Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Detective/Mysteries - Robby Cress ""

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Underrated Detective/Mysteries - Robby Cress

Robby Cress runs DearOldHollywood.blogspot.com.
He blogs about classic Hollywood filming locations, old Hollywood hangouts, celebrity homes and more at the blog Dear Old Hollywood. He's worked in the entertainment industry for ten years spending his time at three major studios. He currently works in contract administration at Warner Bros.
He can be found and followed on Twitter here:
https://twitter.com/OldHollywoodRob
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These five films below are by no means the best detective films, but are films that are worth at least one watch even if they don’t carry a lot of prestige. So, you won’t find genre heavyweights like Bogart and Mitchum, or the detective team from the Thin Man films on this list. They would appear on a best of list.

Union Station (1950) – During the year 1950 William Holden and Nancy Olson starred in two films together: one of the greatest classic films of all time, Sunset Boulevard and the lesser known crime film, Union Station. Although not as groundbreaking as SunsetUnion Station is an interesting film that was shot primarily on location in one of Los Angeles’s biggest landmarks, the Union Station depot in downtown LA. The real Union Station celebrates its 75thanniversary this year.

The Big Fix (1978) – This film about a former 1960s radical turned private eye, truly  is an underrated film. Richard Dreyfuss, who just appeared as an honored guest at this past TCM Film Festival, gives an excellent performance as Moses Wine, private eye. He’s not your tough guy Bogart detective, but more of a scrawny, Berkeley, pot-smoking academic rebel. This film really is a time capsule capturing that era. In addition to Dreyfuss, the film features a young F. Murray Abraham and a very young John Lithgow. Also look for all of the Los Angeles locations that include places everywhere from Downtown to Santa Monica.

My Favorite Brunette (1947) – My Favorite Brunette is a fun spoof on the thriller genre featuring Bob Hope and his frequent co-star, Dorothy Lamour. Hope plays a baby photographer who, while taking care of his private-eye neighbor’s office, gets pulled into investigating the disappearance of a baron. Those who enjoy early detective films will appreciate and get many of the jokes. This film includes real world locations filmed in San Francisco and Pebble Beach. The supporting cast includes Lon Chaney, Jr., Peter Lorre, and cameos by Alan Ladd and Bing Crosby.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) – Kiss Kiss Bang Bang which stars Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer, is a hilarious comedy with great chemistry between the two stars, but unlike My Favorite Brunette that goes straight for laughs,  Kiss Kiss Bang Bang takes itself a little more seriously – just a little. This detective film is both modern but at the same time maintains some classic detective film characteristics, primarily in its narration. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was a dud at the box office when it was released, but it deserves a second look.

Ring of Fear (1954) – Ring of Fear is an odd film but worth catching. It was produced by TCMs current star of the month, John Wayne, although the actor doesn’t star in the film. Instead real life circus owner Clyde Beatty (playing himself), crime novelist Mickey Spillane (also playing himself), and Pat O’Brien star in the film.  The movie is a mystery under the big top filled with colorful circus performances and some interesting location filming in Deming, New Mexico, Galveston, Texas, and Phoenix, Arizona. This may not be a true detective film, but instead we get Spillane, the real life author of the Mike Hammer detective series to solve the case. Add this to “novelty films I need to watch.”

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