Murder by Contract (1958) Irving Learner

Murder-by-Contract-1In a 1993 interview with The New York Times, Martin Scorsese talks about the influence Murder by Contract had on the then teenager. “It’s an example of an American B-movie that is 100 times better than the film it played with on a double bill.” He then went on to explain, “The film it was playing with when I saw it was ‘The Journey,’ by Anatole Litvak, with Yul Brynner. That film had nice color, but when ‘Murder by Contract’ came on the screen, it was surprising and lean and purposeful, and not like anything my friends and I had seen. Afterward, we talked about it on the street for days. When I saw it again years later, I was overwhelmed by the severity of the style, which was dictated by the budget.” Scorsese later said in the interview how he put a clip from the film in ‘Mean Streets, ‘ but he had to remove it out of the final cut of the film because it was too long. Continue reading

Between the Lines (1977) Joan Milken Silver

LinesI have always had an affinity for newspaper themed films. As a kid in Junior High, I had, for a short period, illusions of being a newspaper reporter. I’m not sure what exactly sparked this interest, but while the desire to be a reporter died my love of films with newspapers/reporters has remained strong. Billy Wilder’s Ace in the Hole, Sam Fuller’s Park Row, Alan Pakula’s All the President’s Men, Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday, Alexander MacKendrick’s Sweet Smell of Success, Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, Phil Karlson’s Scandal Sheet, Richard Brooks’ Deadline U.S.A. and more recently Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight are just some of my favorites.  As you can tell from this small list, newspaper reporting can be an heroic endeavor or it can be down and dirty, even scandalous. Continue reading

Private Property (1960) Leslie Stevens

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Private Property is an independent film from 1960 about two young and dangerous drifters who spy on and eventually work their way into the home of a beautiful young married woman. At the time of its release, the film was condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency for its lascivious themes and violence. Thought to have been lost for many years, Private Property is a voyeuristic journey into the minds of the morally corrupt. Corey Allen, of Rebel without a Cause fame and later a TV director, and Warren Oates star as the two vicious losers out for a good time at any expense.

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Eating Raoul (1982) Paul Bartel

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Sex is disgusting, at least according to Paul and Mary Bland, the ‘heroes’ in Paul Bartel’s wonderfully perverse black comedy. The film originally premiered at the New York Film Festival in late September 1982 and a week later opened at the 69th Street Playhouse in Manhattan for a healthy run.

Starring Bartel and Mary Woronov as Paul and Mary Bland, “Eating Raoul” is about a straight laced couple, who may be duller to spend a night with than watching paint peel off a wall, are surrounded by the wild sex scene of 1980’s Hollywood.  The Los Angeles apartment complex the Blands live is filled with sleazy party goers, swingers and connoisseurs of S&M. Not exactly an environment for a couple who find sex a foul deed. Among the depraved your will find Buck Henry and Ed Begley Jr. in small but memorable roles. Not surprisingly, the Blands have no children. Continue reading