Chill morn, warm noon, thunderstorm at night: nice work, Fall. We’re all impressed so far. I’m going to miss morning blogging in the gazebo. Of course, I’m going to miss the gazebo. The fabric roof looks like a sail hanging off a ship that’s been through two typhoons and four cannonball duels, and Target doesn’t sell replacements. I’ll have to get another one next year. I suppose that means I’ll have to disassemble it next month and put the bones out on the boulevard for the burly trash elves to spirit off. Not a moment I relish.
Forgot this week’s space-filler, used when duties overwhelm and time is short for Bleatage: the Weekly Noir. This week:
Perhaps the working title was ELEVATED BLOOD PRESSURE, but it didn’t look good in this font. First we meet the cop:
He’s looking at us, and he’s talking at us. He narrates the picture, but never looks at us again. He gives the little monologue before the title sequence, not afterwards. Before the titles, you can do anything, but afterwards it’s all business. It would seem very wrong for him to address the camera in the middle of the film, but it’s perfectly all right before the movie gets going. Interesting.
Inadvertant Documentary shot, run through some futzing filters:
An all-nite 40s pharmacy. DRUGS and TASTY FOOD and so much more, as you’ll see in a while. We step inside and meet the protagonist, a dorky pestle-grinder. Recognize him?
It’s the glasses, I know. You'll recognize him later.
He’s a man with a problem. He’s married to a trashy roundheeled moral slagheap who drops by his drugstore on the way back from the movies and picks up men who chat her up at the lunch counter. She holds her husband in utter contempt, and eventually leaves him for a ruddy brute. When our hero confronts his wife and the brute, some dork-pounding ensues; our hero decides he must kill – KILL! – the brute to reclaim his manhood. Such as it is. But he’d be recognized. How to escape detection? Simple: craft a fake identity, assume a different life on weekends, bide his time, and kill the brute using his new persona. But doubts plague and nag: people who see him in his new identity would remember him. They'd get a description to the cops. Hopeless. Then a visit to the eye doctor gives him a idea:
What are they called? Contact lens, you say? I cannot even see them in my strange fleshy claw. Are they really a substitute for these glasses, which define my appearance in ways I never thought I could change? Why yes. Just look at our poster's flawless, empirically-ascertained assertions:
Doesn't solve butt-chin, though. If anything, this is proof that the people who did fake advertising for movies were the people who couldn’t get real jobs in advertising. It’s the one thing movies never get right. Movie ads always look fake, unless they're advertising real products. Even then they're suspect.
Thus concealed, he begins his plot. You might wonder what sexpot would drive a man to such extremes. Well, here she is:
Yes, it’s our favorite B-movie noir bad-girl-gone-badder, Audrey Totter. Why do we love her? It’s the hate beams. Nobody did the contemptuous glare better.
There’s a murder, and of course the flatfoots enter. Audiences probably knew this guy:
One of the greatest radio actors over. Maybe you heard him as the narrator on Dudley Do-Right cartoons.
Their investigation takes them to the protagonist’s drugstore, which shows us what they were like in those days:
Liquor on the left, a wall of pipes on the right, candy in the middle. And that was the drug store. Imagine what the places devoted to bad habits looked like.
Essential to the plot: the hero falls in love with a Good Girl who’s everything his wife isn’t:
Jiffy Pop hair aside, she’s a knockout. It’s Cyd Charisse.
As for the movie itself? Nice little piece of work. Sure, it’s a B-picture. But I love B pictures. Give me any 40s / early 50s B&W B-picture crime drama, set it up against a bloated $140 million Hollywood thriller: there’s absolutely no comparison. The former is taut and crisp and nervy; the latter is usually as tense as watching a bag of Jell-O roll down the stairs.
Oh, right: the guy who played the hero.
Theme by John Williams, incidentally.
Stagworld is revived today. I had intended to redesign the site for the relaunch, but didn't have the time, so it's still Stagworld, not Stagland. Cope as best as you can. If you're just joining us: it's devoted to creepy cheap men's mags of the 50s. I know I promised the Screedblog this week; the week is not yet over. See you at buzz.mn!