The Road from Erebus (2000 TVM)

US / 97 minutes / color / Short End, Silverline Dir & Pr & Scr: David Sporn Cine: Ben Wolf Cast: Brenda Price, D. James Reynolds, Morton Hall Millen, Paige Balitski, Jeff Paul, Bob Brown, Lesley Morris, Keith Miller, Robert Pemberton, Evan Lai, Christine Murray, Keely Barr.

According to Wikipedia, “In Greek mythology, Erebus . . . was often conceived as a primordial deity, representing the personification of darkness.” There’s obviously symbolism going on here, because the only appearance of the word in this movie (aside from the title) is in the name of the street in New York City where the villain lives, Erebus Street. Yet the plot as a whole could be seen as tracing the protagonist’s escape from “the personification of darkness”—or at least from darkness.

D. James Reynolds as Barry.

Books editor Barry Atman (Reynolds) picks up advertising exec Helen (Price) in a restaurant and has the night of his dreams with her. But in the morning she flees from his apartment, apparently in terror. Trying to track her down, he encounters sculptress Roxanne Continue reading

Millie (1931)

|
Helen Twelvetrees in a melodrama for the ages!
|

US / 85 minutes / bw / RKO Dir: John Francis Dillon Pr: Chas. R. Rogers Scr: Chas. Kenyon, Ralph Murphy (i.e., Ralph Morgan) Story: Millie (1930) by Donald Henderson Clarke Cine: Ernest Haller Cast: Helen Twelvetrees, Lilyan Tashman, Robert Ames, James Hall, John Halliday, Joan Blondell, Anita Louise, Edmund Breese, Frank McHugh, Charlotte Walker, Franklin Parker, Charles Delaney, Harry Stubbs, Louise Beavers, Harvey Clark, Aggie Herring, Geneva Mitchell, Hooper Atchley, Lillian Harmer.

Willows University student Jack Maitland (Hall) captures the heart of poor but lovely redhead Millicent “Millie” Blake (Twelvetrees) and persuades her to elope with him. Three years later they’re installed in a luxury New York apartment with Jack’s mother (Walker) and the couple’s infant daughter Connie (uncredited). In theory Millie should be content that she has all the good things in life, but in reality Jack is neglecting her—being frequently away “on business”—and she’s much of the time forced to relinquish her child to the cares of a governess (Harmer). So she’s delighted when one day, out of the blue, she gets a phone call from her childhood friend Angie Wickerstaff (Blondell).

Angie (Joan Blondell) and Helen (Lilyan Tashman) are cutting corners.

Angie has come to NYC to live with her pal Helen Reilly (Tashman), and suggests the three of them meet up at a local café; what she doesn’t mention on the phone is that Continue reading

Mysterious Doctor, The (1943)

|
How did the Headless Man choose his victims?
|

US / 57 minutes / bw / Warner–First National Dir: Ben Stoloff Scr: Richard Weil Cine: Henry Sharp Cast: John Loder, Eleanor Parker, Bruce Lester, Lester Matthews, Forrester Harvey, Matt Willis, Frank Mayo, Phyllis Barry, David Clyde, Clyde Cook, Harold De Becker, Crauford Kent, Leo White.

One foggy night in darkest Cornwall a peddler (De Becker), terrified by local legends of the Headless Man—the ghost of tin miner Black Morgan, who lost his head in a dispute over the ownership of the Wickham Mine—conquers his fears enough to give a lift to a stranger, Dr. Frederick Holmes (Matthews), ostensibly on a walking tour of the English Southwest. (And a very rapid if rather aimless walker, be it noted: we later discover he was in Camborne, in Dorset, the night before, and St. Ives, in Cornwall, the night before that!)

Holmes hitches a lift from the peddler (Harold De Becker).

The peddler drops Holmes off at the Running Horse Inn in the village of Morgan’s Head. There the stranger discovers that the publican, Simon Tewkesbury (Mayo), wears a hangman-style leather hood at all times because, years ago, a stick of dynamite went off in his face. (The hood is going to play an important, albeit outlandishly implausible, part in the plot later on.)

 The foreboding figure of barman Simon Tewkesbury (Frank Mayo).

Holmes also discovers that the locals are suspicious of and resentful of visitors—

Simon: “Us folks in Morgan’s Head don’t like to be laughed at, Dr. ’Olmes. Especially by strangers we don’t.”

—unless said strangers buy drinks all round, a trick taught to Holmes by village tosspot Hugh Penrhyn (Harvey). Those drinks are our first sign that this movie, though set in England, was a US product: the beers come Continue reading

Kiss to Die For, A (1993)

vt Those Bedroom Eyes
US / 91 minutes / color with some bw / Hearst, Polone, NBC Dir: Leon Ichaso Pr: Kimberly Myers Scr: Deborah Dalton Cine: Jeffrey Jur Cast: Tim Matheson, Mimi Rogers, William Forsythe, Carlos Gomez, Carroll Baker, Nina Jones, Susie Spear, Johnny Popwell, Challen Cates, Deborah Hobart, Orestes Matacena.

A Kiss to Die For - 0 opener

Still desolated three years after the death of his wife Kate in a train crash, or guilty over the fact that he no longer misses her and can’t even remember the last time they made love, psychology prof William Tauber (Matheson) decides to end it all by throwing himself off a train. Just as he’s about to do so, a passing beautiful stranger, interior designer Ali Broussard (Rogers), saves his life. She also takes him to his sleeper compartment on the train and gives him a pretty convincing carnal reason why life might be worth living after all.

A Kiss to Die For - 1 William readies to suicide

William (Tim Matheson) readies himself for the terminal plunge.

After they disembark at their joint destination, Ali tries to persuade William that this was just a spur-of-the-moment thing, that he should accept it for what it was and not expect anything more. Understandably, he’s not so eager to let things lie. He has her business card—she owns a little company called The Decorator’s Touch—and in due course Continue reading

o/t: oh, it’s New Year, is it?

Many thanks to everyone whose visits and comments through 2014 have made it seem worth my while continuing with Noirish. The year has seen a steady growth in the site’s traffic; golly, but I felt as if I was channeling Mitt Romney when I typed that.

It’s not a feeling I much wish to revisit.

Whateffer, as they say in my homeland, I hope everyone who visits this site regularly, occasionally or even (and here I’m stretching what little human sympathies I have) <i>never</i> has a great 2015. It’d be good, too, if the world as a whole had a great 2015, but that would involve US politics somehow ridding itself of its corruption and beginning to act in the interests of the American people, and of the planet.

Here are the movies about which I posted essays on <i>Noirish</i> during 2014. I’d hoped that each title would link to the relevant page, but the gods of WordPress decided that This Was Not To Be. The list includes the movie about which I’ll be posting tomorrow — a spiffy Japanese neonoir that you owe it to yourself to see.

January
Secret, The (1997 TVM)
Shadow, The (1933)
Tiger Bay (1934)
Wenn es Nacht Wird auf der Reeperbahn (1967)
Woman’s Secret, A (1949)
East, The (2013)
After Alice (1999)
Amateur Crook (1937)
American Gangster (2007)
Black Hand, The: True Story of a Recent Occurrence in the Italian Quarter of New York (1906)
Dead Man Down (2013)
Fat Man, The (1951)
Fear is the Key (1972)
Flirting with Fate (1916)

February
Girl in Gold Boots (1968)
Hotel Berlin (1945)
Hotel Noir (2012)
Letter from an Unknown Woman (1948)
Love the Hard Way (2001/2003)
Morton Thompson’s Not as a Stranger (1955)
Night Train (2009 DTV)
Public Eye, The (1992)
Secret Six, The (1931)
Stark Fear (1962)
Teckman Mystery, The (1954)
Call, The (2013)

March
In Cold Blood (1967)
In Cold Blood (1996 TVM)
Capote (2005)
Infamous (2006)
Case of the Missing Heiress, The (1949)
Circus of Fear (1966)
Circus Queen Murder, The (1933)
Dark Light, The (1951)
Double Identity (1990 TVM)
Floater, The (1961 TVM)
Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941)
Evidence of the Film, The (1913)
Fat Man, The: The Thirty-Two Friends of Gina Lardelli (1959 TVM)

April
Felicia’s Journey (1999)
Foreign Correspondent (1940)
Gangster Squad (2013)
Pris au Piège (1957 TVM)
Rikollinen Nainen (1952)
Stand Up Guys (2012)
Tiger Bay (1959)
White Trap, The (1959)
Drag-Net, The (1936)
Four Just Men, The (1939)

May
Anna-Liisa (1922)
Arsenal Stadium Mystery, The (1939)
Banker, The (1989)
Blood (2012)
Candlelight in Algeria (1944)
Convicted (1931)
Douce Violence (1962)
Engagement (2012)

June
Portrait of Jennie (1948)
Frosch mit der Maske, Der (1959)
Girl on the Run (1953)
Moderato Cantabile (1960)
Murder is News (1937)
Three Steps in the Dark (1953)
On Dangerous Ground (1951)
To Kill a Dead Man (1994)
Violent Moment (1959)
You Have to Run Fast (1961)

July
Young Captives, The (1959)
Spy in Black, The (1939)
Out of the Past (1947)
Awful Truth, The (1937)
Public Ransom, A (2014)
Alias Mary Smith (1932)
Baryshnya i Khuligan (1918)
Blind Alibi (1938)
Cage of Evil (1960)
Carrefour (1938)
Counselor, The (2013)

August
Emil und die Detektive (1931)
Bushwhackers, The (1952)
Game (2013)
Floating Dutchman, The (1952)
Geheimnis der Schwarzen Witwe, Das (1963)
Hell’s House (1932)
Something to Live For (1952)
Motel Blue (1997 DTV)
In a Lonely Place (1950)
Voice of Merrill, The (1952)
Ragazza del Lago, La (2007)

September
Ringer, The (1952)
Scarlet Web, The (1954)
Stolen (2009)
Stolen (2012)
Dødes Tjern, De (1958)
Suspect (1960)
Alibi, L’ (1937)
Anni (2011 DTV)

October
Black Widow (1954)
Boîte Noire, La (2005)
Marked Man (1996)
Confessions of a Psycho Cat (1968)
Crime Nobody Saw, The (1937)
Death at Broadcasting House (1934)
Down Three Dark Streets (1954)
Femme Fatale (2013)
Who Killed Aunt Maggie? (1940)
Girl who Dared, The (1944)

November
Hideout, The (1956)
Intruder, The (1933)
Labyrinth der Leidenschaften (1959)
Lizzie (1957)
Maison sous les Arbres, La (1971)
Manche et la Belle, Une (1957)
Midnight Episode (1950)
Missing Million, The (1942)
Night Boat to Dublin (1946)

December
Musta Jää (2007)
Phone Call from a Stranger (1952)
Pokrajina Št.2 (2008)
Premier Cercle, Le (2009)
Rossiter Case, The (1951)
Send for Paul Temple (1946)
Silenzio dei Prosciutti, Il (1994)
Sheng Dan Mei Gui (2013)
Special Investigator (1936)
Tantei Wa Bar ni Iru (2011)

Obviously most of these are borderline noir at best, and quite a few aren’t noir at all (but have some vague form of associational interest, even if only in my fevered brain); there’s a reason why this site has the title it does. I think I probably have the old/new balance about right, although this may be affected in the coming year as I attempt to cover more indies. Another factor is that I’d like to cover more of the noirish Bollywood movies; more non-anglophone movies in general.

I think what I need is two of me.

Lizzie (1957)

US / 80 minutes / bw / Bryna, MGM Dir: Hugo Haas Pr: Jerry Bresler Scr: Mel Dinelli Story: The Bird’s Nest (1954) by Shirley Jackson Cine: Paul Ivano Cast: Eleanor Parker, Richard Boone, Joan Blondell, Hugo Haas, Ric Roman, Dorothy Arnold, John Reach, Marion Ross, Johnny Mathis, Karen Green, Carol Wells.

Lizzie - 4 Johnny Mathis sings

25-year-old Elizabeth Richmond (Parker) is a repressed, hypochondriacal, insecure museum worker who defies all the efforts of friendly colleague Ruth Seaton (Ross) to bring her out of her shell; she rebuffs almost tearfully the advances of the museum’s cut-price lothario, Johnny Valenzo (Roman). A particular source of misery is that she keeps finding poisonous letters on her desk or in her purse from someone signing themselves Lizzie.

Lizzie - 1 the first time Aunt Morgan encounters Lizzie

The first time Aunt Morgan (Joan Blondell) encounters the snarling Lizzie (Eleanor Parker).

One night, however, the timid Elizabeth startles the hard-drinking unsupportive aunt with whom she lives, Morgan James (Blondell), by suddenly snarling at her, “You drunken old Continue reading