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The Big Combo

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    The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

    While still making its colorful feel-good musicals and comedies, MGM opened a second wing in the late '40s and early '50s to make grittier, more realistic dramas. John Huston's The Asphalt Jungle is one of these. Though it was conceived to look like a low-budget "B" movie, it featured an "A"-list director who had just won an Oscar (for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre), and an excessive running time (112 minutes) that would have disqualified it for "B" movie status. read more...
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      The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

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      • With: Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe, John McIntire, Marilyn Monroe
      • Written by: Ben Maddow and John Huston, from a novel by W.R. Burnett
      • Directed by: John Huston
      • MPAA Rating: Unrated
      • Running Time: 112 minutes
      • Release Date: 05/22/1950
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      Red Rock West (1992)

      Red Rock West was an exciting event for us San Franciscans, because our Roxie Cinema was solely responsible for its success. The movie, made in 1992 and starring Dennis Hopper, Nicolas Cage and Lara Flynn Boyle had already gone straight to video when the Roxie began playing it in an unlimited run in 1994. It was so successful that other theaters picked it up too. It's a brilliant movie that seems to understand the inner workings of film noir, rather than just paying tribute to it. Cage plays a man looking for a job, who is mistaken for a hitman. He visits his supposed target (Boyle), but finds himself attracted to her instead. To complicate matters, the real hitman (Hopper) also turns up. J.T. Walsh plays the man who wants his wife whacked. Dahl's equally good The Last Seduction was rescued from cable and released in theaters later that same year. read more...
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        • Innocence ▶ Seasoned, Savvy, Streetwise

      Red Rock West (1992)

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      • With: Nicolas Cage, Lara Flynn Boyle, Dennis Hopper, J.T. Walsh, Dwight Yoakam
      • Written by: John Dahl, Rick Dahl
      • Directed by: John Dahl
      • MPAA Rating: R for language and violence, and for sexuality
      • Running Time: 98 minutes
      • Release Date: 06/15/1993
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      Pickup on South Street (1953)

      Though he was mostly known for war movies and Westerns, Samuel Fuller's 1953 crime film Pickup on South Street is, along with Shock Corridor (1963), arguably his finest work. Using his newspaper reporter skills to gather all the information he could from the street, Fuller made his pickpocket story as realistic and as gritty as possible, and it's still just as shockingly potent today. read more...
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        • Innocence ▶ Seasoned, Savvy, Streetwise

      Pickup on South Street (1953)

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      • With: Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Thelma Ritter
      • Written by: Samuel Fuller, from a story by Dwight Taylor
      • Directed by: Samuel Fuller
      • MPAA Rating: Unrated
      • Running Time: 80 minutes
      • Release Date: 05/28/1953
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      Shattered Glass (2003)

      It's just a little creepy to make a celebrity out of this great faker, but Shattered Glass nonetheless is an even and gripping portrait of Stephen Glass, the New Republic reporter who fabricated many of his published stories at the magazine, circa 1998. read more...
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        Shattered Glass (2003)

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        • With: Hayden Christensen, Peter Sarsgaard, Chloe Sevigny, Rosario Dawson, Melanie Lynskey, Hank Azaria, Steve Zahn
        • Written by: Billy Ray, based on an article by Buzz Bissinger
        • Directed by: Billy Ray
        • MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language, sexual references and brief drug use
        • Running Time: 95 minutes
        • Release Date: 08/09/2003
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        Ruthless (1948)

        One of the most fascinating of filmmakers, Edgar G. Ulmer began as an uncredited set designer for many of the major German Expressionist filmmakers. Coming to Hollywood, he worked as a director in super-low-budget Poverty Row studios, but due to fate or simply supreme skill, he never really advanced to the "A" list. Still, he occasionally made something magnificent, such as The Black Cat (1934), Bluebeard (1944), and Detour (1945). Ruthless can also join that list. read more...
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          Ruthless (1948)

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          • With: Zachary Scott, Louis Hayward, Diana Lynn, Sydney Greenstreet, Lucille Bremer, Martha Vickers, Edith Barrett, Dennis Hoey, Raymond Burr, Joyce Arling, Charles Evans, Robert J. Anderson, Arthur Stone, Ann Carter, Edna Holland
          • Written by: Alvah Bessie, S.K. Lauren, Gordon Kahn, based on a novel by Dayton Stoddart
          • Directed by: Edgar G. Ulmer
          • MPAA Rating: NR
          • Running Time: 105 minutes
          • Release Date: 04/15/1948
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