Noir-vember Day 19: The Girl in the Black Stockings (1957) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

Noir-vember Day 19: The Girl in the Black Stockings (1957)

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Danny LIKEI knew we'd hit a film set in Utah if we got deep enough into Noirvember. I know it doesn't seem like the perfect setting for a film noir (that'd be either L.A. or San Francisco, if you really want to know), but for a murder mystery with some nifty lighting, it's still a good time.

Compounding this is the cast and one character in particular. The lodge where the murders take place, including that of the titular character, is owned by an acidly bitter paraplegic Edmund Parry. It's been a while since I've seen such a pessimistically crank on the screen, someone whose sheer exasperation with life is worn so plainly on their face. And, frankly, it's kind of nice after a month of private eyes and career criminals who seem to sweat a lot but have an wisecracker underneath to finally find someone so completely and utterly disdainful of the outside world.

Perry (bottom left) steals the show as the bitter asshole.

Parry has every right to be bitter, and he doesn't hold back against anyone. Not his sister, not the handsome young lawyer she loves, not the has-been movie star and the starlet he totes around, not the blond number who hangs about, not the PI, and especially not the sheriff investigating the string of murders.

The sheriff is a particularly endearing man. His staff, usually used to presiding over parades, is absolutely befuddled as to how their town has become the prime location for a serial killer. The sheriff is one of those noir archetypes of the noble detective, not the protagonist, but on the sidelines carefully studying all of the other characters.

It quickly becomes a And Then There Were None sort of deal, as man and women end up with a knife across their throats. It's a fairly effective mystery, with elements of Psycho rising from it, which is even more impressive since the book of Psycho won't even be published for another two years.

Out of the darkness, the law.

Of note in the cast is a sassy Anne Bancroft with a bit of screen time, and the cult favorite Mamie Van Doren completely aping Marilyn Monroe for a bit. Besides Parry and the sheriff, the rest of the cast doesn't stand out too much, but that's all well and good since it makes the murderer even more of a surprise.

The movie is brave with its ending, giving no one what they wanted, and leaving nearly everyone worse off than they were for reasons they'll never really understand. While The Girl in Black Stockings may lack the cigarettes and big city squalor that are staples of the genre it calls its home, the film's strict adherence to the anger and disappointment that good noirs so perfectly capture is on full display, right next the dead and the damned.

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Posted by Danny

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