Friday, July 06, 2018

TCM's Film Noir of the Week for Saturday Night-Sunday Morning at Midnight ET (and 10 a.m. ET Sunday Morning!) is Nicholas Ray’s Party Girl (1958), Starring Patriot Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse, and Friendly HUAC Witness Lee J. Cobb; What Will Host “Red Eddie” Muller Say?!



By David in TN
Thursday, July 5, 2018 at 9:04:00 P.M. EDT

TCM's Film Noir of the Week for Saturday Night-Sunday Morning at Midnight ET (and 10 a.m. ET Sunday Morning) is Party Girl (1958), starring Robert Taylor, Cyd Charisse, and Lee J. Cobb. Nicholas Ray directed.


Charisse and a couple a horn players

Taylor plays a mob lawyer, circa the 1930's. Charisse is a showgirl Taylor falls for, who wants him to quit working for crooks. Cobb plays the mob boss, not exactly casting against type.

Charisse and Taylor

In the usual fashion, Taylor can't easily break away and is kept in for another job. It all leads to a "sensational climax," according to the 2003 reference book, Film Noir Guide, by Michael F. Keaney.

Lee J. Cobb, l, Charisse, and John Ireland

When "Red Eddie" Muller gives his intro and followup, look for him to take a shot at Robert Taylor for being an anti-Communist. Taylor was by all accounts a decent man by Hollywood actor standards.

Taylor, l, Ireland, and Charisse

By the way, Red Eddie in his intro a couple of weeks ago remarked that The Man Who Cheated Himself is the only time Lee J. Cobb ever underplayed a role.


Here is a criticism of "Film Noir Politics" from the June 30, 1997 issue of The Weekly Standard by Paul Cantor, a specialist in "Pop Culture." I'm not familiar with him. His point is Fritz Lang was the progenitor of film noir, and many of the directors were from Central and Eastern Europe: Dieterle, Ophuls, Preminger, Siodmak, Ulmer, Wilder and Lang himself.




David In TN said...

TCM is showing The Phenix City Story (1955) at 12:30 am ET Tuesday Night-Wednesday Morning. This is one of the 50's Crime stories often lumped in the film noir category.

The Phenix City Story stars Richard Kiley, John McIntire, James Edwards, and Kathryn Grant (the future Mrs. Bing Crosby). It's directed by Phil Karlson, who liked to have a black guy as the hero's friend. In the 50's, James Edwards was the choice when a black actor was needed.

It's based on the true story of Phenix, Alabama, called "Sin City of the South." A prominent attorney named Albert Patterson (portrayed by John McIntire) agreed to run for Alabama Attorney General to destroy the crime gang called the "Dixie Mafia." Albert Patterson was assassinated after winning the Democratic primary, which would ensure election. The Dixie Mafia would do what the Italian Mafia would not--kill a prominent citizen.

John Patterson, son of Albert, took his place and won the election. Richard Kiley plays him in the film.

Karlson takes these facts and gives a action-packed, but fictionalized story. He did the same thing with the massive 1973 box office hit, Walking Tall.

In real life, John Patterson was elected Governor of Alabama in 1958 by running as a hard-line segregationist. He beat a racial moderate named George Wallace. Interestingly, Patterson was an admirer of John F. Kennedy, enthusiastically supporting JFK for President in 1960. In 1961, Patterson put the Alabama Air National Guard at their disposal for the Bay of Pigs operation.

In later years, John Patterson said he took the segregationist position because the people wanted it. In 2008, Patterson endorsed Barack Obama. He had become what he was portrayed as by Richard Kiley in Karlson's film.

David In TN said...

I don't think Party Girl was a noir. Too glossy and the story dragged. Red Eddie didn't dump on Robert Taylor this time (as he did last year). Eddie observed that despite being totally opposite politically, Nicholas Ray and Taylor worked well together. Ray admired Robert Taylor's preparation for the injured leg part of the role. A form of method acting.

David In TN said...

TCM's Film Noir of the Week for Saturday Night-Sunday Morning at 12:15 am ET (and 10 am ET Sunday Morning) is Roadblock (1951). Unlike Party Girl, Roadblock is a classic RKO noir, with LA locations and a plot featuring a man (Charles McGraw) who falls for the sexiest woman he's ever seen, leading to his destruction.

Joan Dixon plays the woman. Eddie Muller describes Roadblock as a "Rock-solid noir about a insurance investigator who goes crooked for a dame. Tried and true trenches of RKO B unit. We could show that story in one form or another every week. Rock solid because of Charles McGraw. Joan Dixon of Howard Hughes' harem puts him through his paces."

For a bonus, earlier Saturday at 12 pm ET, TCM has The Harder They Fall (1956) based on Budd Schulberg's novel about boxing corruption. Humphrey Bogart stars as a out of work columnist whose paper has folded. He takes a PR job for a crooked boxing promoter played by Rod Steiger.

Steiger has a South American heavyweight he's building up for a big payday against the champion played by former champion Max Baer. Since he's not very good, there is a series of fixed fights. Bogart's character faces a moral dilemma-Should he do something dishonest for a big paycheck?

Edward Andrews plays a crooked manager ("We have to live with these bums") for one of the fighters who is supposed to take a dive.

This was Bogie's last film before his death of cancer. It's one of his best IMO.