Sunday, July 15, 2012

Night and the City (1950).

Night and the City (1950). A film noir based on the novel by Gerald Kersh, directed by Jules Dassin. Cast: Richard Widmark and Gene Tierney. Shot on location in London,  the picture is considered a classic of the film noir genre.  The film's British version was five minutes longer, with a more upbeat ending and featuring a completely different film score. Dassin has endorsed the American version as closer to his vision.

The story begins when, no good hustler Harry Fabian, borrows the money from his girl friend night club singer Mary Bristol, to open a greyhound racing track. Mary, borrowed the money from, designer Adam Dunn, which was supposed to be used to pay off the thug looking for Harry.

Harry, works as a promoter for a nightclub, The Silver Fox, run by Phil and Helen Nosseross.. Later, at a wrestling match, Harry is about to hustle a couple of customers, but.. is stopped by Kristo's father, Gregorius, a former champion wrestler who is disgusted by the phony matches his son is staging. Harry, then promises Gregorius, that he will promote Greco Roman's wrestling matches in London.

Later, Harry asks Phil for financial backing but he refuses. Helen, who is interested in Harry and wants to leave her husband, gives Harry the money on the condition that he will get her a license to reopen a closed nightclub. Thug Fergus Chilk, warns Phil that Harry should be stopped with his plans to promote wrestling. Phil suspects that Harry is having a affair with Helen and decides to "set him up" by becoming his silent partner.

As soon as Harry, books his first promotion, Chilk and Kristo pay him a visit, telling him to leave town. Harry, then introduces them to his partner Gregorius. Kristo warns his father, not to be involved with Harry, who cons more money out of Helen, before he gives her a phony club license. When Kristo tells Phil, he knows that he is Harry's partner, Phil, then promises him that Gregorius will learn that Harry is not an honorable man. Phil's plan involves telling Harry, that he is backing out of the deal unless Harry books, The Strangler, one of Kristo's better wrestlers.

Harry is forced to agree and talks with The Strangler's manager, Mickey Beer. They taunt, The Strangler into challenging Nikolas, and Gregorius is tricked into having Nikolas wrestle The Strangler. Harry tells Phil he has secured The Strangler but, as planned, Phil double-crosses him and phones Kristo in the belief that he will have Harry punished for having betrayed his father. Harry tells Kristo, that Gregorius wants the match to take place. Phil then tells Harry, that no one will give him the money he needs for the event. When Adam tells Mary that he has seen Harry near her flat, she finds him ransacking her place and finding her stash of money.

At a gym, The Strangler and Gregorius get into a fight, and Nikolas suffers a broken wrist trying to stop it. Kristo arrives in time to see his father demolish The Strangler. The match has been too much for the old man, who collapses and dies. Kristo blames Harry for his father's death and puts out the word that he will pay £1,000 to the man who gets Harry.

Helen, at the end of her rope tells Phil that she is going to leave him to go into business with Harry. On the run, Harry phones Figler, king of the beggars, asking him for somewhere to hide. Figler tells him to come to his place, then phones Kristo.

At her new club, Helen is having a meeting with her girls, when a police officer comes to ask why the club is opening. Helen shows him the new license, but.. the officer discovers that it is a fake.

Helen returns to Phil, only to find that he has killed himself. Harry, suspects that he has tipped Kristo has been tipped off and leaves to hide out on a barge owned by Anna O'Leary. Mary finds Harry at the barge and tries to help him escape. He tells her to go to Kristo and collect the reward money on him. Will the police arrive before anybody else is killed?

If you are a film noir fan, who likes sinister greedy, creeps, who practice corruption and betrayal. This classic film noir is for you. This is one of Gene Tierney, older performances.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gene Tierney's Comedy Films.

Gene Tierney, maybe best remembered for her performances in the film noirs: Laura (1944) and Leave Her to Heaven (1945). So, if you are like me you would not think that she would ever perform in a comedy film. Gene Tierney, proved herself to be a actress who could play calm, sweet and innocent characters, with a twist of humor... and she did just that in many of her films in the 1940s and '50s:

Rings on Her Fingers(1942). A very charming comedy starring Henry Fonda and Gene Tierney. Tierney, plays a con-artists who falls for a dreamer who loves sailing. The story become complicated when Tierney wants to return Fonda's life savings after swindling him out of it.. The lively Spring Byington, was the perfect choice playing Tierney's con-artists mother. If you take a little from the films, "Some Like It Hot" and "The Lady Eve" put them together then you have an idea what Rings on Her Fingers is like. One of my favorite scenes is when they are gambling at Tierney's character friends casino and she has it fixed for Fonda's character to win. Of course Fonda thinks he's found a mathematical formula and he becomes very brave at making his bets.

Heaven Can Wait(1943). Cast: Gene Tierney, Don Ameche and Charles Coburn. The supporting cast includes Marjorie Main, Laird Cregar, Spring Byington, Allyn Joslyn, Eugene Pallette, Signe Hasso, Louis Calhern, Tod Andrews, and Clara Blandick. This maybe my favorite of the Gene Tierney comedies, which is about a women, who believes in the man she loves even though he is a Casanova. You will even love the devil in this charming colorful film..

After 70 year old Henry Van Cleve dies, he is sent directly to Hell. There he is greeted by the devil, who wants to know how Henry has earned his way to hell. Henry, begins to tell his story:

Even as a young boy, he is attracted to girls and when he shows little Mary a beetle, she wants him to give her another beetle, Henry realizes, "If you want to win a girl, you have to have lots of beetles."

Henry's family hire Henry, a maid to tutor him in French and the facts of life. When the mother catches on to what's really going on, Grandfather seems proud and whisks the maid out of the house before she causes any more trouble. Henry, continues drinking and womanizing until his twenty-sixth birthday. Henry shares with his mother that he has met the girl of his dreams and wants to marry her, but he does not know her name.

Later, Henry attends a party celebrating the engagement of his cousin Albert and his fiancee, Martha Strabel. Henry, is shocked to see that his cousin's fiancee is the same girl he fell in love with during a chance meeting. The couple elope that night.

Ten years later, on the day before Martha and Henry's anniversary, which is also Henry's thirty-sixth birthday, Henry receives a telegram from Martha, saying that she has left him. Henry follows Martha to her parents home. When Henry arrives, Martha tells him that she knows about Henry's affairs, but he convinces her to forgive him and the couple go on a second honeymoon.

Now, their son Jack has grown into a handsome young man, who has taken up with a chorus girl named Peggy. Henry, goes to visit Peggy and offers her $25,000 to break off her relationship with Jack. What he doesn't know, is that Jack, already has a new girl friend.

That night, at a party celebrating the couple's silver anniversary, Henry learns that Martha is very ill and they dance their last dance together.

Jack, who has become a successful businessman, is not too happy that his widower father stays out late every night returning to his Casanova ways.

On Henry's seventieth birthday, Henry wakes up from a dream about dancing with a beautiful blonde woman, then dies while the beautiful night nurse, is on duty.

After sharing his story, Henry is told by the devil that they do not cater to "his class of people" in Hell and that someone special is waiting for him some place else.

Even though, this is a beautiful story of the women's love for a man from childhood, through old age and even after-death. It is told with a touch of humor and a couple of tears.

The Mating Season(1951). Cast: Gene Tierney, John Lund, Miriam Hopkins, and Thelma Ritter. This well written comedy will brighten your day. Gene Tierney, was at the peak of her beauty when she wore the beautiful gown designed by her then husband famous dress designer, Oleg Cassini.

After, selling her little hamburger stand Ellen McNulty, has nowhere else to go, decides to visit her son Val. Newly married Val, promises his new wife Maggie, a maid to help her around the house. Maggie, has never met Ellen, so when Ellen arrives at the door she mistakes her for the maid. Ellen, decides to go along with the idea and pretends to be a maid. Even though, Val does not think it is a good idea.

Maggie's snobbish mother, decides to also come for a visit and she doesn't care much for Val. While helping Mr. Kalinger, Ellen finds out that his son, Kalinger Jr., is taking credit for all of Val's work and tells Mr. Kalinger the truth.

Mr. Kalinger then invites Val and Maggie to the party and Maggie gets into an heated argument with an important female client. Val, forces Maggie to call her to apologize, but they get into another fight.

Ellen's friends come for a visit and ask to speak to "Mrs. McNulty". At this point "the cat is out of the bag" that Ellen is Val's mother. Maggie, is furious with Val for hiding his mother's identity from her. Val, tries to explain himself but Maggie won't listen and packs her bags.

Mr. Kalinger, convinces Maggie to come to the hotel bar for a good-bye drink, knowing that Val will be also be there. Val brings his mother to the party and begins introducing her to everyone. Causing, Maggie to have a change of heart.

That Wonderful Urge(1948). Cast: Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney. This film, is a remake of.. Love Is News (1937), which starred Power and Loretta Young. The film begins when, Thomas Jefferson Tyler, editor, wants him to write a tabloid type story about the heiress. He follows her on a skiing trip to Sun Valley.

When Sara goes dog sledding with Tom, they have a minor accident and end up in the emergency cabin. Tom shows her a phony, complimentary story he has written about her, Sara feels comfortable enough to share with him her life story. After Tom leaves, Andre shows the real story to Sara. Angry, she tells reporters that she and Tom are married.

Duffy, sees headlines from rival newspapers saying that Tom and Sara are married and he fires Tom. While meeting with Jessica, Tom comes up with an idea about how to prove that he and Sara are not married. When he and Jessica go to apply for a license, the head clerk refuses to issue them one because all the newspapers say that Tom is already married. What follows is classic fun when things spiral out of control..

Our film noir actress Gene Tierney, now finds herself performing in the Musical/comedy, On the Riviera (1951). Dance sequences choreographed and staged by Jack Cole. This was the third film version of the same story. This version stars Danny Kaye, Gene Tierney and Corinne Calvet with Marcel Dalio, Henri Letondal, Sig Ruman with uncredited featured dancer Gwen Verdon. It was nominated for two Academy Awards; for Best Music and Best Art Direction Lyle Wheeler, Leland Fuller, Joseph C. Wright, Thomas Little, Walter M. Scott.

The movie is about Jack Martin, an American entertainer who does impressions on the French Riviera stage. He does an impersonation of Henri Duran, so well that even Duran's wife is fooled by it. When Duran's business takes him to London when he is supposed to be hosting a party at his home, Martin is hired to impersonate Duran at the party. But things take a turn for the funny worse, when Martin is confronted by several of his women and by Duran's business rival, M. Periton.

I'm not really a Kaye fan, but his performance is good in his dual role (he won a Golden Globe award for it). I thought the typical Kaye moment, in the The Puppet dance number, as he mangles names of animals and flowers, was very clever. I also, really enjoyed seeing Gwen Verdon dance numbers.


The painting of Gene Tierney over the fireplace is, the famous portrait of her from the black-and-white noir classic Laura (1944). It is the only opportunity to see the legendary painting in color.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Shanghai Gesture (1941).

Gene Tierney's best known roles are, as the murder victim in the film, Laura (1944). She was also Oscar-nominated for my favorite film, Leave Her to Heaven (1945). After being spotted by Darryl F. Zanuck, during a stage performance of, The Male Animal (1940), Gene was signed to a contract with 20th Century-Fox. Her first role was in the film, Hudson's Bay (1941), which began her wonderful her career. Later, that year she performed in, The Return of Frank James (1940). The next year, was a good one for Gene, as she performed in several films, the first being, The Shanghai Gesture (1941). A film noir starring Gene Tierney and Walter Huston, with Victor Mature and Ona Munson.

The Shanghai Gesture received Academy Award nominations for Best Art Direction (Boris Leven) and Best Original Music Score.

In Shanghai, China, destitute American Dixie Pomeroy, meets Doctor Omar, a shady mystic, as she is being arrested for vagrancy. Omar makes a deal with the police, to take Dixie, to Gin Sling's casino, where Mother Gin Sling might find her employment.

That night, Victoria Charteris, comes with an escort to the casino, which draws all kinds of characters, from all walks of life, and she soon falls under the spell of atmosphere of the casino.

When Victoria sees Omar, she wants to meet him, and Omar becomes seduced by the beautiful young woman, who now calls herself "Poppy Smith."

Mother Gin Sling, learns that someone has bought her property and that she will have to close her casino by the Chinese New Year. Now, blaming Sir Guy Charteris, Mother Gin Sling, wants revenge against, Victoria's father, and her ex-husband .

Over time, Victoria turns into a drunk and loses thousands of pounds and a valuable necklace while trying to have a relationship with a shady Omar. When someone, tries to sell the necklace back to Charteris, he realizes that his daughter is in serious trouble and wants her to return to England.

He accepts an invitation to a Chinese New Year party from Mother Gin Sling, who he does not know is his ex -wife.. At the dinner, he soon learns that Mother Gin Sling, has brought together all her enemies. When Mother Gin Sling, calls him by the name he used in China, he finally recognizes her as his ex- wife and the trouble begins.

The Shanghai Gesture's characters are deeply involved in, drugs and revenge. In 1941, The film Shanghai Gesture,(32 rejections, before it was finally released), was considered too daring to be made. The Chinese government objected to the film 's depiction of China as immoral. The films heavy censorship causes some of the plot to be very hard to follow. But.. the film is still amazing.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Leave Her To Heaven(1945).

Leave Her to Heaven (1945). Technicolor film noir. Cast: Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain, with Vincent Price, Darryl Hickman, and Chill Wills. The story was adapted for the screen by Jo Swerling, having been based on the best selling novel of the same name authored by Ben Ames Williams. The film was directed by John M. Stahl. Tierney received an Oscar nomination as Best Actress in a Leading Role for this film. This one of my favorite "bad girl" movies. Gene Tierney plays a woman consumed in jealousy and vengeance. You will shocked by her murderous acts. This maybe one of those classic film noirs that you will want to watch over and over again.

The story begins when, Richard Harland is released from prison after serving a two-year sentence, he goes to Deer Lake, Maine and is met by his attorney, Glen Robie. Glen has a canoe waiting for Richard to take him to his lodge, "Back of the Moon," then tells his story to his friend:

A few years earlier, Richard accepts an invitation from Glen to vacation at his ranch in beautiful Jacinto, New Mexico. During the train ride, Richard meets a beautiful woman who says that he reminds her of her late father.

Richard is met at the station by Glen, who tells him that, Ellen Berent and her family, are also staying at the ranch.

During dinner, Ellen tells Richard that they have come to scatter her father's ashes at his favorite spot in the mountains. The next morning, Richard follows and watches while the Berents scatter the ashes.

The next day, Richard admits to Ellen that he asked Glen about her fiance, attorney Russell Quinton, she then tells him that she has taken off her engagement ring. The next night, Russell comes storming into the ranch, after receiving a telegram from Ellen breaking off their engagement and everyone is shocked when Ellen, announces that she is going to marry Richard. Soon after, the couple are married and after a brief honeymoon, the newlyweds travel to Warm Springs, Georgia, to visit Richard's younger brother Danny, who is recovering from polio.

Ellen helps Danny, to walk with crutches and soon they are all headed to Back of the Moon. At the lodge, Ellen soon resents Danny and Leicke Thorne, an old family friend and the time that Richard spends writing his book. The trouble does not end there.. Ellen, becomes angry when Margaret and Ruth show up at the lodge and Richard is embarrassed by his wife's behavior. Margaret and Ruth leave soon after.

One sunny afternoon, Ellen and Danny decide to go out on the lake in a canoe. Ellen follows Danny close behind and Danny and urges him on, but when a cramp takes over Danny, he cries for help and Ellen sits and watches him drown.

Richard believes that Danny's death was an accident, but as time passes, he goes into a deep depression. Hoping to make Richard's happy, Ellen becomes pregnant and Richard begins to look forward to being a father..

The couple have now moved to the Berent home in Bar Harbor and now Ellen, is not happy about the baby and believes that it will come between her and Richard. Ellen decides to throw herself down a flight of stairs and causes the death of her unborn baby.

Ruth, needing a change of scenery makes plans to visit Mexico, which is the setting of Richard's new novel. Ellen, become jealous when she reads that the book is dedicated to Ruth and not to her. Ellen then confesses to Richard, that she murdered Danny and their baby. When Richard leaves her, Ellen comes up with a plan to frame Ruth for her murder. Will Ruth be able to prove her innocence?

Gene Tierney (November 19, 1920 – November 6, 1991). Known as one of the great beauties of her day, she is best remembered for her performance in the film, Laura (1944) and her Academy Award-nominated performance for Best Actress in the film, Leave Her to Heaven (1945). Other well known films: Heaven Can Wait (1943), The Razor's Edge (1946), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947),Whirlpool (1949), The Mating Season (1951) and The Left Hand of God (1955).