film, Movie Crash Course Review, movies

Force of Evil (1948)

Image result for force of evil

The new roommate watched this one with me, and when it finished I turned to him and quipped, “I didn’t know there was such a color as ‘infra-purple’.”

A number of the reviews I’ve read describe this as a “noir melodrama”, and boy is that accurate. John Garfield stars as “Joe Morse”, a lawyer who’s the go-to defense attorney for mob boss Ben Tucker (Roy Roberts). Morse is a little bit too chummy with his client, however; Tucker’s turf is running a numbers racket, and Morse is spearheading a campaign to legalize the numbers as a more traditional lottery, which would obviously work well for Tucker.  Behind the scenes, though, Morse is also teaming up with Tucker on a scheme to take over the smaller competing numbers banks – they know lots of players pick the number “776” on July 4th, so they’ll rig the game so that that’s the winning number, causing a run on all the smaller banks and driving them into bankruptcy.  At which point Tucker will swoop in and take over – just in time for Morse’s legalization campaign to pull through.

Image result for force of evil

There’s just one problem – Morse’s brother Leo (Thomas Gomez) runs one such smaller bank. And Morse knows his big brother will want nothing to do with Tucker’s gang; Leo’s relationship with his baby brother Joe is already strained as it is.  Joe doesn’t want to give away the plan, but still makes repeated visits to Leo to warn him that….something’s gonna go down and maybe Leo should close up shop.  Joe also has his head turned by Leo’s pretty secretary Doris (Beatrice Pearson), and tries to do what he can to spare her as well.  Both Leo and Doris sense that Joe is bad news, and Joe’s struggles to win them over – while trying to keep his criminal dealings under wraps –  make up the bulk of the movie.

Image result for force of evil

The plot description, as I read it on the DVD package, was intriguing and made this sound like a sort of 1940s version of Wall Street or Goodfellas.  Plus it was a fairly short 78 minutes.  However – then I started the film itself, and started hearing the dialogue.  Ye gods, the writing is overblown and histrionic and cliched and florid, and every one of those 78 minutes dragged.  Several of the reviews I’ve read have tried to spin the writing as being “poetic” and the whole film as a “Marxist allegory”; one review even insists that the whole thing is in blank verse.  ….Maybe it is.  But blank verse doesn’t always translate that well for the average-yutz viewer like me.

And it’s a shame, because there are some really artfully-done shots in this, like Morse turning up at his office after hours and being startled to see that there’s a sliver of light coming from under his office door.

Image result for force of evil

Then again, a climactic shootout towards the end of the film is a little messy and chaotic, to the point that it was hard to follow the action.  To a certain degree that’s intentional – the ultimate winner of the fight is supposed to be a surprise –  but I still wish I’d had a clearer idea of what actually happened in the fight itself.

This is another one of those films where the critics of today love it, but the audiences at the time hated it.  And I’m inclined to agree with the audiences.

 

(P.S. – I just realized I mentioned a “New Roommate” without clarifying that the magnificent Alex has moved to Los Angeles to seek his fortune in the screenwriting trade.  …Thank you, sir, and when I get to the Marvel films on the list I may want to pick your brain some.)

film, Movie Crash Course Review, movies

The Ghost And Mrs. Muir (1947)

Image result for the ghost and mrs. muir

Well, I didn’t hate this one.

Gene Tierney stars as Lucy Muir, a young widow with a daughter who moves to a small seaside town outside London in the early 1900s. She’s drawn to a small cottage outside town, and the price is a steal, so she immediately moves in, scoffing at her neighbors’ warnings that it’s haunted. But she very quickly discovers her neighbors were right – the ghost of the former owner, a sea captain named Daniel Gregg (Rex Harrison), turns up to speak to her on her first night there. Other former tenants had been easily scared off by little poltergeist-y things he’d done, but Lucy…Lucy seemed stubborn, so he appeared to make a personal appeal to ask her to leave.  But Lucy was stubborn, and refused.  The pair strike a truce – Lucy and her family can stay, and Gregg will leave Lucy’s daughter and maid alone, if Lucy takes Gregg’s old bedroom as her own and leaves it exactly the way he had it.  And – if Gregg can hang out with her sometimes.

Image result for the ghost and mrs. muir

Soon Lucy and Gregg are good friends – so much so that when Lucy loses her savings and is facing eviction, Gregg has an idea; he’ll dictate his memoirs to her, and she can publish them as a work of fiction.  The pair work for several weeks on this novel, starting to fall in love as they do.  But Greggs’…er, lack of corporeality is a problem.  When Lucy goes to London to meet with a publisher, she meets another writer, Miles Fairley (George Sanders) who takes an instant shine to her. He’s a bit pompous, though, so Lucy brushes him off – but then realizes that even though Fairley is a bit of a jerk, he is also actually alive….so now what?

Image result for the ghost and mrs. muir

It is a little on the corny and sentimental side.  Parts of this reminded me of a film not on the list, Truly Madly Deeplyin which the ghost of a grieving widow’s husband returns – but he’s on a mission to annoy her, so that she’ll get over him quicker and move on.  There’s a point I thought The Ghost and Mrs. Muir was going to do the same thing, but some twists towards the end – and some time jumps – surprised me.  

The two leads have a bit more nuance than I initially expected as well. Gene Tierney’s Lucy is initially brimful of a kind of pluck that seems expressly tailored for romantic comedies – she’s spunky and independent in ways that seem almost tailor-made to draw male admiration.  And Hamilton’s Captain Gregg is almost straight out of a sea shanty at first. But soon we learn that Gregg is as likely to pepper his speech with quotes from Keats poems as he is to use seagoing slang, and as for Lucy…well, I can’t spoil it, but she ultimately surprised me too.

Image result for the ghost and mrs. muir

While looking into the history of this film, I discovered that it also served as the inspiration for a TV sitcom in the 1970s, with the setting moved from England to Maine and the love story abandoned in favor of what sounds like a wacky odd-couple roommates kind of situation.  To be honest, the sitcom sounds perfectly terrible.

film, Movie Crash Course Review, movies

Bicycle Thieves (1948)

Image result for bicycle thieves

When I was about 40, someone got into my apartment through a faulty window lock and stole my laptop.  I actually might have surprised them in the act – they’d locked all the locks on the front door to my apartment, and my fumbling with the doorknob lock and the deadbolt and the chain in my efforts to get in were loud and lengthy, and when I finally got in I saw that all of the closets had been opened in both my room and my roommate’s room, and many other drawers and closets were standing open. But my laptop and my roommate’s were the only things we found were missing.  So likely they’d cased the joint, and were figuring out how to get everything out when I started fumbling with the lock and so they grabbed the two laptops and fled.

I was in a shaky financial place, so replacing the laptop itself would be a hardship.  But even worse – this happened before I’d gotten smart and started backing up my hard drive, so not only were they taking my computer, they had taken all of the data on it.  The first photos I ever had of my niece as a baby.  The first draft of a eulogy for my late cat.  Four short stories.  An essay I’d just started working on.  Ten years’ worth of writing, including all the drafts of two plays – gone.  The thieves didn’t know it, but they were taking far more than a laptop.  And it chilled me to know that not only would they never know – they wouldn’t even care.

Fortunately my parents gave me some help with a replacement, and some friends I’d asked to beta-read some of my writing all flooded me with the drafts I’d emailed them in hopes that they could help me restock.  My friend in Ireland even dug through all of our emails to find every single last photo I’d emailed her and sent it all back to me.  But even so the sheer helplessness and despair I felt took a while to fade.  I spent the entire next day prowling all the pawn shops near my neighborhood in hopes I’d find my computer, and thinking over and over – why had this happened?  Who could do this?  Didn’t they know the impact it would have? Didn’t they understand how personal this was, how much of me was tied up in that laptop?  How could I possibly recover from this loss?  Why me?  

Image result for bicycle thieves

I thought of that a time or two while watching Bicycle Thieves.  Antonio (Lamberto Maggiorani) is an unemployed father in post-War Rome, and finally gets a job wheat-pasting movie posters around the city.  Having a bike is a requirement for the job, however, so Antonio can cover the most ground.  Antonio’s bicycle is in the pawnshop, but the money’s good and his family is desperate, so the family pawns their bedlinen to get his bike out of hock. Still they’re hopeful as Antonio rides off to his first day of work, dropping his eight-year-old son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) off at his own job on the way.  It’s fairly simple work, but pays well, and Antonio turns to it with a will and everything’s going great for the first couple hours, until the moment when Antonio is perched up on a ladder adjusting a poster and someone snatches the bike he’s left unlocked and unguarded.  Antonio tries to chase him, but he’s on foot and soon loses him.

Image result for bicycle thieves

The next day – and the whole rest of the film – see Antonio and Bruno on a desperate search around Rome for his bicycle.  They search through two separate street markets, poring through both the fleets of bikes as well as the stalls selling just the tires or frames, in case it’s been chopped up. They think they see the crook twice and give chase again.  They see an old man that Antonio thinks the thief talked to, and follow him into a church, interrupting the mass to beg the man for help.  They even visit a psychic.  And at every turn they’re thwarted, either by misremembered serial numbers or a crowd of passersby who interfere or the indifference of the police.   And even when they do get close enough, the thief and his likely accomplice are also both clearly so poor that it’s likely that even if they were guilty, they’ve likely sold the bike for the money.  But Antonio doesn’t want the money – he wants everything made right.  He wants things back the way they were; he just wants his bike back.  Doesn’t the thief know what his bike means?  Doesn’t he care? 

And yet, this neo-realist film also shows us the poverty that the thief also endures, which hints at his own motivation – and foreshadows a desperate move on Antonio’s part later.  No, the thief doesn’t care about Antonio – but that’s more because he has enough to worry about.

Image result for bicycle thieves

The performances that director Vittorio de Saca are near miraculous – since both his leads were completely untrained actors.  Lamberto Maggiorani was a factory worker de Saca cast as his lead, after spotting the man in the background of a photo someone sent de Saca for their own head shot.  And as for Bruno – Enzo Staiola was just a curious kid de Saco noticed hanging around their set one day watching the excitement.  But they both give utterly flawless performances.  Especially in what is probably my favorite scene – a moment when Antonio realizes that Bruno’s spirits are starting to sag and suggests they take a bit of a meal break.  The smile on Bruno’s face when Antonio asks if he wants pizza made my heart melt.

Bicycle Thieves is on many critics’ best-of-all-time lists. But its fame didn’t translate to fame for its leads, sadly; while the film was a smash success throughout the rest of the world, it was snubbed in Italy, where audiences were looking for more escapist fare (ironically, the posters Antonio puts up throughout Rome are for the movie Gilda).  Maggiorani planned only to take on this one role as a vacation from his factory work, using the proceeds to upgrade his furniture at home. But the factory soon had to lay people off, and Maggiorani was one of the first to go since everyone assumed he was now a “wealthy movie star”, and he was stuck with working odd jobs and the occasional bit part in films.  Enzo Staiola had a bit happier fate; after working in four more films, he grew up and out of his film career and went on to become a math teacher.   And he’s still alive today.  Here’s an interview I found where he recalls how he was cast.

film, Movie Crash Course Review, movies

Letter From An Unknown Woman (1948)

Image result for letter from an unknown woman

It seems to be an open question about who this film is about.

I thought it was pretty straightforward, actually. The letter in question is one that Joan Fontaine’s character “Lisa” writes to failed concert pianist Stefan Brand (Louis Jordan) at the top of the film. He’s packing to leave town to escape a duel – the film is set in Vienna in 1900, and duels were still a thing – and pauses to go through his mail quickly.  He sees Lisa’s letter, and starts reading it; and stays up all night.

Because it’s quite a story. Lisa has known him all her life, she says – she was just sixteen when he moved into the apartment across from hers, and she was instantly smitten with him.  But he was older and a bit of a lothario, and didn’t notice her; he had his pick of older and more sexually available women anyway.  Still, Lisa writes, she hung on him, hovering in the background and admiring him from afar.  Until one day – he did notice her, wooing her over the course of a whirlwind evening that swept Lisa completely off her feet. (She was legal, don’t worry.)  He left for a tour shortly thereafter, she writes, telling her he’d be back in just two weeks.

Image result for letter from an unknown woman

He wasn’t.  She was pregnant.  She kept the baby, later marrying an understanding man.  Life went on smoothly for years, until she met Stefan again…

We already know Lisa’s story is going to end tragically; she opens her letter with the sentence, “By the time you read this, I may be dead.”  But the nature of that tragedy is an open question.  Stefan is obviously a womanizer, the kind of guy who knows the right things to say to convince a woman to give in; but Lisa is just as obviously a naive innocent who really should know better.  However – is that really her fault?  As a child, most likely not.  But when she’s older, she still is just as naive and besotted with Stefan – and this time the stakes are higher.  And he’s even crueler to her.

Still, Stefan’s cruelty isn’t intentional.  He’s not deliberately setting out to mess up women’s lives.  He’s selfish, sure, but he’s not callous; he loves the many women he woos (or at least thinks he does).  He just plain hasn’t really grown up.  And the very last scene, when he’s finally finished reading the letter, suggests that maybe Lisa’s story has affected him in a lasting way.

And that’s why it’s not as clear who is the “star” of this film.  Is this Stefan’s story, told by Lisa?  He’s the one who grows the most over the course of the full film, even though we see him do very little in real time.  Or, is this Lisa’s story itself, a testimony of a doomed infatuation?  She is the one we follow most closely throughout.  There are good arguments for both sides.

Related image

That’s the story itself.  My biggest nit to pick with this from a film perspective was the casting; Joan Fontaine was 30 when they filmed this, and while she’s lovely, she was a little unbelievable as a teenager.  She tries, mind you; she’s got the mannerisms and the behavior down just fine.  But very few women of 30 are able to look like a teenage girl, and Joan Fontaine was not one of them.

film, Movie Crash Course Review, movies

Odd Man Out (1947)

Image result for odd man out

Odd Man Out is a film I’m going to be thinking about for a while.

I’ve only just this minute realized how surprising it is that this film exists; it’s a British and Irish collaboration, made only 20 years after the Irish revolutionary war.  That’s like if a Hollywood studio had teamed up with a film company in Saigon in the 1990s (there was a 1993 film set in Vietnam, but that was Hollywood collaborating with France).  Not only that – it was only 20 years after the Irish revolutionary war, and opens with a faction of the IRA robbing a factory’s office as a fundraising move.  True, they all refer to themselves as “our organization” instead of using the name, but you know exactly who they mean.

That raid and the resulting fallout is…well, it’s not the plot, it’s more like the catalyst for the plot.  James Mason plays Johnny McQueen, the head of this particular faction of…”the Organization”.  He insists on leading the current raid, even though he’s been hiding from the law for six months after a prison escape and has started questioning whether diplomacy might be better. The rest of the team thinks he’s not quite ready for action yet, and his girlfriend Kathleen (Kathleen Ryan) would rather the two of them slipped away to the country. But Johnny swears he’s up for the gig and swears to Kathleen that he’ll be fine for just one more job, and then they can take off.  But then things go pear-shaped when Johnny ends up scuffling with a guard during their escape, killing the guard and taking a serious wound himself.  The rest of the team loses him in the shuffle and Johnny’s left a fugitive fending for himself.

Image result for odd man out

And that’s when the story really gets interesting.  A title card at the top of the film primly insists that this story is “not concerned with the struggle between the law and an illegal organisation, but only with the conflict in the hearts of the people when they become unexpectedly involved.”  James Mason is ostensibly the star, but he actually doesn’t do a whole hell of a lot aside from wander from one encounter to another, then collapse into a corner and look weak; the people Johnny meets in his travels are who this film is ultimately really about, as Johnny makes his way around the city searching for shelter and safety.

Image result for odd man out

Everyone else in the film Johnny meets is confronted with a choice – he’s a fugitive member of an illegal organization (one which some quietly support), but he’s also a human being bleeding out from a gunshot.  Everyone finds their own way to square that circle; try to help Johnny while keeping their own hands as clean as they can, from the fussy matrons who bandage his arm before sending him back outside, to the barkeep (played by a pre-TARDIS William Hartnell) who sees him stagger into a snug and lets him nap there before sending him along after closing, to the cabbie who smuggles him to an out-of-the-way junkyard and leaves him there, telling him to “make sure your mates know I helped you”.  There are also those who prey on Johnny’s desperation – the drifter who sees Johnny in one of his hiding places and then tells Kathleen he’ll let her know where he is if she pays him, or the drunken painter who drags him into his studio to sit for a portrait (Johnny’s being near death gives his eyes the exact kind of haunted look the artist favors).  And it’s these characters’ choices, and what those choices say about them, that is the real meat of this story – where everyone sees themselves in the miasma of politics that was post-war Northern Ireland, and how far they’re willing to risk their own safety to help another human being.

Image result for odd man out

When it comes to stories about Ireland and The Troubles, I tend to be a little more critical than most; one of my good friends is Irish, and we’ve had a few conversations about that region’s history and the exact nature of the IRA.   Here in the United States, your average person doesn’t know much about Ireland’s history, which left a gap for the IRA to shift the narrative on this side of the Atlantic; in Ireland itself, though, the IRA of the 1970s and 80s was treated as a terrorist organization.  A lot of the films I’ve seen that deal with “The Troubles” have been disappointingly one-note in their politics; prior to this film, the only time I’ve seen anything like a nuanced response was in the U2 concert film Rattle And Hum, in the sequence when the band does “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. That bit was filmed on the same day as an IRA attack on a veteran’s parade in the Northern Irish town of Enniskillen, and Bono stops mid-song to deliver an absolutely blistering condemnation of both the IRA’s violence and of the rest of the world’s ignorance of the politics involved.  This film is a quieter statement – a reminder that whereever your politics fall, in the end we’re all people, all trying to make the best choices we can.

film, Movie Crash Course Review, movies

Monsieur Verdoux (1947)

Image result for monsieur verdoux

As I’ve often said in here, I believe that sometimes how a person receives a film can depend strongly on what the person brings to the film – their personal history, their current mood, their religion or philosophical beliefs, their job history, a fight they got into with family, any number of things can affect how a person responds to a piece of art like a film; sometimes in unpredictable ways.  And sometimes, this unpredictable reaction is shared amid a whole audience; maybe there was a news story that is uncomfortably similar to events in the film, or maybe one of the stars of the film gets embroiled in some kind of scandal a week after the film opens.  Sometimes these issues aren’t under the artists’ control; sometimes, they kind of are.

Like with Chaplin’s Monsieur Verdoux. This black comedy about a “bluebeard” serial killer who woos and marries wealthy women and then kills them for the money was born in a discussion Orson Welles had with Chaplin back in 1941.  Back then it was going to be more of a docudrama about a real French serial killer, Henri Landru; it’s unclear whether they were going to collaborate or were just spitballing ideas.  But Chaplin thought enough of it to eventually buy the idea from Welles outright, giving Welles a story credit on the finished film.  But Chaplin made some great changes to the original idea – his Monsieur Verdoux still preys on widows and murders them for their money, but Chaplin uses the idea as a springboard for some of his own sociopolitical ideas, and bends over backwards to make us sympathize with his killer.  The actual Landru was a struggling furniture salesman, but Verdoux is a banker who’d lost his job in the Great Depression, and was forced into a life of crime to care for his family – especially for his quadriplegic wife.  At his actual trial, Landru professed innocence, refusing to answer any questions about his victims; but in Monsieur Verdoux, Chaplin’s Verdoux doesn’t deny anything.  Instead, he observes that all the world’s nations just finished killing people by the millions; and wasn’t that worse?  There is one implied murder in the film, but otherwise any of Verdoux’s murder attempts fall flat, and in one case the attempt is just a setup for some slapstick.  In another case, he even drops his plans when his victim turns out to be a war refugee.

Image result for monsieur verdoux

Audiences were likely expecting to see Chaplin in his “Little Tramp” persona, so this was all probably something of a shock. The film’s publicists tried to do what it could to nip that in the bud – a lot of the posters I’ve seen feature Chaplin as Monsieur Verdoux alongside a photo of his earlier “Tramp” character, with the slogan, “Chaplin can change – can you?” Chaplin certainly had the right to change, but there are some changes audiences may have found a bit too great to swallow; it’s one thing for a comedian to take on a serious role, it’s another for him to use that serious role to lecture audiences about the universality of the evils of war and the inherent evils of capitalism, which is how some of Chaplin’s script comes across.  Audiences didn’t want to be reminded of war casualties, and anyone that spoke ill of capitalism in the early days of the Cold War got a bit of a stink eye.  To add insult to injury, Chaplin also was caught up in a bit of a morals scandal – a couple years previously, the middle-aged Chaplin had married 18-year-old Oona O’Neill, Eugene O’Neill’s daughter, while at the same time was simultaneously caught up in a drawn-out paternity suit filed by another actress. A blood test had already cleared Chaplin in 1943, but at the time, blood tests were inadmissible as court evidence, and Chaplin’s former paramour was not willing to give up all that easily.

So audiences who weren’t already turned off by Chaplin’s war-crimes lectures and anti-Capitalist statements were probably kept away by the morals scandal, and Monsieur Verdoux didn’t really do all that well in theaters.  His film found some fans, however; journalist James Agee wrote three separate opinion pieces praising the film, pointing out that on one level Chaplin kinda had a point; and anyway, it was just a movie, what was everyone getting so upset about?   As the memory of the Second World War and Chaplin’s moral scandals faded, and anti-Communist panic subsided, newer audiences have rediscovered the film; it’s not enjoyed the same popularity as Chaplin’s silent films, but it’s gained fans in more recent years.

Which is why I’ve been thinking a lot about my own reaction, and how it has taken none of that into account. Like audiences of 1947, I was also used to Chaplin’s “Little Tramp” – but unlike them, I’m coming to this film in the aftermath of the Cold War, and well after any of Chaplin’s moral scandals have been discussed (and at a time when there have been moral scandals which make Chaplin’s May-December marriage and one lone paternity suit sound almost quaint).  The things he says about war crimes got just a shrug from me.  And as for economics?  Shoot, I’ve met actual anarchists who probably think Chaplin didn’t criticize capitalism enough.  At most it felt like Chaplin was getting a little heavy-handed.

Image result for monsieur verdoux

And ultimately that feeds into my own reaction – which is that this felt like an “I am not Spock” sort of move for Chaplin, and that his efforts to re-invent himself were falling a little short.  It’s not uncommon for a comic actor to try to go serious; sometimes it works very, very well (go watch Robin Williams in Awakenings or Good Will Hunting), and sometimes…it doesn’t (there is an infamous Jerry Lewis movie I shall not name).  For me, this fell somewhere in the middle.  Chaplin is trying to play against type, but he’s included so many comedic moments, and his comic instincts are so good, that a lot of the business just reinforces Chaplin-as-comic for me.   There’s an extended bit in the middle when he’s trying to do in one of his conquests, but all his plans fall flat, with slapstick business that feels straight out of his silent films.  At one point, he even gives someone the exact same kind of fake-innocent girning simper that he used in the boxing scene in City Lights

Image result for monsieur verdoux

I suspect, though, that if I hadn’t seen Chaplin’s films so recently, that might not have stuck in my head.  But I was only introduced to Modern Times and City Lights a few months ago, and this has all been my introduction to Chaplin as a whole. His serious turns sounded a little bit pretentious, but he was clearly shining at the comedic bits, and I found myself feeling like he was trying too hard to Be A Serious Actor but kept getting instinctively dragged back into comedy.

Image result for monsieur verdoux

Chaplin can change, but maybe he tried to change too much; and the times changed on him too.

film, Movie Crash Course Review, movies

Out Of The Past (1947)

Image result for out of the past

It’s possible that I’m simply reaching my fill of noir melodrama.

I mean, this was fine.  Robert Mitchum is Jeff, who’s going by “Jeff Bailey” at the top of the film but is actually named “Jeff Markham.”  The name change is because he’s a former detective who’s been hiding out in small-town California, trying to escape the fallout from a previous case that didn’t end well.

His previous client, Whit Sterling (Kirk Douglas, in an early role) had hired him to track down his girlfriend Kathie Moffatt (Jane Greer); Kathie had supposedly shot Sterling and stole 40 grand.  Jeff found her alright, but Kathie pleaded innocence, then seduced him into running away with her.  When Kathie ran off after a few months, Jeff kept on the run too, changing his name and opening a gas station in tiny Bridgeport, CA.

Image result for out of the past

The story of Jeff’s case and Kathie’s betrayal is all told in a flashback as Jeff – accompanied by his current girlfriend Ann (Virginia Huston) – drives to confront Whit after Whit’s men finally track Jeff down.  He’s got to just suck it up and take his lumps, he tells her. When they reach Whit’s house, Ann wishes him luck and takes his car home for him. Jeff takes a deep breath, goes inside to meet Whit – and is stunned to see that Kathie is also there with him.

Image result for out of the past

So Kathie was okay? Sure, she insists. She went back to Whit willingly.  And Whit isn’t mad at Jeff?  Of course not, he insists; Kathie’s back with Whit, it’s all good.  No, they contacted Jeff because they have one last job for him, something that will help Whit get of a sticky back-taxes situation. Whit and Kathie lay out a complicated plan for Jeff, involving Whit’s tax lawyer, the lawyer’s paralegal, and a set of files hidden in a safe.  Here, Whit will even send one of his goons along with you as backup.  And oh, here, Kathie can go with you too to help.  …Jeff agrees to the plan at first – but something about the plan seems a little unnecessarily complex, and Kathie seems to be unnecessarily introducing Jeff to various people in the plot – almost as if she were making sure people saw him there, as if she’d need an alibi for something later.  So he starts concocting his own plan.

Image result for out of the past

Again, everyone is fine.  The performances are all good, the shots are composed nicely, yadda yadda yadda.  But I’ve realized I’ve been watching a lot of noir stuff, and it’s starting to all blend together in my head now, leaving me with a feeling that “meh, I’ve seen this before.”

I wondered briefly if i should have maybe mixed things up a bit; tried to space the noir stuff out with other post-War films.  But – that’s kind of how Hollywood works, if you think about it, isn’t it?  One film that’s a unique genre is a smash hit, and suddenly the studios fall all over themselves to fill the newly-created demand.  I came of age during the “teen-nerds-make-good-with-a-house-party” phase of the 80s, and I’ve lived to see the “space opera” phase, the “stoner-comedy” phase, the “mumblecore” phase and now we’re in the “superhero epic” phase and are at the beginning of “Live-action-remakes-of-animation” phase.

And there’s also a point in each of those phases where I’ve wanted to see a movie, but all that’s in theaters is “yet another dang superhero movie” or “oh god, another stoner comedy movie”, and I sigh and stay home.  So it’s possible that if this were 1947 I’d be having the same problem, wanting to see a movie and yet all that was there was moody noir melodrama and I’d end up sighing and staying home because “I’ve seen that kind of thing already”.

I realize this says more of me than the film.  I’m okay with that.  Perhaps I owe this a rewatch.