Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Jason goes to Noir City--Day 8

It's all over now but the writing. And after all that noir I just had to escape to a neutral city, so I'm writing this from Switzerland.

Last Friday was the highlight of the festival, so let's jump right in.

THE BLACK VAMPIRE (El Vampiro Negro) (1953): The Argentinian remake of Fritz Lang's M. Who knew that even existed? Not me. What can I say, other than confessing I've never actually seen M, which is famous for Peter Lorre playing cinema's first serial killer. In the Argentinian version, the role is given to Nathán Pinzón, who (according to the program notes) was a popular comedic actor (interestingly enough, according to IMDb, so was Peter Lorre before starring in M.) Olga Zubarry stars as a cabaret performer who witnesses something from her dressing room, and gets caught up in the whole investigation (she also has a young daughter she's obviously intent on protecting.) A great movie, and now I'm kicking myself once again for having never seen the original. I need to see it...then watch this one again...then see the 1951 remake set in Los Angeles....

WAGES OF FEAR (1953): And then my highlight of the festival, a movie that speaks directly to my work in risk management, H. G. Clouzot's WAGES OF FEAR, shown in it's full, unedited running time. In a small South American village people from all over the world gather to...well, if not exactly get a new start at life, at least lay low until some opportunity presents itself. The movie takes its time at first--we get to meet the characters there, see them interact, understand their dynamic. More importantly, we get to understand the big American oil company that controls the area (apparently a lot of that was cut out in other versions--"Southern Oil" was just too close to Standard Oil, but honestly I can't see how you make the movie any other way.) While they are a major employer, they don't care too much for worker safety. And when an oil field blows up and catches fire, the plan is to demolish the whole thing--collapse it in on itself with nitroglycerin. The complication is that they need to transport all that nitroglycerin via truck over treacherous roads. An errant bump could set the whole thing off, and they have to drive over washboard, up winding mountain roads, through jungle, etc. And that's the setup to what is arguably the most suspenseful film ever made. I can tell you, just watching it I feel like I've been put through the wringer (that is, after I was just angry at the company for ignoring basic safety and risk management work. I guess it was a different time and different place.)

Total Running Time: 236 minutes
My Total Minutes: 349,130

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