Sunday, 14 September 2014

"Night Editor"

Today's film is the 1946 feature "Night Editor." This film has an interesting history, which I will shamelessly steal from IMDB:
"'Night Editor' was based on the already existing radio program in which a newspaper editor would recount the 'inside story' of some bit newspaper story, and later became a television series."

It stars William Gargan, Janis Carter, and Jeff Donnell, and was written by Scott Littleton and Harold Jacob Smith.  If you're like me, you don't recognize any of these names.
They do a pretty good job, though.  The premise of the movie is this.  A bunch of newspapermen cluster around a card table, and begin to tell stories.  This is the framing device for the film's main narrative, which concerns a cop conducting an affair.  While out with his dame, he witnesses a murder.  He knows who did it, but can't say anything, or else his idyllic family life will be destroyed.

The cop, William Gargan, is convincing as a man conscious of the precarious nature of his existence but wanting to see justice done. The dame, played by Janis Carter, is frosty in her portrayal of a woman lacking empathy and thinking only of her own position.  I have no complaints about these performances.

In fact, the only thing I can really complain about is a spoiler, so I won't.  Suffice it to say this narrative isn't perfectly plotted out from start to finish (or I am a nitpicking loser.)

But that doesn't really matter next to what the film gets right.  It starts with the flawed, doomed protagonist idea and hits pretty much every noir note.  It's all here; the class commentary, the fast paced conversations loaded with in-jokes, even the musings of characters seemingly unrelated to the narrative at hand.  The film even dips into 40s Americana at some points, with precocious kids who are as "gee whiz!" as humanly possible.  Of course, sometimes the details aren't enough, but I think this film successfully attains a noir feel.

So yeah, this is a short review/article/whatever, but I think this film is pretty solid, and I needed it after some other efforts (better movies are usually shorter reviews, because I stop taking notes and get distracted by the film).  It's better than its shaky origins might lead you to believe.  This film shows that noir is intrinsically a pretty sweet genre; you only make a bad film when you mess it up.

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