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”.
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
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.
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
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 mischief..you’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.
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
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 you..you’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.
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 “you‘ll 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 bird..no 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
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 chest..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 Mexico..so 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
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”,..you 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.
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
It’s late at night as a car frantically drives through the darkness, going past the stop sign and nearly having a collision with another driver. A man who is in a hurry to turn up at his workplace in downtown Los Angeles. It stops at a halt outside of The Pacific All Risk Insurance Company. A tall guy steps out of the car donning a fedora and a long coat.
A man greets him at the entrance ” why hello there, Mr. Neff..working pretty late aren’t you..you look kind of all in, at that.” Mr. Neff doesn’t say much expect that he would rather get to his office than make small talk with a guy who can’t get life insurance because there’s something loose in his heart.
Up at the office, Walter Neff sits in the darkness of the room and slowly lights up a cigarette. His sweat visible in the shadows of the light as he picks up the dictaphone..”It all began last May. Around the end of May it was. I’d been out to Glendale to deliver a policy on some dairy trucks. On the way back I remembered this auto renewal near Los Feliz Boulevard. So I drove over there “.
Flashback to Walter Neff, an insurance salseman who works magic at his job. He goes to pay a visit to Mr. Dietrichson about some renewals on his automobiles but is greeted by his wife who stands at the top of the staircase wearing her best dressed smile, since that was all she was wearing, besides the towel wrapped around her body.
Mr Neff smirks in appreciation. He explains that her husband’s insurance ran out, all the while keeping his gaze locked onto hers. He shows he cares because “ i’d hate to think of you having a smashed fender..or something while you’re not fully covered “.
With her face on straight, she greets him in the living room while he tries to avoid those legs stretched along the couch. They breifly talk about her husbands insurance whilst Walter dons his impressive charm of 11 years In the buisness to explain the rates and charges of a new featured policy. The lady is impressed so it seems. “Your’e a smart insurance man arent you Mr. Neff? “
Walter turns his gaze back to miss long legs, ” wish you’d tell me what’s engraved on that anklet “. She responds that it’s just her name. “Phyllis”. Walter smiles once again in a way a man does when he wants to get closer to a mysterious woman. “ I think i like that. I’d have to drive it around the block a couple of times”.
There’s a speed limit in this state Mr Neff. 45 miles an hour..
How fast was I going officer?..suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.
suppose I let you off with a warning this time.
Their flirtation is as hot as a red hot poker that could pierce a person’s heart. She surely appreciates these remarks and invites him back tomorrow evening. Buisness is almost forgotten in the midst of their flirtation, a saucy comeback of a conversation that only a noir movie can bring forth in full glory.
From the moment he had met Phyllis, her gaze and her honeysuckle perfume, captivated his senses. He didn’t realise such a sweet taste could turn so sour.
Feeling like a million, back at his office there was a phone message from Phyllis. She didn’t want to meet him at the appointed time they arranged, but on a thursday afternoon instead. He was a busy man with alot lined up but he couldn’t shake the feeling he had for her, “..and the way that anklet of hers cut into her leg”. He needed to see that again.
That afternoon, over iced tea, they try to get down to buisness about those renewals for the automobile, but Phyllis wants to put a break on that. “Tell me Walter, on this insurance, how much comission do you make? “..The other day a casing line snapped. It’s got me all jittery thinking about it. Suppose something like that happened to my husband..dont you think he ought to have accident insurance?”
Walter speaks his profession and casually continues to explain the captical sum and the payment if worse should come of it, which sparks far more interest in Phyllis. Unknowingly, Walter just supposes you need to think of everything when it comes to buisness.
Figeting her hands together, Phyliis tries to charm her way through her supposed innocence, so she could get an accident policy for her husband without him knowing about it. “ He’s superstitious about it. If there was a way to get it like that, all the worry would be over, you see what i mean? “
Walter and his good eyesight, realises her intentions, “Look baby you cant get away with it” and swiftly proves to bid her goodbye. He later distracts himself at bowling and drinking beer to get that sour taste out from her iced tea and everything that came with her, until she came knocking on his apartment that rainy night.
On the couch, sat this venerable lady pouring her heart out over bourbon, to a man she had managed to pull some emotional strings with. She explains her dysfunctional marriage to a drunken husband who often hits her and he’s “so mean to me. He never lets me go anywhere. He keeps me shut up. Walter i dont want to kill him”..Walter acknowledges this ” only sometimes you wish he was dead”.
Based on the novel by James M. Cain who is a brilliant writer of hardboiled crime, comes this live adaptation of equal entertainment. It’s the wonderful characters of the well suited gentleman who speaks faster than a moving train and the (almost) damsel in distress, being the perfect bombshell one could hope to lust after, that plays her seductive but tough roles so well, all parcelled in a noir setting of ‘who did it’ that I have come to love in so many novels, notably that by the works of Raymond Chandler ,who even makes his cameo in this movie.
Everyones smoking, everyone’s drinking and I’d like mine with a noir setting on the side. It’s my favourite kind of taste.
The movie is the epitome of a classic, dark noir movie I always invisioned it to be as I would read such novels through the night. The sleek, playful dialogue is smart and sharp at every turn and the narration of the voice over leaves plenty of room for admiration.
Sometimes accidents happen and somebody slips up. Sometimes you think you’ll go past unnoticed, you’re a nobody, you were never here and never there..and sometimes you think you’ve gotten it all figured out..all wrapped up in tissue paper with pink ribbons around it.
Credits: Directed by Billy Wilder, Screenplay by Raymond Chandler, based on the novel by James M. Cain
Starring: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson and others
In the early hours of the Morning, Holly Golightly steps out of a taxi in her iconic black dress, pearl necklace and some black sunglasses, eating her pastry and sipping on some coffee, as she casually strolls past the jewellery store of Tiffany and Co. , gazing at the many splendors a girl could only wish to have as her best friend.
When Holly eventually makes it back to her apartment, she finds a Sid Arbuck from her previous date, following her into the building and rushing to greet her with a confused and annoyed manner for leaving him at the party, all the while, her most rather angry (supposedly asian) neighbour upstairs shouting ” you disturb me! You must have a key made! Holly is made prominent to be the lady that’ll go to the powder room and never return. ” Hey baby, what’s going on. You like me remember?
After some time has passed, Holly is awakened in her drunken state from her late night shenanigans to the door bell ringing. Enter Paul Varjak, the handsome new neighbour who’s just moved in to find Holly dressed only in a man’s shirt and looking rather dishevelled. “I hate to bother you but could i use the phone? “
Upon entering Into the emptiness one would expect from unpacking into a new place (Holly has lived here for a year), she stumbles across a suitcase and takes out the phone. She takes out a pair of shoes that has somehow made its way into the refrigerator and pours out some milk into a champagne glass. Paul just stares in bewilderment at what he has gotten himself into.
Holly guards her emotions quite well from the beginning and her eccentric demeanour is justified for not feeling like she has a place to really call her own as everything feels out of place. She doesn’t know where she belongs but she is crazy about Tiffany’s. “ if i could find a real place that made me feel like Tiffany’s then..then i’d buy some furniture”.
Her Infactuated dreams of a Tiffany home is suddenly jolted away by her knowldge of it being Thursday. She gets to her feet and hurries to get ready to visit Sally Tomato at Sing Sing. “Sing sing. A ridiculous name for a prison. I mean it sounds more like an Opera House or something “.
While Paul sits on her bed and admires her getting glamed up in a timely fashion, she explains “i’ve been going to visit him every thursday for seven months. This so called lawyer -Mr O’ Shaughnessy asked me, how’d you like to cheer up a lonely old man and pick up $100 a week at the same time”. A man who spends his conversations with Holly in exchange for the weather forecast. No seriously it’s that innocent i tell you.
Meanwhile Paul is met by his decorator – Mrs Falenson, a seemingly wealthy older woman who seems to be ‘painting’ her way into the long hours of his night. “$300, she’s very generous”. He is the uninspired writer who has taken to a form of ‘writers block’ with the exception of his dirty but promosing short stories.
Their first deep conversation is found at the unusual hours of 4:30am, where Holly expresses her vunrebility to Paul as she speaks of her brother Fred who is in the army and how she needs to save money for the both of them. With a naked Paul underneath the sheets, and Holly in her white bathrobe, she slowly falls asleep on his shoulder in the utmost innocence, two bittersweet people could find themselves in, and I love the scene for the pureness of such a moment which reflects the idea of bearing all emotions in one’s true form.
I love this movie for not being an conventional romance. It focuses more on Hollys dodgy lifestyle that plays risky buisness with her heart than it does on two unlikely lovers. Stability comes first, then comes the freedom.
It popularised the era for going boldly where one dares to go- the sexual perversion of being an escort and ‘toy- boy’ of its time, that no one would openly showcase.
Its the epitome of wanting stability that comes at a price and wanting freedom that comes with unconditional love. It’s also admiringly easy on the eyes for being so very aestheticlly pleasing to watch.
It’s hard not to love the dynamic between Holly and Paul even at the wrong times and the wrong places. The way he looks at her every word is very well portrayed, even in acting, they both just seem like the couple that were ‘meant to be’.
The dialogue is what I cherish so fondly about the movie and the pair just work so well together. There are many loving scenes of pure bliss, where Holly and Paul take a walk through New York City, acting rather childish in some stores, putting on animal masks and walking out with them, eventually running to avoid getting caught. (Though stealing doesn’t cut being so cute in the real world ofcourse and you shouldn’t). For a brief time, they begin to enjoy the small things in life where money is no object of their affection.
The pompous humour is what divides the ‘seedy’ reality of life. Holly is the quirky misfit that displays some unusual behaviour that speaks as much volume as her polished frame would display. “Let him start lapping up the vino and oh golly, quel beast!”.
It’s almost like there is quite an unbalance to her status because she acts quite refined, like a polished off Tiffanys jewrelly but on closer inspection the price could mark your indecisive thoughts on it’s worth at the end.
She dons the materialistic lifestlye to escape herself from breaking down of the mess her life is known to be. She is seen to reguarly escape men from their grasp when the ‘going gets tough’, and Is expected to give away more than her good looks. She is used to being billed by the high society of men that pay her fares and her night outs, but she wants to keep her class as a respected escort which walks a mighty thin line, though she has never learned to fall in love and finds it hard to give up her heart to anyone worth trusting.
We understand and learn from a hollywood agent- O.J Berman, that ” I’m the guy that discovered her. She had a lot of style , a lot of class but you didn’t know what she was talking about”. You know how long it took me to smooth out that accent”?, indicating that Holly was given a new identity from being an ‘oke’ to an educated socialite but indicates that she plays being the very best at being a fraud.
Simarily, Paul is being looked after by his wealthy decorator who seems to have control over him. They are both immoraly flawed and tied up in some (unseen) but indicated sex and classy mess, although according to the novel, writer- Capote said that Golightly is not be seen as a prostitute but an ‘ American Geisha.
Notably we only view Holly in her most dignified way as she grasps to hold onto her own reputation when she makes her numerous escapes. “she had no job but accompanied men to the best resturants and night clubs and was obliged to recieve some sort of gifts. If she felt like it, she might take her escort home for the night”.
Paul and Holly can’t help being close to watch the damage fall on each other whilst they have their bitter rows every so often about their lifestyle, all the while sugar coated in a sophisticated manner which is highly intrguing to watch.
It’s a heartwarming story set on an unconventional romance one can only dream to find amongest such a grim financial situation, where one blinds away from such fantasies. It is charming in the unusual manner where two lonely people with the same flaws get their wires crossed in a challenging love interest.
They have not fallen far from the same tree, where Pauls extends a little more in finding his heart with Holly after some time because beneath the exterior “i was just trying to let you know I understand”. I understand completely”. It is trying to find their self worth that make up two drifters..off to see the world, after the same rainbows end.
Credit: Directed by Blake Edwards, (based on the novel by Truman Capote)
Starring: Audrey Hepburn, George Peppard, Patricia Neal, Buddy Ebsen and others