Month: July 2014

HOUSE OF BAMBOO (1955)

House of Bamboo 1955 Back in 1948, Harry Kleiner wrote The Street With No Name, which became an instant classic in the film noir realm. The film, starring the almighty Richard Widmark and Mark Stevens, was an unofficial sequel to House on 92nd Street, both films backed by the feds. Maverick director Samuel Fuller convinced Kleiner to pen a loose remake of The Street With No Name set in Japan – expanding on the plot of an undercover fed infiltrating a treacherous underworld. The result was House of Bamboo, a film often considered to be the first picture to depict Japanese folks as normal people, working slobs just like Americans. It has its flaws here and there, but overall it’s a terrific film marked with the brute violence, tabloid sensibilities, and strong politics that Fuller would become known for. (more…)

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Why Television Needs a Hero Like Hoke Moseley Right Now

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this post originally appeared on Cinematallica

Fictional heroes typically embody a series of human ideals such as doing the right thing, protecting the innocent, seeing that justice is properly served – all that crap. Fictional anti-heroes are more realistic as they tend to be flawed in very truthful ways. In crime fiction, the majority of the heroes are divorced alcoholics and if they’re not, they’re in a loveless marriage crumbling under their obsessive work habits.

The protagonists during the golden age of hardboiled fiction usually drank their way through cases. In Dashiell Hammett’s final novel The Thin Man, Nick and Nora mix themselves a martini pretty much every other page but a possible liquid dependency is never explored. Although Philip Marlowe liked to drink when he pondered over cases and chess problems, he never checked into AA. It’s not until contemporary times that we see heroes of crime fiction crippled by their vices. Nordic author Jo Nesbo’s Harry Hole character, for example, is a chronic boozehound whose addiction leads him to some severely dark edges of morality.

Stuck in between the classic noir hero and the damaged detectives of modern times resides Hoke Moseley. First introduced by author Charles Willeford in his groundbreaking novel Miami Blues (1984), Hoke is simply one of the most believable creations in crime fiction history. Not just because he drinks and possesses other flaws we can see in our ourselves, but also because he’s just a working stiff going through the same issues as you and me. He’s not a drunk, but he drinks. He’s a good cop, but doesn’t really take his work home with him. Too put it bluntly, he’s utterly relatable.

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CRY DANGER (1951)

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When greasy nightclub owner Castro ask Rocky Mulloy if he’s going to kill him, Rocky answers, “Wouldn’t you?” This hardboiled dialogue is just one example of the tough brilliance that oozes from every pore of Robert Parrish’s striking directorial debut, Cry Danger. It’s a film noir gem that’s been heavily overlooked over the years, but has now been resurrected on Blu-ray from the fine folks at Olive Films (with funding from the mighty Film Noir Foundation). I picked it up as a blind buy and was blown away by the film’s simplicity, humor, and Dick Powell’s deadpan delivery. This is some of the best patter I’ve heard sine Powell’s turn in Murder, My Sweet.

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