The Spirit Review


The Spirit is definitely a very unique movie that’s for sure. It really does walk a fine line between being a total comedy with how over the top everything is and a serious action film. In the end the film actually does blend this combo over very well for nearly all of its screen time but ends up faltering near the end. I knew things were about to get dicey when the cat showed up….

The movie starts with the Spirit being called in since there was a sighting of his arch nemesis, the Octopus. The Octopus manages to murder someone real quick and steal a suitcase first but Sand escapes with the other Suitcase. Octopus crushes the Spirit and now the hero must figure out a way to catch the guy. What is the Octopus doing and how can he be stopped? The Octopus hinted that he knows something about the Spirit’s immortality and Spirit’s old flame Sand is involves so he really has to see this through to the end.

Spirit is definitely a movie that is bonkers and isn’t afraid to really get out there. The first moment I knew something was up was when the Spirit and Octopus have their confrontation mere minutes after the film began. Usually the hero can’t meet the villain that quickly. Then as their fight escalates you can tell that neither one is a normal human because they are taking some really crazy attacks. They seem to murder each other several times during the fight.

Well, Spirit and Octopus both appear to be immortal. Not in an eternal life kind of way but in a “We can’t be killed way”. That actually ties into Octopus’ plans which is to use a serum which will actually give him eternal life. Sand has the vase though so she’s in danger now. It’s quite a lot of plot here and that’s not even accounting for Spirit’s origin story. It’s a fun dynamic though as apparently the hero and villain will often spend a whole night beating each other up only to walk away when it’s all over.

It’s not like they’re pals or anything but they do seem to joke around a bit. They both know that they can’t destroy the other so I can see how the futile nature of their fights would become humorous to them. Octopus definitely seems to have better fighting abilities than the Spirit though. I’d argue he had the edge for the majority of their fight with ease.

Where the Spirit really shines is with the color palette. The movie uses a lot of very interesting visual styles and I would consider it a total hit. This was extremely unique and actually worked out. It’s not one of those gimmicks that you’ll shake your head at but one you will give the thumbs up right away. Not only does it make the Spirit look mysterious but it gives the whole film a pretty epic air. When characters talk to each other the backgrounds will often disappear.

You have characters fading into the light or into the darkness. Even Sand showing up from the water is a very ominous scene. The most every day normal scenes will look different like this and it really does work quite well. It captures that Noir feeling as well. Mix in the Spirit’s numerous monologues and you’ve really got something going here. It helps with the film’s dramatic atmosphere.

As mentioned though, it gets so dramatic that I have to see a lot of these moments as comedic ones. Spirit loves talking about the city and his past. While that is a staple of the Noir genre, you just can’t help but feel like the movie is parodying it. Something about the way the Spirit is having his conversations just gives you that feeling. Then of course for the comedic moments you have most of the Octopus scenes. He’s dressed up as a different culture each tie he appears and the guy is always messing around. He never seems to take anything seriously and murders his henchmen on the regular.

This is definitely some dark humor but the henchmen aren’t smart enough to do anything except what they’re told. So for example one of them even murders himself because the villain told him to do so. It’s certainly tragic to be one of those henchmen that’s for sure. Another gets blended which was a really intense scene to be sure. So the film has its dark moments thrown in as well, mainly as dark humor.

Now, where does the film go wrong? Well, as you can guess with the cat, we get some animal violence as the Octopus shows off his latest conquest to the Spirit. He can melt anything by using the special blood/serum that he wanted although it would simply power the Spirit up so that guy needs to try and grab it. He should have used it on the henchmen instead of on the cat though. That would have been a lot better.

So the film instantly lost a pair of stars for that. Meanwhile the film is trying to make the Spirit a parody of James Bond to an extent. I definitely don’t remember this trait in the comics but he seems to fall in love with every girl out there. Spirit seems to believe that every lady in the city is fair game so he openly has affairs with all of them. Fortunately for him every girl loves him as well so it’s quite easy to make this happen. We do have two main heroines here who both like him as well and he’s not shy about still making moves in front of him.

So the Spirit isn’t exactly the most heroic guy. Even ignoring that, he doesn’t have the best relationship with the cops. He’s always on edge and even threatens to punch out the chief without any good reason. The cops have a point that the Spirit is really running a one man show and the cops who accompany him all get murdered so naturally there would be some bad blood here. It’s hard to get a read on the Spirit. He’s a fun guy to be sure but I definitely wouldn’t call him very heroic. He seems extremely unhinged.

The Octopus is certainly a fun character. He is definitely a villain as seen with the cat but at least the guy has concrete goals. I’m not sure if having eternal life is the automatic win card that he thinks it is, but I suppose it doesn’t hurt to live longer since he is already fairly tough to beat. He reminds me a bit of the Joker with how crazy he is the whole time.

His right hand woman Floss also does a good job of keeping him on track. If he starts to go off the deep end then she reminds him of what was going on. To an extent she doesn’t always seem to be thrilled to have him as leader though so he should probably watch his back. That said, I guess by the end she still seems loyal enough.

As for Sand, I wasn’t a fan. In the flashbacks she already seemed quite obsessed with jewels and this didn’t change when she got older. In a way she’s like Catwoman only much more violent as she actively murders a lot of people in order to get what she wants. I was surprised at just how brutal she can be. I figured the movie was going to play her out as more of a misunderstood character but it actually went all the way as a villain.

We’ve also got Ellen who liked the Spirit but still gets jealous when he has other affairs. That’s why I don’t see the relationship ever working out. Either she is okay with being cheated on the whole time or she is going to need to find someone else. The Spirit doesn’t seem like the loyal sort after all.

In fact, there’s a pretty intense scene where the villains use that against him. He can’t resist any girl and one of the villains is a lady so you can picture how that goes. He just goes down like such a chump that you can’t help but laugh. This is the hero who is supposed to protect us? Okay….yeah that’s not going to end very well. The Spirit definitely has his priorities…too bad they aren’t the right ones.

Overall, The Spirit is a very different kind of action film. It’s really all over the place and in a lot of ways this works out. It’s really unpredictable and I loved what they did with the visual directing. The whole thing has a comic book/noir approach that nobody else has really used before. It’s a shame that the Spirit himself wasn’t a little better at being a hero but his inner monologues are a blast. If you can get around the cat melting scene then this is definitely a film you’ll have a lot of fun with. I’d definitely be up for a sequel coming out at some point since there’s a lot of potential here. That said, I think it would be difficult to capture the same energy twice so maybe it’s best to not even try.

Overall 5/10

The Blue Gardenia Review


Time for a classic noir thriller. One of the key things to remember if you ever find yourself in a Noir type situation is that you shouldn’t drink. Getting drunk is absolutely without a doubt one of the biggest mistakes you could make here. It puts you in a bad spot right out of the gate and there is really no escape. The whole movie would play out a lot differently without that.

The movie starts with Norah getting ready to celebrate her birthday on her own. Her fiancée is still away at war so at least she can have a good time on her own. Unfortunately she gets a letter that he has decided to marry someone else instead. Broken and confused, Norah decides to go out with a local flirt and gets herself as drunk as possible. This leads to him driving her to his place and taking advantage of the situation. She fights back and when she wakes up he is dead.

Norah heads home hoping to put this behind her but it’s all over the news now. The cops badly want to find whoever murdered the criminal. They are slowly getting closer and Norah’s only hope may be reporter Casey. He claims that he will help protect her from the police and get her a reduced sentence but can she really trust a member of the media? Norah will have to decide quickly before time is up.

Getting drunk really does put you in a bind. It’s also why you don’t want to make any snap decisions when you’ve just had a bad day. Norah went on this date in large part just to try and get over her fiancé. Still not good to go with such a shady customer though. Now since Norah lost her memories of what happened after drinking she doesn’t know if she truly murdered him or not. It certainly appears to have played out that way but she can’t be sure.

On this note though, it is absolutely correct that she fought back. At one point when asking her roommates hypothetical questions about the situation one of them says you can’t just take down every guy who gets handsy. That seemed to be underestimating the situation quite a lot. Even if she ended up murdering him with the final strike, that was definitely in self defense so it’s not like she tried to destroy him. It was her or him at that point and she had to fight to survive.

Of course most of the film is really about Norah fighting her inner doubts. If she could at least remember what happened then she would feel a lot better about the whole thing. As it is, she is just very confused. I wouldn’t say she was a great main heroine but she’s okay. She doesn’t do the rest job of hiding what happened but granted, being in such a situation is pretty stressful so you can expect some slip ups.

As for the reporter Casey, he was a pretty fun character. He had some good banter with the local police as the chief called in during his attempts to find the identity of the murderer. It is quite brazen of him to be saying such things like trusting him over the cops in a public forum like that. He also underestimates how many people are keeping up with the case which ends up catching up to him. He was a charismatic guy though, same as the police chief. I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of those guys.

The roommates don’t leave nearly as much of an impression though. I was expecting the big book fan to do a lot by the end but in a way her character never went anywhere. She’s knowledgeable about things as the smart member of the group but she never gets to use her intelligence for anything. The other one at least helps Norah out by the end and gives a good amount of moral support.

Compared to most Noir films there isn’t a whole lot to talk about though since the story is so direct. There’s really only one plot twist here and there’s virtually no foreshadowing for it so it just sort of happens without a lot of time to piece it together on your own. The movie has quality writing and an engaging story which is really what you want to see early on. It helps keep the rest of the film interesting and the pacing tight.

I’d put it under the average Noir film though as it is just lacking that depth some of the others have. There isn’t much to theorize or discuss which is not necessarily a bad thing but it does mean that this one won’t have the same staying power. I think I would have maybe added one more character, perhaps someone trying to throw some blackmail into the mix which would ultimately be a red herring. Just some kind of crazy twist, perhaps involving her Fiancé. Imagine he shows up and never told anyone that he didn’t even leave for war at all. Turns out the whole story was fake. At this point we’re discussing pure hypotheticals though.

Overall, The Blue Gardenia is a good movie. It has strong writing and an engaging plot. At the same time, there aren’t a whole lot of stand out characters here. I would have liked one of Norah’s friends to defend her here by reminding her it was in self defense or something like that. The guy who got murdered was also extra sleazy, would have been nice if he wasn’t quite so morally bankrupt. The movie has a satisfying ending so you’ll enjoy the ride. I’d certainly recommend it if you like Noir titles or just want something suspenseful.

Overall 6/10

He Ran All The Way Review


He Ran All The Way here takes a unique perspective with the main character where right off the gate you’re shown that he’s not a good person. It’s clear that he’s the antagonist yet this is so rare that you may put that to one side for a little while. As the film goes on he continues to get more and more unhinged though until you know there’s really no hope for this guy turning over a new leaf.

The movie starts with Nick yelling after oversleeping again and in general being a slob. He’s been dreading this day for a while as he and his partners are going to rob someone again for big bucks. Things go sideways though and he ends up leaving his partner for dead and murdering a police officer. Now the whole city is after him. He convinces a girl named Peg to invite him to her home and then takes her family (Parents, plus little brother) hostage. He doesn’t want anyone to leave until he’s convinced that the coast is clear. Can the family manage to get out of this one?

It’s pretty clear in the movie that Nick is absolutely insane. He’s paranoid that everyone is out to get him and is always flying off the handle. Now if you get past the yelling from the opening scene you might be able to trick yourself into thinking that he’s a decent guy who got mixed up with a bad crowd for a while. This doesn’t track with how he starts acting towards Peg in the pool though.

The guy uses her while she’s necessary and then throws her away which is something that will keep on happening during the film. Nick likes to paint himself as a victim despite holding these people hostage in their own home. There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance going on the whole time but what it equals out to is that Nick was always the villain here. He just doesn’t admit to it the whole time even while committing crimes the entire film and making things difficult on everybody.

There’s just nothing to like about Nick or even any way to sympathize with him. Nick’s just rotten to the core. Then you have the heroine Peg who is really bad. My main issue with her is how much she puts up with when Nick’s around even before he takes out the gun. She overlooks his constant insults, blames herself when he’s the one treating her roughly, etc. Peg just doesn’t act logical at all throughout the film. You don’t see how she could possibly fall for him under these circumstances. It just makes her look desperate and not very smart either. She just keeps on going back to him over and over again. It takes him threating to murder her around 5-6 times before she finally gets the message.

Meanwhile the whole situation is pretty tough on her parents and brother as well. There’s just not a whole lot they can do in this situation since they have to worry about the kids. The father does try to make a move at different points but Tommy messes up one attempt (Which is why the kids get annoying in these things) and the other one is foiled before he can get too far. It’s hard to backseat drive on this one because whenever there are hostages you have to be really careful.

If it was just him I’m sure that the father would have taken out his gun but as it stands, it’s not like he could really risk doing that here. Worst case, they’d all get shot if this turns into a shootout. I doubt that Nick is a great shot to be honest but at close range like this there’s not a whole lot you can do to dodge.

So most of the tension here is just with the characters having to tolerate Nick and just try to get through the day. Each of the characters have different views on how the matter should be handled as well. Tommy’s too young to understand much, the mother wants to tell the cops, and the father wants to play it safe and just wait until Nick leaves. All of the strategies have their ups and downs of course but without hindsight it’s hard to know which to pick. Personally I’m on the side of making a move. Whether you die or not at least it’ll be over pretty quickly.

This film would probably work a lot better without the romance angle because that’s really the weakest part of the film. It’s still mind boggling the whole time and brings both characters down. At least Nick could try playing the sympathy card if he was nicer. Change up the story so he still ended up shooting the cop who was on his tail and takes the family hostage but isn’t pushing them around, threatening, and yelling the whole time. If he was portrayed as someone who was just scared and not sure what to do next, it would have done a lot to help his character. Yes, he would still be the villain here but he wouldn’t be quite as crazy and bad as he is here. The Nick we see here is probably worse than the partner.

Overall, He Ran All The Way definitely has Nick running every mental gymnastic possible in order to try and pin it all on the other characters. The guy keeps on panicking and making things worse for himself. Ultimately everything that happens in the film is directly his fault. The guy should have stayed on the straight and narrow instead of going down such a dark path. If you want to check out a suspense film where everyone is stuck with him then this may be worth checking out since it’s such a specific premise. At the same time I just wouldn’t call it a good movie. The ending is rather solid but the romance has to be one of the weakest I’ve seen in a while.

Overall 4/10

Scarlet Street Review


Every now and then you come across a main character who gets suckered so badly that you have a hard time rooting for him. This is the case here. Look, when you decide to start desperately going after someone and allowing yourself to be used, then you’ve already dug a rather big hole. Sunset Street has some fun elements but the lead is just brutal.

The movie starts with Chris getting fired. He had a good run but it just wasn’t in the company’s best interests to keep him. His wife Adele is less than thrilled as she is always reminding Chris about how much better her first husband was. Why did they ever even get married? No clue but I wouldn’t be surprised if Chris was desperate and approached Adele. Either way Chris wants to be a master painter but unfortunately he’s a bit of a perfectionist and never actually takes them down to be appraised. As such, he lives a rather poor life.

One day he manages to save a girl named Kitty who was being mugged on the street. He falls for her at first sight and tries to convince her to be together with him. She has no interest in the prospect but her abusive boyfriend Johnny thinks this is a great idea. Due to some misunderstandings they think Chris is rich so Johnny wants Kitty to get friendly with him while stealing the guy’s paintings and constantly asking for money. Will Chris realize the truth or will he just keep handing her all of his funds?

Chris really shows no sense of self preservation here. It’s great that he stepped in to save Kitty. It’s just every scene after that where he seems suspect. He sees that Johnny is rather suspect but never really questions why the guy is always alone with Kitty when he’s supposed to be together with the friend. (That’s the cover story that Kitty feeds him) Chris is actively cheating on his wife and while their relationship may not be great, it’s still way below the belt to start cheating for any kind of reason. I’m not cutting Chris any kind of slack for that.

Chris really sets himself up for disappointment every step of the way. Kitty also couldn’t make it any more obvious that she didn’t like him with her body language and everything but Chris is so desperate that he ignores the signs. By the time we get to the climax there’s just no way to like the guy.

Scarlet Street certainly ends in a rather intense way though as every characters gets their just desserts. Nobody really has a happy ending here and none of them had been trying to earn one anyway. At the end of the day Johnny was an unrepentant criminal, Kitty was a very willing accomplice, and Chris was morally bankrupt. The three of them had more in common than you’d think.

As for Kitty, I didn’t like her either. She may try telling Johnny that this is a bad idea a whole lot but I never award you points for complaining. At the end of the day she ultimately still went through with this plan to swindle Chris. Additionally, she is constantly defending Johnny and his crazy behavior even when her friend warns her that the whole thing is toxic. Kitty doesn’t have particularly good judgment here and she couldn’t have handled her final scenes any worse.

Johnny? Well, the guy talks like he’s a master planner but he makes every kind of mistake in the book. He was really in a good spot to live rather well by shaving off some money at each end. Instead he gets more and more greedy to the point where it would be impossible to hide his presence. The plan is to sell Chris’ works for big bucks. Okay then, do that plan and just take 10% at the end or even 30%. He wants to take the full 100% but how can you do that without Chris noticing? He constantly visits Kitty in her private apartment even though he knows that Chris has the keys. Think Johnny, Think!

Adele’s certainly not a pleasant character but honestly she would be the best one from these 4 at least. She is constantly complaining and that actually works in Chris’ favor near the end. Nothing is ever good enough for her but she is really a supporting character so you shouldn’t expect to see her for very long.

The writing in the film is fairly solid otherwise. The main character may be pretty annoying but you’ve got an interesting premise here. With some smarter villains then Chris would have really been doomed from day 1. The ending comes out of nowhere a bit with how one of the characters cracks. Things certainly escalated but when you’re dealing with someone crazy desperate to have you at the point of losing all their money, then a certain element of danger goes in with that. Johnny and Kitty were playing a dangerous game from the start.

Scarlet Street does a good job of switching up the genres though. There’s also a decent amount of comedy here with all the hijinks of the public trying to find out who the real painter is. They’re given the run around of course but are quite determined in their search. It’s always fun to have them talking about the high concepts of art. It’s certainly not a subject I get all that invested in as my taste in art tends to differ from high society quite a bit. Needless to say, they were not prepared to see through any kind of tricks.

Overall, Scarlet Street isn’t quite up to snuff compared to most noir films. Ultimately I’m used to rather strong main characters in these titles or some kind of big mystery. Technically this one doesn’t have a lot of that and it may even be harder to call this a Noir title than most but it still does feel like one at least with the atmosphere at times. Certainly more low key though as there aren’t any fights or deaths for a while. Chris is just one of the worst main characters I’ve seen in a while. It’s always crucial to remember that if you cheat you’re probably going to end up dying in these things. The best thing to do is walk the straight and narrow path but these main characters have a hard time doing that.

Overall 4/10

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