Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hollywood After Dark (1968)

This B-grade potboiler isn't terribly impressive, but it's also not terrible; what's surprising is that, for a while at least, it flirts with quality. It helps that I tend to respond favorably to films like this -- there's more accidental crude beauty in the clumsy poetry of these cheap noir glosses than just about any other disreputable genre you might care to name. Here, there's a nice moment where reluctant criminal Tony is chewing out depressive stripper Sandy over her choice of wardrobe, and as the dimestore monologue progresses it becomes clear that Tony is implicitly admitting via the I'll-throw-rocks-at-you technique that he's smitten. Sandy, by the by, is played by a very young and quite fetching Rue McClanahan, who shows a certain level of promise that is unfortunately let down by the film's second half -- she's marginalized and shunted off in favor of an increasingly familiar and threadbare heist-gone-wrong narrative. The filmmakers should have just ditched the heist stuff and concentrated on the cheesy charms of the romantic plot strand, but we can only judge what's in front of us, not what we wish was in front of us. Given that, I have to say that Hollywood After Dark falls apart after a promising setup, though it still finds time for the odd inspired shot (like the surprising reveal right before the film's climactic confrontation, made all the more surprising by its tossed-off quality). Oh well, what the hell, etc.

Grade: C+


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