5 Comments

  1. I think William Friedkin’s CRUISING had some indebtedness to this film, although the thrust of that sordid study ultimately veered in a different direction. Dennis O Brien’s famous line about spending nights in a Turkish bath house certainly made it’s point. The stunning cinematography of this film was featured in the documentary VISIONS OF LIGHT in the early 90’s, and deservedly so.

    Excellent choices of reference there with the Blake Lucas and TIME OUT, and one of your greatest paragraphs of all your reviews with this:

    “Every scene in this movie is a set-piece where the mis-en-scene, the lighting, and the camera’s fluid peregrinations in an electric fusion of a chiaroscuro aesthetic and technical mastery, draw the viewer into a hyper-reality of grim tension, dark tenements, hellish steam baths, desolate streets, seedy nightclubs, drab wharves, rusting cargo steamers, sinister business offices, and the decadent palatial homes of mobsters. This nether world is rotten to the core – each time a boss is uncovered yet another further up the social scale surfaces….”

    And you modestly say you aren’t a film noir expert? Ha! Where will you find better insights, written this brilliantly?

    I do like this Mann film by the way, as if you didn’t already know that. I love that documentary feel, for one, but the acting and script are all excellent too. The cinematography? Well, I won’t say more there.

  2. “effortlessly transcends its semi-documentary brief (with blandly ‘official’ commentary) to land deep in noir territory, concerned less with the heroic exploits of its T-Men than with personality perversities involved in undercover work (the wrenching imperative to deny friends, wives, feelings, even to the point of standing by while a partner is cold-bloodedly executed). John Alton’s superlative camerawork counterpoints tensions and perspectives with almost geometrical precision.”
    – T.M. in the Time Out Film Guide

    The above comment is revealing the world of Noir as depicted repeatedly. Heroic exploits? Not hardly in a vapid meaningless canvas that Noir paints. The mood, the very atmosphere evoked by photography evoke a perverse world the flipside of the American dream as I have read in an essay defining Noir.

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