Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Noir Watch: Nocturne (1946)
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Look. They can't all be winners. And, frankly, whatever draw George Raft had at one point as a huge movie star, I just... do not get.
The pieces are there for a solid noir film, but every scene feels like it's the second take after maybe three run-throughs. Raft is wooden in the best of circumstances, but he sort of sets the tone for everyone else, bringing down the energy around near everyone but Queenie Smith, whom Raft seems to just sit back and enjoy during their shared scenes.
The movie follows the investigation of the suicide of a well-known song composer who also happens to go through women like they're on a conveyor belt coming to his door, not bothering to learn their names and calling them all "Dolores" (which never gets resolution or meaning in the film). Raft plays the milk-drinking cop who becomes obsessed with the idea the guy was plugged. Lynn Bari plays the dame who maybe did it. Who, for reasons that are not at all clear, Raft decides he's fallen for.
The titular "Nocturne" is a song written by the composer, left unfinished when he died.
That's it. That's the movie. Raft running around questioning people, fighting improbably with his own bosses, and having his mom do all the real detective work.
Sure, the movie looks good - RKO knew who to put behind the camera (Harry J. Wild was no slouch in my book), and there's a good idea in there somewhere about a good cop who doesn't think a suicide is just that and wants to investigate it for murder. But at the end of the day, we don't know much about the victim, we know less about the cop's dogged motivation, and the movie tips its hand as to what's happening at the 30 minute mark. Honestly - that's just strange.
I really, really did not like this movie, so I think I will stop writing about it now.