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by Michael Barrett

9 Nov 2015

Pitfall (1948)

John Forbes (Dick Powell) has a boring job as an insurance agent, a middle-class suburban home, a no-nonsense wife (Jane Wyatt), and a tow-headed tyke of a son (Jimmy Hunt). He’s wondering where his life has gone. In the middle of his case of “Is that all there is?” he meets a model named Mona (Lizabeth Scott) and decides to sow a wild oat without telling her he’s married. This is the slippery slope for both of them, thanks to a vicious stalker (Raymond Burr, brilliantly cold) and Mona’s jailbird boyfriend (Byron Barr).

As film noir historian Eddie Muller explains in his excellent commentary, Pitfall (1948) is an unusual noir in several respects. Powell and Scott are cast against type to a certain extent, for he spends most of the movie feeling emasculated and chastened while she plays that rare bird: a femme fatale  by fate, not choice. She’s an innocent, non-scheming, good person who’s trying to make her way in the world but keeps drawing rotten luck. She sees herself as a kind of bad-luck charm, and events bear her out.

by Steve Leftridge and Steve Pick

9 Nov 2015

Steve Leftridge: This film is hard to watch because, obviously, it’s a harrowing depiction of domestic violence. It is clearly one of cinema’s darkest, most devastating depictions of spousal abuse, and the escalation of the assaults at the end—the dishware massacre—is chilling. So I’m sure, like me, you watched this one through your fingers. But you didn’t find anything funny about this merciless examination of marriage, did you, Steve?

Steve Pick: Hah! Laurel and Hardy as prime influences on Bergman and Cassavetes, huh? Seriously, though, this is a genuine laugh riot, albeit one based on the all-too common idea of wives keeping their husbands from having any fun. Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy had been teamed for years by this point, starting in silent comedies, and would hold on to their partnership for some time to come. Their personas were well established, and all they had to do was apply their impeccable comic timing to any situation. In their hands, something as simple as trying to get each into their adjoining flats could become hilarious.

by Michael Barrett

5 Nov 2015

Virginia Bruce and Spencer Tracy in The Murder Man (1935)

Now available on demand from Warner Archive are three 1930s obscurities that deserve to be better known for excellence of story, acting and direction.

The Murder Man belongs to Warner Brothers’ punchy genre of newspaper pictures about hard-living, wise-cracking, cynical, sometimes unscrupulous reporters who try to scoop each other, usually on a big murder story. It belongs to these, yet also subverts or reinvents the genre with an original script by Tim Whelan (who also directs) and John C. Higgins (who did several ‘40s noirs), from a story by Whelan and Guy Bolton (known for musical comedies). While the dialogue is rich in sassy urban atmosphere and the direction vigorous, it’s the story that surprises.

by Jedd Beaudoin

4 Nov 2015

Image from Jimi

In 1970 Atlanta, Georgia was not necessarily the hub it is today. Although the city had risen from the ashes of conflict, something like a century before, it still existed in isolation. But like most American cities at the time the counterculture had infiltrated the soil and rock ‘n’ roll had banged its way into the consciousness of Southern men and women who were as tired of the old ways as anyone.

by Jedd Beaudoin

29 Oct 2015

There have been a remarkable number of documentaries based on Joe Strummer since his death, and the stories get stranger. Take this one for instance, involving Strummer’s abandonment of a Dodge at a parking garage in Spain before catching a flight to London. It’s a weird time in Strummer’s life, the era of Cut the Crap, the final Clash LP, the one that so many people apparently didn’t like at the time (no matter that there were some favorable reviews), the one that made some wonder if Strummer had really gone around the bend.

//Mixed media

The Hills Are Alive, But Nobody Else Is in 'The Happiness of the Katakuris'

// Short Ends and Leader

"Happiness of the Katakuris is one of Takashi Miike's oddest movies, and that's saying something.

READ the article