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Saturday, September 6, 2014

FACE THE MUSIC (aka THE BLACK GLOVE) (1954)

Terence Fisher directed many low-budget films noir for Hammer Films before he began rebooting horror classics in lurid EastmanColor. Alas, this one, in spite of a few tasty bits, feels phoned in. American Alex Nicol is the Big Band trumpet star who becomes a murder suspect after sharing a spaghetti dinner with a jazz singer he’s just met. He goes home; she turns up dead. The rest of the pic finds him roaming about as amateur dick, solving the crime between gigs. Nothing wrong with that set-up, but with little atmosphere, needless voice-over narration, bad acting, not much action or suspense and mood-killing well-lit corridors, it’s awfully weak tea for the genre. There are, however, three amusing oddities in the thing: attempted poisoning by trumpet mouthpiece (Yikes!); flirtation in rhymed couplets (droll, man, droll); and frame-up via 78 rpm record with one jazz man faking the style of another player so the cops’ll connect the wrong guy with the victim. (Neat-O!) Too bad the trumpet playing, by Pop-Jazz stylist Kenny Baker, is so piercing, high & unpleasant. He sounds like Doc Severinsen showing off his chops with a stratospheric high note on the old Johnny Carson TONIGHT SHOW.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Fisher gives better noir in MAN BAIT/’52.

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