Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Glass Wall (1953) New York Noir

(TCM Posted 01 April 2012)

The director was Maxwell Shane writer/director of those rather unheralded noirs  Fear in the Night (1947), City Across the River (1949), and and its remake Nightmare (1956). It was written by Ivan Tors and Maxwell Shane. The excellent cinematography was by Joseph F. Biroc (It's a Wonderful Life (1946),The Killer That Stalked New York (1950), Cry Danger (1951), Loan Shark (1952), Vice Squad (1953), Down Three Dark Streets (1954), Nightmare (1956),The Garment Jungle (1957)). Music was by Leith Stevens (Illegal Entry (1949), Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949), Abandoned (1949) Shakedown (1950), Undertow (1949), The Narrow Margin (1952), Angel Face (1953), Private Hell 36 (1954) The Lineup (1958) and others). 

The film stars Vittorio Gassman (Riso amaro (1949)) in his first American film, Gloria Grahame (nine Classic Noir), Jerry Paris (D.O.A. (1950), The Naked Street (1955)), Robin Raymond (The Web (1947)), Douglas Spencer (The Lost Weekend (1945), Alias Nick Beal (1949), Union Station (1950)) and Ann Robinson. An off the radar light Noir with a message.

Storyline From IMDb: Peter (Gassman), a WW II 'displaced person' about to be deported jumps ship in New York harbor in an effort to find an ex-G.I named Tom (Paris)whom he helped during the war and can prove Peter's right to legal entry in the United States. It is a race against time for if he can't Tom within 24 hours and prove his case, he will be branded a fugitive and will be permanently disqualified for U.S. citizenship. His quest leads him to befriending Maggie (Grahame), a down-on-her-luck factory worker whom he rejuvenates through his good faith; a visit to a jazz club where Paris is auditioning for Shorty Rogers and trombonist Jack Teagarden band playing, and an interlude with a good- hearted burlesque dancer, Tanya Zakoyla (Raymond), takes him to her mother's home for food and rest. The climax comes at dawn in the United Nations building (the "glass wall" of the title) where he goes to plead his case and that of all displaced persons. The film is very dark for probably 4/5ths of its length, until its finale at the UN.

Peter Kaban (Gassman)
Some great NYC location shots of Times Square, Mid Town Manhattan and the 3rd Avenue El (though some of them are obvious rear projections

Noir New York

Tom, Maggie Summers (Grahame) and Immigration officer Inspector Bailey (Douglas Spencer)

Jack Teagarden and his slush Pump

First meet with Maggie

Tom playing his licorice stick

3rd Ave, el

Burlesque Dancer Robin Raymond

The acting by Gassman, Grahame, Paris and the rest of the cast is excellent. The film has an entertaining enough story, and Gloria Grahame for once doesn't die in a Noir, lol. My only complaint is it's a bit too short a few minutes longer with each vignette would have been nice. 7-8/10

This film is in a DVD set called The Bad Girls of Film Noir Volume 1

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