I have kept still long enough to pen this missive from the dark side. The older you get the less you are satisfied, and the more impatient you become with that closing window of time. An urgency takes hold that counters lethargy yet perversely also saps commitment. Who cares if I do or don’t post?
Jim Morrison at a Doors concert at the dying end of the 60s surmised to the cheers of a young raucous audience, “I don’t know what’s gonna happen man, but I’m gonna get my kicks before the whole shithouse burns down.” Did he? Did we? Get our kicks. As for the final cataclysm, the odds haven’t lengthened. An old man once told me, life doesn’t bear too much thinking about. He was right.
In this dystopian groove, here are some shots of filmic angst.
House of Bamboo (1955) A weak Sam Fuller effort that, for some reason known only to the cosmos, was made in wide-screen Technicolor and in Japan. A sort of dark The World of Suzie Wong. Robert Stack goes undercover to infiltrate a mob of American hoods headed by Robert Ryan, and not a Yakuza in sight. Muddled and borderline boring. Some see a homoerotic subtext.
New Orleans Undercover (1955) B-auteur William Castle helms an interesting 50s-style police procedural with Arthur Franz (The Sniper) as a docker who goes undercover to break union racketeering on the New Orleans waterfront. An intelligent script explores thwarted ambition among working men who have few options. The dénouement is like that of many b’s – underwhelming – sort of like “Hey! we only have three minutes of film left, end it!”
New York Confidential (1955) A totally weird look at the Mob all-in-the-family melodrama with mob-boss Broderick Crawford totally without irony railing against corrupt politicians – “lousy crooks” – while fellow-mobster J. Carroll Naish munches on a salami on rye sandwich and a pickle. Richard Conte’s usual woodenness strangely works well for him as a hit-man with a heart – you have to dig deep. But a young Anne Bancroft steals the show as Crawford’s rebellious daughter, adding some sorely needed depth. Totally subversive with Conte’s demise having a certain pathos.
Cutting to the here and now, a young Italian film-maker, Antonio La Camera, has just released on Vimeo a 6 minute neo-noir short made on a zero-budget titled Killer’s Sight. The production values are surprisingly high, and the mise-en-scène impressive. Antonio has done a nice job on the lighting which is very noir, as with the cinematography and the editing. Effective use of Gershwin over the opening credits is also noteworthy. Interest is sustained to the last frame. Definitely worth a look – be sure to follow the Vimeo link after viewing here to read Antonio’s notes on the film.