Sunday 19 August 2012

Blast of Silence [1961]

Allen Baron showed both promise and maturity with his low-budget debut film Blast of Silence. This intense psychological study on the existential crisis of a lonely hitman also remains as a memorable New York film. Frank Bono (Baron himself), a contract killer, has arrived in the Big Apple during the Christmas time in order to bump off a mobster. During his meticulous study of his target before carrying out his job, he inadvertently ends up meeting an old friend from the days of his growing up in an orphanage, and Lorrie (Molly McCarthy), the girl he was always in love with, thus making his detached, cloak-and-dagger existence suddenly appear burdensome for him. And, to further complicate matters for him, Big Ralph (splendidly played by Larry Tucker), a slimy and obese dealer of guns, gets an inkling of his target which was supposed to remain absolutely hush-hush. Baron’s looks and natural style seemed to be a combination of Robert De Niro and Jean-Pierre Leaud, and that managed to mask his limited acting abilities. The movie also faltered a bit during the softer and more emotional moments. But for most parts it was a tremendously gripping film, drenched in nihilism and with an incredibly fatalistic tone – it literally seems, at times, on the verge of bursting out of the seams. The glorious B/W photography and the brilliant jazz score added, respectively, pathos and dissonance to the proceedings. The fabulous gravelly voiceover by Lionel Stander was arguably the most fascinating aspect of the movie – though dripping with caustic bitterness and hardboiled cynicism, there was something bleakly poetic about it.

Director: Allen Baron
Genre: Crime Thriller/Psychological Drama/Gangster Film/Post-Noir
Language: English
Country: US

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