Blast of Silence

Somehow you always hate the targets before you hit ’em.

Film noir is a nebulous term.  It generally refers to movies dealing with crime, nihilistic main characters, love interest (though that’s most movies), and cynical story lines.  Blast of Silence (1961) went out looking to satisfy some of the worst characteristics of the genre.

Baby Boy Frankie Bono (Allen Baron), out of Clevland, is in New York City to do a job.  He’s a loner and he occasionally thinks that’s how he likes it.  He was an orphan and blah blah blah.  He gets a gun, meets some old friends (awkward), and kills some people (not necessarily in that order).  All the while, the narrator let’s us know what’s going on inside Frankie’s head.  I think that’s what he’s doing, anyway.

Baron wrote and directed the movie, but he didn’t write the narration.  Waldo Salt did that.  I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that Baron made a deal with Universal and they found the lack of dialogue to be problematic.  Maybe they found the plot difficult to follow.  Either way, I figure they bring in Salt to fill in the film noir narration.

Much like Blade Runner (1982), the narration sucks.  It doesn’t suck in the same way.  Harrison Ford sounded like he was recording a hostage video at gun point, while this guy is eager to please.  It’s incessant.  It’s a self parody.  Make it stop!  Make it stop!  The YELLOW WALLPAPER!

Sorry.  Phew.  There’s good film noir speak–in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), Val Kilmer says “She opens the door, and she got nothing on but the radio.”  That was a joke, sure, but it is a great impression of Raymond Chandler.  Salt, on the other hand, does a great impression of a 1960’s instructional video.  Examples:

You’re alone. But you don’t mind that. You’re a loner. That’s the way it should be. You’ve always been alone. By now it’s your trademark. You like it that way.

or

“God moves in mysterious ways,” they said. Maybe he is on your side, the way it all worked out. Remembering other Christmases, wishing for something, something important, something special. And this is it, baby boy Frankie Bono. You’re alone now. All alone. The scream is dead. There’s no pain. You’re home again, back in the cold, black silence.

I use block quotes because I cannot stand to write more words on this movie than I absolutely have to.  There are more references to the temperature of his hands than I care to remember.  If there was no narration, I don’t know, maybe it would have been good.  Barron’s performance is sometimes good but often JV.  He’s got this thing with his right eyebrow, I think, where it’s unable to be on the same level as the left one.  The supporting characters you’ve never heard of and never will again (or at all, I guess).  Here’s one.  Big Ralph (Larry Tucker) an obese fixer of some kind who knows Frankie from the old days when he used to go with some blah blah blah.  Ralph plays it like the fat equivalent to the old creeper in Family Guy or maybe there was a CO2 leak.  I think I would have killed him even if he hadn’t been blackmailing me–oh yeah “spoiler.”

It doesn’t really matter.  You’ll never see this movie.  You shouldn’t see this movie.  Don’t see this movie.  I was in the library the other day looking for Criterion Collection DVDs.  That practice will not be repeated.

About Prof. Ratigan

A semi-lawyer and amateur enthusiast.
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One Response to Blast of Silence

  1. Pingback: Ace in the Hole « Prof. Ratigan

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