Archive for Cornell Woolrich

Blind Tuesday: Mother of Tears

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , on September 29, 2015 by dcairns


The return of our occasional series of Tuesday thrillers about people who don’t see too good. We’ll get around to WAIT UNTIL DARK one day, I swear.

But for now, let’s stay Argentinian, with Carlos Hugo Christensen’s NO ABRAS NUNCA ESA PUERTA (DON’T OPEN THAT DOOR), his 1952 Cornell Woolrich compendium. We might also consider this Cornell Woolrich Week Revisited.

The first story in the film is graced with spectacular, exotic production design, but takes a while to get going and is a little unsatisfactory, at least for me, in narrative terms — which is fine, because I want to talk about the second half, which deals with a blind woman and her son, who has been away for years but returns as part of a gang of armed robbers on the run from police but already planning their next heist. All this poor woman’s hopes have been wrapped up in the idea of her prodigal’s eventual return, and now she realizes, via a tune he whistles, that he’s a dreadful criminal. The conjunction of blindness with recognition via a tune recalls Lang’s M, which was also referenced in Christensen’s other Woolrich adaptation, IF I SHOULD DIE BEFORE I WAKE. The idea of the giveaway melody also recalls CLOCKWORK ORANGE and makes me wonder if M was an influence on that? Bear in mind that Alex’s spirited if misguided rendition of Singin’ in the Rain does not occur in the Burgess source novel and was an inspiration of star Malcolm McDowell…

The story makes free use of all the traditional superpowers of blind people — the mother has acute hearing, and can easily find her way about her home due to her perfect recall of furniture placement. Like Edward Arnold in EYES IN THE DARK and Audrey Hepburn in WAIT UNTIL DARK, she renders her enemies helpless by disabling the lights. She also has to fumble about as they sleep, locating their sidearms and removing them — the film’s most suspenseful scene. Watch out for that bottle!



Christensen again proves himself a master of suspense — this half hour entertainment, with its thoroughly satisfying and tragic twist, would stand out as a perfect episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. It’s real yell-at-the-screen tension.



Delightfully and heroically, Eddie Muller’s Film Noir Foundation has rescued the film just before its negative decayed — what we need now is a DVD release so the rest of the world can enjoy it in something better than a scuzzy off-air recording.

Never Take Candy from Strangers

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , on September 24, 2015 by dcairns


This edition of The Forgotten, over at MUBI’s The Notebook, is both a follow-up to Cornell Woolrich Week, dealing with an adaptation celebrated in its country of origin but little nown elsewhere, and really my first taste of Argentinian cinema. Fortunately, it’s a delicious one, and possibly the start of a new obsession — expect more here on the work of Carlos Hugo Christensen.

Life and Lim

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , on May 3, 2011 by dcairns

More noir limericks at Limerwrecks — one with a Cornell Woolrich theme, the other venturing into Val Lewton terrain. Because obviously, what Val Lewton needs is a good limerick.

Through Edinburgh streets rides a cabbie

His appearance sepulchral and shabby

But if you’d be his fare

You’d better beware

Lest you wind up a corpse on a slab, eh?

STOP PRESS: here’s more identical twin action.


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