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Blast of Silence

Molly McCarthy , Allen Baron , Allen Baron    Unrated   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Moodywoody TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Blast of Silence is a fascinating film. It follows the journey of a hit man from Cleveland coming to New York City to do a job in 1959. What makes this film particularly unique and compelling are three fold in my opinion: The first is the dynamic black and white location shooting around New York City; two, the earthy and gritty narration in the second person by Lionel Stander; and finally, the character study of the hit man himself, played by Allen Baron.

The film is only 77 minutes long, yet seems longer. It is the intensity and ominous nature of the film that makes it seem so. The hit man, Frankie Bono, is an emotional basket case. What is particularly disturbing about his character is that he probably isn't a psychopath or sociopath, but simply a psychologically damaged individual pursuing an evil career. He is a character that has to go through delusional rationales to build imaginary hatreds toward his targets. He is a man who exists within the banality of evil.

What is striking about the character of Frankie Bono is the lack of social skills that he has. The film describes him as a loner. However, one has to assume that he may never have experienced any kind of love his whole life. His pathetic efforts at interacting with a woman he meets that he once knew as a child growing up in an orphanage emphasize this lack of social and love experience in his life. He may never have actually had a close friend or girlfriend. The fact that he shows a desire for this is what suggests to me that he would not be a psychopath, and actually must live with the tragic burden on his conscience of what he had chosen to become.

I should also mention that I was very impressed with the performance of Larry Tucker in this film, who played Fat Ralph.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Original, disturbing hyper-low budget noir Oct. 22 2011
By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
This film bridges the gap between classic 50s noir, and the more
complex, improvisational dark New York films to come, first by
Cassavettes, and then by Scorsese.

Very reminiscent of, if not as psychologically complex, surreal, and
twisted as, the writings of Jim Thompson.

A hit man from Cleveland comes to New York for one last job.

The film uses 2nd person narration ' 'You feel this', or 'You sense
danger'. It's an interesting technique I can't remember encountering in
a movie before, which plays with your head in a good way. Who's
narrating the film? Obviously the 'you' is the main character, but by
subtle implication it makes US him. The narration was written under a
pseudonym by the great blacklisted writer Waldo Salt.

Beautiful, stark and depressing photography ' which I guess describes
the film as a whole as well.

A couple of terrific, odd supporting characters add to the nightmare
atmosphere. While some of the acting is variable, and a few twists are
too telegraphed, this is a film that has stuck with me.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  18 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Original" is a Vast Understatement April 28 2008
By Marilyn Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This movie was not like any other I have ever seen, but I haven't seen them all and I haven't seen all of Cassavetes' work, which keeps being mentioned in connection with it. Dated? Not to me unless you are referring to the Village Gate scene and I prefer to call that "period" rather than "dated."

I'd recommend this movie to anyone who happens to be reading about it--you are obviously interested in noirs and this, for being a little past the noir period, is about as noir as you can get. Unforgettable, too.

The extras on the DVD were terrific. Wish that Criterion Collection movies weren't so expensive, but I must admit they are worth it.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ALLEN BARON, OPUS 1 April 28 2008
By Daniel S. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
**** 1961. Written and directed by Allen Baron. Frank Bono, a hitman, arrives in NYC in order to kill the mobster Troiano. While he's carefully preparing the hit, he meets Lorrie, a girl he knew when he was at the orphanage. I sincerely admit that I hadn't heard of this motion picture before last night and wouldn't have had the curiosity to take a look at it if a different collection than Criterion had released it. I simply had confidence in the team who already made me discover such great movies as Sidney Gilliat's Green for Danger - Criterion Collection or Herk Harvey's Carnival of Souls - Criterion Collection. In short, BLAST OF SILENCE is a film noir that deserves to be rediscovered. Far away from the Hollywood dream machine, Allen Barron shot a realistic film noir whose mood can be compared to the films of Jules Dassin of the late 40's or the first motion pictures of the French New wave. Highly recommended.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Remembering ...." April 22 2008
By Clare Quilty - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
A hitman comes to the city at Christmastime. He carefully stalks his victim, ruminates in hotel rooms, haggles over weaponry, courts an old flame and eventually undertakes the job.

Allen Barron wrote and directed this anxious thriller, and also plays the hitman. His 77-minute 1961 noir is slim in plot, running time and budget, but rich in the inspiration it clearly offered to Martin Scorsese and Francis Coppola.

"Blast" feels like a movie that's dated by today's standards but was probably unlike anything else around in 1961, at least this side of French New Wave ~ though it's interesting that Godard's "Breathless" was being filmed at the exact same time as "Blast."

Barron uses stark black-and-white photography and on-the-fly New York locations to great effect: The storm that serves as a backdrop to the climax is apparently real and is reportedly the only hurricane to strike the east coast during the entire 20th century. On the other hand, one scene shot in the Village Gate features a man who may possibly be the most abrasively monotonous nightclub singer ever committed to film.

The tiny apartments, narrow hallways and buildings of blank windows predict "Taxi Driver," and one tremendously awkward date smacks of Travis Bickle. The clubs and cars and gangsters seem a little like outtakes from "Raging Bull," and one particular assassination could've served as a test sketch for a later killing that appeared in "Godfather Part II." One nearly expects to spot Gena Rowlands and John Cassavetes, or the gang from "Who's That Knocking at My Door," bickering in the background during other scenes.

But what makes this movie truly unusual is the narration, written by Waldo Salt and delivered by Lionel Stander, who's probably best known for playing the faithful driver Max on "Hart to Hart. Stander's voice sounds like something cranked out of a tarpit with a hand winch. Salt wrote the narration in second-person present tense, which gives it the sound of a sympathetic and schooled observer, or possibly even an imaginary friend. It may be a little too hard boiled (the yolk is fairly bursting through the shell) but it's occasionally haunting and gives "Blast of Silence" a unique voice to match its inky tones and Barron's eyes, which always appear to be shakily resisting total despair.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and fun but well worn late 50's TV quality Feb. 1 2009
By David Cole - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
I liked the film but mostly as a camp B movie and low budget first film. The Criterion DVD quality is excellent. The extras are very good.

I love the NYC tracking scenes. The City and the photography is the real star of the film. Like Kubrick's Killer Kiss, you see the director's photography background.

The narration is terrible and never needed to be included. Without all that nonsense it would have had some mystery to it and could have been mistaken for French or Italian noir. The written narration itself wasn't really bad but the spoken delivery was just bad and total cornball and all in all was not needed at all. It took away all the mystery.

The Conga player should have irritated Bono enough to get taken out back and shot---that would have been "cool man." The film's problems can be excused as bordering on parody of 50's noir films and TV. Reminded me of various less supernatural Twilight Zone episodes and I almost expected Rod Serling at the end...."Frank Bono....blah blah...is now in the "Twilight Zone." Also reminded me of the 1948 film and TV series, "The Naked City" at times.

I like most of the music (except the horrid Conga player singing his obnoxious "avante garde" poetry.) I can only excuse it as a parody of 50's Greewich Village.

I noticed that the film's composer lifted or imitated a riff from Bernard Hermann's North by Northwest---the scenes where Franky is trailing the Fatman and also when Franky is escaping the scene of the hit. You also hear it twice in the excellent Documentary. I wonder if Baron even realizes it? He probably does. At that point, the soundtrack shifts from the jazz sound and goes orchestral, with a very close imitation of the famous, high-tension, Hermann riff. Not exact, but I noticed it immediatly.

Afterall, Hermann was the greatest composer for thrillers, so looking to him for some high-tension music, would not be unusual--No way Meyer Kupferman (the composer) did that riff that close to the "North by Northwest," theme by accident. The same riff has other Hermann variations in Vertigo, Psycho and later, Marnie.

Recommend viewing despite it's obvious problems, just for the NYC walking scenes, the Rat scenes and that bizarre club scene. I also like the Club bathroom scene with Flies, buzzing around and landing on the fatman and Bono. Very over the top noir house flies.

I think it misses the mark to seriously start comparing it to the better film noir classics. It's really pretty camp.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty movie July 25 2013
By B. Adducchio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"Blast of Silence" is a 1960s thriller about a hit man who comes to New York to do a job during the Christmas season. When he gets to New York he runs into old friends who make him want to leave the business. This conflict is well-represented in the lead character, played by Allan Baron, who also directed the movie. Baron reminds me of a Robert DeNiro of an earlier time. He's quiet, immensely conflicted, and undeniably cool.

This movie is a low-budget film noir, and it's got some flaws. Mostly, the acting is uneven and the story has a lot of second person narration. "You get the creeps," for example. It's an original idea and I'm not entirely sure it works. But the cinematography and atmosphere of the film, presented in black and white, is fascinating. The movie shows New York City as a desolate wasteland of loneliness at Christmas. It definitely has a cool feel to it, and if you like darker films that have the film noir feel, you should watch this movie.
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