Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Detective/Mysteries - Cameron Howard ""

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Underrated Detective/Mysteries - Cameron Howard

I’ve adored classic Hollywood ever since I was a little kid. When I grew up, I studied film at Duke University before doing graduate work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I earned an M.A. in Film from the Department of Communication Arts. Now, I'm having a great time writing about the movies I love at
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Call Northside 777 (1948): This little known film noir stars Jimmy Stewart as a determined reporter trying to prove a convicted killer innocent. It’s shot in a documentary style, and it’s based on a true story of two wrongly convicted men who were eventually freed thanks to a newspaper reporter. This film is gripping and a little less goofy than some other film noirs (some argue that it isn’t a true noir--you decide). It is set in Chicago, and it was actually filmed there, which makes it the first Hollywood feature to be shot entirely in Chicago!

The Letter (1940): Is Bette Davis a heroic victim or a cold-blooded murderer? This movie takes us on a dark, twisting trail as we try to figure out what exactly happened on a steamy rubber plantation that fateful night. And the big question: what is in the letter? Davis is tremendous--one of my favorite elements of her performance is her constant lace-making, while wearing thick glasses, in the face of grievous deception and life-altering tragedy.

Spellbound (1945): Hitchcock, Salvador Dali, Ingrid Bergman, and Gregory Peck…This is a weird and wonderful psychological mystery-thriller. Bergman is a buttoned-up psychologist and Peck is her new boss. Or is he? There's a murder, an amnesiac, police on the hunt, a dangerous, unbalanced suspect, plenty of Freudian analysis, and a wild dream sequence, inspired by Dali, that contains the clues to the mystery.

Le Doulos (1962): Legendary director Jean-Pierre Melville directed this French mystery/New Wave/film noir/gangster movie. Melville brilliantly weaves together these genres and styles into a film with amazing twists and turns, and a great cast (Jean-Paul Belmondo stars). It is beautifully filmed and stocked with more trench coats and shadows than you'll believe. At times shocking but always gripping, it's an intense and very enjoyable movie. Fun fact: Quentin Tarantino cited this film as an influence on Reservoir Dogs.

In A Lonely Place (1950): Humphrey Bogart is a washed-up screenwriter with a violent temper who becomes a suspect in a murder. His pretty neighbor, Gloria Grahame, is nevertheless drawn to him, and they fall in love. But things eventually get even darker and more dangerous. Is Bogart just troubled, or is he a killer? It's a complex, haunting film noir that digs deep into distrust, fear, and love, with terrific performances.

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