Ed Lynskey’s blog post on overlooked classic films noir really hooked me this morning. I confess I’ve never seen this one but I’ve looked for it; now apparently it’s available. Get me Netflix on the red phone! Lynskey tells us about The Great Flamarion, starring the always reliable noir anti-hero Dan Duryea, directed by Erich von Stroheim. You know, Sunset Boulevard? If you don’t, you can skip this column and go back to texting the person sitting in the booth across from you, or whatever. But if you’re hip to Sunset Boulevard and Dan Duryea, think about these:
- Criss Cross (1949)
- Manhandled (1949)
- Too Late for Tears (1949) rereleased as Killer Bait in 1955
- Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949)
- One Way Street (1950)
- Winchester ’73 (1950)
- The Underworld Story (1950)
And the list goes on and on, with literally dozens of other great celluloid visions striated with darkness and weirdness, a veritable encyclopedia of noir. Duryea can always be depended on to inject a strain of the unbalanced mental state, off-key arias and queasy paranoia. He’s the Tom Waits quotient, the squeaky bedsprings down the hall. Anyway, I don’t want to take credit for Ed Lynskey bringing this up, so here’s the column:
This offbeat but very entertaining 1945 film noir stars the Austrian actor and silent film director Erich von Stroheim as The Great Flamarion. Stroheim later appeared in a memorable role in the classic film Sunset Boulevard (nominated for Academy Award). Here he is cast as a marksman with a set of fancy pistols in a popular vaudeville act. The married couple Mary Beth Hughes and Dan Duryea also appear in the act where Duryea’s main stunt is to avoid getting shot while he’s dancing in front of the mirrors. It’s all a matter of timing, but Duryea is also a lush, so his timing is sometimes a bit off. Hughes is a fabulous femme fatale who colludes with Flamarion to pull off Duryea’s “accidental death” during a show. The reliable Anthony Mann directed this movie. Hughes reminds me of Jane Greer and even resembles her a little. I just saw Hughes in The Lady Confesses, and this is a better film. IMDb.com gives The Great Flamarion a 6.7 rating which sounds about right to me.
“Duryea’s main stunt is to avoid getting shot while he’s dancing in front of the mirrors. .. Duryea is also a lush, so his timing is sometimes a bit off.” Duryea plays a lush? Say it ain’t so, Ed!
The titles keep coming, like images of pain and disillusionment in the nightmares of a doom-addicted pimp on death row…
- Storm Fear (1955)
- Battle Hymn (1956)
- Wagon Train (1957–1964)
- The Burglar (1957)
- Night Passage (1957)
And there’s more, but you know where to look, i.e., the Dan Duryea page on IMD and also, the Dan Duryea Wiki article is pretty good, and of course, TCM has a neat but too short bio. And you should check out Ed Lynskey’s Cracked Rear View Mirror every Tuesday, or whenever the boss ain’t looking.
Oh, you’re still reading? Well, no web troll for noir guys is complete without a visit to Dan Duryea on Findagrave.com. That’s it for now, and do me a favor, keep it weird, and check out my Art Page. You might like something there an want to buy it. This would make us all happy and it would make your home a cooler place to live.