Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Crime Against Joe (1956)

From AFI:
"Frustrated young artist Joe Manning smears his portrait of a woman with red paint because he is disappointed by his lack of skill. Afterward, his mother Nora, who supports him, chides Joe for over-idealizing women, both on canvas and in real life. Joe decides to go on a drinking binge and, a few evenings later, a still drunk Joe visits his friend, Frances “Slacks” Bennett, at the drive-in coffee shop where she works as a carhop. Slacks urges him not to drive, then admits she had a fight with her boyfriend, taxicab driver Red Waller. Joe calls for a cab and specifically asks for Red, a former high school friend, then makes plans to meet Slacks at a nightclub later. Red drops off Joe at the Pago Pago nightclub, where he flirts with the singer, Irene Crescent. After Joe insults Irene by saying she is not a “nice girl” and warns that she will regret it, the bartender, Harry Dorn, throws him out and, after striking him, leaves him on the sidewalk. When Joe later finds Christy Rowen sleepwalking in the street, he takes her to a house in the direction where she was heading. Christy’s father Philip answers the door and thanks Joe for bringing her home. Later that night, police detective Hollander surveys the site where a murdered Irene was left and a local high school pin appearing to belong to her killer found beside the body. The next day, Joe is taken to the police station where he is questioned by Hollander and District Attorney Roy. Asked about his high school pin, Joe is unable to recall its location, but states he was at the Rowen house at the time of the murder. When Philip is questioned, however, he claims to have never met Joe."

Another wrong man film (from the same year as the Hitchcock film) that plays it straight for the camera. Joe is falsely accused, but instead of panicking as he would in a film noir, the drunk, sensitive Joe keeps his cool and does a little investigating on his own, shaking loose some clues that end up helping him out. Sure, everybody thinks he's a criminal, but he never once starts to act like one. There is no journey to the dark side for Joe, and thus:

Judgment: not noir

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