Summary Noir Reviews: Highway Crack-Up at Moontide

Apology For Murder

Apology for Murder (1945) Entertaining PRC rip-off of Double Indemnity. Hugh Beaumont plays the sap to Anne Savage’s femme-fatale. Savage dominates in a camp turn that has you wanting more.

Crack-Up (1946)

Crack-Up (1946) A rollicking b-thriller. Pat O’Brien and Claire Trevor hunt down art forgery racket.  Some noir overtones and moody photography with the clever use of flashback.

Endless Desire (Hateshinaki yokubo 1958 Japan)

Endless Desire (Hateshinaki yokubo 1958 Japan) A darkly sardonic tale of greed punished by relentless fate. Bravura direction and cinematography, with a hip 50s jazz score. The movie opens with credits passing over a locomotive thundering along the rails – an opening very reminiscent of  Fritz Lang’s Human Desire.  A group of hoods and a wily femme-fatale tunnel for hidden loot with attendant double-crosses and a final triple-cross. A comic side-plot of a young couple’s courtship is nicely intertwined and the femme-fatale seduction of the callow youth is played for laughs. A brilliant climax in teeming rain at night in deserted city streets and the final denouement on an abandoned bridge thrill.

He Walked By Night

He Walked By Night (1948) A psychopathic killer is stalked by cops. An amazing chase climax in underground drains is the highlight. DP John Alton’s visual poetry offsets zero characterisation.

Highway 301 (1950)

Highway 301 (1950) A taut crime-doesn’t pay b with Steve Cochran dominating as a savage hood. Cochran’s cold-blooded point-blank murder of a former girl friend is chilling,  and his pursuit of the hapless wife of a dead gang-member is remorseless and unrelenting. The violent dispatch of these women is down-right disturbing.  Memorable drawn-out tour-de-force climax on dark city streets.

I Walk Alone

I Walk Alone (1948) A great noir sleeper from director Byron Haskin. Crooked nightclub-impresario Kirk Douglas has framed boot-legging partner Burt Lancaster, who went down for a 14 year stretch. Lancaster returns looking for his cut, and falls for chanteuse Lizabeth Scott, the two-timing Douglas’ girl on-the-side.  Wendell Corey is the fall guy. Lancaster oozes integrity, Scott decency, and Douglas villainy. Corey the crooked accountant is more resonant as the primal noir protagonist.

I Was a Communist for the FBI

I Was a Communist for the FBI (1951) Slick reds-under-the-bed homage to HUAC. FBI plant Frank Lovejoy saves pinko dame in great noir rail-yard shoot-out.

Moontide

Moontide (1944) Savvy pairing of Jean Gabin and Ida Lupino in a moody noir melodrama by the sea aching with love, humor, fog, and angst.  A nice reversal of noir motifs: a guy with a past, a dame with no future, and an homme-fatale. Gabin in his first Hollywood picture oozes Gallic charm. Lupino you have to fall in love with. Cameron Mitchell is great as the  low- life homme-fatale, with Claude Rains out-of-place as an enigmatic intellectual-cum-nightwatchman. Camp elements like Mitchell flicking Raines’ naked butt with a towel  in a communal shower (behind a low wall of course); Gabin a $2 a day fish bait-seller dressed for his aboard-barge wedding in the most elegant suit this side of Paris; and Raines advising Lupino on her wedding night on the erotic obligations of a wife.  Wonderful expressionist revenge climax on a dark pier at night.  Archie Mayo directed with cinematography from Charles Clarke and Lucien Ballard (uncredited).  Originally a Fritz Lang vehicle he was replaced by Mayo two weeks into shooting.  How much the finished film owes to Lang is an intriguing mystery.

My Name Is Julia Ross

My Name Is Julia Ross (1945) Gothic noir is Joseph H. Lewis’ first notable film. Nina Foch is convincing as abducted young woman whose sanity is under assault. Richly atmospheric but marred by hurried ending after 60 minutes.

5 Comments

  1. This is really a tremendous post, and I’m thrilled I will be able to showcase it for the Monday Morning Diary. The great posters, and capsule reviews, especially the ones for the Japanese ENDLESS DESIRE and the Gabin-Lupino MOONTIDE. I must say I’m particularly interested in that Byron Haskin film, as the cinematographer-director helmed that great episode of the original Outer Limits, DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND. Tony, i think this new way of posting is most effective!

  2. John Alton’s cinematography in ‘He Walked by Night’ is the real highlight in this otherwise okay film, that as you rightly point out the climatic underground drain scene. ‘I Walk Alone’ you correctly praise with Lancaster in a terrific early role and I can’t say enough about Elizabeth Scott and that overbite. For some reason I could never sit through ‘My Name is Julia Ross’, I have tried twice already.

    Have not seen any of the others, but I have ‘Moontide’ and ‘Apology for Murder’ on my want list for awhile now.

  3. Thanks guys.

    Sam, I will be posting some more summaries, as I have a massive backlog…

    John, try sticking with Julia Ross as the last 20 minutes is much better than the first 40.

  4. cigar joe

    With “My Name is Julia Ross” I was sort of going along with the premise as depicted, it wouldn’t fly in this day and age, Julia is a very, very, passive victim, she just lays there and takes it, today’s woman would be depicted as more proactive more aggressive. With all the heavy looking brick-a-brack in her room she could have caved in the head of any of the family at any time and alter the dynamic of the story.

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