Peter Lorre

THE CHASE (1946)

The Chase 1946

Aww yeah, another Cornell Woolrich adaptation…The Chase is based on Woolrich’s 1944 “Black Path of Fear,” from his famous “Black” series, which includes Phantom Lady. The adaptation follows closely to the book (minus the opium dens), so viewers familiar with Woolrich won’t be surprised by the breakneck twist that occurs two thirds into this caper. The twist, however, is totally bonkers one and may turn some viewers off. The Chase, starring Robert Cummings, Steve Cochran, and the mighty Peter Lorre is a fantastic noir if you can stomach the twist. While some consider it ballsy, others may consider cheap.

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QUICKSAND (1950)

Quicksand 1950

Quicksand refers to the impressively pathetic hole that Danny Brady (Mickey Rooney) digs for himself throughout this fatalistic workingman’s noir. What starts as “borrowing” $20 from the till at the garage where he works turns into grand larceny and murder. The film’s message damning greed is steeped in gritty atmosphere provided by Long Beach’s waterfront amusement park, The Pike. As Danny sinks further into the clutches of fate, he learns the hard way that stealing money from the till is just the tip of the corruption iceberg.

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THE MASK OF DIMITRIOS (1944)

The Mask of Dimitrios

This one comes recommended by Brian Saur of the mighty Rupert Pupkin Speaks – a fantastic film blog for people who simply adore cinema. He consistently shows love to a lot of underrated films from every era, which is how The Mask of Dimitrios came across my radar. This 1944 wartime noir from Romanian director Jean Negulesco reunites Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet (the little man and the fat man, as they’re referred to in the trailer), and sorta reverses the characters they played in The Maltese Falcon. One’s the blackmailer, the other a sophisticated man of letters – together they’re out to trace the final years of globetrotting scoundrel Dimitrios Makropoulos!

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STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR (1940)

Stranger on the Third Floor

So far my Hardboiled Hangover foray into the world of film noir has turned up some pretty paranoid pictures. Typically these disquieting films were reserved for the late WWII period and the post-war years when several factors led to an anxious nation. So where the hell did Boris Ingster’s 1940 pitch black thriller Stranger on the Third Floor Come from?! This is one dark sonsabitch spearheaded with disturbed performances from John McGuire and the almighty Peter Lorre, and some of the most striking cinematography I’ve seen in a while. Who’s the Stranger on the Third Floor? Short answer: one creepy ass dude. Long answer: hit the jump.

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BLACK ANGEL (1946)

Black Angel 1946

Roy William Neill’s Black Angel barely resembles the Cornell Woolrich novel it’s adapted from. In typical Woolrich fashion, Black Angel is a dark novel about morality and punishment. The film version is a lot more light and whimsical at times (plus there’s like five musical numbers), but at least it maintains the end’s disturbing twist. Aside from some really trippy sequences near the end, Black Angel is a visually drab film. But any shortcomings in the style department are remedied by the solid cast.

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