Wikipedia: “Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. Hollywood’s classical film noir period is generally regarded as extending from the early 1940s to the late 1950s. Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography. Many of the prototypical stories and much of the attitude of classic noir derive from the hardboiled school of crime fiction that emerged in the United States during the last depression. The term film noir, French for “black film, first applied to Hollywood films by French critic Nino Frank in 1946, was unrecognized by most American film industry professionals of that era. Cinema historians and critics defined the category retrospectively. Before the notion was widely adopted in the 1970s, many of the classic films noirs were referred to as melodramas. Whether film noir qualifies as a distinct genre is a matter of ongoing debate among scholars.

“Film noir encompasses a range of plots: the central figure may be a private eye (The Big Sleep), a plainclothes policeman (The Big Heat), an aging boxer (The Set-Up), a hapless grifter (Night and the City), a law-abiding citizen lured into a life of crime (Gun Crazy), or simply a victim of circumstance (D.O.A.). Although film noir was originally associated with American productions, films now so described have been made around the world. Many pictures released from the 1960s onward share attributes with film noir of the classical period, and often treat its conventions self-referentially. Some refer to such latter-day works as neo-noir. The clichés of film noir have inspired parody since the mid-1940s.”  

FATW’S FILM NOIR FEATURES

GROUP I -- GOOD COPYRIGHT, CURRENTLY AVAILABLE ON DVD


FATW’s good copyright American film noir package, includes the titles listed and described in detail below; all are available on home video through FATW’s Mr. FAT-W Video label through Amazon.com.  The groups which follow this one, are (b) additional detective/mystery noir titles which have been released, and (c) detective/mystery noir titles which haven't been mastered or released yet.  Most of the first two groups are or will be available from Amazon.com, and in time, from 
the Mr. FAT-W eBay store; the links to each are:





APOLOGY FOR MURDER  (1945)
BEHIND LOCKED DOORS  (1948)
DANGEROUS INTRUDER  (1945)
DARK WATERS  (1944)
FRENCH KEY, THE  (1946)
GLASS ALIBI  (1946)
HER SISTER’S SECRET  (1946)
IN THIS CORNER  (1948)
LADY CHASER  (1945)
LOVE FROM A STRANGER  (1947)

MASK OF DIIJON, THE  (1946)
PRETENDER, THE (1947)

RAILROADED (1947)
REPEAT PERFORMANCE  (1947)
THE SHANGHAI GESTURE
STRANGE IMPERSONATION  (1946)
STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP (a/k/a STRANGLER FROM THE SWAMP)  (1946)
WOMAN WHO CAME BACK, THE  (1945)

APOLOGY FOR MURDER  (1945)
C. 27 Sept. 1945  P.R.C. Pictures, Inc.  LP13574
B&W  66 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:             Sam Newfield
Writer:                Fred Myton
Producer.:           Sigmund Newfeld
Cinematog.:        John H. Greenhalgh, Jr.
Music:                 Leo Erdody
Editor:                 Holbrook Todd
Cast:                    Hugh Beaumont, Ann Savage, Charles D. Brown, Russell Hicks

“An unfaithful wife starts a love triangle that leads to the murder of her husband.  The wife and her murdering boy friend go free while an innocent man is sent to jail for the crime.  Greed for her dead husband’s money leads this woman into still another illicit affair which brings about the death of all the guilty and the freedom of an innocent man.”  (publicity release) “PRC’s Apology for Murder is aptly named: the production values in this 67-minute quickie are pretty sorry.  If you’re willing to look past the mildewed sets and murky lighting, however, this well-paced film noir is pretty enjoyable.  Hugh Beaumont (yes, that Hugh Beaumont) plays a tough reporter whose honesty is compromised by scheming Anne Savage.  Unable to unwrap himself from Anne’s little finger, Beaumont agrees to go in on her plan to murder her husband Russell Hicks.  They then contrive to frame an innocent man for their perfidy.  You’ve seen this before as Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice, but the actors are energetic and the direction by the overworked Sam Newfield is better than usual.” Corel All Movie Guide 2

BEHIND LOCKED DOORS  (1948)
C. 20 Oct. 1948  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP1874
B&W  62 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:               Oscar “Budd” Boetticher, Jr.
Writers:                Eugene Ling, Malvin Wald
Producer:             Eugene Ling
Cinematog.:          Guy Roe
Art Director:        Edward Ilou
Composer:            Irving Friedman, Albert Glasser
Film Editor:          Norman Colbert
Set Decor.:             Armor E. Marlowe, Al Orenbach
Costumes:             Frances Ehren
Special Eff.:          Armor E. Marlowe, George J. Teague
Cast:                      Richard Carlson, Lucille Bremer, Ralph Harold, Douglas Fowley,                                    Trevor Bardette, Gwen Donovan, Morgan Farley, Ralf Harolde,                                        Thomas Brown, Henry, Herbert Heyes, Tor Johnson, Dickie Moore,                                  Richard Moore

Good mystery about “… a private detective who has himself committed to a booby hatch where, it is suspected, a political crook is hiding from the police…Before he can complete his job, the crook gets wise and finale winds up with gunplay and brutality as a dangerous patient gets loose and runs amok.”   “Production values are modest but expert for budget allotment… good acting.”  “Photography, settings, editing and other technical functions measure up.” (Variety, September 8, 1948) “When a corrupt judge seeks refuge in an insane asylum, a journalist hot on his trail has himself committed to the asylum so he can get a scoop on the inside story.  Some good, tense moments in this cut-above B movie.”  Corel All Movie Guide 2

DANGEROUS INTRUDER  (1945)
C. 21 Nov. 1945  P.R.C. Pictures, Inc.  LP416
B&W  65 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                Vernon Keays
Writer:                   Martin G. Goldsmith
Producer:               Martin Mooney
Cinematog.:           James Brown
Composer:              Karl Hajos
Editor:                    Carl Pierson
Cast:                       Charles Arnt, Veda Ann Borg, Richard Powers, Fay Helm, Helena                                   Phillips Evans, Fay Helm, Tom Keene, Jo Ann Marlowe, Richard                                     Power, John Rogers, Roberta Smith, George Sorel, Forrest Taylor

Crime melodrama, starring beautiful Veda Ann Borg as showgirl struck by car of wealthy art fancier who is taken to his home to convalesce.  She gradually comes to realize that he killed his wealthy spinster aunt so he could inherit her wealth.  “… until the last reel, has all the necessary ingredients of suspense, fast action and good acting to make it an above-average thriller, but then falls flat because of a routine denouement.  Modestly budgeted, picture emerges as a fair entry.”   (Variety, November 21, 1945) “A New York-bound hitchhiker is hit by a car.  The driver, a successful art dealer, stops and finds that he has hit a beautiful girl.  He takes her to his home and later learns that she was to be a dancer.  As she recovers she cannot help but notice that her benefactor and his step daughter both seem a little touched.  The suspense comes in when she figures out that the greedy dealer is planning to kill all his female relatives in order to receive a large inheritance.”   Corel All Movie Guide 2

DARK WATERS  (1944)
C.15 Sept.1944 Dark Waters Productions Inc. LP13028
B&W  93Mins. Good Copyright

Director:             Andre de Toth
Writers:              Marian Cockrell, Joan Harrison, Arthur Horman
Producer:           Benedict E. Bogeaus
Cinematog.:       John Mescall, Louis Clyde Stouman
Art Dir.:              Charles Odds
Music Dir.:         Miklos Rozsa
Composer:         Miklos Rozsa
Editor:                 James Smith
Set Decor.:         Maurice Yates
Choreog.:           Jack Crosby
Spec.Eff.:           Harry Redmond
Cast:                   Merle Oberon, Franchot Tone, Thomas Mitchell, Fay Bainter, Rex                                   Ingram, John Qualen, Elisha Cook Jr., Eugene Borden, Paul E. Burns,                             Nina Mae, McKinney, Peter Miles, Odette Myrtil, Alan Napier, Gigi                                 Perreau

“The dank and forbidding regions of the Louisiana bayous have always made excellent locales for melodramatic films.  The heavy, oppressive vegetation, the ambient sense of maddening heat and the silence are perfect aids to mystery and violence on the screen. And that is one reason why ‘Dark Waters’… is a killer-diller of a thriller–it is set in the Louisiana bayous.  It also presents a creepy story with mild psychological  overtones and it is neatly produced and directed– and well played by an excellent cast…. what it comes down to is tingling diversion for the latter part of an hour and a half….Andre De Toth has directed nicely for mysterious moods and cold suspense, and Benedict Bogeaus has produced the whole show for strictly A-picture  tone…” (The New York Times, November 22, 1944) “The guardians of a troubled young heiress attempt to drive her insane.”   Corel All Movie Guide 2

FRENCH KEY, THE  (1946)
C. 8 Apr. 1946 Republic Pictures Corp.  LP320
B&W  64 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                  Walter Colmes
Writer:                     Frank Gruber
Producer:                Walter Colmes
Cinematog.:            Jockey A. Feindel
Composer:               Alexander Laszlo
Editor:                      Robert Jahns
Cast:                         Albert Dekker, Evelyn Ankers, Mike Mazurki, John Eldridge,                                           Frank Fenton, Richard Arlen, Byron Foulger, Curly Joe de Rita,                                       David Gorcey, Selmar Jackson, Marjorie Manners, Walter                                                 Soderling, Sammy Stein, Archie Twitchell, Emmett Vogan, Alan                                       Ward

“Dekker gives mystery drama some class in this murder yarn.” Good mystery. “Exploits of super book salesman [Albert Dekker] …and his muscle-bound sidekick [Mike Mazurki] read better than they film.  It’s still okay program material, having enough cast strength to help the bookings. Physical production has good values and there are moments of topnotch suspense….” (Variety, May 22,  1946)

“French Key is a Republic Pictures murder mystery with all of the studio’s genre trademarks: Good cast, reasonably good direction, fairly good sets and middling story values.  Albert Dekker plays a private eye who is framed for murder.  With the police breathing down his neck, it’s up to the detective to solve the mystery himself.  The supporting suspects include such reassuringly familiar faces as Evelyn Ankers, Mike Mazurki, Richard Arlen, Frank Fenton and Byron Foulger.  Some prints of French Key have been cut from 64 to 54 minutes in order to fit into a TV ‘hour’.” Corel All Movie Guide 2

GLASS ALIBI  (1946)
C. 29 March 1946  Republic Pictures Corp.  LP239
B&W  70 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:               W. Lee Wilder
Writer:                  Mindret Lord
Producer:              W. Lee Wilder
Cinematog.:          Henry Sharp
Music Dir.:            Alexander Laszlo
Editor:                   John F. Fink, John Link
Cast:                      Paul Kelly, Ann Gwynne, Douglas Fowley, Jack Conrad, Maris                                        Wrixon, Phyllis Adair, George Chandler, Eula Guy, Selmar Jackson,                                Cy Kendall, Victor Potel, Walter Soderling, Ted Stanhope, Forrest                                    Taylor, Cyril Thornton

“A cleverly fabricated alibi proves to be the criminal’s own death warrant in exciting new film… A smart guy is  himself grimly outsmarted by fate in ‘The Glass Alibi,’ eventually paying for a murder he didn’t commit on the strength of evidence calculated to absolve him from guilt in another.  It’s a suspenseful yarn intelligently filmed, skillfully cast and well directed…..Douglas Fowley excels in the role of Joe Eyknew, a scheming newspaper reporter who takes over the moll of a mobster  on the lam and is responsible for getting the fugitive jailed.  Although it’s Belle he loves, Joe seizes an opportunity to marry a rich girl given only six months to live.  The fact that she doesn’t die before Joe wearies of the pretense, together with the certainty of vengeance by gangster Hogan, activates most of the thrills.  Paul Kelly is fine as a police lieutenant…  and Ann Gwynne is excellent as the … hard-boiled girl friend.” (New York Daily News, May 25, 1946)

IMDb Review: “'The Glass Alibi' is a no-budget grade-Z film noir, featuring a clever double-twist ending that I genuinely didn't anticipate. I'll credit actor Douglas Fowley with one of the greatest film performances I've ever seen, as the excitable silent-film director in "Singin' in the Rain". Most of Fowley's many, many other film performances are too small to require much acting ability. In 'The Glass Alibi', although third-billed, he has the lead role ... and his part is large enough to prove that he's a lousy actor when he hasn't got a first-rate script and direction. Fowley gives a one-note performance here as a cynical newspaperman. Paul Kelly is one of those character actors whose real life is more interesting than the characters he played. Kelly tended to play incorruptible authority figures, but was more believable in rare outings such as 'The Roaring Twenties', in which he played a violent and utterly amoral criminal. In real life, Kelly did two years for manslaughter. Here, he plays an honest homicide detective who has known Fowley since boyhood. The most interesting credit in this movie is the director: W. Lee Wilder, in this film and others, showed absolutely no talent as a director ... yet he was the older brother of Billy Wilder, one of the most important scripters/directors in the history of film. Apparently the brothers never got along: Billy often claimed that his entire family had been killed by the Nazis (which might have been his way of denying all knowledge of W. Lee's existence). In the entire running time of 'The Glass Alibi', there is only one slight bit of directorial cleverness. Early in the film, a tight close-up shows Anne Gwynne on the phone, assuring her gangster boyfriend that she still loves him ... while the camera pulls back to reveal Doug Fowley's head on her lap! Maris Wrixon (nice face, nice figure, hideous name) plays a millionairess with only six months to live. Her performance is warm and vivacious, which is part of the problem: she shows no bitterness, none of the behavioural traits of the terminally ill that were described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Wrixon's character has got one of those old-movie diseases that enables her to stay good-looking and energetic while assuring us that her days are numbered. When Fowley pretends to be romantically interested in her, Wrixon doesn't consider that he might have ulterior motives for marrying her. Anne Gwynne, whom I normally equate with good-girl roles, is splendid here as a tough tootsie. She performs one long scene in a tight-fitting dress that had me hoping she would sneeze. This film has NO production budget! When the radio stations in this movie aren't broadcasting police bulletins, they're all playing classical music (public-domain; no copyright problems). Homicide cop Kelly works out of a room that looks like a bank executive's office, with a secretary at a separate desk: the filmmakers clearly weren't able to afford a convincing squad-room set. Wilder is the producer of this film as well as its director, so I'll give him the blame for its terrible look. There are a couple of good lines of thick-ear dialogue: "While he's on ice, we'll be dancing at La Paree." After Fowley marries Wrixon with the intention of inheriting her millions, he decides she isn't croaking fast enough. He and Gwynne cook up a James M. Cain scheme to bump her off. I said there was a clever double-twist ending. Well, half right. The first twist completely surprised me; it was unexpected yet utterly plausible. But after that one hit me, the second twist was obvious. There are good performances by George Chandler (as a bartender who vaguely symbolises destiny) and by Victor Potel as a petrol-station attendant whom Fowley deliberately aggravates, so that Potel will remember him later and provide an unwitting alibi. Paul Kelly phones in his performance; he should have stuck to playing villains."

NOTE: Restored by UCLA Film and Television Archive 2015.



HER SISTER’S SECRET  (1946)
C. 12 Sept. 1946  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP598
B&W  85 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                        Edgar G. Ulmer
Writer:                           Anne Green
Producer:                       Henry Brash
Cinematog.:                   Franz Planer
Art Director:                  Edward C. Jewell
Composer:                      Hans Sommer
Editor:                            Jack W. Ogilvie
Story:                             “Dark Angel,” by Gina Kaus
Cast:                               Nancy Coleman, Regis Toomey, Philip Reed, Margaret                                                       Lindsay, Felix Bressart, Henry Stephenson, Rudolph Anders,                                             Fritz Feld, Helen Heigh, George Meeker, Winston Severn,                                                 Frank Williams

A soap-opera like romantic drama “about a love-smitten New Orleans lass who has a child out of wedlock, secretly gives the baby to her married, childless sister and then is tormented by maternal yearning…” (The New  York Times, January 23, 1947)

“An unusually elaborate film from the bargain-basement PRC studios, Her Sister’s Secret is set in New Orleans at Mardi Gras time.  The “secret” involves an illegitimate child.  Nancy Coleman is impregnated by a soldier on leave, and when she fears that he’ll never return, she persuades her married sister (Margaret Lindsay) to raise the child.  The better-than-usual cast includes Phillip Reed as the soldier, along with Regis Toomey, Felix Bessart and Henry Stephenson.  Her Sister’s Secret was the sort of B-plus fare that PRC would specialize in when it reorganized in 1947 and changed its name to Eagle-Lion.”  Corel All Movie Guide 2

IN THIS CORNER  (1948)
C. 23 Sept. 1948  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP1827
B&W  62 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                      Charles F. “Chuck” Reisner
Writers:                        Fred Niblo, Jr., Burk Symon, Burk Wymon
Producer:                     David L. Stephenson
Cinematog.:                 Joseph La Shelle, Guy Roe
Art Director:                Edward Ilou
Music Dir.:                   Irving Friedman
Composer:                   Albert Glasser
Editors:                         Norman Colbert, Alfred de Gaetano
Cast:                             Scott Brady, Cy Kendall, Anabel Shaw, James Millican, Mary                                           Meade, Robert Bice, Charles D. Brown, John Doucette, Don                                               Forbes, John Idrisano, Bill Kennedy

“Prizefight yarn has been mixed with theme of restoring  war-marked veterans to normal activity and it all comes off well enough….Scott Brady, screen newcomer, makes a bid for attention and has the physical appearance to carry off role of vet who becomes a light heavyweight fighter.  He looks like he has a chance with proper handling and more experience.  Yarn concerns Brady, discharged from Navy service, taking up fisticuffs for a livelihood.  A crooked manager gets hold of him and shoves him along fast as a buildup for big gambling  killing.  When Brady won’t go for a fixed fight, the gambler  plot[s] without him.  He frames Brady to make it look like a punch has killed a sparring partner. This reawakens mental block Brady received during service when a blow from him killed a navy buddy.  He loses the fight but next time around, just when Brady is taking a terrific beating, his girl friend rushes in with the supposedly dead man and saves the day.”  (Variety, September 1, 1948)

“This boxing drama focuses on the manager rather than the fighter.  The story begins as a corrupt manager fakes the death of his fighter’s sparring partner after he refuses to take a dive knowing that it will push him over the edge and destroy his career as he accidently killed a man while boxing in the military.  Fortunately, the boxer has a devoted, supportive girlfriend who investigates the “death” and brings the dead partner to ringside at the crucial moment.”   Corel All Movie Guide 2

LADY CHASER  (1945)
C. 25 Nov. 1946  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP715
B&W  60 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                    Sam Newfield
Writer:                       Fred Myton
Producer:                  Sigmund Newfeld
Cinematog.:               John H. Greenhalgh, Jr.
Art Director:             Paul F. Sylos
Editor:                        Holbrook Todd
Story:                          by G.T. Fleming-Roberts
Cast:                           Ann Savage, Robert Lowery, Inez Cooper, Frank Ferguson, Paul                                     Bryar, Ralph Dunn, William Haade, Garry Owen, Charles                                                 Williams

“Dorian Westmore… accepts an aspirin tablet from Inez Palmer… a total stranger.  It turns out that this pill was poisoned.  Dorian gives it to a wealthy uncle and he dies.  Unable to prove where she got the aspirin. After the trial, her fiancé, Peter Kane… tells her attorney, J. T. Vickers… that he is going to prove Dorain’s innocence.  When Inez reads of the trial she becomes panic stricken.  She realizes that the person she has  been blackmailing tried to kill her with the poisoned pill.  She tells her boy friend Bill… that she must go into hiding.  Peter starts his search for Inez with his only clue that she was accompanied by a maid.  He finds the maid and gains her confidence and just before she tells him where Inez is, he is knocked out.  When he comes to he finds the maid had been murdered.  Through a pin that the maid had, Peter gets a clue to the whereabouts of Inez…. The first break comes when Peter  gets a wire from Inez telling him to go to a certain address.  When he gets there Inez denies sending the wire and the both of them [sic] realize they have been tricked.  Vickers Arrives [sic] and demands the evidence that Inez is blackmailing him with.  A struggle begins and because of the noise the neighbors summon the police. The police burst in and Peter tells the  Inspector that Inez is the girl who can clear Dorian. Then it occurs to Peter that Vickers is the murderer and the whole case is solved.” (publicity release)

“In this humorous murder mystery, a woman is wrongfully accused of poisoning her uncle when he died after she gave the ailing fellow a pill that she believed was aspirin.  To prove her innocence, the woman must find the strange lady that gave her the pill.  A crazy chase ensues.”  Corel All Movie Guide 2

LOVE FROM A STRANGER  (1947)
C. 5 Sept. 1947  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP1288
B&W  81 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                   Richard Whorf
Writer:                      Philip MacDonald
Cinematog.:              Tony Gaudio
Art Directors:           Jack R. Rabin, Perry Smith
Music Dir.:                Irving Friedman
Composer:                Hans Salter
Editor:                       Fred Allen
Set Decor.:                 Armor E. Marlowe
Special Eff.:               George J. Teague
Story:                         “Philomel Cottage,” by Agatha Christie
Cast:                           Sylvia Sidney, John Hodiak, John C. Howard, Isobel Elsom,                                               Ernest Cossart, Phyllis Barry, Billy Bevan, Anita Bolster, Colin                                         Campbell, David Cavendish, Charles Coleman, Abe Dinovitch,                                         John W. Goldsworthy, Keith Hitchcock, Nolan Leary, Ann                                                 Richards, Gerald Rogers, Philip Tonge, Frederic Worlock

Mystery based on Agatha Christie novel, starring Sylvia Sidney and John Hodiak.  In 1900s London, “… mysterious South American gentleman sweeps an attractive London sweepstakes winner into marriage” after answering her ad to sublet her apartment prior to taking world tour with sweepstake winnings.  The newlyweds go off to a secluded cottage in Devonshire, deciding to keep the location a romantic secret.  She learns who he really is from a sketch in a magazine article about a notorious wife-killer wanted by the police of two continents.    Her ex-fiancé tracks her down just in time to save her from her new husband.  “It may well be that some will find a modicum of excitement… But the chances are he will be so far ahead of the story that its climactic scene will explode with all the thunder of a cap  pistol.” (The New York Times, November 28, 1947, and  publicity releases)

“A bride on her honeymoon comes to suspect that her husband is a murderer who plans to make her his next victim.” Corel All Movie Guide 2


MASK OF DIIJON, THE  (1946)
C. 1 March 1946  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP130
B&W  73 Mins.  Good Copyright 

Director:                  Lew Landers
Writer:                    Griffin Jay
Producers:              Max Alexander, Alfred Stern
Cinematog.:            John H. Greenhalgh, Jr.
Art Director:          Edward C. Jewell
Music Dir.:              Lee Zahler
Editor:                     Roy Livingstone
Story:                       St. Claire
Cast:                        Erich von Stroheim, Mauritz Hugo, Jeanne R. Bates, William                                            Right, Denise Vernac, Edward Van Sloan, Will Wright, Roy                                              Darmour, Antonio Filauri, Hope Landin, Robert Malcolm, Shimen                                  Ruskin


IMDb Storyline: “Magician neglects his career and his wife while he pursues the study of hypnosis. His inattention causes his wife to leave him for a younger man. The magician them begins to use his hypnotic powers to manipulate people and to avenge himself.”

IMDb Review: “No one will ever accuse THE MASK OF DIIJON of being a landmark thriller/drama/noir/whatever. But this film deserves the honor of having the all-time greatest final 30 seconds in the history of cinema. To reveal its wonderful climactic secret would be to rob the viewer of easily the best moment in the whole film, so I will resist, but it's all more worth watching than one might think. Erich Von Stroheim chews up every scene he is in, which is the bulk of the picture, and this is a good thing. Anyone who adored him as Max Von Mayerling in SUNSET BLVD. knows full well that there isn't really any such thing as a bad Stroheim performance. He even smiles and laughs - admittedly rather briefly - in THE MASK OF DIIJON. And the film is, for all its faults in narrative, an inevitably fascinating ultra-cheapie. The very fact that Stroheim committed to the project at all raises eyebrows; he treats the whole picture as a gag and is arguably the only sparkling performer in the whole project, and must have known this. The very opening sequence shows his character reduced to peddling cheap carnival tricks (and in doing so, tricks the audience by creating a fake beginning to the film), so there had to be an air of self-consciousness here, considering that the main conceit of the film (the power of hypnosis) is entirely preposterous. And there are a handful of nice touches throughout, particularly an outlandish sequence where Stroheim hypnotizes a would-be robber and stops the crime cold. It's all a sublimely ridiculous tale, never believable for a moment, and pure entertainment. And it has the greatest ending ever. Trust me.”



PRETENDER, THE (1947)
C. 28 July 1947  Republic Pictures Corp.  LP1166
Color  68 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                       W. Lee Wilder
Writers:                         Don Martin, Doris Miller
Producer:                      W. Lee Wilder
Cinematog.:                   John Alton
Art Director:                 Paul F. Sylos
Music Dir.:                     Paul Dessau
Editors:                          Asa Boyd Clark, John Link
Costumes:                      I.R. Berne
Makeup:                        Don L. Cash
Cast:                               Albert Dekker, Catherine Craig, Charles Drake, Alan Carney,                                           Charles Middleton, Linda Stirling, Ernie S. Adams, John                                                   Bagni, Cay Forester, Eula Guy, Selmar Jackson, Tom Kennedy,                                         Michael Mark, Peter Michael, Stanley Ross, Forrest Taylor,                                               Ben Welden, Peggy Wynne

“Albert Dekker plays a crooked investment agent who embezzles a large sum from an estate, hoping to cover his crime by marrying the estate’s heiress (Catherine Craig).  The girl is already engaged, so Dekker arranges to have the fiancé killed.  The hit man’s only means of identifying the victim-to-be is his picture in the society columns.  But the girl changes her mind and agrees to marry Dekker–meaning that it is his picture that will appear in the columns, thereby condemning him to death.  Desperately trying to contact the hit man, Dekker discovers that the man is dead…but the assassin’s successor is still at large.  A cheap but tidy “hoist on his own petard” melodrama, The Pretender was produced and directed by W. Lee Wilder, brother of the more famous (and frankly more talented) Billy Wilder.” Corel All Movie Guide 2

RAILROADED (1947)
C. 2 Sept. 1947  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP1250
B&W  72 Mins.  Good Copyright   

Director:              Anthony Mann
Writer:                 John C. Higgins
Producer:             Charles “Chuck” Reisner
Cinematog.:         Guy Roe
Art Director:       Perry Smith
Music Dir.:           Irving Friedman
Composer:           Alvin Levin
Editor:                  Louis H. Sackin
Set Decor.:            Robert P. Fox, Armor E. Marlowe
Costumes:             Frances Ehren
Cast:                     John Ireland, Sheila Ryan, Hugh Beaumont, Jane Randolph, Keefe                                   Brasselle, Ed Kelly, Charles D. Brown, Peggy Converse, Clancy                                         Cooper, Roy Gordon, Hermine Sterler

IMDb Storyline: “Sexy beautician Clara Calhoun, who has a bookie operation in her back room, connives with her boyfriend, mob collector Duke Martin, to stage a robbery of the day's take. But the caper turns violent; a cop and Duke's partner are shot; and Duke arranges for innocent Steve Ryan, owner of the car they stole, to be framed. At first homicide detective Mickey Ferguson thinks Steve is guilty, despite his attraction to Steve's sister Rosie. And the suave but ruthless Duke won't hesitate to keep it that way with more of his perfumed bullets...”

IMDb Review: “Top billing for "Railroaded!" goes to the great actor John Ireland who plays the coldblooded killer Duke Martin. Today, Ireland is perhaps best remembered for his role as the gunslinger, Cherry Valance, in the John Wayne western classic "Red River" and for his Academy-Award- nominated performance as a reporter in another Hollywood classic "All the King's Men." Duke Martin, as with most of the heavies in noir flicks, is a misogynist. But this time the woman hater doesn't get away with it completely. Both Clara Calhoun (Jane Randolph) and Rosie Ryan (Sheila Ryan) put him in his place. When Duke misquotes Oscar Wilde, "Some women should be beaten regularly, like gongs" (it was actually Noel Coward who used the line), Clara is quick to respond to the effect that if that line belonged to Oscar Wilde, then let him have it. When Rosie and Duke first meet at Duke's club, Duke calls women "dames." Rosie responds sharply, "I don't like that term." Duke backs up and uses the still somewhat derogatory "gals." The plot involves Rosie's brother, Steve, portrayed by unknown actor Ed Kelly, who only made three films to my knowledge. Duke and his girlfriend, Clara, frame Steve for a bookie heist, during which time a patrolman is killed. The police are after a quick conviction and are getting ready to go to trial and ask for the death penalty when Police Sgt. Mickey Ferguson (Hugh Beaumont, aka Ward Cleaver) falls for Rosie and decides that her brother may not be guilty after all. Ferguson attempts to help Rosie find the real murderer when Rosie decides to conduct her own investigation by becoming chums with Duke. This all leads to more murders until the ultimate confrontation between Ferguson and Duke. The film is fast-paced and somewhat violent for its day. The creative use of darkness and shadow was an important ingredient of noir cinema, but as one IMDb reviewer has already noted, there is so much darkness in "Railroaded!" that at times it is difficult to see what is happening. One reason for this may be viewing the film on a TV screen. Perhaps on the big screen there was no problem. Outside of this minor weakness, "Railroaded!" is a winner all the way.”

Variety Review:  "This is an old-type blood-and-thunder gangster meller that's better than its no-name cast would indicate.  A ruthless mobster's trigger-happy mood is reflected by many killings and robberies, with payoff gun battle in nightclub reminiscent of gangster shockers before the strict code era....Story starts out like a familiar cops-and-robbery, then disintegrates into a plot wherein police detectives misinterpret circumstantial evidence, and it finally winds up with yarn centering on a cold-blooded gangster who uses his gun whenever anybody gets in his way.  Probably the most suspenseful moment is built around said mobster's deliberate gun- blasting of his sweetheart after he overhears her tipping off the coppers. Even skillful cutting does not make this a nice episode particularly since he had pushed her around all through the picture.  The cold- blooded slaying of his boss soon afterwards steeps this production in plenty of gore.  Anthony Mann has directed, for the most part, with real acumen in developing maximum of suspense. Earlier passages where a truckdriver is unjustly accused by the gendarmes and put through a vivid third degree seems a bit extraneous.... Outstanding in the cast is Hugh Beaumont, as the conscientious detective.  He tends to underplay which makes his work all the more effective.  John Ireland is sufficiently menacing as the gangster killer, Jane Randolph does excellent work as the gunmoll while Sheila Ryan, comely dark-haired gal, shows promise as the heroine."  (Variety, October 8, 1947)

Film Noir Review:  "Railroaded is another low-budget noir extravaganza directed by Anthony Mann and, like the earlier Desperate, it is a crisp, well-made thriller.  The real tone of the noir sensibility is revealed by John Ireland's grotesque portrayal of Duke Martin.  There is an erotic quality to his ritualizing anointment of the bullets and the self-satisfying response to the massaging of his gun barrel.  The almost ludicrous Freudian association between sex and violence is carried off so convincingly that Duke's obsession is never questioned or laughed at.  In Railroaded, Mann was more concerned with the dealings of the noir antagonist, Duke, than in the vindication of the wrongly accused fall guy.  The retribution for the crimes committed by Duke are inconsequential.  What matters in Railroaded is that the aberrant nature of Duke's character was not compromised.  The lack of redemption attests to the noir code, and the screenplay by John C. Higgins... is strongly rooted in the hard- boiled tradition of pulp magazines of the period." (Film Noir, Silver and Ward, The Overlook Press, 1979)


REPEAT PERFORMANCE  (1947)
C. 13 May 1947  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP1135
B&W  93 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                      Alfred L. Werker
Writer:                         Walter Bullock
Producer:                    Aubrey Schenk
Cinematog.:                 Lewis William O’Connell
Art Director:               Edward C. Jewell
Music Dir.:                   Irving Friedman
Composer:                   George Antheil
Editors:                        Alfred de Gaetano, Louis H. Sackin
Set Decor.:                   Armor E. Marlowe
Story:                           by William O’Farrell
Cast:                             Richard Basehart, Louis Hayward, Joan Leslie, Tom Conway,                                           Benay Venuta,  Virginia Field, Ilka Gruning, Natalie Schafer

” ‘Repeat Performance’ represents Eagle-Lion’s first stab at the bigtime via a top-budgeted production made on its home lot.  That in itself would not rate it A playing time but the film has the proper ingredients to go good biz in most first-run situations.  Novel story, a fantasy affair, is well-paced and well-acted and the names of Joan Leslie and Louis Hayward should help brighten the marquee.  E-L has already teed off a boff ballyhoo campaign with its world preem last week in Zanesville, O., which will probably pay off.  ‘Performance’ marks  the first picture done by Miss Leslie since she ankled the Warners’ lot after her lengthy litigation with that company.  She gets a chance at a meaty, serious role and makes out okay in it, although a little more restraint would have helped erase the starry-eyed ingenue for which audiences have come to accept her.  Film also marks the screen debut of Richard Basehart.” (Variety, May, 1945)

“…. the film opens grimly with a young lady, on New Year’s Eve, shooting her wretched husband and rushing forth into the night.  En  route, she philosophizes that she’d like to play that year over again–do a rewrite, as she puts it, on the third act–and thus avoid the horrible deed that she has just done.  And, lo and behold, some nameless wonder suddenly turns back the clock a year and arranges for her to repeat it, knowing all the while how the first draft ended.  In this incredible repetition, it is rather convincingly revealed that the lady’s husband was a devil and that she spent a good part of her time trying to keep him away from 1.  the bottle and 2.  a predatory blonde.  But none of her devices, despite a generous intervention of fate which almost destroys the gentleman via a fall out of a theater balcony.  And the film concludes with this scoundrel getting what he deserved all along, only this time the shot that kills Barney is fired by a poet instead of the wife.  Not only is dramatic credibility completely lacking in all this stew but the whole thing is done with such pretension that even the possible salve of ridicule is missed.  And such a mood of complete irascibility has seldom been sustained on the screen.”  (The New York Times, July 2, 1947)

“On New Year’s Eve, Joan Leslie runs desperately out of a penthouse apartment and into the Times Square crowd.  She has reason to fell – she has just shot and killed her husband.  Through a freakish wrinkle in time, Joan is transported back to the last New Year’s and is allowed to relive the past year all over again.  This time she is forearmed with the knowledge of the murder and does everything she can to avoid the deed – a task made difficult by such antagonists as her nasty husband and her emotionally disturbed brother (Richard Basehart, in his film debut).  Events lead inexorably to the murder…but will she do it this time?  Cleverly assembled, and with a more expensive cast and budget than was usual for pinchpenny Eagle-Lion studios, Repeat Performance is a brisk and absorbing semi-fantasy.  It was remade for television [by Republic Pictures] as Turn Back the Clock (89), with the original film’s star Joan Leslie in a brief cameo role.” Corel All Movie Guide 2

THE SHANGHAI GESTURE  (1941)
B&W, 106 mins. Good Clopyright

Director:                  Josef von Sternberg
Producer:                Arnold Pressburger
Ass. Prod.:               Albert de Courvill
Screenplay:             Josef von Sternberg, Karl Vollmoeller, Geza Herzeg, Jules                                                  Furthman; from the play by John Colton
Dir. Photog.:            Paul Ivano
Music Score:           Richard Hageman
Costumes:               Oleg Cassini for Gene Tierney; Royer for Ona Munson
Film Editor:            Sam Winston
Distributor:             United Artists
Cast:                         Gene Tierney,  Walter Huston, Victor Mature), Maria                                                          Ouspenskaya, Mike Mazurki, Ona Munson, Phyllis Brooks,                                              Albert Basserman

Academy Award Nominations, 1942:  Boris Levin, Art Direction; Richard Hageman, Score

DRAMA:    One of the great classic “film noir” masterpieces.  “Mother Gin Sling is the owner of a Shanghai casino which, despite her bribes, the local authorities have decided to close under pressure from British financier Sir Guy Charteris.  Charteris has his own plans for the property and refuses to accept any of Gin Sling’s calls to discuss it.  She has him investigated and learns that as a young man he was engaged in questionable activities in China, married a native woman, then fled with money from her estate and their infant daughter.  At the same time, she discovers that this daughter, Poppy, now grown, has become a habitue of her establishment.  Through one of her associates, Dr. Omar, Mother Gin Sling encourages Poppy’s gambling until she has run up a considerable debt.  Poppy, although enraged at Gin Sling’s contemptuous treatment of her and suspicious of Omar’s fidelity, nonetheless thwarts her father’s attempt to send her out of the city and continues to patronize the casino.  In order to get his daughter out of this environment, Charteris feels compelled to accept an invitation to Gin Sling’s New Year’s dinner and to hear her implicit blackmail demands.  Ultimately, Gin Sling reveals to the incredulous Charteris that she is the wife whom he presumed killed and whose money he appropriated.  Shaken, Charteris explains that he thought she had died after betraying him; but Poppy is unable to accept under any circumstances that Gin Sling could be her mother and hysterically denounces the woman.  Infuriated by her own daughter’s vilification, Gin Sling loses control and shoots her.” Film Noir, Ed. Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward, The Overlook Press, 1988, p.255.

Background:    “The nightmarish, almost Baroque environment that von Sternberg creates in ‘The Shanghai Gesture’ contains much of what was to become a standard expression of the noir vision.  Numerous changes in the 1925 Broadway play were mandated by the Hays Office — which had rejected nearly three dozen earlier film treatments.  In Jules Furthman’s screen version, for example, Mother Goddamn becomes Mother Gin Sling and her brothel becomes a gambling house.  Despite all these changes, Sternberg evokes an underworld more tangible and more threatening than anything in such noir precursors as ‘Underworld’ and ‘Thunderbolt.’  The true nature of Gin Sling’s establishment is, in effect, revealed in her “purchase” of Dixie, a blond playgirl, from the police and culminates in the New Year’s auction of women suspended in cages outside the casino.  Despite such exotic embellishments or the title disclaimer that ‘Our story has nothing to do with the present,’ ‘Shanghai Gesture’ obviously anticipates and has everything to do with the postwar noir vision fatality and inexplicable malaise.

“Poppy is the key characterization of that fatality.  She is both the physical and psychological child of the youthful liaison between Gin Sling and Charteris; and, in the latter capacity, she embodies the emotional estrangement that both her parents suffered in assuming betrayal by the other.  Sternberg uses Poppy’s fascination with vice and her subsequent degeneration as an emblem of the more gradual process by which her parents have alienated themselves from normal relationships.  In contrast to the artificial Gin Sling, whose masklike makeup and exotic headdress outwardly suggest a lifeless doll, and Charteris, who takes satisfaction in frustrating his sycophants by lighting his own cigarette, Poppy initially reacts to Gin Sling’s gambling house with an open and natural disdain, ‘What a witches’ Sabbath…so incredibly evil.  I didn’t think such a place existed except in my own imagination–like a half-remembered dream.  Anything could happen here, at any moment.’  Poppy’s words are, of course, in the narrative convention of film noir, prophetic ones.  The effects of her surrender to the dark side of her ‘own imagination’ are apparent.  Her gambling, drinking, and infatuation with Omar are examples, as are her altered appearance, haggard and slow-moving, and her frequently slurred words.  Her drug addiction is not explicit but abundantly suggested by her own name, her mercurial behavior, and her increasing dependence on Omar.

“Sternberg visually underscores the concept of Poppy’s ‘evil, half-remembered dream’ with numerous diffused close-ups, many of them on the half-familiar faces of well-known character actors that portray Gin Sling’s minions:  Maria Ouspenskaya as the Amah, Gin Sling’s attendant; Eric Blore as the bookkeeper; Marcel Dalio as the croupier who controls the gamblers’ fates; and Mike Mazurki as the hulking coolie who banters with Charteris in Pidgin English.  From cuts of intent faces watching the spinning of the roulette wheel, Sternberg pulls back to overhead long shots of the smoke-filled hall with its cramped figures arranged into tiers around the wheel like a rendering of Dante’s Inferno in evening dress.  In a world where normal relationships are impossible, Sternberg isolates moments of either detachment or fury.  In contrast to the increasingly frenzied Poppy, who senses herself being slowly crushed as surely as the was figurine that Gin Sling rends with her polished nails, there is the imperturbable Omar, as laconic and icily unreachable as the Dietrich figures in Sternberg’s earlier films.  Omar’s dark skin, hair slick with oil, and hooded eyes complement the moment when he spreads his cape around Poppy like a vampire before kissing her, almost suggesting an incubus who personifies the destruction of the noir underworld.

“Charteris’ appearance in this underworld precipitates the violent denouement, which is a return to the darker vision of Sternberg’s earlier films, a much bleaker vision than that found in the fates of the quixotic figures of the later ‘Macao.’  Poppy’s death not only verifies her observation that ‘anything could happen here, at any moment,’ but also denies any possibility of regeneration.  The irony of Gin Sling’s earlier remark that occasionally ‘Shanghai decides to clean itself like a swan in a muddy lake,’ is that the characters have no such option but are trapped in a miasma of their own dissolution.  For the murdered Poppy, the question of ‘paying’ for her sins is moot.  For Gin Sling and for Charteris, who stumbles out of the casino to suffer a final taunt from the coolie (‘You likee Chinee New Year?’), the question is left open-ended.”  Film Noir, Ed. Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward, The Overlook Press, 1988, p.255-256.

IMDb Storyline:

“A young woman, Poppy, out for excitement in Shanghai, enters a gambling house owned by “Mother” Gin Sling, a dragon-lady who worked herself up from poverty to buy the casino. Sir Guy Charteris, wealthy entrepreneur, has purchased a large area of Shanghai, forcing Gin Sling to vacate by the coming Chinese New Year. Under orders from Gin Sling, who has found out Poppy is Charteris’ daughter, the smarmy Doctor Omar leads Poppy deeper and deeper into an addiction to gambling and alcohol. Gin Sling, realizing that Charteris was her long-ago husband who she thinks abandoned her, plans her revenge by inviting Charteris to a Chinese New Year dinner party to expose his past indiscretions. Charteris, however, has a suprise of his own to spring on Gin Sling.”

IMDb Review:

“…..in this tawdry melodrama of intrigue, deception and betrayal. Everything is for sale; self-interest is the prime commodity. As a kind of Far Eastern “Grand Hotel,” this picture may be short on substance, but its compensation is atmosphere – the exotic type that von Sternberg has employed to advantage elsewhere – and a host of commendable performances. Nothing is what it appears to be: the camera eye moves us forward, but smoke and crowds keep getting in the way; explosive sounds may be firecrackers or gunshots; a mask may be a cover or a revelation. Well worth watching, with particular praise reserved for the too-little-known Ona Munson.”

STRANGE IMPERSONATION  (1946)
C. 5 Mar. 1946  Republic Pictures Corp. LP240
B&W  60 Mins.  Good Copyright  

Director:                              Anthony Mann
Writer:                                 Mindret Lord
Producers:                           W. Lee Wilder/William Wilder
Cinematog.:                         Robert Pittack
Music Dir.:                           Alexander Laszlo
Editor:                                  John Link
Story:                                   Anne Wigton and Herman Lewis
Cast:                                     William Gargan, Hillary Brooke, Brenda Marshall, Lyle                                                     Talbot, H.B.Warner, George Chandler, Ruth Ford, Cay                                                       Forester, Richard Scott, Mary Treen,  Herman Lewis

“Nora Goodrich (Brenda Marshall), a chemist with the Wilmotte Institute, is discoverer of a new anesthesia, and confides to her assistant Arline… that she intends to perform the first experiment on herself. Dr. Stephan Lindstron (William Gargan), Nora’s fiancé and co-worker, receives word he must leave immediately for France, and wants Nora to marry him and make the trip with him. Unknown to him, Nora plans to take the anesthesia that evening with Arline’s help. She promises Stephan his answer next day. That afternoon, after Nora leaves the laboratory, a half-drunk girl, Jane Karaski… falls in the path of Nora’s car, but is unhurt. Ambulance-chaser J. W. Rinse… tries to press his services on both girls, but they refuse… Nora drives Jane to the girl’s shabby one-room apartment, and leaves Jane twenty-five dollars. At Nora’s apartment, that evening, she instructs Arline in the administration of the second injection, warning her that more than 5 c.c.’s of fluid in the beaker will cause an explosion. Arline waits until Nora is asleep, then  deliberately pours the fluid until it registers ’20.’ She rushes for the door just as Stephan enters the apartment. He is too late to prevent the explosion, but he … rushes [Nora] to a hospital. Nora’s face is heavily bandaged, and while she is lying in the hospital, Arline maneuvers affairs so that the doctor forbids Stephan from visiting Nora…Meantime, Nora… at a loss to understand Stephan’s absence, believes it is because her face is scarred. Stephan is compelled to see more and more of Arline–as the only source of direct news of Nora. He is led to believe that Nora does not want to see him at all.” Nora returns home, badly scarred, and Jane attempts blackmail; in a struggle to gain control of Jane’s gun, Jane falls off the balcony and is killed. Stephan mistakenly identifies Jane’s corpse as Nora. Nora mistakenly leaves with Jane’s purse, and undergoes plastic surgery, emerging with Jane’s face. She reads of Stephan’s pending marriage to Arline, and obtains a job at the Institute.  Stephan, now married to Arline, falls in love with her, not knowing that she is really Nora, his old true love. Stephan and Nora plan to leave for France to undertake the medical research project.  Arline, recognizing “Jane” as the original Nora, arranges for Rinse, the ambulance-chasing attorney, to falsely identify “Jane” to the police as the killer of Nora. Nobody believes that “Jane” is in reality Nora, and Arline refuses to back up her story. “The scene changes, and once again we are back in Nora’s old apartment where the experiment first took place. At this moment, Stephan is sitting beside Nora on the couch, shaking her by the shoulders. Nora opens her eyes, runs to the mirror, finds she is still Nora and touches her face unbelievingly. It has all been a bad dream.  She promises gladly–to marry Stephan next day.” (publicity release)

“In this complex drama, a female chemist decides to test out her new formula for an anesthetic upon herself.  Her assistant helps her.  Unfortunately, something goes terribly awry and the woman ends up jilted by her fiancé, blackmailed, and horribly disfigured.  Fortunately, things are not as they seem.” Corel All Movie Guide 2


STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP (a/k/a STRANGLER FROM THE SWAMP)  (1946)
C. 6 Jan. 1946  PRC Pictures, Inc.  L12
B&W  60 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                         Frank Wisbar
Writers:                          Harold Erickson, Frank Wisbar
Producer:                       Raoul Pagel
Cinematog.:                   James S. Brown, Jr.
Art Director:                 Edward C. Jewell
Music Dir.:                    Alex Steinert
Editor:                           Hugh Wynn
Set Decor.:                     Glenn Thompson
Story:                             Frank Wisbar and Leo McCarthy
Cast:                               Robert H. Barrat, Rosemary La Planche, Blake Edwards,                                                 Charles Middleton, Frank Conlan, Virginia Farmer, Nolan                                                 Leary, Therese Lyon, Effie Parnell

“The basic ingredients of ‘Strangler of the Swamp,’ the New York Theater’s current invitation to gooseflesh, are one swamp, constant and heavy mist which dissipates neither night nor day, and a ghostly strangler. The strangler is the best part of the picture because you never know whether he’s real or just a figment of the imaginations of guilty folk. There is the unjust lynching of the fellow who used to operate the hand-ferry over that swamp. He was blamed for a murder another had committed, and before anyone had guessed a contrary solution, he was a ghost and strictly limited to ghostly revenges. Various people die in several ways, but always there is a choice between a natural death and a strangler’s handiwork. Eventually the ghost himself becomes visible to the greatest doubter of all, stout-hearted Robert Barrat. But just at the climax, when the young hero is about to die mysteriously and his girl is defending him with a mystic determination to sacrifice herself willingly to the ghost’s ministrations, the ghost fades away. Thus the choice of reality or figment remains entirely open, which is a rare and splendid occurrence to record among the little ‘B’ chillers.  Consistency to one side for the time being, ‘Strangler of the Swamp’ deserves commendation for leaving its complete solution hanging in the air just as the subtler type of ghost is wont to do.” (New York Post, January 28, 1946)

“….The haunt…exists…because a man named Douglas is unjustly hanged for murder. Protesting his innocence to the last, the ferryman has called down a curse upon those responsible for his fate, and soon the superstitious swampland folk are subject to strangely violent deaths. One man is thrown from a horse and strangled by the reins; another is garroted while stringing a clothesline; another choked by a fishnet and still another hanged in trying to destroy the noose which was used on Douglas.  Although Douglas himself is subsequently proved innocent by a confession left by one of his victims, his spirit continues with vengeance until the power of the church and a young girl’s courage combine to dissolve the demon. Robert Barratt is well cast and extremely able as Christian Sanders, community leader who tries to dissuade the people from credence in the Douglas curse and urges them to drain the swampland for a church site.  Rosemary La Planche appears as feminine star and for romance with Blake Edwards.  Villain is Charles Middleton.” (New York Daily News, January 28, 1946)

“In the very early 30s, Frank Wisbar (a director always more associated with artistic experiment than with commercial success) made a remarkable German fantasy film entitled Farhman Maria (Ferryman Maria), which starred that unique actress Sybille Schmitz, so effective as the Vampire’s chief victim in Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr. Although not a horror film, it dealt partially with the supernatural, and like so many German films of its type, featured a personalized Death. While it perhaps owed its initial inspiration to Fritz Lang’s Destiny, it was a unique and original film that has surprisingly been ignored by the standard histories of film… Only in David Stewart Hull’s Film in the Third Reich, published as late as 1969, does one find the film finally acknowledged–and, happily, praised. Wisbar’s Hollywood career was, unfortunately, quite unworthy of him, largely limited to the 1940s and ‘B’ products at PRC [Producers Releasing Corporation] and Republic–including… The Devil Bat’s Daughter.  But the action-and-melodrama-oriented production executives at PRC for once were sold a bill of goods themselves, for Wisbar’s Strangler of the Swamp is a simpler reworking of his old classic Farhman Maria. The heroine–named Maria, and played by Rosemary La Planche– arrives to take over the operation of the lonely ferry when her grandfather, who runs it, is killed. The community is haunted by the spectre of a man hanged years before for a murder of which he is innocent; he returns periodically to cause the deaths (usually by accidental hanging–entrapment by undergrowth vines, or the rope of the ferry itself) of the men responsible for his death. His curse extends to their descendants too, and can only be ended when one of them voluntarily offers his or her life to him in final expiation.  Ultimately, in order to save the man she loves (Blake Edwards, in his pre-director and pre-Julie Andrews days), Maria offers herself to the wraith. In the traditional, German romanticist- fantasies, like Nosferatu, the sacrifice would be accepted, and the woman would die–bringing peace and life to those she loved.  However, such a denouement would have been unthinkable for PRC, already caught napping with this Gothic mood piece. They settled for the wraith’s being satisfied by the gesture and returning to the grave, having first made his own peace with God, and leaving the way clear for a traditional happy ending. Like most of the old German fantasies, the film is totally stylized, and virtually all studio made…. The first third of the film is particularly effective: the (justified) fears and superstitions of the villagers, the matter-of-fact acceptance of the supernatural, the eerie clanging of the ferry signal at night, and the gradual manifestation of the ghost (played by Charles Middleton) are sparse and well- handled; no special effects or shimmering lights, merely a grim, barely definable shape that merges with the shadows and the night…. But lowest-rung grade ‘B’ or not [Strangler of the Swamp] is a commendable attempt to do something different with a standardized genre (serious ghost stories were still rare on the screen in 1945…) and, most of all, it is an example of how genuine feeling and style can be extracted from even the cheapest film if the director cares.” (Classics of the Horror Film, Everson, The Citadel Press, 1974)

WOMAN WHO CAME BACK, THE  (1945)
C. 28 Nov. 1945  Republic Pictures Corp.  LP13677
B&W  69 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                        Walter Colmes
Writer:                           Dennis Cooper
Producer:                      Walter Colmes
Cinematog.:                   Henry Sharp
Music Dir.:                     Walter Scharf
Composer:                     Edward Plumb
Editor:                           John Link
Set Decor.:                     Jacques Mapes
Idea:                               Philip Yordan
Story:                             John Kafka
Cast:                              Nancy Kelly, John Loder, Otto Kruger, Ruth Ford, Harry Tyler,                                        Jeanne Gail, John Farrell MacDonald, Almira Sessions,                                                      Emmett Vogan

“Lorna Webster (Nancy Kelly) on returning to her ancestral home in a New England village, believes she has been bewitched–A curse put upon her by a practitioner in the art of sorcery who was burned at the stake 300 years ago by her clerical ancestor.  Events seem to bear out Lorna’s grim theory.  The baby niece of Dr. Matt Adams (John Loder) with whom Lorna is in love, mysteriously falls ill after Lorna has an altercation with the baby’s mother… The mother herself, in flight from a phantom dog, almost commits suicide and the same frightening canine haunts the home of Lorna nearly driving her to insanity. Dr. Adams, aided by the Reverend Stevens (Otto Kruger) tries to solve the mystery but the townspeople, convinced that Lorna is a witch, start a whispering campaign which threatens bodily harm to the girl. Finally, in desperation, Lorna discovers old documents in the crypt of the village church where her ancestor preached.  These documents prevent the townspeople from slaying Lorna and explain the entire puzzling circumstances.” (publicity release)

“This thriller is set in New England and follows the exploits of a young woman who believes that she has been cursed by an evil sorceress.  She goes back to her familial estate in a small town.  The townsfolk also believe that she is cursed as her ancestors before her were cursed three centuries ago.  They treat her terribly as she investigates.  In the end, they nearly drive her to suicide.” Corel All Movie Guide 2

MR. FAT-W FILM NOIR DVDs.

GROUP II -- MYSTERY/DETECTIVE NOIRS AVAILABLE ON DVD


All of the titles in this Group are available on DVD from Amazon.com and from the FATW EBAY STORE:






A.  PHILO VANCE DETECTIVE/NOIR FEATURES


PHILO VANCE RETURNS  (1947)
C. 14 June 1947  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP1052
B&W  64 Mins.  Good Copyright  
  
Director:            William Beaudine
Writer:               Robert Kent
Producer:          Howard Welsch
Cinematog.:      Jackson J. Rose
Art Director:     Perry Smith
Music Dir.:       Irving Friedman
Composer:        Albert Glasser
Editor:              Gene Fowler, Jr.
Set Decor.:        Armor E. Marlowe
Story:                character created by S.S. VanDine
Cast:                 William Wright, Terry Austin, Leon Belasco, Clara Blandick, Iris                                     Adrian, Frank Wilcox, Ramsay Ames, Time Murdock, Damian                                         O’Flynn, Mary Scott, Ann Staunton


Good mystery starring William Wright as private detective Philo Vance.  He "... has the assignment of solving the murder of a playboy and prevent [sic] the extermination of his numerous ex-wives and former fiances.  The wildoater previous to his enforced demise had made a will leaving a huge trust fund to be shared with those previously involved in his lovelife.  With  that kind of will, it's advantageous to have the ex's liquidated, but Vance, as usual, selects the proper culprit after the regulation number of corpses are strewn about."  (Variety, April 30, 1947)

“In this murder mystery, intrepid detective Vance looks into the murder of a notorious playboy.  Vance must hurry as the killer is systematically killing all of the womanizer’s ex-wives, and former girl friends, each of whom has a stake in the deceased’s vast fortune.” Corel All Movie Guide 2

PHILO VANCE'S GAMBLE  (1947)
C. 12 March 1947  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP1205
B&W  62 Mins.  Good Copyright 
       
Director:                Basil Wrangell
Writers:                 Eugene Conrad, Arthur St. Claire
Producer:              Howard Welsch
Cinematog.:          Jackson J. Rose
Art Director:         Perry Smith
Music Dir.:            Irving Friedman
Editor:                   Donn W. Hayes
Set Decor.:            William Kiernan, Armor E. Marlowe
Story:                    character created by S.S. VanDine; story by Lawrence Edmund                                        Taylor
Cast:                      Alan Curtis, Sheila Ryan, Terry Austin, Frank Jenks, Tala Birell,                                      Gavin Gordon, Frank Jenks, James Burke, Cliff Clark, Joseph                                        Crehan, Charles Mitchell, Francis Pierlot, Dan Seymour, Grady                                        Sutton


Mystery with "fair pacing, occasional touches of humor, and a vast amount of gunplay" starring Alan Curtis as private detective Philo Vance. He is "drawn into a case in which a syndicate illegally acquires a huge emerald, and is about to peddle it when the chief thief is slain.  Other murders follow in fairly rapid succession, and Vance finally lands the culprit."   (Variety, April 30, 1947)

“In this entry in the detective series, Vance looks into several deaths that seem to center around the theft of a rare emerald.  First killed is the leader of the jewel thieves.  Many more people die, before the mystery is solved.” Corel All Movie Guide 2

PHILO VANCE'S SECRET MISSION  (1947)
C. 5 Aug. 1947  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP1180
B&W  58 Mins.  Good Copyright  
    
Director:              Reginald Le Borg
Writer:                 Lawrence Edmund Taylor
Producer:            Howard Welsch
Cinematog.:        Jackson J. Rose
Art Director:       Perry Smith
Film Editor:        Donn W. Hayes
Set Decor.:          Armor E. Marlowe, Clarence I. Steensen
Special Eff.:        George J. Teague
Story:                  character created by S.S. VanDine
Cast:                    Alan Curtis, Sheila Ryan, Tala Birell, Frank Jenks, James Bell,                                        Kenneth Farrell, Frank Fenton, David Leonard, Paul Maxey


Good mystery starring Alan Curtis as private detective Philo Vance.  "Film gets off to a quick start when detective magazine head Paul Maxey is murdered at his palatial home.  Maxey had called Curtis in to write a novel concerning an unsolved murder for which, Maxey said, he could supply the ending. Curtis follows through, out of curiosity, and learns that Tala Birell's husband  had been murdered seven years previously and that Maxey  thought he had the answer.  Curtis decides that he must first solve her husband's murder before he can solve Maxey's.... plenty of action..."  (Variety, November 26,  1947)

“S.S. Van Dyne’s gentleman detective is reduced to an ordinary “hard boiled” gumshoe in this inexpensive mystery.  Philo Vance (Alan Curtis) is hired by a magazine publisher, ostensibly as a technical advisor for a crime periodical.  This is a cover for his “secret mission”: to learn the truth behind the death of the publisher’s former partner seven years earlier.  When the publisher himself is killed, Vance learns that practically everyone who came in contact with the dead man had a motive.  Vance gets to the bottom of things with the dubious help of his pretty secretary (Sheila Ryan).  Philo Vance’s Secret Mission was the fourteenth and final Hollywood film based on Van Dyne’s creation.” Corel All Movie Guide 2




GROUP III -- MYSTERY/DETECTIVE NOIRS WHICH HAVE NOT BEEN RELEASED

We have film materials and distribution rightsfor the movies in this group, but they haven't been mastered or released on DVD yet.


BURY ME DEAD  (1947)
C. 18 Oct. 1947  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP1277
B&W  68 Mins.  Good Copyright 
    
Director:                  Bernard Vorhaus
Writers:                   Dwight V. Babcock, Karen de Wolf
Producer:                Charles “Chuck” Reisner
Cinematog.:            John Alton
Editor:                     Donn W. Hayes
Story:                       Irene Winston
Cast:                        June Lockhart, Hugh Beaumont, Cathy O'Donnell, Mark Daniels,                                    Cliff Clark, Sonia Darrin, Virginia Farmer, Greg McClure, Cathy                                    O’Donnell, Milton Parsons


IMDb Storyline: “Barbara Carlin attends her own funeral and returns home suspecting that her husband, Rod Carlin, had tried to do away with her, and is also (rightfully) curious as to just who was the woman buried under her name. She learns that the victim was glamor girl Helen Lawrence, with whom her husband had been having an affair. Complications come from her sister Rusty, who, it turns out, is not her real sister and also doesn't like her a whole lot, and from a dim-witted prize fighter, George Mandley. The family attorney, Michael Dunn, stands around and provides little in the way of help or reason for being there, until... “

IMDb Review: “Bury Me Dead is directed by Bernard Vorhaus and adapted to screenplay by Dwight V. Babcock and Karen DeWolf from a radio drama by Irene Winston. It stars June Lockhart, Cathy O'Donnell, Hugh Beaumont, Mark Daniels, Greg McClure and Milton Parsons. Music is by Emil Cadkin and cinematography by John Alton. Barbara Carlin (Lockhart) surprises everyone by turning up alive and well shortly after she had been buried at funeral! This poses two immediate questions: Who was buried in Barbara's coffin? And who was it who attempted to murder her? As has been noted by the few writers on line who have written about this film, it's a grand premise that unfortunately isn't exploited to its maximum. It's material that makes us lament that the likes of Lang, Siodmak or Mann didn't have this written idea land on their desks. Compact at under 70 minutes, it's a film that, under Bernard Vorhaus' guidance, just doesn't know if to play it as straight or straight out murder mystery comedy. Something further enhanced by Cadkin's musical score, which, quite frankly, belongs in an Abbott and Costello movie. However, the film rises above average because the script is actually strong and John Alton weaves some magic with his photographic lenses. Narratively it's a good who done it? The mystery is strong and the reveal is not easy to guess from the off, though in fairness the comedy moments in the flashbacks kind of distract you from any detective work you want to partake in! But coupled with some sharp lines given to Lockhart, who delivers them with a scorpion like sting, it's well written stuff. Yet without doubt it's Alton's work that makes this well worth viewing, whenever the film gets indoors the film takes on another dimension. Alton creates stark images at every turn, angled shadows everywhere, the whites ghostly and the darks deathly black. The last 15 minutes of the film are played out on this atmospheric stage and it's everything that a Alton fan could want. Even if it ultimately is work that deserves a far, far better film."



B.  MIKE SHAYNE DETECTIVE/NOIR FEATURES

BLONDE FOR A DAY  (1946)
C. 6 July 1946  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP454
B&W  68 Mins.  Good Copyright 
    
Director:              Sam Newfield
Writer:                 Fred Myton
Producer:             Sigmund Neufeld
Cinematog.:         John H. Greenhalgh, Jr.
Music Dir.:           Leo Erdody
Editor:                  Holbrook Todd
Story:                   “Mike Shayne, Detective” by Brett Halliday
Cast:                    Hugh Beaumont, Kathryn Adams, Cy Kendall, Marjorie Moshelle,                                  Paul Bryar, Richard Fraser, Frank Ferguson, Mauritz Hugo, Claire                                Rochelle, Sonia Sorel, Cheryl Walker, Charles Wilson


Mike Shayne whodunit starring Hugh Beaumont as the  detective and his real-life wife Kathryn Adams as his secretary.  "Yarn deals with Beaumont rescuing a police reporter when a bunch of gamblers get tough with the guy.  Scribe had been exposing the gang as being linked to a series of slayings when they try to bump him off. The Sherlock unravels the mystery, which seems to have more blondes than detectives showing up in some sequences."  (Variety, July 31, 1946) “Detective Michael Shayne is again on the case to save a woman crime correspondent from the gangsters who want to prevent her from publishing damning exposes.”  
Corel All Movie Guide 2

LARCENY IN HER HEART  (1946)
C. 18 June 1946  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP386
B&W  68 Mins.  Good Copyright 

Director:                  Sam Newfield
Writer:                    Ray Schrock
Producer:                Sigmund Neufeld
Cinematog.:            John H. Greenhalgh, Jr.
Art Director:          Edward C. Jewell
Music Dir.:              Leo Erdody
Editor:                     Holbrook Todd
Story:                       by Brett Halliday
Cast:                        Hugh Beaumont, Cheryl Walker, Ralph Dunn, Charles Wilson,                                        Paul Bryar, Douglas Fowley, Lee Bennett, Henry Hall, Marie                                            Harmon, Milt Kibbee, Charles Quigley, Gordon Richards


"There's much ado about a disappearing corpse in 'Larceny in Her Heart.'  The fact that the body finally turns out to be falsely identified by no means ends the general confusion, even though it  does bring down the curtain.  As a Michael Shayne murder mystery, New York's current film labors for comedy as well as thrills.  That it is wholly successful with neither is due largely to script rather than players.  The mistake-in-identity  angle is a scheme concocted to cover the murderous designs of a man who hires detective Shayne to locate his missing stepdaughter.  Shayne finally gets suspicious in the right direction, after trailing an elusive corpse, and manages to prevent two additional killings." (N.Y.Daily News, July 22,1946)

MURDER IS MY BUSINESS  (1946)
C. 18 June 1946  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP385
Color  63 Mins.  Good Copyright 

Director:                   Sam Newfield
Writer:                     Fred Myton
Producer:                 Sigmund Neufeld
Cinematog.:             John H. Greenhalgh, Jr.
Art Director:           Edward C. Jewell
Music Dir.:               Leo Erdody
Editor:                     Holbrook Todd
Set Decor.:               Harry Reif
Story:                       “Murder is My Business,” by Brett Halliday
Cast:                        Hugh Beaumont, Cheryl Walker, Lyle Talbot, Carol Andrews,                                          George Meeker, Pierre Watkin, Carol Andrews, Virginia Christine,                                  Ralph Dunn, Helene Heigh, Richard Keene, Donald Kerr    


"As always in such cases, there is a murder. The local  authority suspects that Shayne is too close to the affair not to be involved, but there is no evidence sufficient to warrant an arrest.  The fact that the murderer may be an ex-con friend of Shayne might be considered a damning implication, but since the alleged murderer was immediately killed by the victim's husband  the plot continues to chug forward.  Another killing proves that someone else is taking a hand in the game. An interested spectator, sitting behind the scenes, is certain that not one but several people are at work. Eventually there are so many suspects that it becomes hard to keep them straight and impossible to hit upon the most and least likely villains.  Under these conditions of low visibility Hugh Beaumont and his  sec'y, Cheryl Walker, perform creditably.  When the murderer is finally revealed by our oft-flattened dick he deserves a golden credit for perseverance in face of stern plot odds." (New York Post, May 8, 1946)

THREE ON A TICKET  (1947)
C. 3 March 1947  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP857
B&W  60 Mins.  Good Copyright 
    
Director:                 Sam Newfield
Writer:                   Fred Myton
Producer:               Sigmund Neufeld
Cinematog.:           John H. Greenhalgh, Jr.
Music Dir.:             Dick Carruth
Composer:              Emil Cadkin
Editor:                    Holbrook Todd
Set Decor.:              Elias H. Reif/Harry Reif
Story:                      Brett Halliday
Cast:                       Hugh Beaumont, Cheryl Walker, Ralph Dunn, Louise Currie, Paul                                   Bryar, Gavin Gordon, Brooks Benedict, Noel Cravat, Douglas                                           Fowley, Charles King, Trudy Marshall, Charles Quigley


Stars Hugh Beaumont as detective Mike Shayne in "a good action whodunit story...at a smart clip that will please.  Suspense is maintained by playing and direction and production mounting obtains values better than expected from budget expenditure.  Plot... deals with the dauntless private eye's adventures while trying to outguess a choice bunch of doublecrossing crooks... all after cache of bank loot hidden in a railroad locker.   Ticket necessary to recover loot has been torn into thirds and holders all are trying to obtain parts held by others.... Hugh Beaumont is excellent as Shayne and his work is ably backed by Cheryl Walker, who gives considerable life to the role of the private detective's smart secretary....others in cast are good... Lensing... settings, and other production ingredients are expert."  (Variety, April 9, 1947)

TOO MANY WINNERS  (1947)
C. 24 May 1947  Pathe Industries, Inc.  LP1021
B&W  60 Mins.  Good Copyright

Director:                  William Beaudine
Writer:                     John Sutherland
Producer:                 John Sutherland
Cinematog.:             John H. Greenhalgh, Jr.
Art Director:           Tommy Thompson
Composer:               Alvin Levin
Editor:                     Harry Reynolds
Story:                       Brett Halliday
Cast:                         Hugh Beaumont, Byron Foulger, Trudy Marshall, Ralph Dunn,                                         Claire Carleton, John Hamilton, Charles Mitchell, Jean Andren,                                       Frank S. Hagney, George Meader, Ben Welden 


Good mystery with Hugh Beaumont as private detective Mike Shayne. "This time crime threatens to halt duck-hunting vacation planned by Beaumont and his secretary, looker Trudy Marshall.  He has to turn a quick job of solving mystery of how winning pari-mutual tickets are being counterfeited."  Detective is "punched around plenty and a number of murders tossed in for extra measure to provide thrills while private eye is  unraveling case. It doesn't take him long to spot the culprit as the race-track manager and case is closed with chief suspects and main heavy all bumped off.... Plenty of action for whodunit flavor."  (Variety, June  4, 1947)

“In this suspenseful crime drama, the very last in the “Michael Shayne” series, the ace detective goes off duck hunting for some well deserved rest and relaxation.  While there he does more than play with fowl; he also uncovers foul play and breaks up a counterfeiting ring.” Corel All Movie Guide 2


 

C.  THE FALCON DETECTIVE/NOIR FEATURES

                                                          
APPOINTMENT WITH MURDER  (1948)
C. 4 Nov. 1948  Falcon Productions, Inc. LP2022
B&W  65 Mins.  Good Copyright   

Director:            Jack Bernhard
Writer:              Don Martin
Producer:          Jack Bernhard
Cinematog.:      Walter Strenge
Composer:         Karl Hajos
Editor:               Asa Boyd Clark
Set.Decor:         Earl B. Wooden
Makeup:           Ted Larsen
Story:                Harold Santon and Joel Malone
Cast:                 John Calvert, Lyle Talbot, Catherine Craig, Jack Reitzen, Robert                                     Conte, Peter Brocco, Jack Chefe, Anna Demetrio, Carole Donne, Gene                           Garrick, Pat Lane, Michael Mark, Frank A. Richards, Carlo Schipa,                               Carl Sklover, Ben Welden, Eric Wilton     

                    
Mystery, starring John Calvert as The Falcon, an insurance investigator tracing stolen old masters from Hollywood to Italy.  "Before the old masters are retrieved, Calvert has a busy time of it in outwitting culprit... as well as analyzing the complicity of art gallery owner Catherine Craig in the matter."  (Variety, October 13, 1948)


SEARCH FOR DANGER  (1949)
C. 21 April 1949  Falcon Productions, Inc.  LP2264
B&W  64 Mins.  Good Copyright

   
Director:               Jack Bernhard
Writer:                 Don Martin
Producer:             Jack Bernhard
Cinematog.:         Paul Ivano
Art Director:       Boris Leven
Composer:           Karl Hajos
Editor:                 Asa Boyd Clark
Story:                   Character created by Michael Arlen; story by Jerome Epstein
Cast:                    John Calvert, Albert Dekker, Myrna Dell, Douglas Fowley, Ben                                        Welden, Peter Brocco, Jack Daly, James Griffith, Mauritz Hugo,                                      Michael Mark, Peter Michael, Billy Nelson


Mystery with John Calvert as The Falcon, an insurance investigator.  He "... tracks down an absconded partner of pair of gamblers [Albert Dekker and Ben Welden] which leads to partner's murder.  With stolen $100,000 involved, there's a second murder, and it's anybody's guess then who's the guilty party, with practically all principals under suspicion."   (Variety,  April 20, 1949)