The first Sunday night of Noir City is always a kind of test that separates the true hardcore fans from the casual dabblers and hipster date-night types. This one doubly so, since it was also a holiday. Predictably, we had a much smaller but more intense crowd. Not a glowy cellphone in sight.
First on this double shot of British Noir was THE HIDDEN ROOM (also known as OBSESSION.)
An English psychiatrist’s wife, improbably named Storm, can’t get enough All American beefsteak. So fed-up hubby decides to kidnap her Yankee lover and act out his meticulously conceived plan for the perfect murder.
Only he didn’t count on the interference of an astute police inspector and a plucky poodle named Monty. Yes, really.
(I wish I could find a higher quality version of this photo, because I’m TOTALLY OBSESSED with these pajamas.)
While this film was definitely British, with lots of scenes of ferociously polite cat-and-mouse dialog between the cop and the would-be killer, it could be argued that this one is more Hitchcockian than Noir. In the end, I don’t really care, because I loved it. In spite of the fact that it has the least Noirish ending in Noir City history.
Thank fuck all that is about to change with THE SLEEPING TIGER.
There’s no question that this one is as Noir as they come. A married woman’s sexual obsession with her shrink hubby’s young, violent patient spirals out of control, leading to mayhem, murder and ruin.
This film was directed by blacklisted American Joseph Losey under a pseudonym, his first in England. It deals with some of the same themes of lust, perversion, and criminal psychology that he explored throughout his career. Sure, the central conceit, that a psychiatrist would allow a violent convict to live in his home in order to study how his mind works, is both outlandish and amusingly dated. All the heavy handed stuff about the convict’s daddy-issues can also be a bit much at times, but if you can get past that, it’s a dark and dirty little flick that’s worth hunting down.
Also we finally, after six movies, got a goddamn DOWN ENDING. Which is how we like em in Noir City. Of course, it was more than a little preposterous and over-the-top, but it sure beats the sticky-sweet snuggle scene with Monty the Poodle.
So we get a slightly longer than usual break, but stay tuned, Noirhounds. I’ll be back in Noir City on Thursday night for THE SUSPECT and LADIES IN RETIREMENT.