Category Archives: Film Noir

The Big Nowhere #3: Plunder Road

Plunder Road lobby

The Big Nowhere is a series of columns I’ve been doing for the 4:3 site, in which I look at the best film noir you’ve never heard of. This week, it’s Hubert Cornfield’s obscure 1957 heist noir, PLUNDER ROAD. Clocking in at just 72 minutes, this cheaply made little heist story achieves an atmosphere of suspense and level of thrills not seen in many films twice its length.

You can read the piece in full here on the 4:3 site.

Read more

Interview: Eddie Muller, Film Noir Foundation

Gun Crazy hi-resA warning: the following interview with Eddie Muller does not contain any discussion of the question, ‘what is film noir?’ It’s one of the few film noir related topics I didn’t talk about with him. Muller, sometimes known as ‘the Czar of Noir’, is a busy guy, founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation, fiction and non-fiction author, publisher, film restorer and now DVD distributor. His Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir (1998) and Dark City Dames: The Wicked Women of Film Noir (2001) are required reading for all would-be scholars film noir, and he has a new book out, Gun Crazy: The Origin of American Outlaw Cinema. Directed by Joseph H Lewis, Gun Crazy is the sordid story of a husband and wife team of criminal sociopaths, played by Peggy Cummins and John Dall. The film sank without a trace upon its release in 1950, but is now regarded as a classic and a much earlier precursor to the 1967 film, Bonnie and Clyde.

You have a new book out, Gun Crazy: The Origin of American Outlaw Cinema. As the title suggests, it’s about the making and influence of Joseph H Lewis’s 1950 film, Gun Crazy. As you stress in the book, the film hardly caused a ripple when it was first released.Read more

The Big Nowhere #2: Crashout

CrashoutThe second of my series looking at some of the best film noir you’ve never heard of, ‘The Big Nowhere’, is live here here at the film site, 4:3.

This week I  look at Lewis R. Foster’s little known 1955 jail break noir, Crashout. Crashout is a B-noir in every sense of the word. The prison break that opens the film was borrowed from scenes shot for another jail noir, Don Siegel’s Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954), and the cast is made up almost completely of solid but unspectacular character actors. But in addition to being fast paced and incredibly tense, Crashout has a remarkably sophisticated story that belies its outward appearance as a macho prison noir.

You can read the piece in full here on the 4:3 site.

Read more

The Big Nowhere: The best film noir you have never heard of

Martha 1As regular Pulp Curry readers will be aware, one of my great cinema loves in film noir. Everyone can name their favourite films noirs, usually the big name, famous ones, like Double Indemnity (1944), the 1946 version of The Killers or Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil (1958). But one of the things I love about the canon of cinema known as film noir is how broad and deep it is. So many fantastic films noirs were made that are relatively unknown to many people.

For a while now, I’ve been thinking it would be great to do a series of posts on the best unknown noirs and what they tell us about what film noir. I was going to do this for Pulp Curry, but a meeting during the recent Melbourne International Film Festival with Conor Bateman, who runs the great Sydney-based film site, 4:3, made me think they might be a better location for the posts.

So over the next few months, I’m am going to be doing a series of columns on 4:3, each one focusing on a different film noir that I think is particularly good and unknown, and posting links to them on this site.

The criteria are simple. That the film be little known, good, American and released during 1945 – 1960. … Read more

The Burglar and unbearable anxiety of late film noir

burglarlc8What I love about the canon of cinema known as film noir is just when you think you’ve seen the all important films, along comes something and blows you away.

Thus was the case recently when I watched the 1957 film The Burglar, based on the book by one of the doyens of classic noir fiction, David Goodis, who also wrote the screenplay.

It begins with a cinema newsreel story titled “Estate sold to spiritualist cult in strange bargain”. The breathless voiceover tells cinemagoers how a millionaire called Bartram Jonesworth has died and left his estate, including a mansion and an emerald necklace, to an aging spiritualist called Sister Sarah.

In the cinema audience is career burglar Nat Harbin (long time TV and movie actor, Dan Duryea). So keen is he to get to work on what could be the score of a lifetime, he doesn’t stay for the feature, he bolts outside and starts thinking about how they can steal the necklace.

He gets his stepsister, Gladden (Jayne Mansfield) to case the mansion under the pretences of visiting to make a donation to Sister Sarah’s work. Gladden informs Harbin and his associates, Baylock and Dohmer, the necklace is kept in a safe in Sister Sarah’s bedroom. The best time to make a move is the fifteen-minute window at eleven o’clock each night during which the spiritualist always watches her favourite news show.… Read more