randy_byers: (wilmer)
At long last! Years in the making! Now it can be revealed!

I have finally written about Desert Fury -- a movie I've been obsessed with since first reading this description on IMDb:

Back in the forties, when movies touched on matters not yet admissible in "polite" society, they resorted to codes which supposedly floated over the heads of most of the audience while alerting those in the know to just what was up. Probably no film of the decade was so freighted with innuendo as the oddly obscure Desert Fury, set in a small gambling oasis called Chuckawalla somewhere in the California desert. Proprietress of the Purple Sage saloon and casino is the astonishing Mary Astor, in slacks and sporting a cigarette holder; into town drives her handful-of-a-daughter, Lizabeth Scott, looking, in Technicolor, like 20-million bucks. But listen to the dialogue between them, which suggests an older Lesbian and her young, restless companion (one can only wonder if A.I. Bezzerides' original script made this relationship explicit). Even more blatant are John Hodiak as a gangster and Wendell Corey as his insanely jealous torpedo. Add Burt Lancaster as the town sheriff, stir, and sit back. Both Lancaster and (surprisingly) Hodiak fall for Scott. It seems, however, that Hodiak not only has a past with Astor, but had a wife who died under suspicious circumstances. The desert sun heats these ingredients up to a hard boil, with face-slappings aplenty and empurpled exchanges. Don't pass up this hothouse melodrama, chock full of creepily exotic blooms, if it comes your way; it's a remarkable movie.

My first chance to see it was at SIFF Theater in 2007, but I've since watched it multiple times on an Australian DVD that I acquired courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] smofbabe. And now, finally, I've managed to write something about it.

Well, the screencaps might be of interest anyway.
randy_byers: (Default)

Desert Fury (1947)
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Desert Fury (1947)
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The Long Night (1947)
randy_byers: (rko)

Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)
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Caught (1949)

Still a remarkable film for this, or perhaps any, era for finding a happy ending in a miscarriage.
randy_byers: (rko)

Armored Car Robbery (1950)

'She comes high, but she's worth it.'
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Sweet Smell of Success (1957)

"What am I, a bowl of fruit? A tangerine that peels in a minute?"
randy_byers: (rko)
Like Inception (2010), The Locket is perhaps notable more for its elaborate structure and visual pleasures than for the somewhat banal story it tells. But instead of Inception's dream-within-a-dream structure, The Locket's structure is a flashback-within-a-flashback that goes down three levels, with each flashback from another character's point of view. As with Inception we return to the current time frame level by level, giving closure to each flashback along the way, and the question of closure lingers over this neat narrative gimmick. For one thing, the deeper the flashback, the further the narrative drifts from the person allegedly narrating -- second hand, third hand, fourth hand -- thus raising the question of reliability as well. There is also a murder in one flashback that we're never sure is actually solved. At the center of it all is the femme fatale, Nancy, a kleptomaniac living in a delusional world. Unlike other Freudian movies of the '40s (e.g., Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945)), it's not clear that Nancy's trauma is healed by bringing it to the surface. In fact, the memory only seems to cause further trauma.

Lotsa screencaps, and a few quotes ... )
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The Locket (1946)

"Why was I always throwing away the very things I wanted?"
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'Fritz Lang's 1954 American version of the Zola novel (and Renoir film) La bĂȘte humaine. Gloria Grahame, at her brassiest, pleads with Glenn Ford to do away with her slob of a husband, Broderick Crawford. Lang mines the railroad setting for a remarkably rich series of visual correlatives to his oppressively Catholic conception of guilt and retribution. A gripping melodrama, marred only by Ford's inability to register an appropriate sense of doom.'

-- Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader

More bestial desire below the cut )
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Human Desire (1954)

'Got himself a wife, huh?'
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'The film opens in Los Angeles, a nocturnal strip of blinking neon, cocktail lounges and cheap rooming-houses. Carefully parceled-out flashbacks reveal why Jim Vanning (Aldo Ray), has become a hunted and haunted drifter, moving from city to city and name to name, trying to escape the aftermath of something terrible that happened in the desolate, snowy mountains of Wyoming.'

-- Imogen Smith, "Nightfall, a rare film noir by Jacques Tourneur at Film Forum"

More stills and quotes below )
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Nightfall (1957)

"Things that really happen are always difficult to explain."
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Criss Cross (1949)

"Is that polite? Is it hospitable?"
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The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

"My folks were tough. When I was born, they took one look at this puss of mine and told me to get lost."


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