Monday, August 3, 2020
Director: Charles Crichton, John Cleese
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Jamie, SimonUK and yours truly revisit the 1988 favorite about a barrister, an animal lover, a moron, and Jamie Lee Curtis - all caught up in the fallout from a heist. Simon and Jamie can quote it, Ryan quite likes it, and we do our best not to talk about what makes something funny. And Ryan insists on further discussing JLC.
A Fish Called Wanda Suite - John Du Prez
Thursday, April 30, 2020
Watched: 04/03/2020 (Killing)/ 04/06/2020 (Asphalt)
Directors: Stanley Kubrick/ John Huston
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JAL and Ryan watch two noir classics. Both heists. Both starring Sterling Hayden. One directed by a young Stanley Kubrick, the other by John Huston. We dive into what makes them work, some terrific performances and which director was in his prime and which was sorting things out. It's a journey into movies that set the stage for every heist movie to come after.
The Signal Watch PodCast · 101: "The Killing" (1956) & "The Asphalt Jungle" (1950) - Noir Watch 05 w/ JAL & Ryan
Noir Watch Theme - The Unsuspected Main Theme - Franz Waxman
The Killing, Main and End Theme - Gerald Fried
The Asphalt Jungle Theme - Miklos Rosza
Noir Watch Playlist:
Sunday, March 1, 2020
Viewing: Second or third
Back in the 90's, in an era where not every movie needed to kick-start a franchise or go for Oscar gold, sometimes you'd just have an entertaining movie.
It's been years since I last saw The Thomas Crown Affair remake from 1999, then 31 years after the release of the original - which I didn't see until the last ten years, but I recalled liking the 1999 edition, even if I did not feel like I needed to have it in my DVD collection. Stars Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo are charismatic and effortless in their parts, the story isn't a mind-bender, but engaging, and the supporting cast - while distinctly 90's-ish in stance and dialog, works well around our leads.
Saturday, January 11, 2020
Format: Noir Alley on TCM
I'd heard Hammer produced some thrillers and whatnot, but I'd not really seen any - my exposure to the studio's output had been mostly limited to their horror films.
Shown as a Christmas treat by Noir Alley's Eddie Muller - who fessed up that it's more noir adjacent than noir - this small-scale production is a terrific sort-of real-time story of a robbery at a bank branch in a small town well outside of London.
Thursday, November 28, 2019
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Somehow I'd never seen Kansas City Confidential (1952), but if I'd known it starred John Payne, Coleen Gray, Lee Van Cleef and Jack Elam, I would have tried a lot harder to see it sooner.
A windy, twisty heist caper - this one is told from the outside as John Payne plays an ex-con who is accidentally/ sorta framed for a bank heist when masked robbers pull a job worth $1.2 million (that's about $11.6 million now), using a duplicate of his flower delivery van.
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing: 7th? Unknown
I know I throw a lot of soft recommendations around, saying "oh, you might like this" or "it's worth catching", but The Asphalt Jungle (1950) was one of those hit-me-like-lightning movies the first time I watched it, and, in a lot of ways, I've been chasing that same high ever since. That viewing was way back in college from a rented tape on a 20" TV, and I've seen and owned various copies of the film ever since. Frankly, when I just looked up the movie on this blog, I assumed I'd written it up 3 or 4 times, but, instead, I'm just finding mentions of it tucked into other posts. So, it's been a while.
In some ways, in 2019 there's little new in The Asphalt Jungle - the film is one of those that reset the path for heist movies and created the template from which heist movies would flow from then til now. But for a movie popping up just a few years after World War II, and because of the influence, it feels shockingly modern (especially for modern TV more than movies, which are largely toothless in comparison these days). It's 3/5ths getting to and getting through the heist, and 2/5ths things going wrong and the fallout as our ensemble tries to sort out the mess they're in.
Friday, May 17, 2019
SimonUK finally gets around to talking about one of his favorite films, a heist film about a scrappy team pulling off the impossible with cheer and good spirits. Honestly, it's mostly just a love fest for a movie both Simon and Ryan enjoy immensely.
Get a Bloomin' Move On/Self Preservation Society - Don Black/Quincy Jones, The Italian Job OST
The mentioned poster for The Italian Job that seems to have nothing to do with the film:
SimonUK Cinema Series:
Thursday, March 21, 2019
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing: at least fourth
I've surely written this movie up before, but it's a great heist flick. Maybe not Ashpalt Jungle good, but one for the pantheon. And, it was a breakout movie for Bogart, hot on the heels of Petrified Forest. And, of course, it broke Ida Lupino, which is a boon to us all.
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Monday, December 3, 2018
Viewing: Unknown. 6th?
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
First of all, "The Killing" that occurs in this movie is not an assassination. It could refer to about five or ten different things, and I suppose that's intentional. I'd start with "they're gonna make a killing on this heist", but, of course, this is a 1950's-era heist movie, so you know it's not ending in sunshine and flowers.
The Killing (1956) sits on a curious edge when it comes to crime dramas/ noir. Marking maverick, young filmmaker Stanley Kubrick's first foray into studio-backed cinema, the movie feels part and parcel of the noir movement with a structure and an ending not atypical for a dime-store crime novel, retaining those rough edges that some noir eschewed. As much as I like The Asphalt Jungle and Rafifi - likely The Killing had more impact and reflects more of where the heist genre would go - especially in American cinema (at least marginally).
Thursday, September 20, 2018
Sunday, July 22, 2018
Viewing: Unknown - maybe 7th?
It's a PODCAST!
(possibly NSFW) It's "Goldfinger", Ryan's favorite Bond movie. SimonUK is back to help Ryan sort out how much he can say Honor Blackman's character's name out loud whilst being recorded. Join us as we say a lot of nice things about this iconic/ seminal film in the Bond franchise, some of its oddities and how it is just super problematic in 2018.
Get your Signal Watch Podcast on the format of your choice!
Tuesday, May 29, 2018
Format: Noir Alley on TCM - DVR
Sometimes casting can save the day for a fairly standard plot in a movie - it can be a real pleasure to see your favorite actors, character or otherwise, play out the parts in your boilerplate movie. Other times that same old jazz standard gets a new look, a new interpretations and the execution is enough to make you stand up and applaud.
Friday, May 11, 2018
Format: Amazon Streaming
It will surprise you that a movie entitled Armored Car Robbery (1950) is, indeed, about the robbery of an armored car and the fallout of that same robbery.
Sunday, February 5, 2017
If you've seen the trailer for this movie, and you think that maybe you have a rough idea of what this movie will be like - bingo. You are correct.
Hell or High Water (2016) is currently nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, which is maybe the surest sign that the Academy is comprised of white people over the age of 65. A post No Country for Old Men meditation on justice in the sun-baked desert plains of West Texas, it's an enjoyable enough way to spend the run-time of a movie. But with no non-standard plot turns or character moments, a movie where the sub-text of the film is text, it's the sort of thing that's been done better elsewhere (see the movie named at the beginning of this sentence) and has characters walking a path of moral uncertainty enough that you can say it has some edge to it.
That said, I didn't actually dislike Hell or High Water. It's a fine movie with characters you'll enjoy (I've seen these same characters done a few dozen times, and if you're going to do those characters, this is pretty good), a decent plot, and if you like Chris Pine (I do!) and Jeff Bridges (what sort of psychopath doesn't like Jeff Bridges?), I've got a movie I'd say you can watch comfortably with your dad. Or, better yet, your sibling.
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
I've really embraced the idea that Die Hard (1988) is a Christmas movie.
In theory it takes place on Christmas Eve despite the fact the Nakatomi Corporation is having its holiday party on Christmas Eve, which... What Dickensian rules is your company playing by? And why is Holly leaving her kids at home with her poor nanny who probably has friends and family of her own she'd rather be with?
Friday, September 23, 2016
I'd been wanting to see The Split (1968) for a while. Based upon one of my favorite Parker novels, The Seventh, it also starred Jim Brown, pro-football superstar turned movie star (and a generally much better presence on the big screen than you generally get out of other former athletes*). I wasn't aware of the pedigree of the cast for this movie which is all but forgotten. But when you have a movie with Jim Brown, Donald Sutherland, Julie Harris, Jack Klugman, Warren Oates, Gene Hackman, Diahann Carroll... and people don't remember it?
Well, it's not a great sign.
Monday, May 30, 2016
I just remembered that I'd failed to write up a movie I watched last week, 1949's Criss Cross, starring Burt Lancaster, Yvonne DeCarlo and the always hiss-able Dan Duryea.
The movie seemed to be trying to recapture a bit of the magic of 1946's The Killers, also starring Lancaster, with Ava Gardner as the twisty (and, let's be honest, dangerously sexy) femme fatale. That picture is surely one of the purest examples of what we think of when we think about noir. In Criss Cross, once again Lancaster plays a fellow who can be led astray by a good looking brunette - not stumbling across a mobsters' girl this time, but coming home to Los Angeles, trying to tell himself it's not so he'll see his ex, Anna (the terrific Yvonne DeCarlo), but to settle in and lead a domestic life with his parents and brother. Get his old job back. But before he's even made it in the front door of the family house, he's back at his old haunt, seeing how things have changed.
Saturday, March 26, 2016
Short of Harrison Ford, there aren't too many actors I look at and think "that guy is so cool. I wish I were that guy." But, yes, Sterling Hayden is absolutely one of those guys. Maybe throw in Alan Ladd.
Today marks the 100th birthday of Sterling Hayden, the tall, tough-guy actor in two of my favorite noir movies of all time, The Killing and The Asphalt Jungle. Of course, he was also the whacked out General Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove and Capt. McCluskey in The Godfather. And, for extra credit, he was in Johnny Guitar (as Johnny Guitar), mooning over a pancake-make-upped Joan Crawford.
Here's an article in The Boston Globe celebrating Hayden. He sounds like maybe he was a difficult man, but I respect anyone who ran away to sea at 17 to sail the world and was in the 20th century up to his elbows as much as he was. He was a goddamn commando in the OSS! He flirted with being a Red! He hated acting and just wanted to be on boats!
No one quite did world-weary-but-seemingly-invulnerable like Hayden.
If you've not seen The Asphalt Jungle, do so now. It's got Monroe in an early role, it's directed by John Huston, and has Jean Hagen in a heartbreaking role as Doll. And, of course, Hayden as Dix, the heist man who just wants to get back what his family lost in Kentucky. Failing that, watch The Killing. Which is early Kubrick, features a platinum Marie Windsor, Elisha Cook, Jr. and a host of other perfectly noir faces.
Monday, February 22, 2016
Sunday evening, our own SimonUK - who moonlights as a server at The Alamo Drafthouse near my house - was given the opportunity to take it up a notch with their "Staff Presents" program, wherein a member of the staff not usually in programming selects a movie and the Alamo shows it.
You like movies. I like movies. We all like movies. Simon LOVES movies. He lives amongst piles of them and may well have underwear made of celluloid taped into a rough briefs shape. I don't know. And, no matter how many movies you think you've seen, Simon has seen more. During the Alamo pre-shows when they're showing clips of deep-cut obscure 1970's horror flicks, Simon has seen them all.
Simon is from some far-flung part of England I can never remember, so he had access to movies we really didn't in the U.S., and he's seen a goodly chunk of American movies we all watched growing up, too. Every once in a while I'm surprised he hasn't seen something from a typical American kid of the 1980's heyday, but not all that often. He's been responsible for me seeing a lot of flat out great stuff the past several years, gotten me out of the house for Planet of the Apes marathons, etc... and for all that and more, and making me eat a Full English Breakfast only once, I am forever in his debt.
So, while I had previously seen The Italian Job (1969), when I heard he was showing and introducing the movie, I couldn't not go. Plus, I really like the movie. It's good, cheery fun and a great heist pic. Plus: Michael Caine.