Thursday, April 11, 2024

Tonight's TV: Columbo (1973) - "A Stitch in Crime," "The Most Dangerous Match," "Double Shock" - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

I've now wrapped up viewing Season 2 of COLUMBO via Kino Lorber's Blu-ray collection, with a trio of 1973 episodes. Two of them were big winners, while the other was a rare dud.

"A Stitch in Crime" was one of the best episodes to date. It was well plotted, with an interesting premise, a good cast, and some nice humor.

A very sleepy Columbo is called to a hospital crime scene: A nurse (Anne Francis) has been murdered in the parking lot. As Columbo yawns, cracks open a hard-boiled egg, and begs for coffee, his mind is already hard at work analyzing the scene.

The viewer knows that the culprit is Dr. Barry Mayfield (Leonard Nimoy), who realized the nurse was on to his plan to kill his mentor, Dr. Edmund Hidemann (Will Geer), by using the wrong kind of surgical thread for Hidemann's heart surgery.

Dr. Mayfield and Columbo spar regularly as the detective inches closer to realizing that Mayfield is not only the murderer, but that Dr. Hidemann's life is in danger as he recovers from surgery.

One of the things I've noticed about the show, which is true of all three episodes reviewed here, is that the villains tend to taunt and argue with Columbo rather than be more circumspect in an attempt to cover up their crimes. I suppose we might say their egos get in their own way, but it's rather odd none are smart enough to recognize that being more subdued and cooperative might throw him off the scent!

Speaking of Columbo and Mayfield sparring, this is also a rare episode where the genial detective shows the depth of his anger toward a suspect, and it definitely gets the viewer's attention.

Everyone in the cast is good, including Francis in her brief role. Nita Talbot, playing Francis's somewhat kooky roommate, looks enough like her she could have convincingly played her sister.

I don't find Nimoy an actor with much range, but he was successful in this, as within his narrow "lane" he manages to be compelling.

The episode was written by Shirl Hendryx, who died last summer at the age of 99. It was directed by Hy Averback and shot by Harry Wolf, who filmed all three of the episodes in this review. I especially loved a shot of an ambulance speeding past KHJ Studios. Griffith Park also turns up in the episode.

We move from the sublime to its opposite with "The Most Dangerous Match," which is most certainly the only truly boring episode seen to date. Even the sub-par "Dagger of the Mind" was at least more interesting to follow.

The setup for the murder, which takes place against he background of an international chess match, is interminable, dragging on for well over 20 minutes. As someone who is always impatient to move on from the murder scenes to the appearance of Lt. Columbo, this was a real negative, especially as it focused on two colorless characters.

Laurence Harvey plays a partially deaf American chess master, Emmett Clayton, who attempts killing Russian chess player Tomlin Dudek (Jack Kruschen) when he realizes he won't be able to beat him.

Harvey plays the role completely on one note, staring and sneering, with no modulation to his performance. While Nimoy did much the same in the previous episode, he at least had enough charisma to keep things interesting. Harvey, on the other hand, simply can't pull it off. A better script might have helped, but I found his work in this quite poor.

Sadly the actor would die later the very same year this episode aired; he was only 45.

Lloyd Bochner is a complete cartoon character as a member of Dudek's delegation, complete with phony accent. The only bright spots in the show involve Columbo's dog and the veterinarian (Michael Fox).

This episode was written by Jackson Gillis based on a story he cowrote with series creators Richard Levinson and William Link. Edward M. Abroms directed.

I'm really glad I didn't start my COLUMBO viewing with "The Most Dangerous Match," or I might not have gone any further, it's that disappointing. Fortunately it's a rarity, and most COLUMBO episodes are good if not great. The next one in line, "Double Shock," certainly illustrates that.

"Double Shock" was well written by Steven Bocho, based on a story by Levinson, Link, and Gillis. The murder sequence is mercifully limited to about 13 minutes.

The episode is highly entertaining for a variety of reasons, starting with Martin Landau playing identical twins who stand to inherit a great deal of money from their uncle. As a matter of fact, thanks to the twins gimmick, this is a rare episode where we're not completely sure who the murderer is until the very end.

There's the fun surprise of Dabney Coleman turning up in a small role as a police officer working the murder scene with Columbo, and Julie Newmar is just great as a rather ditzy young woman who was engaged to the much older murder victim (Paul Stewart). It seems she genuinely loved him and not his money!

Jeanette Nolan is a hoot as the murder victim's persnickety longtime housekeeper, who can't stand disruption of either her household or her TV shows. A scene where Columbo sits in her pretty kitchen and earnestly apologizes for being messy -- she is not a fan of his cigars -- is really nicely done.

There's also a very unusual sequence where Columbo ends up appearing as an audience volunteer on a cooking show! This fun episode came as a great relief after the previous disappointment.

Robert Butler directed. He died last fall at the age of 95, and as a matter of fact there will be a tribute to Butler at the UCLA Film & Television Archives on April 13th. The evening will include screening the pilot for HILL STREET BLUES, which he directed.

As a side note regarding the Blu-ray set, I was surprised to realize that the first disc of Season 3 is at the back of the Season 2 snap case. Just a word to the wise which could prove useful.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray prints and sound, as always, continue to be excellent.

Previous COLUMBO review posts: "Murder By the Book" (1971), "Death Lends a Hand" (1971), "Dead Weight" (1971), "Suitable for Framing" (1971), "Lady in Waiting" (1971), "Short Fuse" (1972), "Blueprint for Murder" (1972), "Etude in Black" (1972), "The Greenhouse Jungle" (1972), "The Most Crucial Game" (1972), "Dagger of the Mind" (1972), "Requiem for a Falling Star" (1973).

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Tonight's Movie: The Gauntlet (1977) and Book: Another Run Through the Gauntlet

Over the last few years I've been gradually working my way through the filmography of actor-director Clint Eastwood.

It's a rich list, and I was inspired to check off another title, THE GAUNTLET (1977), thanks to a brand-new book by Toby Roan of 50 Westerns From the 50s and The Hannibal 8, ANOTHER RUN THROUGH THE GAUNTLET. More on the book below.

THE GAUNTLET came out in December of 1977, which for me will always be the year of STAR WARS (1977) and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977). I remember the distinctive posters for THE GAUNTLET, but with its R rating it wasn't something I would have seen in my early teens.

It's the story of Ben Shockley (Eastwood), a hard-drinking Phoenix cop tasked with retrieving a witness, a prostitute named "Gus" Mally (Sondra Locke), from Las Vegas and bringing her to testify in a mob trial on Phoenix.

The problem, Shockley quickly realizes, is that his boss, Commissioner Blakelock (William Prince), is in cahoots with the mob and doesn't actually want the cop and the witness to make it back to Phoenix.

Blakelock tries to have them killed on numerous occasions, leading to Shockley and Mally's final brazen armored bus run to the courthouse through an army of cops and a barrage of bullets.

THE GAUNTLET is the classic story of a couple on the run from evil forces, a theme which reaches back decades to movies like Hitchcock's THE 39 STEPS (1935) or SABOTEUR (1942).

In particular, the movie struck me as a brash updating of THE NARROW MARGIN (1952), a favorite film with an identical theme which I just revisited a few days ago at the Noir City Hollywood Festival. In both cases a tough cop is ordered to transport a woman to testify against the mob while unknown forces attempt to kill them.

This being an "R" film from the '70s, I did have trouble with a couple aspects, namely the extremely graphic dialogue in the first half of the movie and an attack on Shockley and Mally by vagrants on a train later in the film.

Otherwise, I found this 109-minute film grand fun. Is it a bit predictable? Yes, I could see some of the situations coming a mile away, but I actually liked that aspect; it made the film relaxing "comfort viewing" instead of something more stressful. The film having some enjoyable humor at various points also added to it being a fun watch.

Is it silly at times, with insane numbers of bullets aimed at our hero and heroine? Yes to that also -- although Eastwood pointed out those scenes were partly inspired by an actual event I recall from my Southern California childhood, the SLA shootout with police in May 1974.

Amidst some of the over-the-top action scenes, the movie works as well as it does partly because of the believable development of the relationship between Shockley and Mally; cop and witness gradually come to admire one another and build a friendship. That turns into something more, leading to a marvelous scene when Mally phones her mother and announces she's met the man she wants to marry. It's an unexpected, unusual moment which is a highlight of the film.

From today's standpoint, the movie is also enjoyable as a love letter to the '70s, with terrific visuals reminding me of my childhood, including Hughes Airwest and Tab soda.

The Arizona locations, filmed by Rexford Metz, are distinctively different. The opening sunrise shots of Phoenix, scored by Jerry Fielding, are absolutely terrific. I didn't realize until reading the book that saxophonist Art Pepper solos on the soundtrack, with Jon Faddis on trumpet.

I also appreciated a couple familiar faces popping up in the movie: The jail matron is played by Mara Corday, who knew Clint at Universal Pictures in the '50s, and a Vegas waitress is amusingly played by Carole Cook. I had the pleasure of seeing Cook, who passed on last year, a couple of times in person, at the debut of a Warner Bros. studio tour in 2018 and at a tribute to Robert Osborne in 2019.

The cast also includes Pat Hingle, Bill McKinney, and Michael Cavanaugh.

I watched THE GAUNTLET on a very nice-looking Blu-ray which sadly has zero extras.

Toby Roan's book, ANOTHER RUN THROUGH THE GAUNTLET, is a small paperback about the size of the books in the BFI Film Classics series.

In a brisk 111 pages, Toby covers every aspect of the movie: The film's development, background on the cast and crew, production history, music, critical reception, poster art, and more, along with his personal thoughts on why he appreciates -- indeed, loves -- the movie.

The book has some fun information, such as Eastwood's "passive-aggressive" maneuvers to make sure his costar was Locke rather than Barbra Streisand (!), for which I'm grateful.

Mara Corday had been widowed when her husband, Richard Long, died in 1974. I loved reading that Eastwood hired her for THE GAUNTLET to help her with health insurance, later casting her in SUDDEN IMPACT (1983) for the same reason. I noted looking at her filmography that her last four films, in fact, were all Eastwood projects. As I write this review, Corday is now 94, as is Eastwood.

ANOTHER RUN THROUGH THE GAUNTLET is a breezy read which was the perfect companion for my first viewing of this very enjoyable film, and I'd love to see Toby do similar books in the future.

Previous reviews of films starring or directed by Clint Eastwood: FRANCIS IN THE NAVY (1955), STAR IN THE DUST (1956), AWAY ALL BOATS (1956), AMBUSH AT CIMARRON PASS (1958), COOGAN'S BLUFF (1968), BREEZY (1973), EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE (1978), BRONCO BILLY (1980), MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL (1997), SULLY (2016).

Although not reviewed, I've also seen ESCAPE FROM ALCATRAZ (1979) (at the 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival) and IN THE LINE OF FIRE (1993).

There may be another Eastwood film on the horizon for me in the near future, as I hope to see DIRTY HARRY (1971) at this year's TCM Classic Film Festival.

Sincere thanks to Toby Roan for providing a copy of ANOTHER RUN THROUGH THE GAUNTLET.

Monday, April 08, 2024

Tonight's Movie: Let's Dance (1950) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

LET'S DANCE (1950), the only Fred Astaire musical I'd never seen, was recently released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

I'm happy to say I found the movie quite engaging and far better than its general reputation over the years would attest. Add in a beautiful Blu-ray print from a 2019 HD Paramount Pictures master and this disc is a winner.

Don (Astaire) and Kitty (Betty Hutton) have a USO act entertaining the troops during World War II.

Don wants to marry Kitty and even announces it at the end of a performance, unaware that Kitty has actually just married a pilot.

Flash forward several years and Kitty is now a widow with a little boy named Richie (Gregory Moffett), living under the thumb of her late husband's weather grandmother Serena (Lucile Watson).

Kitty runs away with Richie and runs into Don, who gets her a job at a nightclub run by Larry Channock (Barton MacLane).

Kitty and Don tentatively begin to rekindle their romance, but many complications ensue, including wealthy Timothy Bryant (Shepperd Strudwick) also having a crush on Kitty. There are also problems due to Serena's ongoing attempts to win custody of Richie.

While not a classic musical, this movie has a great deal going for it, starting with the bouncy Astaire-Hutton dance numbers, set to music by Frank Loesser.

I've never been the biggest Hutton fan but I increasingly have to give her her due, particularly after seeing her in THE MIRACLE OF MORGAN'S CREEK (1944). She's bright and cheery here, seen in fabulous Edith Head dresses with coordinating accessories, and as for her dancing, she could more than keep up with Fred Astaire. Their dance duets are terrific.

I had previously seen Astaire's solo "Piano Dance" number as a highlight of a clip show of underseen musical numbers screened at the 2022 TCM Classic Film Festival, and it was a joy to revisit it. This dance is one reason among many this film deserves to be more widely seen.

The movie's nightclub setting, with a cast of eccentric, well-meaning characters, reminded me strongly of the later THIS COULD BE THE NIGHT (1957); indeed, the two films would make a great double bill.

The way Larry, his French chef Marcel (Harold Huber), and the other employees take little Richie under their wing is charming, and their influence even impresses a judge (George Zucco) overseeing Richie's custody case. I loved when Larry sheepishly admitted to taking the boy to church on Sundays.

I particularly loved the bright, lovely showgirls Bubbles (Peggy Badley) and Elsie (Virginia Toland), who jump in to help as needed.

I haven't even mentioned several other players in the supporting cast, who include Nana Bryant at Timothy's mother, Melville Cooper and the inimitable Roland Young as Serena's lawyers, and lovely Ruth Warrick as another relative, Carola. Warrick is rather underused but looks gorgeous and has delightful reactions to the ongoing proceedings; her presence is a plus.

I would have condensed the plot somewhat, as 112 minutes is at least five minutes too long, but other than that I found this film a fun surprise, and I'll definitely be returning to it in the future.

The movie was directed by Norman Z. McLeod and filmed in beautiful Technicolor by George Barnes.

Disc extras consist of a commentary track by Lee Gambin plus a gallery of eight trailers for other films available from Kino Lorber.

My friend Jessica also recently reviewed this film and reacted much as I did; you can read her take at Comet Over Hollywood.

Recommended.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.

Sunday, April 07, 2024

Tonight's Movie: They Drive By Night (1940) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

The Warner Bros. drama THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940), directed by Raoul Walsh, has just been released on Blu-ray in the Warner Archive Collection.

I was surprised to realize I hadn't seen the movie since way back in 2007. I thoroughly enjoyed watching it via this pristine Blu-ray print.

This is quite an entertaining 95 minutes. It reminds me somewhat of HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT (1937) insofar as it's several movies in one: Action drama, romance, murder and courtroom melodrama. Yet despite its shifts in tone, it all works.

George Raft and Humphrey Bogart plays brothers Joe and Paul Fabrini, who are struggling to make a living as independent truckers. Things seem to be looking up thanks to a helping hand from Ed Carlsen (Alan Hale Sr.), who owns a trucking business, but then misfortune strikes when they have an accident and not only lose their truck, but Paul loses an arm.

Joe goes to work for Carlsen, helping to support Paul and his wife Pearl (Gale Page) during Paul's recovery, but Carlsen's wife Lana (Ida Lupino) makes things difficult. Lana has her eyes on Joe, but Joe is engaged to Cassie (Ann Sheridan). Lana, however, won't take no for an answer...

This film was written by Jerry Wald and Richard Macaulay from novel by A.I. Bezzerides. I find it very enjoyable, thanks to their snappy script, with lines delivered by a great cast. Sheridan, in particular, has never been better than she is here as a wisecracking waitress with a soft heart.

This was the year before Bogart hit the big time in HIGH SIERRA (1941) and THE MALTESE FALCON (1941), and he's very sympathetic as a loving husband and perpetually tired truck driver; the latter issue leads to the tragic accident.

Raft has been an acquired taste for me, but I like him fine in this, and it's great to see Page, who was one of the sisters in the FOUR DAUGHTERS series. Her role is small but her appealing presence adds to the film.

The movie has the typically fine Warner Bros. supporting cast, also including familiar faces such as John Litel, John Ridgely, Roscoe Karns, George Tobias, Joyce Compton, Marie Blake, and Henry O'Neill.

The black and white cinematography was by Arthur Edeson, and I frequently marveled at how good the film looks on this Blu-ray. Sound quality is also excellent. I definitely recommend this disc.

Blu-ray extras include the trailer; the 11-minute featurette DIVIDED HIGHWAY: THE STORY OF THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (2003); a 20-minute short, SWINGTIME IN THE MOVIES (1938); and a 1941 Lux Radio Theater production with Raft and Lana Turner. The radio show was not included on the DVD released over 20 years ago and is a most welcome addition to the Blu-ray release.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from Movie Zyng, Amazon, and other online retailers.

Tonight's Movie: Fingerman (1955) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

The latest Dark Side of Cinema set from Kino Lorber has just been released!

The Dark Side of Cinema XVIII collection is now out, containing a trio of films from the same release year: FINGERMAN (1955), CRASHOUT (1955), and CITY OF SHADOWS (1955).

All three films in the set are new to me, and I started with FINGERMAN which turned out to be just the kind of lesser-known crime film I love to discover. It was also fun to find a new "Christmas" film, as the story opens on Christmas Eve.

In a story inspired by true events, Frank Lovejoy plays ex-con Casey Martin, who's picked up by the feds after he takes part in a truck hijacking.

To Casey's surprise they don't immediately arrest him, offering him a chance to start over if he helps bring down mobster Dutch Becker (Forrest Tucker). Casey is partially motivated by his sister (Evelyn Eaton) having fallen into addiction after working for Becker, risking orphaning her little girl (Bernadette Withers).

Casey works his way into Dutch's gang, but it proves to be very dangerous both for Casey and for his girlfriend Gladys (Peggie Castle), who used to work for Dutch.

This 82-minute film was written by actor-screenwriter Warren Douglas, based on a story by Norris Lipsius (whose experiences inspired the story) and John Lardner. Douglas also served as the film's dialogue director.

The movie was directed by Harold D. Schuster and filmed in black and white by William Sickner. It's all pretty straightforward and won't win any "greatest movie" awards, yet at the same time it's exactly the kind of crime movie I like, including interesting Los Angeles locations such as Griffith Park. Those who share my liking of the cast and authentic settings will probably enjoy it as well.

Lovejoy and Castle are favorites and both seen to very good effect here. Tucker easily moved between hero and villain in his film career, and he's extremely creepy here as a violent mobster. A scene where he orders henchman Lou (the even creepier Timothy Carey) to mess up the face of a hooker (Dorothy Green) so she can't work for a while is chilling.

I enjoyed the undercover aspects of the story and the various ways Casey imparts information to his law enforcement contacts. My only real issue with the film was being unhappy with what happens to one of the characters.

Side note: While posters and IMDb list the title as two words, I always use the title as seen in the actual credits, and it's a solid word there.

As is typical for Kino Lorber, the print and sound quality are solid. Extras consist of a commentary track by Jason A. Ney and a pair of trailers for other films available from Kino Lorber.

Coming in the future: More reviews from this set, along with a handful of lingering reviews from other Dark Side sets, including the XVII collection containing Edward G. Robinson films. I recently really enjoyed VICE SQUAD (1953) from that set. So many movies, so little time!

Kino Lorber's Dark Side collections continue to be some of the most consistently interesting and enjoyable classic film releases.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray collection.

Saturday, April 06, 2024

Around the Blogosphere This Week

Miscellaneous bits of news and fun stuff from around the Internet...

...Kino Lorber's "March Madness" sale runs through April 22, 2024. Lots of great discs at good prices! Many of the titles have been reviewed here; use the search box at the upper left corner of this page to check for reviews.

...Variety has a nice article on historic cinemas being saved. I was intrigued by the mention of the Palm Springs Plaza Theatre. I've been to Palm Springs numerous times but was unfamiliar with it.

...A region-free Blu-ray release from Screenbound Pictures later this month: THE GREEN COCKATOO (1937) with John Mills and Robert Newton. It's also known by the title FOUR DARK HOURS. Thanks to reader Ashley for the information.

...I enjoyed this article with memories of Tower Records. I loved shopping there...even in London!

...The Guardian recently ran an article on the importance of physical media.

...Coming for fall cookbook season: 100 AFTERNOON SWEETS by Sarah Kieffer, author of 100 COOKIES and other great baking books.

...There are lots of interesting recent classic film reviews, starting with Colin reviewing NIGHT AND THE CITY (1950) at Riding the High Country...Toby was wowed by the new Warner Archive Blu-ray release of 3 GODFATHERS (1949) and shares some thoughts at 50 Westerns from the 50s...Glenn Erickson's latest reviews at Trailers From Hell include ALL THAT MONEY CAN BUY (1941), aka THE DEVIL AND DANIEL WEBSTER, for the Criterion Collection and THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT (1940) for the Warner Archive Collection...At Speakeasy Kristina has reviewed films directed by Fred F. Sears, including one I enjoyed, CHICAGO SYNDICATE (1955). Now I particularly need to see LAST TRAIN FROM BOMBAY (1952) and SKY COMMANDO (1953); cast members like Jon Hall, Dan Duryea, and Frances Gifford definitely intrigue..Jessica's Comet Over Hollywood review of the Twilight Time Blu-ray of APRIL LOVE (1957) made me want to pull out my copy and watch it!

...Attention Southern Californians: A new exhibit celebrating the centennial of MGM opens today, April 6th, at the Hollywood Heritage Museum...Thanks to reader Christine for alerting me to the first-ever Los Angeles Silent Film Festival. It will be hosted by Retroformat Silent Films at Mt. St. Mary's University on their Doheny Campus in Los Angeles this November...Christine also provided me with a very interesting article by Chris Nichols in Los Angeles Magazine about Metropolitan Theatres, the oldest chain in Los Angeles, which recently filed for bankruptcy.

...Notable Passings: The great cinema archives librarian Ned Comstock, who in his role at USC assisted both my husband and daughter over the years, has passed on. A memorial service will be held at USC on May 17th. Ned was unfailingly helpful to all and has probably been thanked in the acknowledgments of more classic film books than anyone else. (This accompanying photo is from a lovely Tweet thread from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies.)...Actress-turned-producer Lynn Loring (SEARCH FOR TOMORROW) has passed on at 80.

...Another Notable Passing: Barbara Rush has passed on at 97. I was very fortunate to see her interviewed in person on several occasions, including a pair of screenings at the 2019 TCM Classic Film Festival and also at the 2019 Cinecon Festival. I will always appreciate her especially for her work in the '50s sci-fi classics WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE (1951) and IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953). Survivors include her daughter, Fox News reporter Claudia Cowan.

...For additional recent links of interest to classic film fans, please visit my March 30th column.

A Look Back at the Noir City Hollywood Festival

It's hard to believe it's already been a couple of weeks since opening night of the 2024 Noir City Hollywood Festival!


This year the festival returned to the Egyptian Theatre for the first time since 2020. It was wonderful to be back on "home ground" after festivals at the Hollywood Legion and Aero in 2022 and 2023, respectively.


One of my favorite film historians, Imogen Sara Smith, was this year's "Miss Noir City," featured on festival posters. She is now the editor of the Noir City magazine.


There were a number of interesting people present on opening night, including actresses Diane Baker (MARNIE), seen above with Eddie Muller...


...and Dana Delany, seen in these photos with Muller and Alan K. Rode. Delany (TOMBSTONE) is a serious classic film fan who regularly introduces movies at the TCM Classic Film Festival. This year she's introducing THE BIG HEAT (1953) at the TCM Fest.


Film historians Jeremy Arnold and Leonard Maltin in front of the Egyptian Theatre.


Alan and Jemma Rode with Alice Maltin. I included this partly because I love Alice's shirt!


Alan Rode with Max Steiner biographer Steven C. Smith. Smith also produces wonderful Blu-ray featurettes, including for the upcoming Flicker Alley release of the opening night film, NEVER OPEN THAT DOOR (1952).


A great photo of friend Ruth Mundsack with Jeffrey Mantor of Larry Edmunds Bookshop:


The opening night movies were NEVER OPEN THAT DOOR (1952), known in Argentina as NO ABRAS NUNCA ESA PUERTA, and THE WINDOW (1949), which I first saw at the 2012 Noir City Festival. I really enjoyed revisiting THE WINDOW.


As mentioned above, NEVER OPEN THAT DOOR will be out on Blu-ray from Flicker Alley. I expect to review it when it's released this June, but suffice it to say for now that I quite enjoyed it. With its dual stories, including one about a blind woman, it called to mind FLESH AND FANTASY (1943), which I saw at the 2016 Noir City Festival.


Above, Eddie Muller introduces one of the opening night films. We saw a total of half a dozen films that weekend, returning on Saturday afternoon to see all-time favorite KISS OF DEATH (1947).


After dinner on Saturday, we say two "railroad station" themed films, UNION STATION (1950) and CAIRO STATION (1958). It was wonderful to see UNION STATION for the first time theatrically; I quite enjoyed my first viewing in 15 years, although Allene Roberts screams too much!

The Egyptian film CAIRO STATION (aka BAB AL HADID) has many admirers but really wasn't for me, at least on this initial viewing. I found it too loosely plotted, visually ugly, and generally dark to be enjoyable.


Sunday afternoon we saw one more film for the weekend, enjoying the very colorful DESERT FURY (1947) in a beautiful 35mm print. I can say that the audience was...surprised...by some of the film's unusual content. It was my first time to see it since visiting the locations in 2021, and it was great fun to recognize them on the big screen.


Thursday night we returned for an all-time favorite, THE NARROW MARGIN (1952), plus the excellent RIFIFI (1955). It had been nearly a decade since I last saw RIFIFI for the first time at UCLA.


I've been fortunate to see THE NARROW MARGIN several times theatrically, including when star Jacqueline White was in attendance at the 2013 TCM Classic Film Festival, and it's always a treat. It was particularly special to have Mark Fleischer, son of the film's director Richard Fleischer, interviewed by Alan Rode before the screening.


We saw a total of eight films at the festival, including two new-to-me foreign films. It was a fantastic festival, and I only wish we could have been there on more than four days! My preview of all of the festival's films can be found here.

There's more theatrical film noir ahead, not just at the TCM Classic Film Festival later this month but at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival in May!

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