It's Noirsville, a visually oriented blog celebrating the vast and varied sources of inspiration, all of the resulting output, and all of the creative reflections back, of a particular style/tool of film making used in certain film/plot sequences or for a films entirety that conveyed claustrophobia, alienation, obsession, and events spiraling out of control, that came to fruition in the roughly the period of the last two and a half decades of B&W film.
Hell's Half Acre - Chinatown - Honolulu - Hawaii - The Sin Lounge
Was able to visit Hell's Half Acre otherwise known as Honolulu's Chinatown last week and there are some fragements of Noir still about for those adventureous Aficio-Noir-dos and Noir-istas brave enough to scope it out at night.
This film is a mess. It may be Noir by meddling. It's hard to tell it's original intent as is.
Directed by Harold Lea. Written by Harold Lea, and M.A. Ripps. Cinematography was by Urs Furrer, Music was by Don Bader and Harry Glass
Supposedly Michael Ripps who took a turkey called Bayou (1957) and with added exploitation scenes turned it into a hit called Poor White Trash (1960). expected to do the same here. It didn't quite work with this one. Though the added scenes are interesting.Things get a bit confusing as we go along. There is a black cat side bar with a wacko theory that the cat picks up on the brainwaves of dying people. Gruesome inserts and plot changes are evident and even our films star disappears for the final denouement.
The film stars Frank Jamus (Slaughterhouse-Five (1972)) as Detective David Walsh. Janet Damon as Janet., Patricia McNair as Mitch, Wavy Gravy as the Assistant Detective, Lynn Gregory as Susie with Hyman Augenstein, Jeffrey Bond, Manny Dworman, Hector Elizondo, Fiore, Leonard and future star Geoffrey Lewis pops up a few times.
Garbage cans. An alley. A naked woman crawls on her belly across the pave into the frame. She stops. She's dead. A black cat approaches and jumps over the woman.
It's very impressive. It starts off gangbusters. You think you are in for a treat. Nahhhh!
Then the real movie kicks in.
Tar beach. A cats eye view. A NYPD unmarked car drives up to the entrance, They run into the alley. We cut to a Beatnik Cafe called the Fat Black Cat.
center Wavy Gravy rt., Frank Jamus
Chamber Music is the daytime soundtrack. The detectives are trying to get leads on Iona, the dead woman. They chat up a couple of women playing chess. Both detectives are ordered to go under cover.
Cut to a folk/bluegrass band. Its the 1963 beat scene. An apartment party. the undercover Detective Walsh and Janet question question Fat Freddy about Iona. Freddy was with her for awhile but can't remember the time.
Meanwhile to a weird Middle Eastern tune two more beats are murdered. They were a couple getting it on in a bedroom.
The man tells the woman he feels sick they go out onto the fire escape for some fresh air. While they are leaning over the edge someone comes up through the window quietly behind them.
The man is pushed off the fire escape the woman is stabbed and thrown over. The beats are now cooling it for real down on the cement sidewalk, the guy is still wearing his shades, he's leaving a good looking corpse. There is a black cat making the murder scene here too.
Walsh and Janet question a blonde. She tells them she saw Iona leave around 3 or 4 AM from the party. They find Iona's high heels. The party gets a bit wild, a fight breaks out and Walsh is knocked out. We cut to a figure connecting wires and activating a home made bomb in a briefcase.
When Walsh wakes up its to a vision of wooden tribal masks and to the sound of African drum beats from the Watusi tribe. A woman shuts off the recording. She tells Walsh that she is an anthropologist studying the beat scene.
The plot weaves about we meet various beats, nut jobs, loft artists. I'm surprised Moondog doesn't show up at one point. One particular artist works in a pair of fuzzy slippers. More beatniks die, lots sequences of talking head police officials bog things down, and there is a paucity of what usually redeems these low budgets archival footage of New York City and particular Greenwich Village. I'll give it some credit it does show some music acts and cafe interiors.
The inserts are great, the rest of the film no, though one high lite is a sequence in a cafe where beatnik poets are reading poetry to cafe patrons. A drummer hits a cymbal or beats out sort of punctuation's at the end of various lines. Wavy Gravy is pressured up on stage. He looks at loss for words until he pats down his jacket and pulls a piece of paper out of his jacket. It's some kind of parking regulation He adds "man" to the end of each regulation.
Wavy Gravy: Parking in a hospital zone is strictly prohibited. Man. [cymbal] Crossing the white line is punishable by a fifteen dollar fine... Man. [drum beat]...
Later he's surrounded at the bar by fans
Woman: Hey baby I dig it. Your zones are groovy.... like the hospital zone... and the white line...
It's chuckle inducing.
Wavy Gravy real name was Hugh Romney. He was born in the Hudson Valley in East Greenbush, New York in 1936. He's a genuine beatnik. In 1958, he began reading poetry regularly at The Gaslight Cafe in The Village in Manhattan. He knew Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs, Dave Van Ronk and the Hudson Dusters, etc., etc.
Then comedian Lenny Bruce becomes his manager and brings Romney to California in 1962. There he gets into the beginnings of the Hog Farm commune, He also later became the manager of "Tiptoe through the Tulips" singer/ukulele player, Tiny Tim. Gravy was also at the original Woodstock Festival with the Hog Farm collective helping to set it up in 1969.
Another Quasi Transitional Noir with some sputters of brilliant inserts, but minimal archival location footage. It does have some value depicting the late beat scene in the 60s and it's music taste variations Available from Something Weird Video. 5/10