1955, Park Circus/UA, 105 min, USA, Dir: Robert Aldrich

Some critics see it as the apotheosis of noir style and the definitive statement on American paranoia in the Atomic Age. Others see it as screenwriter Buzz Bezzerides’ smirking send-up of author Mickey Spillane’s popular 1950s macho fantasies, brilliantly adapted here by screenwriter, A.I. Bezzerides. Decide for yourself as hard-headed private eye Mike Hammer (Ralph Meeker) va-va-vooms this way through sunny and sinister Los Angeles in search of “The Great Whatsit.”

1941, Universal, 70 min, Dir: Eugene Forde

This Runyonesque rarity tells the tale of a gaggle of New York gangsters (led by the redoubtable Lloyd Nolan) who, after getting popped for speeding through a small Connecticut town, hatch a plan to turn the sleepy burg into a resort for rusticating racketeers. Not noir by a long shot, but the script is more prescient than its writers could ever have imagined (did Bugsy Siegel see this movie?). DP Theodor Sparkuhl lends his always evocative camerawork to this rambunctious B gem, enlivened by the marvelous mugs of Albert Dekker, Sheldon Leonard and Edward Brophy.

1955, Warner Bros., 115 min, Dir: Elia Kazan

James Dean is brilliantly cast as shy Cal, a pre-WWI teenager who can’t escape from the shadow of his perfect brother, Aaron (Richard Davalos). Cal is also a rebellious black sheep who will do almost anything to gain the love of his strict father (Raymond Massey), a desire that may destroy those around him but may also, in the end, offer him his last chance at redemption. With a great cast that includes Julie Harris, Albert Dekker, Burl Ives and a cameo by Timothy Carey. In CinemaScope!

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