Union Station (1950) Chicago Train Station In Ransom Film Noir

Union Station (1950) blu ray box cover artwork william holden

This is the start of some more straight to the point reviews. They will probably all end up being Film Noir. Each time I see another one I wanna do a review post but as I usually waffle a bit I thought it’ll be good to work out a structured system to get me to the point. Hope you like. So without further ado here I bring you Union Station

What’s going down?

A speeding car tailing a cloud of dust arrives at a train station. Two dodgy looking guys exiting from either side. Both take up different positions on the train. A female passenger glimpses a side arm. Apprehensive she informs the train guard. Soon a tough Detective is on the case. A case that will involve the kidnapping of a young girl and a ransom.

Where’s it set?

The film’s main action is set within the walls of the giant train terminal of Chicago’s Union Station. With scenes spilling out onto the streets, on trains, down alleyways and railway sidings.

The main players

William Holden – Lt William Calhoun
Nancy Olson – Joyce Willecombe
Barry Fitzgerald – Inspector Donnelly
Allene Roberts – Lorna Murchison
Herbert Heyes – Henry Murchison
Jan Sterling – Marge Wrighter
Lyle Bettger – Joe Beacom

Union Station (1950) Barry Fitzgerald Inspector Donnelly William Holden Lt William Calhoun

Sure I’ve seen them in something?

William Holden is the big cheese in Union Station. You would’ve seen him in countless brilliant films, here’s four. The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957), Stalag 17 (1953), Sunset Boulevard (1950) and the The Wild Bunch (1969)
I don’t know Nancy Olson apart from she also starred in Sunset Boulevard (1950).
Jan Sterling has popped up in a few films I’ve featured on here like Mystery Street (1950) and Caged (1950). Most will know she’s most excellent in the Billy Wilder’s brilliant drama Ace In The Hole (1951) with Kirk Douglas.
Barry Fitzgerald is one fun guy. He is so suited to these chief inspector movies. He is superb in The Naked City (1948) and also And Then There Were None (1945).  Please feel free to recommend more from him.

Union Station (1950) William Holden Lt William Calhoun Nancy Olson Joyce Willecombe

Notes on production?

Directed by Rudolph Maté. He made the end of the world science fiction tale, When Worlds Collide (1951) and that rather brilliant film noir with Edmond O’Brien in D.O.A. Most will know Rudolph (not me as I’m learning all the time) is probably more known for his amazing work as a cinematographer and director of photography. So you know you are in safe hands for lots of crazy cool camera shots of dark lit corridors.

Union Station is based on a novel by Thomas Walsh called Nightmare In Manhattan. Which had New York City’s Grand Central Station as the center piece for the action. Just to make things a little weird they changed the movie setting to become Chicago Union Station but actually filmed Los Angeles Union Station as the location.

Hits like a sledge hammer

There’s a few big moments of wow. The large squad of menacing men in fedoras and a shocking interrogation scene. There’s also an off screen punch of a female character with just the noise alone making you go “oh shiiit!“. Generally all the hostage scenes are brutal. If you like tunnels and a shoot out you’re in for a treat. Oh and COWS!

Cutting remarks

Don’t ever call me Willy!
She’ll go home…if they ever fish her out of the river.
I may have to beat your brains out
That’s it scream, Cookie. No one is ever gonna hear you down here!
I’ll break any man who takes his eyes off that suitcase.
The people you have to deal with are lice

Union Station (1950) squad of menacing men in fedoras 2


This is one cool film. BUT first you gotta get over the coincidence of the beginning of the story. Once past that it’s just great to watch Lt. William Calhoun wander on down through his station. Stopping everyday crooks as the bigger drama unfolds before him. Watching all his men fill the unique architecture of the station alongside the little Irishman Inspector Donnelly sprouting words of wisdom and orders at every turn. You get stake-outs, suspenseful tails, one of which is on the elevated train line and is especially good. It’s got brutal interrogation, shocking violence and what we love seeing in film noir, many cool backdrop camera angles of vents, pipes, alleyways and tunnels all lit up in beautiful black and white.

With a fast paced run-time of 80 minutes. This exciting film is perfect for a work night.

Rating score

Wolfman’s rating 8.5/10      IMDB 6.8/10


They Made Me a Fugitive (1947) British Film Noir With Trevor Howard And His Trusty Milk Bottle

They Made Me a Fugitive (1947) I Became a Criminal trevor howard british film noir poster

The backroom of the London high street Valhalla Undertaking Company was filled with darkness. The walls and floor space taken up by stacks of wooden coffins. Stood in the bleak setting were a bunch of shifty looking cockney geezers. Gangsters. Rough looking thugs with thick necks, cauliflower ears and busted up flat noses. In amongst those brutish frames you had the usual crafty looking types. Weasel looking type. Sly and creepy. Ready to shank you in the back for a few bob or maybe just for the fun of it. You also had the loyal sidekicks in the mix. Eager to crack skulls with brass knuckle dusters. An older, mother figure organised as she kept an eye on the business. As long as a little extra came her way she was happy. Continue reading

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Film Noir That Hits Like A Sucker Punch

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Dana Andrews Gary Merrill Gene Tierney film noir poster

Detective Sgt. Mark Dixon (Dana Andrews) despises criminals. Loves nothing better than burying his knuckles into some hoodlums ribcage. Sometimes you hear the crack. That wince of pain is also satisfying. Better still, landing a clean, perfectly placed right hook, pow, straight to the jaw. He punches the air. If you’re lucky you’ll catch that sweet moment when the lights go out within their eyes. He smiles with the thought. Continue reading

Storm Warning (1951) President Reagan In Klan Film With Ginger Rogers And Doris Day!… Saaay Whaaat!

Storm Warning (1951) Ginger Rogers Ronald Reagan Doris Day Steve Cochran movie poster

I was intrigued with Storm Warning not only by it’s daunting subject matter but also alarmed to see three actors included that I just couldn’t fathom in a movie based around the Ku Klux Klan. Stamped on the poster are the names of three giant stars. The future President Of The United States, Ronald Reagan and the all singing, all dancing ladies, Ginger Rogers and butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, Doris Day. Seriously WTF? Continue reading

Hangover Square (1945) Murdering Maundering Madman Is Musical Genius

Hangover Square (1945) Laird Cregar Linda Darnell film noir movie poster

With no messing about, this film jumps straight into a POV murder. First a stab with a dagger then a double tap with a gas lamp. The victim isn’t just gonna die, he’s gonna burn too! In the first of a series of shocking and macabre death scenes Hangover Square really grabs your attention. I love it when a movie gamble pays off. Went into this film really for it’s short runtime. Not the ideal way to pick a film, I know. Had way too many late nights and the thought that if I ain’t digging it I’ll turn it off and get myself an early night. Haha no chance. I was hooked and instantly invested in the plight of George Harvey Bone (Laird Cregar), right from that first hard hitting opening scene. Continue reading

The Petrified Forest (1936) A Waitress, a Hobo and a Bank Robber Walk Into a Bar

The Petrified Forest (1936) Leslie Howard Bette Davis Humphrey Bogart movie poster

There I was sitting giggling to myself, waiting for this hilarious, frightened, petrified woodland to appear only to find out it was just a few rocks in the godforsaken desert. Of course I’m only having a laugh. I found The Petrified Forest a very intriguing title. I knew Humphrey Bogart had a standout role within the film but I wasn’t here this time for him. This viewing was for a certain actress called Bette Davis, which, sit down before I say this, I’d not seen any of her films! Please forgive me, I take myself off on a long walk as penance!

The Petrified Forest (1936) Leslie Howard wandering desert tumbleweed dusty road Continue reading

They Drive by Night (1940) The Magnificent Fabrini Brothers

They Drive By Night (1940) poster movie Raoul Walsh Bogie Raft Lupino

Humphrey Bogart is back again hitting my screen in the wolf lair as the quest to work through his films carries on. This time HB was in supporting role mode in this 1940’s movie called They Drive By Night . Top billing duties went to George Raft who, lets be honest, sounds more like Humphrey than Bogie himself in this. These two native New Yorkers make very believable brothers. Let’s meet the Fabrini Brothers. Continue reading

In a Lonely Place (1950) Angry Bogie’s Fury And An Alternative Ending

In a Lonely Place (1950) Humphrey Bogart Nicholas Ray movie poster one sheet

Before doing this blog I was blissfully unaware of Humphrey Bogart being bad! I’d only seen a handful of his movies and what with his legendary status following you around since whenever I can remember. Call me naive, I’d always thought he played good guys.  Well rogues or strong willed tough guys with a heart of gold or a cast iron moral code. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong! He was somewhat naughty in The Desperate Hours but I have to say I didn’t expect him to beat his despicable me part in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. So you see I wasn’t ready for Dixon Steele to turn up in In a Lonely Place and not reading anything about it when going in I’d expected him to be another Samuel Spade style PI. Continue reading