With an ex-con butler, silly parlour games and a house full of whackadoos, Not So Dumb is a direct ancestor to the screwball comedies that would become popular in the late 1930s. Dulcy’s jangly bracelets are reminiscent of Mame Dennis’ acting debut and plot points seen in Not So Dumb are used again and again in films like Arsenic and Old Lace, Holiday, The Philadelphia Story, and others. And for those of you who think Gone With the Wind was the first instance of a mainstream film using naughty, naughty swears, note that Mr. Forbes, the cranky businessman, declares, “I don’t care a damn about pictures!” And he doesn’t stop there.
Woman in White is a post-Code lurid Gothic horror, and as such pushes its own boundaries within the genre, mostly through the character of Count Fosco. It’s interesting to note that the film was made in 1946 and not released until 1948, when standards had lessened to a degree; I can’t imagine Frederick’s assertion that he personally has no problem with pre-marital sex being allowed in a film in 1946. But concessions were apparently made to appease the Production Code, and by the time the useless and unstable Frederick reveals himself to be a libertine, he’s been so sufficiently coded as evil and gay that his open-mindedness is easy to overlook.
Not precisely a revival nor a biopic, the 1930 Marion Davies vehicle The Florodora Girl takes little more than a name and the vague idea of a Florodora Girl and transplants her into pre-Code Hollywood, and to strange, though not uninteresting, effect. So light at times that it looks as though it will blow away, reviewer Creighton Peet of The Outlook dubbed The Florodora Girl as “completely delightful nonsense.”
While the link between Westerns and noir films is well documented, very few films have been as literal as Station West in borrowing tropes from one genre and superimposing them onto another.
Darling Lili is a beautiful film, with some fine aerial shots during the battle scenes, some truly fantastic costuming, plus gorgeous sets and lighting.
To modern eyes, Hustle tries way too hard to be edgy, though it’s all in the service of creating a gritty take on films noir and early police dramas.
Murder, My Sweet is frequently considered to be second-tier film noir (when it’s not being forgotten entirely), and that’s a shame, as it’s a fine example of the film noir cycle. Influential and entertaining, this psychological thriller is a must-see for classic film fans.
Criminal Court is a tight little noir directed by Robert Wise, starring Tom Conway as a hot-shot attorney who accidentally frames his girlfriend for murder.
Burned-out police detective Dewey Wilson (Albert Finney) gets reluctantly called in to investigate the murder of high-profile millionaire Christopher van der Veer (Max M. Brown) in Wolfen, the 1981 sociopolitical horror film directed by Michael Wadleigh. Van der Veer, his wife Pauline (Anne Marie Pohtamo), and their driver Harrison (Jeffery V. Thompson) were found sliced…
Ralph Nelson’s jazzy, hard-boiled noir Once a Thief stars Alain Delon as Italian (!) immigrant Eddie Pedak with a criminal past who’s just trying to go straight, but his gangster brother Walter (Jack Palance) keeps dragging him back into the fold. Opening with the cold-blooded killing of grocery store owner Lisa Wing (an uncredited actress),…