Behind the Mask (1932)

US / 68 minutes / bw / Columbia Dir: John Francis Dillon Pr: Harry Cohn Scr: Jo Swerling, Dorothy Howell Story: “In the Secret Service” (unpublished) by Jo Swerling Cine: Teddy Tetzlaff Cast: Jack Holt, Constance Cummings, Boris Karloff, Claude King, Bertha Mann, Edward Van Sloan, Willard Robertson, Tommy Jackson.

A few weeks ago I posted here about the 1946 movie Behind the Mask, which is one of the dire Monogram series featuring the pulps character The Shadow. I thought it might be interesting to check out its 1932 namesake, especially since it doesn’t feature The Shadow (although the arch-villain is at one point referred to as “a phantom, a shadow”!). My interest was further piqued when I was reminded that the cast includes Constance Cummings and Boris Karloff.

Jack Holt as ‘Quinn’ (left) and Boris Karloff as Henderson

The initial premise is familiar to anyone who watches too many old crime movies. A Secret Service agent, Jack Hart (Holt), is incarcerated in Sing Sing under a nom de guerre, Quinn, in order to ingratiate himself with another prisoner, Jim Henderson (Karloff), who’s known to be part of a major drug-running ring. The ruse works: Henderson is keen the two work together after their release and, when Quinn proposes to bust out of jail on his own, gives him an address where he’ll be “looked after.”

Constance Cummings as Julie

So Quinn fakes a breakout and a police chase, and ends up at a house occupied by senior gang member Arnold (King) and Arnold’s unwitting daughter Julie (Cummings), plus a housekeeper/nurse placed there by the gang’s mysterious leader to spy on them, Edwards (Mann). 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.

Circus Queen Murder, The (1933)

The Circus Queen Murder - 0 [moody opening shot]

US / 65 minutes / bw / Columbia Dir: Roy William Neill Scr: Jo Swerling Story: About the Murder of the Circus Queen (1932; vt The Murder of a Circus Queen) by Anthony Abbot (credited as Anthony Abbott) Cine: Joseph August Cast: Adolphe Menjou, Donald Cook, Greta Nissen, Ruthelma Stevens, Dwight Frye, Harry Holman, George Rosener.

The Circus Queen Murder - 00 [more mood]

This low-key crime movie—it’s usually billed as a mystery, but there’s no real mystery involved—was the second in the brief Thatcher Colt series, the first being The Night Club Lady (1932) dir Irving Cummings, likewise with Menjou and Stevens. Much is made of Colt’s ability to lipread, an ability in which he’s coaching his loyal secretary (and lover?) Miss Kelly.

NYPD Commissioner Thatcher Colt (Menjou), after six hard years warring against the bootleggers, decides to take a vacation upstate in Gilead, a location he chooses by Continue reading