There i s nothing more invigorating like true noir, and there are very, very few of those. This is one that ranks with “Touch of Evil“ and “The Long Goodbye.”
Good noir is not a matter of tough talk and dark shadows. It is a matter of the writer apparently losing control to a capricious goddess who is cruel and inscrutable. The angles and light are only an indicator that the narration is no longer in control of humans.
This has it, and dames too, though there’s a misogynistic denial until the girl is in trouble. Lets see: Mike is beaten and set afire as his car is thrown over a cliff, he has a bomb put in his car, he is beaten again (and again), his best friend is killed, he gets probably fatal radiation poisoning. All because of something “out there” which is a little sullied at the end because it becomes partially identified as that “radiation” force which in 1955 stilled seemed magical, superlogical.
In projects like this, the women are halfway between the reality of the story (that reality where people get beaten) and the off-world reality that the magical goddess behind the curtain inhabits.
Posted in 2004
Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.