Underneath this Veronica Lake–Alan Ladd thriller (1946) lies Raymond Chandler‘s only original screenplay—a suitably hard-nosed affair about a war vet whose homecoming coincides with the murder of his unfaithful wife. Though it has the Chandler flavor and occasionally captures the feel of his sunbaked Los Angeles, the film falters under the uncertain, visually uninventive direction of George Marshall—wildly miscast here, when any vaguely sympathetic hack from Stuart Heisler to Frank Tuttle would have been just fine. With William Bendix and Howard da Silva.
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.
This paranoid 1965 thriller by Otto Preminger is one of his most darkly poetic and wrenching films, a reflective mid-60s return to the ghostly film noir style he developed at Fox in the 40s. An American woman living in London (Carol Lynley) believes her four-year-old daughter has been kidnapped. The police can’t do much to help because, try as she might, Lynley can’t prove to them that she ever had a daughter at all. Gradually it becomes clear that the subject of the investigation is not the missing child but the absence of love in Lynley’s own life. As in The Human Factor, Preminger approaches the mystery of human irrationality and emotion through logic and detachment; the effect is stingingly poignant. With Laurence Olivier, Noel Coward, and Keir Dullea. 107 min.