Format: TCM Noir Alley
Director: Hugo Haas
Eddie Muller may or may not have programmed this flick for Noir Alley, but he did host it. I don't really know how Noir Alley selections work, to be honest.
But he seemed delighted to show a poverty row-adjacent film and talk about Hugo Haas, the producer, director and star of Hit and Run (1957), a self-made man in cinema who only made a handful of films, but did it on his own terms, including casting himself alongside Cleo Moore, one of the lesser known blonde bombshells of the mid-50's. And there's probably a fascinating movie or prestige TV show about the shadow world of these films and their distribution in an era where the studios were still running the show and for everyone else, it was the collision of art and commerce and doing what you could afford to do.
Hit and Run plays mostly like a local theater production of The Postman Always Rings Twice, but like the local community theater producer had some ideas for revisions to juice it up a bit. But, similarly, it features Cleo Moore as the blonde girl who, down on her luck, marries the most stable and financially sound guy in her world, even if he's older and they make a weird pair. Rather than John Garfield wandering into the gas station, Vince Edwards (whom I like a lot, generally), is already employed there, so it's Moore who's the interloper breaking up a happy home.
This version leans (a) first into the idea that the blonde is not a willing participant in her romance with Edwards or his murderous scheme to take out her husband. And (b) there's a previously unseen twin who appears to take the husband's place and stir things up. Y'all, this is how you just keep plussing an idea.
Weirdly, both Moore and Edwards seem like they didn't get enough takes or just weren't that into it, and the energy level in this film, aside from Haas, is weirdly flat from beginning to end. Which, in contrast to 1946's Postman, is weirdly odd. But part of that is the ambiguity about what is really happening with Edwards and Moore - she seems to loathe him but melt in his arms when he forces himself on her - so what is she playing? And Edwards is laconic and then suddenly is not. It's weird.
There's some curious touches like a society for people to make fun of superstitions and the people who believe them, which seems mostly to be about drinking and shit-talking people you don't know, which may make me an honorary member.
And Chekhov's goldfish enter in the first act but don't really achieve any significance.
It wasn't great, but I like all of the players - Cleo Moore has really grown on me - and was so weird as a parallax version of a well known film, I couldn't really look away. But at film's end, I was probably more interested in the movie someone should make about Hugo Haas and Cleo Moore.