Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jason goes to Noir City--Day 4

Monday night was the night for Belita, the ice queen. Literally, a professional figure skater (who represented Great Britain in the Olympics) and then made a few movies and is now an odd footnote in Noir. Monday was dedicated to her. Not to Barry Sullivan (although he starred in both films), and not to the King Brothers (although they produced both films), but to Belita.

Belita shows off her skating prowess in SUSPENSE. Barry Sullivan stars as Joe Morgan, drifter and scoundrel who gets a job selling peanuts at the Ice Palace run by Frank Leonard (Albert Dekker). Belita plays the star of the show Roberta Elba, who also happens to be Mrs. Frank Leonard. Too bad for Joe, who has his eye on her right away. But he gets in good with the show and with Frank by inventing a stunt where Roberta jumps through a hoop of razor sharp knives. Soon, he's running the show, taking over for Frank in every way but the one he really wants. But a murder attempt/accident in Frank's hunting lodge in the mountains changes that, and then things get really weird.

Then Belita eschewed the skates entirely, but again played opposite Barry Sullivan in THE GANGSTER. Sullivan is Shubanka, a world-weary small time gangster who is doing okay in his well-establish rackets, but has some trouble, too. His second biggest weakness--he's too soft, doesn't have it in him to attack hard when the competition tries to muscle him out. But his biggest weakness is his showgirl girlfriend Nancy Starr (Belita), who he simultaneously spends to much on and mistreats. When a new gangster Cornell (Sheldon Leonard) starts muscling him out and gets to his right-hand man Jammey (Akim Tamiroff), Shubanka has to make a play to keep power, and maybe even his life. It's peppered throughout with a cast of colorful characters hanging out in Jammey's ice cream shop, including a very young Harry Morgan as paramour Shorty, and an uncredited blink-and-you'll miss it (but watch for it and it's unmistakable) Shelley Winters cameo.

Running Time: 185 minutes
My Total Minutes: 167,997
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