Thursday, May 7, 2009

Blast Of Silence

(1961, USA, 77m, b/w)
d Allen Baron p/ph Merril S. Brody sc Allen Baron, Mel Davenport (Waldo Salt) ed Merril S. Brody, Peggy Lawson ad Charles Rosen m Meyer Kupferman cast Allen Baron, Molly McCarthy, Larry Tucker, Peter H. Clune, Danny Meehan, Charles Creasap, Lionel Stander

Channeling Cassavetes’ side-walk style as much as the existential isolation of Pickpocket (with strong echoes of Melville), Baron directs, scripts and stars (before disappearing into TV) as Frankie Bono, dour hitman with a George Scott schnoz on de Niro’s mug. The terrific abstract opening plays to a gutter-poetic second-person monologue as Bono is rebirthed from a stint in prison; he arrives in the city on a job where he is tempted from self-imposed isolation with bleak consequences, the downbeat atmosphere reinforced by terrific long takes of wintery New York in the wind and rain. The roughest no-budget edges are in the acting, though Baron is hypnotic and Tucker is unnerving as the soft-spoken, venal fatty who gets in his way. The unusual voiceover is awkward at times but, written and delivered by blacklistees Salt and Stander, mostly works to unsettling effect in conjuring a weird, internalized character of its own, at effective odds with the street-level realism.

© Time Out Film Guide

PS (19 June 2012)
Richard Brody has sharper eyes than I do (or than most people, for that matter) - he spotted that camera operator Erich Kollmar is he who had shot Cassavetes' Shadows a couple of years previously, which no doubt has something to do with the wonderfully street-level feel of the above.

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