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Mystery Movies - Fox Film Noir - Road House

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Road House Fox Film Noir
Ida Lupino, Richard Widmark, Cornel Wilde
Directed by Jean Negulesco
Black and white Full Frame
20th Century Fox 1948
Fox Home Video 2008
95 minutes

Road House has to be one of the top DVDs in the Fox Film Noir collection. It certainly helps that this thriller stars Ida Lupino as the dame and Richard Widmark as the jilted boyfriend gone nuts. Visually, Road House is not the best looking film noirs ever made but the story certainly makes up for lack of fancy camera work and lighting.

Ida Lupino plays bar singer Lil Stevens. Stevens has been hired by Jefty (Richard Widmark) to sing at his road house. This doesn't please road house manager Pete Morgan (Cornel Wilde).  He knows Jefty only hired Lil because he had the hots for her. It turns out Ida Lupino can sing and Pete soon falls for her. This makes Jefty maniacally angry and he plots his revenge against the two lovebirds.

The pacing in Road House might irritate a modern audience but once Jefty's plan starts to fall in place it really gets interesting and the climax is well worth the wait. This is one of Richard Widmark's best maniacal performances.

Celeste Holm plays second banana to Ida Lupino's character and, as the commentators say, she is absolutely wasted in a very banal role.

One of the special features on this film noir DVD is a commentary track by film historians Kim Morgan and Eddie Muller.  It is not only interesting, a feat in itself, but Morgan and Muller are really enjoying themselves instead of phoning it in like so many experts on so many other commentary tracks.

Other special features on Road House include a very good profile on Ida Lupino and Richard Widmark and a stills gallery.

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