Day Two of Noirvember: Top Five in ’45

Everybody raves about all the great noirs that were released in 1947 – Out of the Past, Body and Soul, Nightmare Alley, T-Men, yada yada yada – it was a completely stupendous and totally awesome year for noir.

But 1947 wasn’t the only year that gave us a slate of memorable noirs; every year during the noir era offered a variety of first-rate films – and today’s Noirvember post takes a look at my favorites from one of those years: 1945.

Mildred Pierce

I think I’ve seen Mildred Pierce more than any other noir – even more often than my favorite, Double Indemnity (1944). I simply cannot get enough of this tale of an enterprising single mother whose passion often blinds her, whether it’s to the wiles of her ne’er-do-well lover or the actions of her self-absorbed brat of a daughter.

I can never get enough of Mildred Pierce. Never.

Joan Crawford plays the title role. She may have given better performances in other films – Grand Hotel (1932), The Women (1939), and A Woman’s Face (1941), come to mind – but none are quite as memorable, quite as enduring, as her Mildred Pierce. Crawford’s surrounded by a stellar group of performers that couldn’t have been more ideally cast – Ann Blyth as Mildred’s thoroughly awful daughter, Veda; Jack Carson as the ex-partner of Mildred’s ex-husband, who wants nothing more than to get into Mildred’s pants; and Eve Arden as Mildred’s no-nonsense best friend, Ida, who makes the most of some of the film’s best lines.

Favorite quote: “Personally, Veda’s convinced me that alligators have the right idea. They eat their young.” – Ida Corwin (Eve Arden)

Detour

This low-budget treat serves up 68 minutes full of non-stop noir goodness, courtesy of Tom Neal and Ann Savage as a couple who both find more than they bargained for when they encounter each other on the open road. Neal is a piano player hitch-hiking across the country to join his lady love in California, and Savage is the woman he picks up along the way.

A match made in heaven. Not.

This was the first film I’ve ever seen either of these performers in – in fact, off-hand, I can’t remember seeing them in anything else. But they were both perfect for their roles of the hapless everyman and the she-wolf in wolves’ clothing, described by one character as “the most dangerous animal in the world – a woman.”

Favorite quote: “Life’s like a ball game. You gotta take a swing at whatever comes along before you find it’s the ninth inning.” – Vera (Ann Savage)

Scarlet Street

A great story, an awesome cast, and a perfect ending – Scarlet Street has all three. Edward G. Robinson stars as Chris Cross, a hen-pecked cashier who thinks he’s hit the jackpot when he falls for a young woman he meets one rainy night on the boulevard of the film’s title. Unfortunately for Chris, the jackpot isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Kitty may look sweet and innocent. But she ain’t, see.

Robinson is more than ably supported by Joan Bennett and Dan Duryea, giving a thinly veiled portrayal of a prostitute and her pimp, who try to take Chris for all he’s worth – and almost succeed. Almost. But this is noir, after all, and people may not always get what they want, but they very often get what they deserve.

Favorite quote: “How can a man be so dumb? I’ve been waiting to laugh in your face ever since I met you.” Kitty March (Joan Bennett)

Leave Her to Heaven

A rare color noir, Leave Her to Heaven stars Gene Tierney as a psychopath who will stop at nothing – and, believe me, I do mean absolutely NOTHING – to ensure that she is the center of her man’s existence. Tierney’s Ellen Berent is beautifully intense, scarily adoring, and eerily calculating, making for a character who seizes your attention every minute, even when she’s not on screen.

Why does Ellen look so horrified? Because her mother and sister are coming for a visit!

Cornel Wilde plays the luckless object of Ellen’s obsessive affection, and Jeanne Crain is sweet but steely in her own way, as her adoptive sister. It’s fascinating to watch these two and their slowly growing realization that Ellen is not only nuttier than a fruitcake but more dangerous than a black widow spider on a diet.

Favorite quote: “I’ll never let you go. Never, never, never.” – Ellen Berent (Gene Tierney)

My Name is Julia Ross

Nina Foch plays the title role in this breathtaking, edge-of-your-seat feature set in England. Desperate to find work, Julia is thrilled when she’s hired to be the private secretary to a wealthy widow, played by Dame May Whitty. But her thrills turn to chills when Julia discovers that she’s been abducted and held captive by the widow and her creepy son, and that the two of them are trying to convince her – and everyone else – that she’s the son’s mentally unstable wife.

This dame (get it?) is just as shady as she looks.

As the terrified but never-say-die abductee, Nina Foch is perfection and, as the psychopathic son, George Macready steals every scene he’s in. The film also benefits from the first-rate direction of Joseph Lewis, who would go on to helm two of my favorite noirs – Gun Crazy (1949) and The Big Combo (1955). Underrated and often overlooked, My Name is Julia Ross is one of the truly must-see films of this year.

Favorite quote: “Don’t huddle way over there in the corner. You should sit closer so that people can see what a handsome couple we are!” – Ralph Hughes (George Macready)

Do yourself a favor and check out these five first-rate features from ’45. And if you’ve seen them before, see them again!

You only owe it to yourself.

And join me tomorrow for Day Three of Noirvember!

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~ by shadowsandsatin on November 3, 2018.

10 Responses to “Day Two of Noirvember: Top Five in ’45”

  1. Julia Ross is overlooked gem as is Nina Foch

  2. A wonderful list including Julia Ross! I would be tempted to add Hangover Square and Fallen Angel as well.

  3. Great titles. Great quotes. You’re brightening up a grey month.

  4. 🙂 Love these choices. 🙂

  5. You’ve certainly made a strong case for 1945!

  6. Leave Her to Heaven at TCMFF 2018 shown via nitrate print – THAT was unforgettable. A great year and a great list.

  7. Loved Scarlet Street when I first saw it, but the fact Bennett is a prostitute and Duryea is her pimp-that plot point I missed! I guess I thought they were just two people out to fleece lonely, middle-aged men.

    Love, love, love Julia Ross! I do want to see it again! 🙂

  8. Leaver Her to Heaven is one of my absolute noir favourites. Deep down I know that Ellen is evil, but I still can’t help myself from feeling sorry for her. All she really wanted was time alone with her husband and people wouldn’t stop visiting/staying with them! LOL

  9. Hey, did you hear “Detour” has just had a 4K restoration?

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