Crashout and Cry Vengeance

After our somewhat girly Gothic Noir double Thursday night, Crashout was a much needed testosterone injection. This is a man’s movie, dammit, and I loved every minute of it.

Some friends and I were recently bemoaning the apparent extinction of the bad ass fat guy as a cinema archetype. These days you can have still a fat villain, but he’s always more of the evil mastermind type with lots of back up muscle to do his bidding, rather than a real man of action. Back in the day big guys could still be tough and strong and weren’t afraid to get their own hands dirty. Guys like Raymond Burr, Orson Welles, and my personal favorite, William Bendix, star of Crashout.

Crashout is a surprisingly brutal and violent film that follows a group of six escaped cons on the lam as they dodge cops, boost cars and search for a stash of hidden loot. A terrific ensemble cast, including Bendix at his best, William Talman as a creepy homicidal preacher and a stunning young Gloria Talbot (one of my long time monster movie crushes,) plus a top notch script makes what could have been a by-the-numbers action thriller into something greater than the sum of it’s parts. The characters are all memorable and complex and as they go down one by one, you find that you really care what happens to them. I also dug Beverly Michaels as the unconventional love interest, an unwed mother hiding out from her own ugly past. She got the best line too; (I’m paraphrasing here) “There’s two kinds of money, just like there’s two kinds of love. The good kind and the dirty kind.”

I can’t say enough good stuff about this one. In short, it’s brilliant. I hope someone’s got a DVD in the works for Crashout, because it’d be well worth it.

Next up, Cry Vengeance. This one was a lot more formulaic, with Mark Stevens both starring and directing. He really should have remembered not to wear his own monogrammed shirt while playing a character with different initials. Anyway, the character in question is Vic Barron, a violent ex-cop who just got out of jail after being framed for murder and losing his wife and daughter in a car bomb. He’s got scars from the bombing both inside and out as he embarks on a obsessive quest for revenge against the man he believes to be responsible. The film was shot on location in Ketchikan Alaska, which makes a pretty unusual setting for Noir, but otherwise it’s nothing new. We get another pixie haircut, this time worn well by Martha Hyer and we also get a strange, slightly fey tow-headed, bespectacled, bow-tie-wearing villain. I found myself giggling over some of the more frenetic, karate-chop fights. Not a great film, by any stretch, and I think it really suffered by being paired up with the superb Crashout, but I’m not sorry to have seen it on the big screen.

And now, two quick mini-rants.

First,  I’ve only seen it twice and I’m already sick to fucking DEATH of the trailer for a movie called Babies. It’s some kind of doco that follows the first year of these four babies and it’s apparently nothing but endless, intolerably “cute” footage of naked squalling brats. I fear I’ll be seeing it again tonight and probably tomorrow night too. Ugh. Can I get some kind of special silver foil atomic jumpsuit to protect me from repeated exposure to this kind of horror?

Second, I actually had to tell the hipsterette sitting next to me to turn off her cell phone and quit texting, checking email or whatever DURING THE FILM! She gave me an attitude about it too, like I was being an unreasonable bitch. Seriously, kids, if you simply can’t bear to spend eighty whole minutes concentrating on one single thing, stay home, or in fucking Starbucks where you belong.

Tonight at the LA Film Noir Festival, The Power of the Whistler and The Voice of the Whistler.

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