It's a paradise for a Film Noir lover nowadays. These films from the
most golden and glorious era of filmmaking,
that's about 1945-1955, are more than 50 years old and now under public
domain they can be seen legally in streaming
video on Youtube or on similar sites like that. And, there are whole
bunch of them to be enjoyed now and even the
most obscure of them too, some in HD also and that's nice as i hate
to watch blurry films on my computer or TV screen.
Many seems to be ripped from new DVD (Bluray) editions, and even though
the film may be in public domain it's must be
questionable if it's allowed to provide these ? I've seen a company
like Olive Films logo on some of these streams, and
they put some effort in restoring these gems and then release them on
discs in the vain hope of somebody buying them.
So, it's a double-edged sword type of pleasure watching these rips,
it's fabulous to be able to watch it on Youtube in
high quality but on the other side it can prevent dedicated companies
from putting in the effort of restoring them ....
I had never heard about this gem of a film and i found
it on Youtube by chance, i think i was looking for Linda Darnell
stuff, and i had a very vague concept of the actor Laird Cregar
besides him being a big Brit and acting in the horror
movie The Lodger. But, this american actor wasn't a Brit and Shame on
Me for my ignorance, because he's sensationally
great in the role as a miserable composer in London around the turn
of century (1900), an unstable man suffering from
blackouts and murder mania.
Linda Darnell, she's hypnotically beautiful and delightfully unpleasant
as a Femme Fatale Bitch
The Amazing and Gorgeous Linda Darnell as singer Netta
This film has got great actors and then especially a
HAUNTING performance from Laird Cregar and a perfect Darnell
as a femme fatale. Around this time she was on the height of her beauty
and started to change her actress career with
darker femme fatale roles in the pretty new genre of film noir - see
her in Fallen Angel against Dana Andrews, the 1945
Otto Preminger directed follow up to Laura (read about this film on
my Film Noir page).
But, there's also great Cinematography from Joseph LaShelle and Music
from Bernard Herrmann of sensational quality.
Yes, there were some Great directors, photographers, lighting crews,
set decorators, costume makers and composers
around Hollywood at this time in film history - The Golden Years. Bernard
Herrmann's soundtrack is sensational with the
Piano Concert, Concerto Macabre, that
Cregar's playing in the film.
The Story takes place at the turn of the century in
a Victorian London and a place called Hangover Square, where the
miserably unhappy composer George Harvey Bone (Cregar) lives at No.
12. It starts abrupt and interesting with a shock
scene where an older antique-dealer gets knife-murdered by a perp and
then put on fire. The Perp is confused and he
staggers out on the street and he's revealed to us already from the
beginning, he's Big George.
George suffers from blackout attacks, triggered by sudden noices, and
when he wakes up he don't remember a thing of
his evil deeds, but he suspects there's something bad going on during
these memory losses.
Laird Cregar 1913 - 9 december 1944
George's "almost" girlfriend and piano student
Barbara (Faye Marlowe) spurs him on finishing his Piano Concerto, a
of music her father, the conductor promised to arrange the first performance
of. So, everything looks somewhat copacetic
for Georgie, besides him being a murderer that is, until he visits the
local pub/cabaret where he watches the burlesque artist
Netta Langdon (Linda Darnell) perform and doing her stuff, shaking some
Yummy legs (See pic above) and after that ....
.... he's doomed. The big guy is really in for a fall
now when the gorgeous Netta lures him in and makes him abandon his
piano concerto work for composing suitable songs to her cabaret/burlesque
act. She despices the big bore of a boar and
his stupid classical music but promises the paradise under her clothes
if he just composes one more song for her.
Barbara warns him about Netta and her bad reputation and wasting his
talents on such a lowlife of a woman. But, George
unwisely don't listen and on Guy Fawkes Day/Night (November 5th) everything
The First performance of his concerto is closing in, but George's unsure
about his doings under the blackouts and he calls
for help from the Scotland Yard associated expert Alan Middleton (George
Sanders) to uncover this mystery.
Will George be able to perform his Piano Concerto, what
do you think ? The Ending with the Concerto Macabre is nothing
but unforgettable with an almost maniacal intensity and suitably high-strung
for a King Actor.
Is this film a Film Noir masterpiece then ?
No, but almost and close to a Top Ten (within the genre) position. Cregar's
hypnotic in the role and does it look easy when
he acts, smoothly he combines an unsecure and tender personality with
the frightening murderous rage of a psychopath.
As Cregar was a big burly man he often had to play older than his age
roles and murderers, and he desperately wanted to
change his image and perform in more romantic roles. This was his tragedy
as he went through a drastic weight loss (see a
thinner Cregar in the pic above) and suffered a lethal stroke and died
in December 1944 just 31 years old and 2 months
before this film had it's premiere.
This film is very recommended for all Film Noir lovers - you won't be
disappointed, i promise