Sunday, November 13, 2011


(1950) is a classic film noir that covers the last hours of doomed Frank Bigelow (Edmund O'Brien) as he fights for his life and scrambles to find his "murderer." Dark, yes, and essential if you like crime movies. The mood is saturated with darkness, a claustrophobic nightmare portrayed with expressionistic vigor. It all starts in a "jive" San Francisco nightclub called "The Fisherman," when a stranger swaps drinks with Bigelow. The house band goes wild in this scene, mirroring Bigelow's chaos and confusion in one of the earliest depictions of the Beat subculture on film. The next morning, Bigelow is sick with more than just a hangover and he visits a doctor. Tests reveal he has unknowingly swallowed a "luminous toxin," whatever that is. There is no antidote. In situations like this, it's good to get a second opinion. A second doctor agrees (Yep, luminous toxin, all right) and implies that the poisoning must have been deliberate. Bigelow remembers his drink tasted strange. He retraces his steps...

This time of year, with wet streets and brooding, overcast skies, film noir is a natural. So is music--especially lively music to pull you out of your doldrums. Enjoy this crazy jumpin' jive, and rent this classic (avoid the remake). Oh, and keep an eye on your drink.

Thanks to Billy Hagen for this clip.

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