The Brasher Doubloon

This is a 1947 crime film and is based on a Raymond Chandler story called “The High Window” (also the film’s title on release in the U.K.).

It is a B-grade film starring George Montgomery, who had a reasonable career, but worked mostly in low budget films. He was though an excellent wood craftsman and opened his own successful furniture business, so that is nice. He retired from acting in 1972.

At first the film felt rather B-grade, and George was definitely not A-grade leading-man material. But, I quickly warmed to both the B-gradiness as well as George’s take on Philip Marlowe, which The Bogart would of course have done better. But George did all right. It was light-hearted for most of the film with little violence although there was some black and white blood in one scene, a thug with a funny eye, and a good amount of sleuthing,.

“You laughing at my hat, bud?”

The cinematography was pretty decent, and the all-important crime-noir lighting was also worthy. For a B-grade film is was really well-done.

The Brasher Doubloon if you are wondering was a rare and expensive coin that the story revolves around. There is also blackmail, a gangster, a damsel, a crotchety old lady, three dead bodies, and plenty of other characters and plot twists in the story to keep you on your toes. I really must read a Raymond Chandler book sometime.

George and the damsel.

Favourite line:
Mrs. Elizabeth Murdock: There you are and I hope you’re worth it. To tell you the truth, I was expecting an older man – more intelligent looking.
Philip Marlowe: I’m wearing a disguise.

An enjoyable 72 minutes. You can watch it here.

Date watched: July 13th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 40

Sunset Murder Case

I felt like watching an old noir film last night, so I chose this 1938 crime story on YouTube.

Not sure what is going on with the film title in this poster

The story was muddled, but basically it was about a showgirl that had returned from Europe where she was the toast of the town. But her father, a police dude was moidered while investigating the murder of a woman on Sunset strip. She wanted to get revenge on the rat that did it, so with the help of her police beau and another cop, she cooked up a plan to find the killer by posing as a singer in a nightclub where she suspected the crims were hanging out. There was also a reporter involved, a blonde bimbo (played by the excellently named “Sugar Kane”), and several other characters which really made following it all quite confusing. There were no car chases, although there was a nutty crash where a guy pushed a car in the path of another slow-moving car which then promptly fell over onto it’s side, seriously injuring the dame inside…cars in those days were death-traps.

There were plenty of fedora hats.

The main actor was Sally Rand who back in the day was well-known as a dancer who specialised in a dance routine with a giant bubble-ball. She was also known for her “fan dance”.

Doin’ the Bubble

So of course the director or Sally herself just had to include her doing her thing in the film. But, for some reason the whole bubble dance routine was completely silent, so I skipped over most of it (it lasted a while). She sang a couple of tunes later on, which I also skipped over.

The story as I said was muddled and confusing, I gave up trying to figure out who was whom, and what the heck was happening, and just waited for it to finish. At only 59 minutes long I was glad I didn’t have to wait long.

The final scene wrapped up the climactic ending in less than a minute, I guess they ran out of money, or film.

The acting, directing, and cinematography was all very B-grade stuff, I can’t think of anything going for it.

Date watched: June 24th
Score: 2/10
Film count 2018: 37

The Mob

This is a 1952 film noir crime which I found on YouTube. The uploader had titled it “Charles Bronson/Broderick Crawford Mob”.

It turns out though that this was one of The Bronson’s first film appearances, and he had only one short scene where he spoke just one line. He was also uncredited.

The Bronson, left, next to Broderick Crawford.

The rest of the cast though were pretty good, especially Broderick Crawford (a very prolific actor, mostly B-grade stuff) as a hard-nosed cop who goes undercover to bust up a New York waterfront crime ring. Ernest Borgnine had a role as a union thug, he was aces of course.

The cop had to find out who the mysterious leader of the crime ring was, and to do so he had to become a longshoresman and talk tough to get noticed, and get involved in some hard-boiled action.

For the day this film was probably a bit more violent than usual, there were a few shootings, and a gnarly fist fight between the cop and The Borg’s right-hand man.

Most of the actors in this film were at least 40, including the lead actor playing the cop, something you would not see in an action film today… except anything with Arnie and Stallones.

As I have mentioned in other reviews, these old films are great because they don’t rely on the F-bomb or other cussing to spice up the dialogue, it is just simple no-nonsense tough talk with rough, but not blood-and-guts, action. Yep, those were the days.

This is more of a B-grade film, but still an enjoyable one.

Date watched: November 25th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 134

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