|Vintage Pulp||May 5 2021|
Get while the getting is good.
It's the classic film noir pickle: what will a guy do when he can't find a job? Pretty much 100% of the time he resorts to crime, and pretty much 100% of the time he gets in deep shit real fast. The unlucky mug in Try and Get Me! is Frank Lovejoy, who moved with his wife and son to California but didn't realize “a million other guys had the same idea.” Desperation sets in and a chance meeting precipitates his descent into crime, as he becomes a getaway driver for stickup artist Lloyd Bridges. Meanwhile, over in the subplot, a news publisher who wants to move more copies of his paper convinces a reporter to portray the holdups as part of a crime invasion by eastern gangs. Interesting, right? If you're a media outlet that wants to rake in profits, just claim some “other” is ruining your community.
Here's the money quote: “People love to be scared to death. The more you scare 'em the more papers they buy.”
Without putting too fine a point on it, which we'll do anyway, clearly nothing has changed seventy years later, except now cable and radio don't sell fear, because that implies weakness—they sell “outrage,” which sounds macho and proactive, but is nothing more than a fight-or-flight reaction to fear. Would a character in a popular movie made in 2021 casually toss off an observation like that? We mean a line that gets at an essential societal ailment—to wit, people will think exactly what they're told to think, as long as the information comes from someone they like? We doubt it. In Try and Get Me! the newspaper guys use the “eastern criminals” fairy tale until people are so riled up they lose the capacity for rational thought. They even—ahem—form a lawless mob and assault the seat of government.
Too much plot info? Oops. It's less relevant than you'd suspect, though. Anyway, Bridges, who's instigating the crime spree, inevitably tires of taking in twenty and thirty bucks per job and drags Lovejoy along on a prospective big score. How do you think that turns out? Could it possibly be... murder? And now they're both in it up to their noose-sized necks. The audience knows from an earlier scene that Lovejoy's collar size is fifteen and-a-half. Foreshadowing? Possibly, but there's still an hour left in the film at that point, and anything can happen. Later there's an interesting shot of a window shade and its circular pull, which looks sort of like a noose. Hmm... Well, best not to dwell on possible signs and portents too deeply. Try and Get Me!, also known as The Sound of Fury, premiered in the U.S. today in 1950
Try and Get Me!The Sound of FuryFrank LovejoyKathleen RyanLloyd BridgesAdele Jergensposter artcinemamovie review
|Vintage Pulp||Sep 27 2019|
Treasury agents build a better louse trap.
Above is a poster for the 1949 film noir Trapped, which with its focus on the techniques used by treasury agents to foil counterfeiters, falls into the procedural crime category. Lloyd Bridges plays a convict whose printing plates have somehow made it back into circulation. Treasury agents spring him so he can help catch the perps, but Bridges is no snitch—at first opportunity he beats the tar out of his minder and escapes. But hubris has been the downfall of many a film noir tough guy. Turns out the treasury guys expected the escape attempt, and the agent let himself be battered to make the break believable. The hope is that the now-free Bridges will run straight to the counterfeiters. It's a fun idea, but on the whole what you get is a somewhat perfunctory noir, enlivened just a bit by a nice nocturnal climax in a tram garage. As a bonus, in a co-starring role as the loyal girlfriend you get Barbara Payton, whose infamous cautionary Hollywood story is probably worth a movie all its own. Check what we mean here. Trapped premiered in the U.S. in Los Angeles today in 1949.
|Hollywoodland||Feb 22 2019|
A Trapped criminal always fights to the death.
Above you see a crop and full frame version of one of the greatest film noir promo photos ever made, in our opinion, from the 1949 thriller Trapped. Lloyd Bridges stars as a counterfeiter stalked by treasury agents, and Barbara Payton co-stars as his loyal lady love. We may talk about this film at some point. Payton would later earn her place in Hollywood lore by spiraling down the drain of drugs and vice. We discussed that in detail several years ago, and it's a very noir tale that you can check out at this link.