Lizabeth Scott (1922-2015)–Noir Will Never Be The Same…

I can’t exactly remember when I first became aware of Lizabeth Scott as an acting persona. It would have to be sometime in the Mid 1960s, when many films started to gain a following due to being televised via either the national network system, or the local/regional offshoots. My guess is that Frances Farmer may have hosted some of Lizabeth Scott’s films from her Indianapolis affiliate. ??? In any event, she made a very solid & favourable impression on me–her allure, her defiance, her real eyebrows, her lower & husky voice, all combined to show me a woman who was not quite like the other Hollywood Stars I was used to seeing.

She had a commanding presence, not beautiful like Grace Kelly, but more down-to-earth, but composed of enough glamour to lift her into what seemed a rarefied & slightly dangerous lifestyle. In her parts she was able to connive, charm, steal–and would make one horrible moral choice after another–and the men whose lives intersected with her came to a bad end. Today, we call them managers. Believe me, trust me, it was far more fun in play acting for films than the dreadful stuff of day time reality that will never be televised, nor ever see the light of day.

I miss Lizabeth Scott. I wish I could have gotten to know her–to get her take on what all those dramatic moments caught on film might have meant to her…Perhaps, it was just a job for her. But for me, it was a whole, new & strange way to see a world I would never be a part of, except either through television or at the back of an increasingly rare repertory theatre.

Farewell, Lizabeth Scott! You left us a fine legacy of the femme fatale….lessons that seemed to have been lost on the next generations who lived out what you played on-screen. Rest in peace. I hope we meet, some fine day!

You Tube Montage of TOO LATE FOR TEARS–Starring Lizabeth Scott

A Beautiful Visual Tribute to Lizabeth Scott via You Tube:

Slap for Too Late For Tears--Princess Melita Bonaparte's Parody of this splendid Noir Masterpiece!

Slap for Too Late For Tears–Princess Melita Bonaparte’s Parody of this splendid Noir Masterpiece!

A Photograph of the Actual Poster Used to Promote Too Late For Tears

Film Poster For TOO LATE FOR TEARS--on its own merit.  February 2014-Castro Theatre.

Film Poster For TOO LATE FOR TEARS–on its own merit. February 2014-Castro Theatre.


Believe In The Films You Like #Popeye & #TheWiz

#MiDNiGHTSFORMANiACS will be entertained & enlightened by two films featuring people who are (and sadly, now were) living legends during their life times. #Popeye & #TheWiz will be shown FRiDAY @ #TheCastroTheatre.

Popeye, the 1980 film, did not do so well critically & financially when initially released. It’s now being seen a bit more charitably, and perhaps will find a ‘home’ with a new generation who may turn out to become more appreciative than we expect, once exposed to screening opportunities such as this one, coming Friday–29 August 2014. It remains to be seen how screening opportunities for the next couple of generations will come about, considering the rapid demise of single screen houses & 35mm film projectionists.

Robin Williams as Popeye & Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl bring the comic strip characters from the televised animation many of us knew as children during the 1950s-60s & give them a spin that enhances their depth, especially as they touch real issues of biological identity angst (Popeye) & eviction from one’s home (the whole Oyl Family).


The other film featured is #TheWiz (1978), based upon the book by L. Frank Baum, originally entitled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This film, too, derives from the long-established & popular classic film #THEWIZARDOFOZ. The Wiz was a remake of a classic specifically to engage black Americans in a universal application of the theme of the importance of knowing where your home is. Dorothy, played by Diana Ross, discarded the trappings of glamour, which had been embedded in her career, & made the simplicity of her soul her only resource. This was all she needed. Her journey was not about wealth, but about wisdom. Michael Jackson, also too soon gone, played the scarecrow (made) of garbage, and this Oz, based in New York City, features the now extinct World Trade Center. Dorothy once again finds the meaning of growth & renewed value in what home really means, made especially more important when threatened with it’s loss.

One of the greatest joys offered in this film is the legendary Lena Horne as Glinda The Good Witch of the South. #LenaHorne sings #BelieveInYourself, which was a show stopper. I remember seeing this film during it’s initial theatrical run, downtown #Indianapolis @ the #CircleTheatre, one of the last single houses left, Indianapolis having switched to multiplexes 15 years before that movement hit San Francisco. Her performance garnered a huge applause from the audience, something Indianapolis audiences seldom displayed. I knew who Lena Horne was, in a vague sort of way, but this commanding performance of hers sealed her into my psyche, and turned me into an instant fan. Being reminded of her loss, too, brings simultaneously a sadness, but a joy from knowing that she met the challenges of her day with a gusto tempered with class, a rare combination.


This will be an evening of challenge, moving on from loss, Robin Williams, Michael Jackson, The World Trade Center…and challenge to continue to find truth in from past generations of films that can resonate for all audiences, young, & those who are old enough to be familiar with the history of both films and what came before. This film series is taking a different spin, embracing films that were intended from the start to be “mainline” films, but were not well-accepted during the eras in which they were made. This night may be #JesseHawthorneFicks chance to turn some of that around.

Lizabeth Scott: Too Late For Tears-1949

This year a restored film starring Lizabeth Scott was part of the deal-NOIR CITY 2014. The only thing missing was a personal appearance. It was with plenty of misgivings, but Princess Melita Bonaparte was up to being slapped in the face as a tribute to one of the greatest actresses of the Noir genre. To that end, she did her Imperial & personal tableau for the Movie Poster TOO LATE FOR TEARS.

What happens when a bundle of the root of all evil is literally dumped into the backseat of your top-down convertible on your way to a party? Do you take the money to the police, or run with it & have a good time? Lizabeth Scott personifies greed without shame in her ruthless portrayal as Jane Palmer–a name that must have plenty of symbolic significance as things unfold in this tautly told melodrama Noir! It was a huge hit @ the 2014 San Francisco Film Noir Festival.

Film Poster For TOO LATE FOR TEARS--on its own merit.  February 2014-Castro Theatre.

Film Poster For TOO LATE FOR TEARS–on its own merit. February 2014-Castro Theatre.

Preparing for the Slap for the Film Poster TOO LATE FOR TEARS-Starring Lizabeth Scott.

Preparing for the Slap for the Film Poster TOO LATE FOR TEARS-Starring Lizabeth Scott.

All was well till someone threw a briefcase full of money in her car.


Slap for Too Late For Tears--

Slap for Too Late For Tears- Will Viharo’s magic formula to get through pulp writer’s block: Slapping Princess Melita Bonaparte in her finest role ever February 2014-Castro Theatre-San Francisco Film Noir Festival

Posing as Lizabeth Scott In Too Late For Tears.

Perfectionist Princess: "As many takes as it takes till it feels right."  That was the Command!

Perfectionist Princess: “As many takes as it takes till it feels right.” That was the Command!

NOIR About Post World War II Germany-Film Noir Festival 2014

Post World War II Germany was the background for double feature, represented by THE MURDERERS ARE AMONG US & BERLIN EXPRESS.

The Murderers Are Among Us deals with the attempt of people in the war shattered environment of Germany to move on & resume their lives. But they cannot do this without confronting their recent past. This creates conflicts, huge conflicts, about personal responsibility, collective guilt, and the horrors that a once-dominant culture imposed upon those minority populations who were locked within its boundaries. The murder of millions of civilians under the command of NAZI government cannot be overlooked. This film made in 1946, the first Post World War II German film production, focuses upon these profound issues. Hildegard Knef plays a displaced Jewish woman who successfully stops further injustice on the part of her friend who wants to avenge war crimes by taking matters into his own hands, and ending the life of the Captain who caused murders that were not related directly to the War. In the end, it is Susanne Walkner (played by Hildegard Knef) who has the inner strength to say “We cannot pass sentence.” This simple statement represents the restoration of authentic law & human rights to all Germans, and begins the healing process in the middle of the rubble, that was once Berlin. Now, a true rebirth is possible, claiming justice under law & freedom from the oppression that structured personal & collective ruin.

YOU TUBE ANALYSIS OF Die Mörder sind unter uns-1946

BERLIN EXPRESS–1948–was an American production, shot-on-location, in the ruins of Berlin & Frankfurt-am Main. It’s focus was the impending conflict over how the Allied victors of World War II, French, English, American, and Soviet (now Russian), were going to deal with administering to the division or reunification of what was left of Germany. These issues loom in the background while the most of the action and specifics related to the film’s story line take place on the passenger train (which gives the film its title). For a tiny amount of time, there seemed some hope that the “COLD WAR” could be avoided & that hope is touched upon in this film. Alas–such was not to be…but the film does illustrate that this huge wasted chapter of political, military, social, and economic history that came to be known as the “COLD WAR” could have been avoided, had the various Allied governments been more open to a higher level of thinking.

YOU TUBE OF BERLIN EXPRESS 1948/Frankfurt-am-Main

“What a fetid, stinking, scummy, crappy, little world this is!”–Princess Melita Bonaparte-Film Noir Day Two Continued

“Film me in the dark, or by candlelight. I look better that way. You can’t see the blood as easily.”–Princess Melita Bonaparte (recently overheard when she was booked for credit card fraud, when attempting to sell off-shore oil drilling rights that weren’t hers to sell).


2014 FILM NOIR FOUNDATION MONTAGE–“It’s a bitter, little world.”

Film Noir just makes crime look good & it's no wonder John Waters thought it was beautiful–but that's where the comparison ends. With Noir, the crime is real, real people, real crime–no parody intended—only the occasional dry & flippant humour when the crime in question seems about to devour the person(s) in the act of committing it.

No body got crime better than Lizabeth Scott in TOO LATE FOR TEARS. Why, this woman was way ahead of the game, if a husband was an inconvenience, she just bumped him off. O.J. Simpson must have been one of her early fans, only he played it out for real, instead of for reels.
Her ambition was along the lines of Wallis Simpson, only she just looked better, and a trail of dead husbands or boyfriends were collateral damage. What would you do if you were driving down a road, minding your own business, and some doofus dropped a briefcase containing sixty grand in the back seat of your open convertible? You know that isn't much money these days, but it might pay for the car! So, if the dolt would make it worth your while & add few more zeros, wouldn’t that be a sweet joyride?

The action takes off from there & Lizabeth Scott (as Jane Palmer–and that surname is no accident, clever writers them Noir script developers), along with Dan Duryea (Danny Fuller–yes, I read into the fuller, as in 'fill her up")–get on each other's nerves. She gets the upper hand for a while in this bumpy ride, but you know those moral purists have to spoil the fun. They were a jealous lot, could not stand how good Lizabeth Scott looked in those designer (by Adele Palmer) outfits while making bad. She wore those works of art with total authority. Yes, Lizabeth Scott is a class act, a real star. She played her role to perfection.


The last of the five films screened on Day Two of Noir was THE HITCH-HIKER. Does anyone remember what their mothers texted them about taking candy from strangers or picking up hitch-hikers? This fun ride was well before texting, you smoked real cigarettes, not those horrible electronic ones! You got real cancer, not virtual cancer, and there was no cure, no 12-Step Programme. Back then, it seemed that multi-tasking, before it was ever given that silly name, was a fact of life. You could drive, smoke, and shoot a gun all at the same time. If you grew up watching Perry Mason on television, then you will remember William Talman was that other attorney who gave Perry Mason a run for his money. William Talman played the hitch-hiker, a serial murderer, based upon the real deal–Two fishing buddies pick up the historic psychopathic killer, Billy Cook: a film version of Clyde without Bonnie, directed by Ida Lupino, one of the few women who worked behind the cameras as well as in front of them.

The two buddies out for a nice weekend, got a whole lot more than they bargained for–and William Talman made for an excellent psychotic on the lam. You need an adult beverage before (during) and after this tail of terror. But the unblinking eye sees all, so don’t try to get over on hitch-hiker who has an eye that won’t close. You will be very sorry if your try it!

The Hitch-Hiker can be viewed in its entirety on You Tube, as it is in public domain! Don’t pick this guy up, go home, and watch it on You Tube!

Remember, “It’s a bitter, little world.”

It may be a a bitter, little world, but you can keep warm in a shirt that will remind you that it could be a lot worse.  Yes, they have merchandise tables--and there's one with your name on it!

It may be a a bitter, little world, but you can keep warm in a shirt that will remind you that it could be a lot worse. Yes, they have merchandise tables–and there’s one with your name on it!

Film Noir 2014-Tres puntos de vista de México/3 Views of Mexico

Yesterday, I watched 5 full length feature films–my eyes came out as special effects, but it was well worth the time. Day Two of Film Noir 12 started with three films which featured the culture of Mexico as the background of the stories that were being told. The first film was an American view of Mexico, the second & third films were produced in Mexico, showing how Mexico sees it’s own reflection while peering in the cultural mirror as reflected & told in 1951.

The first film starred Ricardo Montalban–in English the film was released as BORDER INCIDENT, in Spanish, INCIDENT de FRONTIERE. Many aspects of this film are still very much a part of both cultures, that of the United States & of Mexico. In a general sense, those of us who live North of the Mexican border depend upon those who are born South of the Mexican border to do the work we don’t want to do–harvesting the crops that make the food for menus in fancy restaurants or food courts possible. Generally speaking, children born North don’t work, children born South, know nothing else but work. Can one imagine a child attending Beverly Hills High School having to work the fields on weekends? The film focuses on the illegal trafficking of human beings who end up working for menial wages. It’s a form of slavery, indentured servitude, that has thrived since the World War II era. Before that, California agribusiness was supplied with people who fled the droughts in Oklahoma. Now the Grapes of Wrath that are celebrated with artful wine labels with grapes grown in Napa Valley, and other areas, are harvested by mostly by agricultural workers from Mexico. The dynamics of the work force for this industry have not changed much since 1949, when this film was released. Time has only provided more complex levels of technology to aid and abet in the crime of human slavery & border enforcement against the illegalities ends up sort of like the war against drugs, a counter-productive effort that was designed only to allow the rich to win. It’s a lose-lose if you are brown & are born South of the fabled border.

BORDER INCIDENT-Starring Ricardo Montalban & George Murphy.

Film Number Two dealt with a fraudulent fortune-teller. That’s sort of like having a fake Titian, and telling house guests that you got it from the Gallery down the street. Little matter how one may personally feel about the subject, seems like every small town North of the Border has at least one, ready, willing,and able to tell the unfortunate who have a need to know when their unemployment checks will end (and part of those checks go to support that need!). It seems they must thrive South too. One of my impoverished Grandmother’s managed to find money to pay one, just wonder if he told her that she’d end up poor & that her children would inherit the wind? In this film, the slime bag in question redeems himself in the end by giving some of his ill-gotten money to an illiterate woman whose son was killed in the Korean War. I had to go home & look up the role of Mexico in the Korean war–and you can read about this by searching–( So, there was a history lesson there for us that was never taught in our North high schools. The main lesson this film has to offer is chicanery pays, but only in the short-term. The palm reader had beautiful hands–amazingly beautiful hands & I suppose that was appropriate. Maybe someday, I will make it to the Tenderloin, and pretend to want to know what the future has in store for me—“My child, you will be instrumental in the Restoration of the Greek Monarchy & go on to become a famous film star & Hollywood Royalty.”

YOU TUBE OF En la palma de tu mano (In The Palm Of Your Hand)-1951

The third film of the Mexican Trilogy was as hard-core & real as it gets. This one dealt with women whose work was not in the fields, but in the bed. The world’s oldest profession was explored without any hint of wink & nod, but with complete & unblinking candour that told of a slavery that was based upon women who had only one option to survive in a man’s world, and that was to sell their bodies as directed. Here we call their managers pimps–but the general idea is the same. The abuse & shame that went with this territory was not glossed over. The women had their night club dance acts as fronts, while the real money was made after the applause was over. They kept doctors in business with clap of a different meaning. The mistake of having a child, and the choice of keeping the child versus having a “career” was @ the core of this film’s plot. It was a vivid exploration of what happens after the Night Club closes. In the programme notes a quotation is recalled by André Breton, “In Europe we talk about surrealism, in Mexico they live it every day.”

YOU TUBE OF VICTIMS OF SIN/Víctimas del Pecado-1951

Surrealism from Mexcio

Flim Noir Festival #12 Opens In A Dirty Little World…

Last night, exhausted from my four-day work week, I got my second wind & attended the screening of the opening night’s offerings of Journey Into Fear & The Third Man…Eddie Mulller produced & curated the opening night & let these films prove to the audience just how dirty & little this world really is.

Joseph Cotten didn’t have to go to Safeway to get a chicken, and Dolores Del Rio? Why, where is that cat costume? Why is it that personal security seems to be a new thing that is just catching on? No one was safe or secure in JOURNEY INTO FEAR! The Christ-like sacrifice of the magician makes that all perfectly clear.


In both films, the initial appearance of Orson Welles was met with applause by the audience. To this day, he commands respect & is far from forgotten.
No one could match that speaking voice, his delivery of key lines. He has maintained a special mystique for his fans that is clearly evident, & the screenings from his body of work reinforce this special bond that has transcended his death & turned him into the legend that he is.

In THE THIRD MAN, we see more of what it was like to live in the context of the ruins of political, military, and economic defeat. The aftermath of war adds a credence to ‘it’s a bitter little world’ that goes beyond the morbid humour of Film Noir. This film pays a tribute to pulp fiction, challenging the notion that it’s not literature. It was not a shame to be a good writer & make a living from it. In this film, we see the realities of Allied partitioning of Vienna-fake passports, fake funerals, and all sorts of survival tactics that would morph into the sort of world inhabited later by James Bond & keep actors like Tom Cruise living in the public view, eye level, at your nearest pulp magazine rack in your grocery store.


See what happens to a hack writer who drinks too much!