Touch of Evil Review

The Touch of Evil is one of those films where a whole lot of stress could have been avoided if the main characters talked to each other more. Whenever you’re in a hostile territory but don’t want to confide in each other that things aren’t going well, that’s when trouble really brews. The movie is fairly serious but then throws in quite a few comedic moments as well so it can be tough to say what tone it is going for at times. This one isn’t one of the better gangster films even if I do give it props for having more unique scenery compared to most.

The movie starts with the main characters getting ready to leave the border town between Mexico and the United States until a car blows up in front of them. The main character Miguel works as a prosecutor and is in the middle of a big case involving a gangster group so he can’t leave now. This is the villains’ turf so in case they are involved he will have to look into this. His wife Suzie isn’t quite as pleased since they should be going on their honeymoon and unfortunately she is now being targeted by the villains. It starts off as pure intimidation but the longer she remains, the more that may begin to change. Can the main guy solve the case in time?

So right off the bat here is one of the problems. The mafia wastes no time in summoning Susie over to make some veiled threats and she takes it well in talking tough back to them. My problem is after leaving she doesn’t tell Miguel what just transpired. I feel like you have to tell him so you’re both on the same page about the fact that the danger has arrived and it isn’t just a possible thing that could happen anymore. Later on they do this again by dropping off a threatening letter for her and she thinks about telling Miguel but opts not to. She had even been planning to leave for the American side of the border but decided not to after the threat. Telling Miguel could have caused him to play things differently.

He ends up dropping her off at a motel which is where she said she would stay but unfortunately it’s run by the villains so she ends up falling for their trap which ends up not going well as she is drugged and framed for doing this herself. I would argue that Miguel and even the cop who dropped her off should have been smarter about this though. Leaving her at a note like that just does not seem safe at all and of course it wasn’t. Even if the villains didn’t run the place it feels like that would not have been a particularly good idea.

Another complication here is Hank, a police captain who is determined to find the culprits for the bombing no matter what. The problem is that he will use less than legal means of getting a culprit and he always gets a culprit, even if he has to make up some proof. Hank is definitely very corrupt and while the end of the film tries to give him some credit with his instincts, you still can’t take the law into your hands when you’re an officer like that. The instant he did this he was definitely setting himself up for a lot of trouble. He makes for a good villain but it’s hard to see him as anything more than that no matter what his intentions were. I can’t say I felt sympathetic for him at all.

The most random plot here is the night custodian working at the motel. He is extremely afraid for his life the entire time he appears and so everyone pushes him around. I suppose he has probably seen a lot of things since he started working here but all of his actions just felt very exaggerated. The movie could have stood to tone this character down a bit to make him more realistic. It can be fine to have a character who completely clashes with the tone of the movie of course but at the end of the day this guy just wasn’t very funny so that immediately defeated the whole purpose of his character. Someone like this would have a better chance of succeeding if he was not related to the serious events in the movie.

In general I think the film had an issue with balancing the comedic and serious bits. The villains for example appear as comic relief for decently large chunks of the film as they run around and get into trouble but then they suddenly get rather serious near the end when they drug Suzie or when they nearly melt the main character with a vial of acid. So the movie was really all over the place in a lot of ways and maybe all the terrible decisions that the heroes made was supposed to play into that somehow. Like you’re meant to realize they are bad decisions although I never got that implication from the movie so I don’t know about that.

Overall, The Touch of Evil has an interesting setup with a crime at the border so both sides want a piece of the action. The place definitely wasn’t the safest with a gang running around but at least by the end of the film that group will be a lot weaker. The main characters could have handled all of this a lot better than they did though and I feel like some of the villains really got off completely free. We never saw the whole mafia group get arrested after they attacked Suzie and that would have made the ending a lot more complete. The atmosphere is on point but in the end this film really falls in the middle on the spectrum of good and bad movies. A better ending could have helped it rise up.

Overall 5/10

Kiss Me Deadly Review

Kiss Me Deadly is an interesting noir title in that you are effectively watching a villain as the lead. Not saying Mike is downright evil or anything but he is basically a shady guy who ends up getting tangled with the actual crime syndicate and that ends up leading to a whole lot of trouble. The story is good but it is another title that is held back by the main character. It can also get a bit gritty and gruesome for an old school noir title like this.

The movie starts off with Mike on a drive when he comes across a lady who is running for her life. She says her name is Christina and to drop her off at the next bus stop and then to forget her. However, if they don’t make it, then he must remember her. Unfortunately the two are captured by a group of villains who torture Christina to death and nearly bump Mike off too but they get sloppy and he survives the encounter. Mike has no idea what is even going on but he figures it has to be something big when he is questioned by the cops right away. The mysterious villains also start to threaten him into dropping the case so now he wants to look into it more.

Mike runs a bit of a shady business where he tries to find proof on if a husband or wife is cheating on the other. He has a secretary who takes care of the seducing while he begins to work on playing both parties against each other. It’s definitely not the most noble kind of work and the cops call him out on it but Mike doesn’t care. He will keep doing this so he can get more and more money as needed. This is one of the reasons why you just find it hard to root for the guy. His secretary Velda even basically begs him to let her stop doing this kind of work but he refuses which really tells you what kind of guy he is.

Now there are some fun parts to this. When the villains show up to intimidate him, Mike is able to respond in kind and doesn’t fold so easily. The guy makes threats of his own and has a lot of shady connections throughout the city. So that part is pretty neat and it makes for an interesting wrinkle into the mix but at the same time it just doesn’t erase the less desirable traits he has. It’s just too bad he couldn’t keep the tough attitude while beating up the enemies but still staying somewhat heroic. It would have really worked well. By the end he ultimately starts looking rather sad and defeated as he finally tells the cops that he was out of his depth. It wasn’t a great way for his journey to end.

The early torture scene was also really intense. Definitely not the way you expect to start this film off. For the most part it’s got a rather sullen atmosphere and it’s more about how everyone appears to be suspicious but it’s not generally all that dark or violent. Perhaps they wanted to start the film off with a bang but they definitely could have chosen a less gruesome way to do this. Additionally if you’re friends with the lead then you’re probably doomed but that’s usually how it goes.

The dialogue here is sharp as always though. I love all the veiled threats and how everyone is talking really tough. There is a lot of sarcasm thrown around and the fact that Mike is so tough does lend itself well to the banter. All of those things are good points within the movie. It definitely goes by rather quickly even though it is a long movie. It all feels like one well connected adventure and that element of the story, the lead having a lot of connections is one that they should bring back. Mike may be a questionable private investigator but he is still a PI so when the villains go after him it’s nice that he has some way to defend himself and figure out what is happening.

Meanwhile Velda definitely should have quit the business right away. Ultimately things are never going to go all that well for her in this business and so the sooner she gets out the better. Lily is an interesting character but again not one you would want to trust very much. She is always ready to put on the charm to try and get Mike to do what she wants but he’s not the kind of guy this will usually work for although he will enjoy the situation when it’s something he would have done anyway. She is desperate as she runs from the villains but that’s never really the approach you want to go with.

Mike’s friend Nick was a nice guy even though you knew he was doomed. I like that the guy always had Mike’s back at least and was eager to help. If anything Mike was using him since he didn’t really let Nick know just how dangerous this whole thing was. If he had been straight with Nick then things could have been different but Mike is all about using those who are close to him. Definitely a shame when you think about it.

The supporting characters were solid here. I liked the villain with the glasses who was always very polite but as one of the ringleaders of the villains you knew that he couldn’t be trusted. Definitely someone you had to be cautious with but the demeanor was pretty funny. Then there is the main cop who doesn’t get along with Mike at all. Their first impression was certainly lousy which didn’t help matters for either of them for a long while there. Still he was okay at his job. I think the cops could have ultimately done more on their end but it’s not like they had a lot of help either so they were on their own since Mike wasn’t cooperating.

The ending here definitely escalates really quickly though. The special effects for this were fun, it was like we suddenly entered a sci-fi movie or something. I wasn’t expecting that at all although in a way that’s why it worked. It just hits you like a sudden tank and that could have really tied in as a sequel with characters picking up the pieces. The film does work as another example of the viewer not knowing all the answers since we’re looking at things from the lead’s point of view though so I understand the appeal there.

Overall, I think a noir film that is basically villain against villain could be really good. The film would just need to lean into that more by having him be a full fledged villain. He certainly acts the part like when he shoves a drawer closed while someone’s hand is in it and slaps around a poor receptionist. This guy doesn’t play nice and won’t take no for an answer when he wants answers. You just need to do that without him sacrificing the main heroine’s dignity and I could also do without the torture. This ends up being a weaker noir title as a result and you’re better off skipping it for now.

Overall 4/10

Shadow of a Woman Review

This film is definitely more annoying than it is suspenseful. Mainly a film like this revolves around the lead being completely incapable of taking any definitive actions in order to keep going. That just means that the plot is really weak if you ask me. The movie has quality writing and there’s a lot going on but the story just doesn’t hold up because any reasonable character would have done some things way differently and that would have been the end of it. Over half of this film would have just been thrown out the window and you could even argue that 99% of it would end if the main character didn’t just jump into things at the start.

So this film starts with Brooke deciding to marry a guy named Eric that she barely knows. She knows that he’s a doctor but that’s about it. She allows herself to get swept up in the moment and marries him but why all the rush? That in itself should have been a red flag and then things only continue to get worse. First off, he’s not quite as well off financially as he had led her to believe. Someone tries to murder him by crushing him with a boulder initially and then someone else shoots at him later on. In each instance he tells Brooke that she’s imagining things or that it was someone hunting buffalo and she just takes this. What should have been the last straw is that he then says they have to live at his family’s place even though she has a perfectly acceptable home that they could have been in. Now she is an unwanted guest here and the tensions continue to rise. Is there something shady about this Eric fella?

The amount of suspension you have to put your belief through here is absolutely crazy. Why is Brooke willing to sacrifice so much of her life for someone that she barely knows? It just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever and that’s my main problem here. He continues to stack the deck against her and gets upset at her awful quick but Brooke just doesn’t put the pieces together. I’m not sure which moment is more drastic, Eric being shot at or his insisting they live at a place where nobody likes her. Either one should have been enough for her to keep her distance or at least stay in her home and insist he goes to her. Instead Brooke keeps trying to stick with it.

Now if they were married for ages and things had been going great then I could appreciate the loyalty here but instead it just feels like she is letting him walk all over her with no real resistance. Instead of being admirable it just makes her look weak if you ask me. Especially when his excuses are so weak. He spends the whole film constantly telling her that she’s crazy and seeing things and she just accepts this. It isn’t until the very end of the film where she starts to stick up for herself and by then it’s very nearly too late. So yeah I didn’t like Brooke. She may not be an antagonist the way that Eric is but she makes the job way too easy on him the whole time. If she had done just about anything then things wouldn’t have turned out the way that they did.

For example one thing Eric is doing here is starving a child as he hopes that the kid will die off and then he can claim the insurance money. I feel like you have to call the cops or child custody services immediately but Brooke sits on her hands for a while here and just doesn’t do anything. I suppose she feeds him her breakfast once but that’s more of a passive resistance. I want to see her actually doing something bold. She finds out he had another wife, that he’s using her to win a court case, etc. The twists and bad news just keeps coming in over and over again and she still doesn’t do much. Eric even tells her to stop seeing her doctor friend since he’s the only doctor she could ever need. Ah man.

Yeah this was an annoying one and it gets more annoying the more I think about it. Eric isn’t even a mastermind or anything because this plan should never have worked. The fact that it got this far is more of a strike against Brooke than it is a complement to his strength. His family is also afraid of him to the point where they keep his secrets and act as antagonists. I mean they even drug Brooke although the heroine forgives them rather quickly. They were just so spineless that they also end up being really bad characters here. They let Eric manipulate them for quite a long while and that’s another problem. Everyone just lets him do what he wants and they make the worst decisions possible.

One client of Eric’s seems to start to realize that he’s a scammer but she only works things out halfway. So she accuses him of all kinds of stuff and says she will wreck his career…but then she gets drunk and asks him to take her home. Lets just say she didn’t survive this ordeal and the whole thing makes you roll your eyes. How can you threaten someone and then trust him with your life? Throughout the film Eric actually bumps off quite a few characters and it’s not like he’s a super tough fighter or anything. Everyone just comes across as massive suckers the whole time so there’s not a whole lot that he needs to do.

Apparently it is well known that he is a scammer too but unfortunately there are enough people who don’t realize this that makes it tricky. There are always more people for him to trick after all and that’s always unfortunate. He gets away with a whole lot for a very long period of time and nobody could touch him. At least with the court case eventually the lawyer was going to defeat him but it was just taking way too long. I still think a quick call to the cops would have saved a great deal of time. The lawyer also got really lucky that Brooke talks a lot. Yes by the end there was a conscious effort to help him out but for part of the film Brooke was wrecking Eric’s plans accidentally with her outbursts which wasn’t as cool as it could have been. I wanted to see her as an intentional saboteur, not someone accidentally stumbling into success.

Overall, This film can be rather suspenseful but the characters really hold it back. It doesn’t come across as a very smartly written film and is instead one where everything just happens to turn out well for the villain because nobody can think ahead. If they actually made the right decisions then Eric wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far as he did. Ultimately you have to be able to stick up for yourself when the going gets tough and you also have to trust yourself. If someone tells you that you’re crazy then you have to believe your mind over that person. Things could have been so different here if Brooke was just a tough character. It’s not a bad movie but I would recommend most other suspense type films over this one. You’ll just be rolling your eyes too hard half the time at all the mistakes that are being made and it goes without saying that the romance is quite weak as well.

Overall 5/10

Too Late for Tears Review

The poster for this film definitely seems really misleading even if it is an event that does happen in the movie. This is a fun Noir film that takes a bit of a twist on the usual order of things. There are a lot of moving pieces in this film and the story is on point. You really can’t trust anyone here and the overall moral is definitely not to play with fire. Even if you figure you won’t get burned it will catch up to you eventually so you have to do the right thing without delay. if you delay for too long then that will be game over in an instant.

The movie introduces us to Jane and Alan who are a married couple that are decently happy. They were driving to a party but Jane didn’t want to go at the last second so as they turn around someone throws a case filled with a lot of money in it into their car. Now they’re rich and Jane can have the high end lifestyle that she’s always wanted. There is just one problem though, Alan doesn’t think this is a good idea. He’s against it since it’s not their money and figures that it’s like stealing and threatens to turn it over to the cops. Jane knows that he needs this money though and she will obliterate anyone who stands in her way…even if that ends up being Alan himself! Additionally a guy named Danny shows up and claims the money was for him so she better hand it over or else. She will have to stay really tough in the pocket if she is going to survive this.

One thing you have to say for Jane is that she is definitely quite tough. No matter what threats are sent her way she keeps on going. She is very confident and determined in herself. Nobody is about to intimidate her while she has something to say about it. In fact the various characters are all surprised at just how ruthless she can be and she begins to let the illusion of her being a nice person fade more and more as time goes on. Even Danny who is a hardened criminal begins to fear her to an extent. Sure he could physically stop her but she is just so ruthless that if he lets his guard down for an instant then she will take him down.

Initially you figure that the money may have had her go off the deep end but as the film goes on we begin to see more and more how she has always been like this. We even learn a bit more about her past which adds to this. Jane just wants to be rich no matter what to the point where she figures it is basically her destiny. Sure she sometimes has some doubts about this but never for very long as she gets back to scheming. It was just very interesting to have the main heroine be the main villain like this and it worked out really well. Anytime she plays for sympathy or tries to start a romance you realize it’s just all part of the act as she manipulates everyone.

Now I could do without even the false pretense of a romance because she doesn’t need that in order to win here. She is plenty strong enough regardless and has enough wits about her to keep on winning on her terms. I guess this helps to confuse poor Danny erven more but you have to remember the whole time that there isn’t much sympathy to be had for him. The guy is still a crook even if he isn’t quite able to keep up with her for very long. He starts talking tough about how murder is too much for him and he wants out but at the end of the day I still wouldn’t put it past him. I think he was really just uncomfortable because he was usually in the driver’s seat and not the sidekick so it was a real change of pace for him.

I’d even say some of his scenes are even played for laughs as a result. The guy just seems so out of his depth that it can be really funny at times even when he does have his share of dangerous moments. The guy just goes out like a chump so at the end of the day that’s the only thing you’re going to remember about him. It’s always how a character ends that’s important after all. Alan also looks really bad here because he’s so oblivious the whole time. Jane wasn’t exactly subtle with how much she wanted the money and yet Alan didn’t connect the dots until it was way too late. Ultimately that meant he was absolutely doomed here but he just felt like a chump. Like when he asks Jane out on a date and she gives the most emotionless response you can imagine.

Kathy was at least reasonable for the most part although she was well out of her depth against Jane. Jane was able to manipulate her as well as the other characters even though it took more effort on her part. Kathy at least suspected some things with how heavy handed Jane was in discrediting Alan’s memory but Kathy should have done more. Ultimately she steps back and lets Don do all of the work. Things wouldn’t have really changed if it was just Kathy even if she was getting a little closer to solving the puzzle. I don’t think she would have learned enough quickly enough to make a difference.

Don was a fun character. He shows up rather randomly but is really suspicious the whole time so he is like a wild card thrown into the deck. He does a good job of immediately seeing through Jane’s flirting as well and doesn’t fold the way Danny did. Don is the kind of guy you want to be doing research on your behalf since you know he’ll be thorough. Granted even he was on the back foot here compared to Jane but nobody could really keep up with her. Ultimately only self inflicted errors were enough for the other characters to start keeping up. Otherwise they would have been pretty much doomed.

I’ve already talked about Jane quite a bit so suffice to say she is a fun villain. I liked just how clever and crafty she was. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a mastermind quite like this. The writing is on point and the film has quick pacing throughout. Just when you think Jane may finally be hesitating she pulls off another crazy stunt. Ultimately money is the most important thing to her and it’s been a little while since I saw a villain whose only motivation was money like this. The movie will also have a good amount of replay value as a result.

Overall, Too Late for Tears is a very appropriate title for this movie. There is definitely no more time left as Jane made her decision and has to stick through it. From early on in the movie there is just no time to look back. She would have really made for a good detective if she ever had the passion for that. In the end it probably wouldn’t pay enough to really meet her needs though. Maybe being an investment banker or something like that would have been more up her alley.

Overall 7/10

Kiss the Blood Off My Hands Review

Time for another ride down Noir lane. This is one of those films where it is hard to root for the main characters from the start because the romance seems ill advised and the main guy never seems to learn his lesson. So things continue to escalate more and more but with nobody there to stop this destructive path. It makes for a pretty fun watch but you are hoping that the main character would have either gotten better as the movie went on or the heroine would have ditched him. That would have been the best outcome here.

The movie starts off with Bill getting really drunk at a bar and he doesn’t want to leave when it’s closing time so he murders the owner. He hides from the cops by breaking into the apartment of a lady named Jane and keeping her prisoner there. It’s a pretty scary situation for her but she manages to stay strong and the next day heads out to live her life but Bill returns. He confesses his instant love for her and wants her to be with him now. She thinks this is crazy but at the same time starts to like him back. She wants to believe him that what happened was a one time event so they go out but his violent outbursts won’t stop. Can they ever live a normal life together?

Talk about sabotaging yourself. Bill has been through a lot but right here he could have finally had the normal life that he had been waiting for. All he had to do was stop attacking people and getting into trouble. The worst part is that the next offense isn’t because someone was instigating him or anything like that. He just wanted to cheat one guy out of money so he did the classic trick of losing once on purpose and was aiming to win the next round. Unfortunately that just wasn’t going to happen because this guy was wise to those tricks so Bill literally attacks him to rob the guy. Note that he is doing all of this in front of Jane so it’s not like he can talk his way out of this one. She saw the whole thing with a front row seat.

Then he even goes as far as to attack a cop and finally gets thrown in prison for a while. After all of that you could even say that he got off easy to be honest because he is still let out before too long. The most annoying thing is that Jane is still there and waiting. It sort of feels like she has Stockholm syndrome at this point. Keep in mind that their first meeting was basically Bill kidnapping her within her own home and that should have been a traumatic moment, not a cause for starting a romance or anything like that. It just feels like she keeps going back to him over and over again when he doesn’t seem like he will ever be changing.

His fighting skills do come in handy when he has to beat up a bunch of ruffians who are trying to stir up trouble. That was a good moment for him without a doubt even if ultimately the blackmail was going to get back to him at some point and he shouldn’t have agreed to the deal in the first place. That’s the trouble with doing something wrong, once the blackmail comes into play it has you keep on doubling down over and over again which only makes things worse. The best thing to do is to not do anything worthy of blackmail in the first lace and then you’d be just fine.

So I didn’t end up liking Bill at all but I also can’t say that I liked Jane very much either. She just put up with too much and was too soft on Bill the whole time. If she had just cut him off earlier that would have made way more sense. There just isn’t a logical reason for her to fall for him at this stage because he really hadn’t given her any reason to do so. He was just causing her a ton of problems instead and even to the end that is basically the case like when the mobster Harry went after her instead of him to cause some trouble.

In case it’s not obvious, it’s good that she took that guy down and I’d say should have even finished the job. It’s a grim reality but if you stab someone and they don’t die then allowing them to live is all kinds of risky. They might have their mobster friends come at you next, you might get sued on some kind of insane loophole, etc. He came at her with the intent to hurt her beyond repair and basically go beyond murder so all bets are off at that point. She has to just finish the job quickly and in that way it’s not like he’s bleeding to death either so it’s a quick loss. It’s also yet another traumatic memory that she has to live with now.

As for Harry, I thought he was an interesting villain for a while there. He talks tough and has a very memorable accent that really goes a long way. He even plays the long game in terms of using the blackmail to his advantage. My main issue here was ultimately that they throw this all out the window to just make him your average creep in the end. Why did they have to reduce him to this? Whenever you have a villain just decide to assault the heroine like this it makes them more two dimensional than paper and also loses any chance they had of being an even slightly decent character. There’s no coming back from that and it also made him a poor villain so that was really unfortunate.

The film balances being annoying at times with being a quality film. Ultimately I would easily say that the movie’s strengths outweigh the annoyance factor and I don’t think it’s close. I really did have a good time with this film and it’s got a fairly original plot. I don’t think I’ve seen too many films about the heroine trying to redeem the main guy and it works out well even if you wish she would just give up. I think it would have been even better if they could have had Bill show some more progress throughout the film on a gradual level instead of constantly escalating. Like the whole scene of him trying to rob the card player should not have happened because that was the most egregious moment in the film. Take that out and he would at least appear to be wayyyyy more civilized and acting like a reasonable person.

Overall, I would recommend checking this film out. It may not stand out among some of the other Noir films over the years and I could see myself forgetting parts of it in time but ultimately it still is a pretty good film. You don’t always have to be great in order to have a good experience and I would say that is the case with this film. It’s just consistently good the whole time with a solid story and so I can safely recommend this to anyone. The fight scenes were also fun and I did think it was impressive how Bill took on around 4 opponents at once. I guarantee that not just anyone could pull that off.

Overall 7/10

Shadow on the Wall Review

Shadow on the Wall is definitely a pretty intense noir film although it doesn’t follow the characters I expected it to. It takes the interesting approach of focusing on the kid and the trauma she gets after a pretty big experience rather than the main character. It’s a different approach but not a bad one although I don’t think it would work to do this too often. Either way as long as you’re ready for more of a slow burn experience then you will do well here.

The movie starts off with David finally getting home after being away for a while at work. His daughter Susan is happy to see him and he’s glad to be back but unfortunately he finds out that his second wife Celia is having an affair with another man. He confronts her about this but she knocks him out with a single swing. Her sister Dell then shows up but is upset at Celia stealing her man so she destroys Celia and runs off. David figures he probably shot Celia when he wakes up and is crushed at court and sentenced to death. Dell feels like she’s pretty safe at first since nobody was in the room except is turns out that Susan may have seen everything. Dell figures she has to murder this little girl and quick but how can she get past Dr. Caroline and the rest of the hospital staff overseeing Susan’s trauma?

Dell is definitely a cold customer and a true villain through and through. She does not hesitate when thinking about murdering Susan which is something you could only do if you are a true psychopath. You definitely do not want to get on Dell’s bad side. It’s clear that there is no line which she will not cross. She will do whatever it takes to get her way. The crazy thing is that she’d probably have been fine if she just left well enough alone and minded her business. Keep in mind that David is to be executed fairly soon and Susan is barely in a state to talk about anything. Even if she suddenly says that she saw Dell, there would need to be some convincing reason to believe her over all the evidence that suggests David did it. I don’t see any plausible way for Dell to lose if she just stayed quiet the whole time.

Of course villains do always tend to be quite nervous and overthink everything so at the same time it’s not too surprising that Dell made this mistake. It’s also something to see her quick descent into madness. Murdering a kid is no small thing, it’s something reserved only for some of the most evil and vicious villains out there. Dell definitely does not come across as sympathetic in the slightest and you’re rooting for her to go down the whole time. She was quite manipulative the whole time too.

David is mostly okay here. He definitely gets emotional about his wife cheating on him but I don’t think he would have ultimately pulled the trigger. He was looking pretty shaken and ominous at the same time but ultimately he would have backed off. It’s annoying to see him getting tricked by Dell but at the same time he has no reason to suspect her or any context so there’s no way he could have known that he was making a mistake.

Celia is portrayed as a pretty bad character from the jump. She certainly isn’t afraid to talk really tough the whole time. Ultimately I was expecting her to finish David off at first but at least she didn’t go that far. It’s hard to feel all that bad for her in the end though, it seems like she had a long history of being a full antagonist and wasn’t planning on changing that anytime soon. So when you put that all into perspective then she would have kept doing more damage in the future too. Possibly even more damage than Dell if she was really cut loose onto the world.

The best character here would have to be Pike. I thought he did a great job of defending David’s interests. Moreover he was the kind of guy who would actually listen to advice and didn’t take anything for granted. He thought Caroline was grasping at straws later on in the film and told her as much but he wasn’t sarcastic or belittling about it. He would calmly try to talk things out each time and that’s what I liked about him. He was a very respectful guy but also a firm one. If he didn’t agree about something then he would say that to your face instead of beating around the bush the whole time. Someone like that is who you really want to have on your side when the chips are down.

Then Dr. Caroline also did great the whole time. Rehabilitation isn’t easy and she keeps going through with it to get Susan better. While I think the sleeping bath is super dangerous all on its own, presumably it’s considered to be safe in the movie verse. If not for sabotage it would have been fine. Caroline trusts her gut instincts a lot which is good since it makes it tougher to really deceive her. Caroline handled herself in a professional manner the whole time and got results.

Now the bulk of the film follows Susan and that’s where things can get a little stretched out. She’s super traumatized over what happened so she’s lost all her emotions and just does everything without energy. It’s definitely a tough situation to be in and you feel bad for her but it doesn’t always make for the most interesting scenes. As I mentioned earlier it does make for a fairly unique perspective but you’re more interested in the thriller aspects and what is going to happen next as opposed to her recovery process. Caroline was clever in how she used the dolls to help Susan communicate though.

Still even if I wasn’t quite as engaged in the Susan scenes I would say that the film held its own the whole time. Even though you know who the murderer is you are focused on how the heroes are ultimately going to catch her. That’s the main objective of the film and so since everything is riding on Susan’s testimony that adds a little more weight to her plot. Then of course you have Dell squirming the whole time as she is waiting for her chance to turn the tables and finish Susan off which is still what puts her in a losing position.

Overall, Shadow on the Wall is a pretty good movie. The dialogue and script are solid as you would expect. The pacing is mainly good although I would have substituted Susan’s scenes for more screen time of David in jail or perhaps a longer court scene to show how the deliberations went. I imagine it was fairly one sided particularly since David didn’t remember what he had done but I like court scenes a lot so stretching it out to have everyone voice what they were thinking would have been nice. Part of why I was surprised to see Susan’s plot take the lead at first is I expected a whole lot of the film would be about David’s lawyer trying to get to the bottom of things but that’s not how it was to be.

Overall 7/10

Crossfire Review

It’s time for a big mystery film where the dots have to be connected before time runs out. Classic noir mysteries like this always tend to be quite solid and this one is no exception. There are quite a few guys running around and a lot of names to keep straight but you’ll probably have a good idea on who the culprit is early on. I wouldn’t say that the film is trying to hide this from the audience for very long, it’s more of a mystery for the characters within the film as they only have bits and pieces of the story.

The movie starts with someone beating an elderly Jewish man to death. We don’t know who this is but there are a few soldiers who are suspects. Basically this platoon is in between missions right now and a few of them had been hanging out with this guy for most of the night. There was apparently some kind of argument so this may have led to things being rough. The reason why it’s noted that this man was Jewish is also because the murder may have been a hate crime based on this. The cops are treating this very seriously and Mitch is the primary suspect but his friend Keeley doesn’t think this is likely so it’s time to investigate the crime personally. The tough part will be that he may find out some answers he didn’t want to know.

This is one of those films where a huge part of it could have been avoided if Mitch didn’t get drunk. Part of the issue here is that he was drinking a whole lot along with the rest of the characters so his memory is spotty at best. There are large parts of the day that he just doesn’t remember at all and this really costs him big time. Instead of being able to give definitive answers he always sounds nervous and hesitant about everything so that doesn’t help to clear his name at all. Most of his “friends” end up making Mitch sound more and more guilty.

Additionally I have to say that I just didn’t like Mitch. He’s married but still followed another lady up to her apartment and it’s fortunate that she had to leave for most of the night because it seemed like he was really close to making a mistake that you can’t come back from. At the very least I think it’s already a mistake to put yourself in a tricky position like that. It just so happened that this would make him look more suspicious as well but that’s more of a side effect.

The best character here is definitely Keeley. While he may not co-operate with the police captain Finlay too much, Keeley is trying his best to solve this and make sure everyone is okay. He just doesn’t know who to trust at first and so he keeps everyone at arm’s length. He’s got a sharp wit and a lot of good comebacks. Keeley knows how to push the envelope as far as it will go without crossing a line and that’s always important. He puts in a whole lot of work and once he is on the same page as Finlay they are able to cover a lot of ground.

Meanwhile Finlay does a really good job as well. He isn’t able to cover quite as much ground as Keeley for a while there and you could say that it’s partially on him that they didn’t work together a lot sooner but from Finlay’s perspective Keeley was still a suspect as well so his hands were tied. He was reasonable all the way through and made for a solid character here. Then you have Monty who is one of the main guys here. He is always very eager to talk to the cops and try to set things straight but every time he talks he seems to put Mitch in a tough spot….

He definitely makes for an intense character and you aren’t likely to forget Monty as you finish the film. Monty is definitely not a likable character and of course he’s not meant to be. The film does a good job of still making him strategic so there are a lot of mind games going on here and battles of wits. You actually don’t get many seems of him and Keeley in the same room which keeps the plots separate for a while. Floyd is unfortunately very weak willed and of the soldiers he is the easiest one to manipulate for sure. A lot of the time they say if you don’t make any decision then that was automatically the wrong one and that’s what happens for this guy a lot. The window to act gets smaller and smaller until it’s too late.

The oddest character in the film was Ginny’s husband Tremaine. It’s hard to get a read on him since he is constantly lying. After each of his speeches he will say that everything he just said was a lie and this keeps on repeating. He seems chronically depressed and yet he is trying to poke fun at his own expense. Mainly I just wondered what the point of this character was aside from adding some unintentional humor into the film. I was a bit interested in whatever his story was. The guy has clearly been through a whole lot over the years. At least he tried to be helpful unlike Ginny who was determined to stay quiet and not be involved in everything going on.

Mitch’s wife Mary shows up as well to try and help get to the bottom of this. Her role isn’t very large but it’s a fairly pivotal one. She helps Mitch to really get a better understanding of the stakes and that he needs to step up or she’ll be in trouble as well. There are certainly a lot of moving parts here and the film’s got fast pacing so it all works out. The mystery is sound and the writing is good. I can’t say that I had any real issues with the movie and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good thriller.

Overall, Crossfire may not be a title that you would immediately associate with this film but it works well enough. There isn’t a lot of gun action here as this is more of a mental battle of wills but you can bet that there is a little intensity as we get closer to the end. There are some very smart tricks used here to corner the villain. A satisfying ending is absolutely necessary for a title like this and it all wraps up nicely.

Overall 7/10

Macabre Review

This film is one of those mystery thrillers that throws a lot of twists at you but it’s convoluted in all the right ways. Everything makes more and more sense as the film goes on and each twist works rather well. The overall plan seems to really be a huge stretch by the end as you really would not be able to guarantee with any degree of certainty that it would work but hey the villain is insane so that’s not really an issue. If you’re up for an intense title then this is a good one to watch.

The movie starts off by introducing us to Barrett who is a doctor but nobody in town like him. They all clearly want him gone and so his assistant Polly suggests that he pack his things. She will of course be glad to accompany him but he declines since he wants to marry Sylvia. One day his world is turned upside down when his daughter Marge is kidnapped and the assailant leaves a threatening phone call hinting that she is dead. He gives a cryptic response that hints they only have a little time to save her before she runs out of oxygen wherever she is. Barrett has to try and find her quickly but he has to do it while everyone despises the guy. There are no shortage of enemies here.

Throughout the film we get several flashbacks which explain just why nobody likes him. It’s a bit hard to get into those without obvious spoilers though as these all involve a lot of twists. One thing we can say for sure is that Barrett is just a bad guy though. The dislike from the town is absolutely justified the whole time as you see these scenes play out. I would argue that he already seemed a bit sketchy even before these though like with how he wants to marry Sylvia but doesn’t really decline Polly as directly as you would expect him to.

The guy is clearly someone who doesn’t mind being on the rebound and that is always a very awful trait to have as a main character. Of course his daughter shouldn’t have to pay for his mistakes so you still figure that whoever got her is even worse than this guy. The movie handles the plot well although as far as the kidnapped child storyarc goes, I’ve seen a few that were stronger than this one. This one is distracted with Barrett’s past and a whole lot going on in this town after all.

Meanwhile the supporting cast here isn’t amazing. You have Sylvia who somehow still doesn’t mind being with Barrett. Considering that her hands aren’t completely clean at this point perhaps they fit together but you never end up finding her all that likable. Meanwhile the same is true of Polly. Sure, Polly at least has a conscience and seems like a decent person but you still have to wrestle with the fact that she is trying to make a move on someone she knows is trying to marry someone else. So that’s just way too desperate for me.

The only really decent main character here is Miss Kushins. She does her best to watch the house and has been around the block for a while. When trouble starts she quickly lets other people know instead of staying quiet like Barrett said. The police chief was also solid. He definitely didn’t mind roughing Barrett up a little and was tempted to do more than that. This guy wants to run a peaceful town and it’s tough when guys like the lead are running around.

One thing this film will remind you of is that it isn’t so easy to die of shock. Perhaps of sheer fright like if you have a weak heart and someone jumps in front of you, but just seeing something? That’s not going to be so easy and since there is a certain part of the plan that revolves around this you are going to have some major doubts the whole time. I know that I certainly did. So part of the ending just doesn’t work on that level. We still do get a satisfying ending to the movie though so it doesn’t let you down there. In a way the villain’s poorly thought out plan did come back to get him so that’s definitely how it should be.

In a way the film’s biggest weakness is just that none of the characters are super likable. I named some decent characters above but all of the main characters are annoying at best. So the film’s trying to succeed in spite of the characters as opposed to being because of them and that’s always a bit tricky. A good plot can absolutely pull this off and I would say this film succeeded but with better characters it absolutely would have worked. You don’t even have to change much but make Polly just a friend who is worried about Marge as opposed to being someone who is interested in the main guy. Also fainting after the phone call is a bit much since time is of the essence. You need to at least pass on the message before you faint right?

I’d also have probably grouped the flashbacks together instead of splitting them up although I do understand the reason for doing so in a narrative way. It would just be nice to get right back to the main plot instead of going through a detour each time. At the end of the day the writing is also solid so the movie did have the right building blocks to make this a good movie. It didn’t forget the fundamentals and that is critically important in a movie like this. The core story is strong and having everyone be against the main guy helps with the tension since you can’t trust anyone and with the race against time being a factor there is always a lot of tension.

Overall, Macabre is a good movie even if the drama can be laid on a bit thick at times. There is just so much going on in both the past and the present that the main plot of the daughter being kidnapped has to take a backseat sometimes and I can’t recall that ever being the case for a film like this. Usually that’s the complete main plot with nothing to compete with it. The movie could probably have benefited from focusing on the present a bit more but I would still recommend this one. If you want to check out a well balanced thriller then you will have a good time here.

Overall 6/10

Pickup on South Street Review

You’ve always gotta watch out for pick pockets because if they get your stuff then you’re probably not getting it back. This film deals with that and while I don’t think it’s so easy to get separated from your stuff as shown here, it can be tricky. It’s why they say to never put anything too valuable in your back pocket but I see a lot of people doing this anyway. Just try to stay safe out there and maybe watching this film will help you keep your guard up.

The movie starts off with a guy named Skip showing up and stealing Candy’s wallet. This isn’t good because Candy was carrying something immensely valuable in there which could be a matter of national security. Her ex boyfriend Joey tells her to find this guy and get it back as soon as possible. His people will even pay big money to see it returned. This whole thing is sounding more shady by the minute but Candy agrees to help out. Meanwhile the cops are also on the case and have enlisted the help of Moe the informant. Which group will be able to find this guy first?

It’s a small town and Moe’s a great informant so Skip doesn’t stay hidden for too long. Of course it’s one thing to find him and another to actually prove that he has the wallet and the item inside of it. For Skip this is potentially a huge payday so he is playing his cards close to the chest. He doesn’t care about the implications that the Russians may be after this file or anything like that. His own personal satisfaction matters more to him than his country which is fairly sad. The guy just can’t stop being a crook but now he’s gone even farther than usual.

This is a fun noir film with a good amount of thrills and a lot going on at every moment. Everyone wants Skip after all so you’re just wondering how long he can draw this out for before he is taken down. Surely his luck will catch up to him at some point but how long until that happens? It’s a tense battle against the clock. The only thing that hurts the film a bit is the romance which is really weak.

As you can probably guess, in the process of trying to talk him down, Candy ends up falling for Skip. He’s a big criminal though and one who doesn’t mind shoving her around. How did she possibly fall for him? The only explanation is the most shallow one which is purely for the looks. Not a great foundation to build a romance off of so that doesn’t do the film any favors either. Fortunately he softens up and starts to like her as well but throughout the film there are so many misunderstandings and moments where he’s harsh to her again so it all just happens too fast and doesn’t work at all.

It’s nice to see him landing a solid combo against one of the villains to defend her but ultimately you feel like their being friends would have worked a lot better in this context. Also, you can’t forget that Skip was still ready to sell America out the entire time which does nothing to make him any more sympathetic. Ultimately he just wasn’t a good guy and there’s no way around that one. He’s good at pickpocketing but that’s where it ends. If anything I’d say that he just gets lucky most of the time.

Candy is a decent heroine but I’d say she should have cut ties with Joey right away. It’s clear that he didn’t care about her safety one bit. He was nearly the end for her as well by the time the film was done. After a point it was going to be tough to get away from him either way so her best chance was early on. Just getting out of there and hope he’s too busy worrying about the pickpocket to go after her.

Candy has much more of a conscience than most of the other characters so she’s easy to root for at least. Perhaps not in the romance angle but at least in trying to keep the peace and helping the cops out while saving Skip’s reputation. Joey’s a very underwhelming villain the whole time as he’s always super nervous and doesn’t have a plan. He’s an underling through and through who doesn’t really look at the big picture.

Now there’s one part of the film that will definitely be causing you to stretch your disbelief a bit and that’s all of the pickpocketing scenes. Given what we find out later that Candy knew she was carrying something for Joey as her last mission, wouldn’t she be paying extra attention to her purse? I already didn’t buy the scene when it first started but then after we learn this it makes even less sense. Why wouldn’t she be paying a ton of attention to the purse the whole time with the stakes this high?

Sure, she didn’t know what was in the purse but even so it doesn’t work. I don’t care how fast the guy’s hands are, he’s not pickpocketing a purse when someone knows they’re carrying something like this. I’d also say it’s partially on the film for not making it look realistic. The way it’s shot, it’s like the guy is staring his target down but they’re just zoned off in the distance or trying to avoid eye contact. Each pickpocket scene takes forever and you’re just thinking about how the guy should have been caught the whole time.

Back to the characters though, Moe is a fairly solid one even if she is in a dangerous line of work here. Being an informant is definitely not a good way to live a long life but from her dialogue we can see that it was more of a last resort. She had to make money someway and selling ties just wasn’t cutting it. At the end of the day she does stay strong and resists giving intel to the right people. Unlike Skip she actually has some morals so I ended up liking her fairly well.

Then you have Tiger who is a fun police chief. He’s really hard on Skip but it’s hard to blame him since that guy is apparently always committing crimes and going back to Jail. He’s been sent there multiple times already so the next time would be for life. Tiger isn’t even wrong about Skip as the guy was going to sell out the country if not for being convinced at the end. So even though the film has a happy ending, you do wonder if he will ultimately relapse. I’d say the film is implying that this time he’s clean but you really never know with this kind of criminal history.

Overall, Pickup on South Street is a good film but it does struggle with some weaker areas that keeps this from being a better title. The romance just really did not work on any level and additionally the pickpocket scenes were hard to buy. You’re telling me that even the guy who was shadowing Candy didn’t notice Skip pickpocketing her until it was too late and he started to run? I found that one hard to believe as well. If you can get past that, you have a lot of fun dialogue and back and forth between the characters. It’s a solid setup there and I would recommend this to anyone looking for a classic noir title.

Overall 6/10

Kiss of Death Review

With a title like this you probably won’t be surprised that this is a Noir movie. It’s certainly got that vibe from the start and you wouldn’t be wrong. It’s a solid film about the dangers of getting into the criminal racket. Once you go in, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get out easy and Nick learns that the hard way. It’s a satisfying adventure but one that didn’t play out the way that I thought it would.

The movie starts with Nick getting caught after his latest heist and taken to jail. The time for this one is going to potentially be 20 years so the DA, A’Angelo tries to strike a deal but Nick declines. He figures that the other crooks will look out for him. Unfortunately they don’t and his wife ends up dead with no money to her name. Nick decides to do the deal now but 3 years have passed and the opportunity is not the same. He has one shot to get back at the crooks which is to be a stoolie for the cops. He’ll find out info and bring it back to D’Angelo but of course this is a very dangerous job. The villains have a lot of pull and the crazy guy named Tommy on their side. One wrong move will not only destroy Nick, but his rebound girlfriend and his kids.

You can probably guess right off the bat that I was not a fan of the romance here. Look, Nick’s whole reason for revenge and making a deal is because his wife was effectively murdered due to the other crooks not watching out for her. She wasn’t given any money or safety. So then why he is suddenly going out with Nettie? What’s worse is that Nettie and her had a big fight shortly before her death and Nettie basically admits that she has wanted Nick for a while now. Nick’s cool with all of this?

With the title of the film I fully expected Nettie to be the big villain here. There would be a twist about how she’s actually the one who murdered the wife or something like that. It wasn’t a suicide but a frame up. It would have made a lot of sense but the film actually plays it straight which is just as bad if not worse. It’s bad for both parties but in particular it’s a bad look for Nick.

He should not be looking for another wife right now. It’s just way too soon after he’s out of jail. The romance is one of the weakest ones that I’ve seen in a while. He does well beyond that but it’s a big thing to sidestep. The movie is solid in spite of Nick, not because of him. I thought D’Angelo did a good job of giving Nick a lot of chances initially and then explaining that the offer wasn’t forever.

3 years later it makes sense that he would feel a bit sour, especially with how Nick treated him. I wouldn’t say D’Angelo did a good job of protecting him at all though. I can see why Nick didn’t trust him to keep them safe because the guy’s track record was just awful the whole time. Anyone could get past him and that’s absolutely not what you want to hear when there is a big mass murderer after you. Nah, escaping him was the right option here.

Tommy is the big villain and he certainly makes his presence known. He doesn’t like squealers at all and definitely doesn’t take any disrespect. It’s clear that beating him won’t be easy and the guy has a lot of experience. You get the feeling that being his friend is also pretty dangerous since he’s such a spontaneous guy. You may be friends with him one moment and then enemies the next. If you’re an enemy then you’re really out of luck.

I would say that Nick’s plan was extremely risky though and had a near 0% chance of working. There are so many ways it could have gone wrong. I suppose he didn’t have many other options at this point but even so, I wouldn’t say it was a good plan. It’s hard to picture it ever working again even if the scenario was played 100 times. When you’ve got nothing to lose you might as well give it a try, but that’s the only time to play this card.

The movie captures the sense of dread and danger that Nick feels when Tommy is on the loose. These old school Noir titles always knew how to build up a good atmosphere and this one is no exception. Nick knows that as far as he gets, he’ll never be safe. I do think it’s probably worth taking the odds and hopping on a train out of the state though. In theory back then the info networks weren’t quite as advanced so get out of the country and try to survive. Of course there are a significant amount of risks to that and he may be looking over his shoulder the rest of his life but I would wager that the odds are better than trying to settle the score personally. It’s a gamble either way of course.

The writing is also very solid. I like the dialogue exchanges here and it may seem like a small thing but a lot of newer films can’t always hold their own in this same respect. It’s all different eras of course and modern films have their good writing as well but sometimes you just want this classic way of speaking. That false politeness between the heroes and villains, the subtle digs thrown into each sentence. It’s difficult to replicate that.

Overall, Kiss of Death is a good Noir film but I do think it’s held back by some of the choices in the story. I just have a really hard time getting past the whole romance angle. It just feels so crazy considering how the whole plot was about getting past her death. What’s the thought process behind throwing this in? If it was solely because the movie needed some romance then that’s just pretty sad. Making Nettie the villain just made so much sense that I’m still shocked the movie didn’t go that route.

Overall 7/10