Saturday, April 25, 2009

Movies: DVR Clearing Report

Danger Signal (1945). It’s an age-old story. Homicidal sharpie woos bookish spinster. Sharpie learns spinster’s hot younger sister stands to inherit a fortune and shifts his focus. Sharpie gets what’s coming to him. Faye Emerson, with her enormous, weirdly sexy forehead and huge glasses, is a C-list Joan Crawford, while Zachary Scott is the destitute man’s Joseph Cotten. As such, they’re perfectly matched. They even sound similar. Rosemary DeCamp makes an impression as a psychiatrist who engages in early profiling. Another nice touch in this minor noir is pathological liar Scott keeping himself afloat by selling stories to the pulps.

Down Three Dark Streets (1954). When an FBI agent is murdered, fellow G-man Broderick Crawford takes over his active unrelated cases to track down his killer. A solid, semi-documentary crime drama with three strong female performances (Ruth Roman, Martha Hyer, and Marisa Pavan) and a taut climax filmed at the Hollywood sign. Personally, I wouldn’t have a character in an L.A.-set movie named Angelino. I also wouldn’t call that character wife’s Julie, especially when everyone pronounces it Jolie. Stranger still is having the film’s narrator turn up on camera late as an expert in vocal pattern analysis – and then dropping the voiceover altogether.

The Destructors (1974). The title makes it sound like a Matt Helm movie – it’s also known as The Marseille Contract – but it’s actually a trashy ‘70s Euro action thriller, the kind of film where beautiful people declare their sexual interest in one another by racing around hairpin turns in their sports cars together. Paris DEA chief Anthony Quinn is fed up with losing his agents to politically connected kingpin James Mason, so he dips into his black budget to hire a professional assassin. His first surprise is discovering that the hit man is old friend Michael Caine. Former White House press secretary-turned-reporter Pierre Salinger turns up as an embassy official. Caine reportedly took the movie without reading a script because it shot on the Riviera during the summer. I’m pretty sure he actually did it for the red-on-black racing jacket he wears. He’s still the best thing in the film after the kick-ass score by Roy Budd (Get Carter).

Miscellaneous: Links

Joe Queenan meets William Goldman. And behind the scenes of my new favorite franchise, OSS 117. Both courtesy of Movie City News.