4 Shots From 4 Films: Special Boris Karloff Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, TSL pays tribute to the one and only Boris Karloff, born on this day in 1887 in London.

It’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 Boris Karloff Films

Five Star Final (1931, dir by Mervyn LeRoy)

House of Frankenstein (1944, dir by Erle C. Kenton)

Black Sabbath (1963, dir by Mario Bava)

Targets (1968, dir by Peter Bogdanovich)

 

Film Review: Small Axe: Mangrove (dir by Steve McQueen)


Say whatever else you might want to say about 2020 as a cinematic year, at least it’s giving us five new films from Steve McQueen.

This British director is one of the most consistently interesting filmmakers working today and anytime we get new work for him, it’s a cause for celebration.  His latest project is Small Axe, an anthology of five feature-length films that examines the real-life history of London’s West Indian community.  In the UK, the film are premiering on the BBC while, here in the States, they’ll be premiering on Prime.  Through mid-December, we’ll be getting a new Steve McQueen film every week.

The first of these films is Mangrove.  The film opens in the late 60s, with activist Frank Crichlow (Shaun Parkes) opening a restaurant in London’s Notting Hill neighborhood.  The restaurant is called The Mangrove and it quickly becomes a base for the community.  It also becomes a target for the Metropolitan Police.  PC Pulley (Sam Spruell) claims that the Frank has a history of tolerating petty crime and that the Mangrove is probably just a front for some nefarious operation.  Of course, what quickly becomes obvious is that Pulley’s main problem with the Mangrove is that its owner is black and so are the majority of its customers.  Pulley is an unrepentant racist, the type of man who sits in his patrol car and complains that the military hasn’t been called in to enforce the law in the neighborhood.  (As obsessed as he is with the military, Pulley also says, with some pride, that he’s never actually served in the army.)  When a new rookie shows up, Pulley informs him that his priority for the night is to arrest the first black person that he sees.

Every chance that he gets, Pulley raids the Mangrove.  When Frank complains, he loses his liquor license.  When the members of the community stage a peaceful protest (“Hands Off The Mangrove!” goes one chant), Frank and eight others are arrested and charged with inciting a riot and affray, charges that could lead to all of them spending several years in prison.  (Affray is the legal term for “disturbing the peace.”)  Among those arrested, along with Frank, are activist Darcus Howe (Malachi Kirby) and British Black Panther leader Altheia Jones-LeCointe (Letitita Wright).  Both Darcus and Altheia insist on acting as their own counsel during the trial, giving them the chance to cross-examine the police and to also take their case directly to the jury.

Though Mangrove is a courtroom drama, the trial doesn’t being until almost an hour into the film’s running time.  Wisely, McQueen instead spends the first sixty minutes of the film introducing us to the neighborhood surrounding the Mangrove and also allowing us to get to know the people who not only work there but also the ones who eat there.  The film shows how, for a community of outsiders, the Mangrove became more than just a restaurant.  It became a center for the entire neighborhood, a place where the members of the London’s West Indian community could safely gather.  For someone like Pulley, the Mangrove was a symbol of everything that he couldn’t control and therefore, it had to be destroyed and its owners had to be humiliated.  As well-handled as the courtroom scenes are, they would be considerably less effective if the film hadn’t shown us why it was felt that the Mangrove was something worth fighting for.  When the Mangrove Nine go on trail, they’re not just nine people who have been unjustly accused.  Instead, they represent an entire community that refuses to continue to bow down to their oppressors.

It’s an often effective film, one that is all the more powerful for being based on a true story.  Much as he did with Shame, Steve McQueen makes effective use of the harsh and rather cold urban landscape that his characters inhabit. One needs only watch Frank walk down a dreary London street to understand why the Mangrove was so important to the community.  As presented by McQueen, the Mangrove provides not only an escape from the harshness of the world but also a safe place to discuss how to make that world maybe a little bit less harsh for future generations.  McQueen is brave enough to allow his camera to keep running, even beyond the point that most directors would have said “Cut.”  McQueen shows us Frank yelling after being brutally pushed into a prison cell, as any director would.  However, McQueen doesn’t cut away once Frank falls silent.  Instead, his camera remains on Frank, making us feel his isolation and his feeling of hopelessness.  It takes just a minute to go from the exhilaration of hearing Frank curse out his jailers to the horror of realizing that Frank is basically at their mercy.

For the most part, the actors make a strong impression, with the only false note coming from Rochenda Sandall, who plays Darcus’s partner and often seems to be performing in a different movie from everyone else.  Malachi Kirby and Shaun Parkes have several strong moments as Darcus and Frank while Sam Spruell plays Pulley as being an all-too familiar monster.  That said, the film is pretty much stolen by Letitia Wright, who brings both fury and wit to the role of Altheia.  Whether she’s exposing the Crown’s medical examiner as a fraud or angrily reprimanding a defendant who is considering pleading guilty, Letitia Wright dominates every scene in which she appears.

Is Mangrove eligible for the Oscars?  Under normal circumstances, it wouldn’t be.  But, with the rule changes and the fact that Mangrove was not only selected to compete at Cannes (before Cannes was cancelled, of course) but that it also opened the BFI London Film Festival, I think a case can be made for considering Mangrove to be a feature film as opposed to being a television movie.  This is a strange year so who knows?  Personally, I think Mangrove deserves to be considered.  If it’s not nominated for any Oscars, it’ll definitely be nominated for the Emmys.  That’ll be determined in the future.  For now, it can be viewed on Prime.

26 Shots From 26 Films: Special Martin Scorsese Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, the TSL wishes a happy birthday to one of the greatest director working today, the one and only Martin Scorsese!  And that means that it’s time for….

26 Shots From 26 Martin Scorsese Films

(That’s right.  We usually do 4.  Scorsese gets 26.  He deserves a hundred.)

Who’s That Knocking On My Door (1967, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Boxcar Bertha (1972, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Mean Streets (1973, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1974, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Taxi Driver (1976, dir by Martin Scorsese)

New York New York (1977, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Last Waltz (1978, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Raging Bull (1980, dir by Martin Scorsese)

King of Comedy (1982, dir by Martin Scorsese)

After Hours (1985, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Color of Money (1986, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Goodfellas (1990, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Cape Fear (1991, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Age of Innocence (1993, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Casino (1995, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Kundun (1997, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Bringing out the Dead (1999, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Gangs of New York (2002, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Aviator (2004, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Departed (2006, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Shutter Island (2010, directed by Martin Scorsese)

Hugo (2011, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Silence (2016, dir by Martin Scorsese)

The Irishman (2019, dir by Martin Scorsese)

Belatedly, Here Are The Gotham Award Nominations!


The Gotham nominations were announced on Thursday and I totally missed them!

Seriously, that’s how crazy this year has been.

Anyway, with so much up in the air, it’s probably debatable how much anything can be gleaned about the state of the Oscar race from these nominations.  In fact, even in a normal year, the Gothams aren’t exactly known for being Oscar precursors.  However, they do honor worthy independent films and often, they encourage us to track down films that we may have otherwise missed.

Only film with a budget under $35 million were eligible for a Gotham nomination.  So, don’t look at this list and go, “OH MY GOD, WHERE’S MANK!?  WHERE’S TENENT!?”  They’re not eligible.

Anyway, here are the Gotham nominations:

Best Feature
“The Assistant”
“First Cow”
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
“Nomadland”
“Relic”

Best Documentary
“76 Days”
“City Hall”
“Our Time Machine”
“A Thousand Cuts”
“Time”

Best International Feature
“Bacurau”
“Beanpole”
“Cuties (Mignonnes)”
“Identifying Features”
“Martin Eden”
“Wolfwalkers”

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Carlo Mirabella-Davis, “Swallow”
Rhada Blank, “The Forty Year Old Version”
Andrew Patterson, “Vast of Night”
Channing Godfrey Peoples, “Miss Juneteenth”
Alex Thompson, “Saint Frances”

Best Screenplay
“Bad Education,” Mike Makowsky
“First Cow,” Jon Raymond and Kelly Reichardt
“The Forty-Year-Old Version,” Radha Blank
“Fourteen,” Dan Sallitt
“The Vast of Night,” James Montague and Craig Sanger

Best Actor
Riz Ahmed, “Sound of Metal”
Chadwick Boseman, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”
Jude Law, “The Nest”
John Magaro, “First Cow”
Jesse Plemons, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”

Best Actress
Nicole Beharie, “Miss Juneteenth”
Jessie Buckley, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things”
Yuh-Jung Youn, “Minari”
Carrie Coon, “The Nest”
Frances McDormand, “Nomadland”

Breakthrough Actor
Sidney Flanigan, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”
Jasmine Batchelor, “The Surrogate”
Kelly O’Sullivan, “Saint Frances”
Orion Lee, “First Cow”
Kingsley Ben-Adir, “One Night in Miami”

Breakthrough Series – Long Form
“The Great”
“Immigration Nation”
“P-Valley”
“Unorthodox”
“Watchmen”

Breakthrough Series – Short Form
“Betty”
“Dave”
“I May Destroy You”
“Taste the Nation”
“Work in Progress”

30 More Days Of Noir #12: No Man’s Woman (dir by Franklin Adreon)


This 1955 film tells the story of a murder.

When we first meet Carolyn Elleson Grant (Marie Windsor), she refuses to give her husband, Harlow Grant (John Archer) a divorce, despite the fact that they’ve been separated for several years and Harlow now wants to marry Louise Nelson (Nancy Gates) and Carolyn is now involved with an art critic named Wayne Vincent (Patrick Knowles).  Carolyn only married Harlow for his money and, while she has other rich lovers, she just enjoys making Harlow’s life as difficult as possible.  It’s hard to blame her because Harlow is kind of whiny.

However, Carolyn has grown bored with Wayne Vincent and she’s now decided that she would rather get involved with Dick Sawyer (Richard Crane), who is rich and owns a boat.  However, Dick is engaged to Carolyn’s personal assistant, Betty (Jill Jarmyn).  Carolyn thinks it would be perfectly amusing to not only seduce Dick but to also destroy Betty’s happiness.

Why?

As one character put it, Carolyn is “a witch!”

(Someone then adds that Carolyn is a word that “rhymes” with witch.  They don’t actually say the word because this film was made in 1955 but still….)

With Carolyn casually trying to destroy everyone’s lives and happiness, is it really a shock when some unseen person shows up at her art studio late at night and shoots her?

With Carolyn dead, it falls to Detectives Colton (Louis Jean Heydt) and Wells (John Gallaudet) to figure out the identity of the murder.  They immediately suspect that it had to have been Harlow Grant.  Not only does he have the motive and the opportunity but his name is Harlow Grant and I defy you to find anyone named Harlow Grant who hasn’t subsequently turned out to be involved in something shady.  Harlow, however, insists that he’s innocent and the investigation is about to get a lot more complicated….

Well, okay, maybe not a lot more complicated.  To be honest, it’s really not that difficult to figure out who the murderer actually is No Man’s Woman but that’s okay.  The investigation itself only takes the last third of this 70-minute film.  No Man’s Woman is a like a low-budget version of Gosford Park.  The murder is less important than all of the drama surrounding it.

And make no mistake, there’s a lot of drama!  This is a fun movie, specifically because Carolyn is such a wonderfully evil character and Marie Windsor has so much fun playing her.  Carolyn doesn’t really have any deep motivation for why she does the terrible things that she does.  She just does them because she can and she believes that she can get away with it.  A good deal of the film’s entertainment comes from just seeing how bad Carolyn can be.  In fact, you’re a bit disappointed when she’s murdered because Carolyn is the most enjoyable character in the movie.  She’s someone who is literally willing to do and say anything and she makes an apologies for her actions.  You wouldn’t necessarily want to work with her but she’s fun to watch.

The rest of the cast is adequate.  John Archer and Nancy Gates are a bit on the dull side as the “good” characters but I liked the performances of the other suspects.  Richard Crane and Jill Jarmyn, in particular, are memorable as Dick and Betty.  I loved how going out on someone’s boat was apparently the height of decadence in 1955.

No Man’s Woman is an entertaining mix of noir and soap opera.  Find it on Prime!

30 More Days of Noir #11: The Mysterious Mr. Nicholson (dir by Oswald Mitchell)


There’s been a murder!

Another one?

Yes, indeed.  It would seem that during the 1940s and the 1950s, people were just dropping left and right.  Mysterious murders were just a part of everyday life and you can be sure that every murder would bring with it an effort would be made to frame an innocent man.  The 1947 British noir, The Mysterious Mr. Nicholson, opens with Peggy Dundas (Lesley Osmond) stumbling across a dead body.  The body belongs to a man who was planning on changing his will and disinheriting his nephew.  It seems like the nephew should be the obvious suspect, right?

Except …. the dead man has a letter pinned to his chest!  And the letter is signed by VLS, a notorious cat burglar who, in the days before World War II, was famous for robbing the French and then sending the authorities taunting letters.  So, obviously, VLS must be back and he must now be a murderer!

Except …. why would you kill a man and then leave behind a note letting everyone know that you did it?  That makes no sense at all.  Especially since VLS is actually a man named Mr. Nicholson (Anthony Hulme) and this mysterious Mr. Nicholson not only helped the British defeat the Germans but he also has a solid alibi for where he was on the night of the murder.  Obviously, VLS is innocent!

Except …. Peggy says that she saw a man who looked exactly like Mr. Nicholson at the scene of the crime!

Could the Mysterious Mr. Nicholson have a look-alike?  Yes, actually, he does.  We learn this very early in the film so it doesn’t count as a spoiler.  The murderer is man named Raeburn (also played by Anthony Hulme).  Raeburn just happens to look exactly like Mr. Nicholson and he figured he would use that resemblance to his advantage by framing Nicholson for the crime!

So now, Nicholson has to not only prove his innocence but also track down the man who looks exactly like him!

That’s a lot of plot for a low-budget, 78 minute film.  What’s odd is that, even with all of that scheming and the short running time, The Mysterious Mr. Nicholson still has some odd moments of blatant padding.  In the middle of the film, all of the action comes to a halt so that we can watch a lengthy dog act.  This is followed by a musical interlude.  Why?  Who knows?  Neither adds much to the plot.

Anyway, I was actually kind of hoping that The Mysterious Mr. Nicholson would turn out to be one of those really fun, old movies that you just happen to stumble across on Prime or on TCM late at night.  But it’s actually pretty boring.  There’s only a handful of locations in the film, which gives the whole thing a stagey feel and, though short, the movie often seems to drag.  Another huge problem is that Hulme plays Nicholson and Raeburn the exact same way, so it’s often difficult to keep track of which is which.  I was hoping for at least some split photography so Hulme could act opposite himself but we don’t even get that.  Instead, Nicholson and Raeburn are rarely on screen at the same time and, whenever they are, it’s obvious that a stand-in was used for the other man.

From a historical point of view, the film is interesting in that it was obviously made while London was still rebuilding from World War II.  The few location shots reveal a city that’s in the process of being recreated.  Nicholson is presented as being someone who was basically reformed as a result of fighting on the side of the good guys during World War II.  As one Scotland Yard inspector explains it, Nicholson may have been a criminal before the war but, once the war started, he remembered that was British first and he did what had to be done to help defeat Germany.  It’s a nice touch.

The historical aspect aside, The Mysterious Mr. Nicholson is pretty forgettable.  When it comes to British noirs, I’ll take The Criminal.

30 More Days of Noir #10: Death in Small Doses (dir by Joseph M. Newman)


Ah, speed.

I have to admit that I always find films about amphetamines to be fascinating because I take them for my ADD.  I’ve been taking Dexedrine since I was in middle school and it has always amused me how people who don’t have ADD seem to think that the meds will give you super powers.  For instance, every season of Big Brother, there’s people online who get outraged over certain houseguests taking Adderall.  “She had an unfair advantage!” someone will say, “Because she’s taking Adderall!”  What can I say?  People who don’t have ADD just don’t get it.  Yes, if you have ADD, the meds can help you focus but it’s not like they’re going to give you any sort of special power that’s not available to any other person.

(I will admit that there is a slight difference between me on my meds and me off my meds.  Actually, my family says that there’s a huge difference but I think they’re exaggerating.  It is true that I’m a lot more focused when I take my Dexedrine.  My mind wanders a bit less than usual and I’m also usually in better control of my frustrations.  When I take my meds, I can finish any project.  When I don’t take them, I can talk about finishing any project.)

Dexedrine focuses me but apparently, it does the opposite for those who don’t have ADD.  The 1957 film, Death in Small Doses, features a truck driver named Mink Reynolds who, despite not having ADD, pops too many capsules and ends up playing really loud music and trying to force a waitress to dance with him.  He also hallucinates seeing a car and then grabs a knife and tries to kill another truck driver.  To be honest, that seems a bit extreme to me.  In fact, I’d almost argue that Mink’s behavior would indicate that the filmmakers really didn’t know much about amphetamines.  Making things even stranger is that Mink is played by Chuck Connors, who was a remarkably inexpressive actor.  Watching Connors, with his stone face, trying to dance and jump around is an interesting experience.  Mink is supposed to be a jazz-crazed, speed-abusing hepcat but instead, he comes across like an animatronic mannequin.  You can almost hear the gears shifting whenever he has to move across the screen.

Mink’s fellow truck driver is Tom Kaylor (Peter Graves), a seemingly upright man who is usually seen wearing a tie and who looks like he would be more comfortable working behind a desk than driving a truck.  Of course, that’s because Tom is actually an FBI agent!  He’s working undercover, pretending to be a truck driver so that he can smash a ring of drug dealers!  Of course, the problem here is that everything about Peter Graves’s screen presence shouts out, “Narc!”  With his square jaw and his perfect haircut and his stiff but authoritative delivery of his dialogue, he seems like he was created in a lab that specifically set out to develop the most stereotypical FBI agent imaginable.  There’s not a single rough edge to him and it’s hard to buy that the other truck drivers wouldn’t see straight through him.

While Tom tries to bust the ring, he also finds time to possibly fall in love with two different women, both of whom seem as if they might know more than they’re letting on.  Amy (Merry Anders) is the waitress who has developed a drug habit of her own.  Val (Mala Powers) owns the boarding house when Tom and Mink live.  Can Tom trust either one of them?  And will Tom not only undercover the identity of the head of the drug ring but also survive long enough to bring the dealers to justice?

So, here’s the thing.  During its worst moments — i.e., whenever Chuck Connors is jumping all over the place and talking about how much he loves his friend “benny” — this is a campy and rather silly film that makes Reefer Madness look subtle by comparison.  However, during its best moments, this is a tough and entertaining noir that features good performances from Merry Anders and Mala Powers.  Both Anders and Powers manage to transcend the film’s sillier moments and they actually bring a charge of reality to the story.  And while director Joseph M. Newman may not have known much about drugs, he did know how to shoot a fight scene.  Making good use of its desolate locations (the truck drivers spend a lot of time driving through the desert) and setting many of the film’s best moments at night, Newman overcomes some of the script’s weaker moments.  In the end, it makes for a rather uneven but entertaining viewing experience.  Despite the film’s cluelessness about drugs and the miscasting of both Graves and Connors, this lesser-known noir is worth tracking down.

30 More Days of Noir #9: The Walking Target (dir by Edward L. Cahn)


In this 1960 noir, Nick Harbin (Ronald Foster) is a walking target!

That’s because he’s just been released from prison.  As the only survivor of a gang that pulled off a daring payroll robbery, Nick has done his time and he’s ready to get on with his life.  He even got himself an education while he was behind bars.  He’s decided to reform and no longer be the angry criminal that he once was.

But first, there’s a little matter of some money.

Only Nick knows where he buried the loot from the robbery.  Everyone wants it.  The press wants to know because it’ll make a great story.  A nosy detective wants to know because he’s convinced that Nick hasn’t changed his ways.  Susan (Merry Anders), who used to be involved with one of Nick’s criminal associates, wants to know because she’s only in it for the cash.  Susan’s current boyfriend, Dave (Robert Christopher) wants to know because …. well, again, it all comes down to greed.  Greed is also what’s motivating a local gangster to provide backing for Susan and Dave in their quest to find the money.  Dave is even willing to send Susan to seduce Nick.

However, all Nick wants to do is find the money and then split it with Gail (Joan Evans).  Gail is the widow of one of the robbers and Nick wants to do the right thing for her.  Of course, Nick is himself kind of in love with Gail.  Can Nick get the money, find love with Gail, and avoid slipping back into his criminal ways?  It won’t be easy.  Life is never easy when you’re….

THE WALKING TARGET!

Okay, that was a little bit melodramatic on my part but then again, it’s a melodramatic film.  Everyone is constantly plotting and double-crossing.  Appropriately, it all leads to a battle in the desert as modern-day outlaws prove themselves to be no more trustworthy than their vintage ancestors.

The Walking Target is a low-budget noir, one that clocks in at only 70 minutes and which, as a result, doesn’t waste much time when it comes to jumping into its story.  That’s one good thing about these B-movies.  They had neither the budget nor the time for red herrings.  As a result, you pretty much know what you’re going to get before the movies even begins.  The Walking Target features all of the usual tough dialogue and morally ambiguous characters that you would expect to see in a noir.  Merry Anders is an adequate femme fatale, though I do wish that Susan had been a smarter character.  (Nick sees through her way too easily.)  The film opens with the prison’s warden telling Nick that, even though he’s done his time, he’ll always be a no-good crook and that’s the perfect way for a noir to open.  Unfortunately, the film’s cinematography doesn’t really have the right noir look.  There aren’t enough shadows and the film often looks like it could just be an episode of an old TV show.  I guess that’d due to the budget but it really does keep the film from making the transition from being good to being great.

The Walking Target is a diverting-enough film.  I liked Ronald Foster’s uneasy performance as Nick and it was enjoyable to watch everyone plotting and scheming.  The Walking Target is currently available on Prime and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good, if lesser-known, B-noir.

30 More Days of Noir #8: Accomplice (dir by Walter Colmes)


The 1946 film noir, Accomplice, tells the story of Simon Lash (Richard Arlen).

Now, I guess if you have a name like Simon Lash, you’re pretty much destined to become a private detective.  In this case, Lash is both a detective and an attorney.  I did some research — which is a fancy way of saying that I checked with Wikipedia — and what I discovered is that there was apparently quite a few stories written about Simon Lash.  He was a pulp hero created by Frank Gruber.  Gruber went on to write the screenplay for Accomplice, which was based on the novel Simon Lash, Private Investigator.  I don’t know if this was the only Simon Lash film or not.  If there were more Simon Lash films, let’s hope they found a more interesting actor than Richard Arlen to play him.

Yes, indeed, Richard Arlen makes for a rather dull hero in Accomplice.  Physically, he seems like he’s right for the role.  You look at Richard Arlen and you can imagine him beating someone up.  But, in this film at least, he has a boring screen presence that makes it difficult to really get invested in Simon as a character.  He doesn’t have the wounded cynicism of Humphrey Bogart or the killer eyes of Alan Ladd.  He’s just kind of there.

Simon Lash is hired by his ex-fiancée, Joyce (Veda Ann Borg), to track down here husband.  Joyce claims that her husband is president of a huge bank and that he’s suffering from amnesia.  Simon doesn’t quite trust Joyce and he worries that she’s actually using him to dig up dirt for a divorce.  Simon doesn’t work divorce cases.  Apparently, it’s a matter of honor for him.  Not surprisingly, it does turn out that Joyce hasn’t been totally honest with Simon.  Of course, it also turns out that Joyce’s husband has some secrets and tricks of his own.

Indeed, it’s a very complex story, which is something I appreciated.  I always love all the twists and turns of a typical California noir and this one had several.  It all eventually led to a shoot out at a castle in the desert and again, that’s exactly what you want a film like this to lead to.  Accomplice is only 66 minutes long and, as such, it never drags and the double and triple-crosses all come quickly.  That’s definitely a good thing.

Unfortunately, despite all of that, the film itself falls flat.  The main problem is one that I already pointed out.  Richard Arlen is just not a very compelling hero.  While Veda Ann Borg has the right look to play a femme fatale, she still has a strangely bland screen presence in this film.  It’s easy to imagine her trying to fool someone but it’s next to impossible to believe that she could actually do it.  She’s just a bit too boring for the role.  With different actors in the lead roles, Accomplice could have been a classic low-budget noir.  (Seriously, just imagine the film if it had reunited Detour’s Tom Neal and Anna Savage as Simon and Joyce.)  As it is, Accomplice is a bit of a disappointment.  The possibilities are more fun than the execution.