THE BIG COMBO
1955, 87 min, USA, Dir: Joseph H. Lewis

One of the essential noirs pits malevolent crime kingpin Mr. Brown (Richard Conte) against a crusading copper (Cornel Wilde) in a battle for alluring Jean Wallace. The memorable noir palaver (purportedly by Philip Yordan) is accentuated by the cinematography of the legendary John Alton and a jazzy score by David Raksin. Featuring the unusual hit-man team of Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman amid a stand-out supporting cast: Brian Donlevy, Robert Middleton, Helen Walker, Jay Adler, John Hoyt, Ted de Corsia and Helene Stanton.


THE HARDER THEY FALL
1956, Sony Repertory, 109 min, USA, Dir: Mark Robson

In this adaptation of Budd Schulberg’s bestseller, Humphrey Bogart (in his last role) plays burned-out sportswriter Eddie Willis, hired by a crooked boxing promoter (Rod Steiger) to tout his circus-freak heavyweight as a legit contender (based on the true story of Primo Carnera). Director Mark Robson crafts a fitting finale to Bogart’s legendary career and lands a few devastating blows to the reputation of the "Sweet Science." Also featuring Jan Sterling, Mike Lane, Max Baer, “Jersey” Joe Walcott and Nehemiah Persoff.


NO DOWN PAYMENT
1957, 20th Century Fox, 105 min, Dir: Martin Ritt

This highly underrated ensemble drama is one of the most perceptive looks at life in the suburbs ever made. Three couples struggle with such things as alcoholism, debt and racial bias as new neighbors move in to their Sunrise Hills subdivision; a fine cast includes Joanne Woodward, Cameron Mitchell, Tony Randall (playing way against type), Pat Hingle and Barbara Rush.


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