Tag: Noir

Stray Dog (1949)

Akira Kurosawa’s police drama, Stray Dog sizzles every bit as much as the characters that inhabit the sweltering Japanese city where it takes place.

Stray Dog - 4

Murakami (Toshirô Mifune) is a rookie detective in a Japanese police department’s homicide squad. In a city gripped by a sweltering heat wave, Murakami is riding a cramped trolley home when his service pistol is stolen. Incredibly embarrassed by his lapse of concentration, he embarks on an obsessive mission to recover the stolen Colt and bring the thieves to justice. Although he is out of his depth, he is able to track down the organization that stole his weapon, and captures one of their distributers. Horrified by what he finds, Murakami discovers that his weapon has been leant out to an unhinged war veteran, single-mindedly focused on recompense for his perceived wartime sacrifices. Unable to accept that his gun is being used to commit such heinous crimes, Murakami must team up with veteran Detective Sato (Takashi Shimura) to find the dangerous criminal before he can inflict more damage.

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Chinatown (1974)

Roman Polanski’s beautifully dark, Chinatown, is an indelible modern classic, and supports a near perfect screenplay by Robert Towne. The script (for which he won the “Best Original Screenplay” Oscar) is made all the more harrowing and bleak on film by a recently tormented Polanski.

This early Twentieth Century drama surrounds private detective J.J. Gittes (Jack Nicholson), who is primarily known as a “marital separation” expert. He is called upon by a woman who presents herself as Evelyn Mulwray (Diane Ladd) who asks him to obtain photographic proof of her husband’s infidelity. He draws up the contract, charges the “usual rate” and sets to work. He follows Hollis Mulwray (Darrell Zwerling) for a number of days, tracking his every move, until he is able to capture several photographs of him affectionately eating breakfast with a young woman. These scandalous accusations immediately make their way to print, as Mr. Mulwray is the Chief Engineer for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Gittes, ego fully inflated, returns to his office to find the real Evelyn Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) waiting for him; lawsuit in hand. Stunned by the realization that he has been conned by a fake Evelyn Mulwray, he is consumed with finding out why. A day later, Hollis Mulwray is found dead (drowned) in a city reservoir. Gittes quickly realizes the serious nature of his situation. Continue reading

Double Indemnity (1944)

Billy Wilder’s 1944 hit Double Indemnity, is a near perfect example of the Film Noir genre.

The film opens on a wounded Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) careening down the streets of Los Angeles in his black 1938 Dodge – narrowly avoiding a collision with a truck. None of this matters, however, for he is about to leave a tell-all confession for his boss, Barton Keyes (Edward G. Robinson) to discover the next morning. The rest of the film comes as a narrated flashback while Neff lays bare his confession via dictaphone.

He calmly begins his lurid tale with an interaction between himself and Keyes. Working as an insurance salesman, Neff enters Keyes office (a claims adjuster) to an interrogation. Keyes is telling a man whose truck has recently burned-out that his claim will not be paid due to “a gut feeling from the little man in his stomach”. He had found evidence of insurance fraud in the form of kindling left underneath the truck. Keyes’s keen intuition and relentless attention to detail endear him to Neff, but also prove to be an unavoidable obstacle.

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