Allen Baron’s Blast of Silence (1961): Criterion Blu-ray review

Documentary background detail in Allen Baron's Blast of Silence (1961)

Shot on a small budget, first-time writer-director-actor Allen Baron’s Blast of Silence (1961) is a taut film noir about an out-of-town hit man beginning to question his career as he closes in on his target in New York a few days before Christmas. Striking documentary images of the city, presented on Criterion’s Blu-ray from a new 4K scan, serve as background for the killer’s existential doubts.

Fall 2023 viewing, part two

Amnesiac Johnny McBride (Anthony Quinn) investigates his own past in Victor Saville’s The Long Wait (1954)

This week marks the thirteenth anniversary of the blog and there’s still no clear pattern to what I watch and write about! The first post went up on October 22, 2010. Hard to believe it’s been going this long, with almost 900 posts and over 3200 reviews so far. I don’t think I’ve ever stuck with anything this faithfully in my entire life! Thanks for reading!

Cheap sci-fi and hardboiled noir in 3D

Members of the gang come down hard on Mike Hammer (Biff Elliot) and his secretary Velda (Margaret Sheridan) in Harry Essex's I, the Jury (1953)

A 3D restoration of Phil Tucker’s ultra-cheap Robot Monster (1953) doesn’t really help this oddly endearing slice of poverty row sci-fi, but Classicflix’s 4K restoration of Harry Essex’s adaptation of Mickey Spillane’s I, the Jury (1953) is a revelation of what a great cinematographer could accomplish with first-wave 3D technology; Spillane’s brutal noir was shot by John Alton, a master of light and shadow, and the sense of space and imagery which plays on multiple planes in almost shot makes this one of the most impressive looking 3D movies of its time.

Román Viñoly Barreto’s El vampiro negro (1953)

The killer (Nathán Pinzón) tries to suppress his compulsion with self injury in Román Viñoly Barreto’s El vampiro negro (1953)

Flicker Alley and the Film Noir Foundation have released another fascinating Argentine movie from the early 1950s on the heels of two revelatory releases last year. Román Viñoly Barreto’s El vampiro negro (1953) is even more intriguing than Viñoly Barreto’s The Beast Must Die (1952) and Fernando Ayala’s The Bitter Stems (1956), being a reworking of Fritz Lang’s M (1931) from a very different perspective – that of a mother whose daughter is at risk from the serial child murderer.

Memories of monochrome England

The visit of a friendly policeman causes stress in John Kruse's October Moth (1960)

Network and the BFI deliver a potent mix of wartime propaganda and post-war crime in atmospheric black-and-white with Blu-ray releases of Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s One of Our Aircraft Is Missing (1942) and Lewis Gilbert’s The Good Die Young (1954), and a massive 20-disk DVD set of B-movie thrillers from the early 1960s mostly adapted from the novels of Edgar Wallace.

Blasts from the past

Recent Viewing: the New Wave

The sad conclusion to my NFB career …

David Byrne’s True Stories (1986): Criterion Blu-ray review

Aspect Rati-woes

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