Crashout is like going to a film noir reunion. A late entry in the dark world of noir, the film gathers the likes of William Bendix (Out of the Past, The Blue Dahlia), Arthur Kennedy, (Too Late for Tears, Boomerang!), William Talman (Armored Car Robbery, The Hitch-hiker), Luther Adler (D.O.A., Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye), and Marshall Thompson (Dial 1119, Mystery Street). Toss in Sam Fuller regular Gene Evans (The Steel Helmet, Park Row) and Beverly Michaels (Pickup, Wicked Woman) and you have a smorgasbord of dark city regulars. Continue reading
Family conflict is at the heart of this independently made crime film. Directed by Cornel Wilde with a screenplay by Horton Foote (Trip to Bountiful), based on a novel by Clinton Seeley, Storm Fear pits brother against brother. At the core of the trouble is a woman, no surprise there either. Wilde directed eight feature films. Prior to this work he directed one episode of G.E. True Theater. Storm Fear was his first feature and it’s an impressive first time out.
Along with Wilde, the film stars Jean Wallace, his real life wife, Dan Duryea, Dennis Weaver, Lee Grant and Steven Hill. Hill, in what was only his second big screen role, is best known for his roles in Mission Impossible and later on in Law and Order. The only other member of the cast is young David Stollery, whose most notable role began the same year (1955) this film was released, in the Disney TV series The Adventures of Spin and Marty (he played Marty). Continue reading
This article started out as a post on Facebook. I was going to discuss my take on one particular photograph by the photographer Weegee. As I continued to write, the “post” began to grow, in this case, to almost 500 words, which I felt was too much for FB. So the question became what to do with it? I first though about putting it on my photography blog, John Greco Photography – Watching Shadows on the Wall, but decided it would take the blog in a direction I did not want it to go toward. For better or worse, I wanted to keep that blog exclusively for just my work. The solution, I came up with was to add it here. I justified this by the fact that Weegee was not just a photographer but a filmmaker too and that he worked in one capacity or another in the movies for a period of time. Therefore, here is my take on how I read Weegee’s photograph (below) known as “Lovers at the Palace” (1) along with some background on the photographer. Continue reading
I first saw “Al Capone” during the summer of 1959 at the Staten Island Paramount Theater on Bay Street. I was pretty young at the time, probably around ten or eleven years old, but I was already in love with gangster movies! Only a year or so earlier I can remember seeing Don Siegel’s “Baby Face Nelson” with Mickey Rooney at the Loew’s Commodore (the theater some seven years or so later would become the Fillmore East). Despite my tender young age, I remember going to the movies that day to see “Baby Face Nelson” unaccompanied by an adult. I can’t imagine that happening today; then again, I can’t imagine my parents allowing me to go it alone even back then. That said, I do have this memory of going to the movies alone that day and it wasn’t the only time. There was at least one other time around that same period. The Three Stooges were touring movie theaters accompanying the release of their latest film (Have Rocket, Will Travel) and I know for sure my parents did not go with me to see them. They hated The Three Stooges! Continue reading
Elmore Leonard was one of my favorite writers. His crime novels were smart, filled with quirky characters and brilliantly entertaining dialogue. Sadly, Leonard passed away earlier today at the age of 87 after suffering a stroke three weeks ago. Many of his novels were made into films. When done right, they were as unique and as inventive as his books, works like Get Shorty and Jackie Brown, the second based on his novel Rum Punch, was directed by Quentin Tarantino. His characters were a rogueish lot full of brutes and con artists. Unforgettably slick with a dangerous charm; think Chili Palmer, Jack Foley and Raylan Givens, it really didn’t matter what side of the law they were on, they were always memorable. Continue reading
Roman Polanski’s first English speaking film opens with an extreme close up of Carol’s (Catherine Deneuve) eye and ends with a vintage family photo of Carol as a child isolated from the rest of the family as the camera moves in on her same eye. An absolute masterpiece of psychological horror, “Repulsion” ushered in, along with Hitchcock’s Psycho and Powell’s Peeping Tom the modern day horror film. Polanski presents a nightmarish, hallucinogenic world full of dark expressionistic shadows with extreme close ups and wide angles edited to perfection. The first in an unofficial trilogy of “apartment films” with Rosemary’s Baby and The Tenant completing the threesome. In all three films Polanski conveys a disturbing unreceptive view of life in city dwellings. Continue reading
My first exposure to Fred MacMurray was with his early 1960’s family oriented sit-com, My Three Sons. Fred was a sort of befuddled widower who brought up three boys with the help of a crusty father-in-law (William Frawley) and later on a great uncle (William Demerest). During these same years, MacMurray made a series of family oriented films for Walt Disney; Son of Blubber, The Absented Minded Professor and Bon Voyage among them. The show, and these films, cemented an early image for me of MacMurray as a rather dull, and bland actor, a nice guy but uninteresting. In my defense, I have to add that at the time I knew very little about MacMurray’s earlier film career.
That would change the first time I watched Billy Wilder’s noir masterpiece, Double Indemnity. His Walter Neff was a classic noir sucker for a dame, willing to do dirty deeds for money and even more so for a seductive evil woman. Wilder once again brought out MacMurray’s dark side some years late in The Apartment where he played a sleazy corporate executive who used both women and men, in different ways, for his own salacious, adulterous desires. These two films exposed me to a new side of Fred MacMurray; He still looked like the nice quiet guy who lives next door but now underneath that good guy exterior laid a dark character with immoral desires. Continue reading