The Hitch-Hiker (1953) [Film Noir]

“The Hitch-Hiker” is a film noir directed by Ida Lupino about two fishing buddies who pick up a mysterious hitchhiker during a trip to Mexico. The movie was written by Robert L. Joseph, Lupino, and her husband Collier Young, based on a story by “Out of the Past” screenwriter Daniel Mainwaring, who was blacklisted at the time and did not receive screen credit. The film is based on the true story of Billy Cook, a psychopathic murderer. Two men (Edmond O’Brien and Frank Lovejoy) on a fishing trip pick up a hitchhiker named Emmett Myers (William Talman), who turns out to be a psychopath who has committed multiple murders. Continue reading “The Hitch-Hiker (1953) [Film Noir]”

Daughter of Horror (1955) [Film Noir] [Horror] [Mystery]

“Daughter of Horror” (also known in a slightly altered version as “Dementia”) is an American film by John Parker, incorporating elements of the horror film, film noir and expressionist film. It was produced in 1953, but not released until 1955.

A young woman awakens from a nightmare in a run down hotel. She leaves the building and wanders through the night, passing a newspaper man. The news headline “Mysterious stabbing” catches her eye, and she quickly leaves. In a dark alley, a whino approaches and grabs her. A policeman rescues her and beats up the drunken man. Shortly later, another man approaches her and talks her into escorting a rich man in a limousine. While they cruise the night, she remembers her unhappy youth with an abusive father, whom she stabbed to death with a switchblade after he had killed her unfaithful mother. The rich man takes her to various clubs and then to her noble apartment. As he ignores her while having an extensive meal, she tries to tempt him.

When he advances her, she stabs him with her knife and pushes the dying man out of the window. Before his fall, he grabs her pendant. The woman runs down onto the street and, as the dead man’s hand won’t relieve her pendant, cuts off the hand while being watched by faceless passerby’s. Again, the patrol policeman shows up and follows her. She flees and hides the hand in a flower girl’s basket. The pimp shows up again and drags her into a night club, where an excited audience watches a jazz band playing. The policeman enters the club, while the rich man, lying at the window, points out his murderess with his bloody stump. The crowd encircles the woman, laughing frantically. The woman wakes up in her hotel room, her encounters have supposedly been a nightmare. In one of her drawers, she discovers her pendant, clutched by the fingers of a severed hand. The camera leaves the hotel room and moves out into the streets, while a desperate cry can be heard.

Directed by John Parker, produced by John Parker, Ben Roseman and Bruno VeSota (as Bruno Ve Sota), written by John Parker, starring Adrienne Barrett, Bruno VeSota (as Bruno Ve Sota), Ben Roseman and Angelo Rossitto.

Source: “Dementia (film)” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. 4 April 2013. Web. 29 May 2013.


The Big Combo (1955) [Film Noir] [Crime]

Police Lt. Leonard Diamond is on a personal crusade to bring down sadistic gangster Mr. Brown. He’s also dangerously obsessed with Brown’s girlfriend, the suicidal Susan Lowell. His main objective as a detective is to uncover what happened to a woman called “Alicia” from the crime boss’s past. Mr. Brown, his second-in-command McClure and thugs Fante and Mingo kidnap and torture the lieutenant, then pour a bottle of alcohol-based hair tonic down his throat before letting him go. Diamond eventually learns through one of Brown’s past accomplices that Alicia was actually Brown’s wife. The accomplice suspects that Alicia was sent away to Sicily with former mob boss Grazzi, then murdered, tied to the boat’s anchor and permanently submerged. Diamond questions a Swede named Dreyer, who was the skipper of that boat (but now operates an antiques store as a front, bankrolled by Brown). Dreyer denies involvement, but this doesn’t prevent him from being murdered by McClure within seconds after he leaves the shop. Diamond tries to persuade Susan to leave Brown and admits he might be in love with her. He shows her a photo of Brown, Alicia and Grazzi together on the boat. Susan finally confronts Brown about his wife and is told she is still alive in Sicily, Italy, living with Grazzi.

Brown next orders a hit on Diamond. However, when his gunmen Fante and Mingo go to Diamond’s apartment, they mistakenly shoot and kill the cop’s burlesque dancer girlfriend Rita instead. Diamond sees an up-to-date photo of Alicia but realizes it wasn’t taken in Sicily (since there’s snow on the ground). This leads Diamond to suspect Brown didn’t kill Alicia but his boss Grazzi instead. Diamond is able to track Alicia to a sanitarium, where she is staying under another name. He asks for her help. Brown’s right-hand man, McClure, wants to take over. He plots with Fante and Mingo to ambush Mr. Brown, but ends up getting killed himself because they are loyal to the boss. At police headquarters, Brown shows up with a writ of habious corpus, effectively preventing Alicia to testify against her husband. Brown also brings a big stash of “money” to Fante and Mingo while they are hiding out from the police, but the box turns out to contain a bomb that apparently kills both. Brown shoots the lieutenant’s partner Sam and kidnaps Susan, planning to fly away to safety. Diamond finds a witness that could finally nail the elusive gangster — Mingo, who survived the blast and confesses that Brown was behind it all. Alicia is able to help Diamond figure out where Brown was likely to take Susan, a private airport where Brown intends to board a getaway plane.

However, the plane doesn’t show up and the film climaxes in a foggy airplane hangar shootout. Susan shines a bright light in Brown’s eyes and the lieutenant places him under arrest. The last scene shows the silhouetted figures of Diamond and Susan in the fog, considered to be one of the iconic images of film noir.

Directed by Joseph H. Lewis, produced by Sidney Harmon, written by Philip Yordan, starring Lee J. Cobb as Lt. Ed Cullen, Jane Wyatt as Lois Frazer, John Dall as Andy Cullen, Lisa Howard as Janet Cullen, Harlan Warde as Howard Frazer, Tito Vuolo as Pietro Capa, Charles Arnt as Ernest Quimby, Marjorie Bennett as Muriel Quimby, Alan Wells as Nito Capa, Mimi Aguglia as Mrs. Capa, Bud Wolfe as Officer Blair, Morgan Farley as Rushton, Howard Negley as Detective Olson, William Gould as Doc Munson, Art Millan as United Airlines Clerk, Gordon Richards as Albert the Butler, Terry Frost as Detective, Mario Siletti as Machetti and Charles Victor as Attorney.

Source: “The Big Combo” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. 28 February 2013. Web. 12 March 2013.


The Man Who Cheated Himself (1950) [Film Noir] [Crime]

Wealthy socialite Lois Frazer wants a divorce from her husband, but he’s not ready to let her go so easy. Suspecting that he intends to murder her, she calls Lieutenant Ed Cullen, with whom she’s been having an affair, in an effort to save herself from her husband’s wrath. When Ed arrives someone dies, but it’s not Lois. With his lover’s husband shot dead, Ed finds himself the ironic and dangerous position of being assigned a case that no one knows he actually witnessed. In addition to trying to control the investigation, Ed also has the misfortune of having his own younger brother, a new detective on the force, by his side every step of the way, eager to prove himself.

Directed by Felix E. Feist, produced by Jack M. Warner, written by Seton I. Miller (screenplay), Philip MacDonald (screenplay) and Seton I. Miller (story), starring Lee J. Cobb as Lt. Ed Cullen, Jane Wyatt as Lois Frazer, John Dall as Andy Cullen, Lisa Howard as Janet Cullen, Harlan Warde as Howard Frazer, Tito Vuolo as Pietro Capa, Charles Arnt as Ernest Quimby, Marjorie Bennett as Muriel Quimby, Alan Wells as Nito Capa, Mimi Aguglia as Mrs. Capa, Bud Wolfe as Officer Blair, Morgan Farley as Rushton, Howard Negley as Detective Olson, William Gould as Doc Munson, Art Millan as United Airlines Clerk, Gordon Richards as Albert the Butler, Terry Frost as Detective, Mario Siletti as Machetti and Charles Victor as Attorney.

Source: “The Man Who Cheated Himself” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. 17 November 2013. Web. 12 March 2013.


The Stranger (1946) [Film Noir]

“The Stranger” (1946) is an American film noir directed by Orson Welles and starring Welles, Edward G. Robinson, and Loretta Young. The film was based on an Oscar-nominated screenplay written by Victor Trivas. Sam Spiegel was the film’s producer, and the film’s musical score is by Bronisław Kaper. It is believed that this is the first film released after World War II that showed footage of concentration camps. The film was made by International Pictures, and released by RKO Radio Pictures.

In 1946, Mr. Wilson (Edward G. Robinson) of the United Nations War Crimes Commission is hunting for Nazi fugitive Franz Kindler (Orson Welles), a war criminal who has erased all evidence which might identify him. He has assumed a new identity, Charles Rankin, and has become a prep school teacher in a small town in the United States. He has married Mary Longstreet (Loretta Young), daughter of Supreme Court Justice Adam Longstreet (Philip Merivale).

Wilson releases Kindler’s former associate Meinike (Konstantin Shayne), hoping the man will lead him to Kindler. Wilson follows Meinike to the town of Harper, Connecticut, but loses him before he meets with Kindler. When Kindler/Rankin and Meinike do meet, Meinike, who is repentant, begs Kindler to confess his crimes. Instead, Kindler strangles Meinike, who might expose him. Eventually, Wilson deduces that Rankin is Kindler, but not having witnessed the meeting with Meinike, he has no proof. Only Mrs. Rankin knows that Meinike came to meet her husband. To get her to admit this, Wilson must convince her that her husband is a criminal – before Rankin decides to eliminate the threat to him by killing her. Rankin’s pose begins to unravel when Red, the family dog, discovers Meinike’s body. To protect his secret, Rankin poisons Red.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Rankin begins to suspect her husband, but is too blinded by love to accept the facts. She is torn between her desire to learn the truth about him, and the idea of helping him create his new life. Mr. Wilson shows her graphic footage of Nazi concentration camps, and explains how Kindler/Rankin developed the idea of genocide. But not until Mary discovers Rankin’s plot to kill her does she finally break down. In a tense moment, she dares Rankin to kill her. Rankin tries to, but is prevented by Wilson and Mary’s brother Noah. Pursued by them, he flees into a church belfry, and falls to his death.

Directed by Orson Welles, produced by Sam Spiegel (as S. P. Eagle), written by Anthony Veiller, Victor Trivas, Decla Dunning, John Huston and Orson Welles, starring Orson Welles, Loretta Young and Edward G. Robinson.

Source: “The Stranger (1946 film)” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. 6 July 2012. Web. 9 July 2012.


The Chase (1946) [Film Noir]

The Chase (1946) is an American film noir, shot in black and white, directed by Arthur Ripley. The screenplay (adapted by Philip Yordan) is based on the Cornell Woolrich novel The Black Path of Fear.

This dream-like film noir is about Chuck Scott (Robert Cummings), a World War II vet now a penniless drifter tormented by bizarre dreams, who takes a job as driver to Eddie Roman (Steve Cochran), a vicious gangster. Roman tests his new driver, Scott, by assuming control of his car from the back seat. Unbeknownst to Scott, Roman has an accelerator installed in the rear passenger compartment so that he can “take over” the vehicle whenever he wants. This bizarre trick not only unnerves his new driver but also Roman’s right-hand man, Gino (Peter Lorre).

Scott passes the test and gets the job. But things get tough for Scott when he falls in love with the gangster’s wife, Lorna (Michele Morgan), who has attempted to kill herself because life has become unbearable with her sadistic husband. The two run off together to Cuba and a bizarre chase begins wherein Scott is framed for a murder and must therefore avoid both Roman and the police. Finally, at a point when Scott is able to clear his name, he is thrown back into the nightmare in a surprising twist.

Directed by Arthur Ripley, produced by Seymour Nebenzal, screenplay by Philip Yordan, story by Cornell Woolrich (novel “The Black Path of Fear”), starring Robert Cummings, Michèle Morgan, Steve Cochran.

Source: “The Chase (1946 film)” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. 21 June 2012. Web. 7 July 2012.