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.


Noir & Day–Julie-1956/Presented @ NOIR CITY 2015!

When Doris Day crossed over to the Dark Side (to paraphrase the programme notes from Noir City’s 13th Annual San Francisco Film Noir Festival)…she really did it. Her portrayal of a victimized wife of a psychotic husband (played by the gloriously handsome, Louis Jourdan) was successful & really had the audience rooting for her survival. By not trying to become another persona, such as imitating Barbara Stanwyck, and being a ‘hard woman.’ Doris Day retained elements of her familiar persona, but dug deeper into the elements of fear to create a character who was not living ‘happily ever after’ in marriage. Instead, she puts two & two together, and the only solution is to get away from her husband.

The plot line does, indeed, stretch the elements of suspension of disbelief nearly to the breaking point. What keeps it all in line, are superb performances by the supporting cast, and Doris Day’s impeccable interpretation of the role. Doris Day proved in JULIE that she was more than adequate to the task of creating a character who was not all sugar & spice. This film was a splendid choice for Noir City, giving audiences a rare opportunity to see another side of Doris Day in a thrilling motion picture that deals dramatically with the forces of good & evil.

Bravo, Doris Day, Louis Jourdan! And thank you to Eddie Muller & all who made this 2015 Noir City screening possible!

YOU TUBE TRAILER OF JULIE (“Run, Julie! Run For Your Life!”)

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

When NOIR is War, Noir is Hell-Post World War II Japan Noir Film Festival 2014

This is the year of Noir International. Eddie Muller, the producer & curator of this increasingly successful genre film festival, featured two films from Post World War II Japan. Both of them were directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa. There was no clean-up, no tidying of the Post War mess, no candy-coating. The background of black marketing, dysfunctional public heath issues, and lack of basic supplies to support ordinary day-to-day functions are reflected in a pool of stagnant water that becomes a constant & silent reference point in the film DRUNKEN ANGEL.

Eddie Muller, writer, film curator, producer, lecturer, visionary, the man who put Noir on the map, and now has taken the concept to higher levels each year since the Noir Festival started 12 years ago.  January 2014

Eddie Muller, writer, film curator, producer, lecturer, visionary: the man who put Noir on the preservationists/restorationist map, and now has taken the concept to higher & international levels each year since the Noir Festival started 12 years ago. Castro Theatre, San Francisco, January 2014

Takashi Shimura plays an alcoholic physician, who needs to abide by the ancient Western proverb of “Physician heal thyself.” His bedside manner is as atrocious as the background in which he must do his best to patch together the broken people of his broken country. Despite his appearance & mannerisms, he is the Angel of Life, trying to bring life to those who are pretty, but in worse physical & emotional condition than he is. Toshiro Mifune, is caught up in a chaotic world of crime & avarice, soon to be doomed by his inability to follow doctors orders & treat his tuberculosis appropriately. Instead, he drinks, smokes, and slugs his way through an underground culture in order to ‘save face’ and prove his worth. It was a struggle from which he could not emerge victorious–and we see the loss of potential, the potential that Japan so much-needed, go to waste, as he throws his life way in the sludge that had, at that time, become the world of a defeated nation.

YOU TUBE DOUBLE OF DRUNKEN ANGEL:Film 1948 & Song by Lucinda Williams from Car Wheels On A Gravel Road 1998

Stray Dog, 1949-also directed by Akira Kurosawa & Starring Toshiro Mifune.

This film is more closely associated with & influenced by the American Noir experience. The emphasis is less upon the Post War infrastructure, and more upon a rookie cop who has had his gun pickpocketed while on public transit. In that respect, those from New York & San Francisco can more easily relate to the overcrowded conditions & the ‘cell mates’ with which we must endure in close quarters on a daily basis. In keeping with Noir, the rookie cop goes on a search for the person who lifted his heater, only to unintentionally go deeper & deeper into an underground cesspool of crime, vice, passion, and vengeance. The gun in question has recently begged re-examination of the issue/question of do guns kill people or do people use guns to kill people? It’s clear that our love affair with Noir embraces guns, but do we want guns to embrace us? (Remember: “It’s a bitter, little world.”)!
Let’s ask the National Rifle Association to embrace Columbine & ask the perennial question: “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

Depart from the Film & Listen to Petula Clark, then continue…

YOU TUBE MONTAGE FROM STRAY DOG-edited for horror mode-1949

“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