Not by any means a great film, The Devil Thumbs a Ride nonetheless has an indefinable audience allure that sucks the viewer into its labyrinthine storyline and doesn’t let go until the fade-out. Lawrence Tierney plays Steve Morgan, a charming but utterly sociopathic criminal who has just robbed and killed a movie theater cashier. Morgan hitches a ride with inebriated conventioneer Jimmy Furguson (Ted North). Later on, Furguson picks up two more hitchhikers: virginal Beulah Zorn (Nan Leslie) and good-time girl Agnes Smith (Betty Lawford). When circumstances lead Jimmy to believe that Steve is the fugitive whom the cops are looking for, Morgan sweet-talks his way into everyone’s confidence. Before he knows what’s happening, Jimmy is holed up in a beach house while Steve parties with Beulah and Agnes. Not even the most fervent of film noir fans will be able to predict the outcome of this one. Long ignored by movie buffs, The Devil Thumbs a Ride gained a large following through repeated TV showings in the 1960s and ’70s. It is now considered so representative of its genre that one film historian used the film’s title for a collection of his essays on B-melodramas.
Too Late for Tears (1949) Byron Haskin, Lizabeth Scott, Don DeFore, Dan Duryea, Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller
One night on a lonely highway, a speeding car tosses a satchel of money, meant for somebody else, into Jane and Alan Palmer’s back seat. Alan wants to turn it over to the police, but Jane, with luxury within her reach, persuades him to hang onto it “for a while.” Soon, the Palmers are traced by one Danny Fuller, a sleazy character who claims the money is his. To hang onto it, Jane will need all the qualities of an ultimate femme fatale…and does she ever have them!
Woman on the Run (1950) Norman Foster, Ann Sheridan, Dennis O’Keefe, Robert Keith, Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller
Frank Johnson (Ross Elliott), sole witness to a gangland murder, goes into hiding and is trailed by Police Inspector Ferris (Robert Keith), on the theory that Frank is trying to escape from possible retaliation. Frank’s wife, Eleanor (Ann Sheridan), suspects he is actually running away from their unsuccessful marriage. Aided by a newspaperman, Danny Leggett (Dennis O’Keefe), Eleanor sets out to locate her husband. The killer is also looking for him, and keeps close tabs on Eleanor.
Port of New York (1949) Laslo Benedek, Scott Brady, Richard Rober, K.T. Stevens, Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Agents Mickey Waters and John Flannery re-team to investigate the theft of medicinal narcotics from the S.S. Florentine. The vicious gang responsible is headed by the ruthless, but debonair Paul Vicola, who doesn’t hesitate to murder anyone who stands in his way. Vicola’s girlfriend is garroted when she becomes unreliable, and when go-between nightclub comic Dolly Carney poses a risk, he is thrown from his apartment window. After Waters is shot and killed trying to break into the gang’s Brooklyn-based yacht club front, Flannery decides to go undercover and pose as a San Francicco drug dealer. The gang is smoked out and after a furious gun battle, Vicola is apprehended and his gang broken.
The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946) Tay Garnett, Lana Turner, John Garfield, Cecil Kellaway, Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Frank Chambers (John Garfield) is a drifter who stops at a rural diner for a meal, and ends up working there. The diner is operated by a beautiful young woman, Cora Smith (Lana Turner), and her much older husband, Nick (Cecil Kellaway). Frank and Cora start to have an affair soon after they meet. Cora is tired of her situation, married to a man she does not love, and working at a diner that she wishes to own. She and Frank scheme to murder Nick in order to start a new life together without her losing the diner. Their first attempt at the murder is a failure, but they eventually succeed…
The Secret of the Whistler (1946) George Sherman, Richard Dix, Leslie Brooks, Michael Duane, Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
An artist married to a wealthy but ill woman begins an affair with one of his models, who is after him solely for his money. His wife discovers the affair and threatens to cut him out of her will. In order to be able to keep both the wife’s money and his girlfriend, he begins to secretly poison his wife – but events take a surprising turn after she eventually dies.
Voice of the Whistler (1945) William Castle, Richard Dix, Lynn Merrick, Rhys Williams, Drama, Film-Noir
The 4th film of the Columbia series based on the CBS radio program, “The Whistler”, finds wealthy John Sinclair, with no health or friends, being advised by his doctor to take a long vacation. Heading for the Great Lakes, he becomes ill in the cab operated by Ernie Sparrow an is taken to a clinic where he meets nurse Joan Martin, who is engaged to intern Fred Graham. Doctors now tell him he has only a few months to live and advise him to go to Maine (where, evidently, it will seem longer.) He asks Joan to marry him, promising to leave her his fortune.
The Breaking Point (1950) Michael Curtiz, John Garfield, Patricia Neal, Phyllis Thaxter, Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Fishing boat captain Harry Morgan charters his boat. Due to strained finances, he is none too careful as to whom he does business with. Real trouble erupts when Harry hires out his boat to transport four men who turn out to be criminals on the lam from a racetrack heist.
Mysterious Intruder (1946) William Castle, Richard Dix, Barton MacLane, Nina Vale, Film-Noir, Mystery
A private detective is hired by the owner of a music store to find a young girl he grew up with. Suspicious as to why someone would pay a lot of money to find someone he hasn’t seen in years, the detective digs further and soon winds up in a scheme involving a set of valuable old phonograph records, a dead millionaire and murder.
The Houston Story (1956) William Castle, Gene Barry, Barbara Hale, Edward Arnold, Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
In Houston, a man working as an oil driller comes up with a scheme for stealing millions of dollars worth of oil from the fields. He insinuates himself with a local mobster in order to get financing for his scheme.