Saturday, January 29, 2011

Jason goes to Noir City--Friday, Jan 28

Two movies on "guys' night" in Noir City.

First up, CRASHOUT (1955), a tour-de-tough-guys that starts with a prison riot and breakout. Six inmates survive the escape, and are holed up in a cave, though the toughest (and therefore de facto leader) Vance Duff (William Bendix) is injured. He tempts them all with a share of his $180,000 bank job stash if they don't abandon him. So they're on the run, hiding from the dragnet, terrorizing innocent citizens, and double-crossing each other on their way to the prize. These are all bad guys--although the movie goes out of its way to show some of their humanity, so you know they have to get their comeuppance, but it's the journey that's the fun part. It does get slow in parts, but there are also great tense scenes and just watching the six guys joking around and out tough-guying each other is a blast.

And then the late show was a little masterpiece of larceny, victimization, and overzealous police tactics--LOOPHOLE (1954). Barry Sullivan is bank teller Mike Donovan. Con man Herman Tate (Don Beddoe) steals $50,000 from him, and when Donavon takes a weekend trying to figure it out rather than reporting it right away, he becomes the prime suspect--especially to bonding company investigator Gus Slavin (ultimate relentless tough guy Charles McGraw). Even without any evidence against him, Mike loses his job. And thanks to Slavin's persistence, every new job he gets doesn't last long, until he loses his house, and nearly his mind. It's a gripping, tense story that can be enjoyed on its own. But looking at it politically in terms of the era of McCarthyism can be even more rewarding.

Total Running Time: 169 minutes
My Total Minutes: 220,138
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