Blast of Silence (1961) The Hired Hate Of Harlem Hitman

Blast Of Silence (1961) Criterion Allen Baron Neo film noir drama hitman

Just as our anti-hero hitman emerges from the subway tunnel womb to the sound of that great gravelly voice of Hart To Harts Max (Lionel Stander) I knew this was going to hit that bell at the top of my Wolfie meter with a sledgehammer blow. Blast Of Silence smashed me square in the chest with two slugs of a blasting revolver.

Narrator – “Remembering out of the black silence, you were born in pain.”

Blast Of Silence (1961) Allen Baron Neo film noir drama smoking arrival train NY

Baby Boy Frankie Bono (Allen Baron) arrives in New York City to pick up the leads on a job, a hit. Dressed in his raincoat and pork pie hat, he looks like a cross between Robert De Niro and George C Scott. I couldn’t make my mind up which one, sure you will see the comparisons. So yeah, Frankie Bono has a certain demeanour to him, a tough brutish air to him. Though under that dangerous hard man persona lies an almost innocent man.

Blast Of Silence (1961) Allen Baron Robert De Niro George C Scott lookalike

Frankie Bono is back in his hometown after leaving the city for Cleveland, returning as a hired gun. His job, to assassinate a mid ranking gangster by the name of Troiano (Peter Clune). Frankie Bono stalks his every move, Max narrates Frankie with noir finesse.

Narrator –If you want a woman, buy one. In the dark, so she won’t remember your face.”

Frankie Bono knows all the tricks, when to move out of sight, how long to tail his victim, when to move in. Frankie Bono is a professional. The city brings back memories of his past life, he should be alone, he has a job to do! But wait, a chance unwanted encounter with an old friend, Lori (Molly McCarthy). Caught, trapped, he’s pulled into being civil and sociable, it is Christmas after all.

Blast Of Silence (1961) Allen Baron baby boy frankie bono tailing car bridge new yorkBlast Of Silence (1961) sixties streets of new york harlem gangsters

Tagline – You stalk shoulder to shoulder with a hired killer who with “silenced” gun trails his victim….. like a beast of prey!

Baby Boy Frankie Bono remembers the hate of Harlem as he returns to stalking the streets for his victim. Quick and punchy jazz music plays throughout the shadows of every corner, congo driven jive bands jam in every dive bar. From corner shops to big department stores, people stand, move and wait in shop front doorways, the city is bustling. Everywhere Frankie Bono stalks, it just oozes New York City. Frankie Bono needs to get this job done but somethings playing on his mind?………

Blast Of Silence (1961) Allen Baron Neo film noir drama new york street shop scenes

Allen Baron not only stars in Blast Of Silence, he wrote and directed it. With a minimal budget this guy shines creative and visual style with ever camera angle he can achieve. I guess it’s a neo noir, it has so much noir styling to it. The shadows, the looks, the lighting, the mood and above all that incredible narration of a hundred quotes from Lionel Stander. Its not coming from Frankies mind but more like a guardian on his shoulder. Telling him to keep his cool, warnings of danger, encouragement and reminding him of who he is whilst keeping his mind on his job.

Narrator – “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.”

Blast Of Silence (1961) Allen Baron gun pistol hitman black and white assassin

A Few Wolfie Observations.

  • By hook or by crook make sure you go check the hour long Requiem for a Killer: The Making of “Blast of Silence” documentary after you’ve watched the film. It’s a pure delight watching Allen Baron wandering around the film locations telling stories of how the film was financed, his neighbourhood, his filming background etc and Peter Falk. It’s a perfect companion piece to the film. Allen is the cool storyteller happy to hang out on street corners with his shades shooting the shit. Proper bonus.
  • The narration for Lionel Stander was written by Waldo Salt who did the screenplay for one of my most treasured films, the 1969 Midnight Cowboy. Both Lionel and Waldo were blacklisted during the red scare incidents in Hollywood at the time Blast Of Silence was made!
  • Larry Tucker who plays Big Ralph the man obsessed with rats can be seen in the  crazy Samuel Fuller flick called Shock Corridor. A very recommended film if you haven’t seen it I will add.

Blast Of Silence (1961) Larry Tucker Big Ralph rats Allen Baron Frankie Bono

  • Apart from a great story, the film features really excellent editing and cinematography by Merrill Brody who is also credited as producer. With stunning staged dark shots in the shadows setting the mood beautifully. From shadows of rats, to smoking in phone booths to Manhattan skylines. Another amazing technique which I absolutely loved is the long tracking shots following Frankie Bono walking along the New York sidewalks.
  • One last bizarre moment. I have a big love for comic graphic novels. During the film I had a sense of a series I adore called Criminal by writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips. On flicking through IMDB images can you believe Sean Phillips did the cover artwork for Criterion DVD release. I love his style of artwork.

Blast Of Silence (1961) Criterion DVD cover artwork Sean Phillips comic graphic

This is one helluva debut film from Allen Baron, it really ticked everything I love in filmmaking. Can’t thank Pamela over at the wonderful All Thing Thriller to putting me onto this sublime independent gem. Please be sure to pop over to her site and say hello.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this look at a bygone film with so much style. You know what, I’m still buzzing. I know the likes of Martin Scorsese and Joe Dante love this film but hey what do you think? Let me know if you wish. Keep searching for those classics and hidden gems. Baby Boy Mikey Wolf

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King Rat (1965) Kentucky Fried Rat In Mi Prison What Am I Gonna Do?

King Rat (1965) George Segal Bryan Forbes James Fox POW movie poster

“This is not a story of escape. It is a story of survival. It is set in Changi Jail Singapore, in 1945. The Japanese did not have to guard Changi as a normal prisoner of war camp. The inmates of Changi had no friendly Swiss border or any other neutral country within reach. They were held captive not so much by high walls, or barbed wire, or machine-gun posts, but by the land and sea around them – and the jungle was not neutral, nor was the ocean. They did not live in Changi. They existed. This is the story of that existence.”

Continue reading “King Rat (1965) Kentucky Fried Rat In Mi Prison What Am I Gonna Do?”

Fourteen Hours (1951) Suicidal Drama From The Edge Of A Ledge

Fourteen Hours (1951) poster paul douglas richard basehart henry hathaway

I always seem to be drawn to films that focus on mental health issues, especially older films that tackle more challenging subjects that were probably taboo at the time. Sometimes they can be of a exploitation nature but most of the films I’ve enjoyed have addressed the difficult matter at hand with great thought and sensitivity. Fourteen Hours is another fine example of mixing deep thoughtful drama with real life, complex problems that many people could face at sometime in their own life. The wonderful thing that impresses me, well most of the time, is the ability to deal with the subject matter in a way to let the viewer understand, feel sympathy for, and maybe even learn from. Fourteen Hours is about suicide. But before you turn away, this is an exceptional drama which is thought-provoking and features really outstanding performances from it’s two leads. Continue reading “Fourteen Hours (1951) Suicidal Drama From The Edge Of A Ledge”

Murder by Contract (1958) Hitman Tells You A Stranger Kills A Stranger

Murder by Contract (1958) Movie poster Vince Edwards Irving Lerner

Hitman Claude – “Have you boys ever killed anyone?… Well?”

“I thought not.. It’s not easy, you know. You read in the paper about some wife doing away with her husband, child murderer, knifing in a tavern brawl… These are crimes of passion. Crazy people off their rocker.

Then there’s the tigger-happy hoodlum, the kid that kills a gas station attendant because he can’t open the cash register fast enough. That’s another type of crazy person. Both types eventually get caught. They don’t plan. They can’t. Even if they did, it’d be no use. The only type of killing that’s safe is when a stranger kills a stranger. No motive. Nothing to link the victim to the executioner. Now, why would a stranger kill a stranger?

Because somebody’s willing to pay. It’s business. Same as any other business. You murder the competition. Instead of price-cutting, throat-cutting. Same thing. There are a lot of people around that would like to see lots of other people die a fast death. Only they can’t see to it themselves. They got conscience, religion, families. They’re afraid of the punishment, here or hereafter. Me, I can’t be bothered with any of that nonsense. I look at it like a good business. The risk is high, but so is the profit.”

Marc – “You’re a real superman, ain’t you?”

Continue reading “Murder by Contract (1958) Hitman Tells You A Stranger Kills A Stranger”

Sunset Boulevard (1950) Gloria Swanson & 10 Awesome Things I Loved!

Sunset Boulevard (1950) movie poster billy wilder drama film noir

Well I got there in the end, the mighty Sunset Boulevard from director Billy Wilder is now in the bag. I sure was late to the party but wasn’t it just worth the wait. Gloria Swanson smashed it right out into the stratosphere.  No point doing a rough plot rundown on this one so here’s 10 Awesome Things I Loved! Continue reading “Sunset Boulevard (1950) Gloria Swanson & 10 Awesome Things I Loved!”

The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) Harry Belafonte Goes Apocalyptic

Poster For '‘The World the Flesh and the Devil'

Harry Belafonte is back again in the same year as Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) this time instead of a gun, he carries a Geiger Counter! Harry stars as coal miner Ralph Burton in this brillianty theatrical named film, The World, the Flesh and the Devil.

Tagline – It Will Grip Your Imagination As No Film Has Ever Done Before!

Continue reading “The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1959) Harry Belafonte Goes Apocalyptic”

The Heroic Trio (1993) Crazy Sexy Kickass Kung-fu Superheroes

The Heroic Trio (1993) Michelle Yeoh Anita Mui Maggie Cheung sexy superheroes kungfu 2

Whatever reason did I have to watch The Heroic Trio do you think? Well it does feature three of the most beautiful Hong Kong action cinema stars in the same movie playing superheroes. Michelle Yeoh (Invisible Woman), Anita Mui (Wonder Woman) and Maggie Cheung (Thief Catcher), this movie should of been called The Heavenly Trio. Continue reading “The Heroic Trio (1993) Crazy Sexy Kickass Kung-fu Superheroes”

Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Messed Up Men Plan A Bank Job With Jazz

Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Robert Ryan Harry Belafonte robert wise noir drama

My, “what way will Robert Ryan go today?“, will he be a goody or baddy? That mystery went straight out the window in the first few minutes. As soon as he appears, in a washed out, oversaturated black and white shot, emerging on the city street, you get a sense of this man. He’s playing Earle Slater, a washed up southern war veteran who’s turned to crime. He’s savagely prejudice and filled with toxic racism, he’s angry and desperate to make some serious dough. He’s up for any manner of big payout as long as it plays out to his ideals. Ex cop David Burke (Ed Begley) has one of those perfect plan’s, money for the taking, easy money, Earle Slater takes notice. Continue reading “Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Messed Up Men Plan A Bank Job With Jazz”

The Hidden (1987) “Video Store Action Heroes” 4 x Action Packed VHS Movie Memories

The Hidden (1987) Michael Nouri Kyle Maclachlan cult film vhs cassette cover case

Much like Peter Parker gets his Spidey sense, I experience a similar sensation, whenever danger arises in the area my hair stands on end. Much like I’ve touched one of those electric static balls. It might be a great addition to my crime fighting skills against the evildoers of the world but to be honest I look absolutely ridiculous! How can I tussle with the bad guys when I look like one of the hair bear bunch, rather than a terrifying wolf? Well I burst out into fur ball mode again but I was ready. I knew something bad was going down as I pulled out my most prized weapon from my utility belt, a water spray bottle to calm those hairs. I can’t fight proper looking way too cute.

The Hidden (1987) Hair bear bunch wolfies spidey sense Continue reading “The Hidden (1987) “Video Store Action Heroes” 4 x Action Packed VHS Movie Memories”