The 2017 ‘Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool’ has done something towards resurrecting the memory of Gloria Grahame. Known partially for being the girl who wouldn’t say No in ‘Oklahoma’, it is said her career died in part because she said No to driving alone with then RKO head, Howard Hughes. So it is also fitting to celebrate her artistry in the year of #metoo. An Oscar nominee and winner (The Bad and The Beautiful), this rather hard to place actress was mostly known for playing the tarnished blonde in film noir. 

In a Lonely Place

The place is Hollywood, lonely for scriptwriter Dixon Steele, (Humphrey Bogart) who is suspected of murdering a young woman until girl –next-door (Gloria Grahame) supplies him with a false alibi. The noir atmosphere of deathly paranoia frames one of the screen’s most adult and touching love affairs. As ever Ray composes with symbolic precision, confounds audience expectations and deploys the heightened lyricism of melodrama to produce a meditation on pain, distrust and loss of faith. Never were despair and solitude so romantically alluring. Time Out.

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Sudden Fear

RESCHEDULED DUE TO TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES

Like many under recognized treasures, David Miller’s Sudden Fear fits into and defies different genres. Sudden Fear opens with heiress/playwright Myra Hudson (Joan Crawford) axing Lester Blaine (Jack Palance) from her latest Broadway production. In spite of this he contrives to woo and wed her. Lester’s pose as besotted husband is quickly revealed when his mercenary ex, Irene Neves (Gloria Grahame), shows up.

With the arrival of Grahame, the pleasures of Sudden Fear multiply further as a study of contrasting approaches to Golden Age screen acting. In the words of unimpeachable critic and Grahame acolyte Boyd McDonald, the actress had “the sullen, bored walk and talk of someone who can’t be shocked, isn’t afraid, and just doesn’t give a shit.”   Village Voice.

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The Big Heat

Lang’s noir thriller retains its shocking power in this drum tight and violent revenge film directed with muscular clarity and force. Glenn Ford plays a straight-arrow police detective named Bannion. He takes on the criminals who control the politics in his town and has an implacable hatred for the gang headed by Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby) and his right-hand man Vince Stone (Lee Marvin).

The film is as deceptive and two-faced as anything Lang ever made, with its sunny domestic tranquility precariously separated from a world of violence. This is one of the inspired performances of Grahame. She plays the disenchanted girlfriend of arrogant and abusive Stone (Lee Marvin) with a wonderfully cool lightness, a woman who finds herself impressed with the way Bannion stands up to the bullies. But she is to meet a horrible fate, and in some ways this is the single most shocking moment in Lang’s career.

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Human Desire

A Korean War vet returns to his job as a railroad engineer and becomes involved in an affair with a co-worker’s wife following a murder on a train where they meet.

Fritz Lang was one of the noir genre’s best exponents. This is terrific tale of quiet desperation which expresses overwhelming intensity and perverse randomness of human desire. It re-unites Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame after Lang’s The Big Heat the previous year. Grahame was a great actress, sadly under-rated and in this film, she’s something more than just another femme fatale. She is as much a victim — of drunken husband Broderick Crawford — as she is a villain, and her actions are as much out of self-preservation as they are wickedness. Her and Crawford’s relationship is one that is finely etched, and probably the most interesting aspect of the film.

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