Noir

House of Bamboo (6/10) by Kyle Vernier

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I was two thirds into The House of Bamboo before I realized I've already seen it. There are some memorable scenes, and the whole thing is shot extremely well but there isn't enough momentum to the story. The cast includes Unsolved Mysteries' Robert Stack, Star Trek's DeForest Kelley and Robert Ryan who has been in like half the movies I've watched recently. 

On Dangerous Ground (7/10) by Kyle Vernier

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A working vacation to the snowy climes of up state New York show a cynical and increasingly violent detective that all it takes is a beautiful blind woman, her mentally unstable murderous brother and a farmer out for revenge to show you what life is really about. 

 

Some of the snowy outdoor scenes and driving shots reminded me a lot of Fargo. I'm guessing the Cohens are Nicholas Ray fans.

The Naked City (9/10) by Kyle Vernier

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The Naked City is essentially the 1948 version of Law and Order. It's a noir police procedural. I thought it was great. The plot was so-so. But, much of the dialog was great, funny one liners were tossed around just like an episode of Law and Order. The voice over narration claims all of the movie was shot on location but many of the interiors are clearly sets. But, there is a lot of location shooting and it is really good. Getting to see 1948 New York City in all of its gritty glory is really great. Jules Dassin directed both this and Brute Force, which I recently watched. Both movies were good but Naked City is much better. Highly recommend. 

Born to Kill (1947) (7/10) by Kyle Vernier

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In Born to Kill Lawrence Tierney plays Sam Wilde a psychopath with no emotional range. For some reason all women love him. Helen Brent (Claire Trevor) sees him for what he is and loves him all the more for it because she is crazy too. Here's the thing about this movie; it's hard to relate to any of the characters. I ended up not caring about what happened to any of them.  That made the whole thing a little boring.

 

I watched this because I loved The Set-Up so much and this is Robert Wise' first noir. Born to Kill is half the movie The Set-Up is. Lawrence Tierney's performance as Sam Wilde is so boring, he plays it totally flat. If Sam Wilde was played more evilly or if he had a super charming side and an evil side it'd be much better. Also the camera work is much less exciting and the movie lacks any interesting lighting beyond the first 15 minutes. It was an ok movie. 

Satan Met a Lady (***) by Kyle Vernier

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Satan Met a Lady is the second Warner Brother's version of the Maltese Falcon. Still no Humphrey. I liked this version more than the 1931 version. It is played more as a farce this time. It is't great, but the acting and direction are both better this time around and it is funnier. This version and the 1931 version both came as bonus material to the Bogart version, at least on the DVD I have.

The Maltese Falcon (1931) (***) by Kyle Vernier

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No Humphrey Bogart here, this is the pre-code 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon. Sam Spade is more soft boiled here. He seems way to happy to be where he is, doing what he is doing. It is all a lark to him. There really isn't much to say about this movie. Nothing makes it stand out really. I'm glad to have seen it as a fan of Dashielle Hammet but that is about as far as it goes. 

The Big Sleep (****) by Kyle Vernier

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The first half of The Big Sleep follows Chandler's novel almost exactly, including dialog. The major change in the first half is that Rusty (Sean in the movie) Regan (Rutledge in the movie) is never married to Vivian Sternwood. The second half differs from the novel by a fair amount and I don't know why really. It isn't better than the book. Whatever screenwriters (which in this case include William Faulkner) want to make their mark. Anyhow the movie is still good. 

Harper (****) by Kyle Vernier

I can't say for sure but it seems like all of this movie is shot on location. It should have won an award for best location shooting. Plus Technicolor. And the camera work is really great as well.

This is like Philip Marlowe was transported to the 60s and had to deal with weird religious cults and former movie star astrologists. I liked it a lot.