• Destination Murder (1950)

    Destination Murder (1950)

     

    For devilish double-crossing and deceit, Destination Murder makes a decent choice of viewing. The central wise-ass is a total scuzzball, a murderer and two-timer who takes up blackmail and loves to think he’s in charge. His boss is Armitage, an evil nightclub owner, who has a player piano which plays the Moonlight Sonata every time he throttles someone to death.

    Weirdly, when he kills his fiancée in the apartment of his right-hand man, the player piano is present, begging the question — did Armitage actually bring the piano with him to the murder scene?  This and many other stupid questions trip quickly offa da brain pain while watching this low grade film noir, which both perlexes and pleases in equivalent degrees

  • The Dark Corner (1946)

    The Dark Corner (1946)

     

    Classic film noir — deceitful people at work — a private dick with a dicky past — a murderous art dealer with an obsession about a woman in a painting — sluggings in the dark — frame ups — a cheating wife — crosses — and double crosses. 

    The Dark Corner (1946) presents full on film noir in the shape of an ex-con detective willing to bend the rules at every point, with the most wholesome role going to an angelic Lucille Ball — though even dear sweet Lucille is up to her elbows in blood, lying, is complicit in conspiracy to conceal evidence, washing murder weapons and immediately opting to cover up a crime rather than report it . . .

  • The File on Thelma Jordon (1950)

    The File on Thelma Jordon (1950)

     

    A woman’s place in film noir is evilly clear — she’s the seductress who tempts the man into his own destruction — although often she plays a stronger role as the heroine, a seeker hero of her own, solving a crime on behalf of an imprisoned or incapacitated male.  

  • The Naked City (1948)

    The Naked City (1948)

     

    This time yesterday, Jean Dexter was just another pretty girl.  But now she’s the marmalade on 10,000 pieces of toast.  In this fashion — by being murdered — this young model becomes one of the stories of The Naked City (1948) which was not just a seminal film noir, but a new departure in many different screen-crafts. 

    If you were looking for brave film making in 1948, this was it — cutting edge — innovative and yet sticking to some familiar aspects and techniques, as seen its police procedural and final chase and shoot out.  It was all the inspiration of Mark Hellinger, who was one of the most ground-breaking producers of the time. And directed by Jules Dassin, whose film noirs always appear in critic's top tens.

  • This Gun for Hire (1942)

    This Gun For Hire 1942


    This Gun For Hire (1942) — one of the finest of the early film noirs available — and the first to show off the mutual talents of Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd — is a film noir to the core.  This classic film noir features a troubled protagonist, a strange mix of genres, and a mean streak that has you questioning its cruelty from the off.  This Gun for Hire might be the title, in fact, but I would on occasion simply like to refer to it as Psychopaths of 1942 — because that is what it is like at times.