing

Hide and Creep 

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble. Fire Burn and Couldron Bubble”  – William Shakespeare

As the month gets chilly and the autumn leaves marry into browns and orange, this is also the time darkness likes to prowl in the shadows, waiting to play on Halloween. A somewhat festive 31st that sees many a children dress up in their spooky costumes , while some parents would best avoid turning on their lights at the door. It’s that time of year when you just want to wrap yourself warm in a blanket and never leave its comfort. 

A warm coffee or tea, and if you wanted something fancy, perhaps a cup of Pumpkin spiced latte. ( I hear it’s quite the trend). Whatever your pick, it is a time when you may scare yourself bloody with your horror treats that trick your mind endlessly, making you jump unnecessarily, not wanting to switch on that corridor light. Not one to posess such trickery, I’ve included a few of my spooky but not overly (quite rarely gory) movie choices that may crawl into your skin for a delightful treat. 

‘It’s beginning to look alot like Murder’…

Directed by : Bob Clark / Written by : A. Roy Moore

Black Christmas (1974) is anything but a festive cheer.  When a group of girls, living in a sorority house are trying to get into the christmas spirit, there’s only one person who has a sack full of murder to bring them. The start of the movie is shot in first person view of the killer watching the house, climbing up the side, and into their attic, waiting to make his move. ​Notably his disturbing phone calls are both so errie and put fear into your heart for the grunts and bizzare noises that come out of those speakers, before hanging up calmly stating ‘ i’m going to kill you’.  A vulgar foul mouthed man who the girls  refer to as ‘The Moaner’. ​A cult classic that has the vibe of Pyscho. 

The script and cast work so well and I love this movie moreso for being more than a typical slasher movie. It was ahead of it’s time with the added humour , notably Barb ( Margaret Kidder) telling the killer on the phone to “find a wall socket and stick your tongue in it. That’ll give you a charge”. makes this such an entertaining watch without the unnecessary guts of gore or jump scares. The jingles may bell but murder sure smells. 

‘ My name is Angela and they’re going to kill me’…

Directed and Written by : Alejandro Amenabar / also written with Mateo Gil

Tesis ( 1996) is where many assignments start; at a University. Angela hopes to write her work based on violence. She’s hoping to find raw material to express her writing, but Angela gets all the source she could hardly expect when she discovers some of the most violent video footage a school library should dare keep. 
A university student in one video who had gone missing and now Angela was going to be the star of the ‘snuff’ show.  A gracefully shot movie by Alenjandro Amenabar who knows how to create fear with silence as he did with his successful movie – The Others (2001). This is a movie that gets top marks.

Blood is thicker than Water…

Directed and Written by Kim Je – Woon (2003)

There’s nothing quite like a welcome home reunion which Su-Mi finds out after she is released from a mental instituion to return home in the countryside with her father, her sister Su- yeon and her stepmother Eun-Joo. With strange noises in the night and haunting visions, the girls turn to suspect their stepmother wants them dead or worse, though something quite isn’t right..A wonderful blend of real terror and disturbing visuals that play with the mind. A tale of twists and turns.

Mama knows best ( Image design by Chase Baltz)

Directed and co- written by : Andy Muschietti /also written with Neil Cross, Barbara Muschietti (2013)

They say ‘a mothers love is forever’ and a devotion like no other truly shows in the apparent form of an unknown figure. A ghostly woman who is rarely visible at start but makes her presence known.  When sisters- Victoria and Lily are taken into care by their uncle and his girlfriend, their house is never the same. The ghostly figure has followed the sisters home, because Mama never leaves her children behind. 

There is a distinctive scene which is errie yet so charming, where the screen is split to show the middle of the corridor. On one side is the uncles girlfriend doing some laundry, slowly walking towards the childrens bedroom, whilst the other half shows the children playing with their bedsheets whilst something is transparently holding up the other half. Getting past some of the unavoidable jumpscares, this movie  has a beautiful and gothic like charm that feels special to watch, much like the works of Guillermo del Toro who served as a producer in the movie. Mama is here to embrace you with her love. 

‘What went we out into this wilderness to find’?… ( image design by Kevin Tiernan )

Directed and Written by : Robert Eggers (2016)

A witch is said to spellbound your senses and this comes in the form of a certain curse that has washed over William and his family. Set in the 17th Century, the family are exiled from their community in clash of some religious views so thus they  build a home in a secluded forest living on the very few scraps of corn, bread and milk their farming skills may land them. 

They soon find that they are in a worse state than ever as they rely on a helping hand from above to answer their good prayers though even chanting may do you more harm than good. The atmosphere is unsettling and errie at all times which gives you the terror of seeing something that is unknown but heard. The little glimpses throughout the movie strike fear into your mind and the haunting melody is just as terryfying  as a witches screeching.  Forget the brooms, this type of witch is far more scary and she will catch you when your not looking and grind ye bones to make thy bread.

When did I leave that cupboard open.. ( Madame Vintage)

Posted in Tale As Old As Time

The Maltese Falcon (1941)

In an San Francisco office of Spade and Archer, sat the private eye Sam ( Humphrey Bogart) rolling up his cigarette when his secretary, Effie Perine (Lee Patrick) tells him that “a girl wants to see’ll want to see her anyway. She’s a knockout”.

In walks a brunette damsel dressed to kill, with a fur accessory draped over her shoulder. The new yorker -Ruth Wonderly ( Mary Astor) who anxiously wants to find her missing sister Corrine. She believes that “she’s with a man named Thursby. Floyd Thursby..i wrote in my letter that i’d be at the St. Mark hotel and for her to meet me there. I waited three days. She didn’t come. She didn’t even send a message. It was horrible. Waiting. Corrine didn’t call for her mail, but Floyd Thursby did”.

Their conversation is abruptly broken as Miles Archer enters the room. Sam fills him on the details as he smiles consistently at Miss Wonderly in delight, the sort of way a man does with the twinkling in his eyes.  He notes that maybe Sam saw her first but he spoke first.

With business at hand,  Ruth is quick to tell them that Floyd is “a dangerous man. I honestly don’t think he’d stop at anything”. So with a snap of a purse and some money in their hands, Sam and Miles reassure her that they’ll look into the disappearance. 

“Sweetheart, just show us the money and we’ll do your dirty laundry ..bra and all”

That night, on the streets of Bush and Stockton, a figure in the shadows is seen to be pointing a gun and shoots a certain someone stone cold. He was defenceless, startled unexpectadly, as the police had informed Sam that “his gun was still on his hip. Hadn’t been fired. His overcoat was buttoned”. 

Shortly after, a tired Sam just wants to go back to sipping his bourbon in bed, when the doorbell to his apartment rings. An early morning visit by the cops- Polhaus and Lieutenant Dundy make haste to interrogate Sam on his whereabouts during the time of the crime, implicated by another double murder and his suspicious discrepancy of keeping details of his client and case very hush hush. They assure him that if he was involved in the murder “youll get a square deal from me, but that won’t stop me from nailing ya”. 

At Coronet Apartment, Ruth Wonderly nervously states that she has a terrible confession to make. “That story i told you yesterday, was just..a story”. Sam Spade gleefully accepts that part of the truth atleast, as “we didn’t exactly believe your story Miss..”?  Turns out that Miss ‘Wonderly’ may not have acted so wonderful, as she is the Brigid  O’ Shaughnessy who has  enough money to pay off some lies. She wasn’t the same nervous, coy mistress that Sam had laid eyes on. No. She was nervous for a different reason. The reason a broad could be hiding something big and doesn’t want to land her pretty neck in jail for. 

Meanwhile Sam is also visited by a peculiar Joel Cairo ( Peter Lorre) who needs Sams help in “trying to recover, an ornament that, ah shall we say has been mislaid..the black figure of a questions will be asked”. A sly man who proves more trouble than he’d care for.

If Sam Spade thought he was hot on a trail, he would soon  find out more fuel would be added to the fire, as his assistant would remind him ” you think you know what you’re doing but you’re too slick for your own good”.  So slick that everyone seemed to be good at playing hide and not speak.

This is the brilliance of a Dashiell Hammett novel adaptation that marked the pathway for the classic noir of onscreen wonders that are filled with the rise of femme fatales and dirty detectives, so mysteriously captivating to read. It also paved the way for rising star – Humphrey Bogart to be recognised for more than a B- movie gangster, as he later succeeded roles in high ranking movies such as Casablanca and many other great classics. 

I  loved the novel and then I loved the movie for capturing the story so well with visuals that a hardboiled crime deserves. No doubt one of the ‘finest mystery writers’ there ever were. It surely comes as no surprise that his novel The Thin Man (1933) and many others should in turn, become positive screenplays.

Sam Spade is a smooth yet bitter wine who walks a thin line between sophistication and charm. He’s here to tell you that nobody makes a sap out of him. Evidently throwing a few hands at a guy “when you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it”! Double cross him and he won’t be afraid to cut you loose, as we see him deal with manipulation and deceit from a few of our cunning ‘friends’.

 With murder involved and everyone after a jewel encrusted falcon statue, someones wings are in need of clipping when they reach their downfall. It’s up to Sam Spade to use the right intuition to find out the hard boiled truth. The guy who doesn’t care about ‘who loves who’. The guy who may finally  close a case to say cheers for ‘success to crime’! After all, it’s  bad business to let the killer get away with it.

Directed by : John Huston (Based on the novel (1929)  by Dashiell Hammet )

Starring : Humphery Bogart, Mary Astor, Lee Patrick, Peter Lorre and other greats

Music by : Adolph Deutsch

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