Guns, Girls and Gangsters

With a title like that I could not resist watching this 1959 film noir crime film (although calling this film noir is like calling the president of a certain country “a classy dude”).

It starts off in an awful hurry with the obligatory authoritative 50’s narrator blazing through the back story, with the meat of the film already underway 10 minutes in (although this film was only 70 minutes long).

Chuck Wheeler has just been released from prison and he quickly comes up with a plan for an armoured truck heist, carrying bags of lovely money from a Las Vegas casino all the way to L.A. The girl involved is Mamie Van Doren as a nightclub singer. Her husband, Mike Bennett (played by Lee Van Cleef), who she wanted a divorce from, was in the same prison cell as Chuckers, and together they came up with the heist plan. Chuck was released early so he went about the plan by enlisting the help of the nightclub owner and Mamie, who was reluctant at first.

Mike Bennett though escapes from prison, and when he hears that Chuckers was using his wife in the heist, and upon seeing them together see’s red and goes a bit berzerb.


Mike Bennett peering through a window watching Mamie and Chuck together. Lee looks extremely cool in the shades.

He kills Chuck’s old friend, and tries to kill Chuck, but they end up working together on the heist. The heist goes pretty well at first, but of course there was a flaw in their plan and Chuck and Mike are gunned down by the fuzz. Mamie is taken away, a life in prison ahead of her.

It sounds all rather exciting, but this is just cheap thrills, fifties style. Mamie gets a couple of song and dances, all dressed up in her blonde bombshell duds.


Mamie and Chuckers

Here is she in 2007…


Mamie launching her new limited edition classy wine

The best part though was the last few seconds. The narrator returned after his opening monologue, with a few short words about Chuck, then, over a shot of the armoured car trundling along a road…

…says, “Yes, this is an armoured car! Specially constructed for it’s job. It does that job!”. End credits roll.

Dang! The whole film was worth it just for that bizarro ending!

Date watched: June 30th
Score: 5/10
Film count 2017: 74

Shield for Murder

I am back to watching film noir with this 1954 bad cop film.

The story starts with bad cop shooting a bookie in the back, then nicking off with the twenty-five large ones he knew the bookie had on him. What he didn’t realise was a deaf mute saw the whole thing from the window of his apartment.

The story then followed bad cop, his girlfriend, and a junior cop who worshipped bad cop but suspected something dirty was afoot. The story moved along quite well, and the tension built up quite well, culminating in a good ol’s car chase and final shootout.

There was one scene which was surprisingly violent. Bad cop beat up two private detectives by bashing their heads with his bare hands, over and over. We didn’t see him actually hitting them, just his hands going up and down, but for the fifties this must have been quite brutal.

The acting was pretty good on the whole, a bit stiff at times, but decent enough. And it was a who’s who of younger versions of actors of the fifties, sixties, and beyond. Here are some of the faces you may recognise…


Carolyn Jones, as her Addams Family character in this photo


Claude Atkins


William Schallert


Edmond O’Brien played bad cop. Not a familiar face, but he had quite the career

A worthy watch.

Date watched: June 25th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 72

Kiss Me Deadly

This is a film I have been meaning to watch for some time. It is a 1955 film based on the Mickey Spillane book of the same name.

This was a low-budget film which is obvious at times, but there are plenty of scenes and acting that make it look a whole lot better.

Quentin Tarantino was obviously influenced by this film and used a particular scene from this in one of his own films, as well as some other directors. I won’t spoil it for you, but you will recognise it when you watch this.

There is plenty to read about this film online, it was quite influential, and controversial at the time.

Date watched: March 30th
Score: 8/10
Film count 2016: 60

The Big Combo

This is a 1955 film noir about Detective Diamond and his nabbing of Mr. Brown (that is what he was called throughout the entire film).

Pretty good stuff here, lots of moody lighting, 1950’s gangster acting, and it had a young Lee van Cleef with that voice of his. Earl Holliman (a familiar face, but not name) was also in it, the rest were probably big names at the time, but I did not know any of them.

I am keen on watching more of this kind of stuff.

Date watched: January 14th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2016: 9

A Life at Stake/The Hoodlum

I came across a couple of film noir flicks on YouTube, so watched them back to back.

The first was A Life at Stake (1954) which had a chap named Keith Andes who was a very busy chap in the day, and a 29 year old Angela Landsbury (she is 90 now, cripes!). Pretty good stuff with lots of intrigue and dastardly doings. It ran for one hour, fifteen minutes.

The second was The Hoodlum (1951) with a guy named Lawrence Tierney who played a lot of bad guy types, and was in Born to Kill which I must see. His brother played his brother in the film. Good stuff too, more intrigue and thug-life goings on. This one was just over one hour long, and actually I felt the length of both of these films was perfect, not like the over-bloated films of today, they went straight into the story and didn’t muck about.

Date watched: December 29th
Scores: 7.5/10 for both
Film count 2015: 169