Day 8 of Noirvember: Top 2 in ’52

In last year’s Noirvember celebration, I started a series where I looked at my top-rated films noirs in a given year, based on the final digit in the year – hence, my top 5 in 1945 and my top 3 in 1953. Today, I’m continuing that series and taking a look at my top 2 in 1952.

I thought, at first, that settling on just two noir faves would be a challenge, but when looking over the list of films released that year, two titles instantly jumped out at me – The Narrow Margin and Sudden Fear. There were definitely other noteworthy features from 1952, including Kansas City Confidential, Clash By Night, and Angel Face, but my two picks are head and shoulders above these. Here’s why…

The Narrow Margin

What’s it about?

In a nutshell, the movie is about a gangster’s widow, who’s being escorted by train by from her home in Chicago to Los Angeles, where she’s slated to testify before a grand jury about her late husband’s nefarious dealings. Her plan doesn’t sit too well, however, with her hubby’s former associates, who will stop at nothing to keep her from fulfilling this mission. The problem is that they’ve never seen her, and the L.A. detective who is responsible for her safe delivery to L.A. is doing his level best to keep her under wraps. All in all, it makes for quite a train trip.

I can’t get enough of these two.

Who’s in it?

The film stars Charles McGraw as the detective and Marie Windsor as the widow. Others in the cast are Jacqueline White, Queenie Leonard, and Don Beddoe.

Why do I love it?

My number reason for loving this film is Marie Windsor. From the second she appears on screen, she’s spitting out lines as if they taste like liver (apologies to you liver-lovers). She a total badass, saucy and sassy, always saying exactly what’s on her mind. She’s got all the film’s best lines and she’s an absolute joy to watch. And gruff and gravelly Charles McGraw makes a perfect adversary, matching her feistiness with hard-boiled, no-nonsense patter. Finally, if you’ve seen the movie, you’ll know that it serves up a noirish twist about halfway through that sends the plot careening in a totally different direction. Masterful.

Trivia tidbit:

There is no musical soundtrack – the only music comes from a radio and a scene where a phonograph is playing.

Favorite quote:

Sixty-cent special. Cheap, flashy. Strictly poison under the gravy. – Det. Sgt. Walter Brown (Charles McGraw)

Sudden Fear

What’s it about?

A wealthy playwright, Myra Hudson, falls for and marries an actor after a whirlwind romance, not knowing that her hubby, Lester, is more interested in her bank account than he is in her. He’s also interested in his sexy ex-lover who just happens to come to town. When Lester believes that Myra is changing her will to cut him out, he decides to knock her off before she can sign the final papers. But Myra isn’t going gentle into that good night.

Who’s in it?

Joan Crawford is the playwright, Jack Palance is her husband, Lester, and Gloria Grahame is Lester’s former and current lover. Others in the cast are Bruce Bennett, Virginia Huston, and Touch Conners (who wisely changed his professional name to Mike Connors and starred in TV’s Mannix. His name at birth, incidentally, was Krekor Ohanian.).

Don’t mess with Myra. (She may be a playwright, but she ain’t playing.)

Why do I love it?

Aside from being one of the first noirs I saw on the big screen, Sudden Fear is also the noir that I most recently shared with my oldest daughter – and she loved it almost as much as I do. I love it primarily because it stars Joan Crawford and, in my eyes, Joanie can do no wrong. She’s fascinating to watch, from start to finish – and speaking of the finish, her final shot makes me want to cheer. I love the scene where Joan’s character learns that her husband not only has a chick on the side, but that the two of them are planning to kill her. I love even more the methodical, cunning manner in which she turns the table.

Trivia tidbit:

Crawford was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance, and Jack Palance was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. The awards were won by Shirley Booth in Come Back, Little Sheba and Anthony Quinn for Viva Zapata!

Favorite quote:

“I was just wondering what I’d done to deserve you.” – Myra Hudson (Joan Crawford)

What are your favorite noirs from 1952?

Let me know . . . and then join me tomorrow for Day 9 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 8, 2019.

4 Responses to “Day 8 of Noirvember: Top 2 in ’52”

  1. Joan Crawford always scares me in those noirs.

  2. Two of the greats, I definitely agree. Love that quote from Myra!

  3. Great choices. The Narrow Margin and I are old pals. However, Sudden Fear and I only became acquainted in the last couple of years. I fell hard and so did my daughter perched on the arm of the couch. Looking forward to the next time we get together.

  4. I also love the film The Narrow Margin and you are right, Windsor and McGraw have a great chemistry battling it out with their lines and characters’ attitudes. Great plot twist, an all around great film.

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