Jan 23, 2008

Blast of Silence.... coming soon on DVD

I just read about this one, and want to give readers a heads up about this exciting DVD release. In April, Criterion is releasing the 1961 cult film noir, Blast of Silence. I reviewed the movie in ESR #16, based on my screening of a, ahem, "collector's copy" that was distributed by Five Minutes to Live.

This long-lost film noir, made just at the end of the classic American Film Noir period, released by Universal, features unknown actors, particularly its star, also co-writer and director Allen Baron, who plays a hit man who is contracted to wipe out a capo just around the Christmas season. (Now that’s perverse!)

The subjective narration in the second person (“you”, as if referring to the hit man) is probably the most pessimistic voiceover in noir history, The voice always comments on Baron’s desire to be alone, his ability to find love only by renting it, and how fate always plays cruel jokes on him. This subconscious talk helps us understand how this character operates both in life and in his profession. This individual is so socially introverted, that his efforts at romance with a woman end up in a near-rape.

This “beatnik noir”, with great, authentic seedy street locations, and lots of bongo drumming, works also because the characterizations are so unusual, even for a noir picture. Larry Tucker, a big sweating man, is an unconventional second lead, who plays Baron’s gun salesman, and once he finds out how that his friend is using the gun to make a hit on someone slightly higher profile, he blackmails him. Baron’s ill-chosen ways of taking charge of the situation leads to more heartbreak.

This very simply plotted, however deeply psychological noir is the Daughter of Horror for its genre. It unfolds like a sweaty dream, set in a lonely, dark world in which fate governs one’s next path. Highly, highly recommended.

I am pleased that this curio is getting the Criterion treatment, and will hopefully find a new audience, especially among those who have only read of this picture and haven't had a chance to see it.

Here is a preview of the box art....

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