My Review of ‘The Window’ (1949)

The Window is one of those lesser-known films noir that received critical acclaim at the time of its release, but has since fallen to the wayside for most movie viewers.

Based on a short story “The Boy Cried Murder” by Cornell Woolrich, the plot is essentially a variation on the old proverb about the boy who cried wolf. In this case, a young boy named Tommy Woodry (played by Bobby Driscoll), who has the unfortunate habit of making wild stories up, happens to notice the upstairs neighbors in their rundown New York tenement building, well … killing someone. He observes this through … you guessed it—the window. Specifically, the window next to their fire escape, which is where Tommy happens to be at the time.

When Tommy tries to report this sighting, given his history with tall tales, it’s little surprise that no one believes him. Neither the police nor his parents are buying his story. In fact, Mrs. Woodry (played by a maternal-looking Barbara Hale) gets so mad at Tommy’s repeated allegations, that she threatens to take a brush to him. As in corporal punishment.

Yeah, right, kid! 🙂

Then to make matters even worse, Mother Woodry tries dragging her kid upstairs to apologize to the Kellersons (they’re the ones Tommy saw offing the victim) after the police come calling, which only throws suspicion on the kid and places him in extreme danger. The tension created in this scenario becomes nearly unbearable when Tommy is left alone, because Mr. Woodry (played by Arthur Kennedy) works a night job and the Missus must leave town to care for a sick relative. Needless to say, this is when the killers try to, um, “terminate Tommy with extreme prejudice.”

Well, hello …!

Along with being a highly suspenseful film noir, this movie is aptly named. Not only does a child witness a murder through a window, but the film itself provides a window into some of the mores of childrearing in the tenements of New York and during the late 1940s.

First, the use of corporal punishment speaks to a time in which adults favored the “spare the rod, spoil the child” approach to parenting. Second, the almost cavalier way Tommy is left to fend for himself is a marked contrast to the modern phenomenon of “helicopter parenting”. But in the big city tenements, the concept of latchkey children was nothing new.

As I said, the film was highly lauded by critics, receiving three award nominations and one win—the Edgar. And Bobby Driscoll was awarded a miniature Oscar statuette for outstanding juvenile actor of 1949.

I’d also like to add that Paul Stewart and Ruth Roman both play the “killing Kellersons” with just the right amount of desperation and menace.

 

An excellent gem from the film noir period! I highly recommend it.

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Posted in Film Noir, Movie Reviews, Suspense | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Looking Back at Gun Crazy

Fantastic analysis of one of the great films noir! My thanks to B Noir Detour! 🙂

B Noir Detour

1950’s Gun Crazy (Deadly is the Female) was hardly seen upon release, ignored by critics, and entirely ahead of its time. It’s full of wonderful cinematographic flourishes, wildly creative mise-en-scene, and wicked sexually — especially its link between sex and violence. It’s Bonnie and Clyde meets Detour, yet neither of those. Whatever it is, my hearty applause goes to Joseph H. Lewis, a director whose The Big Combo is another favorite, an equally unique and visually stunning film.

Image result for gun crazy dvd

I recently bought the DVD, complete with commentary track by author Glenn Erickson, and I was amazed to find I’d actually never seen the film at all! (Such “holy crap, I was sure I knew this movie” moments are priceless, if embarrassing.) I watched it straight through, and then I watched it again with Erickson’s voiceover, in which he shares background information on the cast and crew; information about the…

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A Preview of Coming Attractions!

It will depress dishearten delight you no end, I’m sure to find out that the next film in the Saturday Matinee lineup will be coming soon!

In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this preview! 🙂

And these favorite moments from those nutty folks at MST3K!

 

Posted in B-Movies, Horror, Public Domain Movies, Saturday Matinee, Science Fiction, Trailers | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Four Examples of Films By Women

In lieu of the usual movie review, I’m posting four video reviews of movies directed by women. Each one is unique, and you’ll find out why when you watch the videos.

I hope you enjoy them! 🙂

First, is Audrie & Daisy (2016). Co-directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk.

Second, Aeon Flux (2005). Director: Karyn Kusama.

Third, from 1937, The Bride Wore Red. Director: Dorothy Arzner.

Finally, the thoroughly modern and awesome Marina Bruno! The film is Reverse Psychology (2016)! Marina directs and acts in this one! 🙂

I’m stepping away from the blog for a while. But, I promise I’ll be back! 🙂

Posted in Movie Reviews, Video, Vlog, Women in Film | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Part Six of ‘White Zombie’

It’s Saturday and aren’t you relieved thrilled happy to hear that it’s time for the sixth and very last part of this weird, but somehow fascinating (like a car crash!) movie.

I’m speaking blogging of none other than the amazing White Zombie! 🙂

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My Review of ‘Casablanca’ (1942)

It came to my attention earlier this week that this movie recently had an anniversary. That reminded me of when I first saw it at the age of 17 on TV (of course).

I think it was a lazy Sunday afternoon. I was in the living room, watching TV and eating cranberry sauce straight out of a can. And this … fascinating movie came on.

I’d heard of it and the oft-misquoted line from the film. (“Play it, Sam.” not “Play it again, Sam.”) But that opening sequence pulled me right in. The first appearance of Claude Rains as Captain Renault. (“Round up the usual suspects!”) The man gunned down in the street. The Nazis. The opening narration.

With the coming of the Second World War, many eyes in imprisoned Europe turned hopefully, or desperately, toward the freedom of the Americas. Lisbon became the great embarkation point. But, not everybody could get to Lisbon directly, and so a tortuous, roundabout refugee trail sprang up – Paris to Marseilles… across the Mediterranean to Oran… then by train, or auto, or foot across the rim of Africa, to Casablanca in French Morocco. Here, the fortunate ones through money, or influence, or luck, might obtain exit visas and scurry to Lisbon; and from Lisbon, to the New World. But the others wait in Casablanca… and wait… and wait… and wait.

By the time the camera moved into Rick’s Café Américain, I was hopelessly hooked.

Humphrey Bogart is perfection as the tough, exiled American Rick Blaine. And he gets some of the best lines!

Ugarte: You despise me, don’t you?
Rick: If I gave you any thought I probably would.

Captain Renault: What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?
Rick: My health. I came to Casablanca for the waters.
Captain Renault: The waters? What waters? We’re in the desert.
Rick: I was misinformed.

Yvonne: Where were you last night?
Rick: That’s so long ago, I don’t remember.
Yvonne: Will I see you tonight?
Rick: I never make plans that far ahead.

When the man named Ugarte (played with unctuous sliminess by Peter Lorre) gleefully tells Rick about murdering two German couriers to steal letters of transit from them, then must flee from the cops, his pathetic pleas for Rick to hide him fall on deaf ears. (“I stick my neck out for nobody.”)

Ah, but things change when “guess who” strolls in. None other than Rick’s old flame, Ilsa Lund (played by the radiant Ingrid Bergman).

When Ilsa has Sam play “As Time Goes By” and Rick comes charging toward them with that look on his face, it’s a heart-stopping moment.

Then … the flashback to Paris.

Talk about priceless moments in cinema. I’d be lying if I said that scene in the rain at the train station didn’t get me bawling my damn eyes out.

And who doesn’t love the part where Victor Laszlo stands up in a bar full of Nazis and barks out, “Play the ‘Marseillaise.’ … Play it!”

This movie not only tells a great story, but as a 17-year-old watching it for the first time, it made a lasting impression. I actually learned things I hadn’t known about World War II. If someone had said the word “Vichy” to me before then, my first thought would have been of vichyssoise.

And how I can not mention the great supporting cast, which includes not only the aforementioned Claude Rains and Peter Lorre, but Conrad Veidt as Major Strasser, the Nasty Nazi from Hell, Sydney Greenstreet as competing bar owner Signor Ferrari and winner of the Fattest Man in Casablanca Contest of 1941, and Dooley Wilson as that poor fellow at the piano, who had to put up with all the crap he did because he was stuck in the middle and probably didn’t even get a tip out of it.

The thing that’s always gotten me about this film is that so much drama could’ve been avoided if Ilsa had only told Rick from the start, “Look, I’m married, but I think he’s probably dead.” Then, later, she could have said, “Um, guess what? Turns out he isn’t.” But then it wouldn’t have been much of a movie, right?

So you have to buy into the whole business there, along with the idea that she’d rather be with boring old Paul Henreid than Bogie for Pete’s sake! Does the free world really depend on this choice?

At least, that’s the way I felt when I was 17 years old. Being a little older gives you a bit more perspective and makes you realize that love is complicated. And sometimes the problems of three little people really don’t amount to a hill of beans when the world is going crazy.

But it is a comfort to know that we’ll always have Casablanca.

Two thumbs up for a classic film that will endure as time goes by. 🙂

PS: I still can’t believe Ronald Reagan might have played Rick. Ack!

Posted in Classic Movies, Drama, Movie Reviews, Romance | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Part Five of ‘White Zombie’

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S. of A., where I happen to live. And even though I could stuff myself with food and simply laze around the house, I’ve chosen not to do so.

And I’m not overlooking the fact that it’s Saturday again. So, it’s time to show another part of this ridiculous ludicrous hilarious fascinatingly-weird movie! 🙂

For good or ill your amusement, here it is … Part Five of White Zombie!!!

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