Saturday, January 27, 2018

Jason goes to Noir City--Opening Night

My favorite city in the world, and it only exists for 10 days a year. Actually, come to think about it, you could also say that about my other favorite city in the world. But that's not important right now. What's important is Noir City is my happy place right least until next weekend, when it conflicts with Indiefest and I have to make some hard choices.

Eddie was looking dapper, bourbon was flowing, Miss Noir City was in fine form--and fine voice, as one third of the pre-show musical entertainment, The Century Sisters. And for that matter, so was Victoria Mature, Victor Mature's...surprisingly young daughter (not granddaughter) helping Eddie introduce the first film.

I WAKE UP SCREAMING (1941) kicks off the "Classy A" half of the program. Victor Mature stars as Frankie Christopher, a promoter who is wanted for murder. Seems that a girl he groomed for stardom was found murdered, with him standing over the body. He swears he just found her there, but top cop Ed Cornell (Laird Cregar, looking creepy and menacing) knows he's guilty. He just needs the time to prove it. And Frankie just needs time and a few breaks to prove he's innocent. This is early in the Noir movement (the next 10 days will take us from 1941 up to 1953) but it's got all the elements right from the beginning. Twists, fear, deception, hot dames who might be bad news or might be the best thing ever. And the great cinematography that plays with the shadows. Plus...a lot of creepy scenes where one character breaks into another's bedroom and wakes them up. That's just wrong, man!

AMONG THE LIVING (1941) and the other half of the program is the "Trashy B." (by the way, the two titles together--"I WAKE UP SCREAMING AMONG THE LIVING"--would make a movie that I already want to see.) B pictures are shorter, cheaper, and always a lot cheesier than the As. And this one borders on the ludicrous.... Check that, it's on the other side of the border with ludicrous. Mr. Raden, a grand industrialist who built the town of Radentown, has passed away. His son, John Raden (Albert Dekker,) has returned to town for the funeral, and also to open up the old mill and get people back to work. But there's a little family secret not even he knows of. His twin brother Paul (also Albert Dekker) is still alive. The family doctor Ben Saunders (Harry Carey) faked the death certificate when he was 10, buried an unknown child's body in his grave, and kept Paul locked in a secret room of the old family home for 20 some years, because...reasons, I guess? Anyway, Paul is a little mentally unstable, ever since he tried to break up an incident when dad was beating mom. Screams set him off, and he covers his ears and goes nuts. And when he finds out that dad was buried next to mom, not far away as his negro servant Pompey (Ernest Whitman) said, he goes on a bit of a rampage. News spreads that there's a murderer on the loose. Meanwhile Paul goes into town with a wad of money and absolutely no wits. He meets a nice girl Millie (Susan Hayward) and tries to be nice. But...bad things happen. Let's just leave it at that. I know this is kind of an abrupt end to this post...but not nearly as abrupt as the end of the movie.

Total Running Time: 149 minutes
My Total Minutes: 466,196

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