by | Aug 5, 2006 | Special Features | 0 comments

Five Films plus documentary/introduction
Studio: Warner Bros. WB 76124
Video: 4:3 full screen, B&W & color
Audio: Dolby Digital mono
Extras: Director/actor commentary tracks
(Details in individual reviews below)

Film Noir: Bringing Darkness to Light – (Introductory documentary)
Duration: 68 minutes

Is film noir a genre or a visual style?  The question remains moot: the title, adapted from the French for “Dark Cinema,” describes a movement in American film from c. 1940-1958, when directors of ordinarily B films chose creative and spontaneous outlets for their low budgets and their imaginative writers. Gritty, sparing of sets and music, relying on shadows and acute angles, the films sported antiheroic men and aggressive, often punishing women to propel their psychological tensions.  Less about overt action than mental interiors, the films evoked a high stress as well as curiously detached demeanor; although occasionally, through imaginative cinematography and deep focus, the subjective camera could compel our own nervous participation in the angst of the principals.

As a young kid compulsively attached to American horror films and crime dramas, film noir seemed a natural extension of The Wolf Man or The Devil and Daniel Webster, where a hapless protagonist succumbed either to Fate or to bad choices. As Carol Littleton says, “Fate is a major character, but it just doesn’t get the screen credit.” Between Tourneur’s Out of the Past and Mate’s D.O.A., the limits of the style seem clearly defined: a man of character succumbs to a femme fatale or just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once the workings of the trap begin to tick, there is an inexorability to the progression to catastrophe.  Only the so-called Hollywood Code of Decency prevented many of these films from playing out completely to the darkness that was their natural condition.

In the Film Noir collection video, commentators James Ellroy, Brian Helgeland, and even director Edward Dmytryk elucidate the aspects of the style: dark and pessimistic, tough, laconic, intricate, sexual, a place where evil triumphs. “The snakes are loose,” complains Jeff (Robert Mitchum) in Out of the Past. We have an array of noir faces, especially that of Robert Ryan’s possessed faces in Crossfire and On Dangerous Ground, his battered visage in The Set Up, his fuming lust in Clash by Night, his smoky rottenness in The Racket. Mitchum, Bronson, Hayden, Tierney, Powell, Montalban, Montgomery, Bogart, McGraw, and Neal pass before us, each an icon of the genre. Homage to Cagney and Robinson, to Muni and to Raft, courtesy of Michael Curtiz, Fritz Lang, and Billy Wilder. Some credit M as the first of genre; some accord the honor to Double Indemnity, Little Caesar, Murder, My Sweet, or to Citizen Kane.

We have a crime, but the whole thing unravels, and the psychological pressure becomes more significant than the denouement. Kubrick’s The Killing or John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle instantiate this device. But we could name The Stranger on the 3rd Floor, The Verdict, or Three Strangers as equally iconographic. The Mask of Dimitrios still mesmerizes me. Has any quicksand scene ever surpassed that in Jean Renoir’s Swamp Water? Jane Greer, Kathy from Out of the Past, makes an appearance, claiming director Jacques Tourneur wanted un-involvement to be her major quality. “Down these mean streets,” quips Sidney Pollack. Several commentators credit Scorcese as the natural inheritor of the genre, his Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver commenting that a real rain will wash the slime of the city away.  Gordon Willis, the esteemed cinematographer, notes how difficult it is for color film to achieve the degree of composition and psychic turmoil that black and white projects in film noir. Actor Michael Madsen (and Theresa Russell) sees Robert Mitchum, along with Kirk Douglas, as the inventors of the male prototype; although I would offer John Garfield in Body and Soul (and Force of Evil) and not Douglas’ Out of the Past, but Champion, as his most intense contribution.

Added to the documentary on Film Noir are five Vintage Crime Doesn’t Pay series shorts, of which The Luckiest Guy in the World deserves special mention. The others are Forbidden Passage, A Gun in His Hand, Women in Hiding, and You, the People.  For anyone interested in the film noir genre, the set of five films is as good a place to start as any. [But be prepared for a sort of Crime-Stoppers/ overly earnest/very 1940s style…Ed.]

— Gary Lemco


Lady in the Lake (1946)

Starring: Robert Montgomery, Audrey Totter, Leon Ames, Lloyd Nolan, Tom Tully, Jane Meadows, Dick Simmons, Morris Ankrum
Director: Robert Montgomery; Story: Raymond Chandler Cinematography: Paul C. Vogel; Duration 89 minutes

Robert Montgomery’s Lady in the Lake revolutionized film noir with its dominant use of the subjective camera, mounted above a crouching Robert Montgomery, whose point of view the camera absorbed and projected. Only the Bogart-Bacall vehicle Dark Passage would compete, but for only 30 minutes, with this modernist perspective, which almost eliminates Montgomery’s physical presence or star quality. Its influence on the nameless, faceless narrator of Ellison’s classic novel Invisible Man is enormous. Veteran actors like Lloyd Nolan and Leon Ames, trained never to eye the camera directly, had to reorient themselves to pretend the camera was a living character. “You’ll see the case just as I saw it,” boasts Marlowe. Utilizing long takes and extended dialogue, the film both extends and parodies the noir genre, beginning its credits with a series of Christmas-card images and chorale music, then flashing a gun into the montage and into narrator Montgomery’s hand. This is It’s a Wonderful Life turned upside down; even Phillip Marlowe’s attempt to publish a story with Kingsby’s (Leon Ames) organization involves an inversion: his story is called If I Should Die Before I Live.  Cynical, alienated, forever sarcastic, Marlowe is either a provocateur or a voyeur, baiting Totter and Nolan, or watching detective captain Tom Tully squirm as he recites over the phone “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to his child.

Perhaps actress Audrey Totter’s best role, although she did a fine job against Robert Ryan in The Set Up, her character A. Fromsett steals the movie, moving from a calculating, ambitious bitch-goddess to a sympathetic woman who wants a new start with a new man. Early in the film, she elicits the crack from Marlowe, “Imagine, you needing ice cubes!” Trying to vamp the impassive Marlowe, she uses her eyes coyly, showing her profile to catch his fancy. Even at 4 AM, awakened by Marlowe and her hair down, she flicks on the switch to gain MGM lighting, sheer Lana Turner and Veronica Lake – glossy noir. Actor Dick Simmons plays the gigolo-type with the sun tan and the brass knuckles. Taking a page from Dick Powell, Montgomery’s Marlowe gets himself clobbered a number of times, the camera’s fading out after a right cross.

Soon, we meet ingenue Jayne Meadows, playing a schizo in a manner reminiscent of Patricia Morrison’s classic performance in Dressed to Kill, where even after a murder, she possessed enough sang froid to play a cockney housekeeper to Sherlock Holmes’ undiscerning eye. Lloyd Nolan plays the uneasy, passionate detective De Garmo, juggling any number of closet skeletons. Finally, Morris Ankrum, later the wily Juarista General in Vera Cruz and innumerable abused scientists in sci-fi flicks like Kronos, appears as a distraught father of a murdered girl.  A great ensemble piece, it is the support players who have to prop up Montgomery, since they can only play to his voice, and Marlowe’s character gives us no clue to his personal reactions.  He calls any form of romantic passion “petticoat fever.”

I found the commentary option by Alain Silver and James Ursini tediously pedantic. They would do well to cut to key scenes, rather than superimposing their dialogue on every frame of the repeated movie, sort of like an academic’s bid for Science Fiction Theater 3000, without the robot props and without the humor.  They keep dwelling on Raymond Chandler’s disenchantment with MGM and the Hollywood system, although he liked the money. Occasionally, they throw you a trivia bone, like the death of Tom Tully, but you have to wait for it. When Marlowe complains, “I’m tired of being pushed around for nickels and dimes,” we have a moment of revelation, tough-guy style.

— Gary Lemco

The Racket (1951)

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Robert Ryan, Lizabeth Scott, William Talman, Virginia Huston, Les Tremayne, Don Porter, William Conrad
Director: John Cromwell; Nicholas Ray and Mel Ferrer (uncredited); Duration: 89 minutes

Howard Hughes produced The Racket, based on a play by Bartlett Cormack, with a screenplay by W.R. Burnett. It seems The Syndicate is muscling into the local politics of a metropolitan city and police squad, moving crime-fighting Captain Tom McQuigg (Mitchum) around to neutralize his influence.  The gangster muscle comes from Nick Scanlon (Ryan), the old-fashioned kind of capo who simply rubs out obstacles to his career, in spite of strong admonitions from Don Porter, who takes more progressive directives from way upstairs: the mysterious Old Man who runs The Syndicate.

Eventually, stunts like bombing McQuigg’s home and rubbing out minor officials like Higgins (Howland Chamberlain, unforgettable in Polonsky’s Force of Evil) prove embarrassing for the new-fashioned mob; and they assign one of their paid policemen, Detective Sergeant Turk (William Conrad), to erase the volatile Nick.  Ray Collins, of Mercury Theater fame, plays Prosecutor Welsh, the stooge running for a judgeship on the mob’s behalf. Lizabeth Scott is a second rate crooner, Irene Hayes, who had been dating Nick’s brother (Brent King), until Nick decides to break up their act. Robert Hutton plays a cub reporter with a crush on Irene Hayes. His big moment comes when he leads two hitmen into Talman’s ambush. William Talman, so often an effective heavy himself, plays honest beat cop Johnson, who bags a couple of Nicks hoods after a shooting. John Daheim, who played Johnny Dunne in Champion against Kirk Douglas, is a Scanlon hood. Virginia Huston, who claimed some fame in Out of the Past, plays Officer Johnson’s wife.

Despite the cramped atmosphere of a play’s setting, Cromwell opens up a few exterior scenes for such formula bits like a bomb, a solid first fight, a panorama of the big city from Don Porter’s skyscraper perch. Anyone who has seen Kirk Douglas in Detective Story knows the formula. Some nice interior shots from inside cars behind the driver’s wheel. Ryan excels in face slapping and beating on his own torpedoes. But as Officer Johnson says, “McQuigg plays rough – I like it!” Setting themselves up as deliberate targets, Mitchum and Talman arrest Nick’s brother; then Mitchum’s – holding Lizabeth Scott as a material witness in a car theft gets her to threaten to blow open the Higgins affair.

All of the henchman drive black coupes and trench coats abound. “All I’ve got working for me are a lot of dummies,” laments Scanlon. Another nice shot of Ryan walking into the precinct where Talman inadvertently tells Scanlon that he hires cheap hoods, baiting Scanlon into murder. When a pursuant police car crashes through Welsh’s billboard, the dominoes have begun to fall against the hoods. Unfortunately, confrontations between Ryan and Mitchum are minimal; a pity, since they had worked well together in Dmytryck’s 1947 Crossfire, and the two were so well matched physically. Gum-chewing William Conrad (from The Killers), already spreading around the middle, emanates moral sludge, the Syndicate mechanic on the police force whose slovenliness plays against Ryan’s pinstripe suits. When Ryan starts threatening about “the big boys, the big graft, the Acme Real Estate Company,” and the Old Man’s standing arrest, we can see how the set up works. “They always go too far,” quips Conrad. When the Crime Commission arrives to question Welsh about the Acme Real Estate Company, the slow machine has finally started to grind at the corruption.  “Tomorrow it starts all over again,” muses Mitchum, and the black car rolls into the redeemed city night.

A remake of a 1928 The Racket by Howard Hughes, the new film concentrates on the Kefauver hearings to which Les Tremayne’s character relates. Veteran Milburn Stone has a cameo as a back room Committee member. The city in question is never named, just Anywhere, USA, where crime corrupts honest citizens. Ryan and Mitchum were RKO’s two big male stars, each formerly support players until The Story of GI Joe and Crossfire. While the 1928 version parodied Chicago gangsters and Al Capone, the new version “legitimizes” crime, which has infiltrated civic life.  Shadows fall on Conrad’s face, a classic noir procedure. The Ryan-Mitchum confrontation, the first one, has Ryan eating an apple, seething, while Mitchum’s laconic sleepiness almost registers indifference, a cool reaction to Ryan’s turbulence. The parallels between The Racket and Lang’s The Big Heat are strong, even heavy-handed. Too many characters, static dialogue, contrived action scenes (shot by Nicholas Ray for a penny-pinching Howard Hughes, and very little money spent on set designs. All of the re-shot scenes received no musical scoring.  Whether or not The Racket is “real” film noir or just a cops-and-robbers movie is up for grabs, but it has a certain fascination, especially for Robert Ryan aficionados.

Eddie Mueller does the optional video commentary.  His is a thorough knowledge of the film noir medium, though he makes some omissions or dwells on incidentals according to his own lights.

— Gary Lemco

Border Incident (1949)

Starring: Ricardo Montalban, George Murphy, Howard da Silva, Charles McGraw, Alfonso Bedoya, James Mitchell, Sig Rumann, Arnold Moss, John Ridgely
Director: Anthony Mann; Duration: 95 minutes

Anthony Mann, a master of the violent, moralistic Western movie, applied aspects of the mythic, quest narrative to this Manichean tale of braceros, farmhand laborers, we now find it disarmingly modern.  With excellent cinematography by John Alton, Mann creates any number of iconographic triads, both good and evil, as well as striking composition shots from low angles, where both shadows and barbed wire cut across the principals’ faces. Arnold Moss and Alfonso Bedoya (Gold Hat from John Huston’s The Treasure of the Sierra Madre) provide stereotypical rats in the wasteland of smuggled braceros in the Imperial Valley  (southern California). Working for the chief steward Jeff Amboy (Charles McGraw), who himself works for head honcho Owen Parkson (Howard da Silva), these vultures inhabit a dark, sweaty, glistening world which now controls a network of technology of wartime equipment, strobe lights and walkie-talkies. Against them are the government agents, the emissaries of light, played by Ricardo Montalban (Pablo Rodriguez) and George Murphy (Jack Bearnes). The power shifts, the deceptions and betrayals of the netherworld contrast to the fixed, stable world of law and order. Filmed at MGM, the movie has to be a true anomaly, given its bleak, dark, angular, subversive style, its tenuous grip on reason and integrity.

Perhaps not since Citizen Kane (with its rectangular signs and oppressive rectangles) and Swamp Water (natural, muddy, inky blackness) had shadow and inky blackness figured so predominantly in perspective, even in deep focus.  The death of the braceros in the opening sequences, involving the most effective quicksand locale after Swamp Water, is done with quick, dispassionate angularity, the cheapness of life is paid for without sentiment. In the scene involving the death of Murphy’s agent Bearnes, the ghastly mechanization of his demise, shot from below the furrowing tractor, paints the film with a nightmarish death-camp mentality. What little music there is has been scored by Andre Previn; but there are long sequences of silence, where only a pump or a motor mark the pulsation of tension. Often kindly-used character actors, like Arthur Hunnicutt and Sig Rumann, provide a dark, demonic side to their cinematic personae, cold-blooded opportunists who feel no qualms about dumping human beings on the sides of a desert road. In Rumann’s case, his German accent adds a sinister, postwar malevolence to the manipulation of prisoners of war. The mentality of the film is only a hair’s breadth away from Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where alien elements now inhabit a typically bright and ordered universe.

There are some subtexts in the film, like the slow raising of communal consciousness in the lowly braceros. Actor James Mitchell plays Juan Garcia, the honest peasant worker who wishes to labor in America and earn bread for his family, even if he must enter our country illegally. His naiveté contrasts with the grim machinations of evil, where an army (dare I say “axis”?) of evildoers has access to so many weapons. Character players like Jack Lambert (to be immortalized in Vera Cruz and Kiss Me Deadly) and Charles McGraw (who later played Sam Spade on TV) inject the tough, square-jawed implacability of violence. John Ridgely, often a tall, forthright captain in World War II airplane epics like Air Force, plays Neley, the head of the uniformed cavalry who leads American and Mexican border patrols to the rescue. The documentary character of the film aligns it with Call Northside 777 and He Walked by Night. The ruts of the last shots in the valley become parallel for the grooves in Parkson’s farm, where agent Bearnes is murdered. The Western motif collides with inexorable forces of modern justice: the commandant (da Silva) faces the dirty work from which he has formerly insulated himself.  Coming full circle, the braceros, led by Pablo Rodriguez, rebel against their oppressors, and the quicksand claims those who would abuse the elements of life. Juan Garcia raises Pablo from the dust, literally rescuing him from the moral ooze which threatened so much of our decent life. Dana Polan’s commentary is thorough, if a mite redundant; but he has a good grasp of the historical context in which Mann made this strangely hybrid contribution to the film noir genre.

— Gary Lemco

His Kind of Woman (1951)

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Jane Russell, Vincent Price, Raymond Burr, Tim Holt, Charles McGraw, Philip van Zandt, Anthony Caruso, Paul Frees, Jim Backus, John Mylong, Marjorie Reynolds, King Donovan
Director: John Farrow; Duration: 120 minutes

Another of Howard Hughes’ RKO vehicles for his two biggest stars, His Kind of Woman dangles between the established film noir tradition and a parody of a convoluted, sensationalist love triangle.  The cinematography (by Harry J. Wilde), borrowing from Gregg Toland’s influence in Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons (which featured Philip van Zandt and Tim Holt), concentrates on dark, shadowy staircases and oppressive ceilings. Frank Fenton wrote the screenplay, and a Raymond Chandler cynicism infiltrates the dialogue. Mitchum (Dan Milner) is an unlucky gambler who doesn’t drink.  First, he has been set up for petty pick-pocketing, then for a big deal involving Nick Romano (Raymond Burr), a deported gangster, a la Lucky Luciano, who wants to reenter the United States. Burr’s innate reptilianism plays against Mitchum’s sultry, large, detached cat. Burr’s character hopes to trade places with Mitchum with the help of plastic surgery. Russell (Liz Brady, aka Leonore Brent), whom we meet in Nogales, Mexico, plays a singer posing as a rich heiress chasing after a self-absorbed actor named Mark Cardigan (Vincent Price) who has delusions of real-life heroism. Russell likes to sing, an impulse Lauren Bacall shares in noir classics like The Big Sleep, even in To Have and Have Not.

Once Mitchum arrives at the plush, sleek resort, the noir elements, low angles, low ceilings, and blind-drawn shadows contribute to the extension and clarification of the plot, which takes well over an hour. One nice scene occurs when Mitchum, as impatient to learn the deal as are we, assaults the plastic surgeon Kraft (John Mylong) and knocks off those impassive dark glasses. Charles McGraw gives us a fine performance as Romano’s henchman Thompson. McGraw has an intense struggle with Tim Holt’s federal policeman (Lusk). Holt’s character finally reveals the nature of the plot, in the midst of low-angle shots. Milner’s the patsy for Romano’s identity-switch. Raymond Burr’s sequences, opening with a chessboard décor in Italy, were added later. Burr, who would make his demonic mark later in Rear Window, had shed some of the bulk he had acquired in the 1940s. When Burr cultivates a plant as he discusses the facial consequences of rigor mortis, he resembles Gale Sondergaard’s Spider Woman. The late scenes in Romano’s boat bring out the extreme sadism in his character, including Dr. Kraft’s remark that the drug he wants to use to cook Mitchum’s brain was developed by the Nazis. “Fools get way with the impossible,” quips Mitchum, a remark that covers much territory in this movie. Mitchum manages to intrude on a con pulled by Backus’ character, a Wall Street gambler, linking Mitchum’s softhearted persona to Rick Blaine (Bogart) in Casablanca, who helps Helmut Dantine win at roulette. Backus might be standing in for Claude Rains.

Commentator (on the optional track) Vivian Sobchack makes much of the Hollywood decency code enforced by Breen, which forbade Russell’s cleavage, a nude painting on the wall of the resort, and showing agent Lusk’s death on screen. “I just don’t want to see you get hurt, that’s all,” admits Mitchum to Russell. Blinds cut across the bodies even as Russell’s intervention with a stolen gun moves the denouement a bit closer. From the moment of Russell’s delivery of the gun to actor Cardigan, Vincent Price dominates histrionically the last third of the movie – camping it up with bits from Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet (wrongly identified by expert Sobchack as Hamlet: it’s Mercutio’s line about the church door, my dear) and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, all the while parodying Errol Flynn.

Character actor Anthony Caruso, who played so well against Alan Ladd in many adventure films, takes on a major dimension in the torture of Dan Milner, as directed by Richard Fleischer. The yacht itself becomes a kind of labyrinth, an icon common to Kafka and film noir both. Mitchum gets dumped into an engine room filled with live steam, a device best-used in The Lineup, where Eli Wallach’s hitman Dancer rules. Crosscutting between Cardigan’s romp in the woods as he hunts down Charles McGraw and his henchman and Milner’s distress with fascists, His Kind of Woman proves a curious hybrid: the film-noir farce. “I forgot which side your heart was on,” quips Price to the wounded McGraw. Breen didn’t like the farcical stereotypes of the Mexican police recruited by Cardigan.

Originally, Robert J. Wilke had been cast as Ferraro, only to be replaced by Howard Hughes with Raymond Burr.  A natural successor to Laird Cregar, Burr had the same obsessive eyes and sweaty demeanor Cregar could command in a film like The Lodger or Hangover Square. Hughes wanted the injection scenes with Mitchum and Mylong extended for maximum torture effect. The upward angles and cramped ceilings add to our voyeurism of nightmare violence. “I want him to see it coming,” snorts Ferraro. At the conclusion, we get King Donovan’s unaccredited appearance as a reporter. Paul Frees and another passing character actor, Robert Cornthwaite (back at the Nogales bus stop), would team up again in RKO’s sci-fi horror flick, The Thing. Liz and Dan celebrate with champagne as his pants burn. Very campy, a strange amalgam, His Kind of Woman – whatever its contribution to film noir – is unadorned Howard Hughes.

— Gary Lemco

On Dangerous Ground (1952)

Starring: Robert Ryan, Ed Begley, Ida Lupino, Ward Bond, Charles Kemper, Ian Wolfe, Anthony Ross
Director: Nicholas Ray and Ida Lupino (uncredited); Duration: 82 minutes

Jim Wilson (Robert Ryan) is a touch city cop, tired of having had to deal with the scum of the earth for eleven years.  “Why do you make me do it? You know I’ll beat it out of you!” he warns another perpetrator. Admonished for excessive violence by Captain Brawley (Ed Begley, who would work with Ryan again in the intense noir thriller Odds Against Tomorrow), Ryan is sent on an assignment outside the city–“Siberia,” Ryan calls it–to track down a murderer who happens to be the brother of blind girl Mary Malden (Ida Lupino). Even one of Wilson’s partners – Pop Daly (Charles Kemper) – warns Wilson that “you’ve got to put something into life–from the heart.” Ward Bond plays the victim’s father, as angry with the slow machinations of justice as Wilson is impatient with the system in the city. 

The lines and shadows that mark the city intrigue open up for snowy, mountainous sets in the country; and the paradoxical melting of Ryan’s embittered heart will happen in rugged pursuit of Danny (Sumner Williams), who has murdered a girl not out of perversity but out of sickness.  Bernard Hermann’s score pulsates with excited menace, especially in the rocky-terrain chase sequences, which more than anticipate his music for North by Northwest. Even Ward Bond’s lust for revenge abates as he beholds Danny’s broken body: “he’s just a kid.” After Wilson tells Mary Malden of Danny’s death, she loses control of her emotions and sense of personal space, enough so that Wilson’s caretaker sympathies become aroused. On his way back to the cold, heartless city, Wilson turns his car around and goes back to Mary; and the tale ends with two lonely people who’ve found compassion in the midst of Bernard Hermann’s blazing strings and horns.

Emotionally expressive, On Dangerous Ground moves from hard-boiled detective drama to sympathetic love story. Nicholas Ray shoots the first 30 minutes from inside the police prowl car.  Ryan’s Wilson lives alone, his only company the mug shots he studies during breakfast. Begley admires Ryan, but he cautions that a gangster with a badge defines a cop, too. Anita Talbot plays an underage femme fatale at a bar; Ryan suggests the owner wants to lose his license.  A.I. Bezzerides, the writer of the film, has a cameo as the owner. Jim cannot accept a dinner invitation from his partner; instead, he pays informer Nestor Paiva (also in Young Man with a Horn) for information on a couple of cop killers. Another femme fatale, Myrna Bowers (Clio Moore), emerges from a cheap dressing room.  She likes it rough, and Wilson might oblige her to get information on another perp, Tucker. Bernie Tucker (Richard Irving) seems hopped up on drugs, racing around the room like an insect and virtually begging Wilson to destroy him. Producer John Houseman claimed the police department condoned their depiction in the film.

Once Wilson arrives in upstate Colorado, we meet Sheriff Ian Wolfe, a ubiquitous figure in films who made his 1930 films under the name Ien Wulfe. He made many films in the Sherlock Holmes genre. Ryan takes the case from Wolfe and tells Mary that a city cop doesn’t trust anyone. Later, Mary confuses Ryan with another film veteran, Frank Ferguson. Bond’s character, on the other hand, outdoes Ryan’s hardboiled persona by becoming a one-man lynch mob. When Ryan throws away Bond’s rifle, his personal redemption is almost complete. Lupino, who became a rare directorial force in film and television, has a prayer scene over her dead brother, shot later in post-production. Glenn Erickson’s commentary is on target, quite informative and pursuant of the theme of psychic sickness. I met Nicholas Ray inadvertently at SUNY Binghamton while he was walking with Dennis Hopper; they were at work on The Last Movie.  I told Ray I admired his In a Lonely Place.

— Gary Lemco

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