Noir City, the Home Game: To the Ends of the Earth and Whiplash

We kicked off last night’s double feature with TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH.

Dick Powell plays a treasury agent whose hunt for the elusive and mysterious leader of an international opium smuggling ring takes him to the titular ends of the earth.

This was one of the two films on the bill I hadn’t seen yet, along with PURSUED. The DocuNoir voice over is delivered by Powell in first person, and so it comes off a little more intimate and smart-ass compared to the the typical stodgy, omniscient narration, but there’s just WAY too much of it. It’s clear that they were trying to placate the censors by making sure we all know that smuggling drugs is very, very bad.

There are a couple of pretty disturbing scenes in this one, including smugglers deliberately drowning their chained slave workers, multiple suicides, and a particularly harsh and ugly bit where Dick Powell man-handles a woman and calls her a “piece of garbage.” Also, as with many films of this era, there’s a fair amount of yellowface make up in the Shanghai scenes.

But, on the plus side we get Dick Powell galloping around a hotel room with a blanket on his head pretending to be a dragon dancer and a bunch of sequences where a tiny plane follows trails of dotted lines on a map. And if you ever wanted to learn in-depth details about the opium racket, including things like camel X-rays and stained index fingers and butter that isn’t butter, this is the movie for you!

Of course, I’m convinced that the mysterious governess Mrs Grant and her beautiful young Chinese companion Shu Pan were lovers, but I don’t want to give too much away. I will say that the radiant and fiercely talented Maylia Fong is hands down the best thing about this flick.

Next up, WHIPLASH.

How about that tagline? Anyway, not only have I written this one up already, but you’ve probably already read that post because it’s also my write up for THE HUNTED. I will say that I fall harder for Eve Arden every time I watch this flick. If I were that boxing artist, I’d forget the cold-fish mobster’s wife and run away with her instead!

Stick with me, Faustketeers, because tonight we’ve got RAW DEAL and HE WALKED BY NIGHT.

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