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Blast of Silence
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Having been 'away' for some time, professional killer Frankie Bono returns to New York to do another job: assassinate some mid-level mobster. Although intending to avoid unnecessary 'contact' while carefully stalking his victim, Bono is recognized by an old fellow from the orphanage, whose calm and unambitious citizen's life and happy marriage contrast heavily with Bono's solitary and haunted existence. Exhausted and distracted, Bono makes another mistake, but his contract is not one to back out of.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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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