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Hammer Film Noir Double Feature, Vol. 3 - Gambler and the Lady / Heat Wave [Import]

Alex Nicol , Hillary Brooke , Ken Hughes , Patrick Jenkins    NR (Not Rated)   DVD

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Clark...Nicol...Brooke...Hughes...Jenkins...Newfield ~ Hammer & VCI Film Noir Vol. 3 (1950's)" Aug. 27 2006
By J. Lovins - Published on Amazon.com
VCI Entertainment and Kit Parker Films present "Hammer Film Noir, Vol. 3" (1952) --- (Dolby digitally remastered)...Film noirs tend to revolve around heroes who are more flawed and morally questionable than the norm, often fall guys of one sort or another...the characteristic heroes of noir are described by many critics as "alienated"; in the words of Silver and Ward, "filled with existential bitterness."...certain archetypal characters appear in many film noirs--hardboiled detectives, femmes fatales, corrupt policemen, jealous husbands, intrepid claims adjusters, and down-and-out writers...as can be observed in many movies of an overtly neo-noir nature, the private eye and the femme fatale are the character types with which film noir has come to be most identified, but a minority of movies now regarded as classic noir feature either...crime, usually murder, is an element of almost all film noirs; in addition to standard-issue greed, jealousy is frequently the criminal motivation...a crime investigation--by a private eye, a police detective (sometimes acting alone), or a concerned amateur--is the most prevalent, but far from dominant, basic plot...in other common plots the protagonists are implicated in heists or con games, or in murderous conspiracies often involving adulterous affairs...false suspicions and accusations of crime are frequent plot elements, as are betrayals and double-crosses...amnesia is far more common in film noir than in real life, and cigarette smoking can seem virtually mandatory.

First up we have "THE GAMBLER AND THE LADY" (1952) (72 min. B/W)...under director Pat Jenkins, director, producer and screenplay by Sam Newfield, producer Anthony Hinds , book author Max Catto, screenplay by Guy Elmes and Richard H. Landau , Walter Harvey (Cinematographer), music score by Ivor Slaney ...the cast includes Dane Clark (Jim Forster), Naomi Chance (Lady Susan Willens), Meredith Edwards (Dave Davies), Thomas Gallagher (Sam), Eric Pohlmann (Arturo Colonna), Anthony Forwood (Lord Peter Willens), Kathleen Byron (Pat), Martin Benson (Tony, Pat's dance partner), George Pastell (Jacko Spina), Julian Somers (Licasi, club manager), Max Bacon (Max), Mona Washbourne (Miss Minter), Jane Griffiths (Lady Jane Greer), Anthony Ireland (Richard Farning), Enzo Coticchia (Angelo Colonna) . . . . . our story opens with Dane Clark a casino owner opening as gambling house right in the middle of the mob locals, which doesn't set well with either side...wanting to climb the ladder of the English upper class, he falls in love with one of them...are the upper class accepting or laughing at him, is he in danger of losing his business, friends and even his life...wonderful scenes from Dane Clark in this crime dama mixed with various themes of celebrity status, betrayal and suspense . . . .there's a great deal of entertainment here for all the film noir fans out there...all courtesy of VCI Entertainment, who in my humble opinion is the best there is in restoring early serials and features like this one.

BIOS:
1. Dane Clark (aka: Bernard Zanville)
Date of birth: 26 February 1912 - Brooklyn, New York, USA
Date of death: 11 September 1998 - Santa Monica, California
2. Terence Fisher (Director)
Date of birth: 23 February 1904 - London, England, UK
Date of death: 18 June 1980 - Twickenham, London, England, UK
3. Sam Newfield (aka: Samuel Neufeld)
Date of birth: 6 December 1899 - New York, New York, USA
Date of death: 10 November 1964 - Los Angeles, California

BONUS FEATURES:
1. Scene selection
2. Trailers
3. Photo gallery
4. Bonus comments: The World of Hammer Noir by Richard M. Roberts

Second on the double bill is a Lippert Picture release "HEAT WAVE" (aka: "The House Across the Lake") (1954) (68 min. B/W)....under Director / Book Author / Screenwriter Ken Hughes, producer Anthony Hinds, Jimmy W. Harvey (Cinematographer), musical score by Ivor Slaney ....the cast includes Alex Nicol (Mark Kendrick), Hillary Brooke (Carol Forrest), Susan Stephen (Andrea Forrest), Sid James (Beverly Forrest), Alan Wheatley (Inspector MacLennan), Paul Carpenter (Vincent Gordon), Hugh Dempster (Frank), Peter Illing (Harry Stevens), John Sharp (Mr. Hardcastle), Joan Hickson (Mrs. Hardcastle), Gordon McLeod (Doctor Emery), Monti DeLyle (Head Waiter), Cleo Rose (Abigail), Howard Lang (Inspector Edgar), Harry Brunning (Railway Porter) . . . . .our story has Alex Nicol who has experienced down and out luck all his life...Hillary Brooke who can manipulate men within her life even murder...Brooke is about to be cut out of her husbands will and has no time for him to die of natural causes...both actors and supporting cast are convincingly good, with outstanding direction and screenplay by Ken Hughes...this post war film noir sets the bar high for other films to measure up to.

BIOS:
1. Alex Nicol (aka: Alexander L. Nicol Jr.)
Date of birth: 20 January 1916 - Ossining, New York
Date of death: 29 July 2001 - Montecito, California
2. Hillary Brooke (aka: Beatrice Peterson)
Date of birth: 8 September 1914 - Astoria, New York, USA
Date of death: 25 May 1999 - Bonsall, California
3. Ken Hughes (aka: Kenneth Graham Hughes) (Director)
Date of birth: 19 January 1922 - Liverpool, England, UK
Date of death: 28 April 2001 - Los Angeles, California

Great job by VCI Entertainment and Kit Parker Films for releasing the "Hammer Film Noir, Vol. 3" (1952) , digital transfere with a clean, clear and crisp print...looking forward to more of the same from the '40s and '50s vintage...order your copy now from Amazon or VCI Entertainment, stay tuned once again with a top notch "Classic Film Noir" that only VCI Entertainment (King of the Serials) can deliver...just the way we like 'em!

Total Time: 140 mins on DVD ~ VCI Home Video KPF 553 ~ (7/25/2006)
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Ice Queen Aug. 9 2012
By Alfred Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Sure, I like my femme fatales as bad as possible, wicked even (cinematically that is, since I don't always want to in real life be constantly looking over my shoulder to see if some off-hand brunette is waiting to put a slug, or six, in me for some supposed transgression, or just because). And, again theoretically, I suppose I am as likely, maybe more likely, than any other guy to be "swayed' by some perfumed request of said femme fatales to do a little off-hand heavy lifting in the way of freeing them of some burden. But, damn, I would, and I will, swear on a stack of seven bibles or whatever holy book you want, draw the line at murder. No way, no way at all.

Well, no way except that just maybe I would consider that line of work if white shorts, white blouse, white bandana Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice gave me that second look that she gave John Garfield. And it is not beyond the realm of possibility that I would be tempted to tumble to some scheme Barbara Stanwyck had worked up in Double Indemnity after seeing that ankle bracelet come down those stairs. But really I am not build for that heavy lifting, and remember my drawn in the sand line against murder policy. So there is no way, no way in hell, I would fall under the spell of Carol (Hillary Brooke) in the film under review, Heat Wave (aka The House Across The Lake).

See, I don't mind a blonde or two for company, although I prefer brunettes, but I am always a little wary when they, those blondes, have that look, that you are going to tumble for me but as part of the package I have job for you look. And that job always, always involves some in the way a hubby to be cleared out of the way before she (and I, of course) can be really happy. Like I said I draw the line. I draw the line doubly because in this case this blonde is no big-hearted blonde out of a Dorothy Parker Big Blonde short story but an ice queen, a serious ice queen. Of course our skirt-addled, high-end bourbon -addled, perfume whiff- addled protagonist here, Mark (Alex Nicols), is smitten right off by this butterfly swirl. Worst as the story develops he actually likes the husband (likes him well enough to drink that high-end bourbon when offered).

Of course the story line here in this very B film, very B British noir, very B noir 1950s Hammer production, is as old as Adam and Eve. Maybe older. One young gold-digging wife with no moral compass (and frankly no apparent charms) is tired of older hubby, Beverly, and wants something done about it. And quick. Now today, here in America at least, thank goodness, she could juts file for divorce, make a hefty sum, and go on about her business with the next six guys who come along. That, needless to say, would make for a very short noir, and moreover not satisfy dear Carol's lust for depravity. Enter patsy, yes, patsy, Mark who while allegedly out in the England country-side taking in the airs in order to write the great English (or American) novel seems to have nothing better to do that drink proffered high-end bourbon and fall under the spell of our damsel in distress.

As with all these, as someone put it, divorce-noir style films the evil deed, the murder, is done (and done with some bravado by Carol) but as with all amateurs and non-professional career criminals this job gets so botched up and the suspects and motives are so apparent that the police can just sit around and wait for the guilty to step to the crime, and the rope. Our boy Mark was clearly not build for this heavy lifting and falls to his part in it after a few more bourbons (assumed to be high-end still although who was paying seems to be have been left up in the air.) Lesson: guys, when some perfumed country estate damsel with ice in her veins gives you that come hither look, check the wedding finger, and get the hell out of there fast. Except if she is a foxy little brunette then maybe you can stop long enough to listen to her story. Enough said.

**********
The Gambler and The Lady, starring Dane Clark, Hammer Productions, 1952

Not all noirs are created equal as the film under review ample demonstrates. Some film like Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice stand out as A-One crime noir classics. This one is a very B film, very B British noir and as a very B Hammer Film Noir production. Why? Well, mostly it is the plot line. An ex-pat up from cheap street American gangster winds up nursing his wounds (after some American jail time) by controlling some sideline gambling action in London in the 1950s to keep him (and his "staff") in coffee and cakes. Along the way he tries to meet the British equivalent of the "better sort" (today's 1%, I guess) and seriously attempts to gain entry into that rather closed and cloistered society (just ask Queen Elizabeth who took up that heavy burden the year this film was born).

Naturally in a time when the royalty of England were not enthralled by gangsters, particularly from America or from continental Europe (unlike in the 1930s with their compadres Hitler, Mussolini and Mosley) this second- rate hood Jim (played by Dane Clark) from cheap street (who can't even tell the lobster fork from the salad fork, jesus, the guy is hopeless) is persona non grata. Well, except to a more democratic sort of lady (Lady, excuse me), and who happens to double as the on again, off again love interest for said second-rate gambler.

Of course in the gambling world like in the mainstream of capitalism the push for market share is relentless. Our boy runs up against a cartel that wishes to "take-over" his business. And they are not particular whether it is over his dead body or not. Add a scorned woman (his dancer ex-girlfriend) that he dumps unceremoniously for Lady Grey or whatever her name was and this guy is in over his head. Jim best go back to safe America where the gangsters are learning business administration at Harvard and places like that.

The real problem with this one though is that part about our boy practically begging to get into high society in Labor-bound 1950s England. Now if it was today, even here in America, with the hoopla over various royal entourages from the queen on down to the grandkids I could see it. But back in the 1950s when we cherished a thing called the American Revolution a little more and English royalty less the lash-up with American ex-pat gamblers doesn't work. No way, no way at all.

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