Noir City: THE BIG COMBO and BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK

Can’t seem to shake this rotten cold, so I’m reporting from home instead of my usual ringside seat. These are both great flicks that I’ve seen more that once and you should see them too so let’s get on with it. First up THE BIG COMBO.

Chances are, if you were to do a google image search using the words “film” and “noir,” one of the first images that would come up is this one:

This iconic image is from this flick, and it’s loaded with more of the same. It starts off with a sexy and suicidal blonde being chased by thugs through a boxing arena and doesn’t let up for a second. Turns out the blonde, played by Jean Wallace, is being kept by a big time gangster (Richard Conte) and pined after by an obsessed cop (Cornel Wilde.)

A dangerous love triangle. Sex and violence and dark secrets. A razor sharp script full of quotable zingers. Knockout cinematography. Everything you want out of a noir flick and them some.

Also, the two thugs from that great opening sequence, played by Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman are on Eddie Muller’s list of Film Noir’s gayest couples. Which, in case you were worried, is NOT meant as a joke or an insult. It’s just a tip of the hat to the way that people like me used to have to read between the lines to find reflections of ourselves on the silver screen.

Next up BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you’re gonna say. “But it’s … in COLOR! How can this movie be considered Film Noir?” Isn’t it more like action? Drama? Western? Honestly, I don’t care what you call it. Just fucking watch it.

Spencer Tracy plays a mysterious, one armed stranger who arrives in a dried up and forgotten Death Valley town on a mission to find a Japanese farmer and let him know that his son was killed in the war. What he finds instead is festering racism, seething resentment and a dark and toxic secret that is just as resonant today as the day this flick came out in 1955.

And hey, even if you don’t care for “message pictures,” you should still see it, if for no other reason than the fight scene between Ernie Borgnine and Tracy. It’s fantastic, one of my all time favorites.

Also, funny how hateful racists in red ball caps never seem to change.

This is an outstanding film with a crackerjack cast. Who cares if it’s noir or not? It’s fucking aces. Mistress Christa says check it out.

Tonight, another great double bill that I’ll be missing. A KISS BEFORE DYING and THE HARDER THEY FALL. But don’t worry, Faustketeers. I’ll still be posting my usual write up from my sickbed.

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