Film Noir

[6.5] Fritz Lang (Metropolis, M) directs this adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel about a British man (Ray Milland) recently released from an insane asylum who gets caught up in a Nazi attempt to smuggle sensitive information out of England during World War II. Lang brings a lot of style and paranoia to the film, particularly in two strong opening sequences. The first begets a mystery …

[7.0] Humphrey Bogart stars in this taut mystery-thriller as a district attorney trying to keep a terrified witness alive until he can testify against the ringleader of a hit-squad. The Enforcer is largely told through a series of flashbacks told by various members of the hit squad — usually proximate to their untimely demises. That sort of movie is entertaining enough, but The Enforcer is …

[7.5] James Cagney and Pat O’Brien star as a criminal and a priest who grew up on the streets of New York, rekindling their friendship and mentoring a new gang of street rats through O’Brien’s youth ministry. At first, the boys benefit from both men’s teachings, but when Cagney settles back into his old ways, O’Brien fears what the boys may learn from example. O’Brien’s …

[2.0] Dennis Quaid stars in this remake of a 1949 thriller about a literature professor who has 24 hours to live, and he spends that time trying to figure out who poisoned him and why. I like Dennis Quaid a lot, but nothing can save this movie from the fact that it was made by pretentious film school hacks with an absurdly improbable screenplay. Quaid’s …

[5.5] Henry Fonda barricades himself inside his motel room after murdering a fiendish magician played by Vincent Price. While the police and a impassioned Barbara Bel Geddes try to coax him out, the movie cuts back and forth to events leading up to the siege. The Long Night features some fancy outdoor sets and occassionally gorgeous cinematography, as well as some enjoyable performances from Fonda and …

[6.5] Elia Kazan makes a concerted effort to be less ‘theatrical’ and more ‘cinematic’ with Panic in the Streets, a New Orleans thriller about a policeman and a doctor searching the streets for a killer infected with pneumonic plague. Richard Widmark plays the doctor and Paul Douglas plays the cop. They’re forced to work together and begrudgingly do so for a while, but they eventually …

[7.0] Ingrid Bergman won the first of her three Oscars for this psychological thriller from George Cukor. Bergman plays a woman increasingly traumatized by her husband, a thief who nearly succeeds in convincing her that she’s losing her mind. It’s easy to invest in a movie when someone’s being mean to Ingrid Bergman. I only wish that she were more empowered in the story’s third …

[8.5] Joseph Cotten uncovers a conspiracy surrounding a deceased friend in The Third Man, a masterfully crafted film noir thriller from author Graham Greene and director Carol Reed. Reed keeps the story moving at a brisk pace, surrounding Cotten’s character with a superb supporting cast that includes Alida Valli, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee, and Orson Welles. Robert Krasker’s Oscar-winning cinematography is a revelation, turning war-torn …

[4.0] Humphrey Bogart defends a juvenile delinquent (John Derek) in this uneven and heavy-handed flick from director Nicholas Ray. Didn’t care for Derek in this movie, but Bogey makes a nice courtroom stand at the end. The best thing about this movie is that it probably inspired Ray to continue exploring similar themes in his later, greater Rebel Without a Cause. With George Macready.

[6.5] Five ladies of ill repute muster the courage to take the stand against their evil nightclub boss in this Bette Davis vehicle. Davis overacts a tad (doesn’t she always?), but Humphrey Bogart is reliable in the role of the tenacious district attorney. This is an instance where I’d love to have seen some of the off-screen action, but the film works remarkably well under …

1 2