• Larceny, Inc.

    Larceny, Inc.

    β˜…β˜…β˜…Β½

    The Third Summer of Scam

    Edward G. Robinson always had terrific comic timing, even in his most serious roles.

    So it shouldn't really be a shock to see him thriving in a straight comedy like Larceny, Inc. and not just by riffing off his famous gangster / criminal character on-screen persona. He gets some great lines here and seems intent on not just making fun of the roles that made him a Hollywood A-lister.

    The plot starts off with some…

  • Tension

    Tension

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    The Third Summer of Scam

    I'll forgive Tension for its dopey, fourth-wall breaking opening monologue from Barry Sullivan because most of what comes thereafter is absolutely top notch noir stuff.

    It's also the second absolute cracker from John Berry in this project after He Ran All the Way (which could be the best I've seen in this project, actually), but much different. This is more of a formula noir in terms of the types of characters you get, but the…

  • Something Wild

    Something Wild

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    The Third Summer of Scam

    Jonathan Demme may, after a while, have fallen away to become a fairly nondescript Hollywood director post-The Silence of the Lambs, but what an interesting director he was before that point.

    Take Something Wild. A road movie, of sorts. A romcom, of sorts. A crime thriller, of sorts. Just what is it? He'd use much the same formula in the even better and criminally under-appreciated Married to the Mob, but here it has rougher edges…

  • Out of the Fog

    Out of the Fog

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    The Third Summer of Scam

    One of the most positive takeaways from this project, when I *finally* complete it over the weekend, would be how much more of an admirer of John Garfield I am as a result of it.

    I think Out of the Fog is the third or fourth film I've seen starring him within it, and it's become very easy to see why his acting style and talent was so influential for so many notable actors who…

  • Hue and Cry

    Hue and Cry

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    The Third Summer of Scam

    It's probably an indicatior of how great Charles Crichton was that I can rate one of his films three stars and still call it a sizeable disappointment.

    It's just a surprise to me that he could take a premise as smart and inventive as the one Hue and Cry has behind it and just not really see it through to its full potential. There are probably two major problems - it decides to completely throw…

  • Sudden Fear

    Sudden Fear

    β˜…β˜…β˜…β˜…Β½

    The Third Summer of Scam

    This is the genre that is never going to stop giving, isn't it?

    I just think it's brilliant after numerous crime movie projects, the fact that I watch a lot of crime movies between those projects, and believing that I have developed some semblance of a decent knowledge of the genre, that I can *still* happen across genuine surprises like Sudden Fear.

    If I'd even heard of it before this project then it probably wouldn't…

  • Kid Galahad

    Kid Galahad

    β˜…β˜…β˜…Β½

    The Third Summer of Scam

    I was rather hoping Kid Galahad would be another boxing noir because, even though I really don't like boxing anymore, boxing noirs are always superb.

    It's not really. Michael Curtiz inserts some crime elements within it, as Edward G. Robinson tries to stay one step ahead of mafia henchman Humphrey Bogart, but it's more a straighter sports film crossed with a romantic comedy-drama as Wayne Morris ends up between Bette Davis and Jane Bryan.

    I…

  • The Secret Place

    The Secret Place

    β˜…β˜…β˜…Β½

    The Third Summer of Scam

    Clive Donner would become best known for What's New, Pussycat? but his debut, with this Belinda Lee thriller, showed that perhaps he could have had more to offer the crime genre if he'd operated within it more frequently.

    Lee takes top billing here, understandably considering her ever increasing fame at that time, but The Secret Place is one of those films that doesn't really have a defined lead star. You could make a case for…

  • The Man with the Golden Arm

    The Man with the Golden Arm

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    The Third Summer of Scam

    There's a scene in this where Frank Sinatra is trying to think up a good stage name for himself if he makes it as a professional drummer. But there's one problem with this.

    His real name is Frankie Machine.

    Why the fuck would you need a stage name when your real name is FRANKIE MACHINE. I know you're on heroin, Frankie, but come on! It's staring you right in the face!

    Kicking off with a…

  • The Blue Dahlia

    The Blue Dahlia

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    The Third Summer of Scam

    It's surprising to see the general apathy towards The Blue Dahlia because I think it works a lot better than it perhaps any right to.

    Undoubtedly, Alan Ladd was a plank-like actor, George Marshall was a strange choice of director, and Raymond Chandler was reportedly a complete arsehole, especially towards Veronica Lake, on set. So perhaps it had a lot working against it.

    But Marshall gets the story in superb order here, it's extremely well…

  • Pool of London

    Pool of London

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    The Third Summer of Scam

    Pool of London was a landmark British film, being the first to feature a black actor (the great Earl Cameron) in a lead role, and also in featuring an interracial romance between Cameron and Susan Shaw.

    No surprise that it would be Basil Dearden behind this film then, one of the most socially conscious and forward-thinking directors this country has ever produced. He never made a film that wasn't so much more than the sum…

  • Affair in Trinidad

    Affair in Trinidad

    β˜…β˜…β˜…Β½

    The Third Summer of Scam

    Best known for Rita Hayworth's barefoot calypso dance and the fact that it marked her successful return to Columbia, there isn't much else in Affair in Trinidad for it to be remembered for.

    Even so, I thought this was a pretty engaging watch, despite the fact that Hayworth, Glenn Ford and director Vincent Sherman had had better days with the genre, or would go on to have them. Sherman lazily tries to push Ford and…