Wednesday, 12 June 2019

On DVD - David Hare recommends a near unknown noir KISS THE BLOOD OFF MY HANDS (Norman Foster, UK, 1948)

Burt Lancaster and Joan Fontaine in studio bound London fog and rain in Norman Foster's neat little British-set Noir for Universal, Kiss the Blood off my Hands from 1948.
Foster was always a solid, if not always inspiring director and he seems to let the non-directorial elements of this picture carry the weight, most notably Russell Metty's high chiaroscuro photography, and Universal house composer for the era, the great Miklos Rosza. 
For some reason Burt always seems to inspire Rosza to leitmotif his Burt pictures with lots of Brucknerian horns over strings. Most striking of these sequences here is Burt chained to a prison wall topless, always a welcome spectacle for his fans.
Robert Newton plays the classic Cockney spiv sleazebag who doubly incriminates Burt in two murders giving the picture it's flow. Burt seems less three dimensional here than in his earlier work for Siodmak and Dassin, delivering most of the part in his early angry mode, certainly less relaxed than his second tier part as the good guy sheriff, and virtually the only unambiguously heterosexual character in Lewis Allen's totally amazing 1947 Technicolor Noir, Desert Fury.
The screens are from another of the great run of Universal Vault DVDs, sold as burnt VODs. This one thankfully defaults the visual parameter to a 16:9 mode with the Academy ratio picture-boxed within it, which means I can get successful screens from it, unlike the more recently released and reviewed here Zaza (1939) disc. The Universal Vault discs are always well-mastered but loose hands seem to be occasionally at work in the lab playing around with the disc authoring software.

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