First up, THE SPIRITUALIST aka THE AMAZING MR. X
I didn’t like this flick at first, but as the initially goofy spook-plot started to tip its hand and reveal what it was really about, I changed my tune. And not just because Turhan Bey gets (voluntarily!) tied up.
Anyway I’ve written about this one already too and it’s widely available to stream, so Mistress Christa says check it out.
Next up, THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI.
This is an Orson Welles joint, starring his estranged and soon to be ex-wife Rita Hayworth and it’s utterly, over-the-top bonkers in the best possible way. Despite being compromised by studio heads who tried to cut his unhinged genius down to a more palatable mainstream size, it’s still drop dead gorgeous and psycho-sexually twisted and full of everything we love here in Noir City. Yeah, ok so Welles puts on a painfully bad Irish brogue for no apparent reason. It makes about as much sense as the whole convoluted murder scheme or anything else that happens in this flick for that matter, but who cares? Because damn.
The surreal climax inside the fun house is unforgettable and the shoot out in the hall of mirrors is one of Film Noir’s most iconic scenes.
I also loved the scenes in the Chinese Opera theater.
Really this is a must see, and if you’ve somehow bothered to read this deep into my Noir City write ups and haven’t seen it yet, you need to remedy that shit, pronto.
Oh and hey, bonus points for a Noir Dog!
This wiener dog is rumored to have belonged to Errol Flynn, whose boat was used for filming. Anyway, remember this cute canine moment, because you’re gonna need it to get through the next picture, MOONRISE
Dane Clark plays Danny, the cruelly bullied son of a murderer who kills one of his old bullies and proceeds to dig himself deeper and deeper as he tries to cover it up. To be fair the bully is Lloyd Bridges, who pretty much always has it coming.
This rural noir starts with a brutal hanging and doesn’t let up. There’s a carnival scene to tie it in with the first flick on the bill. It’s beautiful and dark and fucked up and I should love it.
Only I don’t.
For starters there’s Danny’s violent, coercive “courtship” with the saintly schoolteacher, who forgives him. Then there’s the Barton Fink style “idiot man-child” character who gets assaulted by our antihero and forgives him. There’s even a Magical Negro ™ who dispenses folksy wisdom and also forgives him.
Are you starting to see a pattern here?
Humans aren’t the only ones who are expected to take this guy’s shitty behavior and forgive him because of his traumatic past. He lashes out and kicks a dog named Daisy Belle and even though he hugs her at the end (she looks about as comfortable in his unwelcome, choke-hold like embrace as his Stockholm Syndrome girlfriend) I would have bitten him if I were her.
This isn’t the only animal harm in the movie. The disturbing coon hunting scene is clearly meant to show how Danny relates his own situation to the fate of the doomed animal, but soft-hearted animal lovers might still want to skip this one.
So yeah, it’s gorgeous to look at, beautifully shot, intense and powerful and morally challenging. I like the central premise of exploring generational trauma and “bad blood” and redemption and all that. I guess where this film loses me personally is when it suggests that the solution to Danny’s (mostly self-inflicted) problems is being unconditionally forgiven by those he harmed, rather than him having to really earn their forgiveness. Ultimately, he comes off kinda like an proto-incel who acts like a raging asshole and then doesn’t understand why girls won’t date him. Hint: It’s not your dad’s crime, pal, it’s you. And yes, that’s my modern viewpoint talking, but hey, this is my blog. As always, your milage may vary.
Stick with me, Faustketeers, because tonight it’s the big finale with BODYGUARD, NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES and THE BIG CLOCK.