MOVIE: The Steel Trap (1952)

Movie: The Steel Trap (1952)

Written and directed by Andrew L. Stone

Joseph Cotten, Theresa Wright

Joseph Cotten is always convincing as the good guy, and as Jim in The Steel Trap, he plays just that. Jim is a banker who has lived in the same house, taken the same train and worked in  the same building for 11 years. Through all the sameness Jim is bored.

Realizing that as one of the management team at the bank, Jim could, if given the nerve, have access to steel over a million dollars from the vault, after the tellers have gone home. Soon the fantasy becomes a reality.

Jim steels the money by simply loading it into a suitcase on a Friday evening. While he and his wife Laurie(Wright) take a last minute flight toward Rio, on the milk-run, the couple find themselves stranded in New Orleans.

Why, Rio you ask? Jim, after researching at the public library discovered Brazil was the only county without an extradition treaty with the United Sates.

Through passport issues, last minute reroutes and hassles, mild mannered Jim can’t keep his cool. He wife believes they are on a two week work vacation, but her husband’s behavior doesn’t quite gel.

When it is discovered that Jim is carrying all that money, his wife questions him. Jim breaks. His angry wife leaves, not wanting to be part of the plot.

Lonely Jim wanders the streets of New Orlean.  Then it occurs to him. It is only Sunday. If he flies home tonight, he can return to work early Monday morning, and return all the cash, before anyone is the wiser.

And does he? You’ll have to watch this film noir yourself to find out. All I can tell you is it’s a nail bitter!

 

MOVIE: The Window (1947)

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MOVIE: The Window ( 1947)

Based on a story by Cornell Woolrich

Screenplay by Mel Dinelli

Directed by Ted Tetzlaff

Bobby Driscoll, Barbara Hale, Arthur Kennedy, Paul Stewart, Ruth Roman

the-window-movie-poster-1949-1010745846

Tommy a nine-year-old boy, with a tendency towards tall tales, witnesses a murder. The murders are the Kellersons (Stewart and Roman), the neighbours one floor above. He spies them, through their apartment window,while on the fire escape.

His dad (Kennedy) and mom (Hale) do not believe him. Nor do the police. Tommy is terrified he will be the couple’s next victim. He isn’t far from wrong..

Today’s viewer may be appalled by the parenting this movie displays, but ask someone who was a child back then. They will tell you that’s the way things were!

MOVIE: Cause For Alarm! (1951)

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MOVIE: Cause for Alarm! (1951)

Story by Larry Marcus

Screenplay by Mel Dinelli, Tom Lewis

Directed by Tay Garnett

Loretta Young, Barry Sullivan, Bruce Cowling

Cause for Alarm

A bedridden man, with a heart condition, George Jones,(Sullivan) is convinced that both his wife, Ellen (Young) and his doctor, Dr, Grahame (Cowling) are in love and plotting to kill him.

MOVIE: Out of the Past ( 1947)

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MOVIE: Out of the Past (1947)

Based on a novel Build My Gallows High by Daniel Mainwaring as Geoffrey Homes who also wrote the screenplay

Directed by Jacques Tournuer

Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, Jane Greer, Virginia Huston

Criminal and gambler Whit Sterling (Douglas) first hires detective Jeff Bailey (Mitchum) to find his girlfriend Kathy Moffat (Greer) who has fled to Mexico. There is one complication– Bailey and Kathy fall in love. You can imagine the fall out!

The couple is on the run. Kathy shoots a man and flees. Gone! Femme Fatale!

Bailey chooses a quiet life in the country, running a gas station. He has found a girl he intends to marry, Ann (Huston).

But, when his new life is discovered, Sterling summons Bailey. When he arrives at the Sterling’s mansion, he is greeted by Kathy.

A fork in the road! Which way to turn?

MOVIE: Act of Violence (1948)

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MOVIE: Act of Violence (1948)

Story by Collier Young

Screenplay by Robert L. Richards

Directed by Fred Zinnemen

Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, Mary Astor, Phyllis Thaxter, Barry Kroeger

A young married couple, Frank and Edith Enley ( Heflin and Leigh) with a young child, find their domestic life interrupted when an old pal from the war, Joe Parkson (Ryan) decides to retaliate for an unforgivable act. His girlfriend Ann, (Thaxter) fries to dissuade him from his plan to kill Frank.

Desperate and on the run, Frank meets Pat ( Astor) who tries to help. Plans become complicated, but Frank’s final act of friendship for evens the score.

MOVIE: The Killers (1946)

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MOVIE: The Killers (1946)

Based on a story by Ernest Hemingway

Screenplay by Anthony Veiller

Directed by Robert Siodmak

Burt Lancaster, Ava Gardner, Sam Levin, Virginia Christine, Edmond O’Brien

When the Swede ( Lancaster) is warned that two killers are after him, he admits that he doesn’t care. And why not? He is through with life. And how did that happen? It started with a girl. It’s always a girl. He is a broken man. Soon he is shot.

It’s up to the insurance investigator James Riordon (O’Brien) to solve the case, with the help of flashback stories told by friends–Police Lt. Sam Lubinsky (Levin) and his wife Lily (Christine), the former girlfriend of the Swede. The narrative is formed.

And let’s talk about the girl, The femme fatale as it is. Kitty Collins (Gardner). The extraordinary beautiful diamond stealing dame who lures, loves and abruptly leaves the Swede, along with all the money the team of crooks have stolen.

It started with a girl. It ends with a girl.

MOVIE: Danger Signal (1945)

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MOVIE: Danger Signal ( 1945)

Based on a novel by Phyllis Bottom

Screenplay by Adele Comandini and Graham Baker

Directed by Robert Florey

Faye Emerson, Zachary Scott, Mary Servoss, Mona Freeman

The viewer knows writer Ronnie Mason (Scott) is a bad man right from the opening scene. He cheats, he steals, he lies and most importantly he kills. But that’s only the subplot. That’s not the full story.This psychological  ride is about how Mason gains the trust of one family and slowly ingratiates his way into their life.

He romances the oldest daughter Hilda (Emerson), a professional woman with her own small business. He secretly promises marriage. The mother (Servoss) thinks he is quite simple wonderful, as he helps Mom with the dishes and takes her to the movies. But, when the youngest daughter Ann  (Mona Freeman) returns home, he learns she is the sole inheritor of a small fortune. How interesting and beautiful she has become! Now, how to get rid of Hilda?

MOVE: They Won’t Believe Me (1947)

MOVIE: They Won’t Believe Me (1947)

Story by Gordan Mc Donell

Screenplay Jonathan Latimer

Directed by Irving Pichel

Robert Young, Rita Johnson, Jane Greer, Susan Hayward

An apartment in New York.

A house in Beverly Hills.

A Mexican-style ranch in the California countryside.

A rich wife, Gretta ( Johnson) who would do anything for him.

Larry (Young) should have been counting his blessings. Instead he was off making trouble for himself.

A girlfriend named Janice (Greer) in New York.

A girlfriend named Vera ( Hayward) in Los Angeles.

So when things started to turn– -well,  possibly criminal, of course he thinks they wouldn’t believe him.

Watch Larry torture himself with fear and guilt. Watch how it ends!

MOVIE: Detour (1945)

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 MOVIE: Detour (1945)

Based on novel by Martin Goldsmith

Screenplay by Martin Goldsmith and Martin Mooney

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer

Tom Neal, Claudia Drake, Edmund Mac Donald, Ann Savage

There are some that consider this the ultimate in film noir. If not, it is at least a very good introduction. You decide by watching the full movie above.

When a New York piano player Al Roberts (Neal) looses his singer girlfriend Sue Harvey (Drake) to Hollywood, he can’t help but feel depressed. With little money in his pocket, he decides to hitchhike to California, so the couple can be together.

Along the way he meets Charles Haskell (MacDonald). who offers him a ride. But when the driver dies Roberts fears the police will accuse him of murder. Let’s blame the lone hitchhiker! In the pouring rain, he ditches the body. In order to keep both the car and the money, he assumes the identity of the dead man.

He returns the good deed as he offers a ride to a hitchhiker, Vera (Savage). She soon calls his bluff.

Roberts life spins out of control. He takes a detour with no return.

This movie is told in narrative as Roberts explains his actions. The question is:

Do you believe him?

MOVIE: Mystery Street (1950)

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MOVIE: Mystery Street (1950)

Story by Leonard Spigelgass

Screenplay by Sydney Boehm and Richard Brooks

Directed by John Sturges

Ricardo Montalban, Elsa Lanchester, Bruce Bennett, Jan Sterling, Sally Forrest, Marshall Thompson

Mystery Street

The skeleton of a young woman is found submerged underwater, trapped in a car. The viewer knows the woman is Vivian Heldon (Sterling).

We have already been introduced to her. We’ve seen the rooming house she lived in and met the busy body landlady,  Ms. Smerrling (Lanchester). We have overheard Vivian’s assertive phone calls and paid a visit to where she worked. We are even witnesses on the night she is murdered.

Taking advantage of Henry Shanway (Thompson), a drunk man with a trusting nature, Vivian offers to move his car, but takes him on a ride from Boston toward Cape Cod. When Shanway protests, she tricks him and takes off with his car, leaving him to walk.

Detective Peter Moralas (Montalban in what is the first movie I have ever seen in him– not Fantasy Island!) traces Vivian’s tracks. Harvard University forensic expert Dr. McAdoo (Bennett) helps Moralas through his scientific discoveries. Very early CSI. Very cutting edge for its time.

Complications arise for Shanway, when police learn the car with Vivian’s body belongs to him. His wife Grace (Forrest) suspects all sorts of things. Mrs Smerrling can’t resist an attempt at blackmail.

Filmed on location in Boston and surrounding areas.