Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Noirsville Tune of the Week

The One That Got Away

Well this gigolo's jumping salty, ain't no trade out on the streets,
Half past the unlucky, and the hawk's a front-row seat
Dressed in full orchestration, stage-door Johnny's got to pay,
And sent him home talking 'bout the one that got away
Could have been on Easy Street, could have been a wheel,
With irons in the fire and all them business deals
But the last of the big-time losers shouted before he drove away,
"I'll be right back, as soon as I crack the one that got away"
Well, the ambulance drivers, they don't give a shit,
They just want to get off work, and
The short stop and the victim are already gone berserk
And the shroud-tailor measures him for a deep-six holiday,
The stiff is froze, the case is closed on the one that got away
Now Jim Crow's directing traffic with them cemetery blues,
With them peculiar-looking trousers, them old Italian shoes
And a wooden kimono that was all ready to drop in San Francisco Bay
But he's mumbling something all about the one that got away
And Costello was the champion at the St. Moritz Hotel,
And the best this side of Fairfax, reliable sources tell
But his reputation is at large, and he's at Ben Frank's every day,
Waiting for the one that got away
He got a snakeskin sportshirt, and he looks like Vincent Price,
With a little piece of chicken, and he's carving off a slice
Someone tipped her off, and she'll be doing a Houdini now any day
She shook his hustle, and a Greyhound bus'll take the one that got away
Well, Andre's at the piano behind the Ivar in the sewers,
With a buck a shot for pop tunes, and a fin for guided tours
He could-a been in "Casablanca", he stood in line out there all day
Now he's spilling whiskey and learning songs about a one that got away
Well I've lost my equilibrium and my car keys and my pride,
The tattoo parlor's warm, and so I hustle there inside
And the grinding off the buzz-saw, "What you want that thing to say?"
I says, "Just don't misspell her name, buddy, she's the one that got away"

Monday, August 27, 2018

Noirsville Neo Noir Gif of the Week

Psycho (1960)

Noir Image Of The Week

Steinway Street @ Astoria Blvd with overpass over Grand Central Parkway (1950)

Der Fall (aka The Fall) (1972) Swiss Noir

A stylistic Swiss detective film.

Interestingly, I just recently watched Czech director Hugo Haas' The Pickup (1951). The majority of Hass's American Noir output was variations on a theme, that theme being the same one for director Josef von Sternberg's Blue Angel (1930), foolish, lonely old fuddy-duddy professor falls for floozy flirtatious dance hall stripper.

Der Fall is a Swiss version of the tale. This go round the man is Alfons Grendelmann (Walo Lüönd) a private detective, the girl Marsha (Katrin Buschor) is an underage whore who lives off her clients.

Alfons is an ex cop who quit the force when the case he unearthed of child molestation evidence among police officials, was squashed by the political forces that be. Alfons is now a fairly successful detective, he can make a living at his Grendelman Detective Agency.  He shares a sort of home/office in Oerlikon, the industrial North section of Zurich with Frl. Gretz (Annemarie Düringer). She operates a sort of one stop shop for anyone's office services. She does printing, typing, telephone answering and she is a freelance secretary. She answers Alphons' phone, takes messages. and sets up appointments. Fraulein Gertz has a secret crush on Alfons, she wants to be his Velda.

Alfons Grendelmann (Walo Lüönd)
His father Alphons Grendelmann Sr, (Max Knapp) is slowly dying. Alfons looks like a sad Walter Mathau with a walrus mustache. He doesn't seem to have any social life and he's totally oblivious to his secretary's subtle advances.

Frl. Gretz (Annemarie Düringer)
Waldo is particular about the cases he takes. For some would be clients he acts more like the detective philosopher and or adviser. For instance, when confronted with an agitated business man who has a irreplaceable employee who has been embezzling money he asks the man how much he is paying him. When he says 1500, Alfons tells him to pay him more since he's worth it, end of problem, and refuses to take the case.

Grendelman Detective Agency

Fraulein Gertz touching up her makeup for Alfons

Another potential woman client is complaining about a peeping tom, when Alfon's asks her why doesn't she close the window and shut the blinds, she replies but then, she argues, she wouldn't be able to tell if he's still there. He gives her a card of an old colleague, he tells her he's a nice man who wears a white coat and glasses and has a note pad.

"She wants to poison her."


In another situation a worried man named Kramer is sitting in Alfons' office when he returns from his preliminary scoping of Marsha. The man cradles his dog.

Alfons: Well?
Kramer: She wants to poison her. She's already tried it before. She didn't succeed then. She ate a little bit then vomited. We managed without a stomach pump.....  I saved her life. She's at it again I'm sure. At least it looks that way. I've already been to the police. They said that as long as nothing happens they can't do anything. That's what they said. Until murder is committed They can't do nothing.
Alfons: True
Kramer: What should I do? There's nobody but her in my life.
Alfons: Your dog? (to make sure he's hearing it right)
Kramer: Yes.
Alfons: It's your housemaid? OK, well what's her name?
Kramer: Sempa.
Alfons:The housemaid's name.
Kramer: She's from the agency Kagi.
Alfons:  I'll talk to people there.
Kramer: And if that doesn't help?
Alfons:  Give me your address. (He hands him a card) In the end there's the general public, The Newspapers and all.... People will do anything for a dog.
Kramer:  Well then.... many thanks.

It's one of those situations where you get the impression that the guy is maybe just totally nuts. It reminds you of the police station squad rooms where in the old Classic Policier Noirs, a very old woman with way too much makeup on comes in and complains that she has a masher after her. When the detective taking her statement questions her facts she claims that he is also mashing her. Or there is the guy that claims his wife is an alien. In the policiers they usually hustle the person out. Here Alfons will take his easy money. These little vignettes are well done.

Alfons is meticulous and professional. He takes copious notes. He's got dependable down and out-ers and stoolies who he passes cash to who help him with surveillance. He also flashes the green when he's questioning leads. Money loosens the tongue. He has a case where a wife is suspected of cheating Alfons discovers that she is moonlighting as a hooker in a whore house.

Herr Bleiber (Klaus Knuth) and Alfons
Another business man Herr Bleiber (Klaus Knuth) who doesn't want to be seen, intercepts him outside his office makes a date to meet in a movie theater to discuss a case. Marsha is a young Fraulein who is blackmailing him. He has had a continuing affair with her for two years. He has a good position and a family. He doesn't want a scandal. She wants 21,000 Swiss Franks, a 1,000 to keep quiet, and the rest for expenses to start a new life. Alfons bull shits him telling Bleiber that he usually doesn't take cases that deal with passion (to charge him more), or as Pat Chambers calls Hammer's work in Kiss Me Deadly, "bedroom dick" cases. He agrees to take the job.

Marsha (Katrin Buschor)
He takes a taxi to Marsha's flat. He confronts her with going to the police, but gets nowhere, she tells him she's just 17, another case of an underage girl with an older man. His past returns. She tells him to tell Bleiber she wants her money.

Meanwhile Alfons takes on the additional case of a missing girl. Her parents are the seriously wound a bit too tight control freak types. The father is a Poindexter type neat-nik who micro arranges furniture and synchronizes his watch with every clock in his home. The tightly conservative Mother has hair severely pulled into a tight bun.

Their daughter has run away from home. They can't understand why she split, she has everything here. It's obvious why to Alfons. He takes their photos and their case. While searching the hangouts of Zurich for the runaway he runs into Marsha again. Alfons tells her she can have her money once she signs a statement. She propositions him with the key to the apartment Bleiber gave her.

Marsha propositions Alfons
The relationship that develops (skirting awfully close to the same trail that forced him to retire from the police force) sends Alfons slowly spirally into Noirsville.


Beer is always Good

Der Fall was Kurt Früh's last film. The music by Walter Baumgartner is a Spanish guitar, jazz, bongo paella. Watch for the wonderful six day bicycle race sequence, a series of short vignettes of the cyclists, their support personnel, the spectators, it functions much like the vignettes director Robert Wise filmed during the boxing match in The Set-Up (1949), and for the crap game in Delbert Mann's Mister Buddwing (1966). The excellent cinematography was by Eduard Winiger, Switzerland never looked so bleak and Noir-ish. It's a nice addition into the Neo Noir canon. 8/10