A Short by Elliot Lavine: The Twisted Corridor (1982)

US / 18 minutes / bw / Detour Dir & Scr: Elliot Lavine Pr: Elliot Lavine, Fred Klein Cine: Greg Wardell, Deland Nuse Cast: John X. Heart, Alan Dowell, Harry Rosenbluth, Harry Freeman, Sheila Lichirie, Larry Stofer, Lisa Barnett, David A. Radovich, Freddy Klein, Eddie Detour

A somewhat more ambitious movie than the same director’s earlier effort, Blind Alley (1981), being longer and with a more involved plot. However, while it’s shot in a very noirish fashion and has a screenplay that’s primarily voiceover, in a sense it seems to me less close to the heart of noir than its pared-down predecessor, being more of a psychological piece.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t have precursors that are very firmly in the film noir genre, notably Fear in the Night (1947) and Nightmare (1956), both directed by Maxwell Shane and based on the Cornell Woolrich story “And So to Death” (1941, Argosy; vt “Nightmare”), written by Woolrich under his William Irish pseudonym.

John X. Heart as Del

Advertising artist Del Garvin (Heart) is being troubled by a recurring dream:

“Night after night it’s the same dream. What’s it supposed to mean? These hallways, where do they lead? Corridors, spinning and twisting . . .”

Eventually, in the dream, he finds himself in front of the door to Room 11. When the door opens to his knock he stabs Continue reading

My Blood Runs Cold (1965)

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As well it might!
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US / 104 minutes / bw / William Conrad Productions, Warner Bros.–First National Dir & Pr: William Conrad Scr: John Mantley Story: John Meredyth Lucas Cine: Sam Leavitt Cast: Troy Donahue, Joey Heatherton, Barry Sullivan, Nicolas Coster, Jeanette Nolan, Russell Thorson, Jean Paul King, Ben Wright, Shirley Mitchell, Howard McNear, Howard Wendell, John Holland, John McCook, Linda Meiklejohn.

Julie Merriday (Heatherton), headstrong daughter of the richest and most powerful man in the area, is speeding along the road one day with boyfriend Harry Lindsay (Coster) when she nearly kills motorcyclist Ben Gunther (Donahue). After being pulled out of the ditch, Ben recognizes her as Barbara, his long-lost love—really long-lost, because Barbara Merriday died a century ago giving birth to the child ancestral to the current Merriday brood.

Julie’s father Julian (Sullivan) is brutally possessive and controlling. At first he welcomes the idea that Continue reading

Judgment Deferred (1952)

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When the legal system fails, let a court of down-and-outs decide!
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UK / 84 minutes / bw / Associated British-Pathé Dir & Pr: John Baxter Scr: Geoffrey Orme, Walter Meade Story: screenplay for Doss House (1933) by C.G.H. Ayres Cine: Arthur Grant Cast: Hugh Sinclair, Helen Shingler, Abraham Sofaer, Leslie Dwyer, Joan Collins, Elwyn Brook Jones, Harry Locke, Marcel Poncin, Wilfrid Walter, Martin Benson, Bransby Williams, M. Martin Harvey, Harry Welchman, Maire O’Neill, Fred Griffiths, Harold Goodwin, Bud Flanagan, Edmundo Ros and His Latin American Orchestra.

A tale that shares elements with M (1931) dir Fritz Lang (remade by Joseph Losey in 1951 as M) and with Margery Allingham’s novel Tiger in the Smoke (1952), filmed as TIGER IN THE SMOKE (1956) dir Roy Baker, and owes a very great deal to the movie Doss House (1933), which was directed by John Baxter himself and whose scripter, C.G.H. Ayres, is acknowledged in the opening credits of Judgment Deferred. The narrative’s embellished with a few comic interludes (mercifully few) and some musical numbers, including a cameo by Bud Flanagan and a couple of songs from Edmundo Ros; Continue reading

Moontide (1942)

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Ida Lupino and Jean Gabin (and Claude Rains and Thomas Mitchell!) in a strange piece of borderline noirishness!
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US / 95 minutes / bw / TCF Dir: Archie Mayo, Fritz Lang (uncredited) Pr: Mark Hellinger Scr: John O’Hara, Nunnally Johnson (uncredited) Story: Moon Tide (1940) by Willard Robertson Cine: Charles Clarke, Lucien Ballard (uncredited) Cast: Jean Gabin, Ida Lupino, Thomas Mitchell, Claude Rains, Jerome Cowan, Helene Reynolds, Ralph Byrd, William Halligan, Victor Sen Yung, Chester Gan, Robin Raymond, Arthur Aylesworth, Arthur Hohl, John Kelly, Ralph Dunn, Tully Marshall, Vera Lewis, Tom Dugan.

On Amazon.co.uk a commenter called Now Zoltan (I assume that’s not his real name) has complained that I omitted this movie, which he regards as quintessential to the genre (“a cornerstone noir, one of my favourites”), from my A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir. He also complained about a typo as if it were an error of fact, which I thought was a bit unfair: 675,000 words of information-dense text? Of course you can expect a few typos—though hopefully not very many!

Anyway, I checked my entry for this movie in my personal catalogue and saw that I’d given it the NSH (noirish) rather than the NOIR classification. Since it stars Lupino, Gabin and Rains, three of my all-time favorite actors, and since Fritz Lang was involved, in the ordinary way I’d have bent over backward to include it in the book—i.e., to persuade myself it was sufficiently noir that it oughter go in.

An enigma on the back of a conundrum, and puzzling too.

It had been yonks since last I’d watched the movie, and to be honest I could remember little about it, so I decided to give it another whirl to see if I could work out why I’d decided to omit it. Here goes.

Jean Gabin as Bobo.

Bobo (Gabin) is a longshoreman, and ostensibly a good one, but he has a penchant for hard drinking. Tonight in the saloon called The Red Dot he’s well and truly hammered, to the dismay of his sidekick Tiny (Mitchell), who wants to Continue reading

Strange Adventure, A (1932)

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An old dark house and a hooded figure, oo-er!
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vt The Wayne Murder Case
US / 60 minutes / bw / Chadwick, Monogram Dir: Phil Whitman Pr: I.E. Chadwick Scr: Lee Chadwick, Hampton Del Ruth Story: Arthur Hoerl Cine: Leon Shamroy Cast: Regis Toomey, June Clyde, Lucille La Verne, Jason Robards Sr, William V. Mong, Eddie Phillips, Dwight Frye, Nadine Dore, Alan Roscoe, Isabelle Vecki, Harry Myers, Eddie Chandler, Snowflake.

A Strange Adventure - closer

Vile old plutocrat Silas Wayne (Mong) is, though still mobile, nearing death. Unmarried, he brings all his nieces and nephews together in his home for a pre-mortem reading of his will. Before the great performance, however, his nephew and secretary Claude Wayne (Phillips) opens the old man’s hidden safe—all the family seems to know where this is, and how to get into it whenever they want to!—and scans the provisions of the will. One of these concerns the housekeeper, Miss Sheen (La Verne):

“To her and her children I leave the Candor diamond, in the hope it will continue to be an evil omen!”

Another relates to his married niece Sarah Boulter (Vecki), who’s to get $100,000 upon the birth of her first child—a prime example of the old man’s psychological sadism because, as we find, he well knew that Continue reading