Monday, March 6, 2023


I just ordered a Blu-ray if one of my favorite modern noirs: Twilight (no vampires). The lead actors were Newman, Sarandon, Hackman, and Garner. The supporting cast was just as impressive: Reese Witherspoon, Stockard Channing, Liev Schreiber, John Spencer, Margo Martindale, Giancarlo Esposito, and M. Emmet Walsh. From CrimeReads on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the film's release:
“You any tougher than you look?”
“Hell yes! At least, I used to be.”
“I used to be. We all used to be.”
Harry Ross (Paul Newman) was, as he describes it, a cop for twenty years, a PI for five, and then a drunk. When an errand to retrieve the wayward daughter of film stars Jack and Catherine Ames (Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon) goes awry due to Harry’s inattention and subsequent injury, the Ameses allow him to recuperate in an apartment above the garage in their Art Deco mansion. Two years later, Harry remains, having settled into a cushioned role as a handyman and sort of kept friend to Jack. His mutual attraction with Catherine adds a pinch of spice to bland days of playing gin and fixing appliances.

Jack asks Harry to deliver a package—contents unspecified, reasons eluded. “It’s not blackmail,” Jack claims, so we and Harry know immediately that it must be. Harry allows himself to be persuaded. ....

Bookend scenes are at the actual Hollywood Station of the LAPD, with real cops as extras and movie posters on the walls. The seedy houses and apartments of LA’s further reaches have authentic grunge. A 1920s manse built for Delores Del Rio by husband Cedric Gibbons (designer of the Oscar statue) becomes the luxe abode of Catherine and Jack. Raymond Hope [Garner] lives in a small Modernist marvel hovering on stilts above the smog, a house designed by John Lautner in 1948. And one of the many unfinished projects of Lautner’s mentor, Frank Lloyd Wright, stands in for the remote ranch home of the Ameses. ....

The primary characters are in the waning days of careers, of lives, and of long-held secrets. Each is acutely aware that darkness is fast approaching. Jack is battling cancer for the second time. Catherine is younger and healthier than the two men in her life, but women in Hollywood are held to a different standard of success. Just maintaining the status quo requires desperate measures. And Harry knows he’s lost a step in an unmerciful profession. He should take his own advice and get out while he can. .... (more)
Glen Erik Hamilton, "Paul Newman’s Reflection on Noir: The 25th Anniversary of Twilight," CrimeReads, March 6, 2023.

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