Film Noir Friday: Too Late For Tears [1949]

too_late_for_tears1949

Welcome!  The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat.  Tonight’s feature is TOO LATE FOR TEARS [1949] starring Lizabeth Scott, Don DeFore and Dan Duryea.

It’s not a great print but it is definitely watchable–unfortunately none of the prints prior to the recent restoration are very good Bear with it though, it is a terrific film. Lizabeth Scott is a total badass; the epitome of the noir femme fatale. If you’re in L.A. and can get to the Egyptian Theater TONIGHT a restored print will be shown as part of the Film Noir Festival. If you miss this particular film don’t fret, the Film Noir Festival runs from March 21, 2014 — April 6, 2014.

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TCM says:

One night on a lonely highway, a speeding car tosses a satchel of money, meant for somebody else, into Jane and Alan Palmer’s back seat. Alan wants to turn it over to the police, but Jane, with luxury within her reach, persuades him to hang onto it “for a while.” Soon, the Palmers are traced by one Danny Fuller, a sleazy character who claims the money is his. To hang onto it, Jane will need all the qualities of an ultimate femme fatale…and does she ever have them!

http://youtu.be/1pRgyhqprPQ

Ex-Burlesque Dancer Found Dead

burlesque dancer dead_edit

As the days, months and years ticked by the Black Dahlia case grew as cold as an Arctic blast. In late October 1949 the cops received an anonymous telephone tip that a woman had been murdered in a downtown hotel, and that her killer was the same person who had murdered Elizabeth Short.

LAPD investigators rolled to the scene and what they found was sad, but it wasn’t murder. Upon examining her body Dr. Frederick Newbarr, county autopsy surgeon, determined that the woman had been badly beaten but that the beating had not been fatal. She’d been done in by a serious liver ailment caused by her heavy drinking.

Detectives searched  the dead woman’s handbag and they found an ID card and other papers that revealed her to have been Mrs. Lucille Bowen, a former dancer in a Main Street burlesque house.

The Follies on Main Street.  [Photo courtesy of LAPL]

The Follies on Main Street. [Photo courtesy of LAPL]

Also in Lucille’s handbag were a couple of police business cards; one of them belonged to Officer C.O. Smith and on its back was written “Lucille Bowen, a good friend of mine. Any courtesy extended to her will be appreciated.” A second card belonged to Officer R.E. Myers, it was apparently signed by him and had a similar inscription.

The cards were issued during the time that Smith was on the Central Division Vice Squad and Myers was assigned to administrative vice. By October 1949 Officer Smith had moved up the chain of command and was in charge of the vice unit at LAPD’s University Division. When quizzed by reporters Smith stated that he didn’t recall Lucille and he doubted the card was his.  Myers had made detective, however reporters couldn’t reach him for comment.

Get_out_of_jail_free The two cops may not have recalled Lucille, but personally I have little doubt that the cards belonged to them, particularly since they’d worked vice. The business cards were probably never intended for use as “courtesy cards”; and I think it is likely that Lucille came into possession of the cards and then simply wrote on the backs of them. Lucille may have considered the cards to be talismans that could protect her from arrest, but if that’s what she believed she had been misinformed. Courtesy cards weren’t equivalent to a Monopoly “Get Out of Jail Free” card and wouldn’t have been much use to her.

According to the hotel room clerk Ralph Myers (as far as I know he was no relation to the cop) Lucille had registered for a room the night before with an unidentified man — they’d signed in as Mr. and Mrs. James Johnson.

Interior of Skid Row Hotel. [Photo courtesy of LAPL]

Interior of Skid Row Hotel. [Photo courtesy of LAPL]

Police records revealed that years prior to her pitiful death Lucille had come to L.A. as Rena Lucille Hodge, a strikingly beautiful dancer from Oklahoma City with big Hollywood dreams. Like so many girls before her Lucille’s dreams had died hard, crushed in the crucible of Main Street burlesque joints.

The LAPL database doesn't call her out, but I believe the woman in the center is none other than Betty "Ball of Fire" Rowland. [Photo courtesy of LAPL]

The LAPL database doesn’t call her out, but I believe the woman in the center is none other than Betty “Ball of Fire” Rowland. [Photo courtesy of LAPL]

In December 1944 she was busted on Main Street with nine others on charges of contributing to the delinquency of minors by staging a lewd show. By the time her body was discovered in a Skid Row hotel Lucille had been reduced to life on “The Nickel” (Fifth Street) chasing her dreams with enough liquor to destroy her liver. It would have been easy for her to find male companionship in the dark bars along Skid Row  — men who might listen to her stories of a movie career that never materialized for a few minutes before they would beat and use her.

The "Nickel" (Fifth Street) at night. [Photo courtesy of LAPl]

“The Nickel” (Fifth Street) at night. [Photo courtesy of LAPl]

Lucille’s death had not provided LAPD detectives with a much needed lead in the Black Dahlia case. In the nearly three years since Short’s murder a solution to the crime was still out of reach.

Film Noir Friday: Impact [1949]

impact-movie-poster-1949

Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crime theater is open! Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat. Tonight’s feature is IMPACT directed by Arthur Lubin and starring Brian Donlevy and Ella Raines.

TCM says:

After delivering a passionate speech in which he convinces his company’s board of directors to purchase some factories in Tahoe, California, San Francisco industrialist Walter Williams returns home to his wife Irene.

Walter reenacts part of the speech for Irene, and their maid, Su Lin [Anna May Wong], mistakes it for an argument. Walter then leaves to finalize the deal, promising to call Irene on his way home. After Walter leaves, Irene phones her lover, Jim Torrence, with whom she is plotting to kill Walter, and tells him to go to Sausalito.

When Walter phones Irene, she persuades him to give her cousin “Jim,” who is stranded in Sausalito, a ride to his home in Denver. Walter meets Torrence and they drive for several hours before stopping at a café. While Walter is inside, Torrence sabotages one of Walter’s tires. When the later tire blows, they stop near a steep embankment. Torrence then hits Walter on the head with a wrench, rolls his unconscious body down the slope and tosses his briefcase after him.

Film Noir Friday: The Crooked Way [1949]

 crooked way 1949

Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crime theater is open! Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat. Tonight’s feature is THE CROOKED WAY directed by Robert Florey and starring John Payne, Sonny Tufts and Ellen Drew.

THE CROOKED WAY has all the elements of a solid film noir: flashing neon signs, shadows on a wall, guys in suits, hats, killer ties and a dame with a grudge. Bonus points for some nice shots of post-war L.A.

TCM says:

Eddie Rice, a veteran suffering from amnesia, returns to Los Angeles from a San Francisco veterans hospital hoping to learn who he is and discovers that he is a gangster named Eddie Riccardi and has a police record. Although he does not know it, five years earlier, Eddie was acquitted of murder after turning state’s evidence for homicide detective Lieutenant Joe Williams. His partner, Vince Alexander, took the “rap” and spent two years in prison. On a Los Angeles street, a woman recognizes Eddie and reports him to Vince, who sends his thugs to beat up Eddie. Holding an old newspaper clipping announcing the verdict that put him in jail, Vince confronts Eddie about the past and gives him one day to leave town.

http://youtu.be/roeY-s_nUmg