The Big Finale of ‘Detour’

Happy Saturday (or whatever day you happen to catch this)! 🙂

Are you ready for the big, rather depressing downbeat ending of the latest B-movie feature?

When I posted the previous part, I mentioned a few fun facts about Ann Savage. Well, this time I talk for a bit about poor Tom Neal. His life had a doomed quality, not unlike the character he played in this film. Kind of creepy sad.

Anyway, here’s Part Five (and the Big Finale) of Detour!

And here’s a performance by Tom Neal that was a first for me! 🙂

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Posted in B-Movies, Classic Movies, Film Noir, Public Domain Movies, Saturday Matinee, Serial Shorts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My Review of ‘A Fistful of Dollars’ (1964)

The first in a series of groundbreaking films that were initially released in Europe and eventually came to the US of A, this movie (plus two others in “The Man with No Name Trilogy” shot Clint Eastwood (who played the anonymous (sorta!) man) into stardom.

Via Once Upon a Time in America

Here we also have an example of one of the film industry’s favorite traditions—stealing good ideas remaking older movies. In this case, an Italian director (Sergio Leone) remade (unofficially, of course) an Akira Kurosawa film called Yojimbo (1961), which led to Toho (who produced Yojimbo) suing the folks who made this picture. They ended up settling the case, and Toho ended up with 15% of the film’s worldwide receipts. As reported in Wikipedia.

So what is this film about? It’s about a lone stranger (Eastwood, of course) who rides into this rather desolate town consisting of two families and a saloon-keeper. If there are other residents, they stay pretty well hidden throughout. Except for the crazy bell-ringer guy (kind of a lone Mexican Quasimodo sans hump) who clangs a mission bell or something when Eastwood/No Name Guy rides in.

It doesn’t take long for No Name to cotton to the fact that the families (the Caucasian Baxters and the Mexican Rojos) are at odds. Each wants to be in charge of this deserted town. Okey-dokey. No Name realizes he can play one against the other to his financial advantage.

Via Commentary Track

Via The Soul of the Plot

Via Fistful of Pasta

Unfortunately, all good things must end. Two things in particular throw a monkey wrench into the works: the fact that Ramon Rojo (the big bad leader played by John Wells) is holding a woman named Marisol hostage and No Name’s underlying decency (yes, beneath all that opportunism, there beats a heart of gold—apparently).

Via Fistful of Pasta

Eventually, this leads to all sorts of graphic violence (for the early 60s) perpetrated against No Name, who’s forced to scuttle into hiding.

Without going further into the story, this was my first exposure to the Spaghetti Western. And I loved the detached, morally-ambivalent nature of the protagonist.

If you’ve read Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett, it’s easy to see the book’s influence on this film. In that book, an outsider (the anonymous Continental Op) comes to a small town full of corruption and proceeds to play its prominent players against each other.

I learned about that after reading this book (reviewed here).

And I finally got around to reading Red Harvest, which I reviewed here! 🙂

The climactic scenes in this film are stunning. Naturally, the two families have a big showdown. I’ll let you guess who wins. Tough call, right? 🙂

Via Fistful of Pasta

And the final confrontation is sheer delight.

With its fabulous scenery, Leone’s unique use of close-ups, and the iconic Ennio Morricone score, A Fistful of Dollars is a movie that makes an impression.

I am a sucker for these movies. I highly recommend this one! 🙂

Posted in Movie Reviews, Westerns | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Part Four of ‘Detour’

Hello again! Time for another segment of this little gem of a movie.

Today’s intro includes a few brief words about the lovely Ann Savage. While hardly an exhaustive list of Savage’s achievements, you can find out more about Ann Savage here! 🙂

There’s also a book about her Savage Detours: The Life and Work of Ann Savage. The book is available on Amazon.

As is this digital restoration! 🙂 (These are affiliate links. Just saying. 🙂 )

So, on with the show!

Posted in B-Movies, Film Noir, Saturday Matinee, Serial Shorts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

My Review of ‘Caged’ (1950)

Unlike many films noir, this movie has neither a femme fatale nor an homme fatale. Unless the homme fatale is the husband of the protagonist who commits robbery, gets killed, and lands his wife in the clink.

Via Movie Forums

When we meet Marie Allen (played by Eleanor Parker), she’s a sweet, widowed, and (as we soon discover) pregnant 19-year-old who winds up in prison for assisting her now-dead hubby in a desperate act. She is, in essence, a virtuous woman placed in a horrible situation due to a combination of bad choices and bad luck. Her time in the Big House does little to help her hang onto her virtues.

Via Movie Forums

Although Marie manages to make “friends” of a sort in the joint, she’s constantly pushed toward the Dark Side by the inmate “powers that be”.

Via Journeys in Darkness and Light

On top of that, she’s bullied mercilessly by the vicious matron, Evelyn Harper (played so well by Hope Emerson, I wanted slam my fist through the screen and punch her lights out). Evelyn ignores and scoffs at the well-meaning warden (played with amazing sympathy by Agnes Moorehead), who wants to rehabilitate the inmates and treat them like human beings, in hopes that it will discourage recidivism.

Via Journeys in Darkness and Light

The film is notable for a few things. First, the performances are exceptional. Parker’s depiction of Marie as she transforms from innocent young woman to hardened inmate is devastating.

And though the prison is skewed very white racially, keep in mind the film was made decades before Orange is the New Black. And it’s depressing to see how little progress we’ve made in prison reform since.

Which brings me to the fact that they took on the topic of prison reform to begin with. What better type of film to examine the subject than film noir. In a world where wrongdoers are supposed to be punished, it poses the tough questions of where one draws the line between what constitutes appropriate versus cruel and unusual punishment. Not to mention how such punishment will benefit society.

Last, can you think of another movie in which Agnes Moorehead played such a nice person? She made the warden so decent, I wanted to hug her. A lovable Agnes Moorehead—go figure!

Click on the photo for an Agnes Moorehead bio.

I’ll only add that the ending is among the most noirish I’ve seen lately.

I’m giving this one a whole-hearted five stars. Highly recommended!

Posted in Film Noir, Movie Reviews | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Things Get Savage in Part Three of ‘Detour’

If you’ve been following this movie, you’ll know that I mentioned Ann Savage in the early stages of the film. Well … Ms. Savage is about to make her appearance. And, I assure you, she does live up to that name. (At least, her character does!)

So, without further ado, here’s Part Three of Detour! 🙂

PS: Where is that woman in the blue dress putting her hand? 🙂

Posted in B-Movies, Film Noir, Saturday Matinee | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

My Review of ‘Vesper’ (2017)

In an interesting twist of social media fate, Vesper came to my attention through a Facebook message. The only reason I didn’t write this review sooner can be blamed on my unfortunate tendency to ignore Facebook—messages and all.

However, be that as it may, I’m glad I found out about this film. Let’s begin with its genre and plot.

Vesper is a short film—only 23 minutes—but it packs a lot into that compact running time. It’s a psychological thriller, in French, but worry not my fellow idiot Americans English-only speakers, there are subtitles.

It’s about a woman named Marge (played by Agnès Godey), who appears to have a really creepy, stalker-like husband, Walter (played by Götz Otto). Marge seeks help with Creepy Husband from her nephew Christian (played by writer/director Keyvan Sheikhalishahi), a nice guy in dark glasses who says he’ll go the extra mile to protect Marge from the Hubby from Hell.

But here’s where it gets interesting. If Marge shuts Walter outside the house, how come he keeps emerging from the shadows and talking to her? How come they’re having conversations (presumably) right in front of Christian? Or are they?

The movie builds slowly as husband and wife exchange words in a verbal battle of wits that suggests there’s much more than meets the eye to Marge and Walter.

Plus, the eventual confrontation between Walter and Christian is intense to the point where I hung on every word and action.

The film is beautifully shot in contrasting dark scenes inside the house that feel like eternal night and the bright daylight of the external scenes, particularly at the end. The music sets the uneasy tone of the film and gets under your skin, along with the imagery.

As to what’s really going on with Marge and Walter, that is the question. One that this reviewer pondered long after the film’s final credits rolled.

Check out the trailer!

Oh, and Vesper is an indie production written by Sheikhalishahi when he was 17 and made at the age of 18. Color me impressed!

Here’s the film’s official website. And Facebook page! And IMDB listing! 🙂

Posted in Indie Film, Psychological Thrillers, Short Film | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Part Two of ‘Detour’

It’s now time for the next part in the depressing surreal somewhat downbeat saga of Al the Piano Player and his cross-country journey from the foggy dreary streets of New York City to the Golden State where his True Love waits tables.

On that happy note, here’s Part Two of Detour!

PS: And here’s 3 really bad reasons why authors shouldn’t blog. 🙂 Yes, I’m being sarcastic funny!

They also probably shouldn’t make their own original short videos either! 🙂

Posted in B-Movies, Film Noir, Public Domain Movies, Saturday Matinee, Serial Shorts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment