Freitag, 31. Mai 2013

The harder they fall (Robson, 1956)



The has-been columnist Eddie is hired by a boxing racketeer as a press agent, to jumpstart an Argentinian boxer's career through fixed fights. But Eddie gets into a dilemma when he realizes that the boxers are treated like cattle by the racketeers and one opponent dies.

Bogart and Steiger are the highlights of this films - Steiger steals the show in the scenes where he tries to convince Eddie, Eddie's wife or Toro the boxer by being the impassioned salesman. His delivery makes his arguments sound somewhat honest, even though his character has just cooked them up on the fly.

Why the wife is still in the story I didn't understand. I didn't feel her arguments were persuasive and generally the encounters between her and Eddie felt cold and casual. She represents some moral force, but so does Art - Eddie's assistant from the old days, now a TV celebrity - in a much more convincing way. The two characters could have been melted into one to heighten Eddie's conflict.

The happy ending didn't make the film feel noir-ish.

The title sequence is the first one I recall using cut-out style.

Montag, 27. Mai 2013

Night and the City (Dassin, 1950) - DTC #1066



An ambitious night-club hustler tries to make it big by setting up his own wrestling show. But his incessant cheating and the ruling mob make his plans fall apart. Only his faithful girl stays at his side.

Widmark plays a very convincing small-timer, and he gets to show off - at one or two moments he's quite over the top, but still enjoyable. He manages to keep the character likeable, somewhere in between childish naivete and ruthless egomaniac. His character, Fabian, runs into trouble with pretty much everyone in a pretty small universe of the London underworld.

Favorite scenes: The wrestling match between the two brutes is amazing to watch, especially knowing that whatever the outcome might be, Fabian would have had it.

Another great scene is the exchange between Fabian and the night club owner that he tried to con out of money. (Actually, he is the only one, Fabian didn't con) - Best use of a drumkit in a scene, ever.

Good script to look at.

The Asphalt Jungle (Huston, 1950) - TSPDT #314



The small-town hooligan Dix is hired for a jewel heist. But the plans of the mastermind Riedenschneider fall apart one after the other, until all Dix has left to run for is his own life.

Sterling Hayden's character is an outwardly-hardened but human farmer that tries to return to his farm that his family lost some years ago. But also the other figures are quite interesting: the corrupt lawyer who plays cards with his sick wife and keeps an expensive blonde somewhere. Although not perfectly balanced, at some points the guilt he felt in front of his unsuspecting wife were tangible.

Also the commissioner and the detective were not without flaws, even small roles had interesting little scenes. Should re-read the script.

Gun Crazy (Lewis, 1950) - TSPDT #557



This is a story about a straight, even dull guy with a overwhelming fetish for gunswho  falls in love with a no-good woman that coaxes him into committing robberies. It turns out to be a nice Bonnie-and-Clyde variation.

The first part felt heavy-handed and slow. Using a courtroom scene with witnesses, arguing for the lead character's noble character felt strange.

Annie's motivation for pushing her husband to a career in crime is thinly explained, although she was the more interesting character in the film.

Favorite scene: While her husband robs a bank in the background, Annie chats pointlessly to a policeman standing in front. It is not clear to me why she tries to grab his attention.

Great sets: The meat packaging company has some nice shots of hanging meat. Is that the earliest film to use this type of location?