I’ve been living this strange half and half life over the past year. Half in LA and half up in Gig Harbor WA with Lady V, my elderly mom who lost her partner right around this time last year. I have yet to get back into the regular swing of things in terms of my in-person ringside coverage of Noir City Hollywood and with the way things have been going who knows when the stars will align for that to happen again. Soon, I fucking hope.
But in the meantime, I’m doing the same thing that lots of people in this weird and wild post-pandemic world are doing. I’m working remotely. No it’s not the same and yes, I miss the hell out of my usual Murderers Row of Noir City regulars, but for now I’ll take what I can get.
To that end, a little socially-distanced taste of Noir City Seattle .
This is a good problem to have, but I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years now, so I’ve seen a few movies. And by a few I mean a fucking lot. Whenever I spot something on the bill that I haven’t seen yet, I want to jump on that action even if I know it may not be my kinda flick. Hence my attraction to this Gothic Noir Valentine’s Day double bill.
I really wish I could have seen these two films in person with the indomitable Renee Patrick (both of them!) doing the intro, but alas it’s just the usual couch theater with my French Bulldog Valentine.
Anyway, on to the movies.
First up, SO EVIL MY LOVE.
Olivia, a missionary’s widow falls for smarmy artist Mark who gets her mixed up in a blackmail scheme involving the husband of her oldest friend Susan. Mark ends up turning soft on Olivia and the supposedly saintly woman of God turns out to be the real stone cold killer.
Ok for starters, never trust Ray Milland. Period. Did you not see ALIAS NICK BEAL? But look, forget about him because this is so clearly a torrid lesbian romance between girls school chums Olivia and Susan (“Didn’t we have a wonderful time together in school?” Yes, reader, they did.)
At first I was convinced that the blackmail material in their letters was gonna be steamy exchanges between the two of them, but alas no, it’s just some dude. (Yawn, whatever.) This does nothing to change my mind about the simmering undercurrent between the two women, made even more overt when Susan’s cruel and sickly hubby (who clearly can’t get it up, though he blames the lack of an heir on her) pays Olivia to move in with them and “take care” of his wife for him. They spend their days doing each other’s hair and dressing up and scissoring, you know, girl stuff, until Ray Milland sticks his evil dick into their sapphic bliss and next thing you know all hell breaks loose.
Of course, I also like to believe that they still would have murdered the mean hubby without Ray’s satanic influence but they would have gotten away with it and lived happily ever after. But hey, this is Noir City and nobody gets out unscathed.
I tend not to like period Noir and really did not expect to like this one as much as I did. Which goes to show once again that it’s not about the style of the hats, it’s about what going on underneath them. The story, the characters and the way they come apart are what makes a film noir for me, not just the visual and stylistic elements. Bustles and corsets notwithstanding, this flick is as noir as they come. Mistress Christa says check it out!
Side note: Noir Dog alert! Side Piece Poodle is sick of all these horny humans.
Next up, SLEEP MY LOVE.
Because this is a Douglas Sirk flick on a woman’s picture/melodrama double bill we know what we’re in for right away. Gaslighting Galore!
Claudette Colbert plays a woman who wakes up on a train to Boston suffering from Noir City Flu (aka amnesia) with no idea how she got there. She gets delivered safely home to her swanky NYC pad and doting hubby Don Ameche (suspicious mustache alert!) but all is not what it seems.
Of course there’s a dame, and brother, what a dame.
Unsurprisingly, Suspicious Mustache Hubby has been giving out mustache rides all over town. Specifically to slinky, scheming lingerie model Hazel Brooks, who wants in on the good life currently being enjoyed by his amnesiac wife. Because it’s her money, not his and, well, you can see where this is headed.
Can’t say I really loved it, but I also ended up liking this one way more than I expected. Hazel Brooks is a lot of the reason why, but the Chinese wedding was also a memorable, and for this time period sadly unusual bonus that makes it worth seeking out.
Yes, Robert Cummings is in this flick too (the less said about him and his sleazeball love-interest character the better) but he does take Gaslit Wifey to the wedding of his Chinese brother from another mother Keye Luke and it doesn’t get played for laughs or gawky “exoticism.” Luke’s character also later helps save the day and bust up the gaslighting racket, so it’s nice to see this kind of casual and unexpected representation in Noir City.
One last important question: did they really just bring in Raymond Burr for a couple of quickie scenes to flirt with Don Ameche so he’d have something to think about during his love scenes with Hazel Brooks? He definitely has more on-screen chemistry with our favorite Noir Bear than with her.
Why yes, everything DOES have to be gay. Thanks for asking!
Oh and one last thing. It was great to see that guy from the TV in person again.
No, Eddie Muller is not on my couch, we caught up in a local joint on opening night, along with Rosemarie and Vince Keenan. Like we used to do, in olden times, in the real fucking world.
Anyway, that’s it for now, my Noir Valentines! Like the Czar says, see you in the shadows.