THE BIG COMBO
1955, 87 min, USA, Dir: Joseph H. Lewis

One of the essential noirs pits malevolent crime kingpin Mr. Brown (Richard Conte) against a crusading copper (Cornel Wilde) in a battle for alluring Jean Wallace. The memorable noir palaver (purportedly by Philip Yordan) is accentuated by the cinematography of the legendary John Alton and a jazzy score by David Raksin. Featuring the unusual hit-man team of Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman amid a stand-out supporting cast: Brian Donlevy, Robert Middleton, Helen Walker, Jay Adler, John Hoyt, Ted de Corsia and Helene Stanton.


BAD DAY AT BLACK ROCK
1955, Warner Bros., 81 min, USA, Dir: John Sturges

Set in a mythical desert town post-WWII, the film follows one-armed combat veteran Spencer Tracy as he seeks to discover the whereabouts of a Japanese-American comrade. De facto town leader and full-time racist bully Robert Ryan and his thuggish pals, Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine, are the stateside fascists in this suspense-filled classic from director John Sturges and screenwriter Millard Kaufman. Co-starring Anne Francis, Walter Brennan, Dean Jagger and John Ericson.


A KISS BEFORE DYING
1956, Park Circus/MGM, 104 min, USA, Dir: Gerd Oswald

Social-climbing college student Bud Corliss (Robert Wagner) is determined to marry into money – but his girlfriend’s pregnancy could derail his plans. That’s when Bud truly becomes a ladykiller. This rare Cinemascope color noir, based on the Edgar-winning novel by Ira Levin, reveals the psychosis lurking beneath the American affluence of the Eisenhower era. Filmed on location in Tucson, Arizona, and co-starring Jeffrey Hunter, Virginia Leith, Joanne Woodward and Mary Astor.


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