Bullitt Review


Bullitt is definitely a true noir film to its core but with a more modern aesthetic than the older ones. It’s a pretty good title with a lot going on at all times. It’s a bit on the longer side to be sure so that lets the movie really have a lot of characters the whole time. As I’ll mention below Frank doesn’t have to be a one man army this time as he actually has some good help.

The film starts on a really high energy note during the credits. We see the burglars taking a lot of guys out with hit and run tactics or just classic gunfire. It’s a pretty interesting start since we don’t yet know what’s going on but what better way to start a film like this right? The answers are all given slowly during the movie.

Frank is the main character here. He’s a detective who has been assigned to protect Ross, a mobster who is going to be a crucial witness against a big criminal organization. Frank is fairly confident that they can handle this so he and his two partners take shifts on who will protect the guy. Unfortunately his partner is not that smart and lets Ross get near the door. Not a great idea when you’re watching over someone and things are already getting suspicious…..Naturally both the partner and Ross get shot.

Well, now everybody’s in a whole lot of trouble. Chalmers, one of the higher ups is blaming Frank for this. Frank meanwhile thinks something is really fishy about the whole set up so he hides Ross’s body so nobody will know that he actually died from his injuries. In theory this will lead the hitmen out into the open. Of course this will put Frank at odds with both the cops as well as the villains.

It’s a classic revenge story here as Frank has gone off the reservation in order to get back at the guys who did this. Frank makes for a pretty good lead. He’s certainly not afraid to talk tough to anyone else, including his superiors. Even the plan to get the body tucked away was a risky one that not just any character would pull off. I wouldn’t say Frank is a spectacular character or anything but he does handle the situation well.

Then you have Chalmers who is one of the other main characters. He’s the guy who really wanted Ross for the court case and is the one who made the deal with the guy in the first place. Naturally he’s on Frank’s tail the whole film because he needs the body. The reason Frank doesn’t want to play ball is because this guy seems rather suspicious. His name was used for the burglers to break in and bump Ross off plus the guy seems really desperate to get Ross.

It doesn’t help that Chalmers is also a jerk the whole time such as a scene when he tries to effectively get one of the doctors fired by complaining about him for no other reason than he wanted the guy to give him a different answer. These elements add up to make him someone you don’t really want to partner with. He does make for a fun character because of how exaggerated he is the whole time though.

You’ve also got Frank’s direct boss who was very good. The guy was put in a rather tough spot with all the pressure coming down on him but he still held strong. The captain does have to make certain decisions as part of his job that don’t always align with Frank’s plans but he never turns tail and runs or anything like that. Frank also has another good partner who had a good interrogation at the cafe where he actually outdid Frank as the main guy was a little too much in a hurry. It was nice to see that Frank had some capable allies here.

There is a bit of an extended car chase we get midway through the film but it wasn’t as exciting as some of other classic chases you get in these films. I think part of the issue was the cars they were using couldn’t get up to great speeds so it’s a little less frantic. It’s probably the only scene that I would say dragged a bit here. Always fun to have an action scene though so that was neat.

As this is more a film about cat and mouse games, there aren’t a ton of action scenes. You affectively get 3, the opening shootout, the car chase, and then the climax. Each action scene is pretty solid though so it works out. The story is engaging too so you never really miss the action. After all in a mystery like this you’re most interested in figuring out who the villain really is.

The climax was a lot of fun though. We don’t get a whole lot of action scenes at the airport so it made for a good backdrop. The film even uses the overall layout of the airport to its advantage as it plays a role in dealing with the villain. All of the plots meet up in this section as the climax should.

The only plot here that felt like it didn’t really belong was some mild tension with Frank’s girlfriend Cathy. The case was dragging so she believes it’s taken a big toll on Frank and on them too. Now that’s not necessarily incorrect but considering the high stakes going on right now and multiple people dead as it is, it’s not like Frank can back out now. She also only appeared for maybe 2-3 scenes top in the whole film so it was easy to forget that she was even around.

Overall, Bullitt is a pretty good movie. It’s got a solid plot/premise and good execution all around. The soundtrack has some pretty good tunes thrown into the mix as well like the opening credits theme. If you’re looking for a pretty solid thriller to check out then this will definitely work out pretty well. It’s a strongly written film that doesn’t really have any weaknesses.

Overall 7/10

The Big Heat Review


The Big Heat is definitely a true noir thriller through and through. There are a lot of mysteries for the main character to sift through and pretty much everyone is lying so it’s always hard to get to the heart of the matter. The film does a good job of keeping you engaged the whole way through. There are certainly a lot of tragic elements in the movie as well. Through it all, the lead is determined to keep on moving forward.

Dave is Sergeant who works in the homicide business. He’s always done a good job of solving each case and certainly isn’t the kind of guy who backs down. Well, this time he’s gotten himself involved in a very big case. A fellow cop committed suicide and while it initially appears to be a shut case, a lady named Lucy approaches Dave and gives him info to suggest that this wasn’t the case. He was having an affair with her at the time and had just planned to divorce Mrs. Duncan.

Mrs. Duncan doesn’t want to talk about this and then the top brass at the police tell Dave to stop bothering her. Some thugs even call his home and threaten Dave’s wife Katie. Well, now Dave knows that there is something to this case and he doesn’t intend to leave until he’s solved it all. This will be his most difficult case yet though as he will have to do it without the help of the police. Can he take on the powerful underworld?

There are quite a few characters running around here. First up we have the main villain Mike Lagana. He runs the underworld and seems to run the police as well. Naturally this is why Dave suspects him of having a hand on this. Supposedly no criminal acts without this guy giving his okay first. If they try to make a move solo then they may not end up being in a position to act any further. Mike makes for an intense villain to be sure. He’s the kind of guy who prefers to let his underlings do the dirty work though.

Mike tries to stay clean as a whistle but of course giving the orders doesn’t make you any less of a villain than the ones doing the deed. Then you have his right hand man Stone who is the most twisted of the villains. He’s into torture and such so you’re always ready for Dave to eventually take him down. There’s nothing redeeming about this villain.

Another big villain here is Mrs. Duncan. After all, she’s one of the mastermind’s here. As a side note, I also liked how this film had more than just the usual 2 factions. For example, she is working with Mike but not for him. In fact, she has contingency plans of her own. Mrs. Duncan is a great strategist and always makes sure to hold a great hand. It’s part of what makes the end of her plot really interesting.

The film takes a few different turns than I had expected and I thought it was played out excellently. A lot of times you expect Dave to basically be doing all of the work on his own without help but in this one that’s not quite the case. He has some allies and then you’ve also just got separate characters who have their own plans and agendas.

Back to the heroes, Dave’s wife Katie was a great character. She was certainly on top of things and was just good natured in general. She was someone he could always count on and she had a good sense of humor as well. Then you have Dave’s army friends who show up more in the second half. These guys are all ready to stand with him to the end which is a really good display of loyalty. Without them it would have been a lot more difficult for Dave to move around.

Then you have Debby who is Stone’s girlfriend so she is around for a lot of the villain scenes. It’s clear that she has more of a heart than the others but of course it’s not easy to just leave a villain setup. Once you’re in you are effectively stuck and have to remain that way. She does end up contributing a whole lot though. Debby goes through a lot during the movie but ultimately stays strong during the various trials.

As for Dave, he’s certainly a solid character. He takes his job very seriously and does whatever he can to crack the case. He’s not able to just look the other way which is difficult in this line of work since the town is basically owned by the villains. At one point the main villain is even playing a game of cards with some elected officials and a cop as they all sit down and have a good game while someone is being injured in the background. Dave can be short with just about everyone but he has good reason to be in a foul mood for most of the film.

Dave really can’t catch a break and as the main character you already know that the people he meets will always be in danger. He also succeeds as a main character with the great dialogue he gets. Dave always has a solid one liner ready for the various characters and doesn’t hold back with the insults. He just calls it like he sees it and doesn’t care who is listening.

The script is definitely top notch and holds up extremely well. The writing is on point as it balances the various plots. Again, I like how it threw a lot of curveballs into the climax of the film with each character getting to contribute. It made the film ultimately feel even more like a grand adventure.

If there’s anything weak about the film, it’s that it can go a bit far with being rather dark. In a noir film characters die all of the time which is normal but this one delves much more into the torture kind of deaths. The opening victim dies in a rather brutal way and we see how Stone treats various characters close up. The attack on Debby was also pretty brutal. I prefer when the villains just murder the heroes quick and easy as opposed to going the extra mile. At least with the first death it isn’t shown but a quick explosion would have definitely been preferable.

Overall, The Big Heat is a really good thriller film. It’s easy to get invested into the story and also hard to predict exactly how it will go. Even the fact that we know who the crime lord is makes things pretty interesting since that doesn’t necessarily mean he has his hand in this affair. Also, you have to decide whether you believe Dave or not when he talks about all of the characters being bought out by the guy. If you like a good mystery or thriller then this is definitely a good title to check out.

Overall 7/10

Woman on the Run Review


Woman on the Run is a very old school noir title that makes for a good thriller. The film definitely feels like it ends rather quickly but the movie has fast pacing so something is always happening. You’ll also have to decide who you’re rooting for since in this case each character has a reason for why they’re either running or in pursuit.

The movie starts with Frank walking his dog when he witnesses someone trying to arrange a solid deal for himself. It clearly wasn’t the right move as the guy gets shot and Frank almost meets the same fate. The cops quickly show up and explain that this is relating to a mob investigation and the guy who died was going to be the big witness. They now want Frank to be the witness. When he askes if he will have any real protection they basically say no so he dashes out of there. Inspector Ferris is forced to ask Frank’s wife Eleanor for help but unfortunately the two are having a bit of a rocky time in their marriage and she is very uncooperative.

Despite her front with the cops, Eleanor is a little concerned particularly when she finds out that Frank has a relatively serious health condition and needs some pills as soon as possible. She heads out to find him only to be caught by a reporter named Danny. He decides to tag along with her since he really wants a scoop. Will they be able to find Frank before the cops do or are his days of running over?

First off, while I understand this is an important case for the police, I absolutely get why Frank would bolt. The fact of the matter is that he wouldn’t have much protection. If the case falls through or the guy doesn’t get convicted, they will hunt him down right away. Even if he is convicted, depending on the size of the mob they will certainly retaliate to send a message. In both scenarios Frank is taking an awfully big risk whereas if he escapes, as long as he stays out of touch until the trial is over then he’s set.

Escaping for so long would probably be tough nowadays but back then without cameras and such it wasn’t such a tough plan for him. What helps is that Frank has a lot of friends all over the city. It’s a case of Frank’s good deeds ultimately catching up to him here which worked out well. We don’t see him for most of the film but the guy’s a likable character. He’s got a quick wit as well and just does a good job of staying one step ahead of everyone.

Eleanor is really the main character here and she does a great job. She gets a lot of the best lines in the first half of the film as she constantly has something sarcastic to say about about Frank. It’s clear that she isn’t even trying to help solve the case either. She is very much a person who likes to do everything on her own and this is what leads to her own personal investigation. It also helps her understand Frank more and leads to a solid character arc there.

As for Inspector Ferris, he’s a good guy. He may have the rather unpleasant task of having to search for Frank right now but he seems like a good guy. Ferris is also thorough in his searching and does pick up on a lot of clues. The ones he doesn’t quite win are clues he couldn’t possible understand since they are based on experiences only Frank and Eleanor would know. Ferris also has good aim with his weapons and doesn’t freeze up under pressure. He’s someone that you will want to have in your corner.

Then there’s the reporter Danny. Well, he’s fairly clever in his own right but I can’t say I was a big fan of the guy. He was openly flirting with Eleanor quite early on despite the fact that she is married and has a hard time recovering from that. He does come in handy with helping get her through the plan to find Frank but that’s about it. He’s a crucial part to the story and it was nice having someone who was trying to compete with Eleanor intellectually but he doesn’t quite stack up against the other characters.

Where the film really shines here is with the writing. It’s a classic race against time with everyone trying to find Frank. The film isn’t doing anything wildly different or being super ambitious but the execution of the plot is quite strong so it really works out. The movie has no real weaknesses. Everything adds up and turns this into a great film. Each character comes out of this stronger. Frank was a little over the top with trying to be a perfectionist even if it meant bringing no money in so by the end you feel like he’ll be better with this. Eleanor didn’t always take the right message from things but wouldn’t actually talk about it and now I think she would be ready to have more of an open dialogue. I don’t think Ferris would really change but he doesn’t need to anyway since he already did well.

Overall, Woman on the Run is a great film. Sometimes it’s a simple film like this that can really shine because then everything is all on the writing and this film delivers. If you like a solid thriller then I’d recommend this film. Don’t expect a ton of big action scenes or things like that though as this is more of a low key adventure. We do have a real climax though but you shouldn’t be here for the fights in this case. It’s more about finding Frank and getting some answers out of him.

Overall 8/10

The Late Show Review


Noir films tend to be pretty fun with their chaotic plans. The lead is always thinking things through quite a bit to the point where they might even overanalyze things at times. Well, this film is no different and plays things out pretty well the whole time. It’s a pretty good film and you should have a fun time here. It may not go down as the ultimate film of the genre that you will remember for all of time but it does hit all of the right beets. The Late Show represents the genre really well so you can certainly recommend this to any fan of the Noir genre.

Ira used to be a pretty good detective in his day but he’s basically out of the business now. He’s quite old and just doesn’t get involved in those situations anymore. Well, one day his partner Harry shows up and dies. Ira realizes that the guy has been shot by someone and decides to avenge him. His only lead is that Harry had been helping out a lady named Margo with…her missing cat? This doesn’t exactly sound like a life or death matter but clearly there is more to this case than meets the eye. Getting information out of Margo will be difficult though. She is a very active person who likes to talk a whole lot so it can be tough to ever get to the bottom of things with her. Still, Ira knows that if he sticks close to her he will get his chance. You have conspiracies, lies, missing people, a possible cheating scandal, and more here. Ira will have to piece all of these seemingly unrelated plots together.

Part of the fun for Noir films is the twists and turns that come along the way so it’s harder to go more in depth with the story. A big emphasis is on Ira being old which the villains take advantage of but Ira dishes it out as well as he takes it. Several of the villains try to strong arm him and that always backfires. A good example of this is Lamar who beats up on Ira after getting in a surprise attack but he gets to feel the same punishment later on. Ira certainly holds a grudge and won’t forget things very easily.

He’s a fun lead and works well in this role. The character of the aging detective who knows all of the tricks works pretty well here. He’s not going to fall for any easy traps and the villains have to do everything they can to make sure they aren’t just completely squashed by this guy. Ira has some health issues in the film which do present an issue but he handles those pretty well too. So all in all I was definitely quite satisfied with this guy. Then you have Margo who is a solid sidekick. She really wants to be helpful so you can appreciate her drive even if she sometimes gets them into a bigger mess like with calling Ira’s other partner. To her defense I guess she may not have known better but considering how crazy things were getting she probably should have stayed quiet. Can’t trust anyone in this kind of situation I would say.

Margo handles the car driving really well as she escaped the tails though. The writing in the film is really solid with the banter between Margo and Ira being a nice highlight. Technically she is doing most of the bantering since he doesn’t talk a lot. He prefers to just think things through in his head while Ira likes to bring everything out into the open and just discuss everything until it makes sense. They have very different styles for sure.

On the whole the movie is just pretty fun so the whole thing goes by pretty quickly. It’s a solid plot and by the end you get to see which of the characters are able to stick the landing and which ones crack under pressure. In particular there is one character who looks terrible at the end. After getting beaten by the thugs in a theater this guy still decides to help them out for the money. I think just about anyone would realize that these guys probably wouldn’t give him the money anyway. Most likely he would just be shot in the back for his troubles. There’s no way things would end well for him either way so it makes his character choice even worse. All he is doing is digging his own grave but at least it gives Ira a chance to dish out some more solid burns.

The ending is pretty sudden with several shots being fired and the body count certainly rises. Nobody is really safe in a film like this, especially when you have villains running around. Everyone knows about two of the thugs for example but nobody does anything about them. It’s one of those interesting elements where you have characters uttering a lot of veiled threats against each other with the mutual understanding that no fights will break out as long as each person leaves the other alone.

Overall, The Late Show is a pretty good movie. The plot is engaging from start to finish and there is never a dull moment. You have to really stay on top of things here or you may lose track of a few of the twists. It works well as a slow burner film where we slowly find things out along with Ira until we have the full story. The movie balances the serious nature of the movie along with some quality humor the whole time. It’s done carefully so both tones are in tact. You never doubt for a second the high stakes of the film after all as we do get some intense scenes like someone literally being found inside of a fridge. If anything the humor makes these moments feel even more intense since they can really come out of nowhere. The ending even leaves room for potential sequels should they decide to go in that direction. Of course Ira is already quite old so the films would have to be careful not too stretch it too far or you’ll have a hard time believing that he can hold his own. At least as of this film he is clearly still tough enough to physically manhandle some of the villains though.

Overall 7/10

Gilda Review


Gilda is a Noir film from a while back. It’s definitely got every noir element you can ask for and makes for a pretty interesting film although the main character is definitely pretty bad. Definitely not someone you can trust in the slightest and there’s a lot of twists and turns here as the characters mess with each other. The main takeaway is that you shouldn’t get involved with gambling as things tend to get dicey.

The movie starts with a confident guy named Johnny cheating a bunch of sailors at cards and running off with all of their money. He doesn’t get far though as someone holds him at gunpoint and Johnny realizes that it may be curtains for him. That’s when a guy named Ballin shows up and rescues Johnny. Ballin is the owner of a local casino and so naturally Johnny repays this kindness by going to that guy’s casino and stealing a bunch of money. He’s caught again but Ballin decides to make him a partner. Johnny is surprisingly loyal and so the two get along really well. This all changes when Ballin goes on vacation and returns with a new wife named Gilda. Johnny and Gilda have quite the history between them which leads to a lot of friction. Gilda is a free spirit who flirts with everyone so Johnny tries to keep Ballin from finding this out. Will Johnny and Gilda’s feud end up destroying the casino?

At first things are going almost too well so you know something’s got to give. Johnny and Ballin have perfect teamwork with each other and the casino is doing better than never. They’re really on cloud 9 and Johnny’s enjoying his new lease on life. As someone who used to cheat a whole lot it makes sense that he would be good at noticing if others were using the same tricks. That said, things all fall to pieces when Gilda shows up. She is intentionally difficult a lot of the time as well as she puts him into tough situations that are hard to explain.

I would make the case that if he was straight with Ballin from the start instead of making up stories then it would have been easier. By the midway point that isn’t an option anymore though as Ballin starts to act rather dangerously. Perhaps Johnny knew that would be his reaction all the while. Johnny was really solid in the first half of the film but then he looked really bad later on. His punishment scheme involving marriage started off as incredibly petty and by the end just turned flat-out villainous. There isn’t any real way to root for him as he went completely off the deep end.

Then you have Gilda who isn’t a very good heroine. She admits to being someone who goes on the rebound all the time. While the characters do ultimately say she never actually cheated on the leads, it’s hard to really believe that given her actions. She actually did cheat on Ballin while they were still married with Johnny and she was already getting into a serious affair with someone overseas until it turned out that he was actually an inside agent. The common theme in both of these instances is that she was really quick to move on so it’s hard to imagine any real romance sticking around for the long-haul by the end. Without trust you can’t possibly have a healthy relationship after all.

The romance in the film in general is just really weak and takes away from the more interesting thriller aspects of the story. You’re interested in the conspiracies and the truth behind the casino. Not in what’s going on between Johnny and Gilda. That’s the kind of stuff you can just leave for a side story or just to the imagination but it ends up playing quite the central focus by the end.

There are two main supporting characters in Pio and Obregon. Pio is a nice janitor type character who completes all of the odd jobs around the Casino. He’s been around for a long time and is always completely confident in himself. Nobody can scare this guy and that’s because he knows just about everything. You can always count on him in crunch time and he was just fun. Then you’ve got Obregon who appears for a lot of the movie. He’s a mysterious character who is always hanging around the scene of the crime just doing his own thing. There are naturally twists around his character and they are handled quite well. He may even be the best character in the film when you think about it.

Finally you’ve got the main villain Ballin and he definitely messes up what was a pretty good system for him. He really had everything he could have wanted and then ended up messing it all up by going after Gilda when he shouldn’t have. If he had just stayed strong or not gotten married so impulsively then he would have been okay. While the guy went crazy by the end, he may have been distracted by success long enough for that not to take effect. It’s quite the coincidence that he ended up meeting up with Gilda of all people.

As with any classic Noir film the writing is important and I would say it is pretty solid here. The banter with Johnny and Ballin is always solid with a lot of subtle jabs thrown in. Johnny has a quick word for anyone who gets in his way. The only time the interactions aren’t as solid is with him and Gilda as you can see the romance coming a mile away so their tough talk just doesn’t work as well. Beyond that the whole film is definitely interesting from start to finish and the pacing means that it all goes through pretty smoothly. There’s never a point in the film where you feel like it’s dragging on.

Overall, Gilda is a solid Noir film. I wouldn’t put it as one of my all time high picks in the genre but it holds up well enough. Gilda is the weakest element of the film to be sure along with the rather weak romance here but the plots about the casino and such are solid. There’s always something going on here and definitely a lot to unpack. All of the characters could have handled the situation differently and would have been in a better spot for it except for Obregon who handled everything well from start to finish. That guy was always a step ahead of the rest. With a solid ending to close things out, I’d definitely recommend Gilda if you want to check out a classic film with a little mystery and intrigue.

Overall 6/10

Framed Review


Framed is an old noir film which is a very solid depiction of the genre as a whole. You’ve got every character keeping secrets and acting rather suspicious the whole time. They’ve definitely got a lot of attitude and smoking/drinking is what all of the characters turn to in a pinch. With solid writing and a good story at the ready this is certainly a good movie to check out. You don’t really see a low key Noir title like this nowadays and it’s a solid genre that has faded away.

The movie starts with Mike trying to drive a vehicle into town but the brakes gave way. He eventually makes it but not before crashing into Jeff’s car. The town refuses to pay for the damages even though it was their defective vehicle that caused Mike to bump into the guy’s car in the first place. Mike pays for the damages but gives the sheriff too much attitude so they prepare to arrest him. A waitress named Paula shows up to pay for his bail just in the nick of time though. She wants to be Mike’s friend but the whole thing seems a little odd to the lead. Mike wants to leave town as soon as possible and he may have a ticket out. Jeff’s starting up a silver mining company soon as long as he can get a loan from the bank.

We’ll see if that happens though. Paula is in cahoots with Steve, the vice president of the bank. They intend to steal a ton of money but they need a fall guy. Mike is exactly the guy they’ve been looking for so they intend to bump him off after setting the stage just right. Can Mike really see this trap coming or will he be far too distracted by Paula to do much of anything? There’s definitely a lot of tension as you watch him try to come out on top.

Now, with a premise like this there’s a lot going on. It’s also a reverse mystery to an extent since we know Paula and Steve are the villains from the start but nobody else does. So there isn’t any deductions being done on our side. It’s all about following Mike on his quest. He probably would have even done better with that if he wasn’t always getting drunk though. Keep in mind that he got himself into a lot of trouble early on in the film for drinking so much that he passed out and it happens to him again in the climax. Both times could have been absolutely fatal.

It also makes it a little harder to like Mike. He feels very out of his league in this mystery. He’ll make a decent deduction at times but he’ll handle the execution poorly. There’s one scene where he very nearly gets poisoned and instead of saving himself, someone else has to come through for him. It’s a fun moment in a sense because he had a plan of his own all set and he would not have been able to execute it if he had taken the drink. Things could have very quickly gone south for him. Mike talks tough a lot but he ends up being manipulated quite often and I dunno, I just couldn’t pull for the guy.

The only thing that I will say for him is at least he was quick to try and get Jeff out of a jam even if it meant confessing. He wasn’t just going to let Jeff rot and there was no hesitation there. That’s the only credit I’ll give Mike but at least his heart was in the right place there. Jeff’s also a fun character. The guy has a good business idea set up and you get the feeling that he is very on top of things. If not for the villains messing with him I think he would be in a very good spot to get rich. He takes everything in stride too so he’s an easy guy to root for.

As for the two villains, well they definitely don’t plan things out too well. First off is Steve who just doesn’t think things through. He goes through a cycle that he should have predicted. He cheated on his wife to get along with Paula and doesn’t suspect that she may do the same thing? He’s not the brightest guy out there that’s for sure. Then you have Paula who could have easily ended things without a hitch for herself but let her feelings get in the way which ended up ruining things for her. You can’t mix sentimentality with criminal affairs. That’s just not going to end well in any circumstance and she certainly learned that the hard way.

The movie has a fairly small cast as these 4 are the only characters or note. The heart of the film is really about the strong writing and character interactions between all of them. Most of the scenes feel like they’re taking place at night time, even the ones during the day. Even the bar always feels ominous as the characters walk in to get a drink. It’s always interesting to see how these things looked back in the day because it all feels so different in the present.

Overall, Framed is a pretty solid movie. I probably wouldn’t put it as a top Noir title but at the same time it is a very consistent one. It really gives you all of the elements that you would want to see in such a film from the characters to the backgrounds. The reverse mystery idea is a nice twist as well. Usually most of the film is about finding out exactly what is going on so this time we get to see Mike try to put the puzzle pieces together himself. He’s not the nicest guy so that works in his favor at times as he uses strong tactics. Sometimes just hiding out in front of the house is a good way to gather info as well which worked out nicely for him. He got off a little lucky being able to down someone with a single punch though but I suppose that guy wasn’t as big a fighter as he thought. The key takeaway from this film is that if you don’t want to get framed or be put in a tough situation, just don’t get drunk out of your mind. You should maybe avoid the drinks entirely but at the bare minimum you shouldn’t drink so much that you pass out….

Overall 7/10

Le Samouraï Review


It’s time to look at a French thriller from a while back. The title may be a bit misleading though. I suppose it’s using the Samurai term more figuratively than anything but if Jef thinks of himself as a samurai then he’s quite mistaken. He’s just a common murderer trying to evade the cops long enough for the next job. This film was better than I had expected and gives a pretty satisfying case for you to watch unfold. We know that the main character is guilty so the suspense is in seeing how the cops will be able to arrest this guy.

The movie starts with Jef walking into a club. He nonchalantly walks all the way over to where the boss is and shoots him in front of everyone. He then returns to a Poker game with some of his associates. The cops quickly arrive and take him in as a suspect along with 99 other people. Jef manages to get out of there without being seen as guilty since most of the witnesses were unable to ID him. His bosses don’t like the fact that he was caught at all though and decide to put him down. Meanwhile the Policeman in charge of the investigation is confident that Jef is his man. He wasn’t able to prove it quit yet but he is determined to get the information so he has the Police tail Jef. Jef must now shake the mafia and the cops if he is to get out of this in one piece.

When your main character is actually the villain a film always has to walk a pretty fine line. It shouldn’t bother with trying to make the lead likable as it is far too late for that. The only option left is to have you root for the good guys here to take down the lead. You still need a lot of twists and turns involved here to keep things from being too easy though. It’s definitely interesting seeing this from the villain’s point of view and this movie makes the most of it. The police are given a lot of credit with the various tactics they use to try and catch him. Both sides look intelligent and have a lot of different plans at the ready. The excellent writing is part of what sells this film.

The Police chief instantly became the best character after just a few minutes with his character. He’s very sharp and has a good intuition. He plays things by the book and ultimately doesn’t cross any lines in trying to get his man. He just knows how to run an investigation and cover all of the bases. Tailing someone is pretty difficult, especially someone like Jef who is a professional but the unit here is quite good as well. Throughout the film the chief continues to pour on more and more pressure so that Jef will inevitably make a mistake and then they can slam him with everything they’ve got. Now that’s really high quality Policework.

As for Jef, he’s just your average hitman. He was paid to take someone out and he did. The piano player Valerie questions why he would do it and he even explains that his targets may or may not be good people. It doesn’t matter to him, he just wants the money. Valerie’s character is an interesting one since Jef has some theories on her but the film never goes out of its way to tell us if we should believe him or not. I’m inclined to think that he is right based upon the final mission of the film though. She seems to be a loose end which would support his theory but was definitely an interesting character either way.

Jef plays the situations rather well for the most part although the final scene wasn’t a good play. This is intentional as it seems he wanted to stop causing trouble for someone but after going through all of this that just doesn’t seem like the way to go about things. If anything it puts the heroine in some more trouble since this doesn’t really help her case. Jef’s character is very robotic in how he goes about his business. Even by the end of the film we really don’t know almost anything about his character and that’s good with me. The mystique behind everything going on is part of what makes the Noir genre so much fun.

The heroine Jane is also interesting. She’s definitely very loyal to Jef and that’s part of the tragic element here. It’s always a shame to see a character like that get in with the wrong crowd. That said, it’s not like she’s a good person either. It seems like she is playing the field and turns out to be as much of a crook as Jef. In a way that makes them perfect for each other and cuts the sympathy points down even further for both of them. There’s never any doubt on your side as to who you should be rooting for. So that’s a good thing, the writers knew what they were doing.

it’s also just a very fun movie to watch because you get a good understanding of the police procedures in France. It’s a little different and very methodical. I liked seeing them try different experiments like having the suspects switch clothing and line up. The chief definitely was very thorough in the measures he was using and it’s easy to see why he did so well. I do think the audio bug was a super longshot that was never going to work but I suppose he had to at least give it a try right? It’s not like there was much harm in the attempt since Jef was on guard anyway. There were also quite a lot of agents running around which was fun to see as they tried keeping tabs on him.

Overall, Le Samourai is definitely a solid film. It’s a low key thriller so don’t expect a lot of shots or anything like that. It’s more of a mental thriller as the characters play cat and mouse with each other. The police chief knows Jef is the guilty party but he does need solid evidence in order to convict him. That’s why Jef is able to be quite cocky about the whole thing since the alibi is so air tight. Then we’ve got his revenge trip on the mafia group. Their agent looks pretty naive the whole time so I assume he was new to the force. Otherwise he just looks awful in one scene that occurs. You may chuckle at that moment even if the rest of the film is super serious. The ending is also satisfying which is the right way to cap things off.

Overall 7/10

Keeper of the Flame Review


It’s time to look at an old conspiracy film. It’s a cautionary tale about how anyone can quickly be corrupted or coerced under the right circumstances. Always be careful of meeting your heroes because nobody is perfect so you’re likely going to be disappointed. The movie’s very well made. The cast is pretty small and the plot is rather direct so to an extent it can feel like not much is happening. That’s where the writing comes into play since the film needs to keep you interested until the final twist near the end of the movie. I thought it succeeded in this regard.

The movie starts with a legendary American hero dying in a car accident. The country is in mourning because this guy was a very prominent figure. His wife Christine is taking this especially hard and has been unwilling to see anyone. Famous reporter Stephen has arrived in town to get the scoop although his two reporter friends tell him he should give up. That’s not how Stephen operates though and he keeps on going until he finally meets Christine. Why is she so nervous and eager for him to go away? Stephen’s reporter instincts have kicked in and he senses a story!

The funny thing is that this is one of those movies where the villains really overthink things. The film would have been over in an instant if they hadn’t gone back after Stephen. Clive thinks that Christine’s decision not to meet with Stephen initially was pretty suspicious. He’s not wrong in this but suddenly appearing later on has the opposite effect. If they had left things alone Stephen may have had a feeling that something wasn’t right but he would have stopped there. It’s always interesting when the villains think too highly of the heroes because that’s pretty rare.

Nevertheless, Stephen’s definitely a solid character for the most part. He’s determined and doesn’t get intimidated when people threaten to beat him up or worse. You have to have nerves of steel to be a reporter and he’s definitely got that. In comparison the other two reporters look pretty bad as they give up with ease and don’t really do much of anything. They’re really just here for the banter although I can appreciate that since I’m always up for good banter. The main thing that holds Stephen back is the romance plot with Christine since her husband literally just died. Now, they weren’t actually all that close and there’s a lot going on with that relationship but you still can’t see this as anything but a rebound. I also thought that it didn’t really enhance the plot in any way.

The film has a solid ending that wraps things up as well so this is a really complete journey. The best part here is that the film had strong writing and was interesting from cover to cover. I liked the final twist and it’s not even unrealistic. It’s very easy to see something like this happening and the idea of playing groups against each other is something that is happening as we speak through every kind of media, social media, writing, and even in person. Division is a constant in life and one that always has the appearance of getting worse and worse with each passing year. The movie is just as timely now as when it came out with the relevant plotlines. In light of all of this, Christine did pretty good. It’s a shame that she couldn’t have gotten a little further from the situation but I don’t really see how she could have had a chance for any of that.

For the debate at the end where Christine and Stephen have differing views on how people handle these kinds of twists in real life, I’d say Stephen was right. At the end of the day, no matter how big a revelation or a twist there is, people will adapt and get used to it. Some will take it harder than others no doubt but it’s just not personal enough for most to be crushed by it. If it were that personal then it wouldn’t effect most of the others. Since you can never really know someone else, you can only get to hurt by learning something you didn’t already know. There are just limits to how you will feel and that’s why Stephen is right that the truth always has to come out. It may not be what everyone wanted to hear, but ultimately it’s what they needed to know. There’s one death that’s a little gratuitous at the ending as I don’t think it was really needed but you can see why the film went that route.

Overall, Keeper of the Flame is a pretty nice title. It is definitely a very relevant title as it has to do a whole lot with the movie. If you’re up for a mystery with quite a few twists and turns then this is up your alley. As mentioned, the only thing I could see holding this one back a little for some would just be the fact that the movie can feel a little slow at times. Not so much in a dragged out sense as it isn’t specific scenes, but the film has a very slow pace to it as it takes you through the story. The characters chat about life and hypotheticals as well. Everyone’s always got a speech. I’m always up for that though as the dialogue is pretty interesting to me. As long as you agree then you’ll enjoy the film.

Overall 7/10

Double Indemnity Review


It’s time to take a look at a retro noir film. This is one of those titles where you should be rooting against the main character from the jump. He’s definitely not one of the more trust worthy guys out there and ends up making a lot of foolish mistakes. It’s a good movie though with a fun plot and a lot going on. I also always enjoyed the noir narration going on throughout the movie. That’s something I’d like to see make a comeback in the modern movies at some point. It’s just a fun thing to do.

The movie starts with Walter trying to track down someone whose insurance is about to expire. Walter always likes to stay on top of these things after all as he is one of the best insurance people in the business. When he gets to the house the guy isn’t there, but his wife Phyllis is. She figures him as an easy sucker to manipulate and she’s right as Walter immediately ignores the fact that she’s married to make a move. She reciprocates and lets him know that all Walter needs to do is help her bump off her husband so they can get rich off the insurance. Walter likes the sound of this and the two of them start planning. Can they bump this guy off and get rich without the expert Mr. Keyes finding out about this?

Keyes is the best character here. He’s always been really good at cracking down on criminals who try this kind of scam. Whenever someone submits a fake insurance claim he catches them in the act. It’s all because of the “little guy” who is basically his heart that lets him know when someone’s not being straight with him. Walter figures that he’s worked with Keyes for over 10 years so he can keep him in the dark. It’s a pretty high stakes gamble though but he’s already in it pretty deep and decides to go for the gold anyway.

So right away there’s no doubt about it. Walter’s one of the antagonists just as much as Phyllis. Only difference between them is Walter did it partially for Pyllis as well while she was just in it for the money. Walter tries to make a lot of justifications about it but at the end of the day he’s still pretty petty. His final plan was also pretty risky as Phyllis was one step ahead of him the whole time. He really underestimated her there and wasn’t even being all that subtle about what he was going to do. Closing all the windows and shades….really? He should have already known that Phyllis would be ready since the whole deal is that she’s pretty cunning.

The best parts of the film are definitely the cat and mouse games with Keyes. Keyes is always thinking up plan after plan to try and break down the story. There are quite a few similarities to Death Note here. At times Walter wonders if Keyes is on to him but is holding back to give Walter a chance to confess on his own. It gives you a lot to think about as you’re watching the film because this could really spin a lot of different ways. In terms of extra story beats, the only one I think we didn’t need was Lola’s plot. It makes Phyllis look pretty bad because of how obvious she was being.

So Phyllis was bumping off people left and right while trying on black to test it out? That’s the kind of thing you do when you’re trying to incriminate yourself, not when you’re trying to lie low. Lola ends up being a pretty big piece who could have blown the case wide open at any time. Instead she decides to keep quiet which is very fortunate for Phyllis but not very likely. At this point Phyllis bumped off both of her parents so what’ll it take for Lola to go to the cops? I think cutting her out of the film would have made sense. I suspect she was mainly there to give Walter some second thoughts about the whole thing.

Walter should have had second thoughts the moment he found out he was being the patsy in all of this though. He tries to play it off cool like most Noir characters by saying he didn’t care and all of that. I don’t really buy that for a second to be honest. Deep down he was hoping she really liked him and that was never going to work out. A romance built off of a murder is probably not going to last very long at all. He should have stuck to the content life of insurance selling. The company seemed really good to me to be honest and at least he had good friends. That’s not something he could say for after that. His final attempt was a bit odd but I guess at that point he was desperate.

Overall, Double Indemnity is a very solid film. While the main characters are pretty unlikable, you’ve got Keyes here to hold the whole thing together. Also, at least while Walter is a villain, it’s not like he’s portrayed as someone totally crazy that would hold the film back. He may be corrupt with all his justifications and all but at least he’s still got sound judgment which is needed for these battles of the mind. If you like Noir titles then this is definitely one to add to the books. It’s got a lot of different wrinkles to it and various story developments.

Overall 7/10

The Lady Vanishes Review


It’s time to look at a very old school thriller mystery. It certainly goes down a few unexpected paths and makes for a pretty enjoyable experience. As with all movies where someone vanishes you do have to suspend a little disbelief with how this would have worked out at all. That said, the movie makes a better attempt to hide this than most do. At least we do have a few characters who saw things and for their own selfish reasons are just pretending that they didn’t. That’s more of a plot point that I can get behind.

The movie starts with some train delays so Iris and a lot of other people are forced to spend the night at a hotel. Iris is with two of her friends so it’s a nice enough stay but their upstairs neighbor is making a lot of noise. Iris complains and the guy (Gilbert) retaliates by breaking into her room and making a mess of things. Iris is pretty happy to leave but on the way to the train she is nearly murdered by a falling rock that was seemingly aimed at an old lady by the name of Ms. Froy. Froy is also taking the train to she gets on with Iris. Unfortunately after Iris takes a nap Froy is gone and everyone claims she was never there. Iris needs to find some proof and fast because this could all be a part of some kind of conspiracy.

Iris and Froy didn’t do a whole lot after they got on the train but enough where you’d expect a good amount of witnesses. They went to the cabin to have some tea and even had a brief polite spat with Charters and Caldicott so I’m sure some people would have noticed this. Again, we do have at least 4 characters who saw them but have motives for not saying. For reasons involving the twist we can’t count everyone in the car so it’s a limited pool. That’s why, while I don’t 100% buy this, the film put in a great effort compared to most. I can definitely respect the hustle there.

Speaking of twists, the film also did good by not letting you know who the true main character was for a while. In Act 1 Charters and Caldicott gets much more screen time than Iris. They’re too comedic characters who just want to know what’s going on with the cricket matches but nobody is able to assist them. It’s definitely not the most popular sport out there although I know a few big fans. As a result you expect these guys to be in the thick of it but when the situation comes to them, surprisingly they lie their way out of it. I was pretty shocked since that seemed primed to be their big moment where they jump in and take center stage. That was a solid flip the script kind of moment if I’ve ever seen one.

As the actual main character, Iris does a pretty good job of holding the movie pretty well. She’s a nice character and definitely a determined one as she doesn’t buy into the deceptions that Froy was never really there. I’m pretty glad about that because I always thought it was rather weak to believe the opposite of what you saw with your own eyes. Let’s bee real about this, if you see something then you shouldn’t be convinced otherwise. That’s one of those things I always have to shake my head at when it happens. Iris was also quick to get with the program when the climax occurs.

Some characters were not quite so lucky with this. When people are actually shooting at you then the time for talking is certainly past. You have to fire back and a few of the characters here were definitely super naive. That said, the climax was definitely a lot of fun. It was pretty high energy throughout and a lot was happening at any given time. The whole conspiracy was a bit bigger than I had suspected. The film was pretty low key for most of its run but I’ll never turn down a sequence of solid action scenes.

The main guy is a bit on the iffy side. Gilbert is pretty petty with breaking into Iris’ room the way that he did. It may have ended up turning out all right but it’s the kind of thing that would definitely not fly over very well if it actually happened. This leads us to a pretty rushed romance plot. Keep in mind that Iris already has a fiance so that’s pretty hard to buy into. She basically dumps him for no real reason. We barely even got to meet the guy which is pretty crazy. They could have just as easily written the film so that he didn’t exist and nothing would change. The romance is definitely not the best here but fortunately that plays a very small role.

I’d consider the writing in the film to generally be pretty solid. It has good pacing throughout and a nice set of characters. The film plays itself out a bit as an ensemble kind of movie with each character having his own plot and story to get back to. They all end up mixing together by the end of the experience so all of the characters feel pretty real. The movie doesn’t drag on and actually manages to capture quite a lot of story within the runtime. Mix that together with the explosive climax and you’ve got yourself a very satisfying ending.

Overall, The Lady Vanishes is a pretty solid movie. I’d definitely recommend it as this is a mystery film which has aged really well over the years.Some of the twists are still a bit unexpected which goes into how smooth the execution is. Gilbert does have a terrible final scene though as he ends up slipping on the most important assignment he was given. It’s one of those things that you just don’t do. You’ve got to at least make sure you get that right. Fortunately the real hero was ready to help as things could have gone badly otherwise.

Overall 7/10