TCM Is Going Film Noir Nutty . . . Again!

Once again, TCM is going film noir nutty! Coming up on February 10th (which happens to be the day that my beloved grandmother – who lived to be 109 – was born), TCM is airing not one, not five, not seven – but a whopping TEN features from the classic noir era. From morning ‘til night, you can satisfy your noir craving and even have some left over for snacks and dessert! Here’s a rundown of what you can expect:

The Set-Up (1949)

One of my favorite noirs, The Set-Up stars Robert Ryan as Stoker Thompson, an aging boxer who still believes that he’s just one punch away from victory. Shot in real-time, the film shows Stoker and his fellow boxers preparing for the night’s bouts while, at the same time, we see that his manager and trainer (George Tobias and Percy Helton) have sold him out to local gangster Little Boy (Alan Baxter), promising the dapper hood that Stoker would take a fall. For more on this feature, click here.

Stranger on the Third Floor (1940)

Things don’t look good for Elisha Cook, Jr.

Considered by many – including me – to be the first film of the classic noir era, this feature centers on Joe Briggs (Elisha Cook, Jr.), an ill-fated taxi driver who is arrested after fleeing the scene of a murder. When Briggs is convicted for the crime and sentenced to death, the reporter (Joe McGuire) whose testimony was responsible for the conviction begins to have second thoughts about Briggs’s guilt.

The Locket (1946)

Nancy and John don’t appreciate Dr. Blair’s wedding gift.

This is another one of my personal favorites; it’s the only noir I know of that has a flashback within a flashback within a flashback, and I am there for all of them. As the film opens, it’s the wedding day of the beautiful, poised, and sophisticated Nancy Blair (Laraine Day), and her husband-to-be (Gene Raymond), John Willis, receives a visit from one Dr. Henry Blair (Brian Aherne). Blair insists that he is married to Nancy and that he has some important (and damning) information about Nancy that John must know. This sets up the heretofore mentioned flashback sequences, where we get to know Nancy and learn that there’s more to her than just a pretty face. More on the film and its star can be found here.

The Woman on Pier 13 (1950)

The not-so-happy couple.

Originally titled I Married a Communist, the film tells the story of Nan Collins (Laraine Day again), who marries Brad (Robert Ryan), a successful executive with a secret past. Among other things, Brad is a former member of the Communist Party, and his happy life with Nan is turned upside down when local agitators use Brad’s ex-girlfriend to stir up trouble.

Cornered (1945)

In this feature, Dick Powell plays a Canadian pilot and prisoner of war survivor who is determined to track down the Nazi collaborator responsible for the death of his French war bride. This was Powell’s follow-up to Murder, My Sweet (1944), his first foray into noir and his initial step toward transforming his screen image from light-hearted everyman to world-weary anti-hero.

Frances only has eyes for the detective.

Nocturne (1946)

This film opens with the murder of a womanizing composer, who’s in the midst of cold-heartedly breaking up with his latest paramour. We don’t see who’s responsible for the deed, but the chief suspects are bit actress Frances Ransom and her nightclub singer sister (Lynn Bari and Virginia Huston) – and the detective on the case, played by George Raft, finds himself falling for one of them.

Angel Face (1953)

Jean Simmons, playing the title role of Diane Tremayne, ain’t no angel. Ambulance driver Frank Jessup (Robert Mitchum) finds this out when Diane’s stepmother is “accidentally” overcome by escaping gas and it turns out that Diane is behind the deed. The climax of this feature is a shocker and truly something to see. For a deep dive into the film, click here.

While the City Sleeps (1956)

The employees of Kyne Enterprises.

This one is chock full of noir vets including Ida Lupino, Dana Andrews, Thomas Mitchell, Vincent Price, Rhonda Fleming, Sally Forrest, James Craig, and George Sanders. Directed by Fritz Lang, the film opens with the death of a media mogul and the takeover of the organization by his indolent son, Walter, played by Vincent Price. Walter, looking for someone to “do the actual work,” announces a new position, vowing to award it to the employee who solves a series of sex murders.

Journey into Fear (1941)

Howard Graham is on the run.

Produced by Orson Welles and co-written by Welles and star Joseph Cotten, this often-complicated feature centers on munitions expert Howard Graham, who survives an assassination attempt in Istanbul. Learning that he’s the target of a Nazi conspiracy, Graham flees to America on a cargo ship, where he finds that his life is in even more danger. Norman Foster – one of my favorite pre-Code actors – is credited with directing the film, but it’s believed that Welles helmed at least parts of it (although he later said that he did not).

The Roberts of Crossfire.

Crossfire (1947)

One of the first films to deal with the topic of anti-Semitism, Crossfire focuses on the murder of Jewish war veteran Joseph Samuels (Sam Levene) and the efforts of a detective (Robert Young) to find the killer. Also on board is Robert Mitchum as an ex-serviceman who aids in the investigation, and Robert Ryan, a blustering, repellant soldier whose anti-Semitic invective makes him a key suspect.

I hope your schedule allows you to see at least one of these film noir features on February 10th. You only owe it to yourself.

~ by shadowsandsatin on February 9, 2022.

5 Responses to “TCM Is Going Film Noir Nutty . . . Again!”

  1. Think I’ll fly to America for the day . What a lineup!

  2. Loved The Set-up! I have yet to see some of these. The Woman on Pier 13 sounds awesome.

  3. OMG! All my favorites! Especially sweet Larraine Day as so deeply disturbed and Elisha Cook’s claustrophobic court scene. Not “A” films, but all memorable.

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