Another Thursday, another bunch of movies to peruse on the Turner Classics Noir Friday. The schedule has a few of the usual classics (KEY LARGO, WHITE HEAT, LADY FROM SHANGHAI.) Every bit as good as those movies,although less well known, is THEY LIVE BY NIGHT, an early Nicolas Ray film (He went on to direct REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE) and starring Farley Grainger . This is the kind of movie that builds steadily up to its devastating conclusion. Robert Altman remade it as THIEVES LIKE US. Film noir at its finest.
This week they are showing four (!) films that I have never seen. Of the four, the most interesting is THE BRIBE, starring Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner. The exact reason why this film is so interesting rests with the bad guys, played by Vincent Price and Charles Laughton! I mean, have you ever heard of better bad guys?
At the end of the evening, Turner is showing two movies from the late 60s/early 70s, basically the two best appearances of Phillip Marlowe in a modern setting. The first is THE LONG GOODBYE, which I will admit to watching at least a dozen times. The movie was directed by Robert Altman, and has a somewhat more straight-forward plot then some of his other films. Note the word “somewhat.” Elliot Gould is the detective, Sterling Hayden one of the more interesting suspects. The film features 1970s LA, betrayal, surprising violence, and cat food.
Right after that is MARLOWE, with James Garner in the title role. Let’s face it, James Garner is good in just about everything. But the best part of this movie is when the hired killer shows up, intent on killing our hero; a killer played by BRUCE LEE! Really! Bruce is only on screen for about five minutes, but boy is that scene intense.
The title of this post comes from the theme music from the Altman film, composed by John Williams (the STAR WARS guy) and played in the background throughout the entire film. And now that I mentioned the song, I’ll be humming it for the rest of the day.