Here’s a great little caper set inside London’s Tate Museum. Starring versatile noir favorite Dennis O’Keefe, The Fake is a strong example of that overused word in film criticism: “romp.” Yeah, I know, I just used it, but it really is adequate in this situation. More, The Fake is a “condensed romp,” with minimal locations and characters. There’s still a bit of that hard-edged noir aesthetic, but overall it’s a fun, lighthearted crime film that’s the sort of perfect lazy Sunday afternoon fare people spend hours penetrating Netflix for. While no means a classic, The Fake has enough unique things going for it to make it a blast to watch. I mean, when’s the last time you saw a mystery where the color lapis lazuli was a major clue?
NIGHTMARE ALLEY (1947)
In Nightmare Alley, Tyrone Power plays one slick charlatan feeding off the gullibility of old ladies. This cat’s got charm and smoky eyes that could floor a rhino. It might be one of my favorite noir roles, even if I think he deserved a much harsher punishment in the end. This film is cool because it doesn’t revolve around cops or private investigators going after gangsters (in the traditional sense). It’s set in the dark underworld of carnies and provides some surface insight on how they rope in suckers, fleece them, and pull up stakes for the next town. And when carnies start betraying each other and can’t trust their own, you know you’re in for some shit.