The Wrong Man

Henry Fonda in hat

Atypical and yet very typical, 1956’s The Wrong Man is Alfred Hitchcock’s tilt at those noirish ripped-from-the-headlines crime dramas that were all the rage when people still said “all the rage”, films sold on authenticity and with a dedication to telling it how it was. That’s what’s behind Hitchcock dropping his usual comedy cameo early in this movie and settling instead on a moody, backlit intro in which the man himself informs us that what we are about to see is stranger than all the films he’s made before, and yet… “this is a true story. Every bit of it.” He is pretty much as good as his word. This is the story … Read more

Daisy Kenyon

Joan Crawford and Henry Fonda

Let’s just get this out of the way. Daisy Kenyon isn’t a film noir, even though it features on many noir “best of” lists. It’s a romantic melodrama of a very peculiar sort – “High powered melodrama surefire for the femme market” is how Variety described it on its release in 1947, in their odd, truncated way of communicating. More up-to-the-minute viewpoints can be found on Amazon – “NOT a true example of film noir”… “certainly not a film noir”… “DEFINITELY NOT FILM NOIR” – three of many. However, the tagging persists. It’s in the Fox Film Noir series of movies, its Amazon page pegs it as “Mystery & Suspense/Film Noir”, which is doubly, … Read more

You Only Live Once

Joan and Eddie on the run

Fritz Lang’s second Hollywood picture, You Only Live Once, was released in 1937, three years after the death of Bonnie and Clyde, and was the first movie to tell their story – sort of. A tale of bad luck and trouble rather than one of bad people doing bad things, it stars Henry Fonda and Sylvia Sidney as a couple in love – she a sweet girl who works for the Public Defender, he a threetime jailbird determined to go straight and make an honest woman of his wife-to-be but finding that society won’t give this sucker an even break. Blocked at every turn, Eddie (as Clyde is called here) turns back to … Read more

Once Upon a Time in the West

Henry Fonda is the baddie in Once Upon A Time In The West

By 1967, after countless Italian sword and sandal epics and three astonishingly successful spaghetti  Westerns (A Fistful Of Dollars, A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly), director Sergio Leone was tired of men in period costume and was eager to try his hand at something more contemporary. It wasn’t to be. Paramount studios prevailed upon Leone to make one more western for them. In return they promised to fund his four-hour, four-decade overview of organised crime, Once Upon a Time in America. Leone’s fourth Western could easily have turned out to be a 90-minute contractual obligation, with Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef and whoever was available squinting hard into the … Read more