Saturday, January 30, 2016

Jason goes to Noir City--Day 7

Thursday has become the traditional night of weirdness at Noir City, and last Thursday brought it to a new level, with nightclub act noir.

SCREAMING MIMI (1958): Based on a Frederic Brown novel, this story is insane. We start with a young woman, Virgina Wilson (Anita Ekberg) narrowly escaping an attack by an escaped mental patient. That puts her in the mental asylum herself, where after much treatment, she is released into the demanding, obsessive care of her doctor/lover/controller. She goes back to work as an exotic dancer at a nightclub called (I'm not kidding) El Madhouse, run by Joan 'Gypsy' Masters (Gypsy Rose Lee.) And her dance is...something else. And then there's a plot about a statuette she owns of a screaming woman (actually, based on her screaming at the beginning of the film) and the fact that a similar nightclub dancer was murdered while in possession of an identical statuette. And the killer seems to be after her. Yeah, this is a strange, strange film.

MICKEY ONE (1965): And then the really strange, strange film of the night. Starring a very young Warren Beatty, and directed by Arthur Penn (they would next team up to make a little film called BONNIE AND CLYDE.) The story is film noir, the cinematography is French New Wave, and the style is surrealism. Beatty plays the titular character, a nightclub comic who somehow crosses the boss and is in trouble for his life. It's unclear whether he owes money from the craps table, or if he put the moves on the wrong girl, or if it's just that he's a lousy comedian. In any case, he goes from living the high life in Detroit to riding the rails as a bum to living on the streets in Chicago to actually becoming a nightclub comic again and perhaps drawing a little bit too much attention to himself. As some big shots from Detroit want to see him perform in a special private audition. Beatty is great as the mixture of fear, drunkenness, and wisecracking. And the style...well, don't try too hard to follow it. Let it wash over you. I have to admit, for the first half I thought it was the greatest thing ever. Then it got to be a bit exhausting. I think I love this movie. I think I'm obsessed with this movie. I need to watch it again when I'm better rested to make sure my love and obsession are not misplaced.

Total Running Time: 172 minutes
My Total Minutes: 415,659

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