Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Discoveries of 2017 - Kristina Dijan ""

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Film Discoveries of 2017 - Kristina Dijan

Kristina Dijan is a movie fan who blogs at at Speakeasy (https://hqofk.wordpress.com/ ), writes about film noir for The Dark Pages, and tweets at @HQofK (https://twitter.com/HQofK).

Check out her other RPS lists here:
http://www.rupertpupkinspeaks.com/search/label/Kristina%20Dijan

Union Depot (1932), is a gritty Warner Bros. pre-Code melodrama about a down-on-their-luck couple (Joan Blondell and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) who meet at a busy train station, and in the next few hours they fall in love, pull some small-time swindles, and get mistaken by the Feds for notorious big-time counterfeiters. There’s a creep stalking Blondell, then a murder and a hair-raising railyard chase. It's all fast fun and romantic while also being dark, sleazy and frank about the hard times that make decent people do desperate things.
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The Red Queen Kills Seven Times (1972). Legend has it that the red queen was murdered by her sister and returns every century for a killing spree. Luckily the red-cloaked, cackling lady’s latest comeback happens during the giallo era, so we can enjoy her dastardly deeds in this sumptuously colorful and gory ultra-glam gothic slasher. High fashion, creepy music, beautiful people and a flooded castle make this a memorable murder mystery.
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Plunder Road (1957) is a fantastic and unique noir heist story, where nobody speaks for the first 15 or so minutes, but you get to know the caper team (a colorful bunch of losers) through listening to their thoughts as they pull off their meticulous plan. They steal $10 million in gold, split up and spend lots of time on the road getting it from Utah to L.A., which means we get three stories with different fickle-finger-of-fate outcomes, and an inventive plan for the gold involving a smelter and car parts. Great work from Gene Raymond, Jeanne Cooper (best known from The Young & The Restless), Elisha Cook Jr. and Wayne Morris.
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The Man without a Body (1957) was the weirdest movie I saw this year; surreal, bonkers mad science fun, in which a dying George Coulouris steals the head of Nostradamus to use in an experimental consciousness transfer. The glitch is that old Nostra, picked for his superior intellect, is so clever he refuses to play along, going so far as to ruin Coulouris with disastrous stock predictions. Outlandish fun with a jaw-dropping climax.


The Earth Dies Screaming (1964) and Beyond the Time Barrier (1960) turned out to be a perfect unplanned double bill of creepy tales, both starting after military pilots land to find Earth drastically different and most of humanity gone. From there, Earth Dies Screaming follows a small and interesting band of survivors fighting an alien invasion, while the pilot in Time Barrier gets dumped decades into a dark future and resolves to get back to the 1960s to change that outcome, a feat not done without some startling physical complications. Nice thing about The Earth Dies Screaming: it’s eerily silent, with minimal music and lots of stiff upper lips.
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No Name on the Bullet (1959). I did a big binge on Audie Murphy movies this year, with so many great discoveries I could easily have made this an all-Audie list. Picking just one favorite: here Murphy plays a hired assassin who wanders into a town where everyone knows his presence means someone’s getting killed, but nobody has a clue who the target might be. There’s no shortage of people with secret shames, shady pasts and enemies, so the rampant paranoia, threats and violent reactions start tearing the town apart. That leaves only the honest doctor (Charles Drake) unafraid, and in a position to “cure” the weary hired gun. It’s a slow burn with Murphy excellent as the mild-mannered, focused, legendary gunman.
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7 comments:

Ira Brooker said...

I love seeing The Man Without a Body get some love! One of my absolute favorite '50s films. I've seen plenty of nonsensical sci-fi plots in my day, but this one is so insane it borders on disturbing, and I love it.

Anonymous said...

I've seen three of these - Earth Dies Screaming, No Name on the Bullet & Plunder Road - and like all of them. I guess Plunder Road would be the one I "discovered" most recently and I was highly impressed by both the economy of the storytelling and how absorbing the whole thing was.

Colin

Jerry Entract said...

Great to see your wide-ranging 'picks', Kristina!

I also discovered (and enjoyed) "PLUNDER ROAD" in 2017.

My favourite here is "NO NAME ON THE BULLET", which is no surprise to anyone who knows me well. Very unusual role in Audie's western career this; I think he carries it off really well. Superior western.

Laura said...

This is a great list, Kristina! I've only seen two of them, UNION DEPOT and NO NAME ON THE BULLET, and liked them both, especially NO NAME ON THE BULLET. Audie was really excellent in it.

I can see I need to check out PLUNDER ROAD especially as I've come to appreciate Wayne Morris's acting in the '50s. Was surprised to discover it's not already in my collection, will rectify that!

Thanks for another great list!

Best wishes,
Laura

john knight said...

Wonderful varied list add me to the NO NAME ON THE BULLET
fan club,in fact I recently got the German Blu Ray...well worth
the upgrade.
MAN WITHOUT A BODY...what can one say another demented classic from
W Lee Wilder...(Billy's brother..they never got on)
Must check out UNION DEPOT these pre codes often surprise.
Never seen PLUNDER ROAD..I've been meaning to check it out for
ages,thanks for the reminder. Some folks consider it the CITIZEN KANE
of the RegalScope pictures.
Director Hubert Cornfield's work showed such early promise,but by all accounts
he had "issues". Edmond O'Brien threatened to kill him while making
THE 3RD VOICE and Brando had him bounced from NIGHT OF THE FOLLOWING DAY,
Richard Boone ended up directing the remaining footage.
Must give THE EARTH DIES SCREAMING another look..thanks again for the reminder.

Kristina Dijan said...

Ira- it is delightfully insane and unforgettable, isn't it?

Colin and Jerry- Plunder Rd a lot like Asphalt Jungle or The Killing with that 'doomed to failure' plot, with this one getting that great LA-appropriate traffic twist. Loved the minimalism of it

Laura, Morris was good in Plunder Rd! Agree it's nice to see him get juicy roles

John--fascinating info on Cornfield! I need to see more of his movies

and John and everyone else in the No Name on the Bullet fan club :) super Audie Murphy movie, and I've seen many lately from that category that made it tough to narrow his down. Also sort of a proto-John Wick (cool assassin of few words).

Thanks everyone for reading and commenting!

Linda Sandahl said...

No Name on the Bullet is just super, entirely due to Murphy. There's an amazing moment where Murphy, as the incredibly dangerous gunfighter, is relaxing on a porch and an ill-advised townsman challenges him. He smiles with pure amusement. He knows he's invincible.