Kehr’s Weekly Recap: While The City Sleeps (1956)

While The City Sleeps (1956)

Fritz Lang‘s 1956 film was one of his personal favorites, a taste shared by few critics at the time, who never forgave him for leaving Germany and Die Nibelungen. A contest is announced at a New York newspaper: the reporter who catches the notorious “Lipstick Killer” will become the paper’s new editor. The story is a cynical twist on Lang’s famous M: the sex killer becomes the most sympathetic character in the film, as Lang reserves his venom for the desperately competitive reporters, including Dana Andrews, Thomas Mitchell, Ida Lupino, and George Sanders. 100 min.

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Kehr Capsule of the Week: Cry Danger (1951)

A superb, too-seldom-seen film noir from 1951. Director Robert Parrish junks the expressionist shadow play that usually goes with the genre, substituting a keen eye for gritty Los Angeles locations and a sharp handling of dialogue. Dick Powell is sent to prison on a trumped-up charge; finally released, he goes looking for the gang boss who set him up. With Rhonda Fleming and Richard Erdman.

Kehr Capsule of the Week: Slightly Scarlet (1956)

A major film (1956) by Allan Dwan, who, after Raoul Walsh, was the most expressively kinetic director in American film. The plot is a complicated affair borrowed from the James M. Cain novel Love’s Lovely Counterfeit: a high-ranking mobster is assigned to get some dirt on a reform candidate for mayor but ends up falling in love with the politician’s secretary—which touches off a series of power plays for control of both the city and the syndicate. It’s also that rare item, the color noir, photographed by the great John Alton. With John Payne (who became a first-rate noir performer after shucking his drippy musical-comedy image at Fox), Arlene Dahl, Rhonda Fleming, and lots of other 50s icons.