Tuesday, January 26, 2010

T-MEN (1947)

"Did you ever spend 10 nights in a Turkish bath looking for a man?"

People often never ask me "What film would be a good starting point if I wanted to learn about film noir?", but if they did, I would point them towards 1947's T-MEN.  It's a great film that kinda creeps up on you at just how good it is.

The film is presented in a semi-documentary style complete with a narrator.  The story is about a counterfeiting gang based in Los Angeles.  The Treasury Department has been after them for awhile, but the only clue they have is there's a connection with a gang in Detroit.  They send in two undercover T-men to infiltrate the gang.  

A lot of noirs have all kinds of crazy twists, double-crosses and sometimes even triple-crosses that are sometime hard to follow.  T-MEN has none of that.  It's very straightforward and a lot of fun to watch over and over.  Strong direction by Anthony Mann, amazing cinematography by John Alton, great acting, fast pace, impressive cast.  T-MEN is just a solid movie that should be in every classic movie lovers film collection.

Monday, January 25, 2010

N-GIRLS VS. VAMPIRES (1999)

It says Takashi Miike on the credits but you wouldn't know it just from watching it...all three fucking hours of it!!!! The story idea is pretty exciting: some teenage girls find out that a local modeling agency is run by vampires...vampires that only feed on the blood of virgins! That plus Takashi Miike should equal awesome, but it isn't. It's pretty much terrible. First off, it's a TV movie(!) and secondly, there's giant chunks of time wasted on these girls just babbling on about God only knows what. It was torture.

There's no violence, the special effects are painfully horrible, zero tits, very little cussing and the performances by the actors are all shitty. The only saving grace of the entire disaster is there's numerous scenes shot out on busy city sidewalks and you can see pedestrians staring at the camera and just acting confused. I found that kinda funny, but not funny enough to enjoy this turd. Skip it. I would say for hardcore Miike fans only, but I am a hardcore Miike fan and I found this entire movie to be rubbish. Skip it.
Crew visible in reflection.

THE NAKED SPUR (1953)

I have a theory that every movie where Millard Mitchell has a substantial role is going to be an excellent film. So far my theory has held up - SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, THIEVES' HIGHWAY, WINCHESTER '73 - and now THE NAKED SPUR.

Jimmy Stewart is on the trail of a killer (Robert Ryan). He's tracked him to Colorado and with the help of two strangers (Ralph Meeker and Millard Mitchell) he captures the killer and his girlfriend (Janet Leigh). The killer quickly figures out that Stewart didn't tell the others about the $5,000 reward so he spills the beans in order to create a rift between his captors. The two want their part of the reward, so now these three armed men, one vicious killer and one confused female set off from the Rocky Mountains to Kansas.

The direction by Anthony Mann is great and the cinematography by William C. Mellor (A PLACE IN THE SUN, GIANT) is beautiful. Nothing life changing, but still a highly entertaining Western.  Double-feature with ALONG THE GREAT DIVIDE.

Mann - Stewart westerns:

WINCHESTER '73
BEND OF THE RIVER
THE FAR COUNTRY
THE MAN FROM LARAMIE