Noir Films

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kingrat
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Re: Noir Films

Post by kingrat »

RANSOM (1956, dir. Alex Segal) has a subject that would be perfectly suited to noir, the kidnapping of a child, but the old chiaroscuro style of light and shadows may have seemed old-fashioned in the mid-50s. What RANSOM looks like is television. If you've seen Fritz Lang's BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, it's in that flat TV-influenced style. Crime without noir. Competently made TV rather than a great movie. However, Glenn Ford as the father of the kidnapped boy is just terrific, running the gamut of emotions without overacting, certainly one of his very best performances.

Juano Hernandez plays the butler, who is treated respectfully as an intelligent and caring man, which means that RANSOM could be part of next year's Juano Hernandez Day in August (we can hope, can't we?).
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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Post by JackFavell »

Ransom was a much better movie than I thought it would be, bringing up moral questions that more recent kidnap films do not really delve into, generally speaking, or only on the most superficial levels. Glenn Ford is much more interesting for the films he picks than I had ever thought. He tends to walk that line between right and wrong, good and bad in his movies, and I have to give him props for his choices. He is far better and much more thoughtful than I ever gave him credit for.

And I'm hoping for that Juano Hernandez day! he's the reason I stayed with the movie and ended up liking it.
RedRiver
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Re: Noir Films

Post by RedRiver »

I like RANSOM. Even the remake is OK. But this one is better. It's straight-forward and unpretentious crime drama. With that formula, you can hardly go wrong.
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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Post by JackFavell »

RANSOM SPOILERS

I especially liked that twist at the end, about not giving up the money. Not the twist itself so much but how they played it out - waiting, having Ford think that maybe he was wrong to do it, having everyone including his wife hate him for it. It worked.
kingrat
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Re: Noir Films

Post by kingrat »

It's also interesting that the role of television is already part of the story in RANSOM. You can add this to the list of films like A FACE IN THE CROWD and BIGGER THAN LIFE where, already in the 1950s, filmmakers are thinking about the changes wrought by television.

In a film nowadays on this subject we would expect the father to go out and rescue the child himself, Dirty Harry style.
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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Post by JackFavell »

Exactly! Yes, I liked the way TV was presented as a kind of two edged sword - all those people getting upset, showing up in front of the house, etc. was not at all what the family expected after their plea for help.
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ChiO
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Re: Noir Films

Post by ChiO »

And DIAL 1119 (1950) wherein a TV in a bar (the first? and with complaints that nothing's on) plays a key role.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles
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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Post by JackFavell »

Ooh, thanks for that tip, ChiO, I'm going to try and watch it this week or next.
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ChiO
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Re: Noir Films

Post by ChiO »

It's in my Top 15 Noirs.

So simple...so cheap...so good.

And directed by LB. Mayer's nephew for...MGM.

So it goes.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles
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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Post by JackFavell »

That's too weird! MGM is not what I usually think of at the sound of the word 'noir'. And it's a year before Dore Schary.
RedRiver
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Re: Noir Films

Post by RedRiver »

In DIAL 1119, the big TV screen looks ominous, imposing. Almost, but not quite, other worldly. It's kind of spooky!
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ChiO
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Re: Noir Films

Post by ChiO »

Movie: DANGEROUS PARTNERS (1945)
Director: Edward L. Cahn
Studio: MGM
Time: 74 minutes

A crashed passenger airliner is in middle-of-nowhere Mexico at night. The pilot (Steve McNally) and a passenger, Carola Ballister (Signe Hasso), tend to the injured. After Carola lovingly hands an infant to the mother, the pilot says, “If I ever have another plane crash, ma’am, be there.” His mother apparently never admonished him to be careful of what you wish for. He walks into the night toward a village he recalls flying over.

With him gone, Carola – the only uninjured person – goes to her husband, Clyde (John Warburton). He’s semi-conscious, so she smacks him to consciousness. She points to an unconscious man grasping a briefcase, which had attracted their attention on the plane. It’s handcuffed to his wrist! Now they know they must have it! Finding the key to the briefcase, they discover four wills, each made by a different person, each leaving $1 million in securities to Albert Kingby (Edmund Gwenn), the unconscious man. There is also a list of three foods, seemingly a meal order in reverse. Kingby also has a plane ticket to Cleveland. Carola memorizes the will-makers, their cities (one is Cleveland), the meal order and puts them all back into the briefcase…just as the pilot returns.

In Cleveland, Clyde calls Miles Kempen (Warner Anderson) and identifies himself to the butler as Albert Kingby. Kempen, with a worried look, tells the butler that he’s not home for Kingby. That night, Kempen goes to the nightclub where his fiancée (Audrey Totter) sings. He has a meeting with a lawyer-for-the-crooked, Jeff Caighn (James Craig). He tells Caighn he wants a new will leaving everything to his fiancée, and he’ll sign it in the morning before he and his fiancée fly to Mexico to be married. Caighn is suspicious, but agrees. The real Kingby introduces himself to Kempen and Caighn at the nightclub and mentions his food order – it’s the backwards menu! Caighn’s suspicion mounts when Kingby leaves without eating.

The Bannisters go to Kempen’s apartment in the morning to confront him. The police greet them. Kempen’s dead. Caighn then appears with the new will to be signed.

The Bannisters take a train to New York to see the next will-maker. Kingby, too, is on the train and thanks them for saving his life when the plane crashed. A newspaper article mentions Kempen’s death and that his will left $1 million in securities to a Albert Kingby. He denies know anything about it. Caighn, as luck would have it, is on the train and overhears the conversation. Clyde goes to their room. Carola and Caighn see Kingby get off at the next stop. They go to the room. Clyde is dead. Now there are new partners – Carola and Caighn.

They go to the next man (Felix Bressart) and introduce themselves as Mr. & Mrs. Kingby. Reciting the reverse menu to him, he gives them the $1 million in securities. Carola wants to continue collecting securities. Caighn says his share is enough.

Carola goes to the next on the list…a family reminiscent of the Darlings (The Andy Griffth Show) except headed by a woman (Mabel Paige). Carola identifies herself as Mrs. Kingby. Then Caighn appears. He says he’s Albert Kingby, confirms that she is his wife, and demands the bonds. From the back room appears Kingby. Once he realizes they don’t have the securities on them, he allows them to escape…so that they’ll lead him to the bonds.

Realizing that the escape was too easy, they stealthily get to where they hid the bonds and go to a diner. In the paper is an item: Kingby is a Nazi agent and the securities are to provide cash for Nazi leaders’ hideaways! Caighn wants to go to the police, but Carola wants the securities.

Carola goes to the washroom. Caighn sees Kingby’s thugs. He writes on the envelope with the securities: “Police—Kingby is here”. He puts the envelope in the folded newspaper. The thugs grab Caighn and Carola, but not the newspaper.

Held now at gunpoint in a warehouse by Kingby and a thug, Carola tries to negotiate for a share. Rejected, the thug tries to beat the securities’ location out of Caighn. Carola tries to convince him to tell. No dice. Now the thug beats Carola to convince Caighn to talk. He’s fallen for her, but still no dice. Deus ex machina – the police burst in (tipped off by the waitress who picked up the paper with the envelope) and kill Kingby.

At headquarters, the police hand the envelope with the securities to Carola. She looks at Caighn. She hands the envelope to the police. They kiss.

Great fun from a veteran of MGM shorts and Poverty Row features (this is one of his few features not from Poverty Row). Cahn keeps the tension and suspense going with a deft combination of action and (not annoying) exposition. It also helps that the cinematographer was one Karl Freund, a mere 15 years in the U.S. after his work with the likes of Murnau, Dreyer and Lang.

Defining Moment: At the crash site, Signe Hasso – from handing over an infant to slapping her husband to seeing dollar signs in the wills – with the slightest of shifts to her mouth, conveys maternal love, violence, disgust and lust. The look of lust – both carnal and economic – with the sense of impending violence, especially with Freund’s close-ups, cannot help but keep one’s attention. Move over Annie Laurie Starr.

Further Defining Moment(s): Just before going to Kempen’s home, Carola and Clyde talk about life. She wants the money. He wants to settle down, plain domesticity. She makes it clear that he can do what he wants…and she will go on without him. And this moment is reprised twice with Caighn – first he’s ready to bail after the successful score, and when they realize it’s Nazi money. Just as with Annie Laurie and Bart, the standard gender roles are reversed and normalcy is tossed aside. I had to keep reminding myself that this was happening on screen four years before GUN CRAZY.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles
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JackFavell
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Re: Noir Films

Post by JackFavell »

Oh Lordy, my mouth is watering... another Gun Crazy type movie? and it's got Felix Bressart in it? I'm there.
clore
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Re: Noir Films

Post by clore »

JackFavell wrote:Oh Lordy, my mouth is watering... another Gun Crazy type movie? and it's got Felix Bressart in it? I'm there.
I'm there just because it's directed by Eddie Cahn, my favorite "B" movie helmer.
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moira finnie
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Re: Noir Films

Post by moira finnie »

Dang, ChiO!! Your description makes me want to see this movie. Here's the trailer, which will really whet our noir appetites further.

[youtube][/youtube]
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