Sunday, June 7, 2015

Film Pairings — Noir, Here and There

Sometimes it takes a moment to adjust to the old black and white films. But once you do, you might wonder why so few filmmakers use the medium.

Ida Lupino And Robert Ryan
There are are a few B & W masterpieces nearly everyone has seen — The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca and Citizen Cane. There are others, many others that are worth a couple of hours of your time. Tonight, should you accept the assignment, you can go for murder in harshly beautiful, wintry rural New York and then travel to Venice for a classic, and mysteriously twisty story in an unrivaled setting.

On Dangerous Ground:  Robert Ryan plays a tough, insensitive New York City cop who is sent to help some country police not experienced in murder investigations. The offer wasn’t entirely sincere because what the NYC precinct really wanted was to get the bad-news cop out of there to take the heat off the squad.  Beautifully photographed by George E. Diskant, equally beautifully scored by Bernard Hermann and directed by the highly regarded Nicholas Ray, the otherwise schmaltzy film is turned into a work of cinematic art. Ward Bond and Ed Begley join Ryan and Ida Lupino who will ultimately show the tough cop what life is about, but at what cost?  The 1951 film is based on Mad with Much Heart, a novel by Gerald Butler.

Eva Bartok And Richard Todd
The Assassin:  I’m convinced one could pick strangers, arm them with a Go Pro, send them to Venice with orders to take two hours of random video and release the unedited results as a film. It’s Venice, for heaven’ sake. Beautiful, romantic, mysterious and timeless.  But here we also have a decent plot a handsome, elegant actor Richard Todd as well as the canals, narrow alleys, stairways, bridges, gondolas and grand architecture — and all sorts of shadows. Everything about this film is elegant, including the chief of police, played by George Coulouris. P.I. Edward Mercer (Todd) arrives in Venice. He’s been hired to find a war hero who may or may not be dead.  And that is the question. If he’s alive, as some evidence suggests, why are so many convinced otherwise? Victor Canning wrote the novel, Venetian Bird, which is also the alternate film title for The Assassin.  Ralph Thomas directed this 1952 movie that also starred Eva Bartok.

For the first film, you’re going to get chilly.  Think Irish coffee or hot chocolate.  For the second, we change seasons and moods. Maybe Limon Ciello.


Teri-on-the-sandbar said...

Both films sound great. Never heard of either of them. Love Venice. But limoncello? I'd prefer Lemon Pledge.

Ronald Tierney said...

Teri, how about prosecco? Also Venetian.