Monday, August 3, 2015

The Lineup (1958)

(SLWB - September 30, 2011)

Director: Don Siegel with  Eli Wallach, Robert Keith, Richard Jaeckel, Warner Anderson,  Mary LaRoche, William Leslie, Emile Meyer, Marshall Reed, Raymond Bailey, and Vaughn Taylor. This film is actually based on a police procedural TV program "The Lineup" and the first 20 minutes reflect that, appropriating a lot of the conventions that the TV program used.

This is a great crime film about psychopathic mob hit-men on the loose in San Francisco, all the action takes place in one day as they travel around collecting fragments of a shipment of heroin that arrived aboard a passenger ship from the orient.  Since it takes place in a single day its not very dark (save for the psyches of the characters of Wallach and Kieth) or stylistically Noir,  but can boast some fantastic outdoor "neorealism" using San Francisco landmarks as touchstones, and it caps everything off with one of the great chase scenes in cinema since 1949's "The Big Steal". It may also be not very noir-ish because again its trying to reflect the TV Program and TV lighting in general.

Below is a screen cap of the moment when everything unravels for Wallach & Kieth much like the doll the Walllach is ripping apart.

Wallach plays a memorable nut case and also quite refreshing is the diversity of the rest of the various unique characters portrayed rather than today's affectation for metro-sexual pretty boy same old same old blandness. Anyway you can enjoy this film twice, first as the theatrical release and second with the hilarious and informative running commentary by Eddie Muller and James Ellroy.

Viewed the Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classic Vol 1 a easy 9/10 one point dropped for not being very noir-ish.

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