Anthony Quinn as an amnesiac who is wanted for murder? You got him in The Long Wait, and not one but four femmes noir. Three blondes and a brunette. All leggy and not backward in coming forward.
This violent and brutal flick has Mickey Spillane all over it. The second Spillane novel to be filmed in Hollywood – after I, The Jury (1953) – The Long Wait takes pulp fiction down to a new level. A preposterous plot with more holes than a pair of fishnet nylons itches a perversely compelling pastiche of noir tropes: amnesia, corruption in high places, crooked cops, frame-ups, violence, duplicitous dames, and sex. But no Mike Hammer. Our protagonist is strictly an amateur. But that doesn’t make him any less able to dizzy the dames nor prove his innocence – even if the key to the frame is patently absurd.
Quinn is a hunk and knows it. His kisses and clinches are not for the faint-hearted. He beds the first girl to show an interest. In fact, she picks him up. A frank come-on and cut to her apartment, where after a shower she is ready for the bout naked under her wrap. You get the picture.
Despite a strange incoherence and lackadaisical direction from Brit Victor Saville, the talented lensing of Franz Planer sustains visual interest, with suitably dark lighting and expressionist flourishes.
This brings us to the climax which melds sex and violent entrapment into an amazing expressionist sequence involving a spot-light and deft crane shots. Quinn is tied-up in a chair and a girl called Venus trussed on the floor is being goaded by the bad guy to crawl to Quinn for one last kiss. The resolution is neat and unexpected. One of those rare moments when you are left open-mouthed before the craft and audacity of what you have just seen. Totally weird.