Blast of Silence (Allen Baron, 1961)

the kind of movies you can make just by putting a camera in car and tracking your character walking down the street. or filming during a hurricane. stellar hitman moodpiece, with the most expressive, hard-boiled 2nd-person narration. “you could have been an engineer…“you could have been an architect…”

How can these starkly contrasting performances all be “essentially” noir? Like jazz, film noir could be hot or cool, and often it managed to be both at once. The complex formula evolved over time. In the forties, the hard-boiled style valorized masculine reserve—Bogart’s dry, parrying skepticism; the haunted stoicism of Dana Andrews; the nonchalant underplaying of rough-hewn men like Mitchum and Sterling Hayden, who suspected acting was phony and effeminate. These defenses walled off psychological horrors that erupted in surreal nightmares or surging melodramas. In the later fifties, darkly romantic dreamscapes gave way to fractured portraits of a dehumanized, explosively violent world (Touch of Evil, Blast of Silence). Instead of a lacquered surface that hides corrosive anxiety or aching loss, there is a frenetic burlesque of action concealing a freeze-dried hollowness.

Dark Passages: Tough and Not-So-Tough Guys