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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

NIGHTFALL (1957)

Aldo Ray, with his big paws & scratchy voice, is the innocent man on the run in this exceptionally well-made film noir from one of the form’s masters, Jacques Tourneur (OUT OF THE PAST/’47). Following a line of action that recalls Nicholas Ray’s ON DANGEROUS GROUND/’51, the story moves from the anonymous threat of the city’s dark streets & bright lights, toward a clean, wintry, individualized death amid mountains & running streams, all stunningly captured under Burnett Guffey’s lens. The film’s skimpy budget leaves a few sequences undernourished (a set piece at a fashion show only touches its potential) and a few plot turns are right out of screwball comedy (the bank robbers take the wrong little black bag), but Stirling Silliphant’s script has lots of goosy lines to savor plus character(s) to spare. Anne Bancroft looks great in one of her best early roles as a model who ‘chats up’ a guy at a bar and winds up running for her life. While Brian Keith & particularly Rudy Bond are darn scary as the bank robbers (pure psychotic 'id') who think Aldo Ray will tell them where the cash is hidden if they politely break his legs before they ask.

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