I had such a great time on Tuesday night with the “Men and Women of Conviction” double feature that I had to go back the next evening for another pairing of Film Noir. Wednesday’s selections were to be a double bill of Stuart Heisler films: Among the Living and The Glass Key. Unfortunately, there was a mix-up with the film company and the Music Box received the original 1935 version of The Glass Key instead. I was looking forward to seeing the 1942 remake, which is said to be the better of the two, but it was still a fun evening all the same.
Among the Living [1941, Stuart Heisler]
A rarely screened noir/horror hybrid about twin brothers — one insane, one not. After their father passes away, the mentally ill brother escapes from the mansion where he was secretly locked up and leaves to start a new life. Problem is that this man is not properly suited for reality and ends up becoming a serial killer on the loose.
Albert Dekker plays the twins, the main difference being one is clean shaven and one is not. He is quite excellent in the lead role(s), especially when he is acting peculiar as the evil brother. Some of his interactions with his newfound gold-digging lady friend (played by Susan Hayward, who just oozes sex appeal) are hilarious. In fact, this movie was a hell of a lot funnier than I expected it to be, and it was a blast throughout. Definitely look it up if you get a chance. 8/10
The Glass Key [1935, Frank Tuttle]
This early adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s classic novel was noticeably different from the other three films I had seen at the festival. A heavier emphasis was placed on dialogue, and the movie was lacking in some of the more traditional noir elements. Still, it proved to be a capable replacement.
I enjoyed George Raft’s lead performance as the slick-talking “fixer” who is trying to clear his politician employer’s name from a possible murder charge. I didn’t feel that this movie was as memorable as the others, and it took me a while to get a feel for what exactly was going on in the first 1/4 of the film. However, the ending moments were brilliant, and the major plot twist was an unexpected surprise. Now I’m curious to see the 1942 remake. 6.5/10