The Film Noir That Got Away

Maggie Smith and George Nader in the film noir, Nowhere to Go (1958)

Maggie Smith and George Nader in the film noir, Nowhere to Go (1958)

Ealing Studios. The name conjures up memories of the great British comedies such as The Man in the White Suit, The Ladykillers, The Lavender Hill Mob and Kind Hearts and Coronets.  Film noir, however, is not the genre that usually comes to mind although Ealing rubbed shoulders with it occasionally in It Always Rains on Sunday (1947) and Pool of London (1951). Oddly enough, one of the studio’s final releases, Nowhere to Go (1958) was pure, unadulterated noir and a stylish, terse little thriller to boot. Sadly, it has been overlooked and unappreciated for years even though it marks the feature film debut of director Seth Holt and gave actress Maggie Smith her first major screen role.  Continue reading

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Roman Polanski’s Lost Film

A Day at the Beach DVDThe headline is referencing the past, not the present, for A DAY AT THE BEACH, a film that Roman Polanski scripted and co-produced with his partner Gene Gutowski for their short-lived production company, Cadre Films, in 1969 finally surfaced on DVD in 2007 via Odeon Entertainment’s “The Best of British Collection” series in the U.K. and then in the U.S. in 2008, courtesy of Code Red, which specializes in re-releasing cult and lesser known genre films like Rituals (1977) and Group Marriage (1973).  For more than thirty five years, the film was considered lost after being shelved by Paramount following an unsuccessful limited release in Europe. But a serviceable print was discovered and preserved and any self-professed fan of Polanski’s films will want to check it out if they haven’t already.  It may not be “the lost Roman Polanski masterpiece” that the Code Red DVD cover promises but it is much more than a curiosity piece and quite compelling if you are in the mood for a bitter, bleak and harrowing character study.    Continue reading

Rififi in Tokyo

Rififi in Tokyo poster

Rififi in Tokyo poster

RIFIFI, Jules Dassin’s quintessential 1955 noir/heist thriller, had quite an impact on the European crime movie genre in its day though most of its imitators or similarly inspired creations rarely found distribution in the U.S. except as English-dubbed second features in limited runs in a few major cities like New York. And I have yet to read of any major film critics or movie buffs like Quentin Tarantino championing any of the Rififi knockoffs. But for anyone with a soft spot for heist films, you might enjoy sampling some of these lesser efforts, particularly RIFIFI IN TOKYO (1963).      Continue reading