|Vintage Pulp||Dec 22 2015|
With a poster this amazing you’d expect a pretty good movie. It promotes the Japanese run of the thriller Second Chance, which opened there today in 1953 after premiering in the U.S. in July. The film is near impossible to find, but we already possessed a downloaded copy from years back because we long ago sought out all Robert Mitchum’s work due to his utter coolness. Second Chance has not only Mitchum, but the always excellent Linda Darnell, exteriors shot in the Mexican towns of Cuernavaca and Taxco, color film stock (which lost its vividness in the intervening decades), and a 3-D process (of course not replicated for the home viewer).
So, is it any good? Well, when technical innovations arrive in Hollywood, filmmakers often use them as gimmicks, with diminished regard for story flow and physical logic. You see the same phenomenon today with CGI. Because this was RKO Radio Pictures’ first 3-D movie, and it was in Technicolor, many scenes take advantage of those aspects, but fail to build characterization or advance the plot. So there you go. But the locations in hilly Taxco look great, the musical interludes are grandly staged, and it all climaxes with an extended cable car set piece where down-on-his-luck prizefighter Mitchum gets a chance at redemption by taking on hitman Jack Palance. We’ve seen better. But we’ve seen far worse.
|The Naked City||Dec 17 2009|
Yesterday in Mexico, drug lord Marcos Arturo Beltrán Leyva was shot dead by navy personnel during a raid on a luxury apartment complex near Cuernavaca. Known as “The Boss of Bosses,” Beltrán Leyva had always been on the radar of president Felipe Calderón, who even approved a $2.4 million bounty. And back in August, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced a federal indictment against the drug lord for smuggling billions of dollars worth of cocaine across the U.S./Mexico border. After this slow ratcheting up of pressure, Calderón finally made the move to apprehend Beltrán Leyva after the severed heads of five police officers and a prosecutor were found in streetside garbage Wednesday morning by sanitation workers in the state of Durango. President Calderón is touting the Beltrán Leyva killing as a success in his much-publicized drug war, which many observers had seen as little more than a highly destructive standoff. But even in the afterglow of yesterday’s events, government officials admit that unless the U.S. demand for cocaine diminishes, Beltrán Leyva simply represents the latest in a long line of drug lords.