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Noose (1948)


Aka The Silk Noose for American release. Carole Landis is the American journo transplanted to post-WW2 London and reports on the murder of a young woman whose body has been found in the Thames. It’s linked to a wealthy black marketeer (Joseph Calleia) and his front, a spiv (Nigel Patrick) whom Landis nicknames The Overcoat. As she and her ex-Army fiance close in with the police fast on her heels, another murder takes place and she is now the next target. Calleia somewhat overplays his role as pantomime villain – although the film concludes in quite the slapstick sequence – but Patrick is brilliant as the sharp-suited one. French Jewish emigre director Edmond Greville brings wonderful touches in terms of pace, framing and composition to this fast-moving, humorous, violent, aesthetically fascinating  and sometimes sadistic tale, adapted by Richard Llewellyn from his play. It really doesn’t seem like a British film at all. Greville would be better known for cult fave Beat Girl 12 years later  and had started as an assistant to EA Dupont, Abel Gance and Rene Clair:  he also worked as a critic before taking refuge in Britain. There’s a great supporting role for Carol van Derman, a beautiful actress who did another film with Greville the same year, But Not in Vain. I would love to know more about her. She and Landis have great fun ganging up on Calleia towards the conclusion. Landis is fantastic as the brave fashion writer who likes nothing better than to slip off her shoes whenever she sits down and her transatlantic patter amid Londoners is an ongoing joke providing some good dialogue. This was her second-last film, the last being Brass Monkey, another British production. She’d been headed for great things as a contract artist at Fox but once she rebuffed the libidinous casting couch powerhouse that was the dwarfish Darryl F. Zanuck she was condemned to B movies and he called her a slut, which ruined her reputation and destroyed her potentially A-list career. Ironically she had started as an extra on A Star is Born. On Broadway she supposedly had a relationship with Jacqueline Susann and the character of Jennifer North in Valley of the Dolls was based on her. She chronicled her wartime experiences in the USO touring with Kay Francis, Martha Raye and Mitzi Mayfair in the book Four Jills in a Jeep and they starred in the movie adaptation. When her relationship with Rex Harrison (then married to Lilli Palmer) hit the skids, she endured a horrific suicide aged just 29, which is unfortunately well documented by artiste-provocateur Kenneth Anger in the notorious Hollywood Babylon. She was really something. So is this.

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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