Wednesday, November 27, 2019
30 Days Has Noirvember: Kieran Shea
I was sick as a dog when I stumbled across this epic on late-night television. I kept asking myself—what the hell? Where has this film been all my life? Cassavetes? Falk? In sun blasted, slapdash, blown-up, low budget color? With improvised dialogue and a merciless ending, this film is a gem. Based on Candyleg by Ovid Demaris.
Noir? Maybe. Grit? Absolutely. At a very impressionable age, my late uncle took me to see this picture at the now extinct Algonquin Theater in Manasquan, NJ. I remember my uncle criticizing the famous car chase scene, wondering how the hell they got from a downtown garage in Manhattan, up to the GW Bridge, and over to Jersey in under sixteen minutes flat. Seamy, raw, pre-Koch, pre-Disneyfied New York City. Cops and villains. Some of Roy Scheider’s best work.
Probably inspired by the sunburnt ghost of David Goodis, this sad tale of brotherly woe and casual violence in Atlantic City features a Bruce Dern—Jack Nicholson combo that defies expectations. Shot before the phony rebirth of AC (see American Hustle) the movie even features a cameo of Margate’s Lucy the Elephant before she was moved to her present location and renovated.
Warning! Those who pigeonhole this movie as a ‘60s counterculture piece can kiss my flat Irish ass. Outlaws. Drugs. Jail. Senseless murders. Lost hope. I defy anyone to not say this is a neo-noir road movie.
Damn, talk about your desperate cognitive dissonance awash in the ruthless machinery of the Nixonian fascist state. This was another bleak-ender my uncle lied to my parents about taking me to—at a drive-in no less. Get this; it was a double feature, followed by Magnum Force.
the author of Off Rock as well as the Koko Marsteller series; Koko Takes a Holiday, Koko the Mighty and Koko Uncaged. He used to have a blog and a Twitter handle and all that fun shit, but you can't find him online any longer because fuck you.