CRIME & THE CITY SOLUTION, part IV: the finale
For the final weekend of Noir City, I was only going to be able to see one movie, due to previous engagements. I was slightly disappointed because I hadn't seen any of the three scheduled, but such is life. Tonight's was to be Union Station (1950), which I was curious about because I edited a great book at Oni with the same title. The stories bear no relation, as the film is set in Chicago and the Ande Parks/Eduardo Barreto graphic novel is based on real events in Kansas, but it would still be interesting to compare.
Unfortunately, the print arrived damaged and they were unable to show it, so they replaced it with an advance screening of what was to be Sunday's offerring, Born To Kill (1947), directed by the fantastic Robert Wise. I wish it had been tomorrow's film, The Killer that Stalked New York (1950), because it has never been available on video and Born To Kill is going to be in this summer's second Warner Bros. film noir box...but again, such is life.
Born To Kill is a melodramatic thriller about two people who are both pursuing the quick buck by marrying a rich spouse. They have an instant attraction to one another, as rotten attracts rotten, but things start to go wrong when Sam (Lawrence Tierney) decides to go after Helen's sister. Helen (Claire Trevor) knows that Sam killed two people just before they met, and she doesn't want to see her sister meet the same fate. When she's being totally honest, she also admits she wants Sam for herself. What results is a plot where they push and pull one another. Who will expose who? How far will they go to keep their secrets?
The movie was stolen by two bit players. First, Esther Howard as the bug-eyed, beer-loving landlord Mrs. Kraft. She plays it to the hilt, cackling and howling, swilling her drinks. It's a hysterical performance. The second is Walter Slezak as a private detective. On his search for answers, he gets doors to open for him through a self-deprecating wit and a penchant for verbose quotes from high-brow sources. He made me think of Peter Ustinov in Spartacus: charming even while he's extorting you for money; well aware of how he's perceived and willing to exploit it.
After the movie, it was the Ash show at the Crystal Ballroom. It was a radio concert, part of a series for breaking new bands called "I Saw Them When." Well, I first saw Ash ten years ago, so I guess for me it's "I Saw Them When Minus Ten." The Bravery were the other half of the bill, but I wasn't really too excited for them. They have about three decent songs on an otherwise lacklustre album. Our assumption was that they were the opening band, and all the promotion suggested as much, but Ash came on after the rather dismal opening act, Alaska! My guess is that since The Bravery has been getting more airplay, someone switched the order. Shades of when Suede headlined a co-tour with The Cranberries back in 1993, when "Linger" took off, and suddenly some towns started switching it up. How many shades of wrong is that?
Regardless, Ash rocked. They played a loud set of tunes dating all the way back to "Jack Names The Planets." Tim Wheeler was in fine form, jumping around the stage and tossing his guitar all over the place. And Charlotte Hatherley is, as always, too cool. Plus, we got to leave early, because, really, fuck The Bravery, you know?
And best of all, while I was dancing, I realized that I was the old fart at the rock show, and I was going to look like an ass regardless of what I did, so I had the freedom to dance however the hell I wanted. Take that you fucking college brats! I might even bump into you if I feel ornery enough!
Current Sountrack: Oasis, "D'You Know What I Mean?" EP, "Lyla" radio rip; Natalie Imbruglia, "Troubled by The Way We Came Together," Counting Down The Days
[to leave comments, click on the time-stamp below, then scroll down on the new page] – All text (c) 2004 Jamie S. Rich