Tag Archives: revenge

Sound of the Sea (2001)

 “Travelers willing to make together the journey of no return.”

Sound of the Sea DVDIn The Sound of the Sea Spanish director Bigas Luna creates a romance, wraps it up with allusions to mythology and produces a marvelous tale of love, passion and revenge. Martina (Leonor Watling) works in her parents’ cafe, listens to rap music and remembers the day a film star visited their small coastal town. Ulises (Jordi Molla), the newly employed literature teacher arrives and rents a room from Martina’s parents. The extremely wealthy Sierra (Eduard Fernandez) courts Martina–a relationship much encouraged by Martina’s parents–but clearly she prefers the more elusive Ulises. Ulises and Martina seem an unlikely pair–she possesses undeveloped strains of materialism, and Ulises is a dreamer and a drifter. But when Ulises quotes favourite passages from the Aeneid to Martina, it seems to satisfy them both–the poetic exercise captures her trapped imagination, and also allows him to impress her. When Martina discovers she’s pregnant, Ulises agrees to marry her. There’s a brief honeymoon, and then the couple are back to domesticity and discontent.

After the birth of their baby, Martina is invited to attend a party at Sierra’s mansion. While Sierra still indicates his interest in Martina, Ulises eyeballs a seductive brunette in a red dress. After a brief squabble, Martina and Ulises abruptly leave the party. The next day Ulises goes fishing and disappears …

Years pass. With Ulises officially dead, Martina marries Sierra. He adopts her son, and Martina lounges next to the pool, flipping through fashion magazines as she lives in the lap of luxury. Total materialism suits Martina somehow–she’s become sleeker, harder, and much more polished. Surrounded by a pet crocodile and matching Alsatians, it seems almost as though Martina finally landed up living the life she really belongs in. And then the phone calls begin. Ulises has returned …

The Sound of the Sea–based on the novel by Manuel Vicent–is another remarkable film from Bigas Luna. It begins as a sticky sweet romance but then morphs into something much darker–much deeper. “From loving to not loving is a road everyone travels”–but have Ulises and Martina traveled that road? The film’s cinematography is simply spectacular–captivating shots of the sea in its many states echo throughout the film and resonate long after the closing credits. In Spanish with English subtitles, the DVD extras include: cast interviews, an interview with the director, and a cast photo gallery. If you enjoy this film, I recommend The Chambermaid on the Titanic also by Bigas Luna.

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Cry Vengeance (1954)

 “Nobody wins a tie score.”

In the crime drama Cry Vengeance former San Francisco policeman Vic Barron (Mark Stevens) is released from San Quentin after being framed by a gang of hoodlums. His three year sentence, and the fact that his wife and child were killed by a bomb meant for him–finds him thirsting for revenge.

Barron’s first act upon his release is to buy a gun, and then he hits his old haunts looking for information on the man he thinks is responsible for the deaths of his wife and child–Tino Morelli (Douglas Kennedy). He visits Lily (Joan Vohs) and learns that Tino is now living in Ketchikan, Alaska, and he follows the trail there.

Cry Vengeance is touted as film noir, but it’s more a tale of revenge–and a rather dull lackluster one at that. The plot is old and tired and seems to go through the motions of the vengeful hunt with little conviction. Some areas of the plot remain muddy, and this combined with weak characterizations cause the film to fail. The film isn’t helped by the fact that the story begins with Barron’s release from jail. Without a glimpse of Barron’s life as a policeman, husband and father before his family was killed, we don’t feel the emotional impact of what he’s lost, and the entire frame-up charge that resulted in a jail sentence is vague. The absence of these elements–Barron’s emotional life before the deaths of his wife and child, and the frame that sent him to jail–essentially removes most of the tension and emotional interest from the film. Instead, we are left with stock characters that lack depth and individuality. Mark Stevens who plays Barron also directed the film, and while the plot has all the necessary hallmarks of the revenge tale, it failed to grip this viewer.

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Johnny One-Eye (1950)

“So add it to my scrapbook.”

A double-crossing crook is killed by his two partners in crime, and then after splitting their ill-gotten gains, they go their separate ways. Years pass. One man Martin (Pat O’Brien) leaves his criminal past behind and learns that it’s far more lucrative to work within the system greasing the wheels of commerce by bribing city officials. The other man, Dane Cory (Wayne Morris) still leads a shady life as a hood, but now he’s a hood with money and is financing a musical show for his gorgeous dancer girlfriend, Lily White (Dolores Moran). But when Martin discovers that Cory has ratted him out, and he’s about to be arrested, he’s forced to go underground. With his accounts and assets frozen, he thirsts for revenge, and decides to confront Cory.

Martin, injured, on the run, and also on the hunt for Cory, finds shelter in an abandoned house. But in Martin’s miserable, hunted state, one creature reaches out and offers comfort–a small, friendly one-eyed dog. Martin promptly identifies with the dog’s plight and names him Johnny One-Eye. A little girl named Elsie (Gayle Reed) comes looking for the dog. It seems that her mother’s brutish boyfriend beat the dog and ejected him from the family home. Soon Martin realizes that little, self-possessed Elsie shares a home with none other than his arch nemesis–Dane Cory….

Johnny One-Eye is a decent B film–and while its sentimental elements go into overdrove, these features of the film are so well done, that overall this little film is quite effective. Although the film doesn’t resort to any heavy-handed devices such as images of clocks ticking, there’s definitely a sense here that time is running out. Time is running out for Martin, Cory and also poor Johnny One-Eye. In another sense, Elsie’s childhood innocence and faith is also in jeopardy. In Cory, she’s met pure evil, and this is where the dividing line between the crooks, Martin and Cory comes in. Cory hates children and animals, and Martin doesn’t. Cory is beyond redemption, but underneath it all, Martin still clings to some elements of human decency.

This is a strange little film–directed by Robert Florey and based on a novel by Damon Runyan. While it’s touted as noir, it’s more crime drama. There are some odd minor characters in the film–a man on the street who quotes Byron, for example, and then there’s the peculiar veterinarian (Donald Woods)–a strange character who seems to live in the dark shadows of his pet shop. 

My Alpha DVD version of this film is problematic. The interior scenes are overly dark. White rings and blotches appear several times throughout the film, and at one point the entire picture scrambles. There’s a loud hiss evident, and this necessitates turning the volume up. The film ‘jumps’ and frequently skips words. So if you happen to have an old VHS tape of the film, you probably want to hang onto it.

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Beast with Five Fingers (1946)

 “In my mind there is no doubt the hand is walking around.”

In a plot that would make Edgar Allan Poe proud, the gothic thriller The Beast With Five Fingers explores the idea of revenge from beyond the grave. The reclusive and wealthy Francis Ingram (Victor Francen) lives in his villa in Italy surrounded by his nurse and caretaker, Julie (Andrea King), hanger on-composer Bruce Conrad (Robert Alda) and librarian Hilary Cummins (Peter Lorre) who’s obsessed with the occult and has free use of Ingram’s extensive library for his research. A stroke has left Ingram wheelchair bound and with one arm paralyzed. Ingram, who is imperious, demanding and controlling has fallen in love with Julie, and she wants to leave as she finds the situation with Ingram has become too suffocating.

When Ingram is killed in an accident, his relatives–Raymond and Donald Arlington (Charles Dingle & John Alvin) hurry over from England to claim the estate. At the reading of the will, everyone is surprised to learn that Julie is the sole heir. A squabble breaks out between Julie and the Arlingtons who promptly threaten to challenge the will. Ingram’s wily lawyer offers to represent the relatives in what promises to be a lucrative case, but then one night he’s strangled.

A trail of clues leads to the crypt that houses Ingram’s body, and when his coffin is opened, the police inspector discovers that Ingram’s hand has been removed….The Beast With Five Fingers is a gothic film with heavy psychological overtones that play with several plot layers–is Ingram’s hand really on the loose, murdering those who attempt to thwart his will, or is this a trick designed to cover another’s murderous intent? That’s for the viewer to decide. Yes, the film is cheesy, semi-hysterical and silly, but it’s still rather well done, and it’s one of those films that stick to your brain long after the credits roll. From director Robert Florey.

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