A midnight phone call. A sudden death in the family. A big empty house on a cliff. A mysterious, solitary woman looking out over the turbulent water.
Plot twist: this is real life, not some black and white flick. Smash cut to me and my dog ensconced in the Faust family manor in Gig Harbor WA, having been unceremoniously transplanted by forces beyond our control. Too late for Noir City Seattle and too soon for Noir City Hollywood. What’s a girl to do?
The answer, always, is watch movies. Alone, if I have to. Wanna join me?
Anyway, here I am again, doing another socially-distanced Noir City. I miss the big screen. I miss hanging out with my little tribe of Noir Nerds, cracking wise over popcorn and talking about movies. I especially miss all those things now that they are actually happening in the real world again without me. But the show must go on, and I know there are those of you (hi mom!) counting on my virtual ringside reporting to keep you in the loop.
It looks to be another knockout lineup this year, with a fresh focus on race and gender as well as a brand-spanking-new restoration of one of the few flicks in the genre that I have yet to see.
For our gala opening night (on my sofa with my dog) a Cy Endfield double bill.
TRY AND GET ME! (1951)
Also known as THE SOUND OF FURY. I actually wrote this one up already, in the strange early days of the pandemic. It was my first round of the Noir City Home Game, and little did I know I’d still be at it two years later.
You can also hear more about this excellent flick from the Czar himself.
All I have to add is that the dark, homoerotic undercurrent in the relationship between psycho killer Bridges and mild-mannered Lovejoy is even more apparent the second time around. More like an overcurrent. I mean…
Next, THE ARGYLE SECRETS (1948)
This was the one I was most excited about. Having been at this game as long as I have, noir flicks I haven’t seen are few and fucking far between. And a freshly restored print no less! Sadly, it just wasn’t meant to be for your intrepid girl-reporter, so I had to make do with some low-res YouTube action. Good thing this flick was based on a radio play, because the print was so shitty I could barely make out anything on the screen! In other words, a whole lot of telling and not showing going on. So much so that the stodgy, redundant voiceover was starting to sound a lot like THE CREEPING TERROR.
Anyway, never mind all that. Let’s talk about the movie itself. For starters, there’s really nothing new here. It borrows pretty heavily from MALTESE FALCON, as well as every other well-worn trope in the Noir City Playbook. But hey, I love those tropes and if you’re bothering to read this you probably do too. Is it a parody? A tribute? A political statement? No idea, but it’s over-the-top and wildly entertaining and clocks in at a breakneck 64 minutes. Did I mention there’s a delirious dream sequence?
An ambitious and hardboiled reporter (William Gargan) gets a hot lead from a dying man about a stolen dossier listing prominent war profiteers and traitors. Needless to say, this falcon-like MacGuffin attracts all kinds of crooks, shady dames and other underworld nogoodniks, many of whom now have their sights set on our taking out our not-very-heroic hero. Or fucking him. Or both.
The plot doesn’t make much sense, and I’m still not entirely sure who killed Pinky, but fuck it. This flick was a ridiculous blast and I loved every histrionic minute of it. I especially loved the gratuitous bondage and the inexplicably kinky scene in which the sexy femme fatale convinces the reporter to choke her to prevent her co-conspirators from knowing she allowed him to escape. She insists that he do it hard enough to leave bruises, which lead to this amazing voice over line:
“It was a funny experience, choking a woman deliberately . I got so mixed up I didn’t know what I was doing. I stopped once and kissed her very hard.”
You didn’t know what you were doing, huh? We know.
Up next, it’s Ladies Night, with THE PROWLER, THE ACCUSED, and CAGED!