The gun is dangerous but the shoes are killer.
Above: a second cool promo image of Welsh born Irish actress Peggy Cummins from her 1950 b-noir Gun Crazy. We recently shared some photos of her as pre-Princess Leia. To see those just click here.
Tracy and Castle try to avoid a watery grave in low budget crime thriller.
Above is a rare poster for the 1947 drama High Tide, which starred Lee Tracy and Don Castle as an editor of a fictional Los Angeles newspaper and a private investigator who crash while driving on what is presumably the Pacific Coast Highway, and find themselves immobilized in the wreckage. Trapped and thinking they're doomed to drown when the sea rises, they discuss the events leading up to their mishap. It's a b-movie all the way, a mere seventy minutes long, with stock footage, day-for-night shooting, and mise-en-scène on the more static end of the spectrum, but the story is interesting and the film noir flourishes are fun.
Some of the dialogue scores too: “He's having a slight attack of rigor mortis right in the middle of my living room floor.” That's not bad. We know, of course, that Tracy and Castle didn't just drive off the PCH but crashed for a reason pivotal to the plot. No spoiler there. It's an assumption you'll have made just reading the film's synopsis. We can't recommend High Tide strongly because it's too bottom bin to be really exciting, but it might give you intermittent pleasures anyway. It's certainly instructive in terms of making a workable movie with very little money. It premiered today in 1947.
I've spotted him. He's in front of that rear projection of the main lobby of Union Station. Hey, that's strange. That looks like our rear projection, only reversed. The rear projection of Los Angeles is lovely tonight. But not as lovely as you, my dear. Driver, step on it. We've got to outrun that projectionist.
By whatever means necessary.
Above is a Belgian poster for the 1953 film noir Wicked Woman, originally made in the U.S. starring Richard Egan and, in one of her classic femme fatale roles, Beverly Michaels. Generally, because of the predominant languages used in Belgium, posters from there carried both French and Dutch text. In French Wicked Woman was titled La vicieuse, and in Dutch it was De slet (you can guess what that means). Our header for this post is a play on the never ending debate over whether film noir is a genre or a cycle. Either way, what it produced was always vicious. We briefly talked about Wicked Woman some years ago and shared the U.S. poster. This effort is from the presses of S.P.R.L. Belgique and it's signed by Wik, an artist who remains a mystery. Below, you see Michaels pondering the wickedness of her behavior and deciding she's fine with it.
You can stop trying to convince me not to shoot you. I decided on this course of action weeks ago.
Faith Domergue unleashes a steely gaze in this promo photo made for her 1950 film noir Where Danger Lives. Where danger lives is in her eyes, without doubt. While this is an amazing photo, we were nonplussed by the movie. We liked Domergue better in This Island Earth, which is cheesy but fun, and we kind of enjoyed her in the dumb horror flick Cult of the Cobra. She made a lot of movies, so maybe we'll keep trying them until we find one we think is great.
There are worse boyfriends out there, baby, believe me. I don't know of any offhand. But they must exist.
We talked about the revered film noir Night and the City last year and had absolutely nothing new to say about it. Some it's like that. But we'd never seen a color (or possibly colorized) promo image from the movie before, so we've looped back to share this great shot of stars Gene Tierney and Richard Widmark. In the film Widmark is one of the all-time losers, a guy who hustles to get over but has no luck, no momentum, no self-control, and—ultimately—no scruples, even where his girlfriend is concerned. It's a heartbreaking, uncompromising film that typifies the darkness and cynicism of film noir, and there's a reason it's considered a top level entry in the cycle. But back then it was too much for most critics. It premiered—to largely negative reviews—today in 1950.
Sometimes it even has a small calibre firearm.
We have two brilliant items above—a pair of Italian promo posters for When Danger Lives, starring Robert Mitchum and Faith Domergue. The first was painted by Averardo Ciriello, and the second is the work of Giorgio Olivetti. Both artists are geniuses. In Italy the movie was called Una rosa bianca per Giulia. That would translate as “a white rose for Julia,” which was the working title of the movie while it was under production. The Ciriello poster is similar to the U.S. promo, but executed with more detail. Not to be outdone, Olivetti is less intricate but depicts a more desperate struggle, electing to paint Domergue unarmed—unless she's holding a gun to Mitch's head, in which case it would be a very short struggle. However, while Mitchum is getting the better of her on both posters, in the movie she tries to smother him with a pillow, so their relationship is—in a weird way—equal. You can read more about it here. After premiering in the U.S. in 1950, Where Danger Lives opened in Italy today in 1951.
I'd like some alterations to this trenchcoat you made me and I'd like them right now.
This excellent shot shows Nancy Guild from her 1947 film noir The Brasher Doubloon, wearing a very square trench coat. We saw the coat before in a promo we shared several years back, but in this shot we can see how unique it is. It's as if there's an iron bar across the shoulders. And there are no buttons. We really need to get around to seeing The Brasher Doubloon just to see if Guild actually wears this garment. We'll track it down and report back.
Belita always gets her man.
The poster above was made to promote the crime thriller The Hunted, which premiered today in 1948 starring Preston Foster and Belita, the British ice skater who carved out a film career after her 1936 Olympic appearance. Playing to type, Belita is a former ice skater paroled four years after being arrested by her cop boyfriend Foster, who refused to believe she wasn't involved in a diamond heist. In fury she promised to kill both him and her defense attorney, who she claimed betrayed her. Now freed, she goes back to Foster—literally sneaking through his apartment window—and tries to convince him of her innocence.
Foster is hard-boiled at first, but slowly begins to have doubts, then begins to fall in love again. Is Belita an innocent woman, or is she a psychopath who'll make good on her promise to kill her enemies? Our advice: never trust anyone who'll slither through your window. For that matter never trust anyone who threatens to kill you. But Belita seems to adjust well to being free, taking an ice skating job and behaving in exemplary fashion. Maybe the threat was a bluff, and she's innocent after all. Meanwhile Foster does that cop thing and digs into the old heist.
The Hunted is not a top effort. It's somewhat limply scripted, and Foster isn't exactly a furnace of charisma. The movie also plays on the tired trope (even then) of the slimy defense attorney. The movie's most serious flaw, for us, is Belita's attraction to one of the more undeserving lead males in cinema history. But we vintage movie buffs are used to that, right? The question that truly matters is whether the plotline keeps the viewer engaged, and on that score the movie succeeds, nudging it ever so slightly onto the positive side of the ledger.
As a side note, film noir fans with sharp eyes will notice that the movie borrows the coin flipping gimmick from Johnny O'Clock, though Foster is not nearly as good at it as Dick Powell. That goes for his acting too. But The Hunted has Belita, and moreover, it has her skating. She's graceful, fun to watch, and turns in a decent performance opposite her empty suit of a love interest. That isn't a ringing endorsement, but it's the best we can offer.
I like to call what happens next the women's short program because it'll be over before you know it.
Olympic ice skater-turned-actress Belita gets the drop on an unseen foe in this crop of a larger promo image made by Allied Artists Pictures for its 1948 film noir The Hunted. We'll circle back to the movie—possibly in reverse while preparing for a triple axel—but if you want a teaser, we'll tell you that Belita has a skating routine in it, which makes it worth a look for that reason alone.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1964—Warren Commission Issues Report
The Warren Commission, which had been convened to examine the circumstances of John F. Kennedy's assassination, releases its final report, which concludes that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, killed Kennedy. Today, up to 81% of Americans are troubled
by the official account of the assassination.
1934—Queen Mary Launched
The RMS Queen Mary, three-and-a-half years in the making, launches from Clydebank, Scotland. The steamship enters passenger service in May 1936 and sails the North Atlantic Ocean until 1967. Today she is a museum and tourist attraction anchored in Long Beach, U.S.A.
1983—Nuclear Holocaust Averted
Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov, whose job involves detection of enemy missiles, is warned by Soviet computers that the United States has launched a nuclear missile at Russia. Petrov deviates from procedure, and, instead of informing superiors, decides the detection is a glitch. When the computer warns of four more inbound missiles he decides, under much greater pressure this time, that the detections are also false. Soviet doctrine at the time dictates an immediate and full retaliatory strike, so Petrov's decision to leave his superiors out of the loop very possibly prevents humanity's obliteration. Petrov's actions remain a secret until 1988, but ultimately he is honored at the United Nations.
2002—Mystery Space Object Crashes in Russia
In an occurrence known as the Vitim Event, an object crashes to the Earth in Siberia and explodes with a force estimated at 4 to 5 kilotons by Russian scientists. An expedition to the site finds the landscape leveled and the soil contaminated by high levels of radioactivity. It is thought that the object was a comet nucleus with a diameter of 50 to 100 meters.
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