Hell’s Island

Yes, I know – there are those who will argue, quite vociferously too, that there’s no such beast as a color noir. I’ve heard these arguments before, seen them made with passion and insight. However, while I fully respect the view I cannot buy into it. OK, ultimately, none of this matters a jot but it’s the kind of stuff we film fans do like to chew the fat over. Anyway, I’m of the opinion that Hell’s Island (1955) ought to be categorized as film noir as it has enough of the core ingredients to qualify.

Somewhat unusually, the opening credits play over what turns out to be the climax of the movie. From there we move to a hospital, where the protagonist has been undergoing surgery for a bullet wound. Still lying on the table as the doctor patches him up, Mike Cormack (John Payne) recounts his tale to the local policeman. Now I might as well make it clear that some may find the whole affair more than a little contrived. There’s no denying this, and I think that you have to embrace this aspect if you plan on enjoying the ride. So, here we are in the operating theater, with the hero chain-smoking (with the doctor’s consent) and narrating the peculiar set of circumstances that brought him to that point in just over a week. He’d been working as a kind of bouncer in a Las Vegas casino when he’s handed a proposition – for $5000 he’s to travel to a Caribbean island and inquire into the whereabouts of a valuable ruby that the owner wants back. Why him? That’s simple: the wife of the last man in possession of the gem is an old flame of Cormack’s and he’s therefore seen as having a ready-made foothold. To me, this and what follows is all characteristic of pulp noir – the impossibly convoluted tangle of relationships overshadowing everything before we even start, a clipped and world-weary voiceover from the lead, a location where the opportunities for corruption seem ideal, a femme fatale (Mary Murphy) who looks and acts like she’s been hoodwinking suckers all her life and, of course, a tough guy lead everyone appears intent on crossing up.

This was the third feature director Karlson and star Payne made together (following on from 99 River Street and Kansas City Confidential) and it has to be said it’s the least of the three. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie; if anything, acknowledging that this is a lesser affair is a testament to the high quality of the previous two collaborations. It’s enjoyable and pacy, with moments of toughness to hold the attention. Furthermore, it’s photographed by Lionel Lindon so there’s a polished and stylish look to it all. Yet, as I mentioned above, it’s also unashamedly pulpy, and there’s never any serious attempt to sell the story as anything else. We get the shady, overweight underworld type in a motorized wheelchair (Francis L Sullivan), the femme fatale’s  effete associate (Arnold Moss) , and then there’s the protagonist who’s pursuing the novel career path of lawyer-drunk-bouncer-patsy. When I say that all of these are blended together in a budget-conscious, set bound (mind you, it is an attractive set) Pine-Thomas production, then it ought to give a sense of the kind of movie we have. Basically, it’s a caper with some hard edges, as well as being a good-looking showcase for its stars.

By this stage, John Payne had settled comfortably into these types of roles. He was capable of slugging it out convincingly with the best of them, and was credible whether on the receiving end of a casually brutal beating or booting a musclebound henchman into a pool full of hungry alligators. The scenes where he and Mary Murphy are trading kisses and threats are nicely done, but they too have that artificial, semi-cartoonish quality as though ripped from the cover of a 50s paperback; the whole thing winks at you in a stylish, sexy way but in your heart you know it’s superficial. A lot of the sexiness stems from Mary Murphy, giving an arch performance that’s fun to watch but you never really get the impression that she was stretching herself. And the thing is she was a good actress – having made a strong impression in The Wild One, she enjoyed a fair run in the 1950s. Around the time of this movie she was in two, in my opinion anyway, superior productions, Ray Milland’s fine western A Man Alone and Wyler’s The Desperate Hours alongside Bogart and March. The following year she would go on to play opposite Richard Basehart in Joseph Losey’s underrated and neglected The Intimate Stranger/Finger of Guilt – you can find reviews of that one by Sergio here and by Vienna here.  Moving further down the cast list, a slippery Arnold Moss is good value as expected. Frankly, I like a good heavyweight villain and so I feel it’s a pity Francis L Sullivan (in what I think may have been his last role role before his untimely death) doesn’t get more screen time.

Hell’s Island is one of those films that remains stubbornly difficult to acquire in decent quality. I picked up a German DVD (I believe there are also Spanish and Italian variants on the market but I have no idea how they fare in comparison) which is just barely OK. The movie is offered in a choice of presentations – a 4:3 one that seems to be a letterboxed non-anamorphic image, and a 16:9 one that I guess is blown up from the other?  Basically, it’s watchable but the image is muddy and colors are muted and dull. What’s needed is a full restoration – whether or not that’s likely is anybody’s guess. All in all, Hell’s Island is what I think of as enjoyable pulp noir – there’s as much, or more, caricature as characterization, and you’re never quite convinced that these people exist. Yet the direction and the actors keep you watching and at no time does it commit the cardinal sin of being dull or uninteresting. So, while it might not be essential you should still have a good time with it.

Incidentally, this happens to be the 500th post on this blog. Bearing in mind how long this place has been open for business, some might consider that slacking. Nevertheless, it is a milestone of sorts and worth mentioning in passing if nothing else. So my sincere thanks to all of you who have contributed so much to the shared experience over the years – I couldn’t do it without you. Stay safe and well everybody!

149 thoughts on “Hell’s Island

  1. Thanks for link to my review of Finger of Guilt.
    As you say, Hell’s Island doesn’t hold up compared to the other two Payne films.
    I’m in the ‘only B&W is noir’ camp! Noir is noir is Black.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You’re welcome! It was your bring it it up that brought that movie to my attention in the first place.
      As for the color vs B&W debate, I suspect there are far more people on your side of the fence on that one than there are on mine.

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  2. Congrats on your fifth century Colin – the blog looks younger than ever! How maddening that the film is not available in a good edition – VistaVision is basically like 70mm and should look incredible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks very much! I do get a lot of pleasure out of blogging and sharing thoughts and chatting with other fans.
      A book is a nice idea but I’m under no illusions about either my abilities or salability.

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  3. Hi, Colin – Re noir in colour, I have just rewatched Leave Her To Heaven after some years and was stunned by it. Noir it definitely is, with the most malign femme fatale in the genre and yet it is shot in sparkling technicolour. The most startling, dark scene in the film occurs in brilliant sunshine while the femme wears dazzling white on a prettily shot lake. Congratulations on the 500: you have provided so much pleasure to many people in making that journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s really kind. I’ve had a very good time keeping this place going over the years – the ideas of others getting as much out of its existence is just icing on the cake!

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  4. I’ve seen it last year and enjoyed it, though I agree that Kansas City is better (I haven’t seen 99th Street) The main “appeal” of the movie I think is the female character, an incredibly nasty piece of work even by the standards of the genre. This, to me, is enough to qualify it as “noir”, colour or not.

    As a sidenote, it’s interesting that Francis L. Sullivan plays here a character very similar to the one he did some years earlier in John Farrow’s Plunder of the Sun, though his role is more substantial in Hell’s Island.

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  5. First off, Colin, is to both congratulate you and thank you for your work on this great blogsite (and for the 500th!).

    It is so long since I saw “HELL’S ISLAND” (on TV many moons ago) that I remember little about it. Both Phil Karlson and John Payne are enough reason for me to watch a movie though. I rate “99 RIVER STREET” very highly btw.

    The Noir vs colour debate is an interesting one and generally I tend to agree that noir = b&w. However, I fully support the comment above that “LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN” MUST surely sit alongside other great ‘noirs’. And I would also perhaps mention “SLIGHTLY SCARLET”, also in colour and also starring a very tough John Payne, as a candidate for the genre.

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    • Thanks very much, Jerry. Check the movie out again when you get an opportunity – I wouldn’t really recommend hunting down any of the current DVD versions as the quality, among other aspects, is questionable. It can be accessed online of course.

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  6. Hi, Jerry, am pleased to see you share my high estimation of LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN. I haven’t been able to think of another colour noir I’ve seen from the 40s or 50s, so will see if I can track down a copy of SLIGHTLY SCARLET as well as HELL’S ISLAND. From a later era of movie making, the brilliant CHINATOWN fits the colour noir category for me.

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    • Steve, I wrote a piece specifically on the B&W/Color issue some years ago here – I think the comments on that laid out the different positions very well. And there are plenty of suggestions and recommendations too.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Congratulations on your 500th post. I have truly enjoyed all your posts and here is looking forward to your further 500s. Stay healthy and safe. Best regards.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: The Color Noir | Riding the High Country

  9. Congratulations on your 500th Colin and even more so thanks so much for having me (putting up with) all these years.
    I totally agree regarding Murphy-interestingly for someone who never set out to be an actress she worked with some pretty high profile people Bogart, Brando, Wyler, Losey. Murphy in later years was very effective in JUNIOR BONNER.
    Totally agree HELL’S ISLAND is the weakest of the Payne Karlson trilogy. I would still love the film to get an official release, being Vista Vision it would
    look stunning on Blu Ray in 1.85 ratio. There’s no reason why this should not happen Scotland’s Park Circus have a pristine copy anyone could release but sadly no takers as yet. Even more amazing that Karlson is one of Tarantino’s heroes which always is a yardstick for sometimes cult obsessed video companies. I’ve already suggested this to Arrow and also to those new kids on the Block the Australian Imprint label who are releasing a whole raft of Paramount titles. I might add that it’s strongly rumoured that Imprint will release,at last ALFIE on Blu Ray so odd that a title as iconic as that has not yet had a Blu Ray edition…..typical of Paramount I might add.
    I know I’ve said this a million times here and elsewhere but in Park Circus’ library there are all the new Republic remasters but thus far no takers yet:
    THE PLUNDERERS, HELLFIRE, THE OUTCAST, FAIR WIND TO JAVA, ACCUSED OF MURDER. The latter title is often cited as a Naturama/ Trucolor Noir and I know it’s not supposed to be any great shakes but I’d still love to see it in high def.
    Arrow did mention to me that THE OUTCAST is very much on their radar, and again I guess that would be because William Witney is one of
    Tarantino’s favourite directors…..let’s see what happens.. I might add that all of the titles that I’ve mentioned have far more appeal to me than what the likes of Indicator are releasing these days.
    As the Color/Noir thing goes I tend to side with Vienna I wouldn’t call HELL’S ISLAND a Noir although it does have Noir elements as do many films Ray Milland’s LISBON being a case in point or put another way LISBON to me is as much a Noir as HELL’S ISLAND which to me neither are. The closest title for me which would classify as a Noir in Color (and Superscope) is SLIGHTLY SCARLET which Jerry mentioned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks John, and you know, the place would not be the same without your input – you’ve sparked off more interesting discussions than I could even begin to count.

      That’s interesting re Arrow and The Outcast. And I share your disappointment with the direction Indicator seem to be pursuing of late. I guess they know their own market but it’s diverged considerably from my interests and tastes.

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    • All five of those remastered Republic films are available to buy or rent from Amazon Prime in UK. John K does know l have three of them, and quality is excellent. Hellfire will be a revelation if you have only seen the usual dodgy versions around. I’d rather have a Blu ray disc, but at moment this is the only way to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Just as an add on to my previous post Talking Pictures TV is a pretty good bet for HELL’S ISLAND turning up especially with their newly minted deal with Paramount.
    Lots of hard to find Paramount titles are turning up,the other night I watched ANOTHER TIME,ANOTHER PLACE which was transmitted in a lovely Vista Vision 1.85 black & white print. Must admit I’m not the biggest Lana fan in the World or in fact I’m none too fond of romantic soap operas.
    Interesting early Connery appearance and always fun to see Sid James doing his American shtick. Watching the film I couldn’t help but wonder what Hitchcock would have made of it-elements of The Master are certainly there.
    Regarding PLUNDER OF THE SUN John Farrow gave Glenn Ford such a hard time on that picture he actually turned down HONDO if Farrow remained as director.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think I remember hearing before that Farrow wasn’t the easiest to work with.

      I do like melodramas but I’ve never seen Another Time, Another Place. I’ve wanted to for a while and may just pick up a copy now you’ve brought it back to my attention.

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      • According to Bertrand Tavernier, the only actor ever to get along with Farrow was Ray Milland “because he loved challenges”. Farrow belonged to the dictatorial school of movie directing and his Cuaron-like passion for extremely and time-consuming long takes didn’t help either. He seems to have mellowed somewhat by the time of Hondo as Geraldine Page remembered John Wayne to be the real boss on the set, with Farrow being little more than a yes man. I guess Paramount got tired of his behaviour and told him to be more “friendly” with his stars.

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        • Interesting, and thanks for passing that along, Xavier. I’d not heard that About Milland before, or don’t recall doing so. Mind you, I believe Milland himself was somewhat difficult – I think it was in Lee Server’s bio of Mitchum that I read about that.

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  11. I can report that “Hell’s Island” is definitely a film noir because it has an entry in the Silver/Ward “Film Noir” encyclopedia. So there you are! What more proof is needed? 🙂 🙂 Strangely enough, in the short article about it there, no reference at all is made to the fact that it’s in colour.
    Good review (as always Colin) of a film I’ll be sure to keep an eye out for. I’m sure it will turn up on blu somewhere. By the way, I was watching Payne in “The Crooked Way”, last week. That one is not generally rated that highly by noir aficionados, but I’ve always liked it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dafydd, and you’re welcome back – it’s been a while and it’s great to hear from you again. I hope all’s well with you.
      I’m very fond of The Crooked Way and I think it’s wonderfully shot and very absorbing. I wonder if the fact it was only available in an unimpressive version for so long led to it being undervalued.

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  12. Hi Dafydd,
    Ironically, I have “THE CROOKED WAY” sitting in front of my set right now awaiting a watch in the next day or two. Been a while since I saw it. I like most of Payne’s post WW2 work, mainly his noirs and his westerns.

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  13. First, as a very recent visitor to your excellent website, let me congratulate you on your 500th post on films. I agree with you that “Hell’s Island” has many of the essential ingredients that characterize film-noir. I just watched the film and think your review hits the bull’s eye. I found “Hell’s Island” immensely enjoyable and great fun to watch.

    “Desert Fury” was shot in color and, to me, it is superior film-noir.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that, Frank, and I’m glad you enjoyed watching the movie – it is a fun experience.

      Desert Fury is pretty enjoyable too; it looks fabulous and it has an excellent cast – I wrote a short piece on it years ago here.

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  14. Congratulations on your 500th post, Colin. I have a long way to go to get there.

    It’s a while since I’ve seen Hell’s Island but I thought was a good Noir without being outstanding. Yes, Noir. I’m in the Color Noir camp. Here are a few more (some already mentioned): Leave Her to Heaven, Bad Day at Black Rock, Niagara, Desert Fury, House of Bamboo, Slightly Scarlet.

    Like you I unfortunately only saw a crappy copy, on youtube. I’d love to see it remastered.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Margot – I have to say you started out an awful lot stronger than I did, and the depth and quality of what you’ve been producing is highly impressive.

      Yeah, I’d go along with all those you listed as films noir, but then I tend to take the inclusive line in those matters.

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  15. Colin
    Many congratulations on your 500th post my good fellow. As for b/w vs color noir, I have no problem with color, I’ll watch them, but I must admit there is nary a one on my top 50 noir list. Mind you though, BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK is close with LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN trailing by a nose.

    Gord

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    • Thank you, Gord. As for preferences, I think that, taken overall, B&W would win out for me too. Of course the sheer weight of numbers plays a role in that particular equation.

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    • Thanks a lot, Aidan. It’s one of those questions where film fans can come up with pretty solid arguments in support of both viewpoints. In many ways, that’s the beauty of discussing matters pertaining to art; there are few clearly black and white issues (pun intended) and so much that is necessarily subjective and open to individual interpretation.

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  16. Colin – have just read your piece from 2013 on colour in noir movies. It and the terrific discussion that followed in the comments was well worth reading and another illustration of the high quality of your blog and its followers. Bad Day at Black Rock gets many mentions, with some saying it’s noir, others a modern Western and you saying it’s a mash up of styles. Just shows how hard it is to draw a line around noir, especially given the debate on your site about whether it is a genre or just a style. Great reading, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As ever, Steve, credit really belongs to all those responding and contributing. I’m just happy to be able to host a space where so much pleasant and informative interaction can take place.

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  17. Colin, firstly thanks so much for the kind words earlier, undeserved but most welcome especially considering the current situation we are all coping with.
    Regarding what’s Noir and what’s not it’s all down to the individual person really the experts have strident views on this and so can those of us who are non experts. From a personal point of view, I regard BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK as a classic Western not a Noir and also in my view it’s also Sturges’ finest Western.
    I’m delighted (and I’m sure Margot will be too) that Mark’s fine Noir blog Where Danger Lives is back in business-it really never went away but Mark is now reviewing new titles as opposed to posting updates. What I love about Mark’s take on Noir is his passionate essays on minor long forgotten films. THE COME ON (1956) is such a title it has Noir elements but is set among expansive beaches and daylight boating marinas. There is no dark shadowy stuff in THE COME ON except for the motives of it’s characters. I would be hard pressed to class the trashy, pulpy, campy THE BEAT GENERATION (1959) as Noir but then again Mark can write a compelling piece on the film…I couldn’t. That’s not to say I don’t find much to enjoy in the film. The notes on Kino’s HIGHWAY DRAGNET describe it as “Classic Noir”, again I would beg to differ on both counts which is not to say I don’t enjoy the film, which I do. The aforementioned THE CROOKED WAY is out and out Noir and the Kino version is the one to go for highest recommendation if you can locate a copy. The film has many incidental joys especially with the wonderful Percy Helton who is given far more to do than usual.
    Finally whatever way we see things bona fide classic Noir keeps turning up on Blu Ray in glistening remasters I note from Blu Ray.com Warner Archive have just announced THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME this is exciting news as Warner’s remasters of classic RKO titles are indeed a joy to behold. I’m very excited about this as I’ve never seen the film despite it’s high reputation among Noir addicts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for passing on that bit of information on They Won’t Believe Me. I really like this film, and think it provided Robert Young with one of his very best parts, and Susan Hayward is excellent in it too. I imagine this will be the full length version? I’ve only ever seen it in truncated form.

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  18. Colin-I never knew there were two versions of this film, imdb states that it was originally released at 95 minutes and reissued at 80 minutes. I should imagine that the Warner Archive version will be the original full length version as they have done previously with several titles including their superb presentation of THE SEA WOLF and more recently RACHAEL AND THE STRANGER. Now I’m even more excited about THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME.

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    • That’s exiting news about They Won’t Believe Me. I’ve heard so much about it and I hope it’s the original 95 min version. The restored 80 min print has been shown at festivals but it seems those missing 15 minutes have a few important plot points.

      I didn’t know that a good copy of Hell’s Island exists. Hope somebody will pick it up and release it.

      On a completely unrelated note, I’d like give posts a thumbs up but can’t do that as I don’t have a WordPress account/blog. Everybody just consider yourselves “thumbed up”.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I imagine the full version will involve more of Jane Greer’s character. In the version currently available she seems to drop in and out of it all in a less than satisfactory way.

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  19. Congratulations on this 500th piece, Colin. Look forward to the next 500.

    I’m a great Phil Karlson fan and like both of the other two John Payne ones, especially “99 River Street” which might be my favorite Karlson movie (though possibly edged by the Western “Gunman’s Walk” which I care a lot about), though of course “Kansas City Confidential” did manage to get Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand and Jack Elam together in one movie as supporting heavies–those were the days!

    So I guess I’m one more who considers “Hell’s Island” the least but can’t be sure of that–my memory of one long ago viewing is that I tried to watch it on TV (in black and white, alas) in the midst of a crowd of people, some kind of party or something. So I’d like to see it again but will try to hold out for a good edition; a VistaVision film should have a wider ratio–somewhere in a range of 1.66 to 1.85 should be just fine.

    I enjoyed some good words for Mary Murphy, forgotten by most but I always found her both beautiful and a good actress. She is the only thing that would ever draw me back now to “The Wild One” and the one who lifts that film.

    “Film Noir” was not a genre in which anyone consciously worked in the days of most of its classics–that name was attached much later so people can kind of define it any way they want and they usually do. So, for me, no problem to think of color films as Film Noir if they have a lot of the motifs and iconography in other ways, and I think of most of the titles mentioned here that way, and includes some terrific films like “Leave Her to Heaven” and “Desert Fury” not to mention the great “House of Bamboo” which is as much a vision of Japan in the postwar years and the American presence there as it is a crime film.

    Like John Knight I wouldn’t put “Bad Day At Black Rock” there though. It’s absolutely more of a Western as he says–though I wouldn’t say a classic Western just because of the contemporary setting. But in most ways it belongs with John Sturges’ other Westerns and is certainly one of his very best films.

    Now, going back, belatedly to “Strangers When We Meet”…

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    • Thanks for that, Blake. Good point about film noir only having that label hung on it retrospectively. That fact does tend to widen the possible interpretations further. Not that this stuff matters much; but it can be enjoyable to theorize about it all.

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    • I never thought of “Bad Day at Black Rock” as film-noir. I never entertained the idea. For me, the main reason “Bad Day at Black Rock” isn’t noir is that the protagonist is rock-solid from beginning to end and never compromises himself.

      I even have trouble as thinking of “Bad Day at Black Rock” as a Western although it takes place in the American West. It’s a great film, though. I also liked “Leave Her to Heaven”, “Desert Fury” and “House of Bamboo”. I think the first two are definitely noir — I’m not so sure about the “House of Bamboo”. Of course, I could be dead wrong.

      I too am an admirer of “Gunman’s Walk”.

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  20. Colin
    Speaking of THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME. I just watched it about ten days ago. A really good film, but I join the others is wondering what the full runtime version would look like.
    Gord

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  21. I mentioned LISBON earlier and thought I’d give it another view. It does have certain plot devices similar to HELL’S ISLAND and although I don’t consider both films Noir I would place them in the same genre,whatever that may be.
    My distant memory of LISBON was of a real snoozefest but in those days I had only seen the film as a washed out 4×3 TV viewing. The attraction of buying the high def restoration was the mere fact that here was a Republic film in Trucolor and Naturama, plus the fact it had a commentary by our friend Toby Roan. I was most surprised by the film despite the fact there is hardly any action involved.
    The film scores points on quirky offbeat moments and fascinating characters. How about this for a compelling set of characters-certainly very “Noir Like”
    Ray Milland is a smuggler with a code of ethics no killings and no drugs. Maureen ‘O Hara is a mysterious woman married to an elderly ailing multi millionaire.
    Claude Rains a master criminal and manipulative sadist to boot (he squishes song birds to feed to his pet cat!) Yvonne Furneaux is one of the waif and strays Rains likes to collect as mere decoration. Francis Lederer is Rains’ sinister hit man,constantly snooping and has more than a crush on Ms Furneaux.
    Finally Edward Chapman is Rains’ simpering manservant who Ms Furneaux likes to kick now and then, much to Rains delight. Where LISBON really scores is in several quirky moments, for example a kissing scene where the female has just chomped on a piece of spicy garlic sausage.
    There’s lots more going on in LISBON than meets the eye-well recommended if you can locate the Blu Ray at a reasonable price-the transfer is stellar. I like all the films Ray Milland directed and my own personal favourite is PANIC IN YEAR ZERO not comfortable viewing right now,I might add.

    Margo-regarding “posting Likes” I do this through G Mail although sometimes I get blocked from making comments by WordPress-it’s a strange old World.

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    • Yes, regarding Lisbon, I’m not sure I’d call it noir either. I think those quirky/offbeat touches you mention – personally, I’d refer to these in stronger terms as I feel there’s quite a perverse and twisted feel to many of the characters and relationships – are what lift the movie above the purely routine.

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  22. Yeah…I guess “subversive” would have been a better word-
    ‘though a lot of it seems to have been made with a very
    tongue in cheek approach.
    BTW I see over at Margot’s you have got a rave review
    from Barry Lane for one of your postings.
    Now you’ve really arrived kid! 🙂

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  23. Hi, Colin – I just happen to have the Lee Server book to hand. His references to Milland come in his section on the making of THE LAST TYCOON. He writes that Milland “would occasionally become miffed” at the attention the Director, Elia Kazan, was giving him compared to Robert DeNiro. Server says that Kazan “devoted most of his efforts to DeNiro, whose complex Actors’ Studio-trained approach to a role required high maintenance…” Mitchum and Milland got on very well and, unlike DeNiro, felt no need to stay in character when on the set but not being filmed.

    Am loving the many comments on this thread: they’re fascinating.

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    • Steve
      Never seen THE LAST TYCOON. Been told it was terrible by some, and enjoyable by others. So I just avoided it all these years. What is your take on it?
      Gord

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      • Hi, Gord – have never seen THE LAST TYCOON but it certainly seems to have had a great cast. By the way, the Server book is very good, well written and researched and with satisfying details about each of Mitchum’s movies. He was in so many excellent ones.

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        • Steve
          I had the Server book at one time but lost it when the great flood tore through town 5 years back. I’ll need to look for a used copy.

          Gord

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  24. FILMS FOR THE WEEKEND
    First up for me is that great 50’s sci-fi classic, “It! The Terror from Beyond Space” 1959. Loved it as a kid, and still do.
    Second will be “Vera Cruz” 1954 Been a long while since I viewed this Aldrich directed duster.
    Third will be “Foxfire” with Jeff Chandler and Jane Russell from 1955. Never seen this but it seems worth a look.
    And last up will be another Japanese film with Toshiro Mifune. “Stray Dog” 1949 This is a Police drama.

    Everyone have good weekend

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    • Hi, Gord – my movies for the weekend are TEN WANTED MEN, a Randolph Scott Western I haven’t seen before and AMBUSH AT CIMARRON PASS, also new to me and including a very young Clint Eastwood in its cast. Quite wintry here today by Aussie standards, though winter doesn’t start til June, so will be good to keep warm and watch a good movie.

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      • TEN WANTED MEN is well worth a watch imo. AMBUSH AT CIMARRON PASS, I saw it 3-4 years ago. No comment from me till you have seen it yourself. Raining out here at the moment. They are calling for a 10-15 % chance of snow.
        Gord

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        • While I think all Randolph Scott westerns are worth watching some are decidedly weaker and I have to say I was very disappointed by Ten Wanted Men, especially given some of the actors involved.

          Liked by 1 person

  25. And here i was hoping that you were going to tell me its been released to blu ray by Kino like 99 River Street and some other Payne titles they released. In other words I’ve yet to see or acquire this one. Thanks for the reminder that its out there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know, I’d be delighted too if I were able to pass on info about a better quality version of this – but you never know what may happen.
      As it stands though, anyone wanting to see the movie is arguably best off just chasing down one of the online options as the physical copies, as far as I can tell, are very weak to say the least.

      Liked by 2 people

  26. The best bet for UK fans is that Talking Pictures TV
    might show it-hopefully in the correct ratio.
    TPTV have just announced another hard to locate Pine Thomas
    Production LUCY GALLANT originally a Vista Vision picture-let’s hope
    the TV transmission will be 16×9.
    At any rate the Paramount rarities keep coming from TPTV.
    There’s a couple of other Payne Noirs still awaiting release LARCENY
    (recently featured on RTHC) and THE BOSS. The DVD of the latter was
    wretched and there was talk several years back of a Film Noir Foundation
    restoration. Dalton Trumbo’s allegorical tale of corruption in “Anytown USA”
    is well worthy of rediscovery.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know Lucy Gallant was released on DVD in Italy, probably unofficially, but I never bothered with it as the reviews I saw for it sounded as though the quality of the image wasn’t all it ought to be. It would be interesting to find out what the print TPTV have access to is like.

      Like

  27. TPTV is the only game in town for genuinely vintage movies in the UK but their prints (and that of their DVD releasing company Renown) can be a very mixed bag. I recently purchased one of their Crime Boxsets, which are incredible value (in the sense that you get around 10 movies for £20) because I wanted a ‘proper’ copy of an interesting Maureen Connell Brit Noir called KILL HER GENTLY. The Renown disc provided a muddy 4 x 3 image of this movie, whereas my grey market bootleg is a pin-sharp 16 x 9 off TCM HD USA. So I should have saved my money. On a side note: whatever happened to Maureen Connell. She could have been a contender. Hopefully any Republic B movies that turn up on TPTV will look better than the old US sourced VHS rips that have been circulating over the years.
    I’d also like to add my congratulations on your 500th transmission. RTHC is one of the essential blogs and one I visit most days. The extensive, highly informative and wide-ranging conversations that have featured here recently have certainly providing some stimulating reading during these surreal times. Nice one Colin! Thanks for the excellent work.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you very much! Nick Beal is a name I’ve not heard from in a while but it’s always a joy when you do pop in to share some thoughts. I hope everything is well with you.

      Yes, TPTV and Renown can be hit and miss regarding the quality of prints used. Personally, given that they are such a small outfit, I’m inclined to cut them a bit more slack than I would one of the bigger operators. And of course there is the fact they are making the kind of stuff available that few others seem interested in.

      Like

  28. The last round up…..allegedly!

    One reason,possibly HELL’S ISLAND and the recent Republic remasters have not turned up on disc is because in the UK Park Circus have the rights. One owner of a European label told me Park Circus’ rates are rather expensive,in fact,he says that he can lease films far cheaper dealing with Universal direct. That may explain why so many European labels now have direct deals with Universal,and the list is growing. I’m very concerned about the new Republic remasters and would be very interested to hear if any more titles had been added to the list initially I understood that it was an on going project.
    Knowing Paramount I should imagine existing and future titles would be aimed mainly at the streaming market-‘though having said that it will be interesting to see what the new Australian label come up with,considering their newly minted deal with Paramount, hopefully HELL’S ISLAND might be on their radar-anyway I’ve already requested it some time back.

    Yes Colin that Italian version of LUCY GALLANT is a bootleg, one can always tell by the fact Amazon generally show the reverse of the insert and there’s no mention of Paramount anywhere-an official release would have to show the Paramount logo. Interestingly the Italian version does appear to be 16×9 and not all Italian bootlegs are of inferior quality NAKED ALIBI being a case in point. With these unofficial releases you pays your money and take pot luck. The Paramount titles are rolling from TPTV they have also announced BOTANY BAY another title I think is available as a bootleg only. TPTV’s transmission of SCOTLAND YARD INVESTIGATOR was OK, I enjoyed the film but sadly Stephanie Bachelor was a goodie this time round-I much prefer her at her Femme Fatale best. Film also featured Richard Fraser B Movies answer to Rex Harrison. Republic Pictures version of 1945 London was not as appealing as i George Sherman’s LONDON BLACKOUT MURDERS..I do hope that one turns up on TPTV. Lesley Selander’s THE FATAL WITNESS (Fraser again) has a hilarious version of 1945 London, that one’s really a hoot ‘though the film is pretty good.I look forward to more of these Republic gems turning up on TPTV.

    Like

    • Interesting point about the licensing costs. I’d been given to understand that Universal were one of the easier, and more willing, studios to license movies from so that aspect doesn’t surprise me.

      On some of those Italian titles, I agree that they can be hit and miss and I think a lot comes down to where the copies are sourced from.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Colin – John
    It sure would be nice to see all these Paramount and Republic films in decent nick. Been waiting decades to see a nice copy of CALCUTTA or SAIGON with Ladd.
    Gord

    Like

    • Just a note to draw attention to the fact that CALCUTTA is on its way from Kino Lorber on July 14th. It’s part of a three-disc collection called FILM NOIR: THE DARK SIDE OF CINEMA. Vol. 5. The other two in the set are AN ACT OF MURDER (1946) and SIX BRIDGES TO CROSS (1955). I’m not sure (from what I’ve read) if the other two could really be described as ‘noir’ (?)… although that’s a matter of opinion, of course. But no doubt they will all get separate releases at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, thank you! I thought I’d read about that and then I wasn’t quite sure. I can’t comment on how the films rate on the noir scale as I’ve not seen them but from reading brief synopses I’d have thought they were borderline cases too. Either way, it’s great to see more of these movies coming onto the market.

        Like

  30. The main problem with these three part sets from Kino is that they will not be releasing stand alone titles of the films at a later stage. Someone has already requested this and was given short shrift from Kino. In the set Dafydd mentions the only title that I’m really after is SIX BRIDGES TO CROSS. I have not seen the film since the mid 60’s and yes I would certainly call it borderline Noir it has plot elements similar to CRY OF THE CITY but obviously
    Siodmak’s film is far darker in look and tone.
    At least Indicator/Powerhouse release their box set titles as stand alone releases once the box sets are sold out which is great for buyers who only want one or two titles from the set. I was also encouraged to see that Indicator’s Scott/Boetticher set has now sold out and the price on Amazon has jumped up accordingly. It’s also interesting that the Boetticher set has sold out faster than some of the Hammer sets-hopefully this may encourage Indicator to
    release more Westerns. Indicator have announced BUFFALO BILL AND THE INDIANS and that’s one I won’t be buying. Hopefully Eureka or somebody will release SIX BRIDGES TO CROSS.
    Speaking of Eureka Colin, have you seen their forthcoming Lugosi/Poe triple set very attractively packaged and priced too. The films include MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE, THE RAVEN, THE BLACK CAT. While the Shout Factory Universal Horror sets are very tempting their high price and the weak pound makes them beyond my pay grade.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess Kino feel that’s a marketing strategy that works best for them, and maybe it does. I won’t be buying the set myself for the simple reason that I am unable to play Region A Blu-rays. However, I still see it as a positive development as it means that there are high quality masters available and there is always the chance that someone else in another territory will put some of all of these on the market at some point.

      Yes, I did hear about the Universal horror set, and it’s a very attractive looking proposition – to tell the truth, Eureka is the UK label whose releases interest me most and match my tastes most these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Hi Gord, Steve, Colin and others
    So did we all watch some good films over the weekend? I saw four very enjoyable films:

    “THE CROOKED WAY” (1949) which was mentioned on here recently in comparison to another ‘returning vet with amnesia’ storyline, “Somewhere In The Night”. Both films were very good, tough, gritty examples of post WW2 noir.

    “FOLLOW ME QUIETLY” (1949), a 60 minute B-movie starring William Lundigan and a very appealing Dorothy Patrick. Not a ‘noir’ exactly, more a whodunnit, though much of it was filmed in pouring rain at night.

    “THE NEVADAN” (1950) Randolph Scott starrer and a good one. The Alabama Hills of Lone Pine looked absolutely gorgeous in Cinecolor. Another very appealing female (Dorothy Malone) and a protagonist worthy of the word (Forrest Tucker).

    “THE SHOWDOWN” (1950) the film that closed out Bill Elliott’s contract with Republic after several very good years that left us a library of superior westerns. A ‘noir’ feel created effectively by Reggie Lanning and no genuine exterior shots yet somehow the final result was a gripping and most satisfying western.

    2 films from 1949 and 2 westerns from 1950 (a good year for westerns). Be interested to hear from you guys……
    Stay safe (or is that now ‘Stay Alert’???) Jerry

    Like

    • A very solid lineup there, Jerry. Follow me Quietly is neat B picture – Margot, who comments here quite regularly, did a great piece on that movie a while back – here.

      For myself, I watched two films I’m not going to name because they will both be featured here very soon – one is a very rare 50s western, and there should be a post on that up later in the week. And the other is a first class 50s film noir, and a piece on that is also on the way.
      Aside from those I also took in Seven Cities of Gold, and enjoyed it much more than I had on a previous viewing. There is a fantastic looking print of that currently up on YouTube if anyone is keen to see it.

      Like

      • Colin, you’re right, there is a great print of Seven Cities on YouTube. I suggest anyone who wants to see it, do it soon, before it gets removed. 20th Century Fox films get jumped on and removed quicker than most. As for the film, l found it an interesting subject, but a touch overlong, and l would have liked a bit more action. Good cast though.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mike, I think the posters, title and so on seem to sell the movie as something different to what it really is. It’s something of a western in disguise and the action is of less importance than the development of the idea of faith – not only the obvious religious stuff, but faith in those around us and in the strength of the human spirit. I think that I was looking for or expecting something else when I’d watched the movie before – this time I took it for what it is as opposed to what I had wanted. For me, it worked out much better that way.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Colin, l agree with your description 100%. I wish l could have read that before my first ever viewing of the film. So maybe l will appreciate it more with a second look. Those good looking film posters are a touch misleading.

            Like

  32. Jerry
    Seen the first three, enjoyed all in particular, THE CROOKED WAY.. I would swear D of P John Alton could light a film with the reflection of a lit cigar off a nickel. No call for a rope and a tree, but I must admit I have never seen a Bill Elliot western. I have seen the 5 detective slash crime noir that he finished his career with. DIAL RED 0, SUDDEN DANGER, CALLING HOMICIDE, CHAIN OF EVIDENCE, FOOTSTEPS IN THE NIGHT. All are better than I expected low renters.

    I got in VERA CRUZ 1954, NARROW MARGIN 1952, the first of the FRANCIS THE TALKING MULE films and SO PROUDLY WE HAIL.1943.

    Gord

    Like

  33. Gord, a nice selection there. “THE NARROW MARGIN” is one of my all-time favorite movies. Not a step wrong in it.
    The Bill Elliott crime movies are nice but of course he was really known for his westerns and I think he was much more suited to them than anything. For a start he really looked the part, played his western roles with authority and was a superb horseman. His Republic semi-‘A’ westerns 1946-50 were really fine overall, several working particularly well. (John K is another fan).
    You are probably even less likely to watch one of the ‘B’ westerns he made his name in but of their type his were among the best. He did an 8-film series 1943-44 when first signed to Republic in which he was supported by George Hayes and I love all eight!! They are funny, the partnership worked well and they are chock full of action and stunts. Just up Jerry’s street, in fact!

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Hello my friends – so many of the movies you enjoyed recently are new to me and I’ll be trying to track down copies. THE NARROW MARGIN is a favourite of mine and shows just what high standards low-budget film-making could achieve.

    My weekend viewing was a bit flat. I was disappointed in TEN WANTED MEN. Sloppy direction and a clunky script meant the strong cast was largely wasted. The problems are writ large in a long siege sequence. It fails to generate any tension and in the middle of it is one of the most embarrassingly badly written marriage proposals I’ve seen.

    AMBUSH AT CIMARRON PASS was passable but let down by its predictability and dragging story line. I laughed at the sudden transformation of one of the characters. In one scene, she’s a distraught woman grieving for all her loved ones who’ve been slaughtered by Apaches and in the very next scene is vamping and dancing around all the men like a saloon girl. All of the characterisations are one-dimensional and don’t give the actors, including a very young Clint Eastwood, much to work with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steve
      I’ll need to give TEN WANTED MEN a re-watch. Been a good decade or two since last seen and I seem to recall liking it. LOL Would not be the first time I found myself out to lunch on my first take on a film.. AMBUSH AT CIMARRON PASS I agree wholeheartedly with your take. It should have been a better film.

      Gord

      Liked by 1 person

  35. I stumbled across “Rogue Cop” (1954) with Robert Taylor over the weekend. The rest of the cast includes Janet Leigh, George Raft, Ann Francis, Steve Forrest, Alan Hale Jr, Olive Carey, and Vince Edwards. I can’t speak for Roy Rowland’s other films but he does a nice job here with a good script from Sidney Boehm (“The Big Heat”). Taylor is a bad cop who is on the payroll of a thoroughly evil George Raft. Ann Francis is excellent as Raft’s boozy mistress who is not only hooked on the bottle but inexplicably to Raft as well. Janet Leigh is a good girl with a past who is dating Taylor’s brother who happens to be an incorruptible honest cop. I won’t give away the plot, but there are some excellent fight scenes and a tension-packed shoot-out at the end. The film turned a profit and did well with the critics. Taylor lays it on a bit thick as the self-centered dirty cop but the rest of the cast excels with great turns by Olive Carey, Peter Brocco, and Robert Ellenstein.

    Liked by 2 people

  36. I decided, like a lot of you friends out there, that this unique situation is going to enable me to use the extra time to drag some films off my shelves and catch up with some old favourites. I have a number of films lined up.
    This morning it was “3.10 TO YUMA”(1957). Gosh, I hadn’t sat down and watched this in quite a few years, certainly some time before the 2007 remake. Utterly riveted by it. This classic western (classic film any genre actually) is a perfect piece of western filmmaking IMO and is what ‘adult entertainment’ really is!! A hard act to follow.
    Tomorrow which will it be – James Stewart, Fred MacMurray or Richard Dix?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Jerry – I totally agree with your comments about “3.10”: it stands up brilliantly to repeated viewings and is a far better film than the recent cartoonish remake.

      I find my favourite Westerns are reliably enjoyable, watch after watch. So, after my disappointment last weekend when trying a couple of movies for the first time, next weekend I’ll try a couple of classics. I’m thinking THE FAR COUNTRY and CANYON PASSAGE.

      Like

  37. Hello Gang,
    Had a great double bill last night courtesy of
    Talking Pictures TV.
    Firstly Brit Noir classic BRIGHTON ROCK,a film I can always
    watch again and again.
    Second half of the double bill was THE ENFORCER (1951)
    some time since since I’ve seen this Bogie classic and to be
    honest I never knew there was a Blu Ray edition available-
    ‘though I must admit the TPTV print was stellar.
    THE ENFORCER was mostly directed by Raoul Walsh and it
    shows with the director’s hard nosed style evident throughout.
    THE ENFORCER is part of TPTV’s Paramount deal and although
    originally a Warners release it’s now owned by Paramount as are
    several other Milton Sperling/Warners flicks (SOUTH OF ST LOUIS,
    DISTANT DRUMS,RETREAT HELL and others.)
    In the UK THE ENFORCER was titled MURDER INC and the B picture was
    CAVALRY SCOUT a decent evening’s entertainment by anyone’s standards.
    It’s encouraging that the TPTV Paramount deal seems to cover the
    whole gamut of the Paramount library-let’s hope some of the Allied Artists
    titles that Paramount own are included (JACK SLADE,AT GUNPOINT,
    DRAGOON WELLS MASSACRE,FINGER MAN…..)
    Still awaiting Warner Archive’s BLOOD ON THE MOON Blu Ray in the
    mail-cannot wait for that to arrive and Colin I saw your comment
    over at Toby’s and I too am a huge admirer of TRIBUTE TO A BAD MAN
    one of my “most wanted” titles on Blu Ray.
    Was pondering over Warner’s RACHAEL AND THE STRANGER-
    which also turned up on TV but not my kind of show despite
    being a big Mitchum fan-the annoying kid and the dog were just
    too much for me.
    BTW Colin….GUN GLORY a most interesting RTHC choice looking forward
    very much to your take on that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Whoops Colin…Sorry Wrong Rowland. Must pay attention
      more closely.
      Regarding SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD and it’s non
      appearance on either DVD or Blu Ray there’s another similar
      film with a similar fate Joseph Newman’s KISS OF FIRE
      with Jack Palance and Barbara Rush.

      Liked by 1 person

      • John, I’ve never seen Kiss of Fire so I’ll have to look that one up.
        There is a DVD of Seven Cities of Gold available somewhere – Spain perhaps (?) but I don’t have it. If it’s of the quality of the online version then it might be worth a punt. Being a Fox movie, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a Blu-ray.
        I had a very enjoyable time with it this time and I found myself much more absorbed than I had been on previous viewings. I even thought about featuring it in a post here as I felt it amounted to a pretty rich experience.

        Liked by 1 person

      • A word about The Enforcer. Fifteen years ago, I was asked to represent Feiner & Company, who no longer exist, but at that time owned all the Milton Sperling films. Their special interests were to mount a musical remake of Marjorie Morningstar and for me to pitch the Bogart picture for a remake. I did, and got nothing but negative feedback. Of course, my main focus was on the Canadian film industry, and no one I approached related to Murder Inc. I did not hit up any American outfits because Feiner was more than capable of doing that himself. No takers.

        Liked by 1 person

  38. One delight in watching THE ENFORCER was seeing
    Bob Steele (billed as “Robert”) playing a cruel hit man.
    I still have not cottoned on to this “streaming” lark and the fact
    that much sought after titles like ROGUE COP and
    SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD are turning up in that format is
    very tempting. The latter was always a childhood favourite
    and I saw ROGUE COP when first released as well.
    Robert Taylor was always one of those actors ideal in either
    Noir or Westerns others who fit that description are Mitchum,
    Widmark,John Payne and Mark Stevens,among others.
    There’s a new site that’s just come to my attention
    Orlando Eastwood Films Mr Eastwood seems to be bringing
    a whole raft of p.d. titles out on Blu Ray-don’t know what the quality
    will be like but he states they are 2 or 4K remasters from original prints.
    There’s a whole heap of films to watch on this site many B Movies from
    the likes of PRC.
    LADY IN THE DEATH HOUSE with Jean Parker and Lionel Atwill sounds
    most appealing,who knows even this old Luddite might give it a go.

    Like

  39. Thanks for the tip about Orlando Eastwood Films, John. I usually avoid films online too but after checking out what you found I watched Bob Steele in “ALIAS JOHN LAW”(1935) there. Quite a bit to look into.

    Like

  40. Back to LISBON if I may……..I watched the movie a few days ago and enjoyed almost every minute of it for reasons already stated above. But, one thing keeps gnawing at me…….the performance of Maureen O’Hara seemed out of sync with her over playing her role by an ever annoying delivery of dialogue……… or maybe it was just a case of not being the right person to play the part. Anyone else have a take on this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I seem to remember having some problems with O’Hara’s part in Lisbon too. I watched and wrote about it here – back when there was only a less than satisfactory DVD available and I did mention that dissatisfaction briefly. I’d really need to watch it all over again to add much at this point.

      Like

  41. Steve, no disappointments with either “CANYON PASSAGE” or “THE FAR COUNTRY” – both superb.

    My breakfast watch today was “THE NAKED SPUR” (so, Mann again). It’s a strange thing; I first saw that film in the 70s at London’s National Film Theatre and found it my least favourite of the Stewart/Mann westerns (mind you, all five are superb, it was just a matter of comparison) and that assessment stuck with me down through the years. I have to say though that I am happy to change that view after today. The Colorado Rockies look wonderful as a backdrop to the drama. I think my earlier reserve was that the emotional turmoil of Stewart’s character was pretty raw and struck me the wrong way at the time. Good to have the chance of a change of mind!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Personally, I rate The Naked Spur very highly, Jerry. It might be my favorite of the Stewart/Mann westerns actually, and that’s largely down to the journey undertaken by the lead and the power and honesty of that climactic scene. Superb filmmaking. I really wish a restored Blu-ray would make an appearance as it needs a better presentation than what’s currently available.

      Liked by 2 people

  42. Colin- Jerry and all
    I spent yesterday taking in THE COMANCHEROS. IN WHICH WE SERVE and FOXFIRE. The first I had not seen in a decade or two. Ok, but I found it longer than I recall. The middle film is still a watchable wartime flag-waver. FOXFIRE I had never seen, but I will take a boo at any film Colin recommends. It was a really stunning print with the added attraction of Jane Russell. Wolf calls all around please!

    Jerry
    Like your choice of western fare. I have enjoyed all three of those over the years. I must admit though that WINCHESTER 73 is my favorite Mann.and Stewart pairing.. It has that hard edge that for me, only black and white can bring. Full marks to d of p Daniels for his work as well. Stewart is a revelation in WINCHESTER, who thought he could do this kind of mean, and Stephen McNally shines as the villain of the piece. My two cents worth anyways.

    Have a good rest of the week.
    Gord

    Like

  43. Gord,
    “WINCHESTER ’73” could well be my favourite among 5 Mann favourites. The one that most folk seem to find the least one is “THE FAR COUNTRY” but it is a personal favourite of mine and I rate it highly. Our buddy, Laura, is in agreement, I know.

    Colin, I am watching this space eagerly as I understood you to say you have a piece on “ROGUE COP” coming. Robert Taylor in almost anything does it for me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Jerry. There’s a western getting profiled tomorrow and then my piece on Rogue Cop, which is all written up, should be posted late next week or thereabouts.

      Like

  44. Colin, I’m more than intrigued about this obscure Western coming up next….an on-line viewing I guess?
    Interesting to see Scott bring LISBON back into the mix; regarding Maureen O’ Hara-her character was oddly developed-firstly she’s giving lectures on
    female equality (“why do men want to put us on pedestals-when all we want is to walk among you as equals”) then she’s hoping her elderly rich husband will snuff it quickly as possible. I think that the script was the main fault with Maureen’s performance, but then again I don’t see her as ideal casting as a Femme Fatale. A superior presentation always enhances a film and as I’ve noted before the Kino Lorber Blu Ray is a lovely transfer.

    Totally agree Colin regarding THE NAKED SPUR the DVD is very sub standard and the film deserves a decent restoration-Criterion perhaps. I do believe Criterion will release a restored 4K version of WINCHESTER ’73 again the old DVD is pretty weak especially by today’s standards. As I mentioned on a previous thread my favourite Mann/Stewart Western is now THE MAN FROM LARAMIE and a lot of that is down to the superb quality of the Blu Ray-when the other two finally get restored-who knows.
    I really cannot be bothered watching films on line when there are so many great restorations of Westerns turning up on Blu Ray I’m still waiting for BLOOD ON THE MOON to turn up in the post and the recent restorations of WAGONMASTER and THE STALKING MOON are sensational. Another obscure favourite of mine is CATTLE ANNIE AND LITTLE BRITCHES and again the new Kino Blu ray is breathtaking. “Cattle Annie” is often wrongly
    thought of as a “Comedy Western” but really for want of a handle I’d call it an elegiac Western. Two young girls Amanda Plummer and Diane Lane (with Lane no more than a child) who team up with the Doolin Dalton gang in their final days is beautifully done-by this stage the gang are little more than a shadow of their past glories. Rod Steiger is the veteran lawman only one step behind the gang. A wonderful farewell to Westerns from Burt Lancaster.

    Like

      • Colin
        Finally managed to take in FOXFIRE. I was not quite sure what to expect, but found it a very watchable film with nice work from all. Of course Miss Russell and Mara Corday helped. Beautiful film to look at I must say.

        Gord

        Liked by 1 person

        • The cinematography is breathtaking in that movie. I had it in mind to write something on it earlier this year – I’m still thinking of maybe doing so next month, but we’ll see.

          Like

    • I’m with John k and Frank on THE MAN FROM LARAMIE being the best of the Mann-Stewart Westerns. The look of it, in CinemaScope and colour is superb and the plot and acting are very strong. Mind you, for a long time I thought BEND Of THE RIVER was the best of them and then THE NAKED SPUR. All these films are excellent, though, and repay frequent viewing.

      John, your little review of CATTLE ANNIE is sweet writing and makes me want to hunt down a copy.

      Liked by 2 people

  45. Hopefully you won’t be kept waiting too long for your copy of “BLOOD ON THE MOON”, John. I have been waiting weeks and weeks for two international deliveries. I guess they are at Customs maybe. One is coming from NZ which normally takes a week airmail but so far it has been nearly 7 weeks! The other package was from the U.S. and took a similar time but finally arrived safely this week. That is “TIMETABLE” which I ordered following reference to it (by you, I believe) on this blog a while back.

    Liked by 1 person

  46. Hi Jerry,
    I take it TIME TABLE is not an “official” release
    if there’s one out there I’ve not heard of it-
    I’d be interested to know where you are getting it from.
    Yep! mail deliveries are taking longer than normal which is
    to be expected these days.
    My favourite e-bay seller is Rarewaves they always dispatch discs
    really quickly they are very well packaged and generally don’t take
    too long to arrive.
    Next on my shopping list is Kino’s new Blu Ray of LONELY ARE THE BRAVE
    it gets a rave review on DVD Beaver for stunning picture quality and I’m
    glad I held on for once and resisted the German Blu of a few years back.
    Regarding these 3 part Noir sets from Kino I feel that they are making
    a big mistake not issuing the films as single entities as well-they could
    do the sets at a cheaper rate (which they do) and sell the single films
    at the full rate-after all the individual films are only encased in a slipcase
    and for me slipcases are a complete waste of time.
    Gary at DVD Beaver has just reviewed THE FEMALE ANIMAL from
    the latest Kino Noir set and while the film’s reputation is not too hot
    it does sound intriguing….anyone seen this one?
    As far as obscure Westerns go recently watched BADLANDS OF DAKOTA
    a big budget early 40’s Universal Western a bit too heavy on comic relief
    but with some good action set pieces. Richard Dix (who gets name dropped
    here at RTHC a lot) plays Wild Bill Hickok and Frances Farmer is a knockout
    as Calamity Jane.

    Like

      • Hi Jerry-
        The fact that it’s an Alpha release does not bode well.
        Another classic Noir that was trapped in p.d hell for years was
        KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL all versions are horrible
        unwatchable medieval murk-then finally it got an official
        release by MGM/UA USA on DVD and it’s stunning,in fact
        the MGM/UA DVD is actually superior to the later Blu Ray.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I agree, John, but whilst it is not exactly BluRay quality (obviously!) the Alpha DVD is acceptable. Pretty sharp if a tad dark in night shots. Very pleased to have finally got to see it – a good thriller that hovers on the edge of ‘noir’.

          Liked by 1 person

  47. And, on the subject of Mann westerns, I’d like to put in a word for THE FURIES, made the same year as WINCHESTER ‘73 if memory serves. FURIES is almost operatic in feel, so intense and powerful is the drama it portrays. There are towering performances by Barbara Stanwyck and Walter Huston and a scene between Huston and Judith Anderson which ranks with me as one of cinema’s finest. Mann masterfully creates and sustains the movie’s mood and the cinematography by Victor Milner, is striking throughout.

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    • Mann made three superior Westerns in 1950 — “Winchester ’73”, “Devil’s Doorway”, and “The Furies”. The opening barroom scene of “Devil’s Doorway” (shot from behind Louis Calhern’s back looking toward Robert Taylor at the other end of the bar) is brilliantly framed. I wish I could say that I noticed this on my own but someone else pointed it out to me.

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  48. Quote john k…………..”PANIC IN YEAR ZERO not comfortable viewing right now, I might add.”

    In 1962, I was 14 years young when I first saw this movie. As a youngster it seemed somewhat far fetched that a nuclear world war could actually happen…..even though some in my neighborhood were building bomb shelters in their front yards. As decades passed by, it had seemed even more unlikely……..as we had all grown comfortable living in our own bubbles.

    That being said, without getting political mind you, in today’s climate, YEAR ZERO may have become a reality without even a bullet be fired.

    The movie itself was a good one. Milland was stellar in his role as actor and director. The rest of the cast were also very good. But, in today’s environment, the movie strikes home to an even much greater degree of believably.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sense of uncontrollable menace was still around when I was a youngster in the late 70s and early 80s, and of course where I was in Northern Ireland there were even more immediate dangers all around every day. Sometimes it does seem as though we can’t escape this stuff for long.

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  49. For what its worth, to me ‘Film Noir’ is more a frame of mind, a matter of perspective, than having to be a black and white film. Tonally black and white imagery accentuates everything but a colour ‘Film Noir’ works for me too- like Body Heat, say.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Seems many of these favorable colour Noirs have a tropical setting backdrop which actually accentuates the elements of Noir. Although a more recent film, Body Heat, is an excellent example…….not to mention the ever so alluring Kathleen Turner.

      Liked by 1 person

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