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99 River Street

23 Feb

There are worse things than murder. You can kill someone an inch at a time.

I guess it’s no secret that I have a real fondness for low budget movies; there’s something fascinating about seeing how filmmakers are able to stretch their resources. There have been a fair few highly successful film noirs that fall into this category, and that shouldn’t be all that surprising. Noir is arguably the type of movie best suited to budget filmmaking, relying less on location and high production values than almost any other style of picture. In truth, a clever director and cameraman can not only transcend the limitations of a tight budget, but can actually turn it to their advantage. Those directors who spent much of their early careers working in the B units were able to capitalize on their years of experience, and the better ones could make a virtue out of austerity. Phil Karlson was one of those who managed to make quality movies even when the finances were severely restricted. 99 River Street (1953) may be his best film noir, Kansas City Confidential would possibly challenge it for that honor though, and it’s certainly among his better films.

For Ernie Driscoll (John Payne) it wasn’t so much that he could have been a contender – he was. The opening sees Driscoll slugging it out in the ring during a world heavyweight title fight. He actually floors the champion and is just ten seconds away from glory. However, Driscoll is a classic noir protagonist – fate has got his number – so his opponent picks himself up, lands a lucky punch that opens a bad wound over his eye, and wins the bout on a TKO. Just to underline Driscoll’s fall from the big time, the camera pulls back to reveal that the fight scene we’ve been watching is in reality a syndicated rerun on TV. Driscoll’s sitting there, reliving every blow traded, torturing himself, as the pain flickers across his battle-scarred features. With his boxing career in tatters, Driscoll makes a living as a cab driver. He’s not exactly thrilled with this, but that’s nothing compared to the contempt felt by his disgruntled wife Pauline (Peggie Castle). Pauline is a former showgirl, bitterly disappointed at the way things have turned out and convinced that Driscoll is nothing but a loser. She may have a point too; not only is Pauline about to run off with a small time hood, Victor Rawlins (Brad Dexter), but Driscoll finds himself suckered into believing a melodramatic tale spun by an aspiring Broadway actress, Linda James (Evelyn Keyes). The point here is that Driscoll is one of those eternal fall guys, the kind of man who has bad things happen to him just because. As such, it’s no major surprise, least of all to Driscoll himself I guess, when he finds himself framed for murder and on the run. Nevertheless, he does have a few things in his favour – a kind of two-fisted toughness and never say die tenacity, and a couple of friends in his boss (Frank Faylen) and a repentant Linda. With the odds heavily stacked against him, and time running short, Driscoll has no option but to scour the city at night in pursuit of the real murderer in the hopes of catching up with him before he skips the country.

Lots of movies tend to get tagged as gritty, and not all of them deserve it. 99 River Street is the real deal though – positively brimming with lowlife characters, sudden and brutal violence, and the stench of hard luck. Driscoll is marked as a loser right from the first scene, but just about every character we meet fits that description to a greater or lesser extent. The strongest examples of film noir introduced viewers to a gallery of misfits, chiselers, cheats, and saps. 99 River Street seems to have nothing else but such people, and director Phil Karlson positively revels in the sordid, seedy world these guys inhabit. The movie studiously avoids any sense of glamor, telling its tale against a backdrop of run down stores, dingy back rooms and waterfront bars. The decrepit city setting was a staple of many a noir picture, and Karlson uses it well to evoke a world of lost hopes and broken dreams. He also keeps the pace brisk and that helps add to the sense of urgency of Driscoll’s quest. Stylistically, the film only intermittently features what could be termed classic noir visuals in the first half – the “confession” by Linda in a deserted theater being one example – but cameraman Franz Planer does turn it on as the climax approaches. The final chase and fight along the dockside makes use of a selection of long, medium and close-up shots, and bathes them all in atmospheric, inky shadows. Karlson was doing some great work in the 50s, and a movie like 99 River Street genuinely celebrates the meanness and toughness of film noir at its best. It’s also interesting to note the way the movie plays around with the viewer’s perceptions of reality – the opening sequence that turns out to be a television recording, and the theater scene that tricks both the audience and the lead character.

John Payne is something of a forgotten man these days, probably due to the fact that most of his best work was done in B movies and programmers. Starting with The Crooked Way in 1949 though, he made a series of tough and entertaining noirs and westerns, frequently working for Karlson or Allan Dwan. He had a rough, lived-in look about him that made him believable in these movies, and 99 River Street drew on that weary, beaten appearance. Payne gave a very edgy performance, full of rage, frustration and a kind of bitter misogyny. He completely convinced as a man who knew himself for a sap, who allowed himself to be strung along by the wrong kind of women all his life, and despised himself and them for it. His sudden bursts of violence when provoked too far had a ring of authenticity to them – whenever he landed a punch you could tell he meant it to do the maximum damage. Of course, a hard character like this needs something or someone to balance them, to ground them and stop them sliding too far into macho aggression. Evelyn Keyes was nearing the end of her big screen career, having hit the heights in Gone with the Wind, and so had just the right kind of faded disillusionment for her role. Initially, she comes across as slightly skittish and flaky, but soon proves her worth when the chips are down. There’s a common misconception that the only interesting women in film noir are those who play the femme fatale. However, I’m of the opinion that the frequently unsung Girl-Friday parts are every bit as significant. Keyes’ role here is vital in eliciting sympathy for Payne – without her presence and loyalty, there’s a danger of his less attractive qualities running out of control. That’s not to say the femme fatale, Peggie Castle in this case, is unimportant here. However, her role is much more one-dimensional and consequently less interesting. The film features a particularly strong supporting line-up: Frank Faylen is very likeable as Payne’s stoic boss, and Brad Dexter does a nice line in smarm and self-interest. Rounding out the cast is Jay Adler as a vindictive fence and Jack Lambert as his strong-arm sidekick.

There are a few options as far as DVD editions of 99 River Street are concerned. The film has been released as a MOD disc in the US via MGM, and it’s also available on pressed disc in Spain from Art House/Paycom. I have the Spanish release, and the transfer is pretty good. There are some instances of softness here and there, but it’s clean and sharp for the most part. One criticism I do have is that I found the sound a little low at times – not very poor, but noticeable. The disc has no extra features and subtitles are not forced – they can be disabled from the setup menu. All in all, I think 99 River Street is a fine example of early 50s film noir, exhibiting a harder edge than the usual 40s variety. It also shows off Karlson’s ability to shoot lean, tight little movies economically. He’s a director who’s not really known outside of film buff circles and I think his stronger films, such as this one, deserve a bit more attention. It’s worth checking out.

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30 Comments

Posted by on February 23, 2013 in 1950s, Film Noir, Phil Karlson

 

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30 responses to “99 River Street

  1. Cavershamragu

    February 23, 2013 at 10:41 am

    I’ve never seen this one Colin but it sounds great – I’m a fan of Karlson (and recently got KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL in fact). This certainly comes across a Noir in the tradition of David Goodis with the fates hounding the hero. I think you really do make a very astute observation about the role here played by Keyes because apart from making the doom-laden hero the object of some sympathy it also helps an audience connect with the story which might otherwise seem too bleak and inaccessible – great write-up chum, I am definitely getting this one!

     
    • Colin

      February 23, 2013 at 10:56 am

      Thanks Sergio. I think it’s a little gem of a movie that doesn’t get mentioned a lot, yet proves very satisfying. I reckon you’ll enjoy it.
      A lot of writing on noir seems to focus on the role of the femme fatale, but the “good girl” who draws sympathy for the hero/anti-hero is every bit as important. As you said, these characters prevent viewers from being alienated by all the bitterness inherent in such stories.

       
  2. Cavershamragu

    February 23, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Very interesting that Franz Planer was the DP as he was more usually associated with more glamorous types of movies (he was Audrey Hepburn’s favourite apparently) or epic films like THE BIG COUNTRY and KING OF KINGS, though of course was also responsible for the incredible visuals of Siodmak’s CRISS CROSS and another boxing picture,Mark Robson’s CHAMPION. According to IMDb Payne actually worked on the script with Karlson, which is pretty interesting (if true).

     
    • Colin

      February 23, 2013 at 11:35 am

      Planer, like a lot of guys in the studio era, worked on a wide variety of pictures – that depth of experience is probably the reason they did such fine work.

      I didn’t know that Payne was supposed to have had a hand in the script for this movie. However, a quick check at the IMDB indicates that he was also involved (again uncredited) in the writing of Kansas City Confidential.

       
      • Cavershamragu

        February 23, 2013 at 11:48 am

        Sounds like he and Karlson had a very good relationship on the three movies they made in the 50s. Just had the usual nonsense of not being able to find KANSAS CITY on IMDb – seriously, who the hell came up with THE SECRET FOUR as an alternative title?

         
        • Colin

          February 23, 2013 at 11:56 am

          I’ve never heard Kansas City Confidential referred to using that alternative title. I have to wonder not only who came up with the title but why? It’s exceptionally lame, isn’t it?

           
          • Cavershamragu

            February 23, 2013 at 12:12 pm

            Probably speaks volume either for the parochial tastes of British cinemagoers of the early 50s or the sheer lack of imagination on the part of local distributors. Either way, it’s so forgettable that I can’t even remember it anymore, which will come back to haunt me next time I look it up!

             
            • Colin

              February 23, 2013 at 12:14 pm

              I’d say a lousy title like that actively deserves to be forgotten!

               
  3. Ted S. (Just a Cineast)

    February 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    One scene I really like for its incongruity comes around the point of that last picture: Evelyn Keyes gets up to put some coins in the jukebox saying something to the effect that “this place is dead”. There’s another man in the bar (an extra, I believe) whose wife has gone to the bathroom, and he responds, “Revive me, baby!” It makes me laugh because it seems so out of place and who speaks like that outside of noir movies, anyway?

    And then there’s the bigger question of what this respectable-looking man and his wife were doing in a bar like this.

     
    • Colin

      February 23, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Yes, that’s a wonderful little moment. The guy then follows it up, as he dances with Keyes, with : “I’m livin’ now!”
      These kinds of touches are so much a part of the noir world – an unreal snatch of dialogue that can only exist in these heavily stylized settings. And of course the whole scene builds towards that erotically charged moment when Keyes suggestively lights her cigarette from Dexter’s.

       
  4. john k

    February 23, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Really,really glad that you are giving this somewhat unheralded Noir the spotlight Colin.
    As always you treat the film with the respect that it deserves.
    The Payne/Karlson team was really something.
    I would not say Payne is forgotten among vintage film fans;a hell of a lot of collectors that
    I know are after his back catalog.
    He was a pretty big star in the Forties mainly in soaps and musicals.In the Fifties he hardened
    his image;he seemed to go out of his way to play unpleasant characters.From his washed
    up boxer/cab driver 99 RIVER STREET;heartless grifters;LARCENY,brutal escaped
    convict PASSAGE WEST;grim Reb hating ex-Union officer;REBEL IN TOWN,racist:
    SANTA FE PASSAGE, and so on.He purchased the rights to MOONRAKER in the Fifties
    but no studio would touch it as they thought it too sexy;too violent.
    To get a good idea of what Payne would have been like as James Bond check out Andre
    De Toths HIDDEN FEAR;very non p.c.;he even slaps his own sister around!
    Paynes big budget stuff was in the early Fifties when he made a slew of adventure films
    for Pine-Thomas/Paramount.These films were all lavish Technicolor romps and quiet good
    fun.EAGLE AND THE HAWK has stunning photography from James Wong Howe as an
    added attraction.CARIBBEAN has an interesting Black liberation subtext (for the time)
    and Payne does his usual bare cheated thing.I must admit though he looks rather puny
    compared to Woody Strodes magnificent torso also on display in that film.,
    The final Pine-Thomas effort HELLS ISLAND was also his last film with Karlson;a sort of
    Technicolor Noir and pretty good too;but not in the same league as their previous two films
    together.Sadly Paramount have lost interest in re-issuing their vintage films and sadly
    Payne is not on Olive Films radar for some reason.
    While no classics the Pine-Thomas Payne films are good lavish big-budget fun and
    deserve to be seen again.Apart from the films mentioned I am thinking about titles
    like CROSSWINDS,THE BLAZING FOREST,TRIPOLI and EL PASO.

    Well Colin you mentioned that you do not mind people going off-topic on your blog so
    here I go;well we are on a sort of Noir theme.
    Renown,in the UK have just released DOUBLE CONFESSION which I think you will enjoy
    if you have not already seen it.This film was considered “lost” by the British Film Institute.
    It has surfaced however recently as a bootleg.I am happy to say that the Renown edition
    is a fine restoration.Several people I know who have seen the film say that in the film
    Peter Lorre and William Hartnell are in a Gay relationship.I look forward to seeing the film again
    with this in mind. Another “Brit Noir” sadly not on DVD ;APPOINTMENT WITH CRIME(also
    with Hartnell) it is pretty obvious Herbert Lom and Alan Wheatly are in a Gay relationship
    which is quiet something considering when the film was made,and the censor restrictions
    at the time.
    Its good that some of this unheralded British Noir is beginning to surface alongside its more
    well-known American counterparts.

    :

     
    • Colin

      February 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      Thought you’d appreciate this one John. I still think Payne is a little known figure beyond hardened film buffs such as ourselves. There are more of his movies that are accessible now but, as your comment highlights, an awful lot that remain hard to see.

      I was aware that Double Confession was released but I haven’t picked up a copy myself yet. The IMDB listing says the film is B&W, but Renown’s site claim it’s in colour – does this mean it’s been colorized?

       
    • Chris

      March 14, 2013 at 5:35 am

      Your Moonraker tidbit is dynamite. – what a great piece of Bond trivia!
      I’ve just finished the Allan Dwan box-set, recently released out of France. Among the films are several that John Payne top lined; Silver Lode (1954), Tennessee’s Partner (1955), and the noirish Slightly Scarlet (1956).
      He had a very low key presence for a leading man, and I have to admit to initially not being impressed. Then I noticed he did a lot more of his own fighting and stunt work than you’d expect, and I decided I liked the guy after all.
      The Dwan set is a bit of a mixed bag, but worth grabbing (if you can view R2 DVDs) for the above mentioned, and also Passion with Yvonne DeCarlo and Cornel Wilde, which is excellent, and the delightful Escape to Burma with Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Ryan, a departure for both of them!

       
      • Colin

        March 14, 2013 at 7:20 am

        Chris, low key is a good description of Payne’s screen persona, and I think that aspect of the man was used well in those movies of his that I have seen.

        I don’t have that French Dwan box that you mention, but I do have all the films that are included from various locations. I’m a big fan of Dwan’s work and especially those pictures he made late in his career – some real gems in there.

         
  5. Vienna

    February 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    Thanks for highlighting 99 RIVER STREET which I love. It’s one of these thrillers which keep you glued to the screen because there is so much happening. Surely one of John Payne’s best acting jobs. You feel his pain.
    Not sure Peggie Castle was right choice for the wife – she’s not strong enough .
    I’m also a little dubious about Evelyn Keyes but maybe that’s just a personal thing with me. She’s not one of my favorite actresses. I think she overdoes it in the cafe scene near the end.
    Brad Dexter had this kind of role down tight. He’s so seedy!
    And always nice to see Frank Faylen ,here doing his very best to help his friend.
    That scene in the theatre is so powerful the first time you see it.
    Haven’t seen Kansas City Confidential in an age. Must catch up with it again.
    I hope I get to see Larceny sometime.
    I still think it’s amazing how John Payne turned his career around and found himself as an actor.

     
    • Colin

      February 23, 2013 at 2:37 pm

      I agree, the theater scene is excellent, although it does lose a bit of its power once you know how it develops. As for Keyes in the bar scene, I think the overdoing it part was deliberate. She is playing an actress, and seems to be “acting out loud” in a sense in that sequence.

       
  6. Grand Old Movies

    February 23, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Really one of THE best noirs, tough and unsentimental. The women in this film come across particularly strong: Evelyn Keyes’ sexy, chameleon performance is marvelous (on a par with her work in The Prowler); and Peggie Castle plays cold-blooded-heartless-dame beautifully.

     
    • Colin

      February 23, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      Yes. As good as John Payne is, the two female roles really worked well for me.
      Thanks for the comment.

       
  7. Prashant C. Trikannad

    February 23, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    “The strongest examples of film noir introduced viewers to a gallery of misfits, chiselers, cheats, and saps.” — I was thinking along those lines even as I was reading your review, Colin. I haven’t seen many noir films but I find them bleak in more than one way with little or no hope for the protagonists. I suppose noir films are about pessimism, cynicism, and fatalism all rolled into one.

     
    • Colin

      February 23, 2013 at 6:23 pm

      That pretty much sums it up Prashant. Expressed in those terms though, it doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? :)
      However, when you see these dramas played out on screen, there is a lot of entertainment to be had. And they’re very addictive too.

       
  8. Prashant C. Trikannad

    February 23, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Oh, I agree, Colin. I find noir films quite entertaining and I’m sure they’re addictive too. The last one I saw was DETOUR starring Tom Neal and I loved it, especially the setting against a largely grey and white backdrop. Tom Neal’s morose look, like that of a man condemned to death, is apace with his grim tone of voice through much of the film. I was actually sorry when the film ended, for it afforded immense possibilities. Noir films are works of art and I find them a lot similar to parallel (non-commercial) cinema in India including those other than the low-budget Hindi films made by Bollywood.

    I haven’t seen either 99 RIVER STREET or KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL, so I have these well-recommended noir films to look forward to.

     
    • Colin

      February 23, 2013 at 7:43 pm

      Detour is perhaps low budget noir at its strongest, though the film isn’t to everyone’s taste.
      Interesting that you should compare these movies to non-commercial Indian cinema – I’ll have to confess total ignorance of that area of cinema though.
      And I wholeheartedly recommend both 99 River Street & Kansas City Confidential.

       
  9. john k

    February 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Colin,you are quiet right to say more of Paynes work needs to be made available.
    Sadly his largest body of work the Pine-Thomas pictures remain unavailable at the
    moment but I am sure this will change.
    At any rate this series started (CAPTAIN CHINA) and ended (HELLS ISLAND) on a high
    note.CAPTAIN CHINA is the only Pine-Thomas Payne that I have not been able to track
    down in good quality which is a pity because its one of Paynes best.The Pine-Thomas films
    always looked great because the DOPs they employed were always top-drawer.(James Wong
    Howe,Lloyal Griggs,John Alton and Lionel Lindon) CAPTAIN CHINA is almost in a genre of its own
    a sort of “Nautical Noir” Val Lewton,had of course already been there with his striking GHOST
    SHIP. CAPTAIN CHINA has great Noir Creds: Payne,lovely Gail Russell and John Alton all at
    the top of their game.Sadly another top notch Payne Noir THE BOSS is only available as a
    rather ropey MOD,from MGM/UA. The DVD Beaver review was kinder than I would have been
    but they agree that this fine film needs a proper restoration.
    I am sure with Noir being so hip at the moment more of Paynes contributions to the genre
    will be appraised in the future.
    Have no fear Colin,DOUBLE CONFESSION is a fine black & white transfer;the best I have seen
    from Renown so far.In an odd way the film is like BRIEF ENCOUNTER meets BRIGHTON ROCK.
    I like comparing it with the aforementioned APPOINTMENT WITH CRIME because both films star
    William Hartnell and both films feature a Gay male relationship. I feel the relationship between
    Hartnell and Peter Lorre in DOUBLE CONFESSION is ambiguous;the film makers let the
    audience make their own minds up. Several people have told me this is nonsense their
    relationship is blatantly obvious.
    There is no ambiguity,however in the relationship between Herbert Lom and Alan Wheatley in
    APPOINTMENT WITH CRIME.Like many “Brit Noirs” of the era both films are grim,disturbing
    subversive and darkly comic. I like the Jonah Crackle character in APPOINTMENT WITH CRIME
    played by Ivor Barnard. Mr Crackle is a printer who offers a range of “special extras” for his
    underworld clients.This include extracting information from victims by various foul means,
    and if they refuse to talk he ensures that they vanish without trace.
    If nothing else Mr Crackle is highly professional;he always insists on “cash with order”
    A real forgotten actor is DOUBLE CONFESSIONs leading man Derek Farr.A big star in the early
    Fifties this guy was really good. He could be snide and nasty (TOWN ON TRIAL) or benign
    and humane (EIGHT O CLOCK WALK.) Another “lost” Farr picture recently surfaced in
    Germany;MAN ON THE RUN. The DVD is not for high definition freaks but is far better than
    various shoddy bootlegs that have been going the rounds. The German DVD looks like it
    was transferred from an old 16mm print.It does have the advantage of an “alternate” happy
    ending on the DVD. The film is interesting in that it paints a very sour,acerbic portrait of
    Post-War England.

     
    • Colin

      February 25, 2013 at 7:54 pm

      Great response John, thanks very much for all that info. You really are a mine of information on obscure and little seen movies, and I’m grateful for your input and comments on such matters.

      Thanks too for clearing up that potentially confusing stuff regarding Double Confession – I fully intend to pick the movie up now.
      And on the subject of British thrillers, I have Pickup Alley (AKA Interpol) on order from Amazon in Spain. I’ve never seen it but the price was too good to pass up.

       
  10. john k

    February 26, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Gee,thanks Colin.
    I am glad that you do not seem to mind me keep going off-topic all over the place.
    INTERPOL was one of six Britflicks Mature made in the Fifties. Its OK nothing more,but has
    good production values.Main trouble Mature is none to likable in the lead and its pretty
    routine stuff.You will enjoy seeing Sidney James play a New York bartender.
    A much better Mature Britflick is THE LONG HAUL;only available as a Sony MOD.
    Big Vic is really good in this one in the unlikely role of a Liverpool based truck driver.
    Film is an odd combo of Noir,Trucker Thriller and Kitchen Sink Drama;well worth a look.
    Talking about American actors in Britflicks,Renown are about to release THREE STEPS
    TO THE GALLOWS (a.k.a.White Fire) starring Scott Brady.
    This is a pretty good little B movie well directed by INTERPOLs John Gilling.
    In the Fifties many American actors appeared in UK B films;mainly to ensure the films got a
    release in the States.
    Sadly some of these actors were approaching the trail-end of their careers;one time stars like
    Wayne Morris,George Brent,Kent Taylor and Richard Arlen.
    Also up and coming talents like Brady,Dale Robertson,Richard Carlson and Lloyd Bridges
    appeared in these films.
    Many of these films were made by pre-horror Hammer or Tempean Films.
    I personally feel generally the Tempean product was slicker and better than the Hammer output.
    THREE STEPS TO THE GALLOWS is a good example of Tempean Films output.
    I hope Renown release TIGER BY THE TAIL which in my opinion is the best British B movie
    with an American lead (Larry Parks)
    Again a top-notch Tempean Film directed by John Gilling.
    Before viewing I thought poor Larry Parks reduced to a B Britflick after his falling foul of
    the HUAC.Further to that the film also stars Constance Smith;a deeply troubled (in real life)
    actress.TIGER BY THE TAIL turned out to be a real treat;a good script helped;by Willis
    Goldbeck,no less.(MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE)
    I am sure Tempean would not have the resources to commission a writer of Goldbecks calibre,
    this must have been an unsold item that he had filed away somewhere.
    The Femme Fatale (Lisa Daniely) in this film is incredibly contempoary;by a couple of decades at
    least!She dictates the rather unusual terms by which their relationship must exist;when Parks
    breaks the rules she has made his life goes into free-fall.Parks is very good in this picture
    and Constance Smith plays the “good” girl.
    Film starts and ends very downbeat;with a nice light hearted touch in between.
    Nice extended chase on the overground section of the Circle Line too!
    The Victor Mature Britflicks were made by Warwick Films which were big budget A pictures
    with top-draw A List Hollywood stars:Robert Mitchum,Robert Taylor,Alan Ladd,Richard Widmark
    Jack Palance,Ray Milland and so on.Warwick more or less took over where Pine-Thomas left
    off these were splashy good looking A Movies with pure entertainment the main objective.
    Its funny the cross-polination between Hammer and Tempean Films. When Hammer struck
    gold with their Horror films Tempean soon followed;often employing Hammer talent (Peter
    Cushing,Jimmy Sangster) Tempeans answer to Hammer were titles like BLOOD OF THE VAMPIRE,
    FLESH AND THE FIENDS and JACK THE RIPPER. Also Tempeans “house” director John
    Gilling ended up making several films for Hammer.

     
    • Colin

      February 26, 2013 at 2:21 pm

      Cheers John. I’m not really expecting any great classic in Interpol, but I do have a soft spot for these British thrillers – and Sid James is always a welcome addition to any cast.

      Thanks for the tip on Three Steps to the Gallows, a very evocative title if nothing else. I’ll look out for it.

      I quite like John Gilling’s movies; their quality varies but I think they’re always entertaining on some level. I just picked up Gilling’s Recoil for a very good price in the Play.com sale.

       
  11. john k

    February 27, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    Colin,I may have been a little unkind regarding INTERPOL;perhaps I was expecting a bit
    too much. At least its slick and fast moving and the set-pieces are great!
    Its obvious what a good actor Mature was when he worked with cinemas giants (Ford,Siodmak)
    THREE STEPS TO THE GALLOWS is a model B picture;and on that level very good.
    Look out for the scene where Brady is in a West End travel agent and a bus goes past
    advertising the new 3D sensation HOUSE OF WAX.
    The USA title of the film WHITE FIRE makes no sense at all!
    I too like Gillings films;he sure loved his off-kilter camera angles.

     
    • Colin

      February 27, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      I look forward to checking out both of these movies – I generally find something of worth even in weak or lesser material.

      I think Mature was well suited to thrillers and noir, and movies of that genre usually brought out the best in him.

       
  12. Chris

    September 6, 2013 at 3:18 am

    Just dropped back in to thank you for bringing my attention to 99 River Street. I ordered it immediately I read your write up but it went straight into a pile of about 60 (no joke) Noir and Western discs I’ve been allowing to build up so I could view them in the right order.
    I’ve been in the 40s for a while now and its interesting the tonal shift you see taking place from the start of the new decade – I watched The Sniper the night before and both films have a harder, grittier, much less glamourised style to them.
    I liked this one a lot. Cheers mate!

     
    • Colin

      September 6, 2013 at 11:47 am

      It’s good to hear you enjoyed the film Chris. There is indeed a kind of tonal shift to be detected in the new decade, even the type of stories changed to an extent.

       

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