A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
n11pilot wrote:How about the Bogey film "Dead Reckoning"? For some reason I am drawn to this film and will watch it when ever it comes on Turner or AMC.
Edmonds wrote:I just watched Tyrone Powers in "Nightmare Alley", a good entry for the noir genre.
[ShadesofNoir] HELL'S HALF ACRE (1954) wrote:I have been watching a number of films on our Wii via Netflix streaming, allowing me to finally access some movies I have always heard of but hitherto have not yet seen. Among them is this Republic production from director-associate producer John H. Auer and scenarist Steve Fisher, who had earlier teamed for another noir, "City That Never Sleeps" (1953).
I must say "Hell's Half Acre" is even more engrossing than "City," in part due to a complex storyline and sympathetic performance from Wendell Corey as a flawed and ultimately tragic central character. Like "City," which was shot in Chicago, "Hell's Half Acre" was another location trip, this time to Honolulu, where the city's criminal element resides in a tenement area (known by the film's title), a sort of Pacific Casbah in which Corey's Chet Chester is quite a familiar soul.
As the film opens, Chet and his lady friend Sally Lee (Nancy Gates) celebrate the pressing of Chet's LP of Hawaiian music at the nightclub run by his smooth but sinister ex-partner Roger Kong (Philip Ahn). It appears Chet and Kong had worked a vice racket during World War II and after until Chet, tiring of the life and wealthy enough to get out, paid off Kong and another partner. On that night, the third partner returns with a blackmail scheme against Chet, which earns him a quick trip to the morgue thanks to loyal Sally. Chet takes the rap for Sally, knowing that a high-priced attorney will get him acquitted of any murder charge. He then turns himself in to the police.
But it then develops that Chet had a former life on the mainland, as bank robber Randy Williams, who fled from his last crime by enlisting in the Navy and being assigned to the Pacific Fleet aboard the USS Arizona. It was when the Arizona was sunk at Pearl Harbor that Randy seized the opportunity to have himself listed among the dead, changed his name and started his career in Honolulu's underworld with the swag from the California bank job.
But what Chet/Randy has forgotten is that he left a wife of three days, Donna (Evelyn Keyes) back in Los Angeles. Donna now deduces from the LP Chet has produced that Randy is still alive in the islands. Her arrival in Honolulu coincides with Chet's breaking jail to find Sally's killer (an accidental death after Kong, suspicious Chet will leave Hawaii with more money than he received in the shareout, tries to slap the truth out of Sally). Chet holes up in Hell's Half Acre, setting the stage for a bizarre reunion that awakens feelings Chet thought he left behind on the Arizona.
Auer's direction is assured and Fisher's script, as you can see, is a pretty complicated affair, but it keeps the interest. The on-site shooting helps immeasurably, showing that even a garden spot such as Hawaii can have a dark side, evidenced by the amount of night filming done around the islands' capital. Corey's lanky affability makes Chet, a strange cat indeed, very likable despite his past misdeeds, and yet a sad presence when confronted by the death of his lover and an unresolved part of his life with Donna's arrival. Keyes is not only sensual but sensitive as Donna, still in love with Randy's memory although a son (from hers and Randy's honeymoon) and a new man are in her life.
Republic also assembled a stellar cast in support with Gates, Ahn, Jesse White and even Marie Windsor (mostly wasted) gracing the production. Of note for Charlie Chan fans is the inclusion of Number One Son Keye Luke as the chief of the HPD who orchestrates the manhunt for Chet. Elsa Lanchester is also great as a friendly cab driver who helps Donna in her quest to track down Chet.
Others may disagree with me, finding the story hard to swallow, but it was aces for me.
blackthorn wrote:I saw Devil in a Blue Dress again tonight. That got me thinking again about how many good noir movies done in modern times. Some more of my favorites are:
Silent Partner (Elliot Gould)
Red Rock West (Nicolas Cage)
CharlieB wrote:Found this link. Others may find it interesting too.
blackthorn wrote:CharlieB wrote:Found this link. Others may find it interesting too.
I like that, Charlie, thanks for sharing it. Now I have new titles to watch for.
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