Friday, March 31, 2023

Noirsville Tune of the Week

Bob Seager & the Silver Bullet Band, a group of Detroit-area musicians, In 1976, he achieved a national breakout with the studio album Night Moves. 


 Night Moves

I was a little too tall, could've used a few pounds
Tight pants points, hardly renowned
She was a black-haired beauty with big dark eyes
And points of her own, sittin' way up high
Way up firm and high

Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy
Out in the back seat of my '60 Chevy
Workin' on mysteries without any clues
Workin' on our night moves

Tryin' to make some front page drive-in news
Workin' on our night moves
In the summertime
Umm, in the sweet summertime

We weren't in love, oh no, far from it
We weren't searchin' for some pie in the sky summit
We were just young and restless and bored
Livin' by the sword

And we'd steal away every chance we could
To the backroom, to the alley or the trusty woods
I used her, she used me but neither one cared
We were gettin' our share

Workin' on our night moves
Tryin' to lose the awkward teenage blues
Workin' on our night moves
Mmm, and it was summertime
Mmm, sweet, summertime, summertime

Oh, wonderin'
Felt the lightning, yeah
And I waited on the thunder
Waited on the thunder

I woke last night to the sound of thunder
How far off I sat and wondered?
Started hummin' a song from 1962
Ain't it funny how the night moves?

When you just don't seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves
With autumn closin' in

Mmm, night moves, mmm
(Night moves) night moves
(Night moves) yeah
(Night moves) I remember
(Night moves) ah, I sure remember the night moves
(Night moves) ain't it funny how you remember?
(Night moves) funny how you remember
(Night moves) I remember, I remember, I remember, I remember
(Night moves) oh, oh, oh

we were workin', workin' and practicin'
(Night moves) workin' and practicin'
(Night moves) oh, on the night moves, night moves
(Night moves) oh
(Night moves) I remember, yeah, yeah, yeah, I remember
(Night moves) ooh
(Night moves) I remember, Lord I remember, Lord I remember
(Night moves) ha, ha, ooh-hoo
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah
Uh huh, uh huh
I remember, I remember

Noirsville Noir Art


Midnight




Unknown


Unknown


Michael Foulkrod


Under A Queensborough Moon - Rott


Signed Above



Dita Von Teese - Marisela Mungia


Desert Derelict - Bill Tomsa



Unknown


Burlesque Dancer - Jack Levitz


Lindsey Kustusch


Anna - my head cinema


Well Hello Boys - Steve Manton

 

Signed Above



purepup - Deviant Art


Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Mystery Street (1950) Cape Cod - Beantown Noir


D
irected by John Sturges (Bad Day at Black Rock, The People Against O'Hara, Jeopardy). 

Written by Sydney Boehm and Richard Brooks, and was based on a Leonard Spigelgass story. The excellent Cinematography was by the great John Alton (T-men, The Big Combo, The Crooked Way, Hollow Triumph, He Walked By Night, Raw Deal to name some favs). The Music by Rudolph G. Kopp.

Mystery Street stars Ricardo Montalban (Border Incident, Battleground ) as Lieutenant Peter Morales, Sally Forrest (While The City SleepsThe Strip) as Grace Shanway,  Bruce Bennett (The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, Mildred Pierce, The Man I Love, Nora Prentis, Undertow) as Dr. McAdoo, of Harvard Medical School, Elsa Lanchester (Bride of Frankenstein, The Big Clock, Hell's Half Acre) as Mrs. Smerrling, the landlady, Marshall Thompson (The Tall Target, Dial 1119) as Henry Shanway, Grace's husband, Jan Sterling (Caged, Union Station, Split Second, The Human Jungle, Female on the Beach, The IncidentThe Minx) as Vivian Heldon, a good time bar "B" girl and murder victim, Edmon Ryan (Side Street, Highway 301) as James Joshua Harkley, Betsy Blair (Il Grido) as Jackie Elcott a  waitress and upstairs rooming house friend of Vivian. Wally Maher as Tim Sharkey, Ralph Dumke (Invasion of the Body Snatchers) as A Tattooist, Willard Waterman as A Mortician, Walter Burke (M) as An Ornithologist, and Don Shelton as A District Attorney. 


Six Months Ago


The beginning of Mystery Street is a flashback. A six month flashback to a deteriorating old rooming house in Beacon Hill. Owned by the eccentric, nosy, buttinski, Mrs. Smerrling. The Mrs. is BS she's never been married. She has a parakeet. The house's hall phone rings and we get our first intro to "Va Va Va Voom" Vivian as she clops down the stair in in a white satin robe over a black slip wearing strappy heels. 


Viv

Viv is your classic bleached blonde floosie, a "B" Girl working drunks in a clip joint called The Grass Skirt down in the "Combat Zone." She's got a little black book with the names of 70 men / customers. Mrs. Smerling pulls open her door as Viv walks past in the hall and is going to eavesdrop on Viv's conversation.

Elsa Lanchester as Mrs. Smerrling


Jan Sterling as Viv

At about that same time Jackie, the waitress comes home from work at the diner and seeing Mrs. Smerrling in her doorway, hands her the rent money.  Mrs. Smerrling likes Jackie.

Jackie heads up the stair but leans out over the rail when she overhears Vivian sounding upset. She's demanding that he meet her tonight because she needs to talk to him. He tells her he can't make the usual time. Vivian's voice gets more anxious. Jackie asks if everything is OK? Viv waves her off. 



Mrs. Smerrling, also come out into the hall and walks down to where Viv is on the phone, and asks her for her rent money. Vivian puts her hand over the receiver and tells Smerrling that she thinking of moving to a classier place. 



Mrs Smerrling pulls the bead chain shutting off the hall light telling Vivian that electricity costs money too, and then heads down into the basement where she can stand directly under the floorboards where Viv is standing and can hear every word. 




Smerrling overhears Viv talking to James. James Joshua Harkley a Hyannis - Cape Cod naval architect who designs sailboats. Viv tells James she's in a jam. Subtext for she's been screwing him for at least two or three months and has now missed her period. James has been to this junction before and just blows her off, telling her he'll try to make it to the Skirt by 10:30 at the latest. So Viv goes to work at the Grass Skirt.


Viv stewing with the hula lamp in the Grass Skirt.  It's well past 10:30


The Grass Skirt is a very low rent tiki bar shoehorned in between a Raw Bar and Dreamland Dancing. Its got a entrance that's set back off the sidewalk and forms a sort of shallow court. This court has a street tattoo artist who sets up shop at one side of it hugging the Raw Bar corner. It's all lit by a string of incandescent bare lightbulbs that forms a garland. The doorway into the place is under a striped canvas awning. The interior has a bare minimum of tropical d├ęcor, consisting of some fake palms festooning the bandstand, cheap wall paintings of South Seas scenes, framed pictures of Polynesians, a tiki carving and some grass skirts hanging from the ceiling. The band is playing a cheesy dance tune. 

We cut to a vinyl booth where Viv sits stewing. There's a great sequence where Viv sits motionless staring off into space while the only thing moving is the grass skirt on a brass hula girl lamp with a conical shade. It's perfectly in time with the dance tune. She's still waiting for James. He's given her the brush. Its well past 10:30. She watches the lamp for a few seconds more before getting up and crossing the dancefloor to the bar. She asks for the phone. Again. She dials an operator and complains when she gets the same line that the phone is busy. "It can't be still busy, nobody talks that long." 


The Grass Skirt

Maybe the one Tiki carving in The Grass Skirt

About that time the barkeep calls out for any one with a yellow Ford. Henry Shanway, about three sheets to the wind owns a yellow Ford. He's got to move it it's parked in a no parking zone. 


Marshall Thompson as Henry Shanway



Getting an idea, Viv moves right in on Henry. She sits next to him at the bar, She gets his attention, tells him lets go get some fresh air. 

Vivi: What you need is fresh air.

Henry Shanway: Yeah. Yeah, open the window, huh?

Vivi: No, not here. Fresh air couldn't get in here with a permit.

You get the impression that this is Viv's typical M.O. "Hey big boy, wanna get some fresh air? I know where there's some out in the alley or up on the roof waddaya say?"



Viv buys a bottle with Henry's money, drags him out of the bar and into his yellow 1941 Ford Super De Luxe. She tells him she'll drive, and gives Henry the bottle to suck on. 

They take off into the night. Every time Henry gets a bit too active she pushed the bottle up to his lips. Henry eventually passes out. 

 





Have another shot

Outside. Henry wakes up. The cars not moving. The car is pulled up alongside a joint out on the Cape, near Hyannis. It's called The Dunes. Henry thinks WTF???





Inside, Viv has turned the heads of every man in the place, and is in a phone booth dialing James Harkley. She gets through to him this time. She tells him she's at The Dunes near Hyannis. She wants to meet him. He gives her directions to a secluded meeting place. He tells Viv it's about six miles away. 



Viv turning heads


Checking out Viv's assets



Henry stumbles into The Dunes "restaurant." It's more like your typical highway lunch counter / restroom pit stop, with a nautical name. It's parasitically attached to a auto garage like many others on the highway to The Cape. 

Some of these places were actual the original stage stops in the horse & wagon days. They'd be in strategic spots (like watering holes, creeks, etc.,) on each end of a long grade and maybe another at the summit. Others would be at crossroads or forks. In Montana some of them are now just place names of the families that ran them. When autos created less need for these the stops spread out further apart so some of these old stops are just place names surviving on a map. 



Anyway. inside The Dunes, Henry stumbles in and calls out for Viv. Spots her in the phone booth. But she comes out, grabs Henry's hand and drags him back out to his car. 



Viv gets into the driver's side, while Henry's complaining about Viv taking him down to The Cape.  He asks Viv why? She tells him never mind, I'll tell you later. Henry gets in. She drives off. 



After about a mile or two Henry asks. "Hey, where are you taking me?" Henry wants to go back to Boston. Viv answers by hitting the hooks. The Super De Luxe squeals to a stop. "If you don't like my driving you drive."  She tells Henry to "get out, and walk around," and she'll slide across the bench seat. As soon as Henry steps out, she steps on the gas and splits.  Henry, ditched watches as the two taillights of his Super De Lux get smaller and smaller.



As soon as Henry steps out, she steps on the gas and splits.  Henry, ditched watches as the two taillights of his Super De Luxe get smaller and smaller.



Bye bye 

Cut to Viv. She is probably parked someplace adequately desolate say along Great Island Road near Seagull Beach, we can see the breakers from the pull off.  James Joshua Harkley drives up, gets out and comes right up to Viv's window. She leans towards the window so she can look up at James.



The confrontation

Viv: Hello big shot start explaining.  [pause]  Nothing to say? Go ahead and make a speech, you're pretty good at that. You're pretty good at everything except paying off. Don't think you're going to walk out on me. it's not as easy as that. Well?, well say something...



Harkley says it with lead. Bang! Viv flops forward her head hitting the horn ring on the steering wheel. The horn blaring in to the night. Oh shit!. 




He grabs her head and pushes her back against the bench seat. He opens the door and starts to pull Viv's body out. Another car is coming, head lights shine down the road towards them. Harkley takes one of Viv's lifeless arms and puts it up around his neck he embraces her body and holds it up. The tableau is complete. 



The teenagers buy it and they wolf whistle as they drive by. They are probably heading for their own paradise by the dashboard light at the next vacant pull off. 

Harkley sets Viv back on the seat. Then he gets his shoulder into Viv's waist and lifts her out of the car and over his shoulder. The second bit of audio visual style Sturges lays on us is when Harkley turns and swings Viv away from the car, he picaresque-ly bangs her head on the open car door with a loud thump.

 


He carries Viv out towards the dunes. Cut! It's the 50s we can't show this. Fade in. He comes back to the cars carrying all of Viv's clothes, jewelry, and shoes in a bundle. He drops her cheap corsage on the sand. Harkley laid her out naked in a scooped out shallow sand grave. 


the corsage


Harkley gets in the Ford with the clothes and drives off to the edge of a pond. He sets the throttle, pops the De Luxe it into gear and it drives itself off into the pond. 


End Of Flashback

A bird watcher is studying the mating habits of sandpipers. He's chasing some of them down through the dunes on mating their flights across the beach. 




The birdwatcher is dropping down to lay prone on the sand when they land, and observing them mating with field glasses. All goes well until he notices a skeletal foot sticking out of the sand next to him. We watch as he comprehends what he's seeing and follow the turn of his head as he sees the rest. He goes running back down the beach. At this point we are only at roughly the 15 minute mark of the film. 




Cut to Lieutenant Peter Morales the Barnstable PD Detective. He in a beach house, tying a cord around a cardboard box. Its the bones we learn. Another homicide detective takes the ornithologist's statement. It's a bit of a humorous sequence. 

Ricardo Montalban as Lieutenant Peter Morales center, with reporter Ralph Brooks lt., and birder Walter Burke rt.

With nothing to identify the bones Morales is instructed by his superiors to take the box to Harvard Medical school where forensic expert Dr. McAdoo will try to get the police more clues to work with from the skeletal remains. 


Bruce Bennett as Dr. McAdoo center

From this point on the story is a great police procedural balanced by the blackmail scheme cooked up by Mrs. Smerrling that goes Noirsville . 

Noirsville




































































































Sturges directs a first class Procedural Noir. It' a sort of Boston and the Cape's version of Naked City with the emphasis on forensics. But the equally entertaining dark Crime side of the film involving the murder and blackmail plot gives the film a nice balance. Ricardo Montalban is excellent. He made one other Noir, Border Incident, he should have made more. Jan Sterling is compelling, she does quite a lot with the part she has making Viv very believable. Elsa Lanchester is a hoot. Marshall Thompson as the bewildered drunk/hubby is a great. Edmon Ryan plays a sleazy high society weasel. A nautical engineer who builds custom yachts, and who likes to ball and string along bar fly floozies on the side. This guy is like a cross between William Tallman and Dan Duryea. His face has an amphibian watching a bug like qualities. Ryan was the sleazy crooked lawyer in Side Street and a Coast Guard officer in The Breaking Point, in Undercover Girl he's the head pusher of a narcotics racket, in Highway 301 a police detective. Here is another actor who you would have liked to see in more Noir but after 1951 he segued into mostly TV. 

Sally Forest, Bruce Bennett, and the rest of the cast are flawless, and John Alton as the cinematographer has captured some beautiful sequences. 10/10