The best way to watch this gritty, low-budget Noir gem for the first time is the way I did. Barreling through that long black tunnel, goaded by a cynical and disturbingly intimate voiceover and then dropped unceremoniously into a cold, nihilistic world with no knowledge of what I was getting into. Just like Baby Boy Frankie Bono.
Ok, good, now that we’re all up to speed, let’s discuss the best fucking Christmas movie ever made.
It follows a lonely hitman on a holiday job in the big city, but the details of the plot are really almost beside the point. You just go with it and find yourself swept along with our broken anti-hero in a nihilistic spiral from the birth-like opening shot to the cold, bitter end. At a lean and mean 77 minutes, this film is nasty, brutish and short.
This unusual choice forces the viewer to relate to the damaged protagonist in an intimate and inescapable way. This feels especially disturbing surrounding the aborted sexual assault and during his brief detour into Harlem. That gravelly, streetwise voice in Frankie’s head (and ours) is part conscience, part barstool philosopher, and part angel of death. Is it over-the-top? Sure it is, and I love every pulpy, purple minute of it. I want that voice to narrate my life.
Full disclosure, I love pet rats. I kept them myself when I was younger and only stopped because their way-too-short life spans was like a carousal of heartbreak. Which is why I found Ralphie’s tender bond with his beloved rats in their jauntily decorated cages to be charming and human, rather than gross and evil as it was probably intended. Your millage may vary.
Last, though I could go on and on, I have such a crush on the target’s mistress. I mean…
Right, this movie. It’s great. You need it in your life. Watching it is an annual Christmas Eve tradition here at the Fausthaus and you oughta do the same.
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