Sometimes it even has a small calibre firearm.
We have two brilliant items above—a pair of Italian promo posters for When Danger Lives, starring Robert Mitchum and Faith Domergue. The first was painted by Averardo Ciriello, and the second is the work of Giorgio Olivetti. Both artists are geniuses. In Italy the movie was called Una rosa bianca per Giulia. That would translate as “a white rose for Julia,” which was the working title of the movie while it was under production. The Ciriello poster is similar to the U.S. promo, but executed with more detail. Not to be outdone, Olivetti is less intricate but depicts a more desperate struggle, electing to paint Domergue unarmed—unless she's holding a gun to Mitch's head, in which case it would be a very short struggle. However, while Mitchum is getting the better of her on both posters, in the movie she tries to smother him with a pillow, so their relationship is—in a weird way—equal. You can read more about it here. After premiering in the U.S. in 1950, Where Danger Lives opened in Italy today in 1951.
I'd like some alterations to this trenchcoat you made me and I'd like them right now.
This excellent shot shows Nancy Guild from her 1947 film noir The Brasher Doubloon, wearing a very square trench coat. We saw the coat before in a promo we shared several years back, but in this shot we can see how unique it is. It's as if there's an iron bar across the shoulders. And there are no buttons. We really need to get around to seeing The Brasher Doubloon just to see if Guild actually wears this garment. We'll track it down and report back.
Belita always gets her man.
The poster above was made to promote the crime thriller The Hunted, which premiered today in 1948 starring Preston Foster and Belita, the British ice skater who carved out a film career after her 1936 Olympic appearance. Playing to type, Belita is a former ice skater paroled four years after being arrested by her cop boyfriend Foster, who refused to believe she wasn't involved in a diamond heist. In fury she promised to kill both him and her defense attorney, who she claimed betrayed her. Now freed, she goes back to Foster—literally sneaking through his apartment window—and tries to convince him of her innocence.
Foster is hard-boiled at first, but slowly begins to have doubts, then begins to fall in love again. Is Belita an innocent woman, or is she a psychopath who'll make good on her promise to kill her enemies? Our advice: never trust anyone who'll slither through your window. For that matter never trust anyone who threatens to kill you. But Belita seems to adjust well to being free, taking an ice skating job and behaving in exemplary fashion. Maybe the threat was a bluff, and she's innocent after all. Meanwhile Foster does that cop thing and digs into the old heist.
The Hunted is not a top effort. It's somewhat limply scripted, and Foster isn't exactly a furnace of charisma. The movie also plays on the tired trope (even then) of the slimy defense attorney. The movie's most serious flaw, for us, is Belita's attraction to one of the more undeserving lead males in cinema history. But we vintage movie buffs are used to that, right? The question that truly matters is whether the plotline keeps the viewer engaged, and on that score the movie succeeds, nudging it ever so slightly onto the positive side of the ledger.
As a side note, film noir fans with sharp eyes will notice that the movie borrows the coin flipping gimmick from Johnny O'Clock, though Foster is not nearly as good at it as Dick Powell. That goes for his acting too. But The Hunted has Belita, and moreover, it has her skating. She's graceful, fun to watch, and turns in a decent performance opposite her empty suit of a love interest. That isn't a ringing endorsement, but it's the best we can offer.
I like to call what happens next the women's short program because it'll be over before you know it.
Olympic ice skater-turned-actress Belita gets the drop on an unseen foe in this crop of a larger promo image made by Allied Artists Pictures for its 1948 film noir The Hunted. We'll circle back to the movie—possibly in reverse while preparing for a triple axel—but if you want a teaser, we'll tell you that Belita has a skating routine in it, which makes it worth a look for that reason alone.
The train is headed to L.A. but some passengers make their last stop long before then.
Les tueurs du Pacific Express is one of two French titles for the 1952 film noir The Narrow Margin, with Charles McGraw and Marie Windsor. The other was L'énigme du Chicago Express, which was used for France. But the above poster is Belgian, which you can always tell because there's also a Dutch title—in this case De moordenaars van de Pacific Express. We've already shown you the U.S. and Italian promos for this, so if you're interested you can click over to those and learn a bit more about the film. It premiered in Belgium today in 1953.
Once you get into the habit it's hard to stop.
It's Jane Greer again, in yet another pistol packing promo image from her mandatory 1947 film noir Out of the Past. This makes the third we've posted. Here she's in a different outfit and on a different set than the other two. See those previous images here and here, and check out another nice armed promo of her from The Big Steal here. We'll share an image of her without a gun soon. Yes, she actually made some, amazing as it seems. Also, watch Out of the Past. It's one of the most visually gorgeous film noirs ever.
Rare Maltese bird migrates to Asia.
Above: a very nice Japanese poster for the classic early film noir The Maltese Falcon, with Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Peter Lorre. The movie was titled in Japanese, “colors of Malta,” which we can't see as any better than the original, but whatever. It's a great piece of art. We've talked about the film only briefly, because what more can we offer than the numerous film experts who've reviewed it? However, we do have a lot of associated poster and book art, some of which you may not have seen. We suggest looking here, here, here, and here.
Ryan reaches the limits of control in crimefighting and romance.
On Dangerous Ground, which premiered today in 1951, is a film noir melodrama about a bad cop who finds a reason to reset his professional and emotional lives. It was adapted from Gerard Butler's novel Mad with Much Heart, and that title pretty much tells the tale, as Robert Ryan plays a detective so mean even his colleagues warn him he's out of control.
He eventually ruptures a suspect's bladder during a beating. He deserves to be drummed out of the police and publicly shamed for such a transgression (in our opinion), but his chief, instead of handing him the pink slip he deserves, sends him to the mountains to help with a distant investigation until the heat cools. Once there Ryan finds a reason to reassess his life in the form of Ida Lupino, the blind but insightful sister of a murder suspect. She can sense bullshit and hurt miles away, and she becomes the first person that Ryan has actually listened to for a long time.
On Dangerous Ground is not by any means the best that film noir has to offer, but it has its moments, including extensive location shooting in snowy western Colorado. For noir completists it's certainly one to watch. Those with limited time allotments can probably give it a pass in favor of something better, but note that Lupino is a film noir icon as both an actress and director, and in fact directed some scenes in this movie, though she wasn't credited. Keep an eye out for her official work.
Stanwyck and MacMurray make a dangerous bet
There are still, after all these years, important classic films we've never discussed in detail. We can now cross Double Indemnity off the list. The movie starred Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, and we've looked at its West German poster, had fun with one of its promo images, and talked about its ingenious quasi-remake, but never actually gotten to the movie itself. Well, here we are, and now the question is can we tell you anything you don't already know? Possibly not, but let's start with the Australian daybill, which you see above. It isn't the usual poster you find online, so that's something, anyway.
The movie begins with MacMurray making a confession, then slides into flashback to explain his crime. He plays an insurance salesman for Pacific All Risk who quickly realizes that Stanwyck's interest in secretly purchasing a life insurance policy on her husband is for the purposes of murder and claims fraud. He resists the scheme at first but Stanwyck convinces him. How? All we see are a few kisses but the answer has to be sex. McMurray is a guy who has experience with women and is so confident with them he's almost glib. He wouldn't agree to murder a guy just because someone is a good kisser.
Thus, temptation nudges him, unseen sex tips him over the edge, and from there he and Stanwyck are off and running with their murder plot. Eventually Stanwyck's husband is found dead on a train track, presumably after falling off the observation car of the Los Angeles-Santa Barbara express, and the crime seems perfect, except the insurance policy that will pay $100,000 brings a tenacious investigator into the picture. That would be Edward G. Robinson in another great performance, and he immediately latches onto an anomaly—Stanwyck's husband didn't file an insurance claim when he broke his leg weeks earlier. Why would a guy who had accident insurance not make a claim? Maybe he didn't know he had accident insurance.
Robinson's role and performance make the movie. He pulls on the single hanging thread that unravels the entire murder plot, and when it starts to come apart it does so almost too fast to believe. There's revelation upon revelation, even reaching years back to the time that Stanwyck's husband was married to another woman, and Stanwyck was that woman's nurse. It's this latter half that makes Double Indemnity a top classic—though make no mistake, it's a film noir clinic even from its first frames, in terms of visuals, structure, music, and direction from Billy Wilder. But when MacMurray's situation deteriorates so quickly and so uncontrollably in the last half, you almost experience the same vertigo and helplessness his character must feel.
Double Indemnity was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and as usual for the Oscars, was beaten in most of its categories by a film that ended up having far less influence—the Bing Crosby musical Going My Way. But time tells the tale. Nobody is calling Going My Way one of the best films ever made, but Double Indemnity was certainly a top ten film noir, and was influential far beyond its niche. The movie opened in the U.S. in the late spring of 1944 and finally reached Australia to dazzle and dismay audiences today, December 1, that same year.
Tom Neal takes an alternate route directly to trouble.
Years ago we shared a poster for the low budget Tom Neal/Ann Savage film noir Detour, which premiered today in 1945. That promo is a photo-illustration and one of our favorite film noir posters. Above is an alternate poster for the movie, and it's also nice, but not in the same class as the previous piece. We touched on the movie only briefly back then, making a few comments from our memories of seeing it years earlier, but we gave it a close watch yesterday for the first time in a long while.
Tom Neal stars as a nightclub musician who hitchhikes from New York City to Los Angeles to reunite with his girlfriend, who'd gone there earlier to try her luck in show business. He takes a ride from a “Miama” bookie, ends up accidentally killing him, and flees with the car. The next day and a ways down the road he picks up another hitchhiker—Ann Savage—who happened to have accepted a ride from the bookie earlier. Neal has picked up the only person in the world who can turn his bad luck into a one-way trip to the gas chamber. She figures out right away that the bookie must be dead, and uses her knowledge to cruel advantage:
“Just remember who's boss around here. If you shut up and don't give me any arguments, you'll have nothing to worry about. But if you act wise, well, mister, you'll pop into jail so fast it'll give you the bends. [snip] As crooked as you look, I'd hate to see a fella as young as you wind up sniffin' that perfume that Arizona hands out free to murderers.”
You get plenty of film noir attributes here: tough dialogue, voiceover, flashback, nightmare, silhouette, rear projection, rain, fog, bad luck, terrible decisions, lonely highway, and a dangerous femme fatale. Thinking beyond the confines of the screenplay, there's an interesting discussion to be had about why Savage is so mean. There's a suggestion that men have made her that way, and an equal amount of suggestion that she's bad by nature. In either case, she's one of the worst passengers any snakebitten cinematic sap ever picked up on the road. She makes Detour about as good as cheapie film noir gets. |
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1946—Antonescu Is Executed
Ion Antonescu, who was ruler of Romania during World War II, and whose policies were independently responsible for the deaths of as many as 400,000 Bessarabian, Ukrainian and Romanian Jews, as well as countless Romani Romanians, is executed by means of firing squad at Fort Jilava prison just outside Bucharest.
1959—Sax Rohmer Dies
Prolific British pulp writer Arthur Henry Sarsfield Ward, aka Sax Rohmer, who created the popular character Fu Manchu and became one of the most highly paid authors of his time writing fundamentally racist fiction about the "yellow peril" and what he blithely called "rampant criminality among the Chinese", dies of avian flu in White Plains, New York.
1957—Arthur Miller Convicted of Contempt of Congress
Award-winning American playwright Arthur Miller, the husband of movie star Marilyn Monroe, is convicted of contempt of Congress when he refuses to reveal the names of political associates to the House Un-American Activities Committee. The conviction would later be overturned, but HUAC persecution against American citizens continues until the committee is finally dissolved in 1975.
1914—Aquitania Sets Sail
The Cunard liner RMS Aquitania, at 45,647 tons, sets sails on her maiden voyage from Liverpool, England to New York City. At the time she is the largest ocean liner on the seas. During a thirty-six year career the ship serves as both a passenger liner and military ship in both World Wars before being retired and scrapped in 1950.
It's easy. We have an uploader that makes it a snap. Use it to submit your art, text, header, and subhead. Your post can be funny, serious, or anything in between, as long as it's vintage pulp. You'll get a byline and experience the fleeting pride of free authorship. We'll edit your post for typos, but the rest is up to you. Click here
to give us your best shot.