Movie Roundup: Crime Movie Lightning Round Edition

Lightning strikes again.
Phantom Lady – Wrong man noir from Robert Siodmak.  A man is imprisoned for murder and his only alibi is a woman with a crazy hat.  His faithful assistant (Ella Raines) must find her before he gets executed.  Franchot Tone, the best friend, tries to help, or does he??  Elisha Cook almost steals the show as a horny drummer.  Suitably weird.  The #14 film of 1944.
The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry – George Sanders playing against type brilliantly as a hen-pecked brother of a couple of crazy sisters in another Siodmak noir.  When he meets Ella Raines he plots his escape from his dreary family and small town, with noirish results.  The ending doesn’t work at all, and is even more obviously tacked on than that of a certain Fritz Lang film, but before that we’re treated to a pretty crazy quilt of murder, new England provincialism and insinuated incest.  The #19 film of 1945.
Shockproof – A film noir written by Samuel Fuller and directed by Douglas Sirk.  You wouldn’t think those two sensibilities would go together, but they share an interest in superheated emotion and wild plotting (I would love to see a Fuller Magnificent Obsession, or a Sirk Naked Kiss).  Anyway, Cornel Wilde plays a parole officer (named Griff, naturally) who falls for his parolee, a gangster’s girl.  He gets her a job taking care of his blind mom, she plots to escape and run off with her boyfriend, while stringing Griff along.  It’s not really shocking, nor does it prove anything, but there’s enough there to chew on, if not to the standard of either man’s greatest films.  The #15 film of 1949.
Gone in 60 Seconds – The car chase movie was perfected in 1974, but for some inexplicable reason, people keep making them.  Entirely independent, written, produced, directed by and starring Toby Halicki and a Mustang Mach 1.  The first half of the film is a vague plot about a gang of car thieves stealing a ridiculous amount of cars in a short period of time.  There’s little in the way of acting and most of the dialogue is in post-recorded voiceover.  The second half is a 45 minute car chase that’s just about the greatest thing in the history of the automobile.  Pure cinema.  The #6 film of 1974.
City of Fear – Big disappointment after how much I loved Murder By Contract, also directed by Irving Lerner, especially given the swell title.  It’s a procedural, Cold War panic kind of thing, with Vince Edwards as an escaped convict packing radioactive cobalt that’s slowly killing him and may kill all of Los Angeles if he isn’t found.  Sometimes people in movies are dumb and it makes me sad and bored.  I suspect Lerner is not a wizard.  The #16 film of 1959.

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