Daaaaaaamn Gene Tierney is a cold bitch in this one. My eyeballs have experienced plenty of femme fatales since starting this whole Hardboiled Hangover thing, but nothing like the icy chill Tierney’s deranged Ellen Berent character gave off in Leave Her to Heaven. Beneath her technicolor warmth lurks a jealousy that drives her to commit some seriously heinous acts, which must have been teetering on the razor’s edge of the censor board’s moral standards. Backed up by Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Craine, and John M. Stahl’s sharp direction, Leave Her to Heaven is a beautiful and brutal melodrama.
This Saturday, Feb. 8, I’m pretty damn exciting to be hosting a screening of Philip Kaufman’s The Wanderers. It’s going down at Truthful Acting Studios in Orlando, on S. Orange Ave. (before the sketchy, desolate part). It’s part of the Orange Sinema series that I started back in Nov. 2013, made possible by my friend Carol of the studio.
Admission is free and there’s free beer, so it’s pretty much a no-brainer. The Wanderers is a coming of age tale set against the volatile backdrop of the South Bronx in 1963. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Richard Price, who wrote the damn thing when he was about 20 years old. That’s no joke.
So if you’re in Orlando, come check out a fantastic movie for free with good company. All the information is available on the Facebook event page.
Le Deuxiéme Souffle (Second Breath) was Jean-Pierre Melville’s first film after a four year hiatus in the mid-60s. It was also his final black & white film. Once again he proved himself to be France’s most masterful stylist, while also reinforcing his favored themes of loyalty, friendship, and doomed masculinity. Word is bond in the world of Melville, and Le Deuxiéme Souffle‘s anti-hero Gu Minda (the monolith Lino Ventura) makes that statement numerous times during the film. It’s a pretty standard gangster tragedy, but in the hands of Melville, the film is a contemplative morality play with visual style and inventiveness out the ass.
It’s St. Patrick’s Day in NYC. The cops have their brass polished. Cabbies are prepping themselves for hellish traffic. And on a ledge 15 stories above the ground, Robert Cosick is about to swan dive headfirst to the concrete jungle’s unforgiving bosom. Based on the true story of John Warde, who had downtown NYC enthralled for a half a day in July 1938 as he threatened to jump off the 17th story of the Gotham Hotel, Henry Hathaway’s 14 Hours is a terrific drama that’s as authentically human as it is dramatically gripping. John Warde jumped to his death that day in 1938, but there’s a happier close to 14 Hours, one that had to be inserted following the suicide of a 20th Century-Fox executive’s daughter the day the film premiered. Talk about fantasy reflecting reality. Or the other way around. Whatever.
Written by Eric Roth (Forrest Gump, Munich), The Nickel Ride follows mob “key man” Cooper (Jason Miller) as he slowly realizes his services are no longer needed. Cooper is in charge of securing storage spaces for the mob to hide their hot contraband. He’s working on a deal that will gain the mob a large of row storage spaces near a railroad station, but he can’t seem to seal the deal. In the past Cooper’s been able to grease the palms of the appropriate cops, but even they’re acting a little reserved towards good ol’ Cooper. He can’t seem to get a sit down with his boss, O’Neal, and when he’s asked to show the ropes to new guy named Turner (Bo Hopkins), a brazen cowboy with a motormouth, Cooper begins spiraling into paranoia.
In 1945, director Henry Hathaway collaborated with the FBI and 20th Century Fox to make The House on 92nd Street. The film was an obvious handjob to the FBI meant to paint them in a positive light while presenting their twisted uptight version of justice. The pseudo-documentary style would be utilized three years later in Hathaway’s Call Northside 777 (as well as numerous other post-war films). It’s based on the true story of a Chicago reporter who proved that an innocent man was rotting in prison for the murder of a cop 11 years before. This film sorta wavers on the fence between documentary and noir tradition of the 1940s, meaning it never dips into bleak territory or wallows in cynicism as it examines the American judicial system. However, it certainly doesn’t trust ol’ Lady Justice either, the crooked bitch that she is.
YOU THINK YOU CAN TRY TO THROW JOSEPH COTTEN OVER THE FALLS AND HE’LL TAKE IT LYING DOWN?! HUH?! COTTEN DON’T THINK SO!!!
Planned as one of Marilyn Monroe’s first starring vehicles, Niagara is an entertaining little tale of infidelity and murder set against the backdrop of the world famous falls. Monroe didn’t have the acting chops to pull off the femme fatale role, so for most of the film she parades around in slinky dresses and tight sweaters, without doing much of anything. There is one scene where she sings along to a record – completely off key and tempo. It’s awkward and painful to watch. At least Joseph Cotten, Jean Peters, and Max Showalter (with his terrifying grin) are there to pick up her slack.