Movie Review: Out of the Past (1947)

Post war (ww2), intricately plotted film noir __ 8/10

Jeff Bailey: I sell gasoline, I make a small profit. With that I buy groceries. The grocer makes a profit. We call it earning a living. You may have heard of it somewhere.

Through the 1940s, before the Hollywood studio system folded itself into the social conformity of the 1950s, several well-written and superbly plotted stories made it to the silver screen. In the category of film noir, Out of the Past, starring Robert Mitchum—one of the more individualistic, risk-taking actors (even into the 1950s)—is one such gem.

Novel by Daniel Mainwaring
Screenplay by Daniel Mainwaring
Directed by Jacques Tourneur

Robert Mitchum … Jeff Bailey
Jane Greer … Kathie Moffat
Kirk Douglas … Whit Sterling
Rhonda Fleming … Meta Carson
Richard Webb … Jim
Steve Brodie … Jack Fisher
Virginia Huston … Ann Miller

The above statement from Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) occurs early in the movie as we find him in a small California town trying to lead a normal life. We even see him out fishing (!), with his local honey Ann (Virginia Huston), and looking every bit like the guy who wants to settle down, buy a house, raise a passel of kids in the country. Not! Bailey’s contemplation of the idyllic life is interrupted when another big man—menacing, obviously from a past Bailey wants to leave that way—finds Bailey, and gives him an appointment he cannot refuse. Continue reading

Movie Review: Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Mystic River meets Who Will Love My Children (7/10)

Gone_Baby_GoneGone Baby Gone (GBG) is based on a recent installment of Dennis Lehane’s series of crime novels set in the grimy reality of South Boston. [Lehane also wrote Mystic River (2003), which became a movie netting an Oscar nomination for director Clint Eastwood and an Oscar victory for leading man, Sean Penn, and supporting actor Tim Robbins.]  GBG climbs right into the rather bleak yet homey apartment of Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and Angie Gennaro, who mix business with pleasure by doing freelance private investigations.

A child has disappeared, and her aunt Beatrice McCready (Amy Madigan) and uncle Lionel McCready (Titus Welliver) are unhappy with police progress on resolving the whereabouts. Feeling someone from the neighborhood will be more inclined to get answers, they make an earnest plea to our young, relatively inexperienced PI couple.  Patrick and Angie, being advised by the head of the Crimes against Children task force Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) to “work with us,” proceed to check out the local haunts and blind pigs that the cops don’t much know or care about.

And that whole process of experiencing, through Patrick and Angie’s eyes, the local color of South Boston lends the film a unique “you are there” authenticity. These are the real people… and a lot of ’em are pretty sleazy and/or scary hombres and hombrettes—you want to keep one hand on your wallet and the other ready to reach for your .38.  Helene McCready (Amy Ryan), the mother of the missing kid, is a mean little drug-abusing slut; while expressing obligatory faux grief while the news cameras are rolling, she really isn’t motherhood material. Continue reading

Movie Review: Gilda (1946)

Another one that ought never be remade ___ 8/10


Gilda: You do hate me, don’t you, Johnny?
Johnny Farrell: I don’t think you have any idea of how much.
Gilda: Hate is a very exciting emotion. Haven’t you noticed? Very exciting. I hate you too, Johnny. I hate you so much I think I’m going to die from it. Darling…
[they kiss passionately]
Gilda: I think I’m going to die from it.

Continue reading

Movie Review: Mildred Pierce (1945)

Fine intelligent movie that breaks barriers _ 9/10
Reviewed by Brian Wright

Mildred PierceVeda: With this money I can get away from you. From you and your chickens and your pies and your kitchens and everything that smells of grease. I can get away from this shack with its cheap furniture. And this town and its dollar days, and its women that wear uniforms and its men that wear overalls.

Veda: You think just because you made a little money you can get a new hairdo and some expensive clothes and turn yourself into a lady. But you can’t, because you’ll never be anything but a common frump whose father lived over a grocery store and whose mother took in washing. Continue reading