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

The Seventh Victim Review


It’s time to look at an old film about lots of mysterious things going around. Unfortunately the conclusion to this ends up being pretty weak which takes away from the experience. You can’t help but feel like the whole thing was pretty pointless in the end. Everyone acts rather oddly for the plot and the film’s ending is so abrupt that it feels like a ton of it was cut out. Abrupt endings can work out quite well and I do like cliffhangers but it felt like almost nothing was resolved.

The movie starts out with Mary finding out that Jacqueline has gone missing. She leaves school to go and find her, however it’s a big city and Jacqueline isn’t at her business anymore since she apparently sold it to someone. Mary meets up with Jacqueline’s husband Gregory who agrees to help find her. Unfortunately this guy isn’t very helpful at all so Mary uses a private detective to break into a building where Jacqueline may be. Unfortunately the guy gets murdered and slowly Mary starts to figure that maybe she should give up. She is easily intimidated by one of the villains after all.

Part of the issue here is that Jacqueline handles everything pretty terribly. First off she did get into a crazy cult which is already bad enough. From there she keeps hiding from the world rather than exposing them. Presumably they are blackmailing her with something but to the point where she has to give up all of her businesses and money? At that point she’s got to do something to defend herself rather than playing defense. We get really random scenes like her not talking to the hero or stabbing people. She gets a little startled but then doesn’t even talk to defend herself. You’ve also got the pretty terrible ending that really seals the deal on my not liking this character. Now the villains get to go free without any testimony against them.

Gregory is also an annoying character here since he is literally married to Jacqueline and ends up falling for Mary. This is the same guy who was calling her a child earlier and making a lot of snide remarks. It’s great that they get along, but why’d it have to escalate so quickly? It’s hard to get a read on Gregory but this definitely didn’t do his character any wonders. Then you have Jason who seems nice enough. He’s got connections and helps the heroes find Jacqueline at least. His whole origin story involving knowing Louis a while back feels pointless though. Louis not telling Jason that his friend went completely crazy was also odd.

The film just has a lot of little elements here and there that don’t make sense and don’t add to anything. The best character was Irving since at least he did his best to try and find out the truth of what was going on. Too bad he ended up getting stabbed so easily though. He knew that something dangerous was behind the door so he definitely should have gone through a little more carefully in that case right? When you consider how dark it is especially.

I think the film wasn’t sure if it wanted to go towards total conspiracy land or keeping things more grounded. The whole film was building up to something big and crazy but by the end we see it’s just a small little club with around 5 members. They don’t even believe in violence themselves although they hire people to get the job done so it’s basically the same thing. They shouldn’t have all that much sway at all so if Jacqueline went to the cops she should be fine. Louis is also really an accomplice here since he does all he can to get in the way of the heroes. The guy was acting like a villain the whole time.

How did the heroes break into the hospital so easily anyway? You’d think that security would be tighter. Then the villains somehow finding a way to get Irving’s body out of there without anybody seeing is also pretty sketchy. The whole film works a lot better if you change the twist. Have Jacqueline be involved in a country-wide conspiracy where everyone is a suspect and the whole thing works out a lot better. Personally that would have made the film better although it probably wouldn’t have saved it. To be a good noir thriller or conspiracy thriller you need a good set of characters. It’s the only way you are going to get through and Irving was really the only solid one. The others were all super submissive and would not stand up to the villains in the slightest.

Even the brief “confrontation” we get with the main characters and the villains is super quick. It’s supposed to be pretty emotional and intense but it’s extremely quick and if this shook the villain cult to their core they must have never been all that serious in the first place. Why couldn’t we have had a scene with the cops coming to arrest them? A quick moment like that would have made a world of difference, but instead the film ends where it began, with nothing really happening.

Overall, I’d recommend avoiding this film. The Seventh Victim’s title basically summarizes everything that happens in the movie anyway. The rest is really just fluff to keep you going. The suspense does work reasonably well but since the resolution to it is pretty sub-par that just means that all of the build up ends up feeling pretty pointless. Definitely not the way to wrap up this cinematic experience. Perhaps with all of the cut scenes they could have helped improve the film although it would have taken a lot to save the film entirely and push it over a 5.

Overall 3/10

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers Review


It’s time to take a look at a classic Noir film. It’s a tale of deception and blackmail with the villains thinking a little too highly of the lead which gets them into trouble. It’s a pretty engaging film for most of its run but by the end the drama ramps up a bit too much at the expense of Sam’s character. The ending may play out as a happy one but Sam made far too many mistakes. The plot still gives you enough twists and turns to stay engaging though.

The film starts off with Martha and Sam running from home yet again. Sam is a pretty down to Earth guy who likes being a rebel while Martha is getting ready to inherit a ton of money but doesn’t like her aunt. Unfortunately for Martha the aunt has a lot of power so these attempts never work out. Well, one day Martha murders the aunt and is finally out of the woods. The thing is, Walter and his father saw this so they help her cover it up, but this does lead to Walter becoming the district attorney and the two characters get married. Martha still doesn’t like Walter all these years later but that’s just how it is.

Meanwhile Sam passes through town and figures he’ll look his old friends up. He was friends with Martha at least, he never got along with Walter as much. He meets up with a girl named Toni though and the two of them become good friends. The problem is that Toni is breaking parole by hanging out with Sam and not going home. Ultimately she is picked up and so Sam decides to ask Walter to help him get her off the charge. Walter thinks Sam is here to blackmail him for the murder all those years ago but Sam doesn’t actually know about it. If Walter keeps hinting at it though, he ultimately may help Sam find out.

It’s always interesting when the villains actually overestimate the heroes because it’s so rare. One other case is in RWBY as Salem tells Cinder and the others to be very careful since Ruby has Silver Eyes, but little did they know that Oz had never shown her how to master it yet. That’s a similar case to how it’s all playing out here. Sam really had no way to suspect any of this since he had put the town on high alert. Honestly he probably wouldn’t have had a whole lot of swing with Walter otherwise though.

This does lead to Sam getting beat up at one point though and a lot of back and forth with the characters. Sam can fight pretty well so he doesn’t get intimidated easily. He trades a lot of barbs with Walter. Despite Sam calling him scared all the time Walter does hold his ground. Perhaps being constantly drunk and working for the government helped him get a little braver. It’s definitely a pretty interesting dynamic. Sam was a solid character for most of the film, but where he ultimately faltered was in how he handled the second half.

He definitely did like Martha once upon a time but she is married now and he likes Toni. That should absolutely be the end of it right? Unfortunately that is not the case and he falls for the grass is always greener approach. He betrays Toni pretty late in the game for what amounts to a pretty meaningless affair with Martha. It really takes away from his character because that’s absolutely the last thing he should be doing right now. He’s already been in so much trouble in this town as it is you’d think he would just get out quick. Unfortunately he got a bit greedy by the end. Once he actually did have the blackmail he quickly used it just like Walter thought he would. In a way Walter was right from the start, he was just too early.

So I couldn’t come to like Sam. Martha isn’t really any better. She seemed pretty spoiled right from the start of the film. The intro was brief but it didn’t really set up Martha as a sympathetic character. Then we have Walter who is at the very least still complicit in everything that went on. He clearly knew Martha didn’t like him but got married anyway so it’s hard to sympathize with him either. The only good character here was Toni and she definitely shouldn’t have stuck with Sam. After being betrayed like that I would have split town and then that would be it. If Sam can fall away so easily once then it will happen again.

Finally, the film also fumbled the ball early on with some animal violence. Why did we need the aunt to murder the cat at the beginning of the film? All that does it give the film a bit of a mean edge from the start. You can’t really recover from that. I suppose an amazing film could try to make a comeback I suppose, but it’s very difficult and you are starting from a disadvantage. I’m guessing the film couldn’t find any other way to make the Aunt look bad because otherwise she hadn’t been nearly as sinister as Martha would suggest. It’s an easy out, but one that did not do the film any favors.

Overall, This was a pretty interesting film. It unfortunately just lasted too long by watering down Sam’s character at the end and I definitely could have done without the animal violence. Those are the two elements that really drag the film down. The writing is on point as with most classic Noir films and otherwise the pacing is good. As I said at the beginning of the review, this is a pretty engaging film. Usually that goes hand in hand with being a good film but unfortunately that was not true in this case. As far as the recent Noir films I’ve seen go this would have to be one of the weaker ones.

Overall 3/10

Out of the Past Review


It’s time to look at a classic Noir film about how many times can you be betrayed before you wisen up. The main character is a reasonable detective at times who can predict the enemies moves. The problem here is the fact that he keeps on trying to play the field despite this. He’s not very professional from the start and hanging a big sign with his name on it isn’t a good way to stay out of trouble. His past comes back to haunt him and the lead just isn’t ready for this. It’s a pretty solid Noir thriller either way.

The movie starts off with Jeff having a picnic with Ann. Her childhood friend doesn’t like this because he was hoping she would like him, but that boat sailed as soon as Jeff moved into town. Jeff can handle this guy easy. The problem is that Joe has shown up in the present and he tells Jeff that boss Whit is back and wants to see him. Jeff decides to drive over and on the way tells Ann about his checkered past. He used to be a private detective who was paid by Whit to find the guy’s girlfriend Katie. Jeff found her real quick but decided that he wanted Katie to be with him. She agreed and they ran off together and even murdered someone who tries to stop them. Ultimately this didn’t work out and Jeff went on his own. At least Katie was free now right? Well…turns out that she came back to Whit anyway so everything Jeff did was pointless. Whit is now ordering Jeff to find some compromising files that someone got on him which could mess things up. Jeff has to find a way to get the past out of his life once and for all. The only way to do this might be to play ball and get his hand on those files.

There are a lot of different plots and tactics going on here throughout the movie. People change their sides really quick so you can’t trust people all that much. It makes for a pretty interesting story since you have to look at everything pretty carefully. The writing is on point and someone who has the upper hand in one scene could suddenly be on the defensive in the next. A single move can topple everything and naturally the same goes for when a character dies. That definitely shakes everything up real well.

So lets look at Jeff. As mentioned, the guy isn’t particularly great at his job. He’s a hard boiled detective so he doesn’t let his feelings show much. The problem is that once he gets emotional he definitely loses perspective. It only takes him about a minute to fall for Katie and quickly ditch his entire job. He knows the kind of guy he was working for so you’d think he would have thought things over a little better. Jeff gets real defensive right away even though he tends to be in the wrong. Now, if he betrayed Whit because he didn’t want to work for a villain anymore that would be one thing. Doing it just because he wants Katie for himself is quite another. It’s a romance that happens awfully fast as well.

In general I wouldn’t say the romance was written all that well here and it’s a large part of what held Jeff back as a character. He really tries to play the field. Even once he has Ann he starts to look back at Katie and what could have been. Ultimately the temptations of the past are what get him into trouble once again and you can’t feel all that bad for him. Most if not all of the trouble that happens to him here is of his own doing. He tends to overestimate himself and underestimates others which is really not a good mix.

Whit makes for a pretty solid villain. At times it’s hard to tell exactly what he is thinking. He tends to have a lot of plans but you don’t know how many of Katie’s plans he is aware of. Katie, Joe, and Whit all have their own ideas of how this will shake out and naturally none of them want to be the Patsy in this adventure. That means they need to keep backstabbing each other. Ultimately Whit talks tough but he definitely wasn’t the smartest villain of the bunch. I’d have to give that to Katie. She’s able to manipulate all of the men pretty easily.

I still think Jeff shouldn’t have fallen for her tricks after she tried to murder him quite a few times, but he wasn’t exactly reluctant to fall for her charms again. That’s why he couldn’t succeed as a lead. Katie looked really good though because as a villain she did her part in tricking everyone. She slowly crawled up the ladder after bumping some people off and just knowing how to use a gun put her above some of the other villains here. She also wasn’t afraid to use it which is key in these kind of movies. Some characters just never shoot in time which defeats the whole purpose of having a gun. Joe’s one of the better characters here and to me he was probably the standout character. I almost thought he was the lead at first since he got the first scene. He knows most of what’s going on and does a lot of the dirty work for the villains. Ultimately he just wasn’t ready to go fishing.

One thing I miss about these classic Noir titles is the banter between characters. They’re all talking in a very leisure way while hurling constant threats. Jeff has a very deadpan delivery while Whit is all about theatrics and acting charming even when you know it’s all two faced. Each character is two faced and it’s important that you remember that as the scenes go on as it’ll help you be more prepared for each moment. The pacing is also pretty solid. The opening flashback is so long that you almost forget it’s a flashback. The movie is quite long, but never drags on.

Overall, Out of the Past is a pretty solid Noir thriller. There’s a lot going on throughout the movie which is a really good thing. You’re always waiting for the next twist or wrinkle in the story to happen. The villains and heroes keep taking turns on who has the edge and at the end of the day only one person ends up winning here. The ending is a nice touch as the kid fulfills his last mission to help one character have closure. It does result in a bit of a rebound though which makes the characters all seem suspect, but at least it’s a happy ending I suppose. I’d recommend checking it out. The romance can be a bit dodgy but the rest of the film is quite exciting.

Overall 6/10

Try and Get Me Review


It’s time for an old noir film that serves as a cautionary tale for why you don’t want to mix with the wrong crowd. Once you start committing crimes it is very hard to get out of them. A lot of people like to think that they can get out as soon as they want to, but it’s easier said than done. It’s a pretty good film that definitely has a bit of a dark ending. It’s all handled pretty well and the film even has more acts than I expected. It manages the pacing and run time very well.

Howard is pretty low on money and has a hard time landing a job. There just aren’t many openings right now and he gave his last coin to his kid so he wouldn’t feel left out when everyone else went out to the local game. Howard ends up meeting an eccentric man named Jerry who offers him a job. Howard finds out that it is for an illegal operation so he half heartedly says no but after double thinking it, Howard agrees to help. He is the getaway driver for Jerry’s various crimes. Things heat up one day when Jerry murders someone. Now Howard is really on the hot seat and reporter Gil is determined to nail him.

The film really has two main plots here. First up is Howard’s plot with Jerry as they go around robbing people. Then you’ve got the secondary plot with Gil where he doesn’t take the crimes seriously at first. Eventually he figures out that this is the real deal and decides to run some hard hitting pieces meant to ruin Howard’s life. Gil has no sympathy for murderers and the town is in full agreement on this. The mayor warns Gil that he is riling up the people a little too much but the reporter doesn’t see any harm in this.

Howard is a character that is hard to sympathize with because he had a few easy outs. When he initially says no Jerry starts to get sarcastic and even tosses Howard a 10 dollar bill. Howard should have taken it and left. Instead he decided to stay and get rich in part because he saw what a life Jerry led. That was Howard’s big mistake. Then there’s also the brief affair with one of Jerry’s friends. Jerry had them go on a double date to fool the authorities and while Howard initially just went along with the ruse he ended up getting drunk and making a fool of himself. There’s just no real sympathy to be had for Howard by the end. He was really annoying and talked a good game, but always backed off when the chips were down. He’s not the kind of guy that you want to have in your corner because you won’t have him there for long. He’ll be gone by the next time you turn around.

Then you have Jerry who is the main villain of the film. He’s definitely used to this kind of life and has been a criminal for a long time. You’re not even supposed to feel any sympathy for him. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has murdered a lot of other people over the years since I doubt his crimes always go well. He’s likely slipped up before and every time he slips up someone ultimately pays the price. He does a better job of handling the prison riot at the end though as he at least tries to put up a brief fight. Realistically you aren’t going to be able to do anything when attacked by a whole mob though. The only outcome there is death.

Finally we have Gil. His sub plot appears a bit at the beginning but doesn’t really appear again until the end when Howard is already captured. I was impressed at how the film maintained the two plots. The moral for his plot was a bit mixed though. Basically the film tried saying that her should have held back in his reportings and then the mob wouldn’t have murdered the two murderers. Sure, he wrote his pieces pretty hard but it’s not like he lied about any of it. Not everyone can handle listening to the news on a daily basis because of how graphic and intense it can be at times. It’s just how it is.

Gil’s doing his job in reporting and I think the characters were rather hard on him for that. If anything based on how unhinged the mob was it may have happened anyway. The guy Jerry murdered to which Howard was an accomplice on was clearly a very liked and respected figure. It’s not a crime that people would have a lot of sympathy on. It’s similar to how based on what kind of crime you land in jail for odds are that you wouldn’t survive back in the day. People would make sure you didn’t return. The law system can also seem a bit iffy at times with how sentences are dealt out. One of Gil’s papers was warning people that Howard may plead temporary insanity and then he’d be let go without a jail sentence. It’s something that people actually do try. Then you have others who are in jail for murder and when released they go right back to it.

The law’s not perfect, but nobody should be skipping due process to play vigilante. That being said, I just didn’t really see a problem with what Gil was saying. He didn’t beat around the bushes with his takes but he wasn’t using hyperbole or being too over the top either. It is what it is I suppose. Once the mob lined up there really wasn’t anything the cops could do. It would definitely be a scary situation to be in though for all parties involved. You’re effectively locked in with a few hundred crazy people and no escape. Even if you aren’t their target you have to be careful that you aren’t attacked in the mix up.

Overall, Try and Get Me is a pretty solid film. It can be rather tense at times and quite a lot of things happen during the film’s length of time. If you’re up for a good suspense film then this is a nice one to check out. We’ll see what you think on the matter with Gil. The ending is definitely intense and ends on a pretty somber note. The writing is solid and I don’t really have any negatives to report here. It’s just a pretty good movie that has mostly flown under the radar over time.

Overall 7/10

Please Murder Me Review


It’s time to look at an old noir film with a pretty interesting plot. Right from the title you can probably tell that this will be an interesting case though. You don’t really see titles like this much anymore and it does leave an impression. I was expecting the film to be good but I can safely say that it exceeded expectations. This will ultimately go down as one of the definitive Noir titles out there.

The movie starts with Craig heading to his office and beginning a recording. The actual recording is basically the rest of the film so lets head into the past. Craig heads to his best friend Joe’s office and lets him know that he is having an affair with the man’s wife. Well, Craig’s character is officially ruined. Craig wants Joe to have a divorce so he can marry Myra properly. Joe wants a day to think it over, but the next day he is murdered by Myra. She says it was in self defense and since Craig is a defense attorney he agrees to take over her case as she is being tried for murder. If Craig can prove her innocence then they can finally be married but will it be so simple?

So I have to tackle the romance part of this film right away. There is no way you can root for Craig or Myra here right from the jump because they were having a relationship while she was married. No matter how you slice it that is cheating and nothing should have happened until she was officially split. Craig tries to say that he didn’t mean for it to happen, but the reasoning doesn’t matter. You can never put yourself in a position where you may have an affair with a married person. It’s just not done and it’s even worse to the fact that it was Craig’s best friend. It’s the ultimate betrayal and it was a pretty tough way for Joe to get bumped off there.

Craig is a good attorney and pulls out all the tricks, but he still comes off as a bit of a sucker. Without getting into plot specifics he misses a lot of signs in the face of love and by the time he realizes what is going on it is pretty late. That’s why his plan is pretty clever and not one that you would expect to see. Usually the plot is completely reversed in terms of framing and paying for crimes you didn’t commit. This one flips that in a full 180 which was unexpected. The ending actually plays it straight and is a solid conclusion to a great film.

Meanwhile Myra is just as unsympathetic as Craig. She’s really just looking out for herself and in court the prosecutor (Ray) quickly drills down into what actually happened. He was definitely my favorite character in the film. He did a good job of connecting the dots and wasn’t falling for any traps. At the end of the film he does come across as possibly being a little naive but I like to think he was going to figure things out in a few moments. He was likely just trying to make sure that the others did not suspect what happened.

In general the film is a pretty good cautionary tale. You should always have a healthy amount of trust but when weird things happen left and right you do need to think about it a bit. Karma hits like a truck in movies like this where people get their just desserts right away but in real life it’s not always like that so you can’t afford to make the same mistakes as the characters in the film. Craig basically got what he deserved here along with the rest of the characters and if he had stopped to do the right thing in the beginning then none of this would have happened. Another character in the film is Carl who seems just as gullible in his short time of appearing.

The writing is quite good here with the characters all making quite a lot of threats as the film goes on while being subtle about it. I miss how everyone would always pretend to be quite polite back in these days with veiled threats behind every word. The film also does deliver on the noir aspect with a lot of narration from Craig and a bunch of dark scenes. He even works in the dark at times just like you would expect from this era. The film’s pacing is solid as things move quite quickly and I greatly enjoyed the court scenes as always. It’s all played pretty seriously with both sides looking competent in their arguments.

Joe could have played this whole thing a lot better though. Getting murdered aside since it would be hard to avoid that, he probably should have had some more details in his will or something to protect against what happened. Especially if you’re well off then putting extra contingents in your will or in various paperwork before getting married is just a good idea to cover your bases. It probably will put a strain on the relationship right from the start, but it’ll also ensure that you’re with someone who actually wants to be with you and isn’t just in it for other reasons.

Overall, Please Murder Me is a great film and I recommend it to anyone that likes a good thriller with some twists along the way. I believe a lot of viewers will suspect what happened right away but that’s fine because there is a good chunk of film left after the event happens. Technically in my plot summary I probably stopped a lot earlier than most summaries would because you could make the case that the twist is part of the plot and even on the poster. I’d argue that the film works even better if you don’t know this, but regardless you will like it. It’s just a very complete film with a compelling beginning and a satisfying ending.

Overall 8/10

Detour Review


It’s time to take a look at a very old noir film. This one is definitely a movie that you likely haven’t heard of unless you are a really big fan of the genre. It’s pretty obscure and I certainly had not heard of it until after I had seen it. It’s a pretty fun film, although one that will likely cause you to have to suspend some disbelief here. There were a lot of ways for the main guy to get out of his predicament, but ultimately he didn’t choose any of them. That was definitely his big mistake.

The film starts off with Al and Sue getting ready to be married. At least, that’s what Al had in mind, but then Sue lets him know what is really going to happen. She’s heading off to Hollywood to become a famous star and so she’ll se him later. Al isn’t happy about this at all and heads back to his music gig to sulk. That’s when he decides that job or not he will head over to Sue’s place. The problem is that he’s in New York and only has ten dollars on him. He’ll have to travel a long way in order to reach her, but he is determined to hitch hike all the way. The problem is that the guy he is driving with ends up falling asleep after having a lot of pills. Al opens the door which causes the guy to hit his head on a rock and die. Al must now deal with his conscience as he heads to California.

That would already be a reasonably difficult drive for him, but then he notices a lady hitch hiking as well and decides to lend her a hand. The only problem is that she knew the previous owner of the car so now she is blackmailing him to do whatever she wants or she will get the police involved. Can Al satisfy Vera long enough to get to Sue or should he cut his losses and run now? Either way it is about to be one adventure that Al will not be forgetting anytime soon.

Al is the really annoying character here. He complains a lot about how life isn’t fair, but half of the time it’s because he isn’t making the smart calls. Even the first incident where he lets his co-driver die was a little suspect. How did he not see the rock? Also, he knew the guy wasn’t conscious so why would you open the door and then not prepare to catch the guy falling out of it? It’s all a bit iffy there which does reduce your sympathy levels for the guy. He also should have been pretty grateful to the guy for giving him a ride instead of grumbling inwardly the whole time. (Admittedly the guy seemed shady, but they wouldn’t be together for too long)

Then the last straw is when he meets up with Vera. Sure, giving her a ride is nice, but he’s on a deadline and is already mixed up in criminal business. Not letting her in the car is almost the nice thing to do if you think about it since you don’t want her to get messed up in all of this right? Keeping her out is one way to keep her safe. Instead he lets her in and then she starts blackmailing him. Now, he could have just walked out at any time, ditched his car like he was planning or something like that. He could have told her he was stopping at any point except where he was actually going. Where’s the benefit in telling her that he has to get to California?

As far as I’m concerned Al blew it 7 ways to Sunday. Again, there’s just no point in feeling bad for the guy because everything that happened was on him. There are a lot of unfortunate coincidences for him of course like the phone cord with Vera at the end, but beyond that he shouldn’t have even been in this situation that whole time. Al should have cut out early. Meanwhile Vera is the main antagonist here so you’re not really supposed to like her either. She definitely talks tough the whole time and does her best to get in Al’s way. Like he said though, she’s just greedy. Her final plan doesn’t even make a whole lot of sense because there’s no way it would work and she already could have gotten a whole lot of money otherwise. That’s why you end up losing everything when you try for too much.

Meanwhile Sue seems like a decent heroine, but I felt like the film was hinting that she didn’t care for Al all that much. She did leave at the drop of a hat and didn’t even bother calling him. If Al hadn’t called first she may have even forgotten all about him. As a result it makes his journey feel even more futile. I was half expecting him to finally make it only for Sue to tell him that she found someone else. Maybe that would have just been too tragic for Al since by that point he’d already been through the ringer. Still, if the movie had kept going I could see that happening.

The ending definitely works out pretty well though. It’s one of those solid endings that may not work out too well for Al, but after a while something had to end his journey. By this point he was already too far gone. I’ll give him credit for never cheating on Sue though. There was a brief moment where I thought he was going to weaken, but fortunately he did not. That’s a really good thing since it definitely would have crushed his character and probably would have hurt the film a bit as well.

Overall, Detour is a solid film. It’s surprisingly short so the film ends just when you think it’s getting to the second act. The ending is abrupt, but not bad. While there aren’t any real likable characters, I do like the premise/plot quite a bit and since the writing is solid it lets the film succeed even without a good cast. It’s not as if the cast is painful either, they all do well in their roles except for Al. He is maybe just a bit too annoying the whole time and I think the film should have just put him in a tougher situation so there would have been less ways for him to escape. That would have made his complaints a little more valid. Still, valid or not I did enjoy the inner monologue. That’s definitely a noir trope that I’ve always enjoyed. It’s nice to see exactly what the character is thinking the whole time.

Overall 7/10