Two in a row? Two good, tidy, harsh little noirs in this crummy collection? Yes.
For highway season, this seems apt:
We meet our hero at the Noir Diner on the Edge of Reno:
Before he hit the road and let his face become slightly unshaven, he had a good job in a nightclub . . .
Formerly the Crack o’ Dawn, until Dawn sued. He was working the ivories with his best gal at his side:
He’s good - a few scenes show off his classical chops, but it’s made clear that he’s merely good. Guys in bars who can rattle off Chopin and mix in the boogie-boogie? Dime a dozen.
Is this noir? Oh, I think so:
And it takes place in Arizona! Just kidding. That’s the famous New York Fog Samuel Johnson wrote about with such poetry. Anyway, the frail ankles it out to Hollywood, thinking she might be a star; the pianist hangs around, waiting for big tips he can blow on long-distance calls to his girl. Finally he decides to see her - but since he’s broke, he hitches. As the stone-hard-boiled voiceover put it: “It was me for the thumb.”
He’s picked up by a shady character in a nice car, and you can imagine what follows next: an ever-tightening web of intrigue and suspicion, leading to . . . MURDER!
Actually, no. It doesn’t. In a move you’d see years later in “The Passenger,” the piano man takes the identity of the shady character, who expires of natural causes in the middle of the night. He hooks up with a grim lady-type hitchhiker:
Soon the two are embroiled in a scheme that spirals out of control, leading to . . . MURDER!
Or not. The moment this witch comes into the movie, it's another film entirely; she makes a pitch for the most loathsome dame to walk across the screen.
Intrigued? It's only 67 minutes. Watch it now, for free, right here.