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.”
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.
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.
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?………
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.”
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.
- 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.
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